Marijuana News in Arizona and World
In November 2015, voters in Pueblo, Colorado approved an additional excise tax on marijuana sales with 60-percent approval. The excise tax will begin in 2017, and will gradually increase until it reaches 5-percent in 2020. Of that increased tax, 50-percent will be set aside for scholarships.
The city of Pueblo accounts for 3-percent of the state’s total recreational marijuana sales. It also accounts for 20-percent of the states total production of marijuana. Leaders in the marijuana cultivation industry agree that the tax is a smart initiative.
Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, Taylor West, told The Christian Science Monitor, “Businesses in the cannabis industry are interested in showing that they are a contributing member of the overall economic community. So having the opportunity to contribute to something that will benefit the overall community is something they are willing to be supportive of. People are happy that the industry can make a contribution to the community.”
Pueblo County Commissioner, Sal Pace, says, “At the end of the day, who would rather have these funds go to Mexican drug cartels, instead of providing hope and opportunity to funding our kids’ education?” He goes on to say, “If we are cutting someone’s college education bill, they don’t necessarily know which dollar came from marijuana. The important thing is that more students will have the opportunity to pursue higher education.”
The scholarships will only be available to students who attend either Colorado State University in Pueblo or Pueblo Community College. Students must meet admission criteria and must be current Pueblo County students.
Israel’s medical marijuana sales are beginning, and strict regulations are in place to control abuse and the black market. Throughout the entire country, there are only eight approved cultivation farms. Licenses can be taken away from any production farm that endangers the safety of the general public.
Israeli doctors must provide patients with a medical marijuana prescription. There are a total of 36 approved doctors. With interest in medical marijuana for the treatment of severe illnesses gaining popularity in the country, wait lists are growing longer for appointments.
As The Times of Israel reports, pharmacies can carry medical marijuana in several forms including pre-rolled joints and oils. Edible marijuana, in cookie form, is also permitted. No dry flower is to be accessed in bulk at the pharmacy.
The program is expected to increase and more doctors will become certified and licensed to prescribe medical marijuana. Pharmacies must also hold special licensing and meet specific criteria to be permitted to dispense medical marijuana to approved patients. Some home deliveries of medical marijuana are allowed, providing that all regulations are followed for dispensing the medication.
Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman says, “We’re working to reorganize the field of medical cannabis in order to lighten the process for those who need it and, on the other hand, to make it harder for the material to trickle into the regular market. There is no reason to make things difficult for whoever really needs it, just because there’s someone who exploits it illegally.”
Licenses to cultivate marijuana will only be awarded to approved farms that wish to provide medicine to licensed pharmacies. No licenses will be granted for personal cultivation. Israel strictly monitors the sales of medical marijuana and intends to keep it out of the hands of recreational users.
Reform continues regarding medical marijuana in Israel. The Health Minister claims that he will continue to seek overseas sources to import medical marijuana from, and will eventually explore exporting to countries in the future.
While the name Tommy Chong immediately directs your brain to associate him with marijuana, it’s not the only reason he supports Bernie Sanders for president.
Chong has followed U.S. politics rather closely for decades. And although Sanders supports marijuana legalization, Chong’s endorsement of Sanders comes mainly from the promise to create a fair and humane immigration law and create a real living wage for the American people, reports LA Times.
In a video, shared by Los Angeles Times, Chong refers to Sanders as the most mature and the “Commander in Kush.”
Chong continues by saying, “He is not trying to advocate for special interests like everybody else, Bernie is for the people. Bernie is ready, he is the OG Kush that is at the top of the harvest.”
A member of management for the Sanders campaign, Luis Calderin, is appreciative of Chong’s support. He stated, “I respect his honesty and his credibility. The arts base has been incredibly important to get our message out.” Chong has been seen wearing a “Bernie for President” t-shirt.
Chong wasn’t a supporter of Sanders until his son, Paris, enlightened him. Chong likes that Sanders is straight forward and says and does what he feels from the heart.
Two Arizona lawmakers are pushing for changes to current medical marijuana laws. The legality of those changes are questioned as being in violation of the Voter Protection Act because Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, was passed by voters.
Representative Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, wishes to make it illegal for female medical marijuana patients to use and possess marijuana during pregnancy. Representative Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, is pushing to remove naturopaths and homeopaths from being allow to recommend medical marijuana. Currently, naturopaths are the doctors who certify the vast majority of medical marijuana patients in Arizona.
