MJ News for 09/30/2014


Jul 25, 2008
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(Oregon) Marijuana legalization: Opponents open campaign attacking pot products attractive to children

Opponents of marijuana legalization in Oregon kicked off their campaign Monday standing next to an array of gummy bears, sugary cereal, chocolate bars and other products that Colorado retailers lace with marijuana and sell over the counter.

"I don't want my kids to grow up in a place where this is normal," said Mandi Puckett, director of the No on 91 campaign, looking disdainfully at a display of such products as "CannaPunch" and a balm called "Lip Bliss."

Puckett and other opponents argued that their biggest worry with legalized marijuana is that it will eventually be heavily marketed and turned into a product as mainstream as a cold beer on a hot day.

"The marijuana industry wants us to believe that marijuana gummy bears and fruit punch are not targeting children," said Bob Doyle, a tobacco prevention expert from Colorado who has been active in an anti-marijuana group there.

"Are we really going to go in this direction again?," Doyle added, referring to the long fight with the tobacco industry over marketing practices aimed at hooking young consumers. He brought the packages of pot products from Colorado but pointedly noted that the actual marijuana-laced materials had been discarded.

Anthony Johnson, the chief sponsor of the Oregon marijuana initiative, said opponents are wrong in thinking that illegal pot isn't already being heavily marketed.

"Big marijuana is already here in Oregon and it's called drug cartels," said Johnson. "Measure 91 brings in strict controls and takes it away from the cartels."

Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana in 2012, with Colorado the first to allow retail sales. And much of the attention there has been focused not just on rolled joints but on a wide variety of marijuana-laced cookies, candy bars, lollipops and beverages.

After some well-publicized cases involving accidental overdoses -- including a 19-year-old who jumped to his death after eating a pot-infused cookie – the state is moving to more tightly regulate so-called edibles.

The Oregon measure, Johnson said, gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission plenty of authority to regulate the packaging of edible products, both to limit their attractiveness to youths and to ensure they are tested and labeled so consumers have a better of just what they are buying.

Opponents, however, say the Oregon measure is too lax in how much it allows consumers to legally possess.

Under Measure 91, adults could legally possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana, four plants, 1 pound of solid edible products, 72 ounces of liquid pot products and an ounce of hashish.

"This is an appalling amount," said Puckett at a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lake Oswego. "Where is this much marijuana going to go? It's going to go into our kids' hands."

Washington and Colorado allow adults to possess 1 ounce of marijuana. Washington doesn't allow consumers to grow marijuana at home while Colorado allows up to six plants, only three of which can be mature. And users there can keep all of the marijuana they've cultivated.

Johnson said Oregon's limits on marijuana products were patterned after Colorado's limits. He said they were designed to give "hobbyists some reasonable cultivation limits at home."

People who buy their marijuana from a retailer – which studies suggest would be the vast majority of users – will not have nearly as much marijuana on hand, Johnson argued. He said they'll likely buy smokable pot by the gram and edibles by the ounce.

Doyle, the Colorado anti-marijuana activist, said he's not buying the talk of tight regulation of legal markets. He noted that a new poll of Colorado voters now shows that a slight majority opposes legalization of the drug.

"We are the poster child of why states should not legalize commercial marijuana," said Doyle, arguing that voters have been turned off by the rapid spread of marijuana retail outlets and the wide array of colorful products.


Jul 25, 2008
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Paramilitaries Are Eradicating California’s Illegal Marijuana Grows

In the world-renowned California marijuana growing region known as the Emerald Triangle, the telltale "whoop-whoop-whoop" sound from helicopters combing the sparsely populated mountains during pot harvest season typically sends paranoia through the roof.

This year is no exception. For the past month, local law enforcement and the feds have been conducting raids across the Emerald Triangle — Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties in California — using a massive ex-military chopper bearing a worn-down or scraped off US Air Force insignia, eradicating tens of thousands of plants. But this year, there have reportedly been more cases of state and local law enforcement targeting small farmers with fewer than 50 plants, in compliance with state and local regulations, according to Tim Blake who runs the annual cannabis competition Emerald Cup.

On top of increased law enforcement activity, a new source of anxiety for pot farmers has emerged: a paramilitary, private security firm known as LEAR Asset Management Corp. Operating with a chopper — the same one the local cops rent, according to Blake — the camo-clad, AR-15 assault rifle-toting squad of security guards have been air dropping onto private property eradicating illicit marijuana grows.

