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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Phoenix Open Golf Marijuana

Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona are launching a Phoenix Open-inspired billboard Monday to coincide with the kickoff of the golf tournament. It will be up through the end of the tournament on Sunday.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the world’s best-attended golf tournament, according to the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, which refers to the Coors-sponsored tournament as the “greatest party on grass.”

The billboard features two adult marijuana consumers relaxing in a field and reads, “If beer and golf make for the ‘greatest party on grass’… Why can’t adults enjoy a safer party on grass?”

Phoenix Open Marijuana Billboard

“We’re glad that Arizona residents have the opportunity to attend the Open, consume alcoholic beverages, and enjoy the ‘greatest party on grass,’” said CRMLA chairman J.P. Holyoak. “We also think it’s important to acknowledge that alcohol is a much more harmful substance than marijuana.

“Alcohol is more toxic, more addictive, and more likely to contribute to rowdy or violent behavior,” Holyoak said. “If spectators can enjoy a beer or cocktail at the TPC, adults should not be arrested for enjoying a little marijuana at a backyard picnic. It is, quite literally, a safer party on grass.”

The billboard directs viewers to Marijuana-vs-Alcohol.org, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

The CRMLA is in the process of collecting signatures in support of a November ballot initiative that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older in Arizona and establish a system in which it is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

“Our state took a shot at marijuana prohibition and landed in a hazard,” Holyoak said. “We are giving Arizona a mulligan on its marijuana policy and letting voters take another swing at it this fall. For our part, we will continue to educate Arizonans about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol as we tee up this initiative for November.”

New Mexico Marijuana

New Mexicans might be voting on marijuana legalization this November. House Bill 75 and Senate Joint Resolution 5 would allow adults 21 or older to legally purchase, possess and use marijuana in the state.

Once residents found that tax dollars from regulated marijuana sales would help fund health-related programs, 69-percent of the state’s residents became supportive of regulated marijuana sales, according to recent poll results posted by NORML.

If these bills pass legislation and are put into law, New Mexico residents ages 21 and over would be able to purchase marijuana from legal retail dispensary locations.

Additional work to get recreational marijuana on New Mexico voting ballots needs to be done. Supporters believe that a public vote on recreational marijuana legalization and properly regulated sales would pass easily.

VA Medical Marijuana

VHA Directive 2011-004 expires on January 31st. The directive prohibits U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) doctors from recommending medical marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal. The directive also prevents medical marijuana from being discussed at all for fear of veterans losing their benefits.

A letter from 21 bipartisan U.S. Senate and House members was sent to VA Secretary Robert McDonald this week urging him to allow VA doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana for veterans in states where it is legal, reports Yahoo Politics. The letter includes text stating: “This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”

Democratic Senator, Jeff Merkley said, “We should be doing everything we can to make life easier for our veterans. Prohibiting VA doctors from talking to their patients about medical marijuana just doesn’t make sense.”

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) applauds the 21 politicians that signed this letter. MPP Director of Federal Policies, Robert Capecchi said, “For many of them it could mean the difference between a good quality of life and a poor quality of life. I worked on state levels for several years before moving to federal. I can’t tell you how many calls I got from veterans with chronic conditions, and you hear all the time from people who benefit substantially from being able to use medical marijuana.”

NFL Marijuana

Former Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, has kicked pain pills out of his life. The combination of medical marijuana and chiropractic treatment to relieve pressure in his neck have improved his quality of life.

McMahon used to take up to 100 pain pills per month. Now, he uses medical marijuana three times a day to treat his arthritic pain from injuries sustained during his NFL career, reports the Chicago Tribune.

McMahon is a patient in Arizona’s medical marijuana program. When asked about treating his pain with pain pills, he said, “They were doing more harm than good. This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.”

One of the main reasons that the former NFL player is going public about his medical marijuana use status is because of his struggles with Illinois’s medical marijuana program, which does not currently have chronic pain as a qualifying condition. Illinois lawmakers believe chronic pain to be too broad of a category that could lead to abuse.

McMahon’s advocacy for medical marijuana is purely from his own personal experience. The relief he’s found for his arthritis from marijuana far surpasses what the hundreds of Percocet painkillers ever provided.

