By Steve Elliott
A year after marijuana legalization in Uruguay, the small South American country of 3.3 million people has registered 1,200 cannabis growers, the head of the National Drugs Board, Julio Calzada, announced on Monday.
"It is encouraging to have 1,200 growers after three or four months since the law came into effect," Calzada said, adding that implementation is progressing "on a clear path, carefully and under control," reports EFE.
"Roughly 500" cannabis clubs have registered with the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis, Calzada estimated. Each club can have up to 45 members and can cultivate up to 99 marijuana plants.
Calzada believes most marijuana users won't grow their own, and won't become club members. Instead he believes they'll just buy their weed through authorized pharmacies, which is still in the works.
President-Elect Tabare Vazquez, who will take office in March, said his government will abide by the law allowing cultivation and sale of marijuana through pharmacies, but left open the possibility of introducing changes in the regulations.
"We will abide by this law and we will have a very strict monitoring to see how it works," said Vazquez, a medical doctor. "If the need arises to amend the law, we will send a bill to parliament to be debated."
By Steve Elliott
Brazil will soon study the possibility of legalizing the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana derivative, to treat people suffering from severe seizures.
The country's Health Surveillance Agency, ANVISA, announced that the "reclassification" of the cannabinoid CBD -- which is illegal in Brazil -- will be discussed starting next month, reports the Associated Press.
The statement came on Friday, one day after about 40 people protested in the capital city of Brasilia to demand the legalization of CBD.
Some Brazilians resort to an underground network of illegal cannabis farmers in Rio de Janeiro that extract the CBD and donate it. That network supplies Margaret de Brito with the oil she gives her five-year-old daughter Sofia, who was born with a genetic mutation that causes seizures.
"They won't even let you pay the shipping," Brito said of the clandestine growers' group.
Her daughter's seizures have decreased dramatically since starting the treatment more than a year ago, and she's been able to stop taking another medication that made her drowsy, Brito said.
The Federal Medical Council, which regulates the medical profession in Brazil, earlier this month authorized neurologists and psychiatrists to prescribe CBD to treat epileptic children and teenagers who don't respond to conventional pharmaceuticals. (You'd think a non-toxic alternative would be the first line of treatment, not the last resort!)
One of the keys to the continued growth of the legal marijuana industry will be the implementation and standardization of controls and compliance mechanisms that assure proper amounts of cannabis are dispensed and only to authorized customers. According to Self Service News Magazine, the vending industry may be a key driver in the marijuana industry's expansion.
"The idea of an automated marijuana-dispensing machine is no longer a fantasy," the publication reports. "In fact, automated dispensing systems are now being seen as a cornerstone of the fast rising legal cannabis industry."
"By automating the identification, purchasing, and dispensing processes, legally operating cannabis dispensaries can reduce concerns about security, cash management, storage, and authenticating identification, while at the same time reducing time and labor expense," Self Service News reports.
Several companies have already introduced such machines, including MedBox Inc.'s (MDBX) devices, American Green Inc.'s (ERBB) ZaZZZ, and Endexx Corp's. (EDXC) Autospense. The manufacturer of some of these machines and the co-developer of some of the design and high tech security features is AVT, Inc. (AVTC).
"Managing Drug Use at Your Event" Aimed at Event Producers, Focuses on Improving Health and Safety of Festival Attendees
Guide Calls for Drug Education, Onsite Mental Health Services and Drug Checking
In response to an increasing number of deaths at music festivals and other events in the U.S. and a rising emphasis on use of police and enforcement tactics, a new guide aims to give event producers an alternate approach that places health first when it comes to drug use. The recommendations in the guide include onsite drug education, mental health services and drug checking.
The guide states that alcohol and other drug use is “the norm at almost all events” while acknowledging that addressing illicit drug use is challenging. Drug war-era policies, such as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act -- passed in 2003 and commonly known as the RAVE Act -- have loomed large.
The RAVE Act has been misinterpreted by many event producers as grounds to shut down their business if they take any approach to drug use beyond zero tolerance. “We know it’s a tricky subject, but it’s time to get real,” the guide states, concluding that, “The fact is, a pragmatic approach to managing drug use at events saves lives.”
As detailed by the guide, a pragmatic approach to managing drug use includes both improving practices event producers already employ, like use of security and medical teams, as well as adding new services, like onsite drug education and mental health spaces.
Vimeo on Monday announced that a new cycle of three episodes of the heralded web series "High Maintenance" will premiere exclusively on Vimeo on Demand February 5, 2015 – the second half of the series’ second season.
Created by married couple Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, the series successfully launched Vimeo On Demand’s first foray into original programming.
"High Maintenance" has received a bevy of acclaim from prestigious outlets like The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Observer, Entertainment Weekly, and Slate, among others.
The new episodes are available globally and have subtitles translated to German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, and Japanese, enabling "High Maintenance"’s audience to have an incredibly wide breadth.