Thus far, LEAR has been hired, or at least given consent, by property owners to target trespass grows, where pot farmers sneak onto public or private land and set up a pot farm deep within the Emerald Triangle's mountains and forests.

"Law enforcement just doesn't have the means to take care of it [trespass grows] any longer," Paul Trouette LEAR's founder and CEO, told Talking Points Memo. "That's when the hole began to be filled, in my understanding, of how to put together a cohesive, legal, organized private security firm that is now dealing with these types of issues."

Trouette did not return multiple calls from VICE News requesting comment.

"If you're a large land owner with 5,000 to 10,000 acres, and you can't deal with trespass growers, and law enforcement can't or won't, what option do you have?" Blake told VICE News. "You're going to have to turn to a LEAR. Armed militias like that are doing a necessary evil type of a thing, and if what Paul is saying is true, they seem like they're not eradicating legit growers."

Not to mention, Blake added, there would be no financial incentive for LEAR to conduct law enforcement style operations —the hourly cost of conducting a raid is likely $1,000 to $2,000 an hour.

The reason trespass grows can thrive in the Emerald Triangle is because the region is still rural, has a low population density, and is difficult for property owners to monitor vast tracts of land. As a result, trespass grows have been thriving for decades, according to Mendocino's agriculture commissioner Chuck Morris.

Trespass grows are especially dangerous for property owners because they are predominately operated by Italian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Mexican crime syndicates, according to VICE News sources familiar with the illegal activity. Often guarded by well-armed goons, trespass growers also lay booby traps, hunt wildlife, and cause enormous damage to the environment from the pesticides used in farming.

Dealing with the trespass grows isn't simply an issue regarding the lack of government resources, according to political science professor Jason McDaniel.

Leading anti-marijuana academics are paid by painkiller drug companies. Read more here.

"We would like it if there was no private security at all, the police should be able to do it," he told VICE News. "But, it would take a huge concerted effort from the FBI, DEA, and so on, to eliminate the problem altogether — think the FBI versus the mafia in the past."

McDaniel sees LEAR's niche as a classic example of citizens pooling their resources together when an issue grows beyond the capacity of local and state resources to solve it.

"There's no federal organization meant to deal with private property owners. We have a long history of private utilities especially in rural areas, but there are tradeoffs you're going to make — in terms of private security think of Blackwater. There's no accountability if you do get into bad situations," he said.

Law enforcement experts we spoke to agreed that LEAR's eradication operations may have unintended consequences. One source, who commented on the condition of anonymity because he is not an authorized spokesman for his police department, said that "Cops don't hold security guys in high regard. Those guys are mercenaries."

There are real safety concerns for the safety of private security entering trespass grows, which are often booby trapped, and protected by guards with serious artillery, former FBI agent Walter Lamar told VICE News. Lamar served for 19 years in the FBI, and now runs a security-consulting firm.

"Then, what kind of coordinating is going on with law enforcement," he said. "You've got armed security roaming around in the woods, if there's not a coordinated effort, and law enforcement comes across an armed contingent [of LEAR personnel], there could be an unfortunate confrontation."

Coordination with local, state, and federal law enforcement would be industry best practices, Lamar said. "On the one hand it's understandable that landowners would turn to a private security if there isn't enough law enforcement to go around. But stringent coordination is necessary."

One of the reasons for that, he explained, is that if private contractors were to eradicate a particular grow, it's possible that they run the risk of disrupting an ongoing federal or local investigation. "There's the potential for the destruction of evidence."

Regardless of the risks, LEAR is dealing with the slew of environmental consequences trespass grows inevitably carry, consequences that have run rampant for two decades and have remained unchecked, according to Morris, Mendocino county's agriculture commissioner.

"There are so many illegal pesticides around these grows," he told VICE News. "Not only are the grows completely illegal but an awful lot of them are clear cutting through all the fauna, killing deer, bears, and other animals for food and to protect their marijuana crops. Then there's the water pollution, water diversion, plus the human waste which includes feces and garbage."

In a video posted by the Jere Melo foundation, LEAR security guards can be seen cleaning up all kinds of trash at a then-abandoned trespass grow on Mendocino Redwood Company property.

