Los Angeles might create its own bank for the cannabis industry (among others)

Los Angeles might create its own bank for the cannabis industry (among others)

Los Angeles city leaders are looking into the possibility of setting up a public bank that would do business with marijuana dispensaries, as well as cater to affordable housing developers.

Council President Herb Wesson proposed the idea in a speech at City Hall, laying out his agenda for the next two years. He said a municipal bank would be able to focus on providing financing to small businesses and developers of affordable housing.

The announcement comes as Oakland is also considering opening its own bank.

“Imagine, if this is possible, to have a bank, where its vision statement is to finance the building of affordable housing,” he told his colleagues on the City Council. “Imagine if we have a bank that is focused on working with small business entrepreneurs to give them loans.”

But while Wesson pointed to the various reasons a municipal bank would be a good idea, it also comes at a key moment for California’s cannabis industry, which will become legal for recreational use in 2018.

Businesses selling marijuana in California, where it has been legal for medicinal use for years, often operate as cash businesses. That is because major banks do not want to open accounts or offer services with them, in fear of violating federal laws that lump cannabis together with drugs like heroin as “Schedule I” narcotics.

The city is also working on a local program to allow marijuana businesses to operate legally and to repeal Proposition D, a 2013 voter-approved measure that banned pot shops while giving immunity to up to 135 that had submitted their applications to the city by a certain date.

“We won’t be like a giant ostrich and stick our heads in the sand, because we recognize that 80 percent of the people in this city voted for us to regulate, tax and police the cannabis industry,” Wesson said Tuesday, referring to Measure M, which was approved by voters in March.

He pointed to examples of the lengths cannabis businesses operators have gone to safe-keep their money, such as the “people that are going to go home tonight and sleep on a mattress that’s worth $2 million” and those who “have a million and a half dollars in cash buried in the back yard.”

“We have to figure out a way to make this industry work,” he said.

He told reporters afterward that while it might be an unusual idea, “alternative banking” has been floated by multiple groups, including people affiliated with the cannabis industry.

Helping the marijuana industry succeed could prove lucrative for the city of Los Angeles. City leaders estimate that once more marijuana businesses are allowed to operate legally, as much as $50 million in tax revenue from the cannabis industry could flow into city coffers in the first year.

Gregory Meguerian, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Van Nuys, said that while Los Angeles accepts business tax payments in cash, the state’s Board of Equalization won’t take the bills.

“It’s very difficult to try to pay them 10,000-plus dollars a month and you have no bank account,” he said.

Meguerian, who is part of the committee that is advising the city on its new marijuana regulation, said he supports the idea of a cannabis-friendly municipal bank “a hundred percent.” But he also sees challenges ahead for the city, in light of experiences in other states that have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

“I know Colorado barely got it right,” he said. “We’ll see. I hope it does happen, and I hope it happens quickly.”

Wesson is expected to officially introduce a motion instructing the Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Councilman Paul Krekorian, to begin looking into the feasibility of the idea.

A bank could run afoul of federal law if it does not put in extra effort to comply, when working with a business in the marijuana industry. While many well-known banks refuse to open accounts or offer services to these businesses, some local banks and credit unions are willing to work with the industry, according to a draft motion provided by Wesson’s office.

Federal records from March show that 368 banks, credit unions and other institutions work with cannabis businesses on a limited basis, while the Partner Colorado Credit Union has a “safe harbor private banking program” that accepts cannabis business clients, which have become 80 percent of the institution’s customer base, Wesson’s draft motion said.

Public banks are not very common, and the only model the city may have to consult is the Bank of North Dakota, set up in 1919. That bank was created when farmers became upset that many major financial institutions seemed to overly favor railroads and agricultural interests from outside the state, according to Wesson’s office.

The Bank of North Dakota has expanded its services to include low-interest student loans, home loans, financing for public construction and affordable housing, and scholarships, according to the draft motion.

This story was first published on TheCannifornian.com

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Published at Wed, 26 Jul 2017 21:52:14 +0000

Jeff Sessions Sued in Lawsuit Challenging the Constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act

Jeff Sessions Sued in Lawsuit Challenging the Constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act

“Beleaguered” Attorney General Jeff Sessions was named a defendant today in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to Cannabis/Marijuana. This comes on the heels of our post about Sessions and his secret weapon against weed.  In a 90-page Complaint (which can be found at the bottom of this article), attorneys representing five plaintiffs maintain that the CSA, in classifying Cannabis as a “Schedule I drug,” is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

In their Complaint, plaintiffs demonstrate that the Federal Government does not, and could not possibly, believe that Cannabis meets the definition of a Schedule I drug, which is reserved for the most dangerous of substances, such as heroin, LSD and mescaline. By way of comparison, cocaine and crystal meth are considered Schedule II drugs and are thus considered less addictive and less dangerous.

To be classified under Schedule I, a drug: (i) must have a high potential for abuse; (ii) must have absolutely no medical use in treatment; and (iii) cannot be used or tested safely, even under strict medical supervision. The plaintiffs point out that the Federal Government knows that Cannabis does not meet these requirements, especially given that, among other things, the Federal Government: (a) obtained its own medical patent based upon the Federal Government’s assertion that medical Cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and HIV-induced dementia (among other conditions); (b) established a national policy to refrain from investigating and/or prosecuting medical Cannabis businesses and users in the 29 States and three other areas under American jurisdiction (including Washington, DC) that have legalized Cannabis for medical and/or recreational use; (c) provided instructions, through issuance of the FinCen Guidance, on how financial institutions can bank Cannabis business; and (d) admitted that Cannabis does constitute medicine, including through statements by the U.S. Surgeon General and a Federal Administrative Law Judge.