Townsend claims that studies are available confirming that marijuana use has a negative effect on a fetus. She said, “The harmful effects of this drug on the fetus is undeniable and empirically substantiated. Exposing a fetus to a dangerous drug is considered child abuse and therefore a woman risks losing her child to the Department of Child Safety should she or the child test positive at birth.”
Lawrence claims that naturopathic doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine are only in the business of writing recommendations to make money by claiming: “It’s a money-making scheme. MDs and DOs will be more responsible.” He further claims that doctors other than MDs and DOs would write recommendations for people who say, “I don’t feel well today.”
Where the situations become difficult is that the Arizona Constitution does allow changes to be made to voter-approved legislation. It requires a super-majority vote to invoke such changes. Of the two lawmakers, Townsend’s proposition holds more weight for approval, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The changes proposed by Representative Lawrence face difficulty in approval given that the voter-approved Prop 203 has written inclusions to allow naturopaths and homeopaths to write recommendations. Attorney Ryan Hurley contends that the approval of this proposed change is a clear violation of the Voter Protection Act. The act prevents lawmakers from changing anything approved from ballot voting.
An attorney with the Medical Marijuana Project, Chris Lindsey, says that changing who can write recommendations decreases access for patients. He says, “Those actions are offensive to the voters who supported Proposition 203 and to the patients for whom the measure was designed to help.”
The medical marijuana dispensary, Blüm Oakland, has been acquired by Terra Tech making it the only U.S.-based, publicly-traded marijuana business “that touches every aspect of the cannabis lifecycle.” In the acquisition process, Terra Tech paid 1.5-times the projected forward 12-month revenue of the business. This makes the purchase price roughly $21 million, according to Forbes.
Terra Tech’s CEO, Derek Peterson tells Forbes, “Today, we can proudly claim the title of the only US-based, publicly-traded company that touches every aspect of the cannabis lifecycle—from cultivation, to extraction, to branding, and now, with the acquisition of Blüm, to retail sale.”
He goes on further by saying, “In addition to enhancing our cash-flow, this merger positions us to capitalize on the new regulatory landscape in California, which will change significantly with the implementation of the Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in 2016.”
Derek Peterson is expecting many marijuana businesses to close due to not being able to conform to new business conditions. In California, marijuana businesses can operate for profit. The new partnership between Blüm and Terra Tech plans to obtain permits to enter the Nevada market as well.
Director of Terra Tech, Mike Nahass says, “As we continue to develop our long term strategy in Nevada, it has always been our goal to also focus on near term acquisitions that have immediate value to our stockholders.”
Executive Director of Blum, Salwa Ibrahim says that, “We have always prided ourselves on working with those at the forefront of the legal cannabis industry and this new partnership with Terra Tech is an exciting step forward for the Blüm team.”
Terra Tech, TRTC, is classified as a penny stock and shares are traded on the OTC Markets. The company, as a whole, has a value of $25 million. It uses hydroponic farming practices, making it ideal for growing medical marijuana.
Hawaii is gearing up for the launch of its medical marijuana program. The state has made the dispensary applications available online. Applications will be accepted until January 29, 2016.
The cost of a dispensary license is $5,000. The state urges applicants to go through the application carefully and read the instructions in their entirety.
Applications will be awarded for the following counties:
- Honolulu County will be allowed 3 dispensaries
- Maui County will receive 2 approvals
- Hawaii County will receive 2 approvals
- Kauai County will receive only 1 approval
Department of Health Care Assurance chief, Keith Ridley, says, “Applicants should be careful to follow the online application instructions completely. The online process is straight forward and follows [the statute and administrative rules].”
With approved applications, dispensary owners can operate two dispensing locations and two production locations. The medical marijuana program is expected to begin this summer.
State representatives in New Hampshire have filed three separate recreational marijuana bills for the 2016 legislative session. Each bill legalizes marijuana in different degrees. Officials believe that recreational legalization will help end federal prohibition, especially as more states bring the same issues up for voting this year.
The first bill, HB1675, is outlined to regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol regulation. It would also allow persons 18 years old and older to possess 2.2 pounds of marijuana for personal use.
Additional inclusions to this bill are:
- Create a structured licensing process
- Create a tax scheme for legal marijuana sales
- Create testing facilities
The second bill, HB1610, would make marijuana legal for persons 21 years of age and older. In this bill, it would allow for legal possession up to 2 ounces of marijuana plus marijuana use accessories.
