“We’re taking our legislative strategy to a new level, enlisting a top-quality bipartisan team to further fight for the rights of our responsible small business owners.”
With the legal marijuana business valued at nearly $3 billion nationwide and growing, a national trade group -- the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) -- is expanding its advocacy team on Capitol Hill.
NCIA has partnered with D.C.-based public affairs firms Heather Podesta + Partners and Jochum Shore & Trossevin PC to magnify its efforts to address the industry’s top federal priorities: access to basic banking services and fair federal taxation.
“In the five years since NCIA was formed, we’ve gone from simply seeking to have our industry’s issues taken seriously to bipartisan legislation introduced in both chambers,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “We’ve seen successful appropriations amendment votes on the House floor and in Senate committee, and we’ve helped bring together a coalition of lawmakers that spans the political spectrum.
“Now we’re taking our legislative strategy to a new level, enlisting a top-quality bipartisan team to further fight for the rights of our responsible small business owners to be treated fairly under federal law,” Smith said.
Senator Chuck Schumer Joins NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Sponsoring the CARERS Act, a Bill that Would End Federal Prohibition of Medical Marijuana
New York Patients and Families Applaud Schumer for His Support
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill. The CARERS Act, introduced in March by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rand Paul (R-KY), would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.
The move comes just days before New York State is expected to announce the names of five companies that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana in New York. New York’s medical marijuana program is expected to become fully operational in January 2016.
New York patients expressed their gratitude for Senator Schumer’s support.
“Chuck Schumer sided with patients and their families yesterday when he agreed to co-sponsor the CARERS Act,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem, N.Y., whose daughter Morgan suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “I’m proud to be from a state where both Senators – Gillibrand and Schumer – have recognized the importance of medical marijuana.
"Families, like mine, should be able to use medical marijuana when a doctor recommends it without having to worry about federal interference," Hintz said. "I hope the rest of our leaders in Washington will follow the lead of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, act quickly to pass the CARERS Act, and help relieve patient suffering.”
Ganjapreneur last week announced that they are accepting applications for guest contributors who wish to share their own experiences navigating the tumultuous cannabis industry via the rapidly-expanding website.
As an online marijuana business resource, Ganjapreneur is committed to providing its readers with the best possible information and news regarding the cannabis industry. However, the best insights often come with experience, and for that the team behind Ganjapreneur is reaching out to their readers, many of whom are entrepreneurs in the cannabis space or professionals in a related industry.
Becoming a guest contributor means more than just sharing your knowledge with the public, according to Ganjapreneur: it affords you a unique opportunity to establish your expertise with the Ganjapreneur audience. All contributions will include an “About the Author” section with a photo of the author (if desired), a short professional bio, and a link to the author's website or social media profile. If the contribution is made by a business or organization, a brief description will be used instead.
Guest contributions will require a rigorous editing process before they are accepted. Guest articles will be published on the Ganjapreneur website, broadcast over the organization's social media channels, featured in its weekly newsletter, and made available via the Ganjapreneur mobile app.
By Steve Elliott
Don't keep those roaches in the ashtray! Drivers in Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal, after September 26 will be required to keep all cannabis in the trunk of a vehicle, in an unopened container, or behind the rearmost row of seats.
House Bill 1276 will update Washington's open container law to include marijuana, reports Taylor Wofford at Newsweek.
The law also restores the ability of the state to automatically suspend a driver's license if a blood test shows the driver's blood THC level to be five nanograms per milliliter (5 ng/ml) or higher.
The Associated Press erroneously reported that licenses would be suspended if the blood test showed the driver to be under the influence of marijuana, but the test shows no such thing -- it merely shows the presence of cannabis metabolites in the blood, and according to most experts, there's not much of a correlation between 5 ng/ml and impairment in most marijuana users.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission pushed for the change to make the state's rules restricting marijuana more closely resemble those for alcohol -- never mind that the two substances have wildly different effects. State law already prohibited unsealed or partially consumed containers of alcohol in the passenger cabin of a vehicle.
The creators of Sprig -- a THC-infused citrus soda -- announced that distribution of the product has begun in Southern California and is now available in select medical marijuana dispensaries.
According to the makers, Sprig is the first scientifically made, low dose THC beverage in California. Sprig says it "advocates a safe, social, light-use message for new and experienced cannabis consumers."
"A lab-made, light cannabis beverage is the ideal way to consume medical marijuana," said Sprig founder, Michael Lewis. "It is healthier than smoking, and safer than current high dose, homemade edible products.
"Sprig was created by experienced scientists and beverage experts," Lewis said. "As marijuana reform sweeps North America, people deserve a superior product they can trust."
Last week, Sprig began widespread distribution to Southern California's top medical marijuana dispensaries. Sprig is available in 12-ounce cans, each with 15 milligrams of THC extracted from premium cannabis. Sprig claims its "scientifically-made THC blend and flavor results in a great experience every time -- a citrus soda that is delicious and uplifting with noticeable effects in less than 30 minutes." (Those of us with elevated tolerances have our doubts about 15 milligrams.)
