News Nuggets October 2016

van-gogh-starry-nightBay Area

Stanford University Creates Cannabis Breathalyzer

Researchers at Stanford University have created technology that has resulted in a practical roadside test for drivers. Up until recently, law enforcement has not had access to a way to test a driver for cannabis intoxication that is as effective as a breathalyzer tests for alcohol intoxication. The breathalyzer, also referred to as a “potalyzer,” that was created by Stanford University may prove effective for this purpose. Shan Wang is the professor who has led the team who created these mobile devices, which can detect a range of 0 to 50 nanograms of THC per milliliter of saliva. Stanford University stated, “The Stanford device might function as a practical ‘potalyzer’ because it can quickly detect not just the presence of THC in a person’s saliva, but also measure its concentration.” Currently, there is not a consensus about what level of THC in saliva equals impaired driving. Private companies have also been working to create breathalyzers that test for THC in saliva. Police recently started testing cannabis breathalyzers in California, which were manufactured by a California-based company, Hound Labs. It appears the latest technology to test cannabis impairment might someday soon be on its way to drivers everywhere.

Bay Area Hospital Considers Allowing Patients to Medicate with Cannabis Onsite

Marin General Hospital (MGH) will begin investigating allowing patients to medicate using cannabis onsite. Dr. Larry Bedard is a retired emergency medicine physician who used to work at the hospital. Now he is an elected Board Member to the Marin Healthcare District Board. Bedard has proposed allowing patients at MGH to medicate with cannabis, after years of experience seeing how much safer cannabis is than alcohol and other drugs. Berdard shared a proposal for this decision at a Marin Healthcare District Meeting in September. “Whereas, a significant number of the physician staff at MGH would like the freedom to recommend medicinal cannabis to their hospitalized patients but hospital administration is rightfully concerned that the Federal government could/would retaliate by lifting the hospital’s Medicare Provider Number and the State could withhold Medi-Cal Funding . . .” Although there is a risk involved, Bedard believes the hospital and physicians will be protected by the 2015 federal budget amendment that disallows the government from using federal funds against those who are operating within their state’s cannabis legislation. There is no deadline for the administration to come back with their decision, however Bedard is optimistic toward the future.

marijuanaColorado

Colorado Tourism Office to Educate Incoming Visitors on Cannabis

While the Colorado Tourism Office makes it clear that it does not necessarily want to advocate for cannabis, it still wants to educate users on the legal recreational use of cannabis in the state. Following a tourism conference in September, the Director of the Colorado Tourism Office Cathy Ritter stated that some tourists coming to Colorado aren’t even aware that they aren’t allowed to smoke cannabis in public, so more education would greatly benefit both incoming tourists as well as residents and consumers who live in the state. Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) board member Mark Malone commended the department on trying to further educate potential visitors, “It is very important to educate visitors who may want to try cannabis for the first time or who are just not familiar with the products and choices available in Colorado,” he said. “We applaud education initiatives that continue to build off one of the first public education campaigns in Colorado, CBA’s ‘Start Low, Go Slow initiative.’”

Teen Who Helped Fight for Medical Cannabis Use in Colorado Schools Passes Away

The Colorado cannabis community is actively mourning Jack Splitt, a teenage cannabis activist who died in late-August at the age of 15. Splitt was known for fighting to get medical cannabis use approved in schools. He suffered from debilitating muscle contractions and pain, and used cannabis to help alleviate those symptoms. Not only did Splitt make a lot of headway in the world of cannabis policy, but the new ruling that allows cannabis medication in schools, entitled “Jack’s Law,” was made possible by his advocacy. He was also beloved by many lawmakers as well as advocates and had a positive influence on those who crossed his path, “Jack Splitt was a true hero to the cannabis community,” stated Olivia Mannix, partner and co-founder of Canabrand. “He has been the catalyst that has changed laws regarding medicinal marijuana, especially in schools, so that patients can get their medicine. Jack will always be in our hearts forever.”

spiceLos Angeles

L.A. City Council Moves to Ban Spice After Increase in Overdoses

An emergency motion was passed in late August by the Los Angeles City Council to put an end to the sale of spice. Spice is a synthetic form of cannabis that has been causing many people in L.A.’s homeless community harm. On August 19, 38 people were hospitalized after 50 had been determined to become ill after consuming spice. This was following a similar overdose problem of 18 homeless people just days before. In response, a Public Health Issue Warning was given by the County of Los Angeles. The warning read, “There is no specific treatment available for spice poisoning. If you are having side effects of spice poisoning, contact a health care provider right away to prevent serious side effects or death.” It is clear that spice is more dangerous than cannabis, as overdosing from natural cannabis has never led to death, which isn’t the case with spice. The County of Los Angeles has also warned that, “Spice is also incorrectly labelled as a ‘safe’ or ‘natural’ alternative to marijuana, but it usually has no real marijuana. The only natural parts of this drug are the dried plants. Spice is more powerful than the ingredients in marijuana and is dangerous to use.”

