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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Marijuana Terms

Knowing the proper terminology when it comes to marijuana is becoming more and more important as the marijuana industry (medical and recreational) begins to blossom across the U.S.

Edible

An edible is a consumable product (food and drinks) that contains marijuana. Sometimes the word medible is used because it is a combination of the words edible and medicine. Edibles generally take 30 minutes to 60 minutes to take effect. The effects last between 2 and 8 hours depending on the dosage and strength of the marijuana used in the item.

THC

THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that produces a “high.” Each strain has a different THC level, higher percentages mean stronger effects. Marijuana averages at about 12 percent THC, but more modern marijuana strains have been tested above 30 percent.

CBD

Cannabidiol, abbreviated as CBD, is another compound found in the marijuana plant. It produces no psychoactive effects. CBD strains are typically used for pain relief, nausea, epilepsy, psychosis prevention, cancer treatment, and for treating many other medical conditions.

Strain

Strain refers to the type of plant the marijuana came from – Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica. All strains come from either sativa or indica; when cross-bred the strain becomes a hybrid. Hybrids are generally sativa- or indica-dominant and the effects primarily reflect the dominant strain.

Sativa

Sativa strains are known for providing energy and creativity effects. Sativas are ideal for daytime use as they typically promote productivity.

Sativa examples:

  • Chocolope
  • Moby Dick
  • Jack Herer
  • Mother’s Helper

Indica

Indica strains are ideal for chronic pain disorders, anxiety, insomnia and nausea. The most common effects of indica strains are relaxation and pain relief. These strains are ideal for night time use because they provide a more relaxing “high” than sativas. Stronger indicas are known to induce couch lock, or lazy feelings.

Indica examples:

  • Bubba Kush
  • God Bud
  • Grape Ape
  • Blueberry Kush

Shake

Shake is the leftovers from marijuana trimming. It consists of trichomes and leaves at the bottom of the barrel, so-to-speak. Some shake also contains stems. Shake is ideal for rolling joints as well as making marijuana butter, which can then be used to make edibles.

Dabs

Dabs are a highly concentrated form of marijuana. It is a sticky, gooey substance that can contain THC levels of 60-90 percent. Other terms for dabs are: wax, shatter, BHO (butane hash oil). Dabs are generally only used by experienced and high-tolerance users.

Marijuana Police

Many people who used to wear badges, carry guns and arrest criminals have decided to trade hats and enter into the medical marijuana industry. Law enforcement officials from all ends of the spectrum – from cops to judges – see the benefits that medical marijuana has for chronically and terminally ill people.

17 former law enforcement officials have found positions in the Illinois medical marijuana industry, reports The Associated Press.

Some of those ex-law enforcement officials include:

  • Undercover narcotics agents
  • A former Fraternal Order of Police trustee
  • A former Chicago homicide detective
  • A Circuit Court judge
  • Secret Service senior executive

A majority of ex-law enforcement officials in the industry assist with security. Some are more involved taking on roles working with patients, growers and the business management. This isn’t happening just in Illinois, Denver and Seattle also have former badge-wearing and gun-toting officials working for them as well.

Pat Moen, a former DEA official of 10 years, states: “It’s been incredibly rewarding.”  Moen talked with over 100 former and current cops regarding a reconsideration of their career paths to perhaps sway them into making the switch too.

Ben Percy, general manager of Trinity Compassionate Care Center in Peoria, IL, said: “We took quite a bit of money, drugs and criminals off the road.”  Percy entered the medical marijuana industry following a 27-year long career with the Illinois State Police.

Another former member of the Illinois State Police, Scott Abbott, said “Who better would you want to oversee your compliance than a cop?”

Abbott, along with others formerly in law enforcement roles, agree that they are still doing the same thing, enforcing the law. In states where medical marijuana is legal, as long as the companies and patients follow the law, none of these retired or former officials have any problem with the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Even where marijuana is recreationally legal, as long as laws are followed, several have done an “about face” in terms of acceptance.

