By Steve Elliott
A website known as the "Priceline of pot" allows medical marijuana patients to compare cannabis costs at 1,100 dispensaries in six states, according to Wikileaf founder Dan Nelson.
Nelson, a financial blogger, said based the site on the interest rate comparison model for banks, reports Jolie Lee of the USA TODAY Network. "I thought the same dynamic could be applied to the medical and legal marijuana businesses," Nelson said.
Users of the site can set how much they want to pay, and how many miles they can travel for marijuana. They have to actually travel to the listed dispensaries to complete the purchase. Favorite strains can also be located.
Sites such as Wikileaf, along with competitors Weedmaps, Leafly and THC Finder, give dispensaries the opportunity for exposure. Nelson said Wikileaf is different, because the other sites are focused on user ratings.
His site, Nelson said, is the first to offer price comparisons. "I'd go to a dispensary that offered me a strain for this amount of money, and I'd walk two blocks down, and a dispensary would offer me twice as much for the same amount of money," Nelson said.
By Steve Elliott
The first group of about 20 retail marijuana stores will open in Washington state on July 8, if all goes according to plan. Of course, we were also told that the first stores would already be open by now, so a wait-and-see attitude might be best.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board plans to issue the first retail marijuana licenses on Monday, July 7, and the new licensees will use the first 24 hours to get the cannabis into their store tracing program, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle P.I. Once that's done, the stores can open on July 8, according to Brian Smith, communications director for the LCB.
Pricing at the stores, opening as part of the implementation of limited legalization measure I-502, isn't expected to be very consumer-friendly. "I would assume $20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices," said Michael Perkins, who said he expects to open a store in Seattle on July 8.
Perkins said that even at those prices, "I expect to run out of product."
By Steve Elliott
It's Primary Election Day in Maryland, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur says marijuana should be legalized and taxed. None of the other candidates in the race, from either party, share that position.
"Marijuana prohibition makes our communities less safe and wastes valuable law enforcement resources," Mizeur said, reports Jayne Miller at WBAL-TV. "Why should we treat something less toxic and addictive any differently than alcohol or tobacco?"
Mizeur said she'd use the funds to help pay for education. "Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education," she said.
Both other candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination said they support the Maryland Legislature's move this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but neither Attorney General Doug Gansler nor Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is willing to support legalization.
"I do not support the legalization of marijuana at this time," Brown said. "The states of Colorado and Washington -- two states that have legalized it -- will provide an example of the socioeconomic challenges and pitfalls to marijuana legalization.
"We will learn from their experiences and assess whether addition changes to Maryland's law are warranted," Brown said.
Citizens Take to the Streets on June 26 to Protest Current Drug Policies and to Call for an End to the Senseless Criminalization of Drug Users
Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities on Thursday, June 26, to fight harmful drug laws that have caused health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.
Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in New York, London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions include peaceful demonstrations, street performances, public meetings and workshops, social media campaigns and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.
The events are scheduled to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is also June 26. The U.N.’s anti-drugs day is used by many governments to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been marked with public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.
The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.
By Steve Elliott
It's Hail Mary, but hold the Jane, according to Pope Francis, who just proved that there are definite limits to how cool the "Cool New Pope" is willing to be. Could he who is without sin cast out the stoners?
The Pope has been taking social media by storm, bringing the Roman Catholic Church into the 21st Century, and has garnered an enormous amount of good publicity in doing so, reports Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post. But he isn't willing to endorse the legalization of marijuana.
The Pontiff told members of a drug enforcement conference meeting in Rome on Friday that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects," reports the Associated Press.
"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," the Pope said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs. Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise." This dude sounds as bad as Nancy Reagan.
Pope Francis has frequently railed against the "evil" of drugs, and has met with recovering addicts on several occasions.
By Steve Elliott
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Friday that states which have legalized marijuana "probably" wouldn't be treated well if he is elected President.
The governor was campaigning with New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein when he was asked by Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C., perhaps. If you were President, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"
"Probably not well," Christie responded, walking away from the conversation, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens." Christie's statement was captured in a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
"It's one thing for Governor Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado; quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became President," Slattery said.
"Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs," said Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, of the governor's comment.
Twenty-three states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, with New York being the latest; Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use as well. Alaska votes on legalization in August.
By Steve Elliott
A group supporting medical marijuana is walking across North Carolina with the aim of convincing lawmakers to act on the issue.
The group, March Against Fear, has been walking across the state since June 6, reports Steve Sbraccia at WNCN News. They started in Asheville, highlighting their journey with clips on YouTube.
One of the members is shown carrying a plastic marijuana plant in the videos. The others carry signs and stop along the way to raise support for House Bill 1161, which would create a constitutional amendment to legalize the medical use of cannabis in North Carolina.
In the meantime, the North Carolina House last week passed another measure, HB 1220, which would allow the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, an extract of medical marijuana that's been known to quell epileptic seizures in children.
HB 1220 now moves to the North Carolina Senate. If it's approved there, it will go to the desk of Governor Pat McCrory, who can either sign the bill or veto it.
Some families have moved from North Carolina to Colorado, where CBD oil is already legal. But those families said they would move back home to North Carolina if the use of CBD oil is legalized there.
By Steve Elliott
If you have a Phillies Blunt, fire that thing up, man. The Philadelphia City Council, with a veto-proof 13-3 majority, on Thursday voted to decriminalize marijuana. The Philadelphia Police Department could stop arresting people for possessing small amounts of cannabis under the bill, with every Democrat on the council voting in favor of it, and every Republican against it.