(photo c/o: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

FL Marijuana

A medical marijuana ballot initiative failed by a very narrow margin in Florida in 2014. But a new proposed constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana will be on the ballot this November in Florida.

United for Care organizer, Ben Pollara told Tallahassee Democrat that, “We feel very good that 60 percent plus of Florida voters will finally approve a true medical marijuana law.”

In Florida, Constitutional amendments have to receive a minimum of 60-percent voter approval. Florida did make some progress in 2014 by approving legislation for CBD marijuana products to treat seizures. The issue is that the state has had difficulties completing regulatory factors for production and distribution, so CBD products are still not available to patients.

In regards to the 2014 initiative nearly passing, Pollara also said, “One thing that we learned is that we don’t have to respond to everything they say; we don’t have to match them dollar for dollar. We just have to get out the message that marijuana helps people who are sick and suffering.”

Supporters of medical marijuana legalization in Florida are confident that voters will approve it in November. One local personal injury attorney, John Morgan, has spent upwards of $6 million of his own money supporting legalization for medical marijuana in just the last 2 years.

Growing voter support and a larger number of registered voters brings much optimism to the table for this November.

Georgia Marijuana Law

Georgia State Representative, Allen Peake, has confessed to going across state lines to obtain medical marijuana for a juvenile patient that suffers from a severe seizure disorder. Peake is taking a lot of heat since he is committing a felony for making good on a promise he made to families regarding access to medical marijuana products for their children.

Peake said, “Listen, I made a commitment to these families when I got involved, that I was willing to do whatever it took make sure they had access to a product from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve made good on that promise. If it involved civil disobedience, it’s been absolutely worth it,” according to reports at AJC.com.

He went on further to say, “I got a text this morning from the mother of a young child who I delivered product to, and the heartfelt thanks from this mother, the difference in this child – the increase in cognitive ability, the reduction in seizures, has been worth every bit of risk that I’ve taken.”

A law was passed in 2015 making it legal for patients suffering from life-threatening and serious illnesses like sickle-cell anemia and cancer to use medical marijuana oils in Georgia, but the cultivation of marijuana remains illegal. Patients and their caregivers are permitted to have up to 20-ounces of the oil, with proper licensing, but they have no legal way of obtaining the oil.

Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, issued a stern statement regarding Peake’s decision stating, “Everybody has to make their own decision. I would point out, however, that in the truest tradition of civil disobedience – Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. – the real emphasis of civil disobedience is accepting the punishment to what you consider to be unjust. I’ll leave it at that.”

Blaine Cloud, a doctor in Georgia treats his daughter with marijuana oil for her rare genetic disorder. He agrees that the laws need to be changed. Measures are in place to expand the qualifying conditions list so that more patients can obtain licenses to use medical marijuana products. However, the medical marijuana law in Georgia still forces patients to obtain marijuana illegally.

Arizona Medical Marijuana Program

A new report by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) found that Arizona has one of the nation’s best medical marijuana programs.

The ASA’s report evaluated items such as patient rights, civil protections, access to medicine, product safety, cultivation, dispensaries, lab testing, product labeling and overall program functionality.

Arizona scored a B-, putting it in the top echelon along with states like Colorado (B), Hawaii (B), Illinois (B+), Maine (B-), Massachusetts (B), Nevada (B), New Mexico (B+), Oregon (B), and Washington (B).

For most issues — arrest protections, affirmative defense, number of dispensaries, cultivation –- Arizona scored very well, and poorly on just a few -– required lab testing for marijuana, expensive fees, recall protocols and reporting.

View the report: ASA’s Medical Marijuana Access Report 2016

New Orleans Marijuana Law

Two major discussions are taking place in New Orleans this week to discuss easing up on marijuana-related penalties in Orleans Parish. An ordinance is being proposed by District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry that would make penalties for marijuana use and possession more lenient than getting a traffic ticket.