Marijuana Health Insurance

Although medical marijuana is approved in 23 states, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug federally. The difficulty with insurance companies covering medical marijuana is simply that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has multiple obstacles in the way as far as testing and research are concerned. Obtaining necessary approvals may come in time, but until marijuana is approved by the FDA and downgraded to a Schedule 2 drug, insurance companies will not cover it as a medication.

Research and testing need to be completed in order to have a medication approved by the FDA. One issue is that health insurance companies do not see the medical benefits of marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has to approve a permit for researchers to conduct studies to provide concrete evidence for the necessary approvals to take place, reports HuffPost.

Another condition of these permits being issued is compliance when it comes to the safe storage of the drug. A definitive explanation of the intended studies must also be presented to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as an additional measure for approval.

For studies to be completed researchers have to provide a secure location where the consumption of marijuana is acceptable. Former University of Arizona researcher, Dr. Sue Sisley, says that “The word ‘marijuana’ is just so politically radioactive.”

One reason that advocates want to see marijuana covered by health insurance providers is simply due to the cost. Some patients spend upwards of $1,000 per month or more on medical marijuana. Many patients treat multiple health conditions with marijuana. Depending on the dispensary, an eighth, or 3.5 grams, costs between $30 and $60. For some patients, with more debilitating conditions, this amount lasts just a single day.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is in support of changing the classification status of marijuana so that necessary research can be completed to potentially aid in health insurance companies covering medical marijuana. This, however, is no guarantee that insurers will cover medical marijuana even after viable proof is submitted.

Oregon Marijuana Taxes

Recreational marijuana sales began in Oregon on October 1, 2015, and purchases had not been taxed up to this point. But beginning on January 4, 2016, those wishing to purchase recreational marijuana must pay a 25-percent tax.

For some, this will come as a surprise in cost at the checkout stand, but the implementation of the tax has never been hidden. The 25-percent tax will be in effect until at least the end of 2016.

This high tax rate is not permanent though. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission plans to open stores in late 2016. After that program is in place, a permanent 17-percent sales tax will be implemented.

According to Oregon Live, the Oregon Department of Revenue has setup cameras in preparation of receiving sums of cash from dispensaries for the purposes of paying taxes.

It was expected that recreational users would visit dispensaries to stock up before this tax goes into effect. That is something that Don Morse, owner of the Human Collective, has not seen. According to the transactions in his business, recreational users buy smaller quantities in comparison to those purchasing medical marijuana.  His concern is having such a large amount of cash in his shop, as he stated: “That is a lot of extra a month to keep on hand.”

These dispensaries are permitted by law to keep 2-percent of the sales tax collected. The Department of Revenue keeps a portion of it for administrative purposes as well.

The Oregon marijuana sales tax allocation is set up as follows:

  • 40-percent to the common school fund
  • 20-percent for mental health, alcoholism and drug services
  • 15-percent to Oregon State police
  • 10-percent to city law enforcement agencies
  • 10-percent for county law enforcement
  • 5-percent for drug and alcohol prevention treatment services to the Oregon Health Authority

The state has carefully laid out where these tax dollars will go. The funds go right back into state programs. In 2016, the state expects to take in somewhere between $2 million and $3 million in tax revenue solely from recreational marijuana sales.

NM Marijuana Legalization

Democratic State Representative, Bill McCamley pre-filed a bill for marijuana legalization in New Mexico. The bill would allow those over the age of 21 to purchase and use marijuana legally. This bill also includes provisions for the legal production and use of hemp within the state for industrial purposes.

Laws and legislation are reported to be similar to Colorado’s laws. McCamley has taken a bit of advice from the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act to prepare his bill in a proper and acceptable language. Earlier in 2015, the representative attempted to introduce a similar bill, but it was quickly shut down.

International Business Times shares that McCamley plans to present the bill to the state’s legislature during the upcoming January 2016 session.

After failing initially, Representative McCamley stated that, “What this is is the first step in a process. No one has ever come to the state with a framework for how we would make this happen before, and so it’s a process.”

Specific language has been included in the bill. For instance, New Mexico’s laws would not allow marijuana on federal property. The language also discusses limits and protecting of federal laws to prevent interfering with current state and federal laws that permit employers to test for marijuana.