United Patients Group, s medical cannabis information and education site, on Thursday disclosed their participation in a history-making policy briefing held last week in Wellington, New Zealand with key members of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, United In Compassion New Zealand, world-renowned researchers and leading medical cannabis physicians.
United Patients Group will act in an ongoing advisory and consultative capacity to the New Zealand working group in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to further explore and initiate potential Phase 1 medical trials to examine cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand.
The esteemed invitation-only panel is made up of experts from across the medical cannabis care pathway and included New Zealand and Australian participants, along with several key experts from the United States, including United Patients Group.
"We are honored to be a part of such a ground-breaking and historic effort and are incredibly impressed that the New Zealand government has listened to its constituents and are making a concerted effort to explore thoughtfully and swiftly the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes," said John Malanca, founder of United Patients Group.
Where’s Weed, which calls itself "the largest online source for finding legal marijuana businesses," on Friday announced the release of a new online pre-ordering platform through the website and newly launched mobile applications.
With the new platform, customers can quickly and safely pre-order legal marijuana with trusted businesses in their community, according to Where's Weed. Within 60 seconds, customers can select products, upload medical verification and schedule a pick-up at their convenience.
On a small scale beta test across three states, Where’s Weed recorded hundreds of pre-orders in the first 30 days, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars in business to consumer transactions.
A large portion of the pre-orders were gained through Where’s Weed’s recently released app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Devices. Due to Apple’s restrictive policies that many other cannabis businesses have had issues with, the pre-ordering feature is only available on Android and Windows devices.
“Business owners are having huge success with this tool,” said David Lindauer, CEO of Where’s Weed. “Not only are we bringing a whole new set of patients to businesses, we’re actually able to save them quite a bit of time.”
“Patients are loving it too. They get real time updates through email or the app about their order and when it will be ready, and we’ve seen a lot of them scheduling pick-ups and deliveries in advance. It’s all about convenience.”
Registration is now open for the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) taking place September 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles.
CWCBExpo in LA is sponsored by the International Cannabis Association (ICA) and will be providing information, resources and tools for producers, processors, dispensary owners, healthcare professionals, investors, and lawyers, as well as cannabis entrepreneurs.
Following a June educational and trade show forum in New York that had more than 2,000 attendees, CWCBExpo in LA will offer a comprehensive conference program with the medical, legal, financial and product development fields represented. The educational program will provide insight on what is needed to succeed in this rapidly changing and growing industry, including workshops on September 16 that cover:
• Cannabis Careers and a Job Fair
• Certification in Opening a Cannabis Business
• Investor BootCamp and CannaPitch
• Pre-Certification for Doctors and Nurse Practitioners
In addition, conference sessions on September 17-18 will include sessions for entrepreneurs, growing and sustaining a cannabis business, insight into what’s ahead and what’s next for the industry, and direct access to thought leaders and innovators.
Following his rousing address at CWCBExpo in New York, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) will present at the LA event and bring his dynamic expertise and knowledge on legalization of cannabis and drug policy reform to the West Coast.
A key Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries.
These are just two of several marijuana reforms advancing in Congress, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Meanwhile, sentencing reform is gaining steam, and the U.S. is shifting towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.
“The stage has been set to end the federal government’s failed war on marijuana,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at DPA’s Office of National Affairs. “A bipartisan consensus has emerged in favor of reform.”
Last November nearly 72 percent of D.C. voters approved a ballot measure making it legal to possess and grow marijuana for personal use. The campaign to pass Initiative 71 was driven by public demands to end racially-biased enforcement of marijuana laws and was seen as the first step at taking marijuana out of the illicit market.
A broad base of community support from multiple civil rights organizations, faith leaders and community advocacy groups supported Initiative 71, viewing it as an opportunity to restore the communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
Amendment to appropriations bill would prohibit the Treasury Department from using funds to punish banks that provide financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses
By Steve Elliott
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a measure 16-14 that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws.
Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns.
A similar amendment was passed by the full House of Representatives in 2014, but was ultimately stripped out during the final omnibus budget negotiations conducted by the Senate. The House has not yet debated the Financial Services Appropriations bill in 2015, but a repeat of the cannabis banking amendment is anticipated if and when that debate takes place.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday hosted a Congressional Briefing with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on federal barriers faced by researchers working to understand the medical uses of marijuana.
The briefing provided expert insights on how federal policy has undermined medical marijuana research and the state of contemporary medical marijuana research from Dr. Sue Sisley and Dr. David Casarett. Brooking Institute Fellow John Hudak discussed the practical impact of reform proposals.
“ASA put together this briefing so Congress could hear, directly from top researchers, how to make increased medical marijuana research a reality,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “These experts can tell us firsthand how the federal government’s policies undermine research and how reforms like the CARERS Act can move this essential medical research forward.”
