Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem
The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.
SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.
“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.
State High Court Ruling Provides Safe Harbor for Those Who Challenge Wrongful Convictions Based on Tainted Evidence from the Hinton State Drug Lab
The highest court in Massachusetts on Monday provided a safe harbor for thousands of people with tainted convictions stemming from Annie Dookhan's misconduct at the Hinton state drug lab.
In a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, and Foley Hoag LLP on behalf of three individuals affected by the lab scandal, the Supreme Judicial Court issued a sweeping defense of due process, ruling that people may challenge their wrongful convictions without fear of retaliation by prosecutors.
"Today's decision is a profound victory for tens of thousands of people who were denied due process by misconduct at the Hinton Lab, and for anyone who has a stake in the integrity of the Commonwealth's criminal justice system," said Matthew R. Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "For years, many of Annie Dookhan's victims have worried that challenging their tainted convictions could subject them to even harsher convictions and sentences.
"Many others did not even know that they could challenge their convictions in court, because public officials neither identified all of Dookhan's cases nor directly notified her victims," Segal said. "In a sense, many people did not know how to find the courthouse doors, and many others were too afraid to knock.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana-infused coffee has been around awhile, but now you can get cannabis-infused Keurig-style coffee pods.
Seattle recreational marijuana store Uncle Ike's Pot Shop has started selling "Catapult" K-Cup style coffees infused with cannabis, reports Meredith Engel at the New York Daily News.
The pods, made by Fairwinds Manufacturing, work in single-serving coffeemakers and include 10 milligrams of THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That's not a big dose, but it's the maximum allowed by Washington state in recreational cannabis edibles.
The pods cost $10 each, and that's a bargain, according to Uncle Ike's sales manager Jennifer Lanzador. "People might scoff at the price, but when you think of Starbucks (charging) $4, $5 a cup anyway, and you get the nice kick of THC, it's really not an expensive price at all," she said.
"It's delicious," Lanzador said. "Sometimes with edibles you'll get that real pot flavor, (but) I did not notice much of a pot taste."
With both energy-boosting and calming effects, it reminded her of a Red Bull/vodka cocktail, Lanzador said. "I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis," she said, reports Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist.
Politicians in Salem are poised to pass a bill at 5 p.m. on Monday that would partially dismantle Oregon’s medical marijuana system and ban state-regulated marijuana businesses. The Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91 is planning to slip this by quickly, without any public testimony.
Public testimony is crucial because politicians need to know why this bill is so bad for Oregon. New Approach Oregon is asking that you please take a moment right now to call a few state senators and tell them them the public should have the right to be heard before the medical marijuana system is drastically changed. Phone numbers are below.
"We voted to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana, NOT to have politicians push it into the criminal market and make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get life-saving medicine," said Measure 91 Chief Petitioner Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon.
Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91:
Sen. Ginny Burdick (D): 503-986-1718
Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D): 503-986-1704
Sen. Jeff Kruse (R): 503-986-1701
Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R): 503-986-1950
Sen. Lee Beyer (D): 503-986-1706
Senate Democratic Leadership:
Senate President, Peter Courtney: 503-986-1600
Senate Majority Leader, Diane Rosenbaum: 503-986-1700
Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Arnie Roblan: 503-986-1705
Senate Majority Whip, Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward: 503-986-1717
Senate Majority Whip, Mark Haas: 503-986-1714
Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Michael Dembrow: 503-986-1723
The National Cannabis Industry Association on Friday announced its second annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, taking place June 29-July 1 in Denver, Colorado.
The summit will offer cannabis business leaders an open forum to discuss best practices and business developments throughout the industry. Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to explore various workshops and tours, view over 100 exhibitor stations, network with over 2,000 attendees from the cannabis business industry, attend an investor demo day event, and finally let loose at the popular Cannabis Carnival II.
The summit is positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry. Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their area of expertise.
Tracks offered include: Running Your Cannabusiness; Cultivation and Processing; Money Matters: Finance, Accounting and Insurance; The Law, Policy and Reform; as well as Emerging Topics offering attendees an open forum to discuss industry updates and trends. Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry's leading pioneers and figureheads.
• Investor Demo Day Event, featuring a select group of cannabis startups
• Second Annual Cannabis Carnival Music Concert, featuring an eclectic lineup of world-class musicians
The Ninth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics will be held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on May 21 through May 23, with more 30 of the top healthcare professionals, doctors, and patients advocating Medical Cannabis treatments.
