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MJ News for 7/20/2014


Jul 25, 2008
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Alaska Will Vote on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in November

Since Colorado began selling legalized recreational marijuana January 1, 2014, and Washington followed on July 8, 2014, the rest of the country has been wondering which state will be next, and while Oregon has been on the tips of most people’s tongues, it could also be Alaska that becomes the next to capitalize on the so-called “green rush.” A vote on legalizing recreational marijuana was originally scheduled in the Last Frontier state for August 2014 during its state primary election, but was delayed until the general election on November 4. Historically, general elections have greater voter turnout so it puts the power of the decision into more residents’ hands.

According to the Alaskan Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, otherwise known as Vote Yes on 2, the current laws against recreational marijuana has been as ineffective, wasteful and problematic as alcohol prohibition was during the 1920s. The campaign references scientific studies showing alcohol to be more dangerous than marijuana, and argues that the legalization of recreational marijuana would boost the state’s economy by creating jobs and generating new revenue through legitimate, taxpaying businesses. Adults 21 and older would be required to show proof of age in order to purchase marijuana from licensed vendors. With this new system law enforcement could focus more on violent criminals.

The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation also supports the legalization of recreational marijuana in Alaska and seeks to work closely with government officials and agencies to enact recreational marijuana regulations once it is legalized. They are particularly focused on the creation of the Marijuana Control Board, rulemaking, marijuana facility restrictions, local government control and the marijuana tax, which would be $50 per ounce sold by a marijuana cultivation facility.

The Alaska Cannabis Institute is partnered with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation. After claiming that its first two-day seminar was completely sold out, the Institute is currently selling seats for two additional seminars, one in Fairbanks September 13-14 and another in Anchorage October 11-12 for those who want to be at the cutting edge of marijuana legalization. The first day of the seminar goes over the laws, policies and taxes and the second day is focused on the actual horticulture and cultivation of the plant.

Although there is strong support to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the Last Frontier state this November, there also exists strong opposition. Big Marijuana Big Mistake, otherwise known as Vote No. on 2, is a grassroots coalition dedicated to keeping marijuana illegal in Alaska. The coalition argues that the ballot measure would industrialize and commercialize not only marijuana, but also concentrates and edibles, which are more potent and have caused deaths in Colorado. In addition to health consequences, Big Marijuana Big Mistake is concerned that recreational marijuana would be heavily commercialized by giant, out-of-state corporations that would change the landscape of local communities with mass marketing, advertising and storefront properties. It would not be individual farmers and business entrepreneurs who would reap the rewards of recreational marijuana legalization, but these corporate entities. Meanwhile, the task force assigned to regulation of recreational marijuana would actually cost the state more than the current law enforcement.

Both sides are committed to demonstrating that their stance is against dangerous substances. On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, Big Marijuana Big Mistake is hosting its first fundraiser and, while alcohol is typically a main feature at most political fundraisers, the only beverages available will be lemonade, sparking water and soda. The event organizers decided that since the ballot they are opposing fights the legalization of substances, the event should also be substance-free. Likewise, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol plans that any of its future events will also be alcohol-free.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Oregon and the District of Columbia are also likely to have similar ballot measures on legalizing recreational marijuana this November, and that California, Nevada and Vermont are likely to follow in 2016. If the votes are in favor of recreational marijuana this November, it may be interesting for other states to see how Alaska handles the legalization.


Jul 25, 2008
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D.C. Decriminalizes Marijuana, But Congress May Halt Future Legalization Efforts

Stoners, rejoice! Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana was formally decriminalized in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Getting busted with a few grams of weed will now run D.C. residents $25, less than the cost of a litter citation.

The decriminalization law, introduced by D.C. City Council member Tommy Wells and passed by the Council in March, significantly reduces the penalty for small-scale possession, which previously included fines of up to $1,000 and potential jail time.

Police in D.C. can still confiscate marijuana if it’s “visible,” and smoking on a street, park, sidewalk, or in a vehicle still carries the risk of arrest. (Maximum penalties for smoking marijuana in public include a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.) Officers can’t frisk, request a warrant or arrest someone solely based on the smell of marijuana anymore, either; the new law says such measures are necessary only if someone is believed to be driving under the influence.

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Decriminalization is the latest in a string of measures aimed at reducing penalties for marijuana use in the district, and puts D.C. in line with 16 other states that have decriminalized pot. In September, D.C. At-Large Councilmember David Grosso introduced a bill that would allow the city to tax and regulate legalized marijuana—which has not yet been passed—and medical marijuana has been legal in D.C. since 2010.

While pot enthusiasts eye the latest bill as a step towards future legalization—an idea that has polled well in D.C. and could appear on the ballot in November—the new law's primary directive is to quell the racial bias currently present in the district’s arrest rate.

"The essence of this decriminalization law is the staggering racial disparity regarding arrests," Matt Cohen, editor of local blog DCist, told Newsweek, "That’s why the council is pushing for it—for police reform."

