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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Congressman Marijuana

U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has admitted that he has started using medical marijuana to assist with his arthritis pain, making him the first congressman to confess to using marijuana while in office.

While speaking to pro-marijuana activists at a Capitol Hill engagement recently, Rohrabacher said, “It was the first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night’s sleep because the arthritis pain was gone.” Rohrabacher tried a wax-based topical treatment option.

Rohrabacher is actively working to urge Congress to overhaul the existing marijuana laws, The Washington Post reports. He helped create the federal law preventing the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with state-regulated medical marijuana programs.

Speculation suggests that Rohrabacher’s use of medical marijuana with actual results may sway his fellow congressmen to see medical marijuana in a different light.


Phoenix VA Marijuana

Dr. Sue Sisley will be conducting a FDA-approved study on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But the Phoenix VA hospital is actively attempting to block the doctor’s lecture which, in part, would help her recruit candidates for the upcoming study.

Sisley said, “The notion that the Phoenix VA hospital refuses to allow that information to be shared with their medical staff is really shameful.”

If the VA staff gets information about the study they could recommend veterans that would be ideal candidates for the study, KTAR News reported. “The highest density of veterans who meet those criteria are at the Phoenix VA hospital,” said Sisley.

The main issue with those blocking the lecture is that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, regardless of its legality for medical purposes in Arizona.

Dr. Samuel Aguayo, Associate Chief of Staff at the Phoenix VA, said, “VA medical staff are not authorized to make a decision on whether marijuana and marijuana research is appropriate for veterans. We will examine what the law allows and doesn’t allow. It may have an impact on our decision to permit this activity here at the Phoenix VA or not.”


Teem Marijuana Use

Marijuana is legal in some form in almost half of the United States, and many Americans expected adolescent marijuana use to vastly increase due to medical and recreational legalization throughout varying states, but a new study reveals the exact opposite is occurring.

Data from 216,000 teens from every state was examined by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. Those studied, as reported by Eureka Alert, were between the ages of 12 and 17, over a period of 12 years. From the years 2002 through 2013, adolescent marijuana use decreased by 24 percent.

Researchers believe that a reduction in personal behavior problems aided the decline in adolescent marijuana usage.

First author in the study, Richard A. Grucza, PhD said, “We were surprised to see substantial declines in marijuana use and abuse. We don’t know how legalization is affecting young marijuana users, but it could be that many kids with behavioral problems are more likely to get treatment earlier in childhood, making them less likely to turn to pot during adolescence. But whatever is happening with these behavioral issues, it seems to be outweighing any effects of marijuana decriminalization.”

Dr. Grucza also noted, “Other research shows that psychiatric disorders earlier in childhood are strong predictors of marijuana use later on. So, it’s likely that if these disruptive behaviors are recognized earlier in life, we may be able to deliver therapies that will help prevent marijuana problems – and possibly problems with alcohol and other drugs, too.”

Adolescent study participants also reported a decline in fighting, illegal drug sales and carrying concealed weapons.


Boston-based startup CannaKorp has developed a vaporizer called the CannaCloud that is being dubbed as the “Keurig for marijuana” because of its pod-style vaporizing system. Pre-measured pods, or cups, filled with marijuana are inserted into the vaporizer where they are heated to create vapor. The CannaCloud will be available in early 2017.

The entire process takes about one minute from inserting the “pod” into the canister to inhaling vapor, Tech Insider writes. CannaCloud’s structure is set to specific dosages and is all pre-packaged.

The innovative approach to making marijuana easier to use for those that prefer vaporizing or using precise dosages is due to two prior Keurig executives now working for CannaKorp. CannaKorp already has 50 dispensaries lined up to sell the marijuana pods to patients.

CannaKorp chairman Dave Manly said, “When you pick up one of the pods, you’re able to read the brand, strength and strain. Every time you do it, it’s going to be the same.”

Another benefit of the CannaCloud is the lower cost, an expected $149 retail price, which is less than many competitors’ products. Each pod will contain 0.4 grams of marijuana and will cost around $10 each.

