By Steve Elliott
Public perceptions of marijuana have certainly shifted. According to a recent study, more Americans now favor banning unpasteurized milk than favor banning marijuana.
About 59 percent of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47 percent support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University's Food Demand Survey, reports Sam Frizell at Time Magazine.
A patchwork of different laws regulate raw milk in the U.S., much like marijuana. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho allow it.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have, to a greater or lesser degree, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis; four (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) have legalized recreational use. According to NORML, 18 states have removed criminal penalties for marijuana, known as decriminalization, reducing simple possession roughly to the equivalent of a parking ticket.
Photo: The Weed Blog
By Steve Elliott
Two Pennsylvania lawmakers have pre-filed legislation that they say would help farmers become part of the multi-million dollar hemp industry.
"The 2014 federal Farm Bill authorizes pilot programs for industrial hemp, and SB 50 provides oversight for growing, harvesting and marketing a traditional commonwealth crop while providing new opportunities for Pennsylvania farmers," said state Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks County), who is co-sponsoring the bill with state Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County).
Schwank said industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years, and was commonly grown in Pennsylvania until the last century.
About 50,000 potential applications exist for hemp, including textiles, building materials, paper, plastics, foods, medicines, biomass, and environmental products.
"The use of industrial hemp provides a multitude of benefits," Folmer said. "The best farmland preservation is allowing farmers to farm their land profitably.
"Hemp is also a crop that helps the environment," Folmer said. "Consumers will benefit from the many uses of hemp."
More than a dozen other states have already passed laws allowing either hemp farming or research programs. The hemp industry was worth an estimated $500 million in 2012, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
By Steve Elliott
Talk about a super bowl, man. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a potent new marijuana strain named after him in the Emerald City... for the second year in a row.
Nate "Diggity" Johnson, co-owner of marijuana delivery service Green Umbrella, developed "Beast Mode OG," a strain named after the football star during the run-up to last year's Super Bowl, reports Stephen Cohen at the Seattle PI. Now Johnson and an unnamed grower have released "Beast Mode 2.0," also known as "Beast Mode Blue Fire," just in time for this year's big game.
According to Diggity, this Beast Mode is even crazier than last year's. "We're back in the Super Bowl and better than ever now, so it only makes sense to have a better strain," Johnson said.
Careful, though, you might get weed-tackled.
"There's no way that you're getting by smoking this without feeling it, kind of how Marshawn literally pushes the defense down instead of them pushing him down," Johnson enthused. "It's going to push you. You're going to feel it right away."
"It's a super pain reliever," Johnson told TMZ. "And it hits you like Marshawn -- hard and fast."
Utah-based Dose of Nature last week launched a state-of-the-art CBD (cannabidiol) product line, applying proprietary technologies to create what it calls "the first nano CBD and water-soluble CBD products in the market."
CBD has been at the forefront of the news lately in its application to treat pediatric epilepsy, autism, cancer, pain, PTSD, brain injuries, anxiety, and various neurological conditions.
Most CBD pastes or oils being used today have a very strong taste and are slowly and poorly absorbed into the body. Dose of Nature says it addresses these issues using its proprietary Hydrosome™ and BioXTrax™ technologies, making water-soluble CBD taste better, more rapidly absorbed, and more bioavailable within minutes of ingestion.
"The Hydrosome™ technology represents a shift in how nutritional supplements, and even pharmaceuticals, can be delivered," said Dr. Rick Potts, president of Dose of Nature. "This integrative approach is far superior to liposomes in terms of unlocking the true potential of natural remedies, optimizing the speed and breadth of nutrient delivery throughout the body."
The new Dose of Nature product line will include:
• Sweet CBD™: this water-soluble form of concentrated CBD is readily absorbed in the stomach, and is created through a multiplex bonding process of highly-refined RedStrap CBD Oil to 100% vegetable glycerin without the need for preservatives, flavors, or emulsifying agents.
By Steve Elliott
A new marijuana-based spray which claims to help women have better sex is hitting the shelves in Colorado this week.
Foria, containing cannabis extract, claims the relaxing properties of weed will help women have better and more satisfying sex, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today. The spray has been available for a few months in California, but only to people with a medical marijuana authorization; the Colorado roll-out will be to the general public, since adults 21 and over are allowed to buy and use cannabis in the Rocky Mountain State.
The edible, coconut oil-based spray is designed to be sprayed onto the vagina about 30 minutes before sex. It's making its Colorado debut on Thursday at an Aspen marijuana boutique.
Foria originates from Aphrodite Group, a California medical marijuana collective. It's the latest in a growing line of cannabis-infused products, including lotions, candies and patches. The long history of marijuana use gives "significant credibility" to the concept, according to scientists.