The numbers make a compelling case. A report from the American Civil Liberties Union last year showed that D.C. led the nation in marijuana arrests in 2010. It also revealed that black males are eight times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites in D.C, although actual marijuana use is split more evenly between races—12 percent of whites and 14 percent of blacks reported using the substance

But there are complications on the horizon. Marijuana possession is still a federal crime, which may prove tricky in D.C., a city with deep federal roots and plenty of federal land, including the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. At a House of Representatives hearing in May 2013, Robert MacLean, acting chief of the United States Park Police, stated that people carrying marijuana on federal land could face up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.

"People are completely unaware of those lines and those consequences," said D.C. resident Damon McCollough. DCist's Cohen believes that many residents are ill-informed; he says some think the decriminalization law means pot is now plainly legal.

The real road to full legalization remains thorny. Maryland Rep. Andy Harris recently amended a House budget bill to stop the district from utilizing taxpayer funds to enforce the decriminalization law, though it is unlikely to pass the Senate and has been publicly denounced by President Barack Obama, who cautioned Congress to not interfere with the city's laws.

Meanwhile, Washington City Paper is offering to cover smokers' $25 possession fine, citing curiosity as to how the law will be enforced. To cash in, busted smokers must send a photo of the citation as well as details on where and why they were stopped, how the police found marijuana on them, whether it was confiscated and if the police were aware of the new law. The offer is also first-come, first-serve for five people; since the Paper first pitched it on Thursday, Editor Michael Madden says no one has come forward.


Jul 25, 2008
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Illinois Legalizes Medical Marijuana For Children With Seizures

July 20 (Reuters) - Illinois children and adults with epilepsy will soon be allowed to use marijuana to ease their symptoms under a law signed on Sunday by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, the latest in a series of measures loosening restrictions on cannabis by U.S. states.

The move to add epilepsy and other seizure disorders to the list of conditions legal to treat with marijuana or its extracts comes as numerous states have made medical use of the drug legal. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized its recreational use.

"This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state," Quinn said in statement. "Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much-needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures."

The Illinois law, which takes effect in January, would allow children who experience seizures to be treated with non-smokable forms of cannabis, as long as they have permission from a parent.

"I have a 14-year-old constituent by the name of Hugh who lives with epilepsy," said Republican state lawmaker Jim Durkin, who co-sponsored the new law. "His parents, Bob and Kelly, want to provide their son with as much relief as possible. Unfortunately, traditional medications and methods have not worked."

The state is putting the final touches on a broader medical marijuana plan, a tightly regulated program whose regulations were finalized just last week.

Residents will be allowed to apply for permission to use the drug to treat medical conditions in September, and the full program is expected to be up and running early next year, Quinn spokeswoman Katie Hickey said on Sunday.


Jul 25, 2008
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Fired Professor Suzanne Sisley Isn't Giving Up On Marijuana Research

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Veterans, medical marijuana activists and scientists welcomed the first federally approved research into pot as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

But their hopes for the research were dashed when the University of Arizona fired researcher Suzanne Sisley, who undertook the study after clearing four years of bureaucratic hurdles.

Sisley, a medical doctor who also taught and researched at the university, sought the project after years of treating military vets who told her that marijuana was the only drug that helped them improve symptoms of the disorder that affects up to 20 percent of those who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The university said it let Sisley go on June 27. In a letter to Sisley, released Friday to The Associated Press, the university says she was fired because funding for part of the work she did with the medical school was running out and because the telemedicine program she worked with is shifting direction.

Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for the university, said the school is committed to continuing the project and is looking to replace Sisley with another researcher who can raise more money.

Sisley says she lost the job because state legislators who opposed her work had put pressure on the university - a claim the school denies.

Her study would have measured the effects of five different potencies of smoked or vaporized marijuana in treating symptoms of PTSD in 50 veterans.

"Basically ours would have been the first and only controlled study looking at marijuana effects on PTSD. There are very few randomized control studies," Sisley said.

Sisley says the battle is not over. She is asking the university to reinstate her. If she fails, she intends to try to get another university to take on the project.

Ricardo Pereyda, an Army veteran of the Iraq war, said the end of the study is a tremendous disservice to military vets.

Pereyda, of Tucson, said his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder - anxiety, insomnia, depression - were eased when he smoked marijuana.

"It allowed me to get some much needed rest and sleep because I was suffering from insomnia," Pereyda said. "It reduced my anxiety attacks. It just allowed me to regain something that I had lost overseas during my deployment and allowed to me reconnect with those around me."

Getting federal approval to research marijuana is a laborious and long process. While the federal government approves and funds many studies that look into the negative effects of cannabis, it has been reluctant to approve those that consider its positive ones.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the federal government's Controlled Substance Act, meaning it is too high-risk for abuse and has no accepted medical applications.

"In regards to medical marijuana, the DEA of course recognizes the pain and suffering of individuals with serious illness and their need for medication," DEA spokesman Matt Barden said. "However, the FDA has repeatedly concluded that marijuana has a high potential for addiction and has no acceptable level of medical use."

Marijuana research advocates argue that if the federal government were to allow and fund medical marijuana research on a large scale, it would have the evidence it needs to reclassify the drug.

"It is unequivocally a situation you would describe as Catch-22," said Malik Burnett of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Basically the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse tandem to put tremendous amounts of barriers to conducting cannabis research."


