Tag: Law & Politics

West Virginia MMJ Bill Signed By Gov. Justice

Technically speaking, West Virginia is now a medical marijuana state.

Thanks to Gov. Jim Justice’s signature on SB 386, also known as the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act, the Mountain State now has a (smoke-free) medical marijuana program.

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As written, the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act allows patients with the following conditions to qualify for the state’s program:

  • Chronic or debilitating disease
  • Palliative care/hospice
  • Anorexia
  • Wasting syndrome
  • Cachexia
  • Chronic pain that is non-responsive to standard pain medication
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms

Passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates after some “technical changes” on a 74-24 vote, the bill suffers some serious shortcomings for those cash-strapped qualifying patients. Called a “good first step” by some, the bill prohibits any smoking of the medicinal herb, bans patients from cultivating their own medicine, and establishes substantial fees for cultivators, dispensaries, and processors.

Initially passed by the West Virginia Senate on Wednesday, March 29 by a vote of 28-6, that iteration was considerably more patient friendly. The bill suffered drastic changes on its way through the West Virginia House earlier this week. John Shott, the Republican House Judiciary Chairman, introduced an amendment that made the bill more palatable for some and more offensive for others, according to the West Virginia Gazette-Mail:

Supporters of the original bill took issue with his proposal because it prohibited smoking and required marijuana to be administered in a pill, oil, topical form, by vaporization or nebulization, tincture, liquid or dermal patch; because it prevented people from growing their own plants; and because it set a $100,000 annual fee for growers and processors.

After some late night arm twisting, in which the annual cultivation fees were cut in half, West Virginia’s medical marijuana program will now to be governed and overseen by the State Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. And per the text of SB 386, no more than 15 cultivation licenses will be issued to qualifying applicants. The application process is scheduled to begin on June 1, 2019, at which point those hopeful cultivators will have to pass a rigorous background check.

Though seeming like baby steps for some, this still represents monumental progress for the afflicted residents of West Virginia.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

 

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Los Angeles: The Multi-Billion Dollar Measure M

If passed tomorrow by voters of Los Angeles, Measure  M would help establish a basic framework for L.A.’s medical and adult-use marijuana industry, and create a pathway for licensing the largest marijuana industry in the entire world. This is important, as up until now no licensing in any industry category (dispensary, delivery, testing, manufacturing, cultivation, transportation/distribution) has existed in L.A.  Licensing of delivery is particularly critical to support the city’s medical program, as it is estimated more than 15 percent of marijuana patients are unable to leave their homes or drive.

Local government regulation and licensing of all of these categories will bring about a responsible industry in L.A.  Benefiting local communities and their law enforcement agencies, minorities and the workforce, the passage of Measure M (‘M’) could additionally help set the new national standard for medical and adult-use regulations. A potential paradigm change for the City of Los Angeles, ‘M’ would provide valuable resources for today’s underfunded police departments while denying cartels access to income from L.A.’s lucrative illegal market. Creating legitimate high paying jobs for L.A.’s workers, as well as after school and first responder programs; M would also pump new revenue into the perpetually depleted tax coffers of Los Angeles.

Saving Delivery in L.A.

Weedmaps spent the day with a delivery service to find out more about the impact they are having on the lives of medical cannabis patients throughout the county. Please don’t forget that a “Yes On M and “No On N will save delivery in Los Angeles.

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The Golden State of legalization

  • Cultivating New Taxes: On an annual basis, California and its many municipalities are anticipated to generate approximately $1 billion in new marijuana-related taxes. Of course, that projection is based on the state’s various counties and cities being able to work in a cohesive manner while avoiding overtly oppressive taxes that drive sales back to the cartels and the illegal market.
  • Room for Growth: Total marijuana sales hit $56 billion for all of North America in 2016. Of that $56 billion, only $6.9 billion came from legal marijuana sales. For 2017, California’s legal marijuana industry is projected to generate approximately $7 billion.
  • Historic Opportunity: Representing the fastest-growing industry since the eruption of the late 90’s dot.com phenomenon, the legal marijuana sector has created an estimated 123,000 jobs nationally. Of which, 43,000 marijuana-related jobs were created in California.
  • High-Paying Jobs: 420 work pays off; $20.00 per hour on average. Approximately double California’s current minimum wage of $10 an hour.

