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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Arizona Marijuana Campaign Legalization

The pro-marijuana legalization group, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Arizona (CRMLA), has reported that it has raised $1.08 million for its adult-use marijuana legalization campaign efforts. Groups in opposition to adult-use marijuana legalization have raised less than $100,000 collectively.

The CRMLA has obtained enough signatures from registered Arizona voters to get a proposal to regulate marijuana in a similar way as alcohol onto the November ballot in 2016. Although, the campaign will continue to obtain more signatures.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group in opposition of adult-use marijuana legalization, has raised a total of $90,000 according to their financials, reports ABC 15.  The group uses its funds towards fabricated, anti-marijuana propaganda campaigns.

Another anti-marijuana legalization group has only raised $800 in contributions for their effort. Their spokeswoman, Kim Owens, says, “We’re just starting out. We don’t have any reason to believe that we won’t equally be equally as well-funded.”

Sign the CRMLA petition

Celebrity Doctor Oz Marijuana

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a well-known celebrity doctor, has changed his views on medical marijuana. Recently, the doctor was on the Larry King Live show and shared his new perspective on marijuana as a medicine.

According to HuffPost, Dr. Mehmet Oz shared his new views on medical marijuana: “I have. I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the belief that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.”

Oz has joined the likes of other world renowned doctors, like CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to recognize that marijuana does have real medicinal benefits. Dr. Gupta has solidified his reasoning for supporting medical marijuana and has openly voiced his support. Another medical professional that openly supports medical marijuana is the chief health and medical editor for ABC News, Dr. Richard Besser.

Recent polls show that 86-percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Scientific evidence continues to prove the vast array of medical benefits from marijuana.

(Photo: miaminewtimes.com)

Medical Marijuana USA

It’s been two decades since the first medical marijuana laws were passed in the U.S. Since then, 85-percent of the American population now resides in states where medical marijuana is legal, which breaks down to roughly 275 million people. Americans for Safe Access, a pro-marijuana non-profit, has released a report grading each state’s medical marijuana program.

Each state is evaluated separately, using the same criteria. The overall grade is based upon a cumulative scoring system creating an average as the resulting grade. No states received an “A” in the report, but many states did receive “B” and “C” grades.

Some of the criteria that the grades are based upon includes:

  • Access to medicine
  • Patient rights/civil protection from discrimination
  • Ease of use/navigation of program
  • Functionality
  • Consumer Safety/Provider Requirements
  • Cultivation
  • Manufacturing
  • Laboratory Operations

Most common qualifying conditions for medical marijuana are:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • PTSD
  • Wasting syndrome
  • Epilepsy

As a whole, the grade for the United States is a “D-” because many states still do not have medical marijuana programs, thus resulting in “Fs” for each of those states. This means that much more work needs to be done to make sure that patients are getting proper access to safe, quality medicine. Forty states have medical marijuana programs in place. The report concludes that only a handful of these states are meeting the needs of their patients to an above satisfactory degree.

This report helps each state see where it needs improvement. It also helps state legislatures make changes to existing programs to improve patient access, qualifying conditions list and conduct proper studies to expand existing qualifying conditions lists.

View the report: Medical Marijuana Access Report 2016

Facebook Marijuana

Facebook has begun deleting business pages for legal medical marijuana dispensaries around the country.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona, California, New Jersey, and other states, have seen their pages removed from the social media giant. Facebook implemented a policy that prevents advertising for the sale of drugs, tobacco and guns. However, with states having the ability to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, Facebook is not recognizing states’ rights laws and maintains their own guidelines.

Three New Jersey medical marijuana dispensaries have been victims of this, reports ABC News. A board member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, Peter Rosenfeld, says, “It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of New Jersey. They’re treating it like they’re selling marijuana illegally when it’s a fully sanctioned nonprofit that’s controlled and regulated by the state of New Jersey.”