Jul 25, 2008
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Washington D.C. becomes latest jurisdiction to decriminalize marijuana

HARI SREENIVASAN: This week, the District of Columbia became the latest jurisdiction to decriminalize possession of marijuana. It’s part of a growing national trend. For the latest about all this, we’re joined by Melanie Eversley, a reporter for USA Today.

So, what’s the new rule specifically in D.C., you can’t just walk down the National Mall smoking marijuana now, right?

MELANIE EVERSLEY: Right, right. Essentially, this law took effect on Thursday. It basically decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. So what that means is if you are caught with that on your person, instead of being subject to criminal penalties, what you would get is a $25 ticket, which is less than the cost of a parking ticket here in New York City.

It also changes a couple of other things. If police smell marijuana while they’re on their beat or whatever, they can no longer search a person for it. If they also find up to an ounce of marijuana on a person, they can no longer automatically search them, so it drastically changes things.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But federal land in D.C. is exempt from this?

MELANIE EVERSLEY: That’s right. That’s right. It only affects non-federal land. Federal land is still subject to the more strict marijuana laws.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So just across the river in Brooklyn, the DA here has sort of decriminalized it as well. He points it out for kind of a different reason.

MELANIE EVERSLEY: Yeah, well that’s the interesting thing. This whole issue is opening up a debate that’s kind of reminiscent of the crack cocaine debates from the 1980s and 1990s. The Brooklyn DA pointed out that the people who tend to be affected by low-level drug offenses are young, minority men. And he declared that he was no longer going to prosecute such cases because he felt that it just wasn’t worth taking up his people’s time when there are a lot more harsh crimes that they could be focusing on. And also, he took issue with the fact that when people are convicted of these crimes, it affects the rest of their lives, in terms of finding housing, in terms of getting scholarships, you know, all sorts of things in their lives.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this a sign of a kind of changing attitude across the nation about this issue? Obviously, we’ve had stories about Colorado and Washington legalizing sales for recreational use now, and this is obviously the nation’s capital.

MELANIE EVERSLEY: Yeah, yeah, you know, not to say that social media is a measure of what the general population is doing, but what I’ve seen is that people overwhelmingly on social medial, at least, are responding in a way that suggests that they feel that maybe it is time to consider a decriminalization in a lot of places. You have not only the low-level drug laws, but also just in terms of medical marijuana, there’s increased knowledge of the health benefits of it as well. So I think that people across the country are beginning to question whether it’s worth police time to prosecute these things.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Besides what you hear on social media, there are other people, there are other legislators in different states around the country that are pushing back that don’t agree with this.

MELANIE EVERSLEY: Right. I would say that the strongest argument against is that there are studies that have shown that when one uses marijuana, it produces changes in the brain that makes one want to seek out stronger drugs.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, Melanie Eversley from USA TODAY, thanks so much.



Jul 25, 2008
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Cheeba Chews production halted by state marijuana license denial

Cheeba Chews began as an experiment in a home kitchen and grew into one of the biggest successes of Colorado's medical marijuana industry, winning awards and attracting fans with the promise of being "potent, consistent and discreet."

Then, last spring, the medicated chocolate taffy began disappearing from shelves. There was no public explanation other than a letter from CEO James Howler citing "internal changes." He promised things would get back on track soon.

The reasons behind the upheaval — spelled out more precisely in records and correspondence reviewed by The Denver Post — provide an inside look at how questionable marijuana business structures and state regulatory delays in scrutinizing them can lead to problems.

Cheeba Chews' case also exposes a blind spot in the state's regulation of edibles companies: By licensing out production, owners effectively can skirt the scrutiny that others in the business face, including criminal background checks and Colorado residency requirements.

Cheeba Chews stopped production after the state in March denied the business license application of Green Sky Confections, which had a licensing agreement to produce and distribute the brand.

The Colorado Department of Revenue cited 20 grounds for denial, including allegations of hidden ownership interests, off-the-books employees, an employee who had not passed a criminal-history check, record-keeping failures and unsanitary kitchen conditions.

The owner of Green Sky, Boulder entrepreneur Mark Mallen, challenged some findings, including the claim of illegal ownership. But the enforcement actions shut down his leased kitchen in Denver.

The state and Mallen reached a settlement that he said will ban him from the marijuana industry for a year.

Kevin Merrill, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Denver field division, said the license denial validates the law enforcement belief that some marijuana businesses are not complying with state regulations and have taken advantage of the system and delays in processing applications.

"The catastrophic decision was allowing these businesses to operate without being properly vetted for a number of years," he said. "Colorado is often touted as this best regulated system, this experiment. Yet the company was allowed to operate an illegal business for 3½ years? No one finds that concerning?"

Cheeba Chews marketing director Eric Leslie sought to distance the company from the state enforcement actions, saying they are unrelated to Cheeba Chews. He said the company follows the rules.

However, state regulators did raise red flags about the licensing of at least one Cheeba Chews employee.

Also, investigators questioned whether a related company — identified in business records as Cheeba Chews' registered agent, Earthwise LLC — was essentially a partial owner of Green Sky's license. An attorney for Mallen denied that.

Shared ownership

Mark Mallen owns Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato in Boulder. His move into the marijuana trade, he emphasizes, is separate. He said it began with shared ownership in a distribution company and branched into pot-infused ice cream he no longer makes.