Lynwood is the First L.A. City to Permit Cannabis Cultivation

Lynwood City Council voted 3-2 in favor of allowing cannabis cultivation and production permits within the city in early September. Following the final reading on September 20, prospective cultivators will soon have the ability to begin the application process. The Lynwood City Council agenda confirmed initial reports to “Approve Resolution of the City Council of the City of Lynwood demonstrating an intent that the Planning Commission initiate a change in the City’s Zoning Code to allow Medical Cannabis Cultivation- and Manufacturing-Related Businesses as a permitted land use in certain districts in the City of Lynwood.” The ordinance will also allow the manufacturing of cannabis products like concentrates, given that the facilities operate within guidelines outlined, such as proper zoning. The statement specified zoning requirements as, “All facilities are required to be 600 feet away from schools, daycare centers or youth centers and 50 feet away from any residential zones.”

gradsMichigan

University of Michigan Study Finds College Students Use Less Narcotic Drugs, More Cannabis

A study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research recently led to some positive results regarding college students and their narcotic use. The group who led the study, called Monitoring The Future (MTF), published a recent press release indicating that teens in the United States are using less dangerous, narcotic drugs. The study showed that non-medical use of prescription drugs by students has been declining since its highest point in 2006. MTF’s principal investigator, Lloyd Johnston, shared, “It appears that college students, at least, are hearing and heeding the warnings about the very considerable dangers of using narcotic drugs.” On the contrary, the consumption of cannabis by college students continues to rise as public perceptions of cannabis point to it not being harmful. Michigan’s medical cannabis community received a boost in morale as both the House and Senate approved new bills to regulate the industry, and that positive movement forward is expected to carry through to local college students.

Michigan’s Medical Cannabis Program is Finally Granted Regulations  

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan finally signed a three-bill package, which outlines regulations for the medical cannabis program that was approved by voters back in 2008. The long-awaited House Bills 4209, 4829 and 4210 allow local governments in Michigan to regulate how many medical cannabis provisioning centers can operate, as well as determine their zoning rules. Local governments will also hold the authority to regulate cannabis-infused products and create a tracking system to ensure the safety of cannabis and cannabis products. “This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering,” Governor Snyder said. “We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana.”

holding-marijuanaOregon

Environmental Task Force Rolls Out its Recommendations for OR Cannabis Industry

The Task Force on Cannabis Environmental Best Practices has rolled out a draft report that outlines recommendations regarding energy and water conservation for the cannabis industry. The “Cannabis Environmental Best Practices Task Force” report aims to control how cannabis cultivation utilizes natural resources in the area, in hopes to secure the most environmentally sound practices. The task force is made up of a panel of cannabis growers, lawmakers and state agency representatives. The Executive Summary from the August 16 Meeting of the Task Force outlines four recommendations for cannabis growers in Oregon: “(1) Support access to education and technical assistance related to best cultivation practices; (2) Support the creation of voluntary third party certification programs; (3) Encourage research into cannabis issues, including environmental best practices, health, and other aspects of the cannabis sector; (4) Investigate water regulations for small-scale producers.” The task force does not recommend over-regulating cannabis cultivation. Instead, they support the development of a voluntary certification program that will recommend practices that conserve energy and water. The next step for the task force is to finalize the report and submitted it to legislature in September.

OLCC Pre-Approves Eco-Friendly, Child Safe Cannabis Packaging

Oregon Liquor Control Commission recently pre-approved cannabis packaging that is earth-friendly and kid-safe. HISIERRA™ is the name of the new packaging brand, which was pre-approved for the new regulations surrounding cannabis in Oregon that are rolled out October 1. The bags are created using special environmentally-friendly practices and materials. The creator of this packaging product is Mike Greenfield. “It’s very exciting to bring new true green packaging technology to the cannabis market. HISIERRA™ is the only renewable sustainable packaging made in USA in a wind powered LEED® certified Silver factory using bio-based raw materials and certified to child resistant ASTM standards,” Greenfield said. “There is nothing else like it.” This safe, new packaging consists of bags that are available in two sizes. The DAYTRIPPER™ is a 9 x 6” flat bag, and the WEEKENDER™ is even bigger at 12 x 9 x 4”. Both sizes are available in cases of 420 bags.

arizona-roadNATION

Arizonans Will Vote on Recreational Cannabis in November

The “Yes on 205” Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) has received a court ruling that allows Arizona voters to decide on recreational cannabis at the November 2016 election. The Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which is also known as Proposition 205, was placed on the upcoming ballot. However, those who opposed the initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona took the initiative to court in opposition. Opponents claimed the initiative backers were using unconstitutional “bait-and-switch tactics.” Luckily, the high court decided that the initiative was compliant with the state laws pertaining to initiatives. CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak stated, “This was a frivolous and politically motivated lawsuit. If these county prosecutors dislike this ballot measure, they should take their arguments to the voters, not to our overburdened court system. We hope they will accept the court’s ruling and return to waging legal battles against dangerous criminals rather than citizen initiatives.” Holyoak continued to explain that about 84 years ago, alcohol prohibition was ended by voters in Arizona, and he hopes to see that they can end cannabis prohibition this November.