L.A. and Measure M

Voter passage of Measure ‘M’ would grant the Los Angeles City Council the necessary power to issue local business permits, advance economic opportunity regardless of ethnicity and organize healthcare, education and youth empowerment programs. The measure works to safeguard diversity within the industry. Additionally, the city has committed to placing no cap on the number of marijuana licenses issued, and instead are relying on a zoning-based approach to granting licenses.  This marks a step forward from the outdated model of cities attempted to set arbitrary caps on the numbers of businesses.  Ensuring new licenses are not restricted to just those who are well connected and funded; M tackles the industry’s most perplexing issues in a collective manner. In a rapidly evolving business sector like marijuana, this synergistic approach to crafting new rules and regulations addresses issues that may germinate over time.

Effects of Measure M

  • Elevated Dialogue: Measure M requires public hearings, where neighborhood councils, homeowners’ associations, law enforcement and the business community can participate in an open conversation.
  • Educational Programs: Assists parents and teachers determine how to keep children from being exposed to advertising of marijuana products.
  • Pot Shop Recommendations: Relies on planning and land use to determine dispensary placement in L.A., with the city aiming to issue a large number of licenses in an effort to reduce the size of L.A.’s large illegal market. The city has committed to no caps on licenses, subject to zoning review.
  • Marijuana Business Guidelines: Sets tough fines and penalties for the illegal sale of marijuana, and empowers the city to close down any illegal operators by creating certainty and a regulatory framework for businesses to operate legally under the law.

Not alone on the March 7th ballot for voters consideration, Measure M will go head-to-head with another marijuana initiative, Measure N. However, unlike M – where the City Council crafts the rules – Measure N would drastically limit the size of the industry in L.A. and favor a limited cap on dispensaries. Potentially creating a schism between the voters of L.A. and a marijuana monopoly of 135 dispensaries, the original backers of Measure N opted to “abandon” N, which is a good thing according to the Los Angeles Times.

The backers of “N” decided to abandon their measure (although at too late a date to remove it from the ballot) and support Measure M. Organizers said customers, communities and businesses are best served by working together with city leaders to develop uniform, comprehensive regulations. We agree. Vote yes on Measure M.

As the Trump administration threatens “sanctuary cities” with the loss of federal funding and California prepares to run a $1.6 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2017, Measure M seems like a rather unique opportunity to secure a new revenue stream for L.A.’s empty tax coffers. Stand up and be counted voters of Los Angeles, help meet the city’s growing law enforcement, educational, technological and infrastructure requirements by turning out at the polls on March 7th and voting “yes on ‘M’.”

 

Start a Marijuana Business Today: CertificationClinics.com™ offers a comprehensive business model for recommending Medical Marijuana Certifications and/or Dispensary Ownership in your area. The CertificationClinics.com™ Business Support staff will educate you in every of the growing medical marijuana industry, providing you a fully operational and profitable enterprise. Learn More »

How Donald Trump Could Weaken ISIS with Cannabis

Donald Trump has been Tweeting and talking a lot about the fight against ISIS terrorists over the past few months, and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, commented on cannabis at the end of February. They are probably not aware of the fact that both subjects have more to do with each other than it seems at first sight. The Italian terrorist prosecutor, Franco Roberti, told the press that the legalization of cannabis could deprive ISIS Terror and the Mafia of their lucrative financial bases.

Unlike in Western Europe and on the American continent, many regions in the Middle East can look back on millenniums of recreational cannabis culture. When Richard Nixon staged his War on Drugs in the mid-1970s, many countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, where cannabis cultivation and consumption had been widespread until that point, pushed for draconian laws like the death penalty for the once widespread and very popular medicine. In short, the worldwide enforcement of the UN Single Convention during the 1960s and 1970s has resulted in a drug-political chaos where hashish, hemp and cannabis had been used recreationally and medically since biblical times. Despite the extreme prohibition, more than 90% of the world’s hashish originates in Morocco, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Pakistan. In addition, cannabis is playing a decisive role since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war and the Turkish-Kurdish conflict.

Death Toll in the Name of Prohibition

Morocco is the world’s largest hashish producer. At least since the Al-Qaeda attack on a passenger train in Madrid in 2004, it has been known that terrorist activities are being financed by funds from the Moroccan hashish trade. The Belgian terrorist cells, responsible for the 2016 attacks in Brussels and Nice, are said to have financed at least part of their activities through the sale of Moroccan hashish. Since the civil war in Libya, the desert state has been added as a transit country for Hashish from North Africa and cocaine from South America.

“Certainly [ISIS] controls the Libya route; it controls the coast along the Gulf of Sirte. Decriminalization or even legalization would definitely be a weapon against traffickers, among whom there could be terrorists who make money off of it.” the International Business Times cited Franco Roberti, chief prosecutor of the Italian anti-mafia and terrorist agency (DNA), last year.