Republicans in New Mexico plan to stop the bill from legalization, however, Representative McCamley is ready for the battle. The New Mexico Governor, Susana Martinez has already planned to veto marijuana legalization efforts. The biggest obstacle is that New Mexico’s House of Representatives is Republican heavy.

New Mexico is expected to move toward decriminalization in terms of marijuana. It is also expected to examine legalization, regardless of the heated battle that is expected from both sides.

NCAA Marijuana

The NCAA has tested for marijuana and performance-enhancing drugs since the 1980s. Student athletes who failed a drug test resulted in a full-season suspension. But many schools are now reducing those penalties to as little as 30 days, with some schools not doling out punishments until a third or fourth failure.

A minimum of one-third of the Power Five conference schools have lessened punishments for testing positive for marijuana, reports Huffington Post.

In 2014, the NCAA cut the penalty for substance abuse, including marijuana, in half. The chief medical officer of the NCAA wants to see the stoppage of testing for recreational drugs completely.

Society’s views on marijuana have changed greatly over the last decade. Recreational use is legal in four states. In both Utah and Oregon, athletes testing positive for marijuana do not face any real consequences until a 3rd failure.

The Associated Press analyzed drug policies for 57 schools across the country. This included schools in the Pac-12, Big 10 and Notre Dame. The findings showed that 10 schools have separate marijuana policies and 23 schools have reduced policies over the last decade. Five schools in the Pac-12 conference reduced suspension times and the number of infractions needed to warrant punishment.

Some of the reduced punishments include:

  • Washington – 30 day suspension after a 3rd failed test
  • Utah – ½ season suspension after a 3rd failed test
  • Oregon – no punishments until a 4th failed test

In most cases, a first infraction results in counseling rather than suspensions and stiffer punishments.

Coach Mike Riley of Nebraska says that “Through my years of coaching, I can almost pick out the guys who have a marijuana problem. You give me three weeks with a team and, if you’ve got five guys, I could get three or four of them.”

The medical chief for the NCAA, Dr. Brian Hainline, says that NCAA schools should focus more on performance-enhancing drugs than recreational drugs. The schools themselves should deal with recreational drug use punishments themselves.

Marijuana Industry Profits Projections

The marijuana industry continues to grow as more states move forward with medical and recreational legalization. The impact of this increasing number of legal states is making the federal government and Attorney General look more closely at ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana. The 2014 GreenWave Advisors Executive Summary estimates full legalization by the year 2020, and their 2015 report coincides with that, but also projects an end to prohibition even sooner.

With the recreational legalization of marijuana initiating in 3 states in 2015, Green Wave Advisors’s projections have changed. Previously, it was projected that marijuana sales would reach an estimated $21 billion by 2020. That number has since increased to a projected $25 billion in sales across the board by 2020. The report continues by saying: “We maintain our expectation of $35B in the event full legalization occurs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by 2020.”

Statistics show that recreational sales have “outperformed” projected sales numbers, as stated in the 2015 GreenWave Advisors Executive Summary.  The report also includes a positive outlook for the upcoming 2016 elections when Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and possibly a few other states, will be voting on – and are expected to pass – recreational marijuana legalization. Continuing into the coming years, the report also claims: “We expect a surge in revenue growth during 2017/2018 as these new markets commence operations.”

Since the initial report in 2014, a 50 percent growth in marijuana sales took place. Sales totaled $3.2 billion in 2014. The estimated sales numbers for 2015 are set near $4.8 billion. That increase is noted mostly to the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in 2 states – Colorado and Washington state.

Much of the battle also comes down to politics. Increased support for marijuana reform in the Republican Party could lead to marijuana being removed as a schedule 1 drug. According to the report’s analyst, “the percentage of Republicans that have co-sponsored pro-marijuana legislation has increased from the prior congressional session.” The report suggests that “the key driver here is that the positive economic impact of legalization is becoming more visible.” These milestones are aiding the effort to end prohibition, one small step at a time.

Mary Medicinals

In a recent Q&A on HuffPost, Nicole Smith, founder and CEO of Denver-based Mary’s Medicinals, an innovative business that produces cannabis nutraceutical products and transdermal patches, answered a question about the future of marijuana regulation in the U.S.