"Cannabis is an aphrodisiac," said Genifer Murray, CEO of CannLabs, a leading marijuana-testing company. "And there's a lot of nerves down there."
Foria's slick marketing campaign is setting it apart from its competitors. The company is launching Foria at the X Games in Aspen, which begin January 22. A video on the Foria website features women speaking about how they use it and its effects.
By Steve Elliott
Sometimes you just know someone really means it when you see the message on their t-shirt. A Florida man was arrested in Kmart wearing a black t-shirt that asked in large white letters: "Who Needs Drugs?" Beneath that, the shirt says in smaller lettering, "No, seriously, I have drugs."
John Balmer, an unemployed 50-year-old Pennsylvania native living in Spring Hill, Florida, entered the Kmart at 12412 U.S. 19 Monday night wearing the shirt, reports Geoff Fox at The Tampa Tribune.
Balmer was reportedly waiting in a checkout line at the store when a deputy entered. When Balmer saw the deputy, he attempted to pass a plastic bag containing marijuana and methamphetamine to the person standing behind him in line, according to a sheriff's report.
When the person refused the bag, Balmer walked to another cash register and dropped the bag on the floor, according to the report.
Balmer was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana; he's been arrested in Pasco several times since 2006, according to the sheriff's office. In 2002, he got just over a year in state prison for burglary and trafficking in stolen property, according to state corrections records.
Balmer was in the Land O'Lakes Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $2,150, according to jail records.
Photo of John Balmer: The Fix
By Steve Elliott
The Michigan appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, this week overturned a Tuscola County marijuana conviction, ruling that all cannabis is not equal, especially in a medical marijuana case.
Sheriff's deputies discovered marijuana in Johnnie Randall's pickup truck, along with dozens of plants in a building in Millington, 30 miles northeast of Flint, reports the Associated Press.
Randall was accused of having too much cannabis by weight, despite having a medical marijuana card and permission to grow as a caregiver for other patients.
The appeals court ruled that only a portion of the cannabis was dried and usable as medicine. The court said previous Judge William Caprathe made a mistake to use the weight of leftover stems and stalks.
By Steve Elliott
The number of patients enrolled in Michigan's medical marijuana program dropped for the second year in 2014, according to state statistics.
Last year, the number of MMJ cards for patients in the program totaled 96,408, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, reports Charles E. Ramirez at The Detroit News. That number has fallen from 119,470 patients in 2011 and 118,368 in 2013.
An overwhelming 63 percent of Michigan voters approved the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008. It allows residents with debilitating medical conditions and a doctor's authorization to legally use cannabis.
Under the law, Michigan residents can apply for and obtain license to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes.
Bureaucrats with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs wouldn't speculate on why the numbers are down, and Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it's not clear what's behind the decline. "The number of patients in Michigan has been fluctuating and it's not clear what's behind the decline," Fox said.
Fox said one big reason that probably limits participation in Michigan's program is that patients don't feel the law protects them from prosecution. Gung-ho anti-pot law enforcement agencies, led by notoriously anti-cannabis Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, have shown a disquieting eagerness to raid patients and providers.
Florida's medical marijuana initiative lost momentum in 2014 after falling just short of the 60 percent needed to pass. But most Floridians believe that it's no longer a question of it, but when, medicinal cannabis comes to the Sunshine State.
The fact of the matter is that nearly 3.5 million Florida voters supported Amendment 2 -- medical marijuana -- in 2014. United for Care has already begun the process of collecting signatures to get medical marijuana back on the ballot for 2016, and pressure is mounting on the Florida Legislature to expand the already existing CBD-only "Charlotte's Web" law to include higher-THC strains as well.
That's why Sheridan Rafer, founder of the Institute of Medical Cannabis in Boca Raton, says "2015 should actually be a big year for medical marijuana and we will continue to provide education and training."
According to Rafer, last year, the Institute of Medical Cannabis, or IMC Florida for short, signed up more than 300 members and trained more than 100 individuals. The Institute offers four courses, primarily focusing on cultivation.
At IMC, students learn about medical marijuana and the medicinal cannabis industry while attending lectures and receiving practical training in "fully operational grow rooms." However, the Institute notes, "Until changes are initiated in the state and/or federal law, all hands-on training at IMC will be conducted with vegetables and herbs which are organically similar to cannabis."