“The record makes clear that the CSA doesn’t make any rational sense, and the Federal Government knows it,” says Michael Hiller, lead counsel in the case.” Hiller went on to explain that, “if the Federal Government doesn’t believe in the rationality of its own statute, it’s unconstitutional to enforce it.”

Among the other claims in the lawsuit are that the CSA: (i) was enacted and implemented in order to discriminate against African Americans and to suppress people’s First Amendment rights; and (ii) violates plaintiffs’ constitutional Right to Travel.

The plaintiffs include:

• retired professional football player and Super Bowl Champion, Marvin Washington, who desires, but is ineligible (due to the CSA) to obtain grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program, to open a business that would allow professional football players (among others) to treat with medical Cannabis to reduce opioid dependency and addition;

• an 11-year old girl, Alexis Bortell, who moved to Colorado from Texas so that she could treat her intractable epilepsy with medical Cannabis;

• a six-year old Georgia boy suffering from Leigh’s Disease, Jagger Cotte, who has been using medical Cannabis to lengthen his life and control his otherwise excruciating pain;

• disabled military combat veteran Jose Belen, who uses medical Cannabis to control his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and

• the Cannabis Cultural Association, whose membership includes many People of Color who contend that the CSA was enacted and has been enforced in a discriminatory manner, rendering them unable to participate in, among other things, the Cannabis industry.

Lauren Rudick, a member of Hiller’s firm representing Cannabis businesses, observed that, at present, “more than 60% of Americans live in a jurisdiction in which medical Cannabis is legal.” She also remarked that a “4/20/2017 Quinnipiac poll found that over 90% of Americans support the use of medical Cannabis – and it’s near impossible to get 90% of the Country to agree on anything.” These numbers led Joseph Bondy, a federal criminal defense attorney and legalization advocate working as co-counsel with the Hiller firm on this case, to “question the agenda of those who continue to push for enforcement of the CSA, given its unlawful and discriminatory impact and that so few in America support such an effort.”

The defendants in the case are Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Administrator of the DEA Chuck Rosenberg, the Justice Department, the DEA and the Federal Government. Co-counsel David Holland, a litigator and longtime advocate for legalization of Cannabis, noted that the “the efforts to criminalize Cannabis are relatively recent and were largely underwritten by racial and ethnic animus.” As reflected in the Complaint, African Americans and other persons of color are four times as likely to be arrested under the CSA than white Americans, even though Cannabis is used equally by People of Color and Caucasians.

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Published at Tue, 25 Jul 2017 15:53:40 +0000

Retired NFL players back new Denver nonprofit advocating for medical marijuana

Retired NFL players back new Denver nonprofit advocating for medical marijuana

During the day, the prescription opiates stung like a knife in Eben Britton’s gut. At night, cravings for the pills prescribed to manage pain caused by six years as a NFL offensive lineman roused him from his sleep.

But on this sunny Saturday morning in Denver’s Berekley Lake Park, Britton was all smiles, palming a rubber kickball he prepared to pitch in the Athletes For Care (A4C) kickball game during Denver’s 420 Games.

Britton found another way — another means of managing the pain, the depression, the anxiety, the head-rattles that plague careers and trigger darker struggles for some athletes well into retirement: cannabis as part of a holistic approach to healing. Now he’s working with A4C to help other athletes discover a path without opiates.

Saturday’s kickball game was a coming-out party for the new Denver-based nonprofit group focused on the mentorship, wellness and support of former athletes. The group advocates for cannabis as an alternative means of pain management and mental health concerns; it hopes to eventually fund research and stump for federal legislation directed at some of these causes.

“The 420 Games show cannabis as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle,” Britton said. “The two messages (of 420 Games and Athletes For Care) blend really well.”

The group hopes to change the public’s perception of cannabis — and professional athletes, said Ryan Kingsbury, who founded Athletes for Care in late 2016.

“There’s this misconception that athletes retire to a plot in Hawaii,” he said. “The reality is, a lot of these guys have no money, they’re physically limited in what they can do … it is not, I think, what the public perceives life is like as a former athlete.”

The transition into retirement can wreak havoc on a player, Kingsbury said, noting some players struggle with addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts and financial ruin.

“Guys just kind of disappear when they stop playing the game,” said Nate Jackson, a former NFL tight end who spent most of his 6-year career with the Denver Broncos.

He said he signed on with A4C to help build the support system he didn’t have when he left the league. “We want to be there to catch them — we want to be there and give them a hug.”

Reflecting on his playing days, Jackson recalled how pills were passed out like candy to players trying to take the physical and psychological leaps necessary to willingly hurtle oneself back into the same violent situation that caused injury in the first place.