Facebook spokeswoman, Arielle Aryah, said, in regards to the removed pages, that the pages were removed because for “violating our Community Standards”.

Many dispensary owners find that social media outlets, such as Facebook, are a valuable way to communicate with patients.

Golden State general manager, Aaron Epstein, says that he will find a different outlet to inform patients if Facebook continues its current policy. He stated, “If Facebook doesn’t want to be a part of that, that’s their prerogative. We’ll find other avenues to get information to our patients.”

Given that marijuana is approved in more states for medicinal purposes than recreational use, some industry business owners want to see changes to Facebook’s policies. These businesses are not condoning drug use, they’re attempting to relay information to patients about medicine that can help relieve symptoms from debilitating and terminal illnesses.

President Marijuana Legalization

As President Obama’s second term comes to an end, some of his supporters expected plans to work on marijuana reform. It has been confirmed, by the President, that he has no plans in his end of term priorities to work on marijuana reform, according to Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen.

Cohen asked the President near the beginning of his first term in office about rescheduling marijuana. He was less than impressed with the President’s answer, as the President responded with: “If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it.”

White House Press Secretary John Earnest says that any forward motion, or motion of any kind regarding marijuana reform, would have to happen through Congress.

President Obama has continuously attempted to ‘pass the buck’ to Congress on this issue. According to Rep. Earnest, “There are some in the Democratic Party who have urged the President to take this kind of action.” He claims that the President’s response was, “If you feel so strongly about it, and you believe there is so much public support for what it is that you are advocating, then why don’t you pass legislation about it and we’ll see what happens.”

Over the last 20 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been given numerous petitions to reschedule or remove marijuana from the dangerous drugs list. All petitions, thus far, have been rejected. A new petition is being reviewed, but the general consensus is that the outcome will be the same and that marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 controlled substance, according to The Washington Post.

A poll conducted by CBS News in 2015 showed that 84-percent of Americans support marijuana legalization for medical use by qualifying patients. A Gallup poll showed that 58-percent of Americans support full legalization.

The DEA, along with a vast amount of the American people, agree that marijuana does not belong in the same controlled substance category as drugs like heroin and LSD. Many people agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Rescheduling marijuana may take some time, but with continued public advocacy and increasing studies showing factual results, it could happen sooner rather than later.

2016 Marijuana Legalization

A leading marijuana investment and research company, The ArcView Group, released a report estimating marijuana sales in legal states for 2016. In 2015, sales totaled $5.4 billion, growing 17-percent from 2014. For 2016, the group predicts a 25-percent increase from 2015, making the projected nationwide sales around $6.7 billion.

ArcView expects marijuana sales to reach over $21 billion by 2020, surpassing the NFL, which is approximately a $15 billion industry. Over the next 4 years, the group expects a steady increase in sales of 30-percent. ArcView CEO, Troy Dayton says, “I think that we are going to see in 2016 this next wave of investors, the next wave of business operators, and people who’ve sort of been watching or dipping their toe in, really starting to swing for the fences and take it really serious.”

The data taken to project future sales comes from the partnership of ArcView and New Frontier. The markets used to compile the data include medical marijuana and recreational marijuana dispensaries, caregivers and sales of marijuana products, according to Fortune.

These large growth numbers are, in part, helped by recreational sales beginning in multiple states and more patients switching from prescription drugs to medical marijuana for relief from debilitating and terminal conditions. Edibles are also gaining popularity, which helped to boost sales numbers.

When asked about edibles sales, John Kagia, Director of Analytics at New Frontier said, “They also come at higher price points than flower does, which means the businesses are able to capture higher sales per customer through the sales of these new products.”

With marijuana legalization showing continued growth and acceptance in more states, more high-profile investors are likely to invest in the industry.

Puerto Rico Medical Marijuana

Puerto Ricans will soon be able to use medical marijuana products for chronic, terminal and debilitating qualifying conditions.