Larry Harvey argues that new Congressional measure should prevent the DOJ from prosecuting his family
A motion to dismiss has been filed in a widely watched federal medical marijuana case involving a family from rural northeastern Washington State. Larry Harvey, 71, of the Kettle Falls Five, has moved for dismissal of his case or an order preventing further prosecution. The motion relies on the recently enacted Congressional measure that bans funding for medical marijuana enforcement by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"Prosecuting persons who may be operating in compliance with state medical marijuana laws prevents states from implementing their own laws," reads the brief written by Harvey's attorney, Robert Fischer. Harvey's motion argues that state law is undermined by discouraging lawful patients from accessing medical marijuana because of the threat of federal prosecution.
Harvey also argues that "federal prosecutions take away Washington's authority to determine for itself whether someone is in compliance with its laws or not."
Harvey's motion to dismiss comes just a month after President Obama signed the so-called "Cromnibus" spending bill, which included Section 538, an historic rider that prohibits DOJ funds from being spent to block implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Advocates argue that federal prosecutions like that of the Kettle Falls Five run contrary to the spirit and letter of the law now in effect.
Calling for Alternatives to Drug Testing for “Recreational” Drugs that Aren’t Performance Enhancers
The NCAA announced on Thursday that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for recreational drug use. The news comes just days after two University of Oregon football players were suspended for the College Football Playoff national championship game for testing positive for marijuana.
The NCAA Competitive safeguards committee made two recommendations. The first would strengthen the NCAA drug testing for performance-enhancing drugs, while the second would develop alternatives to drug testing for non-performance enhancing drugs like marijuana because “they do not provide a competitive advantage.”
“Given that testing over nearly 30 years hasn’t served as an adequate deterrent – plus the fact that student-athletes who are penalized for recreational drug use by losing eligibility are more likely to drop out of school – the committee suggested the NCAA explore whether a different approach for recreational drugs is warranted,” the NCAA release stated.
According to the statement, the NCAA Sport Science Institute staff will develop a new policy proposal based on those recommendations and will bring the committee’s proposal to the divisional governing bodies in the coming months.
Property Seizures by Local and State Police Often Conducted Under Pretext that Property Is Connected to Illegal Drugs
Advocates Applaud Holder for New Policy, Urge Congress to Make Reforms Permanent
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The U.S. Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy.
The new policy will greatly restrict the ability of state and local police forces to use fedeal law to seize goods without charging an individual with a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is a process by which authorities seize property alleged to have been involved in a crime, charge the property directly, since goods do not have the same constitutional protections as their owners, and then keep most of the proceeds for departmental use.
The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.
By Steve Elliott
Washington has a weed headache. Implementation of the state's weak, badly written marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502, continues to be plagued with problems. When legal recreational cannabis shops opened last summer, there was a shortage of weed, and high prices. Now, six months later, there's a glut of weed, as growers are left sitting on hundreds of pounds of product -- but prices are still absurdly high at the 502 stores.
A big autumn harvest of outdoor cannabis from the eastern part of the state flooded the market, reports the Associated Press. That would normally mean plummeting prices at pot shops, but even as growers are worried about going belly up, pot shops continue to charge $23 to $25 a gram -- more than twice the going price either on the street or in medical marijuana dispensaries.
"It's an economic nightmare," said Andrew Seitz, general manager at Dutch Brothers Farms in Seattle.
Licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of marijuana as of Thursday, according to state data, but Washington's few licensed pot shops had sold less than 20 percent of that. Many marijuana users in Washington, faced with ridiculously out-of-synch prices in state marijuana stores, have opted to stick with the less expensive pot they buy on the black market, or at medical marijuana dispensaries.
A panel of experts will speak on "Cannabis as a Biotechnology" from 3:30 to 5 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce at 1401 Willamette Street.
Speakers include Troy Morris of MxResearch and colleagues who will explore medical and recreational cannabis as a "real resource, a clinical tool, which should benefit Oregon most if applied effectively," reports Eugene Weekly.
"The approach creates a hub of biotechnology in Eugene, and converts the old-world I-5 drug corridor into a pipeline for research connecting performance agriculture with biotech quantification and clinical investigations that generate best practice, direction and policy," reads a statement from the organizers.
For more information, contact Paul Berger, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Legalizing recreational marijuana production, distribution and possession in Vermont could generate significant tax revenues, but also involves costs and important decisions about how best to regulate the substance, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The report makes clear that if Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated.
The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. Researchers say the goal of the report is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.
The RAND report provides the most-detailed accounting available about the wide number of issues that face state officials -- in Vermont and elsewhere -- when considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.
“Our conversation about whether to legalize marijuana must be rooted in facts and be transparent about the uncertainties,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “This RAND report will serve as a critical foundation for our ongoing discussion about the best course for Vermont.
"I continue to support moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont but have always said that we have to proceed with rigorous research and preparation before deciding whether to act," Shumlin said. "This report will help us do that.”