In April 2012, Mallen entered into a contract to purchase Green Sky Confections and applied for an ownership transfer, according to his lawyer's motion challenging the state enforcement action.

Ownership transfers are common in the Colorado pot industry. State regulators said the frequent changes, along with budget-driven staff cuts in 2012, contributed to a huge backlog in processing business applications that only recently was eliminated.

Mallen inherited a business that had applied for a license for marijuana-infused products in August 2010 — and was still waiting.

The business, like others stuck in the bureaucratic backlog, was allowed to operate while regulators processed applications.

On Feb. 27, 2013, it was Green Sky's turn for a pre-licensing inspection.

The business occupied leased space at a commercial commissary kitchen on Morrison Road in Denver. Suite C offered stainless-steel tables, large ovens and bars on the door. Rent was $5,500 a month.

The investigator cited eight violations. Video surveillance coverage was lacking. Signs were missing. Labels on products in storage were dated or incomplete. Kitchen preparation areas and utensils were not cleaned properly.

Mallen characterized some findings as minor or off-base. The products in storage, he said, were never going to market.

Of the kitchen, he said: "Of course it's not clean. Every single room is being used, and we're making a product. It's a kitchen. That's insane. It's clean at the beginning of the day and the end of the day."

Nevertheless, Mallen said he promptly fixed everything. No one with the state reinspected the kitchen, he said.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division, however, began a separate financial investigation into the business' ownership structure.

The findings are spelled out in an April grounds-for-denial letter. According to the Department of Revenue, Green Sky:

• Failed to disclose everyone with a direct or indirect financial interest in the license. The state defines ownership as "the person or persons whose proprietary interest is such that they bear risk of loss other than as an insurer, and have opportunity to gain profit from the operation or sale of the establishment."

• Did not notify the state of all owners, officers, managers and employees before they began work or had a financial interest in the business.

• Employed individuals and had others working under contract who had not applied for or received a valid state license.

• Employed people who had not passed a criminal-history record check.

In a motion filed in Denver District Court, Mallen's lawyer, Lauren Davis, contended the state provided "no basis in law or fact" in making a case for illegal ownership.

The motion said the state had a few reasons for its suspicion: Some employees were paid a flat fee per items produced instead of an established or hourly salary; checks were made out to an entity instead of an individual; and a supplier of sugar, flour and similar items was not licensed or an applicant.

Davis said none amounted to ownership, and she challenged the state's legal interpretation of what constitutes ownership.

A judge denied the motion, and the state and Mallen settled for terms that have not been publicly disclosed.

The state's financial investigation also involved another employee, Raymond Barker. In March 2012, Barker, Green Sky's then-manager, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, state records show.

Neither Barker nor Green Sky reported the arrest and pending charge to regulators, as required, the state said. According to Mallen's lawyer, Barker was fired in late 2013 and had no ownership stake.

Barker declined to comment for this story.

Mallen acknowledged an "oversight" in the structuring of his business arrangement with his former employee. Barker ran a division of Green Sky and was involved in a brand called Twice Baked, Mallen said. At the end of the year, Barker was paid by getting a percentage of the profits, Mallen said.

"That was a mistake," Mallen said.

Wrapped in colorful labels

At the kitchen on Morrison Road, workers with black Cheeba Chews shirts and matching caps stirred cannabis extract from small corked bottles into a baking dish layered with creamy chocolate.

After the all-organic-infused chocolate came out of the oven, it was sliced and wrapped in colorful labels.

The products included the flagship Cheeba Chews, Green Hornets and mint-flavored Dabba Chocolate bars.

In a March article, High Times Magazine called Cheeba Chews "far and away" the most successful medical marijuana edible company in the country.

That same month, regulators shut down the kitchen.

"The license holder had obligations and failed in those obligations," said Leslie, Cheeba Chews' marketing director. "He learned a very good lesson."

Leslie said Cheeba Chews controlled branding and manufacturing.

Neither Leslie nor Mallen would discuss details of the licensing agreement. Typically, such agreements involve the licensor granting the licensee the right to produce and sell goods, or apply a brand name or trademark.

Cheeba Chews sought a licensing deal rather than its own infused-products license because it made it easier to deploy in multiple states, Leslie said. The company also has agreements to distribute in California and Washington state, he said.

Leslie described Cheeba Chews as a small business that puts the spotlight on the product and not its people. He said the sole owner, Howler, is "hands-off" and private.

In media interviews, Howler has described himself as a 31-year-old Boulder resident who legally produced hash from his medical marijuana grows and sold it to "compassion clubs" before starting Cheeba Chews.

The Post attempted to contact Howler by e-mail and received a response referring questions to Leslie. Leslie said Howler does not give interviews and answered previous media questions by e-mail.

A search of public records found no evidence of a James Howler living in Colorado. And no James Howler is licensed with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

A man named John Gardner filed articles of incorporation for Cheeba Chews LLC in 2011 with the Colorado secretary of state. The records identify Cheeba Chews' registered agent as Earthwise. Gardner, in turn, is identified as Earthwise's registered agent.

Both entities list the same mailing address — a mailbox at a UPS Store in Boulder.

Asked about Gardner, whom The Post was unable to locate or contact, Leslie said: "I think he may be a silent partner who came on at some point. I am not too familiar with the guy. He has not been active in the business."

