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Marijuana Media

Long ago, I swiped a line I read in someone’s email signature line that states, “Marijuana is unique in its ability to addle the brains of those who do not use it.” One collective set of brains in particular—the media—seems to be most addled in one particular subject, mathematics. Otherwise, how can we explain such reefer mad stories as:

Report: two dozen doctors recommended 34,000 Arizona medical marijuana cards. (Arizona Daily Star, 11/13/2014)
This is a variation on a headline reported in Oregon, Colorado, Montana, and other medical marijuana states with a significant patient population. The public is supposed to be shocked that so-called “pot docs” are churning out medical marijuana recommendations like everybody’s-a-winner ribbons at a grade school swim meet.

Why it’s bogus: Many doctors who’d like to write a recommendation for medical marijuana can’t because the rules of their clinic, hospital, or insurance won’t let them. Others who could won’t because they fear stigma and backlash from other patients and doctors. So every medical marijuana state ends up with a few doctors who specialize. It’s no more surprising that a few doctors in the West write the majority of medical marijuana recommendations than a few doctors in the South perform the majority of abortions—there are few of them that can and will do it.

Oversight of Colorado medical marijuana doctors remains spotty (Denver Post, 8/25/2013)
This story added to the ongoing scare about too few doctors writing too many recommendations by adding a graphic showing how 94% of Coloradoans getting a medical marijuana card are getting it for chronic pain. The public is supposed to be shocked that so many people are getting cards for what must be a lot of faked pain.

Why it’s bogus: The graphic also shows that 16% get medical marijuana cards for muscle spasms, 11% for severe nausea, and 8% for cancer, seizures, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and cachexia. You probably noticed that all adds up to 129%. See, patients can get medical marijuana for more than one condition. Do you suppose multiple sclerosis causes some pain? Maybe cancer is a bit painful? Regardless, why is pain so mocked? A recent survey showed 1 in 5 Americans are battling constant pain, and that’s not including occasional arthritis or back pain.

Florida Medical Marijuana Opponents Prove Money Talks (Huffington Post, 11/5/2014)
Sue Rusche from National Families Inaction penned this opinion piece crowing about how the anti-marijuana side finally had some money to work with and thanks to the funding of TV ads, they were able to defeat the medical marijuana amendment in Florida. “Supporters raised more than $2.5 million for California’s Prop 215, the nation’s first medical marijuana initiative passed in 1996,” Rusche scribbles. “Opponents raised less than $35,000—a ratio of 71 to 1. That pattern continued until this year in Florida.”

Why it’s bogus: Rusche is playing Kevin Sabet’s latest “David vs. Goliath” talking point, this idea that we’ve got Soros’ / Lewis’ millions to push legalization and the poor, underfunded cops, rehabbers, and parents’ groups have mere pennies. This talking point ignores David’s Death Star, the federal government that has pumped hundreds of millions into anti-drug ads, has funneled millions to local anti-drug groups for anti-marijuana “education,” and has spent 40 years enforcing marijuana prohibition at the barrel of a gun.

Furthermore, Florida requires 60% to pass a constitutional amendment. So, whoopee, the anti-pot forces got $5 million of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s money to air scary ads about medical marijuana that dropped what had been 88% poll support for medical marijuana down to a 58% percent vote. They spent all that money to find out that a huge majority of Floridians support wide-open, for-any-condition medical marijuana. In a mid-term election where few young people vote. In the South.

By the way, did you know Sheldon Adelson is a huge funder of medical marijuana research in Israel?

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UN Marijuana

Following the passage of cannabis legalization measures in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia on election day, the chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Nov. 12 issued his requisite scolding.

UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov told reporters, “I don’t see how [the new laws] can be compatible with existing conventions.” He added that he plans to address the issue with the US State Department and other UN agencies. He admitted that the legalization measures are part of a global trend that the UNODC is monitoring.

The UN drug control apparatus has similarly lectured Colorado and Washington states over their legalization initiatives that passed in 2012, as well as Uruguay after its legalization law was approved in 2013. The UN drug control treaties are under pressure not only from cannabis legalization measures in the US and South America, but also from Bolivia, where President Evo Morales is pressing the right to grow and chew coca leaf for traditional and medicinal purposes. Activists increasingly accuse the UN of “meddling” in domestic and local policies.

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AZ Marijuana Report

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has released their third annual report for Arizona’s medical marijuana industry, which includes most statistics for 2014.

The reports reveals many insights into Arizona’s medical marijuana industry. One important figure is that the number of medical marijuana patients keeps increasing; therefore, the Arizona medical marijuana industry will continue to expand. For this reason, more Arizona dispensaries and doctor offices continue to open.

There are currently just over 51,000 medical marijuana patients, and 70% of them are males. The majority of those males are within three age brackets: 18 – 30, 31-40, and 51 – 60 years of age.

View the ADHS Medical Marijuana Report for 2014

Learn how to get an Arizona medical marijuana card

NY Marijuana

On the heels of speculation swirling Sunday that New York would end the prosecution and arrest of individuals for low-level marijuana possession, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that possession of 25g or less of cannabis would no longer be an arrestable offense. The change to the city’s policy will be issued Tuesday and will come into effect on November 19th — so be cool for a few days people!

