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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Marijuana Coffee Shops

Alaskan marijuana activists are working toward making it legal for people to purchase and consume marijuana on-site at recreational dispensaries.

On-site consumption exists in other parts of the world, like Amsterdam and Spain, for example, and are generally known as “coffee shops.” They provide a place for locals and tourists to buy and use marijuana, and then hang out – just like a bar, except for marijuana.

David Straub, an Alaskan marijuana grower, said, “We just know when tourists show up, that will be one of the first questions.”

Alaska would be the first state in the U.S. to allow on-site consumption, News Miner confirms. The Marijuana Control Board will consider draft rules in an upcoming meeting. Dispensary licenses will not be issued until September.

Brandon Emmett, a member of the Marijuana Control Board, said, “I think that we would be doing a disservice to the public if we did not have cannabis cafes.”

Emmett also said, “If other cities around the planet – like Amsterdam, some places in Spain and Morocco where consumption is legal – they haven’t seen the sort of social ills that have been associated with alcohol. Here in Alaska, we’ll be able to implement that policy responsibly.”

Several potential retail shop owners show support for on-site consumption. Some believe it would help address the stigma associated with marijuana use, helping rectify the ill-perception that a good portion of society still has.

Brandon Emmett commented on federal legalization, saying, “I think federal legalization is going to happen in the next five years. I think when we look back on this in 15 years, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.”

(Photo: theguardian.com)

Walgreens Medical Marijuana Pharmacy

Walgreens, the global retailer and pharmacy chain with over 8,000 stores throughout the U.S., posted a positive article regarding medical marijuana on its Tumblr account. This is the first American pharmacy chain to publish an unbiased and straightforward medical marijuana article.

The post includes medical marijuana statements such as: “Most states encourage patients to apply for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card” and “If you’d like more information about the use of medical marijuana, talk with your doctor.”

The post was written by a University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy resident, Dahlia Sultan, The Cannabist reports. In her post, she does speak about some potential downsides of medical marijuana use, but, overall, remains unbiased and positive.

Another part of Walgreens’ Tumblr post said, “…research has also shown marijuana provides pain relief in ways traditional pain medicines don’t. Medical marijuana can improve appetite and relieve nausea in those who have cancer and it may help relieve symptoms such as muscle stiffness in people who have multiple sclerosis.”

Walgreens included a disclaimer in the post stating that it “is not a licensed medical marijuana provider.”

(Photo: usatoday.com)

Arizona Dispensary

Nearly 30 new Arizona medical marijuana dispensary licenses are expected to be available this summer. Currently, only 99 out of 126 dispensary licenses have been issued and, of those, only 92 of them are open and operating dispensaries.

Dispensary real estate is becoming scarce because some cities have begun restricting zoning regulations, as Phoenix did in April. The city of Scottsdale is also attempting zoning changes in May.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services there are approximately 95,000 registered patients in the state’s medical marijuana program, reports ABC 15, and 97 percent live within 25-miles of a dispensary.

The state’s medical marijuana program was a voter-approved law established in 2010. In November of 2016, Arizonans will be voting on legalizing recreational marijuana.

Scottsdale Dispensary

The city of Scottsdale is wanting tighter zoning regulations for all businesses that sell and grow marijuana.

Scottsdale council members are hurrying to change the zoning laws because of the possibility that recreational marijuana might be legalized in November, which would bring more dispensaries to the city. The council will meet on May 17th to discuss potential changes to the current zoning regulations.

Scottsdale is following in Phoenix’s footsteps, which recently updated its dispensary zoning laws to be stricter.  Current Scottsdale regulations require marijuana-related businesses to be 1,320 feet from another dispensary and a minimum of 500 feet from residential neighborhoods and schools reports AZ Central.

J.P. Holyoak of Arizona Natural Selections, a Scottsdale dispensary, said, “Scottsdale is a great place to live, a great place to work, a great place to do business. It doesn’t surprise me that they [dispensaries] want to move here.”

In the city of Scottsdale, dispensaries are forced to operate in industrial areas and medical-campus zoning districts only. This does not leave much available real estate for new businesses.

Holyoak went on to say, “I think these are businesses that should be treated like any other. When you look at the impact on the surrounding community, it’s no more than any other business.”

Scottsdale Police Department spokesperson, Kevin Watts, confirmed that the locations of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city has not caused any problems for law enforcement officials.

Attorney Ryan Hurley stated, “Just about everybody knows somebody or has somebody in their family who is a medical marijuana patient. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate into the same treatment politically.”

New Mexico Marijuana Sheriff

Darren White, former two-term Sheriff in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, has opened up about his personal medical marijuana relations. The ex-sheriff has become a CEO and security director for one of the medical marijuana producers in the state, and he is also a patient. He converted to medical marijuana two years ago for chronic pain stemming from knee and back injuries.

White said during an interview that “a steady diet of consuming painkillers is not quality of life. The narcotic painkillers, they knock you out.”

White is an investor in PurLife, Albuquerque Journal reports. PurLife has one of the 12 originally approved medical marijuana business licenses in New Mexico. The state has since increased the legal number of approved medical marijuana producers to 35.