A4C leader Kingsbury is a former exec for Denver’s CW Hemp, a company known for its whole plant hemp extracts rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabis compound touted for its potential medical benefits as an anti-inflammatory, pain-reliever and neuroprotectant. As chief of corporate strategy at CW, Kingsbury worked with athletes like former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who advocated for research on CBD use for professional athletes.

After departing CW, Kingsbury wanted to continue that work and quickly discovered that the best solution was taking a page out of these former athletes’ playbook: Teamwork.

“Collectively, the group could really help drive change not only within the various sport leagues and potentially within legislation,” Kingsbury said.

The organization aims to accomplish these goals by providing resources and programs to assist athletes with the post-retirement transition; educating about health and safety matters affecting players; to advocate for cannabis as an alternative means for pain management, chronic pain and mental health concerns; and to eventually fund research and lobby for federal legislation directed at some of these causes.

Cannabis may not be deliberately incorporated into the programs, but it will be a “huge pillar” on the advocacy front, Kingsbury said, adding that he hopes the group could play a pivotal role in advancing discourse and research around medical marijuana.

“One could argue that the athletes are leading this movement with their stories,” Kingsbury said.

Athletes represent a middle ground in polar-opposite perceptions about cannabis consumers, he said. On one end, there are the critically ill, the pediatric epilepsy patients, and people fighting cancer and multiple sclerosis; on the other, there are the 4/20 crowd and the tie-dye-wearing contingent.

“But a huge segment in between is active people, or generally healthy people,” he said. “Nobody’s talking to them. I see it as an evolution for this industry — to bring it more mainstream.”

Athletes For Care has applied for a nonprofit, 501(c)3 status. It’s likely the organization may eventually pursue 501(c)4 status, which would open the doors for Athletes For Care to lobby for federal causes, he said.

Additionally, Athletes For Care is forging a partnership with the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Kingsbury said.

“It’s really about getting these athletes to feel better,” he said.

DENVER, CO – JULY 22: Athletes For Care co-founder Ryan Kingsbury, left, and former NFL offensive tackle Eben Britton celebrate with teammates during a kickball game at Denver’s 420 games on July 22, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver Post)

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Published at Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:50:45 +0000

Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory Musical Satire to Premiere Live in California

Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory Musical Satire to Premiere Live in California

It’s the year 2025 and cannabis has just been legalized for use and production across the United States. One small town is about to become home to the nation’s very first “weed factory,” and it’s causing a stir of mixed emotions among its citizens. While some are excited about the new legal status of cannabis and the arrival of the factory, others are completely terrified. The town has always thought, “marijuana is dangerous gateway drug that leads to violence and criminality,” a belief well enforced by Mr. Candy Man, the town’s trusted pharmacist. So, it’s up to eccentric outsider and hemp enthusiast, Mr. Willy Wonka and the weed factory, to convince the townspeople that weed is not, in fact, “the devil’s lettuce,” but is, instead, an environmentally sustainable plant with many useful properties. But, when Mr. Wonka invites five “ Golden Spliffin ” winners into his factory to enlighten and educate them, he unexpectedly learns something from the townspeople in return—-although “weed is a drug that makes you feel free, love is the drug that everyone needs.”

golden spliffin

Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory is a live musical satire created by two weed-loving female comedians, Brittany Belland and Weslie Lechner, who grew up in conservative towns and were taught the “dangers of marijuana” through the D.A.R.E program. After moving to liberal Los Angeles and finally experimenting with cannabis themselves, Brittany and Weslie realized that what they’d always been told about the dangers of weed had been quite an exaggeration. Brittany, who has suffered from an anxiety disorder since she was a teenager, has found CBD to be an incredibly powerful, yet  gentle solution to controlling her anxiety as well as a much safer option with far fewer side effects than the intense prescription pill she had been taking.  Weslie has been enjoying smoking pot ever since realizing that cannabis is a far more gentle recreational option than drinking alcohol, one that expands your mind in ways that alcohol inhibits. The two of them began writing a musical inspired by their own personal experiences, and by the Roald Dahl classic story as well.  It was while writing that their research revealed the so called  “dangers” of the cannabis plant to be largely false information, with roots in historical racism, promulgated by the government. Immediately, they knew they wanted to make their musical not just a parody about smoking pot, but also a vehicle to set the record straight about “wacky tobaccy” and ultimately reduce the stigma associated with cannabis use.

Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory is a full length musical comedy that explores the history of weed’s criminalization and its ties to social and racial injustice as well as the many medicinal benefits of cannabis use and the thousands of environmentally sustainable products that can be made from hemp. With original lyrics and musical arrangements, Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory tells a tale of love, trust, and acceptance of others, all through singing, dancing, and, of course, smoking weed. Presented by Welland Productions and Executive Producer Stephen S. Price and sponsored by Spliffin, Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory runs July 20th through July 24th at The Fremont Centre Theater in South Pasadena, California.

For tickets and more information,  visit www.WellandProductions.com

willy wonka weed factory

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Published at Thu, 13 Jul 2017 14:38:50 +0000

Colorado pot taxes aren't going where they're supposed to, and lawmakers are scrambling

Colorado pot taxes aren't going where they're supposed to, and lawmakers are scrambling

State lawmakers are in a mad dash to correct an error in a recently passed law that is slicing off hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in revenue for several well-known Colorado institutions, including the Regional Transportation District, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The problem traces to language in a comprehensive spending measure passed during the final days of the 2017 legislative session. Scenarios to fix it include a rare special session of the legislature.