As the New York Times reported, the NYPD has been arresting tens of thousands of people each year for low-level marijuana possession. Now, instead of getting thrown in the slammer, you will reportedly be issued a summons and get a ticket for $100. (Though beware, individuals caught “smoking or burning” pot are still subject to immediate arrest under the new policy.)

City officials said they are interested in shifting the time and energy spent currently on low-level marijuana offenses to more serious crimes. This surely has to be the biggest accomplishment of the de Blasio administration to date and falls in line with the efforts of Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson who declared in July that he had no intention of prosecuting such marijuana “crimes.”

“This should free up police manpower to pursue cases of greater magnitude while relieving some of the congestion in the courts,” Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan explained.

A clearer picture of the specifics will emerge this week as Mayor de Blasio takes his first meeting with all 5 district attorneys since taking office.

“Let’s be real about this,” Police Commissioner Bratton began before he laid out the change in policy for the media — and surprisingly, for once, he was legitimately, somewhat keeping it real in respect to marijuana.

This historic shift represents a step closer to wider legalization in the state of New York. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

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Marijuana Exchange

Marijuana federal laws will have to change dramatically before a marijuana commodity exchange can become fully operational, but there are already two businesses that have launched in preparation of that day—Amercanex and Cannabis Commodities Exchange.

“The notion of a commodities market is so far removed from where we are right now in the marijuana legalization movement,” said Mara Felson, an attorney in California. “It would be a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to envision because marijuana is still illegal federally. Until it’s removed from Schedule 1 status, I don’t see a cannabis commodity exchange taking off.”

Amercanex CEO Steve Janjic is undeterred by the law and convinced of the validity of his vision happening now. “We were approached by several of the largest off-shore foreign exchange brokers to provide them with the data stream of cannabis pricing and indexes so they can build binary options or Contract for Difference (CFD) derivatives with which people can speculate on the price of marijuana,” said Janjic. “These binary products will be available in the marketplace in the next 90 days to six months and traded out of the U.S. where there are no treaties to be concerned with.”

Until then, Amercanex is an online matchmaker for growers and dispensaries charging 22 cents a gram across all transactions of trim and high-grade byproduct with offices in Colorado, Washington and California.

Instead of initiating a commodity exchange from the top down, the Cannabis Commodities Exchange differs from Amercanex in that it is building an exchange from the bottom up. “We are building a concrete business-to-business wholesale service before branching off into exchange trading but we do not warehouse any product,” said Sohum Shah, chief operating officer of the Denver-based company.

Like Amercanex, the Cannabis Commodities Exchange also launched this year, but has 30 users who operate 50 businesses with multiple cannabis licenses. “We do see, at some point, derivatives being traded in cannabis and on our exchange, but we would need some type of standard industry-accepted grading system to price and define batches based on their characteristics,” Shah told HIGH TIMES.

Currently, neither the government nor testing labs have issued industry standard grading of the various cannabis strains available. “Once testing labs are able to define strains, we envision trading cannabis contracts based on cannabinoid profiles and terpene profiles or a combination of these two profiles,” Shah said. “That’s how strains are graded.”

In the meantime, Janjic is already building the infrastructure for a bricks and mortar exchange that will be located in New York.
“Any of the existing exchanges will be able to connect to us in hours and access all our data,” Janjic said. That infrastructure includes 22,000 virtual seats that are selling for $5,000 a piece. Some 2,200 have sold so far.

“Investors feel purchasing the seats now gives them an edge because once the seats are gone they will have to buy a seat from members or lease a seat on the exchange to transact,” said Janjic.

US Coffeeshop Marijuana

When politicians work against the public good — yet believe they’re working for the public good — what you get are policies that are no good at all!

Take Holland. For decades, tourists throughout the world have been able to enjoy its unique national policy of tolerance via hundreds of coffeeshops that allow patrons to purchase and enjoy pot in a congenial, comfortable atmosphere. The tourism industry has flourished because of this refreshingly sane treatment of cannabis smokers.

In recent years, however, cannabis has been under fire in the Netherlands. Laws were enacted to prohibit foreign tourists from visiting marijuana coffeeshops. Those laws are still on the books, but it’s up to individual municipalities to enforce them. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan is no friend of the industry, and has used zoning laws to force many coffeeshops to close down. The result: an increase in black market pot sales.

It’s time for Holland to understand that tourists don’t plan their vacations solely because they love tulips. Moreover, as Holland focuses on limiting the cannabis industry and American attitudes grow more favorable to legalization, perhaps it’s time to enhance our own tourism profile by opening coffeeshops here in the US.