Dr. Sisley will present insights on how federal barriers have directly blocked her research on using marijuana to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including the adverse impacts of the Drug Enforcement Agency licensing only one entity (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to grow the federal research supply of marijuana. Dr. Casarett, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of the recently published book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, will discuss contemporary medical marijuana research.
By Steve Elliott
The smell of marijuana is no longer enough for police to get a warrant and bust down the door, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.
The judges, in a split decision, acknowledged that the odor of cannabis, whether fresh or just smoked, had formerly been enough to provide the cops with probable cause that a crime was taking place, giving the basis to go to a judge to get a warrant for permission to enter and determine the source of the smell. But Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing the majority opinion, said that all changed in 2010 when voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
"Medical marijuana use pursuant to AMMA is lawful under Arizona law," Judge Eckerstrom wrote. "Therefore its scent alone does not disclose whether a crime has occurred."
The smell of marijuana, absent other evidence, doesn't provide the consitutional basis for a search, Eckerstrom wrote. Instead, the court set up what is being called an "odor-plus" standard of probable cause.
The ruling is considered a huge setback for police and prosecutors who until now have found that claiming they smell marijuana comes in quite handy when they want to search a location but have flimsy or nonexistent evidence upon which to base such a search.
“Were we to adopt the state’s suggestion that scent alone furnishes probable cause of a crime, medical marijuana patients would become second-class citizens, losing their rights to privacy and security, including privacy within their own homes,” Judge Eckerstrom reasonably wrote.
By Steve Elliott
Purple Haze, a recreational marijuana store in Everett, Washington, has become the only outlet in the state to be caught twice selling cannabis to minors, ironically calling to mind one of the themes of the 2012 I-502 legalization campaign, which was "illegal pot dealers don't ask for I.D."
Bonnie Arnestad, who owned two homes next door to the shop, wanted city leaders to keep it out, and now she feels totally vindicated, reports Joel Moreno at KOMO News. Gee, thanks, Purple Haze, for confirming all the worst stereotypes about marijuana, with the added insult of having done that under the I-502 banner.
Remember, owners of these recreational pot shops were the movers and shakers who convinced the Washington Legislature this past spring to pass SB 5052, which for all practical purposes, shuts down safe access through medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Now that they've taken out the competition, do they feel comfortable doing the same things they were accusing the medical dispensaries of doing -- but which they never proved?
"I think they should have lost their license after the first one because that was less than six months from their opening," Arnestead said.
By Steve Elliott
Safe access to medicinal cannabis is being put in peril for hundreds of Canadian military veterans due to a battle between two companies, one comprised of veterans, in the Great White North.
Marijuana for Trauma Inc. and its principals/shareholders on Tuesday announced they have commenced a lawsuit against OrganiGram Holdings Inc., whose wholly-owned subsidiary, OrganiGram Inc. (OrganiGram) is a licensed producer of medical marijuana in Canada.
The lawsuit was filed with the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick, Judicial District of Fredericton for breach of confidence, conversion, breach of contract, conspiracy and breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent misrepresentation, according to MFT.
The lawsuit alleges OrganiGram denied MFT its interest in Trauma Healing Centers Inc. (THC). THC, developed through a partnership between MFT, OrganiGram and Denis Arsenault, CEO of OrganiGram and also a Defendant in the lawsuit, opened centers in several cities in eastern Canada to provide services to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other chronic conditions caused by trauma.
MFT alleges that OrganiGram unlawfully terminated the relationship, unlawfully used MFT's proprietary information, business practices, and expansion plans for MFT. Following the termination of the relationship in February 2015, THC moved to restrict MFT from helping veterans and first responders outside of New Brunswick.
With medical marijuana coming to Maryland, experts at Green Rush Consulting have evaluated this emerging market in a new Maryland Market Analysis for the Medical Marijuana Industry. This analysis examines both the latest draft regulations and the potential of the Maryland market.
"With a favorable political climate and more than 50 percent of Maryland residents in favor of recreational marijuana, the Maryland market is full of promise for the medical marijuana industry," according to Green Rush. "This analysis not only estimates the industry revenue potential, but also breaks down the patient population – critical information for opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland."
The Maryland Market Analysis for the Medical Marijuana Industry also summarizes the application process with reference to the critical sections of the current draft regulations.
The GRC team gives applicants a handy reference as they begin preparing for the September application process:
• Comprehensive analysis of Maryland's political climate as it relates to medical and recreational marijuana;
• Descriptions of the qualifying conditions for patients, and a disease-by-disease estimate of the potential patient pool;
• Detailed breakdown of the application process for cultivation centers, processors, dispensaries, physicians, and patients;
• Projections of the revenue potential for dispensaries and cultivation centers; and
• Discussion of the potential future of recreational marijuana in Maryland.