Cheeba Chews operations manager Dave Maggio is better known among local marijuana industry people. Maggio was a Green Sky employee dating to at least June 2012, according to Mallen's lawyer. But according to state officials, Maggio first applied for and received a state license to work in the industry in January of this year.

Leslie said Maggio applied by mail in 2012. Processing delays occurred, Leslie said, and Maggio scheduled an appointment as soon as he could.

Handling of application

Mallen expressed frustration with the state's handling of his application. His court motion said he paid thousands of dollars in license and applications fees while awaiting his fate and said his attempts to communicate with state regulators largely were ignored.

Mallen said he took several steps, including hiring a former top state marijuana regulator as an independent auditor.

The notice of denial was delivered March 28 — more than a year after Mallen's kitchen was inspected.

"You sit there, and you've got 20 different violations," Mallen said. "I'm not making excuses. I'm saying fine, some are legit. But we corrected it. We did everything we had to. We were as compliant as anyone in the market."

Natriece Bryant, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, said follow-up on the initial inspection may have been delayed because of staffing shortfalls — at the time, 18 people were doing the work of 55. She also pointed to the complexity of such cases.

Jeff Gard, a Boulder lawyer who represents marijuana businesses and has no connection to the case, reviewed public records at The Post's request and said the state was forced to act.

"The most concerning thing was, essentially, this business was truly a set of businesses holding itself out to be a single business," Gard said. "If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. You don't get to rename it and retitle it and call it a licensing agreement."

Lewis Koski, director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division, said license holders must disclose licensing agreements so regulators can determine whether they amount to ownership interests. Agreements vary widely, he said.

"The devil is really in the details in these kinds of situations," he said.

If someone is getting paid a percentage of the profit, Koski said, that would "likely trigger a licensing event" — or possible enforcement action.

Mallen said the state was "trying to close us down" from the start. "They wanted to show your newspaper and the state of Colorado that they're taking action, not everyone is getting licensed, we pulled down the biggest company," he said.

Koski said that is not the case.

"We're taking each case on a case-by-case basis on the merits of those cases, without respect to the size of the company or anything like that," he said.

Mallen and Cheeba Chews have gone their separate ways.

And the brand that calls itself "America's favorite edible" is about to return.

Leslie said the company has reached a new licensing agreement with another infused-product license holder. He said Cheeba Chews has been cooking in its new kitchen for the past few weeks. Dispensaries are beginning to advertise the edibles' return.

Leslie would not identify the license holder or discuss details of the deal's structure except to say it's "a little bit different" than the previous one.

He said Cheeba Chews is working closely with the Marijuana Enforcement Division to make sure it complies with regulations — including turning over a copy of its new licensing agreement.


Jul 25, 2008
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R.I.P. James Garner — a fan of marijuana and legalization

James Garner — one of America’s most iconic actors whose work in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” and then “The Rockford Files” created two of popular television’s memorable characters — died on Sunday.

And, if his memoir “The Garner Files” can be relied upon, he likely had a puff or two of cannabis on his way down his last dusty trail.

From his memoir:

“I started smoking marijuana in my late teens. I drank to get drunk but ultimately didn’t like the effect. Not so with grass. Grass is smooth. It had the opposite effect from alcohol: it made me more tolerant and forgiving. …

“I smoked marijuana for 50 years. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It opened my mind to a lot of things, and now it’s active ingredient, THC, relaxes me and eases my arthritis pain. I’ve concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol should be illegal. But, good luck with that.”

(H/T Celebstoner.)

Well, Jim, one out of two ain’t bad. Happy trails.

Here’s part of his obit by the Associated Press:

Although he was adept at drama and action, Garner was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially with his hit TV series, “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files.”

His quick-witted avoidance of conflict provided a refreshingly new take on the American hero, contrasting with the steely heroics of John Wayne and the fast trigger of Clint Eastwood.

Well into his 70s, the handsome Oklahoman remained active in both TV and film. In 2002, he was Sandra Bullock’s father in the film “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The following year, he joined the cast of “8 Simple Rules … For Dating My Teenage Daughter,” playing the grandfather on the sitcom after star John Ritter, who played the father, died during the show’s second season.

When he received the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, “I’m not at all sure how I got here.”

But in his 2011 memoir, “The Garner Files,” he provided some amusing and enlightening clues, including his penchant for bluntly expressed opinions and a practice for decking people who said something nasty to his face — including an obnoxious fan and an abusive stepmother. They all deserved it, Garner declared in his book. …

His favorite film, though, was the cynical 1964 war drama “The Americanization of Emily,” which co-starred Julie Andrews. …

Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner (some references say Baumgarner) in Norman, Okla. His mother died when he was 5, and friends and relatives cared for him and his two brothers for a time while his father was to California.

In 1957, Garner married TV actress Lois Clarke, and the union prevailed despite some stormy patches. She had a daughter Kimberly from a previous marriage, and the Garners had another daughter, Gretta Scott. In the late 1990s, the Garners built a 12,000-square-foot house on a 400-acre ranch north of Santa Barbara.

“My wife and I felt … we’d just watch the sunset from the front porch,” Garner said in 2000. “But then the phone started ringing with all these wonderful offers, and we decided, ‘Heck, let’s stay in the business for a while.’”