Patients out of Time is hosting The Ninth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on May 21 through May 23. Patients out of Time will bring together world-renowned experts in cannabis therapeutics to assist healthcare workers, related business interests, and the general public, from around the country, on ways to improve patient outcomes with the use of cannabis therapeutics.
The conference will have expert presentations, panel discussions and onsite exhibitors available to introduce healthcare professionals to the fundamental research on the use of cannabis as an effective and powerful medicine. This conference will award Continuing Medical Education credits for healthcare workers who participate in specific events.
There will also be a special benefit dinner and auction to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Patients Out of Time.
"Cannabis is a powerful and effective medicine, "said Mary Lynn Mathre, president and cofounder of Patients Out of Time and the president and founding member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about everything from cannabis healthcare administration to social advocacy from world leaders in the field."
The first successful Santa Cruz County voter referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15.
Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county, with 7,248 valid signatures required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
The ordinance was suspended when the Santa Cruz County Clerk Elections Department confirmed on May 11 that the referendum petitions contained more than the minimum number of signatures. The county has 30 calendar days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from the date the petition was filed, May 7, to verify the validity of the signatures.
As provided in the California Elections Code, 500 randomly selected petition signatures will be verified initially. For this referendum, 71.1 percent of the randomly selected signatures must be valid to qualify the referendum for the ballot based on the random sample count alone.
As of 4 pm on Friday, May 15, the Clerk's office had processed 266 signatures and found 73.6 percent of them to be valid. Based on this trend, the referendum will most likely qualify for the ballot when the remaining 234 randomly selected signatures have been checked.
If the validity rate at that point is below 71.1 percent, all of the signatures must be verified. To reach the minimum 7,248 required, an overall validity rate above 64.7 percent must be maintained in a full count.
By Steve Elliott
Massachusetts health authorities on Friday moved to dramatically overhaul the license granting process for medical marijuana dispensaries, hoping to streamline the process and remove subjectivity and politics.
Regulators from Governor Charlie Baker's administration said the new process gets rid of the secrecy they claimed was prevalent under former Governor Deval Patrick's administration, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. Controversay about the previous system of licensure inspired more than two dozen lawsuits.
Massachusetts patients still have no safe access at dispensaries, two and a half years after voters approved medicinal cannabis. Fifteen dispensaries have already been licensed, but none has opened.
“This change creates a more streamlined, efficient, and transparent process that allows the Commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner.
Under the new guidelines, dispensaries will be licensed similarly to other health care facilities such as pharmacies. Each application will be judged using clear guidelines and will move forward when the applying company meets the overhauled standards, according to officials. The old system involved scoring, essentially pitting applicants against each other.
BioTrackTHC™, a provider of seed-to-sale software tracking solutions for marijuana businesses and government regulators, on Thursday announced partnerships that provide the company's seed-to-sale medical marijuana tracking technology and training to the University of Technology, Jamaica and the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.
The two universities are growing medical marijuana for research purposes and are the only entities legally allowed to grow marijuana in the country until business licenses are approved.
"We are proud to be working with both of Jamaica's institutions of higher learning to help bolster knowledge and infrastructure for the legal medical marijuana industry in Jamaica," said Patrick Vo, co-CEO, BioTrackTHC. "It's a mutual education process whereby our company is learning about the needs of Jamaica while sharing our technology and expertise that is leading the way in the rapidly expanding U.S. market.
"Our goal is to provide a solution that is tailored to meet the specific needs and priorities of the Jamaican people and their new medical marijuana industry," Vo said. "We look forward to the results of their research."
By Steve Elliott
Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Thursday said he would be open to legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, providing science shows it can benefit patients and "tight regulations" can control distribution.
"I'm open to the idea of medical marijuana and the discussion of how it can be used as a medicine based on science, and making sure we have good, collaborative efforts so we can answer the questions that are out there," Gov. Herbert said, reports Robert Gehrke at The Salt Lake Tribune.
The governor's position has noticeably softened since the recent legislative session, when he expressed "concerns" about a bill sponsored by state Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs) which would have created a state-licensed system of medicinal cannabis growing facilities and dispensaries for patients with a doctor's authorization.
At that time, Gov. Herbert had claimed Madsen's bill could lead to a "slippery slope" towards legal recreational use. Madsen's bill failed in the Senate by a single vote; he's said he will reintroduce it next year.
The governor's comments represent progress, according to Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, a libertarian think tank. "Even during the legislative session, it became clear that the governor was backtracking his initial opposition to medical cannabis, so we expected this to happen and are encouraged to see him becoming more open-minded to it, just as many legislators are," Boyack said.