Morris said his agency initially consulted with Trouette regarding the various pesticides used in trespass grows, none of which have been certified by the Food and Drug Administration for safe use on marijuana — largely because the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Beyond the environmental costs of trespass grows — which Morris called "off the charts ridiculous" — he worries about the health consequences of toxic pesticides used. A common chemical used in trespass grows is Carbofuran, an insecticide that's absorbed into a plant via its root structure, and banned by the FDA on all food grown for human consumption. Yet Carbofuran is regularly used by trespass growers, and because plants absorb it, likely still present when the marijuana is consumed, Morris said.

If anything, the potential health consequences of these trespass grows is an argument in favor of federal legalization. With oversight, taxation, and regulation, it's likely the black market for marijuana would shrink, if not disappear altogether, according to Amanda Reiman of the Drug Policy Alliance.

"By regulating where marijuana can be grown, we gain control over production sites since they must be licensed," she said in an email. "We do not see the same issues with trespass growing in other industries like wine."


Jul 25, 2008
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Marijuana firing case weighed by Colorado Supreme Court

DENVER -- Pot may be legal in Colorado, but you can still be fired for using it.

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test more than four years ago, says he still can't find steady work because employers are wary of his off-duty smoking.

In a case being closely watched around the country, Colorado's Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in Coats' case, which could have big implications for pot smokers in the first state to legalize recreational sales of the drug. Legal experts say the outcome could change how every business in Colorado handles employees who use marijuana, CBS Denver reports.

The case highlights the clash between state laws that are increasingly accepting of marijuana use and employers' drug-free policies that won't tolerate it.

"Attitudes are changing toward marijuana. Laws are going to have to change, too," Coats told The Associated Press. "I'd like for this to enable people like me to find employment without being looked down upon."

Coats, 35, was paralyzed in a car crash as a teenager and has been a medical marijuana patient since 2009, when, after a doctor's urging, he discovered that pot helped calm violent muscle spasms that were making it difficult to work.

"I'm going to be like this for the rest of my life, and I don't want to go through the rest of my life being unemployed," Coats told CBS Denver last year.

Coats, who worked for three years as a telephone operator with Dish, was fired in 2010 for failing a random company drug test. He said he told his supervisors in advance that he probably would fail the test.

He said he was never high at work, and Dish did not allege he was ever impaired on the job. But pot's intoxicating chemical, THC, can stay in the system for weeks.

Coats is making his argument under a state law intended to protect cigarette smokers from being fired for legal behavior off the clock.

But the company argues that because pot remains illegal at the federal level, medical marijuana isn't covered by the state law. A trial court judge and Colorado's appeals court agreed.

A patchwork of laws across the country and the conflict between state and federal laws has left the issue unclear. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana, but courts have ruled against employees who say their pot use is protected. Colorado and Washington state also now allow recreational sales, though court cases so far have involved medical patients.

Colorado's constitution specifically says that employers don't have to amend their policies to accommodate employees' marijuana use. But Arizona law, for example, says workers can't be punished for lawfully using medical marijuana unless it would jeopardize an employer's federal contract.

State Supreme Courts in California, Montana and Washington state have all ruled against fired patients. A lawsuit filed by a physician assistant in New Mexico who said she was fired for using medical marijuana, which helps with her post-traumatic stress disorder, is still pending.

The outcome of Coats' case could affect future lawsuits by employees fired for smoking recreationally, said Denver labor and employment attorney Vance Knapp. If Dish prevails, other employers will likely cite the case in defending themselves, he said.

A Coats victory, he added, "would turn employment policies into chaos." Other states with lawful activity laws could see them challenged as a result.

Dish said in court filings that Colorado companies would be forced to retain employees in spite of "marijuana-induced performance problems," and the company would risk losing federal contracts if the Supreme Court sides with Coats.

But Coats, who has been living off disability benefits, said the costs are greater if he loses because he needs marijuana to function.

"I need this to live my life," he said. "That shouldn't disable me to work."


Jul 25, 2008
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Is medical marijuana in jeopardy if recreational pot is legal? Some Oregon activists think so

Alex Pavich is the last person you’d expect to be on the fence about marijuana legalization.

The 39-year-old is a longtime marijuana consumer, using it to treat old injuries and calm his nerves. Pavich and his girlfriend, Aligra Rainy, 28, opened one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland, helping to launch what is now a regulated industry in Oregon. Today their shop, Collective Awakenings, is among the more well-known medical marijuana retailers in the state and bustles with patients.