Manly also stated, “One of our dreams is that someday you’ll go into your CVS or Walgreens and CannaCups will be right there on the shelf, much like cough medicine. We may be a ways away from that. But I think as things evolve and people understand cannabis better, I think it could be mainstream and we’ll be right there with a consumer report.”


Marijuana Stock Market

MassRoots, a marijuana industry company, requested to trade shares on the NASDAQ exchange. The Denver-based startup had high hopes of becoming the first marijuana industry company on the exchange. But on Tuesday, May 24th, MassRoots learned its request was rejected.

NASDAQ viewed adding MassRoots as “aiding the distribution of an illegal substance,” reported  CNN. Co-founder of marijuana-based business, Isaac Dietrich, says the rejection is a “dangerous precedent” and prevents legal marijuana companies from displaying a presence on national stock exchanges.

Dietrich is quoted as saying, “This [will make] it more difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs to raise capital and slow the progression of cannabis legalization in the United States.”

MassRoots is already listed on a smaller exchange with the ticker MSRT. According to Dietrich, the market cap for MassRoots is $40 million. The startup also has above 300 shareholders on alternative exchanges.

MassRoots was given an option to either withdraw the application to keep the rejection private or allow for it to be made public knowledge. Dietrich said in response, “But we want his to be made public because it sets an important precedent.”

NASDAQ commented only that it does not make public commentary on any rejected applications

Arizona Recreational Marijuana Legalization

A new study conducted by the non-partisan Tax Foundation suggests that Arizona could receive up to $113 million from tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales. If the state’s voters approve recreational marijuana legalization on November’s ballots, these numbers could become a reality for the state. The tax on recreational marijuana sales would likely be set at flat 15 percent.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is petitioning for voter support in marijuana legalization, reports AZ Central. Tax dollars from recreational sales would help fund public health issues across the state, full-day kindergarten options, and other education programs. If the recreational marijuana measure passes, adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants at home.

Regulatory language includes provisions for the creation of the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control. This organization would regulate cultivation, testing, transport, sales and manufacturing.

Additional information from the study suggests that nationwide legalization taxed at a flat 15 percent could raise $5.3 billion dollars in taxes nationwide.

“While ending prohibition is the No. 1 reason to legalize marijuana use for adults, providing tens of millions of dollars for schools and local governments is a significant bonus for voters. These are dollars that no longer go to drug cartels but instead help our schools and local governments provide important services,” stated a marijuana supporter.

Marijuana Veterans

Congress has given veterans the right to discuss medical marijuana use as a treatment option with Veterans Affairs doctors in states where medical marijuana is legalized.

The new legislation allows VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana and complete the required paperwork for state-legalized medical marijuana programs, but it doesn’t allow the VA to sell medical marijuana or cover costs for veterans, the Military Times reports.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer stated, “The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average. From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”

The VA is recommending that its doctors use evidence-based therapies that have been proven by scientific research to be effective with medical marijuana; for instance, treating PTSD, depression or chronic pain.


Marijuana DUI Arizona

An attorney from the Arizona law firm Rowley Chapman & Barney, Ltd., shares insight into Arizona’s marijuana DUI laws and affirmative defense. Attorney Brian Strong wrote an article on the law firm’s website describing his experience with defending Arizonans from marijuana DUI charges.

The article states:

“As an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney, I have defended numerous individuals who have been charged with violating the DUI statutes because marijuana or an active metabolite was found in their blood. While the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (the “AMMA”) does offer an affirmative defense to DUI-marijuana, this particular affirmative defense is relatively new in the law. Consequently, we are just beginning to learn how a jury might apply, or misapply, some key concepts.

Not surprisingly, most AMMA patients who speak with me seem dismayed that they can even be charged with DUI as the result of medical marijuana use. After all, doesn’t a medical marijuana card provide absolute immunity from a DUI prosecution? Sadly, in Arizona, the answer is no. Medical marijuana patients only get an affirmative defense.