“I would talk to the governor about (calling a special session),” said Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, one of bill’s sponsors. “We have to do everything we can.”

Senate Bill 267 boosts payments to hospitals and schools, generates $1.9 billion for transportation and eliminates the 2.9 percent regular sales tax on recreational pot in favor of a bump in the special sales tax on weed from 10 to 15 percent.

But the bill mistakenly omitted RTD, dozens of arts and culture entities that comprise the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and other state-supported organizations as recipients of the state’s recast revenue from the state’s recreational marijuana sales tax.

One approach that could avert a special session would involve convening a smaller group of lawmakers in a rule-making role in the next few weeks.

“I do hope it can be a very easy fix,” said Rep. K.C. Becker, D-Boulder, a bill sponsor.

But if neither that nor a special session happens, then the problem would have to wait for the next legislative session in January. RTD could by that time be out more than $3 million in pot tax revenues.

The sudden disappearance of $500,000 the agency expected to bring in from the tax each month, said RTD spokesman Scott Reed “will have an obviously notable and unexpected impact to RTD’s budget.” But he pointed out that it is only 1 percent of the agency’s total annual sales and use tax revenues “and a fraction of a percent of our overall budget.”

“We will likely be able to move forward for the remainder of this year without making any additional formal budget revisions requiring board action,” he said Tuesday.

Still, Guzman said the error should never have happened. The shortcomings in the spending bill were first reported last week by The Complete Colorado.

“It’s a situation that was a horrible oversight, and we feel horrible about it and we’ll get it back on track,” she said.

The error came about in the closing days of the 2017 legislative session, when bills were being written, rewritten and amended at a lightning pace. Reed said RTD was never asked by legislative staff to note what it considered to be the financial effects of the bill.

When asked about the error’s impact on the SCFD, Executive Director Deborah Jordy said the organization “is aware of the issue and is currently working through financial modeling which will allow us to better understand the true financial impacts for the district.”

SCFD’s funded organizations, like the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, have been notified about the situation, she said.

Henry Sobanet, director of the Office of State Planning and Budgeting, said drafting errors are not uncommon in the statehouse but that the oversight in the spending bill, missed by any number of staffers, policy analysts, lawmakers and lobbyists, was unlike anything he has seen in recent years.

“I think the complexity and time demands of the bill were definitely contributors to this one,” Sobanet said.

House bill sponsor Jon Becker, a Republican from Fort Morgan, said he and his colleagues spent hours going over details in the 59-page bill but no one caught the fact that at least half a dozen special districts had not been included in the marijuana tax language.

“There are usually enough checks and balances that this doesn’t happen,” he said. “Certainly nobody wanted to create hardship for anybody.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com

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Published at Wed, 12 Jul 2017 19:56:11 +0000

Here's how millions in Colorado pot taxes are being used to fix up outdated, sagging schools

Here's how millions in Colorado pot taxes are being used to fix up outdated, sagging schools

DEER TRAIL — There is sadness about the eventual destruction of this community’s school, parts of which were built 100 years ago. Many people in this town of 570, long past their teen years, still attend the annual homecoming dance in the school’s gym and reminisce about old flames and football championships.

But there is also excitement on these streets 60 miles southeast of Denver. New homes are popping up just off Interstate 70 and a state-of-the-art preK-12 school is on the horizon, to be built in part from money collected from legal pot buys.

Plenty of people have personal objections to marijuana use, but state and local school officials say no one is protesting that rundown schools are getting millions in revenue from excise taxes on retail marijuana sales for renovations and wholesale replacement.

That’s the case in Deer Trail, where swimmers are banned from using the 50-year-old pool, students in wheelchairs must be hoisted up ill-equipped stairs and into narrow bathrooms, and the coach’s locker room is closed due to a sewage leak.

“It’s just a nightmare to keep things going around here,” school principal Dave Casey said.

But a $34 million preK-12 campus will take shape over the next two years at the site of a former Future Farmers of America hog farm, thanks in part to an injection of marijuana sales funding through the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, program.


Deer Trail K-12 School principal Dave Casey stands next to a now-shuttered school swimming pool at the school June 29, 2017 in Deer Trail. A new school will be built within two years thanks to millions of dollars in revenue from Colorado marijuana excise taxes. The swimming pool was closed last year because metal flakes from the ceiling would fall off during wind storms and land in the pool, also the building housing the pool was deemed unsafe. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

“I don’t care where the money comes from, if we get a new school, I’m for it,” said Hayley Whitehead, a Deer Trail graduate who works as the district’s administrative assistant. “I see the invoices and see what we need for repairs, so I have a pretty good idea of the situation here.”

“There are lots of so-called ‘sin taxes’ for uses and products that people don’t necessarily endorse,” added Jay Hoskinson, regional program manager for capital construction for the Colorado Department of Education. “But I think people also start looking at it as a possible new revenue source. And it kind of gets intermingled with other funding and becomes pretty much all part of the same package.”

“And so far, we’ve not heard from any school districts who say, “No, we are not going to use that money,’” Hoskinson said.

Marijuana excise taxes were used for the first time in 2013-14. In that year, more than $3 million was injected into BEST school construction projects. Nearly $24 million was used the next year.