"High Maintenance" centers around a cannabis dealer known simply as "The Guy" (Sinclair) who slips in and out of the lives of his clients – an eclectic array of Brooklynites, from the likes of a harried personal assistant buying weed for her boss to a misunderstood asexual magician.
In this new batch of episodes, "The Guy" is poised to deliver to a new set of clients, all who have vastly different motivations – or lack there of – for smoking weed.
Pricing for the series on Vimeo on Demand remains the same as the previous cycle of three episodes: to rent episodes individually, the cost is $1.99 or EUR 2.49. To buy all episodes the cost is $7.99 or EUR 6.49.
By Steve Elliott
Dab-haters be damned -- "concentrated cannabis" qualifies as medical marijuana, a California appellate court in Sacramento has ruled.
The unanimous decision by a three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal last week disagreed with an earlier ruling by El Dorado Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner, reversing that judge's ruling that a medical marijuana patient violated probation by possessing concentrated cannabis, reports Denny Walsh at The Sacramento Bee.
Sean Patrick Mulcrevy was charged in 2013 with unlawful possession of a concentrated cannabis, a misdemeanor, and was accused of violating his probation because of his failure "to obey all laws."
Judge Wagoner had reviewed the existing legal language indicating that cannabis concentrates are covered by California's Compassionate Use Act (CUA), the 1996 voter initiative that made the state the first to legalize medicinal use of marijuana with a doctor's authorization. But Wagoner rejected the authority as "unsound" and ruled that "the (CUA) does not apply to concentrated cannabis" because the act doesn't define "marijuana," refer to concentrates or incorporate statutory definitions of either term.
Concentrated cannabis is, according to the California Health & Safety Code, "the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from marijuana."
By Steve Elliott
More than 100 medical marijuana farmers who cultivate cannabis in the southern part of Oregon -- the epicenter of the state's growing community -- met on Thursday to voice concerns about how they'll fit into a newly regulated industry.
The meeting, organized by the Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild, was held at a grange hall in Josephine County, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The group was established last spring to represent the interests of southern Oregon's outdoor marijuana farmers.
Thursday's meeting featured a short talk by state Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), who strongly supports medical and recreational cannabis. Growers told Sen. Prozanski they don't want any changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, and they're worried about zoning restrictions that could squeeze them out of both the medical and recreational marijuana programs.
They're also worried about deep-pocketed out-of-state investors swooping into their small communities and establishing price-gouging marijuana facilities.
"My goal is not to allow the medical program to be folded into the (recreational) program," Sen. Prozanski said, addressing concerns from the growers that they could meet a similar fate as their counterparts in Washington state, where the Legislature seems intent on doing exactly that. "My goal is not to impact the small farmer."
By Steve Elliott
Ohio residents could get the chance next year to vote on a marijuana ballot issue unlike any other in the United States, involving 10 wealthy individuals who would invest to obtain the right to grow and sell marijuana wholesale for personal use by adults 21 or older.
A group calling itself ResponsibleOhio said it aims to "end marijuana prohibition" and "pursue a ballot initiative in 2015 to give voters the opportunity to let adults 21 and older use marijuana for medical and personal use," reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch.
“Marijuana for medical and personal use should be a choice made by adults 21 and older in this state. We are going to end this failed prohibition,” said Lydia Bolander, spokeswoman for the campaign.
“Legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use means increased safety because we will regulate, tax and treat marijuana like alcohol,” Bolander said. “We will smother the black market and use the taxes generated to help local communities provide vital public services.
“We need to be compassionate and ensure patients receive the treatment they rightfully deserve. We will create jobs in the agricultural, wholesale and retail marketplace, and we will drive research at our universities and hospitals,” Bolander said.
Under the plan, cannabis would be taxed, with the proceed distributed to government, according to the group. The exact method of distribution isn't detailed.
Howard R. Baer and Papa Baer Productions on Friday announced the launch of a new, improved MarijuanaSelfies.com web site, where individuals can post marijuana related “selfie” pictures and win cash and other prizes weekly.
Marijuana Selfies originally launched on Facebook in May of 2014, and now has 16,000 “likes” on its Facebook page.
Selfies that are posted on MarijuanaSelfies.com get rated by other users and each week the three highest-rated selfies win prizes ranging from marijuana-related clothing to accessories.
Users are also able to purchase MarijuanaSelfies.com apparel and participate in nationwide events.
Cash prizes of $175 to the 3 top vote-getters are given out monthly, while prizes of Marijuana Selfies clothing, cell phone covers, etc. are given to the weekly winners.
“The marijuana community is making its way into the mainstream, and through Facebook and other accounts, I’ve found that it is a very tight knit, fun loving, and friendly community," said founder Howard R. Baer.