But Pavich isn't sure whether he’ll vote for Initiative 91. The measure on November’s ballot would open the door to recreational marijuana in Oregon and make the state one of only three in the U.S. to allow anyone over 21 to possess pot.

Pavich, a medical marijuana grower, worries recreational pot will shift the focus from patients to profit.

“We are in the 21st century gold rush,” he said. “I see a lot of dollar signs in people’s eyes.”

Medical and recreational marijuana users may seem like natural allies in the campaign for legalized pot, but Pavich’s ambivalence underscores mixed feelings and even misgivings among members of the medical cannabis community.

Some worry recreational marijuana will overshadow and sideline the state’s medical marijuana program. They worry small-scale medical marijuana growers who focus on producing high-quality cannabis for the chronically ill will be squeezed out of the market. They fear if recreational pot turns into a money-maker for the state, lawmakers may take a hard look at medical marijuana’s relevance.

Then there’s the bottom line concern about more competition.

“The growers like the status quo,” said Don Morse, who operates Human Collective II, a Southwest Portland dispensary. “They are able to maintain certain price points and (Initiative 91) could open up too much competition. There are a lot of them that are not interested in seeing 91.”

In Oregon, one of 23 medical marijuana states, patients may possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis at any time. They can grow up to six mature marijuana plants and 18 immature ones, or have someone do it for them. With few exceptions, medical marijuana sold in Oregon’s dispensaries is not taxed. Patients must see a doctor annually to renew their medical marijuana card and they must have one of a handful of qualifying conditions, such as pain or cancer. Their names are included in a cardholder registry maintained by the Oregon Health Authority.

By contrast, Initiative 91 allows anyone 21 and older to possess up to eight ounces of pot and grow up to four marijuana plants. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee the retail market for recreational marijuana and anyone 21 and older could purchase up to an ounce of pot, which would be taxed.

Alex Rogers, who owns a medical marijuana clinic in Ashland and has organized informational conferences about the state’s burgeoning marijuana industry, speculates that if pot is legalized, medical marijuana will eventually fade away.

“It’s the beginning of the end,” said Rogers, who said he will vote for the initiative.

Organizers of Initiative 91 have tried to deliver the opposite message to Oregon’s medical marijuana community, insisting that the program will not be affected by legalized pot.

They repeated the pledge to a gathering of dispensary owners in Portland late last month. At one point during the private event, Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner for the initiative, asked a reporter for The Oregonian to leave, saying the presence of the press prevented a “frank and open” conversation between the campaign and medical marijuana dispensary owners.

“I think what they are afraid of is that word will get out that some of us are not for this law,” said Bee Young, who owns Wickit Weedery, a Springfield dispensary and attended the campaign event. “That is what they don’t want people to hear, that we have concerns.”

In Washington, advocates for Initiative 502 offered a similar reassurance to that state’s medical marijuana community.

“And literally that was untrue,” said Hilary Bricken, a Seattle attorney whose practice focuses on marijuana businesses. “Although in theory it may have been true, once I-502 went through, the Legislature immediately said, ‘What about medical marijuana? Why is it not regulated? Why is it not taxed? Do we really need it?’”

Said Bricken: “It called into question the legitimacy of medical marijuana and the need for two systems.”

Unlike Colorado, where a regulated medical marijuana program runs alongside the recreational one, Washington only regulates its recreational marijuana industry. The state is home to medical marijuana dispensaries, but they aren’t subject to state oversight.

Bricken predicts that a new recreational pot industry will want the medical program to face the same regulations. Oregon’s recreational growers and producers of marijuana-infused edible products, for instance, may push for rules for their largely unregulated counterparts in the medical industry, she said.

“The recreational industry is going to go, ‘What the ****? We are heavily regulated and you are telling me the gray market competition is going to undercut me?’” she said. “They will lobby for it.”

Vivian McPeak, a longtime cannabis advocate and executive director of Seattle Hempfest, said he voted against Washington’s legalization initiative in 2012, calling it “one of the hardest votes in my life.”

McPeak opposed the law’s impaired driving standard, its ban on home cultivation of recreational marijuana and he worried about the implications for the state’s medical marijuana program. (Oregon’s law, by contrast, doesn’t impose an intoxicated driving standard for marijuana.)

