Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Marijuana Teens

Many opponents of medical marijuana believe that legalizing marijuana for medicinal use sends a message to youths that marijuana use is okay, and ultimately encourages them to experiment with it or harder drugs.

Well, a new study conducted by Columbia University in New York says they’re wrong. The study included 21 states with medical marijuana laws and found there was no sign of significant increase in use.

“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana,” said Deborah Hasin, lead author of the study.

The study was based on an ongoing government-funded survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, which asked about marijuana use in the previous month. The researchers reviewed responses from more than 1 million students in 48 states, from 1991 through 2014. They found that marijuana use tended to already be higher in states that went on to adopt medical marijuana laws, but they did not see an additional spike after the law was passed.

The researchers actually saw a decline in marijuana use by 8th graders in those states.

The study shows why it’s important to use rigorous research to check out theories — even those that seem reasonable, wrote a substance abuse expert.

The study’s results were published on the journal Lancet Psychiatry and were also presented at a medical conference in Phoenix.

MA Dispensary List

Massachusetts’s governor has issued a temporary waiver to help the state’s first marijuana dispensary begin selling medical marijuana.

Under Massachusetts medical marijuana law, dispensaries must have their marijuana tested for cannabinoids, solvents, mycotoxins and other microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals and pesticides. But testing labs in Massachusetts are unable to test for 7 of the 18 mandated pesticides. Under current state regulations, that would have made the marijuana unable to be sold by Massachusetts dispensaries.

The temporary waiver will allow the state’s first dispensary, Alternative Therapy Group, to sell marijuana for medical use with a label that discloses to the consumer the chemicals that were not tested.

“Patients have waited to access marijuana for medical purposes for far too long,” stated Govornor Baker. “This waiver will allow industry laboratories a little more time to reach full operation while providing safe amounts of medical marijuana for qualifying patients who need it.”

Alternative Therapy Group dispensary expects to open before July and will be by appointment only.

Under the three-month waiver, the dispensary may only dispense a maximum of 4.23 ounces of marijuana to any qualifying patient for their 60-day supply, and must provide patients with instructions to consume no more than 2 grams per day.

Colorado Recreational Marijuana

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana a year ago, and prices at Colorado’s recreational marijuana dispensaries were high, but now they seem to be dropping drastically.

A global brokerage company surveyed numerous marijuana dispensaries in Colorado to better understand the new and flourishing market.

What the survey found was that prices are declining faster than many had expected and number of customers at dispensaries continues to increase.

Part of the survey noted:

“Since last June, the average price of an 1/8th ounce of recreational cannabis has dropped from $50-$70 to $30-$45 currently; an ounce now sells for between $250 and $300 on average compared to $300-$400 last year. More competition and expansion of grow facilities contributed to this price decline, but it is also a natural result for any maturing industry as dispensaries try to find the market’s equilibrium price.”

Sales are still exceeding last year’s. And according to the survey, sales increased by 98% year-over-year in April. Taking that into account, surveyors expect dispensaries to gross up to $480 million this year, which would be a 50% increase over 2014.

The survey also noted:

“Our contacts still report between 100 to 300 customers entering their stores each day, but they only spend about $50 per visit compared to $100 last June. About half of these customers are tourists in most stores we interviewed. … The 10% sales tax on recreational cannabis will be repealed only on that day (September 16) due to a provision included in a bill Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier this month. The bill also permanently cuts the 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana to 8% in 2017 in an effort to squeeze out the black market.”

Many medical marijuana states – including Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada – are expected to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use in 2016.

Tommy Chong Cancer Marijuana

Actor Tommy Chong, of the Cheech and Chong movies, has been diagnosed with rectal cancer.

“I’m in treatment now,” stated Chong, and went on to say he’s smoking more marijuana now than ever. “Either I get healed, or I don’t. But either way, I’m going to make sure I get a little edge off or put up.”

Chong rose to stardom in the 70’s and 80’s through his Cheech and Chong films and has been an advocate for marijuana legalization for decades.

Chong was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and was public about using marijuana as a way to treat the cancer.

Beer Marijuana

The price of marijuana is really cheap compared to light beer throughout most of the U.S. Although, this is relative to each user’s tolerance for each substance.

The Washington Post found marijuana street prices from an online source to estimate the price of a single marijuana joint in each state. They then took the listed price for a six-pack of beer from an online alcohol retailer and applied state-specific beer taxes to approximate the cost of a 12 ounce bottle of Bud Light in each state.

“If you’re a naive user [of marijuana] a half a joint should do you plenty. You’re now stoned for three hours for two bucks… Doritos cost more,” said an expert on drug abuse and crime control policy.

Here are some of their findings:

“For those in Oklahoma, for instance, a joint is quite the bargain. Marijuana costs only $2.09 per joint in the state (the least expensive of anywhere in the U.S.), while a Bud Light sells for roughly $0.87 a 12 ounce bottle —meaning that price of a joint is the same as the price of 2.4 beers. In Kentucky, where a joint costs about $2.61, and a Bud Light costs roughly $0.90, the ratio is closer to 2.9; in Arkansas, where a joint costs $2.58 and a Bud Light $0.86, it’s 2.99; and in Washington, where weed is $2.72 per joint and Bud Light $0.90 per bottle, it’s 3.01.