By 2015-16, $80 million in marijuana tax revenue was injected into the BEST program. That included a one-time $40 million payment after Colorado voters decided two years ago to keep and spend more than $66 million in excess marijuana sales revenue.

The state says another $40 million was injected into BEST projects in 2016-17 and another $40 million is projected for the next fiscal year.

Other sources have fed the BEST program, including spillover from the Colorado Lottery and from the Colorado Land Board. In all, BEST has funded $1.2 billion for high-need construction projects since 2009.

Officials say money from retail pot sales is only a fraction of what is needed to repair, maintain and build schools in Colorado. One study indicates the state’s schools need nearly $18 billion in capital construction through 2018.

“When you look at the big picture, you realize how little that $40 million goes for statewide,” Hoskinson said, “But it helps.”

Especially in rural areas, where budgets are small and districts can’t afford huge bond issues, officials say.

In fact, just about all of the 27 recipients of the nearly $300 million in BEST construction grants for 2017-2018 were in rural school districts, including Deer Tail.

Others that received BEST awards include the Brush School District, which got more than $60 million for a new middle school and to renovate its high school, and Del Norte, which received $45 million for a new preK-12 school.

All of the school districts vying for BEST grants must show great need and confirm at least some matching funding, Hoskinson said.

Deer Trail passed a $6.8 million bond issue in November to raise its matching funds. The vote passed by a 16-percent margin.

Many skeptical voters were won over after they toured the school, superintendent Kevin Schott said. “They were saying a new school wasn’t needed until they saw what we and the kids have to deal with every day. And I think it was eye-opening for them.”

Many classrooms are ill-equipped for computers and other technology, and a structural engineer said the school swimming pool was in such disrepair he recommended it be closed, Schott said.

School security is also an issue, with many nooks and crannies in blind hallways and doors that are difficult to close and lock. “It’s not ideal by any stretch of the imagination,” Schott said.

The old school will be razed and the new school will be constructed nearby. About 160 homes will be built just south of the new school — part of a housing rush in Deer Trail.

“Sure, plenty of people will be sad when the old school closes and disappears,” Schott said. “But the new school is something this community deserves. And we are so grateful for it.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com

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Published at Sun, 09 Jul 2017 11:44:54 +0000

Op-ed: DEA position statement on CBD, hemp and Farm Bill “reckless and illegal”

Op-ed: DEA position statement on CBD, hemp and Farm Bill “reckless and illegal”


Editor’s note: As part of The Cannabist’s special report, “CBD, TBD,” on July 5 we published a statement by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration addressing its policy position on cannabidiol oil. The DEA referenced Charlotte’s Web, a trademarked hemp extract made by CW Hemp. The company’s CEO, Joel Stanley, reached out to The Cannabist to make a statement of his own.


In response to The Cannabist’s ongoing reporting on cannabidiol (CBD), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration this week released a reckless opinion statement that not only contradicts federal law — its very issuance is also illegal.

The DEA does not make laws, and the agency’s position is merely an opinion, one that, in this case, is actually illegal to enforce. But the statement itself violates the expressed intent of Congress.

The language given by the continuing Appropriations Act of 2017, Sec. 773, explicitly states that federal funds may not be used to:

…prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp that is grown or cultivated in accordance with section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, within or outside the State in which the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated.

Therefore, the DEA statement itself — because it was made by a federal agency – is not lawful; it constitutes an illegal use of federal funds to prohibit “industrial hemp” that is federally compliant.

The opinions expressed by the DEA in the statement show that the agency is choosing which laws it would like to apply to hemp, CBD, and Charlotte’s Web. In doing so, it ignores laws written in the last few years in favor of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) written in 1971. This is an irresponsible position by a federal law enforcement agency, but even if the CSA were the only applicable statute, it still does not prohibit “hemp” or “CBD.”

Specifically addressing language in the DEA’s statement is important so that the public is aware that the opinion does not impact access to Charlotte’s Web and CBD products.

DEA: “At present, this material is being illegally produced and marketed in the United States in violation of two federal laws:  The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).”

Not true: In Sec. 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (a.k.a. the “Farm Bill”) the “Controlled Substances Act” and “any other Federal law” is specifically nonwithstood before defining “industrial hemp” and legalizing its domestic cultivation and marketing for the first time since 1937.

DEA: “Because it is illicitly produced by clandestine manufacturers, its actual content is uncertain and will vary depending on the source of the material.”

Because the statement specifically references Charlotte’s Web in the first sentence, it’s crucial to note that the Charlotte’s Web products are produced in an FDA registered laboratory that is independently certified for cGMP compliance, scoring 98.9% in a recent third party audit.

Furthermore, CW Hemp’s lab has been showcased on many national TV programs as well as online.  We have been and continue to be transparent with our customers, partners and regulatory bodies – in fact, we routinely host state officials at our lab.

DEA: “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’/CBD oil is not an FDA-approved drug: It is a schedule I controlled substance under the CSA …”

Not true: The CSA does not contain the terms “Cannabidiol,” “Cannabinoids” or “Hemp.” In order for these terms to be included in the CSA and officially become law, it would take an act of Congress, passed by the House and Senate, and signed by the President.