Jul 25, 2008
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(Australia) MPs call for compassion in case of mother who used cannabis oil to help sick son

A group of federal MPs have written to Victorian Premier Denis Napthine urging compassion in the case of a Victorian woman who faces possible charges for using cannabis oil to treat her son's severe epilepsy.

Police raided the Mernda home of Cassie Batten and her partner, Rhett Wallace, on July 10, taking the pair into custody and seizing their cannabis oil.

The pair were released but could still face charges of possessing a drug of dependence and introducing a drug of dependence into the body of another.

The family is one of at least 150 across the country who are reported to have turned to the oil, which is advertised as having so low a dose of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, that it is not actually illegal.

Federal Liberal MP Sharman Stone, Labor member Melissa Parke and Greens senator Richard Di Natale wrote to Dr Napthine this week protesting against the family's treatment.

''We are of the view that the police raid of Ms Batten's home was inappropriate and contrary to existing community values and views on this issue,'' the trio wrote on behalf of the Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform.

''We are concerned about the prospects of Ms Batten facing charges as a consequence of her desperate attempts to achieve respite for her sick son.

''In writing this letter, we ask you to consider the compassionate grounds surrounding Ms Batten's case, and also the substantial public support for the use of medicinal cannabis where conventional treatment options have failed.

''Twenty countries … now allow cannabis to be used as a prescribed and restricted medicine: but not Australia, where it is against the law to even see if medicinal cannabis, used as a last resort, might help.''

A spokeswoman for the federal Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, said there were pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis, such as Sativex, which were available for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. But she said to enable other substances containing cannabis to be marketed in Australia, a sponsor needed to submit an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

''Decriminalisation of personal use of cannabis where there are clear compassionate circumstances is an option which state and territory governments can pursue under their respective drugs and poison control legislation should they wish to do so,'' she said.

But Senator Di Natale, who is also a medical doctor, said while Sativex had been approved by the TGA, the manufacturer decided not to market it in Australia after failing to get it listed on the PBS. He said it would cost a patient more than $500 a month to import it. ''We don't have pharmaceutical medicinal cannabis available in any meaningful way,'' he said.

Senator Di Natale said cannabis growers should be licensed and it should be dispensed under prescription.

The raid on the couple's home followed an appearance on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program, in which Ms Batten said that the condition of her three-year-old son, Cooper, had improved markedly since he used the tincture. She said she turned to the oil because his seizures were occurring almost every minute, making him unable to walk, talk or see.

Within 15 minutes of his first dose, she said he began tracking objects for the first time. He now smiles, laughs and can say ''mum'' and ''dad''.

Former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Palmer has urged state law enforcement agencies to exercise discretion when dealing with families who are treating seriously ill children with cannabis oil.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Australia) ACT proposal to decriminalise cannabis use for seriously ill patients

There is a push for the ACT to become the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise cannabis for medical use under proposed laws.

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury has released draft exposure legislation and a discussion paper on the proposal to make cannabis available to terminally ill patients or those suffering chronic pain.

However the ACT Labor Government has ruled out support for new laws to decriminalise cannabis use, making it difficult for the legislation to pass through the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Rattenbury clarified his planned laws would not allow cannabis use to be open to the general public.

"The system is designed to ensure that those people with a genuine medical situation are the only ones who can access it," he said.

"So there are requirements for both the doctor to give approval, then approval from the ACT Chief Health Officer and a range of other restrictions."

Under the arrangements, people would be able to get a permit to grow the cannabis.

Currently it is illegal to use cannabis for pain relief in Australia, and people who use it to cope with medical symptoms risk criminal prosecution.

Mr Rattenbury said the draft legislation was designed to show compassion to seriously ill and dying people, by removing the threat of criminal sanction.

"I'm aware that this is a sensitive and controversial issue for some people in the community," he said.

"That's why we're putting out a draft of the legislation and a discussion paper that makes the case and inviting feedback.

"Certainly surveys show that there is support in the community for legalising cannabis for medical purposes and I expect that this discussion paper will draw out some of that support."

Mr Rattenbury intends to present the legislation to the ACT Legislative Assembly after eight weeks of community consultation.

ACT Government will not support proposed laws

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has said the ACT Government would not be backing the decriminalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.

Ms Gallagher said the Greens proposal would be looked at, but it was not an idea that she supported.

"This is something that Shane Rattenbury has done in his capacity as a Greens MLA," she said.

"There's no doubt there is a community campaign underway, but at this point in time it doesn't form the Government's position at all."

Countries including Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands and parts of the United States allow cannabis to be prescribed and administered by doctors like other medications.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Tasmania) Nikolic backs medical use of cannabis

SUPPORT for an industrial hemp industry is growing, with a Northern politician also backing cannabis use to relieve medical symptoms.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic said yesterday the cannabis issue was multifaceted.

"On the issue of decriminalisation of personal use of cannabis where there are clear compassionate circumstances, this is an option that state and territory governments could pursue should they wish," he said.

"I would have no personal objection to any state wishing to go down this path."

Cannabis use is illegal in Australia.

Mr Nikolic also backed a Dorset Council move to grow industrial hemp.