Cannabis in the Syrian Civil War

In Northern Syria, more and more cannabis is cultivated in the Kurdish region. The Turkish government claims that cannabis cultivation and trade is the main source of income for the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). In the context of Turkish military operations against the PKK, the Turkish army is increasingly confiscating Kurdish flowers and PKK’s cannabis fields. On the other hand, PKK fighters are highly esteemed by the US and its allies as front fighters against ISIS. The same holds true in Kobane, where the Kurds successfully expelled the IS from the region. In those parts of the North where Assad can no longer carry through his draconian penalties against cannabis cultivation, possession and trade, the plant is becoming an economic factor in a regional war The Kurdish-controlled border town Idlib is not far from Kobane and is considered the cannabis-high-castle of the region.

In contradiction to their business practices, the IS punishes cigarettes in its controlled regions and of course does not accept cannabis use or cultivation among the population. There are some reports of cannabis farmers who were threatened by militant religious groups and whose fields were burnt down because of the forbidden plants. On the other hand, the various terrorist organizations, whose fighters are more likely to speed up with captagon than to rely on the soothing effects of cannabis, also claim a stake in the hashish trade in Lebanon and Libya.

Right Next Door: “Red Lebanese” Hash from Baalbek

The Bekaa Plain, the largest and oldest cannabis cultivation area in the Eastern Mediterranean, borders the contested areas of Northern Syria. Here, the farmers benefited from the withdrawal of the Syrian army in 2005, and the crop yields have increased year-after-year ever since. Due to the fact that the entire region is under the of influence of rivaling local militias and militant groups, the scope of the business is immeasurable. Since the first Lebanon conflict in the early 1980s Israel is aware of the fact that blood is often stuck in the Lebanese hash that makes its way into the country.

Smoke Your Own — Stop Terrorism!

Israeli growers have long called for the boycott of “Red Lebanese” hashish. They appeal to their citizens to consume domestically cultivated cannabis as a way weaken Hezbollah. Their efforts appear to be successful success; a few years ago, 70% of the cannabis products available in Israel originated from Lebanon, today, the ratio has flipped. The law enforcement agencies are more tolerant of illegal flowers from Tel Aviv than Lebanese hash; the greatest potential threat originates from the high profits that disappear in the dark channels of a war’s economy.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan — home of all Indica landraces — cultivating cannabis or sleepy poppies is often the only way to sustain life for the poorest members of the population. The region is the second largest hashish exporter in the world. In addition, cannabis in the Hindukush has always been a medicine, recreational drug, and field crop at the same time. Hashish is part of the local culture, cannabis pioneers like Wernard Bruining and Ben Dronkers have learned their breeding skills from this region and spread them worldwide. Without the ban, one would have been able to build up a prosperous cannabis tourism in the former Hippie paradise just like Amsterdam or Nimbin.
Today, local warlords control the production, ensuring that all sides of the bloody conflict profit from the illegal business. During the Taliban regime, cultivation had declined rapidly, but since the holy warriors’ expulsion in 2001, the figures have been increasing annually Afghanistan also has a steadily growing heroin and opiate problem among its population, which has never had any major problems before the introduction of Western concepts for the use of substances. There is no panacea. The legalization of cannabis is not the adequate means to get the Middle East conflict off the table with one blow. As history has shown, there is no quick way to pacify the region, but when it comes to a military solution, the situation is far too complex. However, if an evil is deprived of its financial foundation, it is hit at the very heart.

In Morocco, there are already small efforts to replace the ban on cannabis that was imposed by former colonial powers. Since the last elections, a drug policy that meets the historical role of the plant and the needs of the people is a fair topic of discussion. In 2016 two parties have presented a cannabis-legalization draft to both the upper and lower houses of parliament. In the country with the largest cultivation area of the world, such a thing was still unthinkable only a few years ago. In the other cannabis cultivation areas of the region, one can not even talk or write about the topic of legalization until very recently. If the West were deliberately concerned with this issue and brought it on the agenda of the endless peace negotiations, it might get closer to one of many the root causes of the problem than current plans which call for more bombs, ground forces and unstable alliances.

 

Start a Marijuana Business Today: CertificationClinics.com™ offers a comprehensive business model for recommending Medical Marijuana Certifications and/or Dispensary Ownership in your area. The CertificationClinics.com™ Business Support staff will educate you in every of the growing medical marijuana industry, providing you a fully operational and profitable enterprise. Learn More »