For those in Nevada, however, marijuana isn’t nearly as wallet-friendly. Marijuana costs more than $5.20 per joint in the state (the most in the country), while a beer runs for about $0.85—meaning a joint costs the same as more than six beers. In Wyoming, where a joint costs about $5.00 and a Bud Light costs just over $0.83, the ratio is roughly 5.99; In South Dakota, where a joint costs $5.02 and a Bud Light costs $0.86, it’s 5.86; and in Vermont, where weed is $4.51 per joint and Bud Light $0.86 per bottle, it’s 5.28.”

Click here to view prices in all states.

Cannabinoid

Scientists at the University of Mississippi have discovered seven new naturally occurring cannabinoids in marijuana.

Marijuana plants usually contain either a large amount of THC or CBD cannabinioids, with a diverse amount of minor cannabinoids mixed in.

Most labs test marijuana for percentages of major cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and a few minor cannabinoids, but, so far, none have the capability to provide a full cannabinoid fingerprint profile. It’s possible to do so, but such an analysis would take weeks and thousands of dollars given the current technology.

Until recently, scientists had discovered 104 different cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, and it seems that number just increased to 111, with the inclusion of these seven new cannabinoids: 8α-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; 8β-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; 10α-hydroxy-Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol; 10β-hydroxy-Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol; 11-acetoxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A, 10β-epoxyhexahydrocannabinol, and 10α-hydroxy-Δ9,11-hexahydrocannabinol; 9β.

These newly found substances are yellow oils at room temperature, except for one which is a white powder. Other researchers had already synthesized a few of these cannabinoids, but didn’t know they naturally occurred in the plant.

Scientists isolated these substances and tested them on mice. They found that a few of them got the mice high – just like the psychoactive cannabinoid THC can do – while others had different effects.

New York Marijuana

The New York Senate voted 50 to 12 in favor of a bill that would establish a program to expedite access to medical marijuana for severely ill patients.

The bill will now head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk, who is expected to sign it.

The bill would create a “special certification” for patients with a “progressive and degenerative” disease or whose life or health is at risk without the drug.

Parents of children with rare forms of epilepsy had urged lawmakers to support the legislation, traveling repeatedly to the state Capitol to push for its passage.

Marijuana Pesticides

In 2015, tens of thousands of marijuana plants have been quarantined in Colorado due to concerns they were doused with toxic chemicals. Protesters picket some Colorado dispensaries claiming consumer health is at risk. And business owners are claiming that if the status quo continues, crops worth hundreds of thousands of dollars could sicken and die.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is stepping in and offering a process by which pesticides could be approved for marijuana in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. By applying to register certain marijuana-related products as a “Special Local Need” as defined under section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the marijuana industry could have a comparatively swift and cheap way to obtain appropriate pest control options without running afoul of federal law.

“I think it is a very positive sign,” says Mitch Yergert, director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)’s Division of Plant Industry, who received the letter from the EPA detailing the process on May 19. “It allows us to move forward in a very normal manner on pesticides for marijuana, just like any other crop. I think it is a huge step forward for the EPA, the industry and us.”

But until marijuana pesticides are thoroughly vetted and fully registered by the EPA as safe for use, the 24(c) process is a stopgap measure at best. It remains to be seen whether pesticide makers will be willing to wade into the marijuana industry and attempt to register any of their products for marijuana use under 24(c) – and, if they do, whether the EPA will ultimately sign off on those attempts.

Canada Marijuana

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally use all forms of marijuana.

Canadian medical marijuana patients will now be able to use marijuana oil, thus allowing them to vaporize the oil or use it for making edibles, such as cookies, brownies or teas.

Restricting people to dried marijuana for their medical uses has been declared “null and void” by the court.

In states such as the Colorado and Washington marijuana edibles make up a very large portion of sales at dispensaries. And now Canadian medical marijuana patients can also enjoy products like marijuana-infused cookies and tea.

In Canada, medical marijuana is used for medical ailments such as Crohn’s disease, seizures, HIV and nausea. And doctors determine who is eligible to use it.

The court ruled that prohibiting possession of non-dried forms of marijuana is “contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; the effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety”.

Prisoners Marijuana

Since voters in Colorado and Washington approved the tax and sale of recreational marijuana in 2012, the cognitive dissonance of America’s drug penalties has become even more absurd.

America imprisons people for growing and selling marijuana, but is it still appropriate to imprison the majority of people that use, grow or sell marijuana when millions of people can now legally use, grow or sell it?

Congress voted to change federal penalties for crack cocaine in 2012 with the Fair Sentencing Act. Prior to the law’s passage, 5 grams of crack cocaine triggered the same mandatory minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine.

The repeal of federal marijuana laws could likely leave us with thousands upon thousands of federal marijuana prisoners serving sentences longer than what they’d receive in a post-marijuana-reform courtroom.

According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in fiscal year 2013, more than 40% of all people who received life without parole sentences in federal courts were drug offenders, and 6% of those were marijuana sellers.

If Congress changes marijuana laws without allowing currently imprisoned marijuana-related offenders to seek new sentences, should this president or the next simply throw open the gates?

Federal and state legislators will eventually have to address poor drug policies and then establish a clear route to resentencing marijuana-related offenders as well as other drug offenders.