WORLD

Medical Cannabis To Be Regulated in Australia

Australia is moving forward with plans to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis nationwide, although cultivation, production and consumption of the plant will be highly regulated. The decision was reached in late August following the recent decision by the Federal Parliament to allow the cultivation and production of cannabis for medicinal purposes. According to a statement by the Australian Government Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration, “The Medicines Scheduling Delegate gave notice of the delegate’s final decision on 31 August 2016, following a scheduling proposal for cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols that was initially refer to the March 2016 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.” The November 2016 Poisons Standard will reflect the scheduling changes to medical cannabis. Once the changes occur, Australia will strictly control the new medical cannabis system, which includes the citizens who are permitted to grow and produce cannabis as a medical product. This new program is sure to provide Australia with a new revenue source. Non-medical cannabis will still be illegal under federal Australian law, for the time being.

approvedSan Diego

San Diego Approves 15th Medical Cannabis Collective

The San Diego Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a second medical cannabis collective in Mission Valley, which makes it the 15th total for San Diego. San Diego approved a maximum of 36 permitted cannabis collectives back in 2014, however various requirements have limited this number significantly. Out of the 15 approved collectives, only eight have opened in San Diego so far. The seven remaining collectives should start operating by 2017. According to the Agenda from the Planning Commission meeting, the city moved forward with, “Approval of a Conditional Use Permit to operate a Medical Marijuana Consumer Cooperative in a 1,564 square-foot tenant space with an existing 4,877 square-foot building located at 3455 Camino Del Rio South.” The other permitted collective in Mission Valley is also located on Camino Del Rio South.

Oceanside Supports Medical Cannabis, But Not Recreational

The Oceanside City Council decided to move forward with a resolution to oppose Proposition 64, which is the initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. This 4-1 vote against recreational cannabis is surprising, especially considering that the city council began permitting delivery of medical cannabis from licensed collectives just earlier this year. Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery was the one councilmember who went against this resolution, “I argued in favor of ensuring access to medical marijuana when we adopted our dispensaries ordinance and believe recreational marijuana is a personal freedom which my Republican colleagues champion in other circumstances.” Mayor Jim Wood, however, shared at the meeting, “We supported medical marijuana, but we’re not open to recreational use statewide.” At the meeting, many councilmembers sharing their fears surrounding recreational cannabis. Councilman Jack Feller claimed that recreational cannabis use could harm families, which caused concern across the board, referencing a situation with a former police officer in Denver, Colorado as evidence.

yellingWashington

WSLCB Filed Emergency Rules for Cannabis Excise Tax Payments

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) filed emergency rules that became effective on September 7 regarding excise tax payments on cannabis. The amendments make it a requirement for cannabis excise tax payments to be made using check, cashier’s check, electronic payment or money order. Furthermore, the changes determine a date on when payments are deemed received and also established a process for businesses to apply for a waiver from the payment. The WSLCB explained, “As more marijuana businesses become licensed prior to the absorption of medical marijuana into the regulated retail market on July 1, 2016, the public safety risks of cash transport and payment and risks to licensees paying in cash will only increase with the increase in licensees paying marijuana excise taxes. For these reasons, emergency rules are necessary to reduce risks to public safety and the safety of marijuana licensees by requiring electronic payment of the marijuana excise tax unless a suitable alternative payment form is submitted or the licensee is granted a waiver from the requirements for good cause.” These rules are in effect until permanent rules regarding this become effective on October 8.

King County’s New Proposal Calls for Cannabis Testing

A new proposal by Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles would require cannabis in King County to be tested for certain pesticides. A number of pesticides are banned for use by cannabis cultivators by Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). Due to lack of testing requirements, these banned and harmful substances are still finding their way into cannabis. This new proposal would ensure cannabis is safe, especially for patients who already have lowered immune systems. CULTURE connected with Council member Kohl-Welles to learn more about her proposal. Kohl-Welles shared how following her proposal, she learned that the WSLCB announced they were going to begin a testing program for pesticides, which would cost over $1.2 million because they would set up a lab at the Department of Agriculture, disregarding the many testing labs already present in Washington. “It’s a very important issue, and I’m going to continue pursuing it,” Kohl-Welles said. “We’ll see what we come up with, whether we will determine whether it will be better to let them, the Liquor Cannabis Board, go ahead with what they’re going to do, or we also do something at the county level.”

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