DEA: “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is reportedly being administered to pediatric research subjects, the potential dangers are even more pronounced, making compliance with the FDA (investigational New Drug) IND requirement even more crucial.”

Not true: The only research being conducted in the U.S. on Charlotte’s Web is “observational” in nature. This means that researchers are tracking data based on the voluntary use of Charlotte’s Web, at the sole discretion and lone decision of the user. This research is not in violation of the FDCA or any other law.

There are many neurologists in the US that want to study Charlotte’s Web in a clinical setting. However, due to the pharmaceutical monopoly on the movements of Washington D.C. and the FDA, Charlotte’s Web must be clinically researched in other countries.

DEA: “It is important to correct a misconception that some have about the effect of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (which some refer to as the ‘farm bill’) on the legal status of ‘Charlotte’s Web’/CBD oil.  Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 authorizes institutions of higher education (e.g., universities) and state Departments of Agriculture to grow and cultivate ‘industrial hemp’ (defined under the Act as marijuana with a THC content of 0.3 percent or less) for agricultural research purposes where permitted under state law. However, the Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit such entities, or anyone else, to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis.”

Not true: Charlotte’s Web, and many other domestic hemp products, are cultivated in full compliance with the Farm Bill, under appropriate licensing from respective state departments of agriculture in Colorado and Kentucky. Furthermore, according to the continuing Appropriations Acts of 2016 and 2017, it is the expressed intent of Congress that hemp cultivated in compliance with the Farm Bill be intended for “transportation, processing, and sale.”

It seems the DEA is trying to revert back to 2013, when hundreds of desperate families, failed by their governments and pharmaceuticals, uprooted their lives and moved to Colorado in order to access Charlotte’s Web.

There was once more than 15,000 people on the waiting list for Charlotte’s Web. Now, the hemp laws that ended that waiting list are under attack by this federal agency.

Charlotte’s Web is named after Charlotte Figi, a resilient and revolutionary little girl who was suffering from a treatment-resistant form of epilepsy. Close to death, experimental veterinary drugs were offered as a last option — but her parents preferred to bet on a moonshot.

What we didn’t know when we met Charlotte was that she would change not only our lives, but her bravery would also help thousands of families who now depend on plant-based products like Charlotte’s Web. In many cases, these options are often the final hope for children and adults who, like Charlotte, have exhausted pharmaceutical ones.

The DEA’s opinions are needlessly causing panic and fear amongst this challenged community. Never mind the impact on industry sales — or Charlotte’s Web sales, as the brand was specifically discriminated against in the statement. The potential consequences of its opinions for real families and medically fragile children could be devastating.

Charlotte’s Web is more than a brand or product. It’s a movement of people looking for better solutions that put daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers first; that connect serious science and the power of nature; that understand we are living in precarious times, but fearlessly believe everyone deserves quality of life. In that, our mission at CW Hemp is to protect a community whose members find themselves and their families on their last health option, one that can mean the difference between life and death.

The DEA repeatedly underestimates the resolve of these families and this community to stand up and proactively change laws when the well-being of loved ones is being threatened.

CW Hemp will continue to go above and beyond to remain compliant with federal and state laws. We continue to do so to ensure we remain in a position to fight this fight with all the families that deserve more options. Every day, we receive letters from families telling us they have their loved one back because of Charlotte’s Web, and we will not stop fighting for them. As long as we are able and justified by federal laws, we will continue to help as many people as we can.

Joel Stanley CW Hemp CEO
(Provided by CW Hemp)

Joel Stanley is CEO of Stanley Brothers, creators of Charlotte’s Web™

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Published at Fri, 07 Jul 2017 22:29:11 +0000

Cannabist Show: He created a new kind of cannabis extracts competition

Cannabist Show: He created a new kind of cannabis extracts competition

Featured guest: Gabe Fairorth, founder of the Clementine Challenge, a competitive cannabis extracts event.

LOTS TO TALK ABOUT

•  Judging the best of the best in marijuana extracts, how elite hash-makers compete.

•  Sprouting careers: Starting with a job at a grow and finding a passion in chemistry.

•  Nevada started selling recreational cannabis for the first time. Some are surprised by how uneventful it was, others aren’t.

TOP MARIJUANA NEWS

Nevada legal recreational marijuana sales launch: Nevada became the fifth state in the U.S. with stores selling marijuana for recreational purposes, opening a market early Saturday that is eventually expected to outpace any other in the nation thanks to the millions of tourists who flock to Las Vegas. People began purchasing marijuana shortly after midnight, just months after voters approved legalization in November and marking the fastest turnaround from the ballot box to retail sales in the country. –Report by The Associated Press’ Regina Garcia Cano


People line up at the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary, Saturday, July 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. (John Locher, The Associated Press)

Six things to know about Nevada marijuana: edibles, tourism impact, casino ban and more: Sin City has launched its latest legal vice. But it won’t be a free-for-all in the place where many tourists think anything goes. –Report by The Associated Press’ Regina Garcia Cano and Scott Sonner

