After the smoke clears: What’s next for Northern California’s cannabis industry?

The Cannabist/October 14, 2017/Bruce Kennedy

Experts say the region’s legal cannabis sector could face a long and costly recovery following a series of catastrophic wildfires that are still raging

The devastating and deadly wildfires in Northern California could hardly have come at a worse time for the region’s well-established and highly respected cannabis industry.

Growers in the area, famous for its world-class quality cannabis, were in the midst of their autumn harvest as the wildfires tore through Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties — leaving in their wake a rising death toll, millions of dollars in property loss and scores of acres of scorched farmland and forests.

A California Growers Association leader quoted by the food-and-dining website SF Eater estimated that 3,000 to 7,000 cannabis farmers operate in Sonoma alone, while another 7,000 to 10,000 farms in Mendocino — part of the Emerald Triangle cultivation zone — also are endangered by the blazes.

This year’s harvest in Northern California has an added significance, as growers prepare for the implementation of adult-use cannabis sales on Jan. 1.

According to the latest weekly report from Cannabis Benchmarks, a Colorado-based firm that conducts price-reporting on state marijuana markets, growers in Northern California have been investing “significant time, effort and capital” toward bringing their sites and facilities into compliance with the state’s new regulations.

Price declines already in effect before calamity

Even before the worst of the wildfires hit, Cannabis Benchmarks reported California’s state Spot Index — the current market price at which cannabis is bought or sold for immediate delivery — was continuing its current decline seen in 2017; falling just over 1 percent this week to settle at $1,445 per pound.

The report also looked backward at previous fire incidents for a possible indication of where California wholesale cannabis prices might be heading in the coming months. In 2015, wildfires hit other cannabis growers in another part of Northern California; wildfires that are currently similar in terms of acreage and destructiveness to this year’s fires. And at that time, California’s Spot Cannabis Index fell more than 23 percent in the space of about 10 weeks.

The focus now is on saving lives foremost and property where possible. But as growers are forced to assess their personal losses and damages, another concern in the Emerald Triangle is the extent of the fires’ impact on the region’s legal cannabis businesses and reputation.

Due to federal prohibitions, most cannabis-growing businesses are unable to secure federal crop insurance, qualify for federal disaster recovery funding or get loans from traditional banks.

“The lack of access to federal crop insurance will be devastating and most (affected cannabis operations) will not have any safety net to fall back on to rebuild their businesses,” Patrick McManamon, CEO of Ohio-based Cannasure Insurance Services, wrote in an email to The Cannabist. “Banking has been such a major impediment to the overall success of this industry that this will only exacerbate the problem further.”

It likely will be the outdoor grow operations that suffer the most. A lot of cannabis that survived the wildfires could be contaminated by smoke and ash — as California-based GreenState reported, there are already rueful jokes by some cannabis growers about changing strain names like “hickory Kush,” “beef jerky” or “campfire pot” for cannabis diverted to illicit markets out of state.

McManamon expected licensed outdoor growers in the fire-affected areas to face a “complete loss” on their smoke-damaged crops — although the Cannabis Benchmarks report suggested that some farmers might be able to recoup a portion of the losses on their tainted cannabis by diverting it to “feedstock” for cannabis extraction and processing operations; companies that typically utilize cannabis trim.

In the meantime, “We have been working with some great insurance agents in the affected area and they have been working really hard to educate the local industry about what is available and (how to) implement risk management best practices into the businesses wherever possible,” McManamon said.

Efforts to help others, providing relief

While there will be significant disruption to the supply chain locally in Northern California for months to come as the region recovers from natural disaster, some local cannabis businesses are rising to the occasion and working to help victims of the wildfires.

Cannacraft, California’s largest medical cannabis manufacturer, is loaning out 12,000 square feet of its office space in Santa Rosa to the American Red Cross for use as a regional headquarters. The company is also donating more than $40,000 of products to medical marijuana patients who have been displaced or forced to evacuate by the fires.

And the California Growers Association, which promotes growers and independent businesses within the state’s cannabis industry, has also formed a fund to assist those impacted by the fires.

The Cannabis Benchmarks report did have some bright spots amid the tragic news.

A large percentage of the Emerald Triangle region’s cannabis was already harvested before the wildfires hit and, according to local sources quoted by Cannabis Benchmarks, crops in Humboldt County have “largely been spared.”

Ben Larson, founder of Gateway, an Oakland-based cannabis startup accelerator and venture fund, told The Cannabist that while the fires are “certainly devastating,” especially to outdoor growers, he doesn’t expect a significant impact to California’s overall industry — in part due to an already existing surplus of cannabis flower that numerous distributors and growers have “been trying to offload for months.”

However, “This is not at all to detract from the devastation experienced by the individual growers impacted by the fires in Sonoma and Napa counties, and beyond,” he said. “It’s absolutely terrible.”

Washington State: Seniors Spend More on Marijuana Products

Business Marijuana News/October 11, 2017/Monterey Bud

Legal marijuana sales in Washington State have provided academics a rather unique opportunity – the ability to analyze and examine marijuana sales by demographics. Market data company Headset confirmed in their October report what most already suspected – “Cannabis is most popular with Millennials.”

Gathered from Headset’s database of customers, who voluntarily registered for a Washington State rewards programs, the study assessed the buying habits of four age groups, scrutinized their “brand preference,” and identified any age-related “price sensitivity.”

For the study, the company dissected Washington State’s recreational sales for September and categorized purchases in four demographics: Millennials (Under 35), Generation X (35-53), Baby Boomers (54-75), and the Silent Generation (Over 76).