Democratic Michael Michael Nutter has until September to make a decision, reports WPVI-TV; even if he chose to veto it, there are enough votes to override his veto.
Mayor Nutter doesn't have to take any action at all on the bill, according to Councilman Jim Kenney's director of legislation, Jim Engler, until the Council is back in session in September. The mayor could either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing, which would result in the bill becoming law without the mayor's endorsement, reports Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Magazine.
The mayor's spokesman, Mark McDonald, wouldn't immediately say if Nutter plans to sign the bill.
Under the measure, the police would no longer be required to arrest adults 18 and older for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of such amounts would still be punishable by a $25 fine.
By Steve Elliott
Hillary Clinton supports the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes "under appropriate circumstances" and thinks medical marijuana should be researched, she said in a Tuesday interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Clinton said she's taking a "wait and see" approach to recreational use.
"At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes," Clinton said on CNN. "I don't think we've done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances."
"But I do think we need more research because we don't know how it interacts with our drugs," she said. (Actually, we know quite a bit about how cannabis reacts with other drugs, as it's one of the most studied substances in history.)
"On recreational, states are the laboratories of democracy," Clinton said. "We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is."
Clinton said she'd never personally tried marijuana, nor did she plan to. "Absolutely not," she said. "I didn't do it when I was young; I'm not going to start now."
Hope is On the Way for Thousands of Seriously Ill New Yorkers, Despite Flawed Bill
Patients, Caregivers and Healthcare Providers Praise Lawmakers and Vow to Fight for Improvements
By Steve Elliott
The New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly on Friday passed a medical marijuana bill, making New York the 23rd state to create legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. After days of tense negotiations, the bill was passed in the final hours of the legislative session on Friday.
Governor Cuomo has said he will sign the bill into law. The bill will provide relief for thousands of New York patients suffering from serious and debilitating conditions – such as cancer, MS, and epilepsy, by allowing the use of medical marijuana under the supervision of their physician.
Patients, caregivers and providers watched from the gallery as the Senate debated and then voted 49 to 10 in favor of the bill.
Late last week, Governor Cuomo announced a series of last-minute changes that he wanted to the bill. The bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, worked tirelessly to accommodate the Governor’s concerns so that a deal could move forward.
Conference hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, focused on cannabusiness professionals; more than 800 expected to attend
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will hold its first ever Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, June 24 – 25.
The event is expected to draw more than 800 cannabis industry leaders, entrepreneurs and service providers to discuss best practices, technological advances, evolving regulatory environments, opportunities, and responsibilities surrounding the rapidly growing legal cannabis industry.
“The Cannabis Business Summit will be one of the largest and most professional gatherings of cannabis industry leaders in the country,” said Taylor West, deputy director of NCIA. “It’s a must-attend event for anyone trying to understand the legal cannabis industry and where it’s headed.
“It’s also an incredible opportunity for cannabusiness people, investors, policy reformers, and media to all meet, talk, and learn from each other,” West said.
Those attending are expected to be new and experienced dispensary owners and operators, cultivation professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, regulators, infused product specialists, attorneys, industry consultants and cannabis-related service providers. The summit’s agenda covers:
· Cannabusiness 101
· Advanced Cannabusiness
· Ancillary Services and Products
· Cannabis Policy and Reform
· Emerging Topics and Roundtable Discussions
Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients
Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.
“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."
In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.
Senate, Assembly and Governor Announce Medical Marijuana Deal
Thousands Will Still Benefit, Although Bill Excludes Smoked Marijuana
The New York Assembly, Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a deal to move forward on a limited medical marijuana program, which makes New York the 23rd state to adopt such a program. The new law will provide relief to thousands of New Yorkers suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, as well as children struggling with seizure disorders.
Although the final bill language has not yet been released, advocates were pleased to hear that there had been a breakthrough in Albany. As recently as yesterday, it was unclear that an agreement could be reached between the Governor and legislative leaders on behalf of thousands of patients and their caregivers who have demanded passage of the Compassionate Care Act, which recently passed the Assembly.
Information currently available about the bill suggests that it has some serious limitations and restrictions. For example, the bill would prohibit smoking, restrict any access to the raw plant form of marijuana. The number of producers and dispensaries is also reportedly extremely limited, raising questions about whether the system will be able to meet the needs of patients in New York.
“New York has finally done something significant for thousands of patients who are suffering and need relief now," said gabriel sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. "They will benefit from this compromise.
The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.
The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.
The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.
“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.
By Steve Elliott
Clark County, Nevada commissioners on Tuesday approved 101 applications from medical marijuana developers who want to open cultivation, production (processing), and laboratory facilities from Laughlin to Las Vegas.
Commissioners approved the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of the applications with unanimous votes, reports Ben Botkin at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, rejecting only five applications from a pool of 106. They had started the day with 112 applications, but six applicants withdrew.
In the seven-hour hearing, the commission approved 58 permits for cultivation facilities, 38 permits for production facilities and five permits for laboratory testing. The applicants will still need approval from the state.
The five rejected applications were due to unsuitable facilities or lack of expertise in growing cannabis, reports Conor Shine at the Las Vegas Sun.
Commissioners earlier this month approved applications for 18 dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Clark County.
Among the applicants on Tuesday were Brian Greenspun, editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, and Randy Black, a longtime casino executive and businessman who retired last year from Mesquite Gaming.