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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Marijuana Vote 2014

Marijuana won big last night!

Oregon became the third state in the Union to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday, while Washington, DC residents will soon be allowed to grow and possess pot without fear of legal repercussions. As if that wasn’t enough, Alaskan voters approved Measure 2 early this morning, which legalizes the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana in the state.

It’s 3am in Portland, Oregon, where the lingering excitement of becoming the third state to legalize marijuana is still in the cold, wet November air. It’s clear that the biggest momentum in the midterms isn’t the Republican takeover of the US Senate, but the embrace of marijuana law reform by the American people.

Legalization goes 3-for-3: Washington DC’s Initiative 71 to legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana crushed all expectations, garnering 69.4 percent of the vote.  Oregon’s Measure 91 passed with 54.2 percent of the vote, making the Pacific Northwest the first legal region of the country and the first shared legalization border in the world.  Alaska’s Question 2 also passed with 52.1 percent of the vote and like Oregon, will legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana as well as marijuana markets, taxed at $35/ounce in Oregon and $50/ounce in Alaska.

Medical marijuana gets two clear majorities, but only one win: Our day started out with the good news that the island territory of Guam, where the sun first rises on the United States, passed its medical marijuana Proposal 14A with 56.4 percent of the vote. Florida overwhelmingly voted for its medical marijuana Amendment 2. But Florida’s constitutional threshold of 60 percent was just too high a hurdle for a Southern state to clear, falling just short at 57.6 percent.

California reduces felonies, but really wants to tax medical marijuana: Proposition 47 in California defelonized many low-level crimes, such as possession of personal amounts of any drug. The proposition passed with 58.2 percent of the vote. At the city and county level, however, voters were voting to tax medical marijuana, and keep or enact dispensary bans and medical grow restrictions. Voters in Blythe rejected a tax, in Santa Ana they prohibited dispensary bans, and in Shasta County they repealed medical grow restrictions; otherwise, every other measure on the ballot did not go reformer’s way.

Colorado legalized, but now cities want to ban pot shops: Colorado localities fared no better than California. The towns of Red Cliff and Manitou Springs rejected bans on pot shops; all other cities voting on bans accepted them, including the Denver suburb of Lakewood. The towns of Ramah and Hot Sulphur Springs rejected pot taxes; all other cities voting on taxes approved them. Vexingly, the towns of Palisade and Paonia voted to both ban pot shops and tax them.

Michigan’s unbeaten streak ends. Cities in Michigan had gone 16-0 up until this election in passing charter amendments to decriminalize personal amounts of marijuana. Last night, Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, and Onaway became the first to reject such an amendment, with Lapeer’s rejection decided by six votes. Those cities all had less than 2,000 total votes, while the six larger cities of Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, and Saginaw all supporting decrim.

New Mexico perfect on decrim; Maine splits legalization: The two largest counties in New Mexico voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize marijuana, with Bernalillo (Albuquerque) voting 59.5 percent and Sante Fe voting a whopping 73.1 percent in favor. In Maine, South Portland joined neighboring Portland’s legalization vote from a year ago, approving legalization of 2.5 ounces by a 52.4 percent vote, but smaller Lewiston rejected legalization with only 45.1 percent support.

Massachusetts sweeps fourteen pro-legalization policy questions:  Eight districts in Massachusetts voted on non-binding Public Policy Questions that asked whether their state rep should vote to support tax and regulate policies for marijuana like alcohol.  The results ranged from a low of 69 percent to a high of 74 percent.  Six Massachusetts House districts went further by polling support for tax and regulate policies for marijuana like common fruits, vegetables, and herbs!  Support ranged from a low of 54 percent to a high of 63 percent.  That’s a perfect 14-0 in a midterm election where many of those voters were asked to treat marijuana like tomatoes.

Despite a loss in Florida for medical marijuana, the victories are a cause for celebration!

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Vegas Dispensary
The city of Las Vegas, Nevada has announced the initial number of medical marijuana dispensaries that will be opening. After almost an entire day of hashing out the details, the City Council looked at applications of 50 different dispensary hopefuls and cut it down to 26.

This doesn’t mean that all 26 dispensaries will actually open.  That remains to be decided by Nevada’s health department.  The applicants that have been or will be denied will be permitted to reapply for licenses next year.  Dispensaries were denied for everything ranging from missing paperwork to questions regarding patient security.

The City Council debated for nearly an hour before approving the first dispensary due to opposition from some of the city’s residents.  The neighbors’ apprehension was overtaken by councilmen from the west side of town who granted approval to Las Vegas’s first medical marijuana shop.