Dubious publicity: Creator of Toker Poker accessory alarmed by drug bust’s matching code name: In the four years since they started selling an all-in-one smoker’s accessory — lighter sleeve, tamper and poker — Colorado entrepreneurs Matt and Leslie Bodenchuk were hitting their stride. Earlier this week, the married couple were securing prototypes for three new Toker Poker products and hashing out collaboration agreements with a few musical artists interested in hawking the branded smoking accessories at their shows. Grand Junction-based Toker Poker’s unabashed growth streak — of month-over-month and year-over-year sales gains — showed no signs of slowing.
Then came Wednesday. –Report by The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace

Denver finalizes first-in-nation marijuana social use rules, dropping some restrictions: Denver’s plan to allow people to use marijuana at some businesses drew a step closer to reality Friday, when the city’s top licensing official unveiled final rules for the pilot program that is set to launch in coming months. Big questions remain: Will the newly adopted regulations for the first-in-the-nation “social use” program provide measured protection for patrons and neighbors of businesses that take part, as city officials say? Or are the rules for consumption areas so restrictive that few businesses and event organizers will want to bother? The exuberance that greeted the Nov. 8 passage of Initiative 300 — in which 54 percent of city voters directed officials to create a four-year pilot of the social marijuana consumption program — is now tempered among its chief supporters. –Report by The Denver Post’s Jon Murray

QUICK HIT

The Nevada Division of Tourism plans to integrate the topic of marijuana into its upcoming marketing research to determine whether — and to what extent — legal cannabis serves as a tourist draw, officials for the tourism office told The Cannabist earlier this week. “The results of that research will drive just how much we promote (marijuana’s) legality/availability here,” Bethany Drysdale, Nevada Division of Tourism’s chief communications officer, said via email. –Report by The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace

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Published at Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:40:34 +0000

What Government and Big Pharma Don’t Want You to Know About Cannabis

What Government and Big Pharma Don’t Want You to Know About Cannabis

Since the turn of the 20th century, the government has had it out for cannabis. What was once seen as a harmless natural substance property owners could grow is now the target of numerous anti-drug campaigns to stomp out the “problem” once and for all.

But is cannabis truly a harmful gateway drug that menaces the public? Or are there other interests at play? As the research piles in on marijuana, the evidence is overwhelming that numerous health conditions, from Parkinson’s to chronic pain, can be alleviated with the use of cannabinoids —including the ones that don’t contain THC.

What, then, is that they don’t want us to know?

The Big Lie

First and foremost, the biggest lie we’ve been told decade after decade is that marijuana use is somehow harmful. There are many reasons why this statement is false, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at the logic behind this claim.

In children whose brains haven’t reached full maturity (approximately by age 25), some studies suggest permanent impairments in memory and cognitive function as a result of THC use. However, the research isn’t entirely conclusive—it may be that those children prone to use drugs already have brain development issues that instead predispose them to drug use in general.

But even if we take this research as true, it says nothing of problems in adults. It also fails to suggest any fatal conditions later in life more threatening than any other legal drugs (and no current research supports adult marijuana use as harmful in any case).

Additionally, we’ve been sold that cannabis is the “gateway drug” that will lead you to use all types of dangerous drugs. However, there is little analysis about the socioeconomic reasons behind this supposed phenomenon: marijuana is one of the cheaper “illegal” drugs, making it only natural to come first for future abusers.

Even playing devil’s advocate, most of the anti-drug propaganda falls flat in the face of sound logic and research. These are at best distractions to prolong a poor argument.

Follow the Money

That said, what is the benefit of taking such extreme measures to demonize marijuana? Is it just about not admitting a poor decision? We don’t think so—in fact, the reason is fairly straightforward.

Each year, billions of dollars go to funding anti-drug organizations. Marijuana is a chief target of these efforts—with legalization comes the irrelevancy of these offices and related jobs. This is doubly true in the court system where thousands of annual convictions drive our dollars into prisons and reform programs (to the detriment of other social goods).

money

The more obvious beneficiaries of cannabis demonization are the big pharmaceutical companies. They make their living selling patented drugs to “treat” conditions—especially those such as the Parkinson’s that are chronic and will always require therapy. This guarantees them a consistent customer base and exclusive “first to market” rights for years.

Were a natural, un-patentable and easy-to-grow remedy to hit the markets en masse, surely Big Pharma’s business model would suffer. There’s evidence of this fear all throughout the states currently voting on or debating the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana use.

A good example of this is with what is going on in Florida where only five licenses will be granted across the entire state to grow and distribute medical marijuana, and they will be given only to those able to raise more than $5 million. This fear over the replacement of Big Pharma  as the key supplier for medical therapies (fueled by the industry itself) is what made passage so difficult. The only thing we can do in this case is shake our heads and ask: Is gardening really that dangerous?

Some might call this the natural defense of corporate interest. Unable to defeat science or popular opinion, they’ve opted to crush competition legally by becoming the sole distributor under the law. Unfortunately, this isn’t something most voters are aware of when voting for legalization.

Combatting Chronic Illnesses

Spending on chronic disease is the number one consumer of healthcare dollars in the United States. It accounts for more than three-fourths of hospital visits and over 90 percent of all medical prescriptions.

Of all the drugs being sold, the highest grossing drug, Humira, is given to treat chronic inflammation as a result of autoimmune diseases. It is a potent immunosuppressant drug that often leads to infection and/or cancer.

Another top category of drugs is NSAIDS. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are, as their name suggests, used to combat inflammatory conditions in the body. They also cause liver and kidney damage depending on the duration of use and the mechanism of activation.