The U.S. Territory will offer creams, tinctures, patches and pills for qualifying medical marijuana patients. Provisions for cultivating, manufacturing and distributing of medical marijuana products has been approved for medical use only, and recreational marijuana use remains illegal.

The Public Affairs Secretary, Jesus Manuel Ortiz, states that the program should be in place by the end of 2016, according to ABC News.

The program will be very regulated, and will track medical marijuana from seed to sale. Private companies will be permitted to obtain licenses to cultivate the medicine. Puerto Rico’s program will also require lab testing to ensure that marijuana is free of contaminants. Testing completed at independent labs will also help determine that each strain grown has the proper amounts of THC as regulated by the program.

Phoenix Open Golf Marijuana

Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona are launching a Phoenix Open-inspired billboard Monday to coincide with the kickoff of the golf tournament. It will be up through the end of the tournament on Sunday.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the world’s best-attended golf tournament, according to the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, which refers to the Coors-sponsored tournament as the “greatest party on grass.”

The billboard features two adult marijuana consumers relaxing in a field and reads, “If beer and golf make for the ‘greatest party on grass’… Why can’t adults enjoy a safer party on grass?”

Phoenix Open Marijuana Billboard

“We’re glad that Arizona residents have the opportunity to attend the Open, consume alcoholic beverages, and enjoy the ‘greatest party on grass,’” said CRMLA chairman J.P. Holyoak. “We also think it’s important to acknowledge that alcohol is a much more harmful substance than marijuana.

“Alcohol is more toxic, more addictive, and more likely to contribute to rowdy or violent behavior,” Holyoak said. “If spectators can enjoy a beer or cocktail at the TPC, adults should not be arrested for enjoying a little marijuana at a backyard picnic. It is, quite literally, a safer party on grass.”

The billboard directs viewers to Marijuana-vs-Alcohol.org, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

The CRMLA is in the process of collecting signatures in support of a November ballot initiative that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older in Arizona and establish a system in which it is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

“Our state took a shot at marijuana prohibition and landed in a hazard,” Holyoak said. “We are giving Arizona a mulligan on its marijuana policy and letting voters take another swing at it this fall. For our part, we will continue to educate Arizonans about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol as we tee up this initiative for November.”

New Mexico Marijuana

New Mexicans might be voting on marijuana legalization this November. House Bill 75 and Senate Joint Resolution 5 would allow adults 21 or older to legally purchase, possess and use marijuana in the state.

Once residents found that tax dollars from regulated marijuana sales would help fund health-related programs, 69-percent of the state’s residents became supportive of regulated marijuana sales, according to recent poll results posted by NORML.

If these bills pass legislation and are put into law, New Mexico residents ages 21 and over would be able to purchase marijuana from legal retail dispensary locations.

Additional work to get recreational marijuana on New Mexico voting ballots needs to be done. Supporters believe that a public vote on recreational marijuana legalization and properly regulated sales would pass easily.

VA Medical Marijuana

VHA Directive 2011-004 expires on January 31st. The directive prohibits U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) doctors from recommending medical marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal. The directive also prevents medical marijuana from being discussed at all for fear of veterans losing their benefits.

A letter from 21 bipartisan U.S. Senate and House members was sent to VA Secretary Robert McDonald this week urging him to allow VA doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana for veterans in states where it is legal, reports Yahoo Politics. The letter includes text stating: “This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”

Democratic Senator, Jeff Merkley said, “We should be doing everything we can to make life easier for our veterans. Prohibiting VA doctors from talking to their patients about medical marijuana just doesn’t make sense.”

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) applauds the 21 politicians that signed this letter. MPP Director of Federal Policies, Robert Capecchi said, “For many of them it could mean the difference between a good quality of life and a poor quality of life. I worked on state levels for several years before moving to federal. I can’t tell you how many calls I got from veterans with chronic conditions, and you hear all the time from people who benefit substantially from being able to use medical marijuana.”