“When you suffer from chronic pain, there’s nothing you can do about it. Mine over the years had gotten progressively worse,” said White. He started using medical marijuana and found it to be “a very effective alternative.” Once opposed to medical marijuana entirely, he now says, “Like a lot of things, I was wrong about it.”

(Photo: abqjournal.com)

Hillary Clinton Medical Marijuana

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has altered her stance on medical marijuana, recently stating at a town hall televised on Good Morning America that it is “wrong” to have marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 drug. If elected President, Clinton claims that she would support medical marijuana, support state’s rights, and allow for marijuana to be researched.

Clinton said that, “We have enough anecdotal evidence” about “what marijuana can do for medical conditions, easing pain, and we need to be doing research on it because I am 100 percent in favor of medical uses for marijuana, but I want to know what the evidence is.”

When asked if she would vote yes or no to legalize marijuana in her home state, Clinton deflected by saying there is a need to study the language of the bill first. She did, however, say she is generally in favor of reforming marijuana laws, reports Inc.com.  She is not so decisive of legalized recreational use, but does support for states’ rights to experiment with legalization on different levels.

Clinton, when asked about recreational marijuana, said, “I am also someone who believes states can be those laboratories of democracy, so I am watching carefully the states that have legalized it to learn from them so we can base the best policy on that.”

(Photo: floridapolitics.com)

Marijuana Wedding Chapel Vegas

The Cannabis Chapel opened on April 20th in Las Vegas on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Charleston Blvd.  The traditional wedding march songs are replaced with Bob Marley songs as the bride walks down the aisle.

The first couple married in the chapel were residents of Phoenix, Arizona. The couple is said to have wanted to make an impact regarding the importance of decriminalizing marijuana nationwide, according to 13 Action News. The officiating minister for their ceremony is ordained by the Higher Power Cannabis Church.

The Groom told 13 Action News that, “My fiancé has great problems with her sciatica, and it’s something that alleviates the pain without having to go on major pain medication.” He went on to say, “It’s going to make us better as a couple.”

No marijuana is consumed during the ceremonies performed. The cost of a ceremony at The Cannabis Chapel is about $100.

(Photo: darkroom.baltimoresun.com)

Marijuana PTSD

New study may now be conducted to find the effectiveness of marijuana in relieving symptoms of PTSD. Multidisciplinary Approach to Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) approval allowing scientists to conduct multiple studies. The studies conducted will be placebo-controlled with the intention of finding benefits of medical marijuana use for PTSD sufferers.

In December 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pledged to give MAPS $2 million towards research efforts, The Washington Times reports. Federal approval was required before the funding could be appropriated.

In a statement, MAPS says, “The DEA’s approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration.”

Director of clinical research for MAPS, Amy Emerson, says, “We are thrilled to see this study overcome the hurdles of approval so we can begin gathering the data. This study is a critical step in moving our botanical drug development program forward at the federal level to gather information on the dosing, risks and benefits of smoked marijuana for PTSD symptoms.”

MAPS spokesman Brad Burge told the Military Times that, “The contract with the state of Colorado was signed on April 20 – an unofficial national holiday in some circles – meaning the funds are en route to MAPS. We are now preparing to lace the order for the marijuana for the study.”

Four types of strains would be included in the study. The THC and CBD ratios would vary to compare effectiveness. The group of study participants would include 76 American military veterans who show previous resistance to traditional PTSD treatments.

Statistics show that about 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans and 31 percent of Vietnam war veterans suffer from PTSD.

Phoenix Dispensary

New Phoenix dispensaries face more limitations as to where they can operate. The new rules, which are stricter than before, were recently approved by the Phoenix City Council.

The regulations passed with a unanimous 8 – 0 vote, which included an emergency clause. This emergency clause puts the new regulations into effect immediately.

New marijuana businesses such as dispensaries and grow operations in Phoenix will now have to be further away from places of worship and residential areas, AZ Central reports. Also on the list are daycare centers, community youth centers and homeless shelters. These marijuana businesses must now be a minimum of one-quarter mile from any of the listed establishment types.

New Phoenix dispensaries may have difficulties finding real estate to open up shop on, but with some searching, locations can be found.

Medical Marijuana Doctors

Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) has been created to urge more doctors to support the legalization and regulation of marijuana. The new group consists of more than 50 doctors, a former surgeon general, and faculty from some of America’s leading medical schools.  Their intent is to speak out and call on states and the federal government to legalize marijuana in the interest of public health.

DFCR is pushing for recreational and medical marijuana legalization. The group has argued that prohibition of marijuana does more harm than good, The Washington Post reports. They say that legalization and careful regulation will increase public safety and will combat the black market on its own.

DFCR founder and board member, David L. Nathan said, “You don’t have to be pro-marijuana to be opposed to its prohibition.”

Nathan went on to say, “Doctors should affirmatively support this. If you’re going to make something against the law, the health consequences of that use have to be so bad to make it worth creating criminal consequences. That was never true of marijuana. It was banned in 1937 over the objections of the American Medical Association (AMA).”

During prohibition arguments, the AMA was concerned that prohibiting marijuana use would, “deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value.”

Nathan argues that marijuana was not well-known among doctors during the 1930s. They were unaware that marijuana and cannabis are the same thing, which doctors had been using to treat a multitude of ailments for years.