Penalties under the new law would be:

  • Verbal warning for the first offense of possession of a small amount of marijuana
  • $50 fine for the second offense
  • $100 fine for third and additional offenses

The new law would give police officers more discretion when confronting individuals and finding that they are in possession of marijuana. According to WDSU, the Councilwoman says that too many people are being jailed for simple marijuana possession. It clogs up the jails and is taking up valuable police resources.

Councilwoman Guidry says, “To see a situation where they feel like they should just give a warning and they can do that and then see another situation where they know they’re dealing with a bad actor and what they’ve got on them at that point.”

In terms of the crime versus the consequences, Guidry says, “They can’t bond out and they wind up losing their job then they get out and they are really in desperate circumstances and really it makes the severity of the punishment much more than the severity of the crime.”

Guidry introduced a law in 2010 giving police officers the discretion to give a warning or complete an arrest on a first offense of marijuana possession. Since then, she reports that there have been 5,000 fewer arrests for marijuana possession in New Orleans.

Statistics in New Orleans show that in 70-percent of cases police officers are writing court summons instead of making arrests for marijuana possession. Police officers are able to concentrate their time on prosecuting murders, armed robberies and rapes.

The first scheduled meeting to discuss this new proposal is on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 with the Criminal Justice Committee. The second meeting is scheduled with the City Council on Thursday, January 28, 2016.

Oregon Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

Oregon is taking an organized approach in terms of launching its recreational marijuana program. As of January 2016, those interested in operating a retail marijuana location can submit an application to become a grower, testing laboratory or wholesaler. Dispensary retailers will be the last to have their applications approved.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will oversee the program. The commission does not expect to approve any retail applications until the 4th quarter of 2016, according to OPB.org.

Oregon has taken lessons from other recreational marijuana states like Washington where supply shortages have been reported. OLCC spokesperson, Mark Pettinger says that, “The idea right now is to focus on the outdoor grow applicants because they’ll need to get the crops in the ground soon. As opposed to indoor grow operations, which are going to have multiple cycles to grow throughout the year.”

Some of the rules associated with Oregon’s recreational marijuana industry include:

  • Recreational sales at medical marijuana dispensaries stop on January 1, 2017
  • Recreational locations will be permitted to sell edibles, oils and other forms of marijuana
  • Other forms of marijuana will have lower potency, which may require a delay in allowing them for sale to create guidelines for these products
  • Recreational and medical marijuana locations operated by the same company must have separate store fronts

Growers face some changes as well. Medical marijuana growers cannot grow for both industries. The only way that a medical marijuana grower can grow for recreational markets is to gain permission from the cardholders he/she serves to sell excess to recreational markets. The other is to relinquish their medical marijuana growing license and apply for a recreational growing license.

Oregon is implementing a tracking system for seed-to-sale tracking for recreational marijuana sales. This is designed to prevent profits from being misused. An RFID tag will be used for all immature plants. These tags will stay with the plant through the entire process of cultivation to sales.

Cities and counties that have opted out of recreational marijuana sales by placing bans on production, processing, retail sales and wholesale sales will not receive tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales.

Marijuana Brain Scan Potbot

A simple brain scan, using electroencephalogram (EEG) technology can help medical marijuana patients to know what strains will be the most beneficial for their medical conditions.

PotBotics, founded in 2014 by David and Baruch Goldstein, has developed technology using two tools called BrainBot and PotBot, according to reports at NY Daily News.

BrainBot collects data from a wireless EEG (electroencephalography) helmet and is delivered to PotBot which provides marijuana strain and cannabinoid recommendations based upon the data. BrainBot measures brain reactions to varying levels of cannabinoids. PotBot determines what strain has the ideal combination of cannabinoids for a patient’s specific needs.

The process requires multiple visits. David Goldstein expands on the need for multiple visits by saying, “Usually it takes between three and four visits to get the range that is best for a patient. You can give only one medicinal dose to a patient in one setting.”

No actual marijuana smoking takes place during testing. A non-combustion inhaler system using concentrates is implemented.

PotBotics states that, “We see the future of cannabis as being not what strain is best for you but what cannabinoids are best for you.”

By May 2016, devices will be available for commercial use in doctor offices. The company says that devices for home use are expected to be available by the end of 2016. California is the targeted market with plans to expand to New York and other states in the near future.