Kush Bottles, a North American supplier of customizable child-resistant packaging solutions and accessories for the marijuana industry, on Tuesday announced that they have acquired Dank Bottles, LLC, dba Kush Bottles Colorado.
The acquisition comes one year after an agreement was struck between the two companies, granting Dank Bottles an exclusive distributorship of Kush Bottles products in the state of Colorado.
Greg Gamet, Justin Jones and Bryan Sullivan, the founders of Dank Bottles, will remain active leaders in the Colorado operations and will take on additional business development responsibilities nationally, according to the company.
"Greg and group have done a phenomenal job in taking over the market and making Kush Bottles Colorado the state's premier marijuana packaging provider," said Nicholas Kovacevich, cofounder and CEO of Kush Bottles, Inc. "Through this acquisition, we are able to fully integrate the Dank Bottles team and resources into our company, including their warehouse and extensive distribution network."
Ben Wu, president of Kush Bottles, said the real winners will be the company's customers. "We are now the only cannabis packaging company with full service distribution centers in the three largest marijuana markets: California, Colorado and Washington," he said.
In a scenario which is becoming sadly familiar, another state (hello, Washington!) is using the pretext of recreational marijuana legalization in an attempt to shut down medical marijuana facilities.
Some politicians in Salem want to undermine Oregon voters by making it easy to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, according to New Approach Oregon. If Senate Bill 964 passes, city councils and county commissions could arbitrarily shut down medical marijuana facilities — without a vote of the people.
"That’s not the policy Oregonians voted for when passing Measure 91 with more than 56 percent of the vote," reads an email from New Approach Oregon. "We promised to protect medical marijuana patients who depend on local dispensaries to get life-saving medicine."
But Senate Bill 964 would partially dismantle Oregon’s medical marijuana program. It would invite expensive lawsuits that could disrupt implementation of Measure 91. It would feed the criminal market.
SB 964 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ginny Burdick and Republican Senator Jeff Kruse.
Both The Oregonian and the Register-Guard have published editorials calling for a public vote, as Measure 91 allows.
Call To Action
Please send emails to the Senate and House Democrats right now.
DEA Increasingly Scrutinized as States Legalize Marijuana and Public Opinion Turns Against Failed Drug War
A senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. Attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.
Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration’s hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state, and other Drug War problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead showing remarkable deference to the DEA’s administrators.
House of Jane, a not-for-profit corporation involved in the cannabis-infused beverage industry, on Wednesday announced that it is teaming up with Silver State Trading, a Nevada cultivator, manufacturer and distributor of medical-grade cannabis and associated products, to bring Jane’s Brew™, a line of cannabis-infused beverages, to Nevada patients this month.
In addition, Jane’s Brew™, a scientifically-developed cannabidiol (CBD) and THC beverages and edibles product line, will be on display at HempCon Cup in Las Vegas on May 15-17 at Cashman Center, which is located at 850 N Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas.
“We are excited to collaborate with Silver State Trading to bring Jane’s Brew™ to Nevada,” said Ben-David Sheppard, managing partner of House of Jane. "Their extensive expertise in cultivating, manufacturing and distributing medical cannabis, matched with our top of the line brand of cannabis-infused edibles, is a perfect partnership.
"Since our launch of Jane’s Brew™ in January of this year, we’ve had great success in California with over 100 dispensaries carrying our product, and we are looking to have this same success in Nevada," Sheppard said.
“For more than 30 years I’ve been a believer in the benefits of medical cannabis,” said Jill Amen, founder of House of Jane. “I also believe the medicinal and wellness aspects of the plant are best delivered in forms other than inhaling and smoking, and that is why I created a brand of cannabis-infused drinkables.
By Steve Elliott
Do you use cannabis every day, religiously? So does Indiana's Bill Levin, and he's taking advantage of the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) -- passed to legalize discrimination against gays in restaurants and other establishments -- to offer a bold test of the law's ban on government restraints on the exercise of religion.
Adherents of the recently established First Church of Cannabis worship and smoke marijuana, reports Steven Nelson at US News & World Report, which is illegal to grow, use or possess under state law.
It's unclear if local police and prosecutors will take action against the church, or accept claims the conduct is protected by the RFRA. We'll know more after the church's first worship service, scheduled for July 1, the same day the RFRA takes effect.
Levin said he's trying to find a church building willing to lease him space. He said the July 1 service will happen "come hell or high water" and that he will consider any suitable alternative, including religious campgrounds, private land, or a public park.