This bill also includes provisions for:
- 3 mature/flowering plants
- Up to 6 total plants growing
- Transfer up to 1 ounce of marijuana to those 21 years of age and older.
The third bill, HB1694, is quite similar to HB1610, with a lesser amount of possession listed at just 1 ounce. The age requirement listed in this bill is 21 years of age and older.
Additional inclusions in HB1694:
- Structure for marijuana sales
- Legalize industrial farming
The passage of any one of these three bills would make New Hampshire the first state to pass recreational marijuana through state legislature procedures. Other recreationally legal states have achieved this status via popular vote.
Founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, Michael Boldin, believes that, “The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.”
Each bill must be approved by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee prior to a full vote being allowed.
Those interested in opening a marijuana business in Oregon were able to submit applications. 70 of the 142 total applications submitted were received by the state before noon on the very first day. 75 of the total applications submitted were from growers.
A breakdown of the applications submitted before noon:
- 36 from producers
- 18 for retail locations
- 8 for growers
- 8 for wholesalers
The State of Oregon expects to issue approximately 850 recreational marijuana licenses between now and the end of 2017. The state has also said, as reported by Oregon Live, that it will not limit the number of licenses issued.
The county with the most applications recorded thus far is Multnomah County with 30 total applications. With application numbers in the teens, Clackamas, Jackson and Lane counties follow with the next highest number of applications received to date.
Licenses for research will also be issued. The areas of study must be marijuana related. According to the liquor commission spokesperson, the proposal has to pass “established scientific criteria and rigor” to be approved for research purposes. Laboratories can also apply for a license for testing and research purposes. Research applications have another step to take. They also need approval from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Agriculture along with the liquor commission’s approval.
Colorado passed adriving bill in 2013 which says that more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood constitutes marijuana intoxication. Detecting marijuana intoxication has only been possible via blood testing, but that may soon change. Marijuana reacts differently within each user, making a roadside breathalyzer a controversial topic of discussion.
Hound Labs is in the developmental stages of a roadside marijuana breathalyzer to detect marijuana intoxication. According to Westword, Hound Labs has used enhanced technology and science to develop a device that measures THC levels in as little as one to two breaths. The device uses an extraction method to measure levels of THC intoxication to levels as low as 500 picograms.
Hound Labs claims that, “No hand-held device has been able to measure the actual levels of THC, which is critical to developing standards for breath that ultimately correlate with impairment.”
Standards regarding THC intoxication have not yet been developed. Blood testing only tells law enforcement that someone has used marijuana, not how long ago they used it; marijuana can stay in blood for up to three weeks. The breathalyzer claims to be able to detect THC in a person’s breath, which is detectable for a few hours after use.
Controversy lies among the general public and law enforcement officials in regards to the accuracy of the device’s results. One expert, a professor at Columbia University, Carl Hart, calls the entire concept a “dumb idea.”
Current Arizona statutes do not require medical marijuana dispensaries or caregivers to test marijuana for toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, and molds. Dispensaries are only required to include information on labels of what chemicals may be in or used to grow their marijuana.
Arizona marijuana legalization supporters are pushing for testing because of the many recalls on marijuana products in Colorado due to the presence of toxins. Chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Arizona, JP Holyoak, tells Tucson News Now that, “Wouldn’t we rather have something that’s tested and we know it’s a safe product and isn’t laced with any other materials?”
Holyoak goes on to say, “They’re using regulation to make sure the consumers are receiving a safe product. We don’t have that in Arizona today. We don’t have that on the streets today.”
As Arizona prepares to vote for recreational marijuana legalization in November 2016, this issue remains prominent. Colorado bans the use of some pesticides. This is a measure that supporters also want to see put in place in Arizona to ensure that medical and recreational marijuana users obtain a safe product.
Gordie Bufton, a sober coach and author, agrees that testing should be completed on marijuana products. He says that “it is common for manufacturers to use pesticides to protect their crops, but he is concerned about their effects.” He went on to say, “Do you treat the pot, but with what you’re treating it, you don’t know how it’s going to affect you when individuals smoke it?”
The ballot measure for Arizona recreational marijuana legalization does include language that would require testing of all shelf products at dispensaries.