In the criminal realm, an affirmative defense is a matter of avoiding legal consequences – not proving innocence. An affirmative defense does not disprove any of the essential elements of the State’s case. Rather, an affirmative defense introduces new facts that allow the defendant to commit an otherwise unlawful act but suffer no punishment. Insanity and statutes of limitation are two of the most common affirmative defenses.

In November of 2015, the Supreme Court of Arizona emphasized that while the AMMA “broadly immunizes registered qualifying patients for their medical use of marijuana, that grant of immunity is not absolute.” Dobson v. McClennen, 238 Ariz. 389, 361 P.3d 374, 376 (2015). What the AMMA does provide is that “a registered qualifying patient shall not be considered to be under the influence of marijuana solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.” A.R.S. § 36–2802(D) (emphasis added).

As a result, under the AMMA affirmative defense, a driver must present evidence that: (1) the driver was a qualified patient under the AMMA; and (2) the driver was not impaired at the time of his or her arrest. The driver’s own testimony that he or she was not impaired is an obvious and essential component of any AMMA affirmative defense. In addition, an expert witness toxicologist should also be retained to educate the jury regarding impairment.

In a DUI-alcohol case, a blood alcohol level of .08 has decades of scientific research to support a presumption of impairment. The same, however, is not true in DUI-drug cases. Arizona’s appellate courts have repeatedly acknowledged that “unlike alcohol, there is no generally applicable concentration that can be identified as an indicator of impairment for illegal drugs.” 361 P.3d at 378 (citations omitted). Yet most lay jurors are probably unfamiliar with this scientific fact. The right expert witness can teach the jury the undisputed science that will lead to a correct verdict in a medical marijuana DUI. On the other hand, an improperly presented AMMA affirmative defense can have disastrous consequences for a qualified marijuana patient.”

Colorado Marijuana Industry

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper heavily criticized legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado but now concedes that the industry is working. Although he opposed legalization back in 2012, it was his duty as Governor to give the people of Colorado what they wanted.

Hickenlooper is reported to have previously called the legalization of recreational marijuana as reckless, reports the LA Times. But he has changed his position and stated that if he could reverse his initial decision, he would.

Hickenlooper recently said, “It’s beginning to look like it might work,” in regards to marijuana legalization.

Mason Tvert of the nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project said, “The predictions of fire and brimstone have failed to materialize. Most Coloradoans, including the governor, recognize that the law is working.”

None of the concerns that Hickenlooper had prior to recreational legalization in Colorado have come to fruition. The state is thriving and expects to collect upwards of $100 million in tax dollars to state organizations in 2016, with 70 percent of those tax dollars going to public programs like education.

Marijuana Coordination for Colorado director, Andrew Freedman, said, “In the short run, there have been a lot fewer public safety and health issues than the governor feared in the beginning. In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization.”

Tvert added that, “The state’s image is actually rising. We were just ranked as the best place to live in America. The idea that businesses would not relocated here or conferences wouldn’t be held here was untrue. In fact, attendees at conferences are now offered pot tours as day trips.”

Marijuana Tax

An independent think tank called The Tax Foundation recently conducted a study to assess how much tax revenue the federal government and states are losing from not legalizing marijuana. They estimated that roughly $28 billion in tax revenue is being missed out on. Approximately $7 billion of it would go to the federal government and the remainder to the states.

The potential tax revenue received by the government from legalized marijuana would primarily be from business and payroll taxes and some from excise taxes, according to The Washington Post. The idea would be to tax marijuana in a similar way to tobacco products.

The government can actually capitalize on production by taxing each pound of marijuana produced, which is similar to the per-pound tax on tobacco products. A 10 percent sales surtax could generate $5.3 billion with proper guidelines in place.

Some are concerned that marijuana legalization would create social difficulties. They expect abuse and use of the plant to increase. They expect addiction to take place. The fact of the matter is, regardless of its legal status, a vast amount of Americans are using marijuana daily. The costs of prohibition are to the tune of several billion dollars per year. Legalization would bring billions of dollars in tax revenues to organizations that need them for mental health, education, crime prevention and more.