Even now he’s torn.

“This is complicated stuff,” he said. “There is no way to change 80 years of bad prohibition policy. If it happened today, I might actually vote for it.”

Oregon legalization advocates argue Washington is different. First, Oregon already has a regulated medical marijuana dispensary system. And, said Portland lawyer Leland Berger, the Oregon Legislature generally supports medical marijuana, setting it apart from Washington, where policymakers have considered a series of medical marijuana reforms, including doing away with patients’ ability to grow their own cannabis.

“We are determined to not make the same mistakes that Washington made,” said Berger.

Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a Washington, D.C.-based medical marijuana patient advocacy group, said the organization doesn’t oppose recreational marijuana laws, but worries about their effect on patients. Medical marijuana patients, for instance, shouldn’t have to pay the same taxes on marijuana purchases as recreational consumers, he said.

“Taxes that are imposed on adult (recreational) users are significant and onerous for patients who may be low income or unable to afford that extra cost on a medication that is already in many cases prohibitively expensive,” said Hermes.

Morse, the Southwest Portland dispensary operator, said even though recreational marijuana means uncertainty for the future of medical marijuana, he’ll vote for legalized pot this fall.

“We can’t let our own personal economic concerns overshadow the bigger picture, which is that this isn’t working,” he said. “It’s hurt our civil liberties. … It’s time to end this and this is the best opportunity we have had in years.”

But Debra Stevens, a 55-year-old Milwaukie woman and medical marijuana patient, plans to vote no. She views the drug, which she uses to treat a range of conditions, strictly as medicine.

“And it’s a medicine that needs to be used properly,” she said. “People that want to get high, that’s their own thing.”

She said she worries the price of medical marijuana will spike, putting it out of reach for low-income people who rely on the drug for relief. She said already some dispensaries in the Portland area aren’t as focused on patients as they should be, something she suspects will only worsen if recreational pot is legalized.

“I think if it went recreational, I think greed would take over,” she said. “Human nature is what it is.”


Jul 25, 2008
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How Marijuana Legislation Will Affect Drug Testing In The Workplace

Can you fire an employee for testing positive for marijuana?

That question becomes more difficult to answer with every passing election. So far, 23 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, with Colorado and Washington voting to legalize recreational marijuana as well.

Many employers — especially those operating in states with these new laws — have questioned how these changes will affect their workplace drug testing policies and whether it’s still possible to promote and maintain a drug-free workplace.

Sorting through the changing laws can be confusing at times, but it’s really not as complicated as it seems. All you need is a fundamental awareness of the important facts and stats that should inform your company’s drug policy.

Key Facts to Know

The legalization of pot has definitely complicated things for employers. Laws and regulations vary from state to state, but here are several basics that are important to know:

According to SAPAA, there were 13.1 million employed drug abusers in the U.S. in 2007, with food and construction industries leading the way. What’s more, drug and alcohol problems cost the U.S. an estimated $276 billion every year.

Drug abusers are more likely to become sick or injured, are less productive, can be more distracting to co-workers, have increased absenteeism, and can be a danger to themselves or others. Maintaining a drug-free workplace is important for the safety, health, and productivity of all employees.

Nearly half of the states and D.C. have approved medical marijuana use, so employers cannot discriminate against employees who test positive for marijuana when it’s prescribed by a physician. However, employers in many states are still allowed to reprimand employees who are impaired on the job due to drug use.

Marijuana use is still illegal under federal laws. Therefore, any workplace that receives federal funding or is subject to federal regulations requiring the testing of safety-sensitive workers — like the Department of Transportation, for example — must consider marijuana a prohibited substance according to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Increased marijuana use, especially in states where it’s legalized, can lead to more dangers on the road. Research done by Columbia University revealed that marijuana alone increased the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash by 80 percent, so employees involved in road travel should be regularly monitored and tested.

Given all the new legislation, employers must find ways to be compliant with state and federal laws while maintaining a safe workplace. But before you start crafting or altering your workplace drug testing policy, you should:

1. Talk with an attorney. A qualified attorney will be able to crosscheck your company’s drug testing policy against state and federal laws to ensure it’s compliant on all levels. He or she will also be able to answer any questions regarding the intricacies of your state’s marijuana laws.