Interestingly enough, cannabinoids also carry a potent anti-inflammatory effect and are used to treat many of the same conditions as the above prescription and OTC drugs. Yet cannabinoids haven’t been shown to have any side effects—meaning there is no need for supplemental drugs to combat other problems down the road caused by the treatment itself.

Staying Off the Watch List

Until the federal government totally strikes down the marijuana prohibition, it’s a good idea to stay off their list. Police still actively arrest cannabis users using both traditional and non-traditional methods—especially through the internet with the growing use of technology.

As a means of safety, it might be best to make your efforts discrete by using safeguards such as proxies, VPNs and anonymous online handles. This is not to suggest paranoia when supporting worthwhile causes such as total legalization, but rather to highlight the importance of being careful when venturing into these territories.

As an educated society, it’s important we understand that change rarely happens without event. With some degree of certainty, most of us agree that cannabis will be available in virtually every state within the next ten or twenty years.

But in the meantime, don’t forget that the government and its major lobbying interests will be biting back. Their interests are far too valuable to give up without a fight—let’s try to make sure we don’t lose our own interests in the process!

How will you educate yourself and others on the benefits of cannabis? Do you think Big Pharma is one of the main reasons legalization is stalled? Why or why not? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About the Author: Carla is a social activist and champion of scientific truth. Despite the negative view cast over the last century on cannabis, she is confident that renewed interest will soon replace the falsehoods of yesteryear.

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Published at Tue, 04 Jul 2017 16:43:44 +0000

Six things to know about Nevada marijuana: edibles, tourism impact, casino ban and more

Six things to know about Nevada marijuana: edibles, tourism impact, casino ban and more

LAS VEGAS — Sin City has launched its latest legal vice.

Marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas and other Nevada cities experienced long lines as they launched recreational pot sales on July 1. Some shops opened their doors at midnight.

But it won’t be a free-for-all in the place where many tourists think anything goes. Police say they have been preparing for months to enforce the law, putting a focus on keeping stoned drivers off the road but also cracking down on those who light up under the neon lights.

Voters approved the sale of recreational marijuana in November. Nevada is marking the fastest turnaround from the ballot box to retail sales of any of the seven other states and the District of Columbia where pot is legal.

Here’s a look at what’s expected from legal marijuana:

Where can people light up?

Only in a private home, including yards and porches. While it may be legal to stroll down parts of the Las Vegas Strip with your favorite adult beverage, the same doesn’t apply to pot. It’s prohibited in casinos, bars, restaurants, parks, concerts and on U.S. property, from national forests to federally subsidized housing.

While anyone who is 21 with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates, using it in public can get lead to a $600 ticket for a first offense.

What’s the big deal?

Industry experts predict Nevada’s market will be the nation’s biggest, at least until California plans to begin recreational sales in January.

Nevada sales should eventually exceed those in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state because of the more than 42 million tourists who annually visit Las Vegas. Regulators anticipate 63 percent of customers will be tourists.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like what Nevada is going to look like just because of the sheer volume of tourism in the state,” said Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of the Colorado-based Wana Brands, which makes edible pot products.

However, there’s not a lot of mainstream promotion. The law bans marijuana advertising on radio, TV or any other medium where 30 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be younger than 21.

Why do hotel-casinos ban pot?

State gambling regulators have directed casinos to abide by federal law, which outlaws the drug. That means tourists will have a hard time finding a place to use it legally despite being the biggest expected piece of the market.

It’s one reason Whiteman and others think edibles will be most popular with visitors, who can eat the goodies almost anywhere without attracting attention, including casino floors where cigarettes are allowed but pot-smoking is not.

Could that change?

Legislation to establish marijuana clubs and other places to smoke pot failed this spring but will be revisited by lawmakers in 2019. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, a leader of the legalization push, anticipates worldwide advertising urging tourists to “come to Nevada and smoke pot — so we must provide a place to do so.”

One Denver-based entrepreneur already has set up cannabis-friendly condos just off the Las Vegas Strip that allow pot smoking but not cigarettes. There’s also a “Cannabus” tour that offers riders a peek inside dispensaries, a grow facility and a swag bag filled with rolling papers and other gifts.

Should buyers beware?

The drug’s potency is much higher than stuff sold on the streets a couple of decades ago. Edibles are the biggest concern because the effects can sneak up on pot newbies, who may take too much without realizing they are slowly getting high.

All packaged edibles, from gummies to brownies, must carry labels warning that the intoxicating effects may be delayed for two hours or more and that users should initially eat a small amount.

How are police preparing?

Some departments have been giving officers additional training on determining who might be impaired.
“It changes the dynamics of what we have to enforce and what we don’t in terms of marijuana,” Deputy Reno Police Chief Tom Robinson said. Previously, “police officers have been told to aggressively enforce marijuana laws. Now, we’ve got to change our stance, which isn’t a big deal, it’s just a mind-set shift for our personnel.”
___
Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at @reginagarciakNO.

Bryce Tallitsch hangs up a sign for recreational marijuana at the NuLeaf dispensary, Friday, June 30, 2017, in Las Vegas. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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Published at Mon, 03 Jul 2017 17:23:54 +0000