Think about it. Here in New York City, thousands of tourists arrive daily to wander this great urban metropolis. They visit museums, go to Broadway shows and eat in New York City’s superb restaurants. But imagine the addition of coffeeshops to the scene. Imagine a pot-friendly venue with better coffee than Starbucks (not a hard feat to accomplish) with the added attraction of great marijuana. We might see a resurgence of the coffeeshop scene of the 1960s, where folksingers, poets and avant-garde entertainers were given a stage to perform. And wouldn’t so-called Internet cafes do bigger business with patrons able to surf the web while smoking weed? American coffeeshops have the capacity to revitalize business districts of cities nationwide.

We’ve already seen the results of legalization in Colorado and Washington. The cannabis industryhas filled tax coffers while causing no social harm whatsoever. It’s high time that America begins to examine real opportunities for economic growth. Coffeeshops will provide instant tax revenue, gainful employment for locals and increase the tourism profile of every city that allows them to operate.

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US Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana reform was wildly successful in the 2014 midterm election, with voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia marching to the polls to legalize recreational marijuana. Although the new laws are not scheduled to take effect until sometime next year, we at HIGH TIMES felt the stoner community should be made aware of some of the changes to come as a result of snuffing out prohibition in those areas. Here are 10 of our favorite:

First and Foremost, Get Stoned in the Privacy of Your Own Home Without Constantly Looking Out a Window to See If the Cops Are Watching
Some claim that marijuana causes paranoia, while others argue it is actually the fear of prosecution that puts people on edge. Well, for residents of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, who just voted to legalize recreational marijuana, there should be fewer semi-psychotic episodes taking place behind their living room windows.

Grow Weed on Private Property Without Worrying That the Smell Will Lure the Cops to Your Front Door
As soon as the laws go into effect, resident in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia will be allowed to cultivate their own personal marijuana crop. In Oregon, residents will be allowed to grow up to four plants, while the law in the nation’s capital will permit the cultivation of as many as six plants.

Purchase Weed From a Legal Pot Shop Instead of Waiting for Your Dealer to Call You Back
With the exception of the District of Columbia, which will not include a retail pot market when the law goes into effect, pot connoisseurs and die-hard stoners will soon be able to purchase weed similar to how beer and liquor is sold now. That means no more waiting around for hours – sometimes days – for your dealer to come through. Simply walk down to the local pot shop, hand some cash to a clerk, and it’s party time. The struggle is real, but the hassle is over.

Tell a Cop That You’re Holding Weed and There Isn’t a Damn Thing He Can Do About It
Soon, people in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will be allowed to roam freely in the streets with a designated amount of marijuana. Although none of the newly approved laws allow for public pot consumption, you can still mess with the police from time to time by informing officers that you are holding weed, and then reminding them there is nothing they can do about it.

Give the Gift of Weed to Family and Friends During the Holidays Instead of That Lame Shit You Handed Out Last Year
Although the District of Columbia will not allow retail cannabis sales, like Alaska and Oregon, the passing of Initiative 71 will allow adults to give away up to an ounce of marijuana. This means for all of the important celebrations and holidays where a person is socially required to bring a gift, you can now show up with a small stash of weed in the same manner others have done for years with a bottle of wine.

Conserve Your Liver Function By Switching to Marijuana Instead of Drinking Booze
We cannot tell you how many times we’ve heard the excuse, “I’d smoke weed instead of drinking if it was legal.” Well, now all our yellow-eyed booze hound buds residing in Alaska, Oregon and the District Columbia can drop the bottle and pick up a bong, since the pot prohibition philosophies in those areas have since been eliminated.

Post Photos of Your Beautiful Buds to Social Media Sites Without a SWAT Team Kicking Down Your Front Door
It might seem miniscule, but soon residents in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia will have the legal right to post pot porn to their social media sites without riling the local police force and spawning a heavily armed raid. For people living in prohibition states, simply posting a pot pic on Instagram is enough probable cause for police to obtain a search warrant and come in with all guns blazing. Yet, in legal states, they cannot do shit.

Take a Road Trip With a Stash of Weed Without Fearing a Highway Shakedown (Kind of)
As long as they are not driving high, crossing state lines, and not carrying more pot than what is legally permitted, soon there will be no reason folks in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia can’t hop in the car with a fat stash of weed and take a road trip. Not that stoners haven’t been traveling with pot since the dawn of prohibition, but now that recreational marijuana is legal there should be no excuse for cops to pull over law biding motorists and shake them down along the highway in search for marijuana. There is still the possibility police will attempt to pin you with a DUI.

Tell Your Boss to Kiss Your Ass and Open a Legal Marijuana Business
Alaska and Oregon will soon experience the rise of a retail marijuana market, which will undoubtedly provide opportunities for people to start cannabis-related businesses. In addition to retail pot shops, canna-commerce in the form of advertising firms, bakeries, cooking workshops, etc. will all become part of a vital marketplace once the laws goes into effect.

Start Looking for a Job That Does Not Do Random Drug Testing
Although recreational marijuana is now legal, workers can still be fired as a result of testing positive for marijuana. Unfortunately, this will likely be the scenario until the federal government decides to repeal prohibition. In the meantime, we suggest seeking out gainful employment with a company that does not force their employees to submit to drug tests. Otherwise, you will always be at risk of being tossed into the unemployment line.

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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