The council will today discuss an agenda item to pursue "opportunities for growing and processing industrial hemp, medicinal cannabis in Dorset and any other biopharmaceutical products".

Dorset Mayor Barry Jarvis said at the weekend that industrial hemp could be a major job and revenue source, but medicinal cannabis offered fewer jobs and more regulatory hurdles.

A state government spokesman said the government strongly supported the removal of red and green tape, which prevented a viable industrial hemp industry.

The state government recently rejected an application for a medicinal cannabis trial.

Cr Jarvis said the federal government was going slow on approvals for cannabis.

Mr Nikolic said with cannabis as food, a key body called the Ministerial Forum for Food Standards had state and federal members and needed consensus from all.

He said he supported industrial hemp (for fibre production) as a valuable rotational crop.

On medicinal use of cannabis, there were already pharmaceutical products, such as one called Sativex, derived from cannabis.

MS Australia says Sativex (a mouth spray) was approved for relief of muscle problems but would not be available until states changed poisons schedules.


Jul 25, 2008
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Cannabis Classroom: A Look Into Mental Health and Medical Marijuana

One of the common questions relevant to the debate on medical marijuana use and legalization is, “How does cannabis affect mental illness?” To understand this question fully, it is necessary to understand some basics about the field of research, to assess the available evidence surrounding this question, and to consider the possible application of marijuana in treating symptoms of mental health conditions.

Why Do People Think Cannabis Causes Mental Illness?

Many studies have found that people who consume cannabis tend to be more likely to have various types of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders. As a result of these studies, people have incorrectly inferred that marijuana use causes mental illness.

However, this assumption stems from a basic misunderstanding of research results; namely, the fact that correlation does not imply causation. You may have heard this before. So what does it mean, and why does it matter?

Correlational vs. Cause-Effect Relationships

Correlation is a link or association that is found between two variables. There can be a negative correlation between variables, meaning that when one variable increases in magnitude/frequency, the other decreases in magnitude/frequency. For example, the more you exercise, the less likely you are to gain weight.

You can also have a positive correlation between variables, meaning that when one variable increases in magnitude/frequency, the other does so as well. For example, the more often you eat high-salt foods, the more likely you are to develop certain health problems such as high blood pressure.

However, a correlational relationship is not equivalent to a cause-effect relationship. That is to say, just because there is a correlation between two variables, it does not mean that one caused the other. For instance, one of the most frequently cited examples of when correlation does not imply causation goes as follows: In the summertime, ice cream sales increase, and murders also increase. So that means that when people buy more ice cream, this causes people to have an increased desire to go out and kill people, right? Wrong!

There could be a third, unseen factor causing both an increase in ice cream sales and murders— heat! As the heat rises, people like to eat cold foods/desserts (e.g. ice cream). Heat may also cause people to become more agitated, angry, and frustrated, and they are more frequently outdoors in close proximity with other individuals. All of this together can unfortunately result in an increased murder rate.

“This misunderstanding of correlational relationships is also partially responsible for the widely-held belief in the ‘gateway theory’”

Correlational relationships can be helpful in assessing, understanding data, and can help develop research that will assess the possibility of a cause-effect relationship between variables. But a causative link between two variables cannot be drawn from the mere existence of a correlation between them.

This misunderstanding of correlational relationships is also partially responsible for the widely-held belief in the “gateway theory”, which incorrectly asserts that cannabis use leads to a desire for more dangerous drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

The Importance Of Understanding Selection Bias

The frequent conclusion that cannabis causes mental disorders, drawn from studies showing a link between marijuana use and mental illness, may be a directional misinterpretation. That is, it is very possible that users are more likely to utilize medical marijuana because they have a mental health disorder, and not that it actually leads to the development of mental health disorders. This can lead to a “selection bias” in studies.

According to one source, selection bias is defined by “systematic differences between comparison groups in prognosis or responsiveness to treatment”.

Most studies conducted evaluating the impact of marijuana on mental illness have used recreational consumers as participants, and therefore begin the study with inherent selection bias.

avoid bias

Some people with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or psychotic mental disorders may choose to self-medicate with marijuana, individuals with schizophrenia may be more likely to use marijuana possibly due to their genetic makeup, and certain psychotic illnesses which already exist may be exacerbated by marijuana use. Therefore, the results of many studies which find links between marijuana use and mental health disorders do not provide sufficient evidence that marijuana causes mental illness; the group that consumes cannabis is likely inherently different than their counterparts from the outset of the study.

If there are differences between the two groups before the study has even begun, it is impossible to assess whether differing results for the two groups (i.e. mental illness or no mental illness) is due to cannabis use or due to some other factor that made the two groups different in the first place.

Therefore, these studies using self-selected recreational consumers as participants do not provide valid evidence that cannabis causes mental illness.

Additionally, a recent retrospective study conducted at Harvard shows that marijuana use does not cause schizophrenia specifically.

How To Measure The Connection Between Cannabis, Mental Illness

So how can we definitively answer the question of whether or not marijuana causes mental illness? One of the highest quality study designs available to assess this question would employ a longitudinal design (i.e. the participants’ progress would be assessed over time, preferably for several years).

The researchers would randomly select individuals from a certain pool, thereby creating a group that is representative of the entire population. The representative sample would then be randomly divided into a “consumption” group or a control group that does not consume cannabis.