2. Review your company’s drug testing policy. Carefully look through your drug testing policy, especially the section that addresses marijuana use. Make changes to clarify what you expect from your employees in terms of impairment, safety, marijuana use, and termination. Once again, your attorney should review any changes before the policy is distributed.

3. Communicate expectations with employees. Speak directly to your employees about the company’s standards and expectations on drug use and testing, and address any changes that were made to the written policy. Emphasize the importance of maintaining a drug-free workplace for everyone’s safety, health, and productivity.

4. Train HR and managers on changes. Your HR personnel and managers should be trained and educated on new policies, how to handle failed drug tests, and what to do about any employees who use medically prescribed marijuana. Remind them about the importance of confidentiality of all health records and testing results.

5. Continue or increase drug testing. With drug use and abuse on the rise, employers who strive to preserve a drug-free environment may simply want to increase workplace drug testing. Even if you don’t increase the frequency of testing, don’t let your testing policy go slack because of changing laws.

Employers in every state should anticipate marijuana use and legalization becoming become more and more prevalent. Although complying with these new standards can feel overwhelming, it’s important to keep a level head. For now, stay informed about these new laws and update or adjust your workplace drug testing policy accordingly to keep your workplace safe, productive, and drug-free.


Jul 25, 2008
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Colorado schools out millions of dollars due to marijuana tax loophole

A loophole built into Colorado’s marijuana system has allowed thousands of pounds of pot to go untaxed and has cost the state millions of dollars that should have gone to a school construction fund.

In 2012, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 64, which, among other things, promised that the first $40 million in excise tax revenue would be dedicated every year for the state school construction fund.

But this year, only about $10 million is expected to be raised thanks to a rule that allows pot retailers to avoid paying the marijuana tax in a one-time transfer of wholesale pot.

Surely, revenue will increase over time as the industry continues to mature and fewer license-holders are able to use the one-time, tax-free transfer.

Whether the excise tax revenue will ever reach $40 million is anyone’s guess. My suspicion is the amount will never be attained and was a pie-in-the-sky figure meant to attract voters.

If that sounds familiar, you may be remembering the 2008 campaign for Amendment 50 that promised $182 million over five years to community colleges from the expansion of gaming. However, only $25.3 million has been generated through fiscal year 2012-13.

The marijuana excise tax revenues would certainly grow if the loophole that was created by regulators to launch the industry was closed. There are still 275 license holders who could take advantage of it, according to one source.

The loophole was created to make sure enough pot would be in the retail marketplace when doors opened on Jan. 1, 2014. Regulators allowed medical marijuana licensees converting to retail a one-time, tax-free transfer.

That transfer was a big difference between Colorado and Washington, the other state that legalized retail marijuana, and why the Centennial State was out of the door first. Washington had to grow its retail crop from seed.

Colorado officials say 9,711 pounds of medical pot was transferred tax-free to retail stores, 4,724 pounds of medical marijuana was moved to retail marijuana products and manufacturers, and 8,576 pounds of medical pot was transferred to retail marijuana cultivation facilities. (That last tranche will be subject to the tax once it is transferred or sold to another marijuana establishment).

It is estimated the untaxed pot would have provided $3 million for the state school construction fund — or twice what the fund received in fiscal year 2013-14.

Kathy Gebhardt, a member of the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board that provides grants for school construction and renovation, knew the numbers were going to be low after seeing February’s receipts.

“The first month we were thinking we were going to be rolling in cash,” she said. “Then the second month it was, ‘Wait a minute. We are only getting a fraction of what we thought we were going to get.’ “

This was not the voter intent, Gebhardt said.

“I don’t think anyone who voted for (Amendment 64) thought this would happen,” she said. “They thought (the money) would go to school kids. This is coming at the expense of kids in really needy school districts.”

The Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, fund is a competitive grant program that helps districts with capital construction. It is able to support projects in rural school districts that don’t have large property bases necessary for bond projects.

The BEST fund over the years has received more than $385 million in revenue, 90 percent from the State Land Trust. This year, the BEST fund is helping construct buildings in the Edison 54JT School District and supporting projects in dozens of districts around the state for things like roof replacements and boilers.

Marijuana taxes are providing less than 1 percent of the program’s funds — or $3.1 million.

“It would have made a big difference,” Gephardt said. “Whenever there is a tax credit on the other side there is somebody to whom the tax credit should have gone.”

Proposition AA, which was approved by voters in 2013, mandates a 15 percent excise tax imposed on “unprocessed retail marijuana.” (My emphasis.)