"I thought it would be great for the community to have its own special place to post pictures, so we created MarijuanaSelfies.com.”
Since the inception of Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry, the market has grown significantly. Apart from growers, processors, and retailers, the industry has created opportunities for all types of niche businesses.
One such business is Primal Wellness, the world’s first day spa offering cannabis-infused products and related services, located in Englewood, Colorado. The spa offers a variety of massages, manicures, pedicures, yoga classes, and other services to tourists and local residents who want to experience the physical (non-psychoactive) benefits of cannabis products.
Recently, Ganjapreneur interviewed Danielli Martel, founder of Primal Wellness, as part of a series of entrepreneur and investor profiles featuring pioneers in different sectors of the rapidly growing marijuana industry. In the interview, Martel discusses her career before she founded Primal Wellness, what she thinks the future of the cosmetics industry looks like given the likelihood of new cannabis- and hemp-based products, as well as some of the obstacles that she faced while growing the business.
Colorado Attorney General says ‘suit is without merit and [his office] will vigorously defend against it’
By Steve Elliott
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday announced that he has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Colorado’s laws that legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. He said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is also joining the lawsuit, which alleges the state constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters and the implementing legislation approved by state lawmakers is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“We agree with the Colorado Attorney General’s opinion that this suit is without merit," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado marijuana initiative campaign. "This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem."
"They are wasting Nebraska and Oklahoma taxpayers’ dollars by filing this suit, and they’re forcing Coloradans to pick up the bill for defending ourselves against it," Tvert ssaid. "Colorado's top law enforcement officials have better things to do, and you’d think their counterparts in Nebraska and Oklahoma would as well.
“These guys are on the wrong side of history," Tvert said. "They will be remembered similarly to how we think of state officials who fought to maintain alcohol prohibition years after other states ended it.
In 2015, the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition will again take place in the epicenter for business and media, New York City, June 17-19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition Fall will take place September 16-18, 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in Los Angeles.
The International Cannabis Association (ICA) has entered into a strategic partnership with H.A. Bruno, LLC, a global B2B event producer for more than 40 years, to form Leading Edge Events, LLC. Leading Edge Events will now oversee the management and business development of the ICA’s trade shows and conferences centered around the legal marijuana industry in the United States.
“All of the industry’s varied interests are coming into perfect alignment for this event," said Leading Edge Events spokesman Don Berey. "Exhibitors, buyers, legislators, and ICA trade association members have all been polled and everyone is in agreement that it’s go, go, go to New York’s Javits Center next June.”
The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition Fall in Los Angeles will include dispensary owners, growers, suppliers, investors, medical professionals, government regulators, legal counsel, and entrepreneurs, according to Berey.
Friday: One Week After Death of Eight Year Old Donella Nocero, Patients and Caregivers Rally Outside Governor Cuomo’s NYC Office to Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana
Critically Ill Patients and Their Families Ask Cuomo to Grant Their Holiday Wish -- Access to Lifesaving Medication Before More Children Die
The NY Department of Health on Thursday released the draft regulations for the medical marijuana program. While full analysis of the regulations is still underway, an initial review suggests New York will be one of the more restrictive programs in the country, which could inhibit patients from obtaining the relief they need.
For instance, the draft regulations restrict the number of brands of medical marijuana to five initially without any clear rationale. There are dozens of therapeutic strains of medical cannabis, each having benefits for particular conditions.
Had such a restriction been in place in a state like Colorado, it very well may have prevented the development of marijuana strains beneficial to some children with epilepsy. Such a provision could prove to be a deterrent to industry groups. Patients and doctors deserve the flexibility to find which medicine works best.
Absent from the draft regulations is any provision for emergency access to marijuana for those patients who cannot wait for the system to come online in January 2016. Patients, family members and activists will gather outside Governor Cuomo’s New York City Office tomorrow to urge the Governor to establish an emergency access program for medical marijuana.
President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a statement saying that the eight individuals "were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws," and "their punishments did not fit their crime."
Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment, reports NPR.
The step could lead to a vast expansion of presidential clemency during Obama's last two years in office, reports Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press.
The eight new commutations include Barbara Scrivner, who was sentenced to 30 years in 1995, when she was 27 years old, for a minor rule in her husband's methamphetamine ring. The President ordered Scrivner's sentence to expire on June 12, while the others will expire April 15.
The President commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, reports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
By Steve Elliott
The former top drug prosecutor in Maine -- who fled out of state after he was convicted of child pornography charges -- is going to federal prison for almost 16 years.
James Cameron, convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of child porn, had posted bail and was released pending an appeal, reports Catherine Pegram at WABI TV.
He took off out of state in November 2012, and was caught in New Mexico a month later.
Cameron's lawyer was pushing for a 6-1/2 year sentence.
Cameron was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Bangor to 15 years and 9 months in prison.
Photo: WABI TV