One dispensary owner based out of California wasn’t so lucky.  Nuleaf, which is owned and operated out of Las Vegas, had its application denied.  Nuleaf spokesman, Bradley Mayer, said in reference to his company, that they are, “one of the longest-running dispensary operators in the country” and feel that they should have been approved.

Unfortunately for Nuleaf and many other hopefuls, they will just have to wait and try again next year.

A timeline for final approvals on dispensaries has yet to be released.

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Epilepsy Marijuana

A global trial is underway in Houston, Texas at the Texas Children’s Hospital that will test Epidiolex, and CBD-based medicine, in children who have been diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome.  The trial will be divided into two parts, the first will decide the dosage, and the second will decide whether or not the drug is efficient and safe to administer to children.

Epidiolex was created by England’s GW Pharmaceuticals and it is primarily composed of a highly concentrated form of CBD which exists only in marijuana plants.  The drug contains zero THC, so there is no risk of the 30 test subjects catching an accidental “high.”

Dr. Angus Wilfong, a pediatric neurologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, was the first one to administer Epidiolex to patients and he is very optimistic.  Wilfong has said that, “Initial trials of Epidiolex have shown promising signs of efficacy in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy and we are excited to be involved in research that will further determine if patients with Dravet syndrome will experience a reduction in their seizures.  There are several extracts available from the cannabis plant that patients are trying, but with this trial, we are especially encouraged that Epidiolex does not contain any hallucinogenic or psychoactive components.”

Dravet syndrome is a terrible and debilitating disease that makes it nearly impossible for children to live an even remotely normal life.  Dr. Gary Clark, the head of neurology at Texas Children’s hospital says, “We are hopeful that in the next year, the results of this trial will show this drug has a positive impact on enrolled patients and also that it will have implications for patients with other forms of intractable epilepsy.”

The introduction of a marijuana-based drug such as Epidiolex could change the future for anyone suffering from seizures.

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PA Marijuana
A Pennsylvania senator has requested that the District Attorney not prosecute any offenders arrested for using medical marijuana.

Democratic Senator, Daylin Leach, wrote in a letter to the District attorneys Association president:  “Given the likelihood that using lifesaving medical cannabis will not be a legal issue in Pennsylvania much longer, I ask that you consider using your prosecutorial discretion.”

A bill was sent to the senate just last month entitled “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act” that would have outlined the way that Pennsylvania would have governed the medical marijuana market in its state had it passed.  Although there was a lot of support behind it, the bill still managed to fall short of making it to the House of Representatives.

Recent polls have shown that 80% of voters in Pennsylvania support legalizing medical marijuana.  With statistics like this, it would be a surprise to everyone if the District Attorney’s office still chooses to prosecute minor marijuana-related charges.

Leach ended the letter by saying, “I ask that you perform an act of compassion.”  In situations where a state is inevitably going to pass some sort of medical marijuana reform law, or it has already been passed, but yet to take effect, it seems like the only right thing to do would be for law enforcement officers and the courts to use their best judgment and not punish someone for trying to improve their quality of life my using small quantities of marijuana for personal use.

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Marijuana Schedule 1 Drug

Marijuana has long been classified by congress as a Schedule 1 substance, which is the worst possible classification it could receive.  The Schedule 1 classification means that the U.S. government believes marijuana has no medicinal benefits what so ever and it also carries with it a high potential for abuse.  This decision was made in 1970, and it has not yet been modified, but, hopefully, that’s all about to change.

Testimony is being heard this week in San Francisco that could change the federal classification of marijuana in what is being called the case of United States v. Pickard.  The defense has put together a team of qualified expert witnesses that will testify that marijuana does not meet the guidelines to be classified as a schedule 1 substance.

Dr. Carl Hart, the Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York has said that, “It is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence.  After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”

This will be the first time in a very long time in which a federal judge has allowed a hearing which could potentially change the current classification of marijuana in the United States.  With recreational marijuana now legalized in both Colorado and Washington and medical marijuana legalized in about 23 states, it’s nearly impossible for the general public to truly believe that marijuana is as dangerous as other Schedule 1 substances, such as heroin and LSD.

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Europe Marijuana

The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology recently presented their findings in regards to moderate marijuana use by young people and their IQ level at an event in Berlin, Germany.

Over 2,500 participants had their IQ tested at the age of 8 and again at the age of 15.  The results found by the University College of London showed that there was no correlation between marijuana use and lower IQ in the 15 year old subjects.  The study’s author stated that, “In particular, alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline.  No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change.”

The lead author of the study was even quoted in the Independent Business Times as saying, “Our findings suggest cannabis may not have a detrimental effect on cognition, once we account for other related factors particularly cigarette and alcohol use.  This may suggest that previous research findings showed poorer cognitive performance in cannabis users may have resulted from the lifestyle, behavior and personal history typically associated with cannabis use, rather than cannabis use itself.”