But Amendment 64 says no excise taxes can be charged on pot cultivated as medical marijuana.

A transfer, logically, of medically grown pot couldn’t be taxed, which is the basis for the loophole.

The simple solution, then, is to discontinue transfers. The state doesn’t need them anyway. The retail pot industry is up and running now and doesn’t need the influx of medical pot to prop up retail stores.

Plus, transfers disadvantage retail growers, who have to pay the tax when medical growers don’t for that one-time swap.

“It was never our intent to manipulate the market,” said Rep. Dan Pabon. “It’s a correction that needs to be made.”

Pabon said a draft bill already has been written that would stop the transfers after Jan. 1, 2016.

But the loophole should be closed sooner — to match the voters’ intent and make good on a promise that the revenue should be going to schools.


Jul 25, 2008
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Medicinal cannabis: Mum says drugs help son's severe epilepsy as de-registered doctor leads push to treat condition with hash oil

A mother whose 10-year-old son suffers from a rare form of epilepsy has backed a de-registered doctor's drive to treat the condition with medical cannabis.

Lorraine Hunter's son Hunter Elwell has dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that causes severe seizures and is resistant to most anti-seizure medications.

Hunter's seizures were so dangerous he was regularly flown to hospital and given adult doses of painkillers like Fentanyl and morphine.

But now Ms Hunter says hash oil supplied by doctor Andrew Katelaris has transformed the boy's life.

Dr Katelaris has a conviction for growing marijuana and has been spurned by the medical establishment since being deregistered for taking and supplying cannabis and other drugs in December 2005.

He is now running a trial supplying hash oil to 12 children with rare forms of epilepsy.

Ms Hunter gives the oil to her son by putting it in a syringe and feeding it into his stomach through a tube – the same way he gets all of his food.

"In the 18 months he's been on it, he hasn't had one paramedic call for seizures at all and he hasn't had a stay for seizures in hospital," Ms Hunter, from the New South Wales Central Coast, said.

"There were times he was in hospital for three months because he was having a seizure every 30 seconds.

"He probably has about four or five seizures a month now, and what was it before? Up to 20 to 30 a day. And that was on a good day."

Kids 'going from wheelchairs to pushbikes'

Dr Katelaris has given the ABC rare access to his supply chain, all the way from a hydroponic grow room to the end user.

In his kitchen, Dr Katelaris makes his own hash oil by mixing cannabis buds with oil and heating the blend to 50 degrees Celsius for 12 hours.

He says he uses a strain of cannabis imported from Spain that is rich in the medically useful CBD cannabanoid but low in THC - the part of the plant that makes users "high".

He describes the results as extremely positive.

"Literally, kids are going from wheelchairs to pushbikes," he said.

"They're going from reading ages of three to eight in a couple of months of cannabis therapy."

Dr Katelaris says he is unconcerned about how his work would be viewed by his former peers.

"Well, they should worry more about what I think of them," he said.

"I mean, it's been a very sad journey, having very valid and very exciting scientific work being either ignored or denigrated or obfuscated by the medical profession."

Experts divided on merits of medicinal cannabis

Professor Iain McGregor, a veteran drug researcher from Sydney University, says while there are risks with using marijuana brought off the street – because of its high THC content and mental health dangers – the conditions they are treating are so serious immediate use is justified.

He is also urging extensive research into other areas where cannabis may be effective.

He says the "holy grail" would be a strain of marijuana that was medically useful but did not get users stoned.

"I would make a special plea that we start looking at cannabis, and particularly these different cannabanoids, as potential wonder medicines and start to run proper clinical trials looking at their efficacy in a whole range range of different conditions," he said.

But Royal Australasian College of Physicians president Professor Nicholas Talley warns medical marijuana could be dangerous for children and adults.

"There's an increased risk based on studies of suicide [and] there's an increased risk of certain cancers with chronic marijuana use," he said.

"This is not a totally safe product like some people, perhaps many people, believe."

Professor Talley supported clinical trials but fears the public debate has been hijacked by emotion.

There have been more than 90 studies of medical marijuana worldwide, but Professor Talley says he believes the evidence is still inconclusive.

"I understand people are suffering but, look, it's so important we set the policy right so people benefit, so the community isn't hurt by whatever the policy is."