The question by the HuffPost: “There are three levels of cannabis control — state, federal and international. What do you foresee in those areas?”

Smith answered: “There are nearly a dozen states (California, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Hawaii, Missouri, Ohio, and Montana) that are in various stages of trying to get ballot initiatives for general legalization in 2016. It is too early to know which states will actually get something on the ballot, but we know several will. Vermont may be the first state to legalize recreational use through a legislative process.

At the federal level, the prospect of someone new entering the White House presents quite a bit of uncertainty. Some conservative presidential candidates have threatened to vigorously enforce federal marijuana laws, while Bernie Sanders promises to end the drug war completely. Without trying to predict the outcome of the election, let’s just say there are many possibilities, but a reversal of state legalization is very unlikely.

Internationally things are also very exciting but complex. With a new Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau), Canada is poised to be the first G7 nation to legalize cannabis, and many other nations are exploring the possibility of following suit. Rumors continue to swirl about a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that will call on governments around the world to decriminalize drug use and possession for personal consumption. Whether or not that will happen in 2016, legalization will continue to draw headlines throughout the year.”

Smith was named a Denver Business Journal Outstanding Woman in Business for 2015 and Mary’s Medicinals won “Most Innovative Product” at the Cannabis Business Awards two years in a row.

Marijuana Legalization USA

It is predicted that federal marijuana prohibition may end within the next 5 years. Several states, including Arizona, Massachusetts and California, are pushing for the issue of recreational legalization in the upcoming 2016 November elections. It is also predicted that legalization will win in these states.

Other states pushing for full legalization are Maine and Nevada. Rhode Island and Vermont may take things a step further and go through the legislative process for legalization.

Robert Kampia, head of the Marijuana Policy Project, spoke made the marijuana prohibition end prediction at the International Drug Reform Conference. Kampia also believes that Congress will likely be swayed to end prohibition based heavily upon the tax revenue that stems from marijuana sales.

It may be that 2017 is a big year for recreational legalization. That puts more pressure on Congress to really discuss the issue of prohibition and how much sense it really makes in today’s world. Kampia believes that by 2019, the states’ rights bill may just finally pass.

As originally reported in an article at StoptheDrugWar.org, the states’ rights bill and Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 will not allow cannabis consumption to be legal everywhere. It would still only remain legal in the states that have approved use for medical and/or recreational use. It would merely stop federal enforcement of marijuana prohibition.

Once the issue is put directly into the face of the United States Congress, it will be hard to ignore. The increasing number of tax revenue as well as further education will bring an end to marijuana prohibition. It is just a matter of time, and many reform activists believe it is a shorter time frame than expected.

New York Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries in New York are set to open in January 2016. Business owners are preparing for the launch, while patients eagerly wait for them to open.

In the entire state, only 20 permits have been issued for medical marijuana dispensaries. Those dispensaries must be supplied by the 5 approved growers in New York. The regulations don’t stop there though. The state has gone as far as regulating the types of strains that growers can produce.

Growers are required to grow at least one high-CBD strain, with a ratio of CBD to THC at 20:1. They are also required to grow at least one CBD to THC strain, with a ratio of 1:1. Additional strain types may be offered, but the two aforementioned must be available on dispensary menus at all times, reports Village Voice.

The requirement of CBD strains comes from the vast medical benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) and the non-psychoactive nature of the compound. Also with this requirement, dispensaries are only permitted to offer a total of 5 different strains of medical marijuana at a time on their menus.

The first dispensaries are set to open on January 5, 2016. Business owners and growers have had only since July 31st, when licenses were issued, to prepare their businesses for opening. With some strains taking longer to grow than others, dispensary owners had to focus on the strains that would grow and cure in a shorter amount of time.

One dispensary owner, Hillary Peckham, claims that her business, Etain, LLC, is on-schedule for opening day. Etain, LLC’s crop is ready and awaiting approval for distribution. Peckham’s grow is based out of a 12,000 square foot greenhouse.

Peckham states that, “We’ve been manufacturing vaporizing pens, tinctures, sprays and pills.” She also has plans to offer a wider range of products once the patient base is built up and the need for expansion arises.