The consumption group would be assigned to use a certain amount of cannabis over time, whereas the control group would use none. After several years, the researchers would assess whether or not mental health issue incidence was different between the two groups.

There are few issues with conducting this type of study. For instance, these studies are of long duration, and therefore participant dropout rates may be high. Also, the legal status of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and ethical considerations may limit the ability for researchers to undertake such a study.

Intoxication, Withdrawal, And Exacerbation

Cannabis with an approximated THC content of at least 2% often produces psychoactive effects when inhaled or ingested. Examples of these potential effects include euphoria, paranoia, anxiety, depression, a distorted sense of time, magical thinking.

While there is a low risk of dependence with marijuana use, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms do exist. Their effects are generally mild, but this suggests that there is potential for both a psychological and physiological dependence in some users. When necessary to decrease dosage and frequency of medical marijuana, tapering is suggested and may minimize the experience of withdrawal. Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include irritability, anxiety, and sleep disturbance.

“Ideally, medical marijuana should be used under the supervision of a medical professional so that any progress and/or side effects can be continually monitored.”

The experiences of an altered mental state, potentially caused by intoxication and withdrawal, are short in duration and there is no evidence to suggest that they are the result of an underlying mental illness caused by cannabis consumption.

However, there is some evidence to suggest that cannabis use may exacerbate certain underlying mental health conditions in both adults and adolescents. In the review ”Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke”, Grant et al. state the following: “Although unlikely to be a factor in the application of cannabinoids for pain, there is concern that early adolescent use of cannabis may heighten later risk of psychosis, and evidence that genetic variation (single nucleotide polymorphisms) heightens vulnerability.”

Additionally, it has been suggested, though not proven, that cannabis may interrupt proper brain development if use begins early in life. For this reason, medical marijuana should primarily be used by adolescent patients only when their condition is severely debilitating and other treatments are ineffective, or have a highly unfavorable side-effect profile. Ideally, medical marijuana should be used under the supervision of a medical professional so that progress can be continually monitored.

Cannabis As A Potential Treatment For Certain Mental Illnesses

Not only is there a lack of valid and reliable evidence in support of the statement that marijuana causes mental illness, but cannabinoids and whole-plant marijuana actually may be useful as a treatment option for certain mental health issues. These include anxiety, general psychosis, schizophrenia (1, 2), depression, social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcoholism and addiction.

“There is ample existing scientific and anecdotal evidence suggesting that marijuana can help reduce PTSD symptoms. However, the clinical research hasn’t been allowed to happen yet.” – Rick Doblin

According to MAPS founder and executive director Rick Doblin, PhD, “There is ample existing scientific and anecdotal evidence suggesting that marijuana can help reduce PTSD symptoms. However, the clinical research hasn’t been allowed to happen yet. For example, pure THC has been shown to reduce PTSD-like behavior in animals, and survey research clearly shows that thousands of people with PTSD use marijuana to cope with PTSD symptoms.

In order to discover the real safety and therapeutic effectiveness of marijuana in humans with PTSD, we need clinical trials comparing subjects using marijuana to those using no marijuana, and to those using different strains with various combinations of THC and CBD, which has anti-anxiety properties.”

While relatively rare, some individuals who develop a problematic dependence on marijuana may need counseling in order to help them find alternative coping methods. However, due to the debilitation associated with these disorders, difficulties in treatment, and the safety profile of cannabis use, investigation into its relevance as a potential treatment option for mental health issues is needed.

Much more research needs to be conducted in this area before it can be stated that medical marijuana is a useful treatment for mental health conditions or their symptoms. However, the preliminary data does provide additional evidence to justify a strong challenging of the blanket statement that “marijuana causes mental illness”.


Despite the need for more research, the data gathered thus far does not provide sufficient evidence to suggest that cannabis causes mental illness. In fact, it may even be useful as an adjunct therapy for the treatment of certain mental health disorders or their symptoms.

However, due to the possible exacerbation of psychotic mental illness that medical marijuana has the potential to cause, it should be used under supervision by a physician who is aware of the patient’s current physical status and full medical (including mental health, family, and social) history.

If medical marijuana patients begin to notice any unusual changes in mood, behavior, thinking, speech, memory, or any other unusual symptoms, they are encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider immediately.

Main Reference: “Understanding Marijuana” by Dr. Mitch Earleywine


Jul 25, 2008
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(Florida) Cannabis Career Conference

Cannabis Career Institute hosted an educational conference where participants learned how to start a medical marijuana business. The conference offers courses ranging from the laws and regulations to edible options.

In November florida voters will get to decide if the broader use of medical marijuana is legal; which is why the interest to join the industry is growing.

Aaron Silverman, the co-founder of Canna Group Incorporated said, "They come in contact consultants like ourselves in order to help them navigate through the waters of this industry that they're not familiar with nor most of the other experts and professionals coming from other industries. And they start to put together their business plans and they start to go and talk to whether be investors or real estate agents or whoever might be important or necessary in the steps of the process to get their business started. "

If Governor Rick Scott signs the bill there will be five dispensaries in the state who would be authorized to distribute the plant.
The conference is on going and stopping in various states across the U.S. For more information click

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