Watch Conor Duffy's report on 7.30 tonight.


Jul 25, 2008
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Cannabis Kinetics Corp. Sets National Distribution Strategy for Monarch Branded Coco Coir Growing Medium

Cannabis Kinetics Corp. (OTCQB: CANK) ("Cannabis Kinetics" or the "Company") an emerging fully integrated cannabis management company, today announced its plans to launch the Monarch branded Coco Coir growing medium product line across the United States.

Eric Hagen, CEO of Cannabis Kinetics stated, "Our recently signed exclusive global distribution agreement with an established U.S. importer of Coco Coir has positioned us to immediately move forward with our plans to distribute this incredibly effective and versatile growing medium, not only to the booming marijuana sector in Colorado, but across the entire country into other states regardless of their marijuana legal status. We anticipate marketing, selling, and stocking shelves with our Monarch brand of Coco Coir in less than three weeks."

Coco Coir is an all-natural growing medium made from ground coconut husks popular among commercial and home marijuana growers and other indoor and outdoor gardening operations. Used as a stand-alone growing medium or mixed with soil, Coco Coir significantly reduces watering requirements for growing most plants, including marijuana. Coco Coir is commonly used as a substitute for sphagnum moss because it is free of bacteria and fungal spores. Coco Coir is also used as a substrate to grow mushrooms and as a terrarium substrate for reptiles or arachnids

Hagen concluded, "Based on our evaluation of the current market for Coco Coir, we estimate that sales of our Monarch branded Coco Coir could reach $1.0 - $2.0 million in Colorado during the first year and potentially reach $5.0 - $8.0 million nationwide. We look forward to seeing Monarch Coco Coir on store shelves very soon and expanding our current facility to meet anticipated demand over the next 120 days."

Cannabis Kinetics acquires the highest quality Coco Coir from India and Sri Lanka through an exclusive distribution agreement with Ivory Coco International, an established importer based in Aurora, Colorado.

About Cannabis Kinetics Corp. (CANK)

Cannabis Kinetics is a fully integrated cannabis management company with an office location in the Westminster suburb of Denver, Colorado. Founded and managed by experienced marijuana industry professionals, the Company has targeted various opportunities in the Colorado marijuana marketplace with a focus on the management of recreational and medical marijuana retail dispensaries, the management of licensed marijuana cultivation facilities, production and distribution of hemp and marijuana infused food & beverage and ancillary products. Additionally, the Company will provide management of retail and wholesale operations for grow stores and intends to pursue additional business opportunities within manufacturing, equipment leasing, real estate, product licensing and distribution, and other strategic acquisitions. Cannabis Kinetics anticipates expanding this business model into other select marijuana friendly states.

Cannabis Kinetics files reports with the Securities & Exchange Commission on EDGAR and anticipates continuing to file such reports. The Company's filings can be viewed at www.sec.gov, including the Company's most recent Form 8-K filing describing the Company's business operations.

Additional information regarding the Company can also be found on its website at www.CannabisKinetics.com.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this press release may be "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "expect", "intend", and similar expressions, as they relate to the company or its management, identify forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the company's business based, in part, on assumptions made by management. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may, and probably will, differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements due to numerous factors, including those described above and those risks discussed from time to time in Cannabis Kinetics Corp.'s filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission. As a reporting issuer with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Cannabis Kinetics Corp. files Quarterly and Annual Reports and other documents on EDGAR. We strongly urge all persons to read our filings at www.sec.gov, which are publicly available, in conjunction with this press release as we are in a highly regulated industry that requires thorough research prior to making any decision regarding a company, particularly an investment decision. In addition, such statements could be affected by risks and uncertainties related to Cannabis Kinetics Corp.'s (i) product demand, market and customer acceptance of its equipment and other goods, (ii) ability to obtain financing to expand its operations, (iii) ability to attract qualified management representatives, (iv) competition, pricing and development difficulties, (v) ability to fully implement our business plan as a result of being a reporting issuer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and (vi) general industry and market conditions and growth rates and general economic conditions. Statements made herein are as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as of any subsequent date. The Company cautions readers not to place undue reliance on such statements. Cannabis Kinetics Corp. does not undertake, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect occurrences, developments, unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statement. Actual results may differ materially from Cannabis Kinetics' expectations and estimates. Information on Cannabis Kinetics Corp.'s website does not constitute a part of this release.