There is also the argument of whether kids begin doing poorly in school as a result of marijuana use or for other reasons.  Regardless, it appears that marijuana use doesn’t have any long term negative impacts on brain development in adolescents.

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AZ Marijuana Delivery

Tucson dispensary drivers are taking medical marijuana on the road after Tucson and Marana lawmakers voted to allow dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to patients.

Arizona’s medical marijuana law lets local municipalities regulate if and how medical marijuana dispensary delivery services operate.

Earth’s Healing dispensary in Tucson was the first in the area to begin medical marijuana deliveries. They take orders online and already have patients that regularly use the delivery service.

The regulations put on dispensary’s delivery service require that their security staff inside the dispensary never lose sight of the medical marijuana or the driver, even after they leave the dispensary. Drivers wear a camera and a GPS tracking device so the dispensary staff can record the driver’s every movement at all times.

“We have a lot of patients who are handicapped and some don’t have a car or have difficulty coming in their car to get their medicine,” said Puchi-Saavedra of Earth’s Healing dispensary.

Any medical marijuana cardholder can order delivery of medical marijuana; they do not have to be homebound or handicapped.

Find medical marijuana dispensary delivery services

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Arizona DUI
Arizona’s Court of Appeals just ruled the state’s medical marijuana law does not give drivers immunity from prosecution if marijuana, or its inactive chemical compound, is found in the body.

Inactive marijuana metabolites can stay in the bloodstream for up to 2 or 4 weeks after use. This means that a medical marijuana patient can consume marijuana today and be arrested on DUI charges weeks later, when they are clearly no longer “high” or “under the influence” from using marijuana. It is the equivalent of consuming an alcoholic beverage today and getting a DUI weeks later for consuming that beverage.

There are currently about 50,000 medical marijuana patients in Arizona.

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Marijuana Search

For years police officers have gone through extreme lengths to keep drivers detained while awaiting back up in the form of a German Shepherd with a keen nose for marijuana in hopes of finding illegal drugs. There are countless instances of cops pulling over drivers for any number of reasons only to call for K-9 back up at the very last moment.

Luckily for motorists in the US, the Supreme Court has announced that it will review a case which could potentially change how these “routine” traffic stops play out.

The case comes in the form of an instance in Nebraska where a man was pulled over in 2012 for a minor traffic infraction. The kicker was that it took only 21 minutes for the officer to issue Denny Rodriguez the traffic ticket; however, they proceeded to hold him for an additional 6 minutes while waiting for a K-9 unit to arrive.

Once the dog sniffed Rodriguez’s car, it instantly alerted the officers that there were drugs in the car and after searching the vehicle they found a small amount of methamphetamine.

Rodriguez subsequently plead guilty to the drug charges; however, his attorney later filed an appeal because the search occurred after the officer had already issued the ticket which is a direct violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in regards to this case at the beginning of 2015, with a decision being made no earlier than June of 2015. This case is of extreme importance because whatever the Supreme Court decides will ultimately set the standard for how long police officers will be allowed to detain drivers during basic traffic stops.

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Marijuana Edibles

Marijuana edibles makers in Colorado have started creating less potent edibles to appeal to novice marijuana users so that they don’t find themselves ingesting too strong of a dose and having undesirable effects.

Tim Cullen, who owns two dispensaries in the Denver area equated it to the difference between selling beer alongside liquor. He said, “No one buys a handle of JIm Beam and thinks they should drink all of that in one sitting. But people do want to eat an entire cookie, an entire piece of chocolate. So these products allow you to do that and not have a miserable experience.”

A new product lining recreational dispensary shelves is known as the “Rookie Cookie” and only contains 10 milligrams of THC. A dose this small would allow for a novice marijuana user to consume the entire thing and probably still be sober enough to operate a vehicle.

Similarly, Dixie Elixirs has put out a new soda that is 15 times less potent than that of their traditional recipe and is marketed as being “great for those who are new to THC or don’t like to share.”

The Growing Kitchen’s Holden Sprout, maker of the Rookie Cookie, said that, “For a long time, the medical market was a race to the strongest edibles. Now it’s a new market, and people want something that won’t get them so inebriated they’re not functional.”

Marijuana activists are hoping to change the public’s opinion on the dangers of over consuming marijuana as well. It is extremely common to hear a story about someone who “overdid it” and consumed too strong of a dose of an edible and “freaked out.”

It’s important that the newly legal marijuana industry ensure consumers have a safe and enjoyable time when they are inexperienced with marijuana.

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