By utilizing their proprietary data points, Headset’s report reveals how much legal weed was purchased in the Evergreen State … and just who was buying all that pot.

Primarily appealing to those with the XY chromosome, the report indicates that men bought way more weed than females. Out purchased by more than a 3 to 1 ratio for the month of September, men participated in 77.87 percent of Washington’s marijuana purchases, while females accounted for 22.13 percent of all recreational sales.

Though each group purchased its fair share of THC-laced beverages, capsules, concentrates, edibles, and tinctures during September – 62 percent of all in-state flower purchases were made by Millennial men. For the Silent Generation, those strains highest in CBD, as well as tinctures and topical ointments, topped their shopping lists.

Popular across all demographics, Washington’s Hybrid strains smoked both Indica and Sativa in total sales for the month of September.

Now that we have a greater understanding of who bought the most pot in the Evergreen State during September, let’s examine the year-over-year trend. Since September 2016, the average purchase amount has declined across all demographics. With the novelty of legal marijuana now gone, the sale of cannabinoid-related products has decreased for all four demographics.

Dictated by disposable income, the report indicates the Silent Generation spent $7.22 more per item than their cash-strapped cohorts.

Headset’s report discovered that marijuana consumers — at least the legal ones in Washington — have fiscal constraints. While Millennials were most likely to buy inexpensive products (under $10), Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation have a tad more disposable income to play with at Washington State dispensaries.

 

11% Of Government Employees In D.C. Area Have Bought Legal Marijuana, Survey Suggests

Forbes/October 12, 2017/Debra Borchardt

Washington, D.C., isn’t a large market for the cannabis industry, but it could be very influential with regards to legalization. It turns out that quite a few cannabis buyers are government employees, according to new research.

Consumer Research Around Cannabis surveyed 1,368 people in the D.C. media market, which covers five million adults in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. Of the respondents, 8% said that they had bought cannabis from a legal retailer or from a dispensary.

Of the survey respondents who were government employees, 11% had bought marijuana legally, slightly higher than the 8% overall rate, and government employees accounted for 16.7% of the total number of buyers. Some 41% of the government employees approved of both legalized adult use and medical marijuana, only 11% disapproved of the legalization of both categories. This seems to fly in the face of the attitudes from the current leaders of the Department of Justice and The Drug Enforcement Agency.

Keith Stroup, legal counsel at the marijuana advocacy group NORML, said that many of the government employees who are in favor of legalization aren’t in positions that require drug testing. “Those in charge are anti-marijuana, but that doesn’t represent what most people believe in the higher levels of these agencies. Most people at the Department of Justice are frankly embarrassed by Attorney General Sessions.”

Washington, D.C. has a strange system when it comes to legal marijuana. District voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in a referendum in 2014, but members of Congress opposed to legalization have blocked it from being commercially sold in the city. However, vendors have gotten creative, bundling a “gift” of cannabis along with sales of other items, such as cookies or bags. However, there is no laboratory testing and so consumers are trusting the vendor labels of nontested products.

Stroup noted that many of the police are aware of these operations and haven’t shut them down, giving tacit approval to the recreational vendors even if they are technically illegal.

These DC cannabis consumers overwhelmingly see themselves as Independent, with 47% checking that box. Yet, these independently minded cannabis consumers are almost equally divided as to whether they identify as liberal or conservative. 27% consider themselves liberal, while 25% say they are conservative.

Michigan officials prepare for influx of medical marijuana applications

Detroit Free Press/October 15, 2017/Kathleen Gray

Medical marijuana advocates gathered in Ann Arbor Sunday to learn about the regulations and taxes the business will face next year.

Officials are expecting a rush  December 15 when Michigan begins offering applications to people who want to start a medical marijuana business and be part of what is expected to be a $700-million-a-year industry in the state.

“We may have 50. We may have 1,500. We may have 5,000,” Shelly Edgerton, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, told an audience of nearly 200 people who showed up at an Ann Arbor hotel on a rainy Sunday afternoon to learn about getting into the lucrative medical marijuana business.

“But we’ve had close to 1,000 people who have signed up for our  training. So we envision a large number of applicants on the first day.”

The license applications for five categories of medical cannabis licenses — growers, processors, testers, transporters and dispensaries — will become available on Dec. 15 and the Michigan Medical Licensing Board is expected to begin awarding licenses in the first quarter of next year.

People attending the session wanted to know everything from how much it will cost them to get approval from local and state authorities for the license, to how the state will accept tax payments from an industry that has so far been shunned from traditional banks because marijuana still is considered an illegal drug by the federal government.

The answers from Edgerton, lawmakers and lobbyists for the medical marijuana industry are everything is still a work in process as the state has been rolling out the rules and regulations that will govern the medical marijuana industry.

One of the big concerns for the people attending the meeting will be the transition time between the beginning of the application process and the actual availability of medical marijuana, especially since the state has said that they want existing dispensaries to close during the licensing process. And it will take licensed growers about six months to produce a medical marijuana crop.

“We’re trying to bring this into a new regulatory market. We had to have some date to start and we view that day as Dec. 15,” Edgerton said. “The Legislature didn’t provide for any transition. They didn’t recognize the problem, intentional or not.”

The meeting comes on the heels of raids on eight medical marijuana dispensaries in northern Michigan by undercover narcotics police teams earlier this month who asked the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office to send cease-and-desist letters to the shops operating in the county.

The undercover team, armed with medical marijuana cards, was able to purchase the cannabis at the eight shops — four in Traverse City and four in other parts of the county — even though they didn’t have a registered caregiver listed at the dispensary.

“They were pretty much selling to anyone who walks in the door, which is illegal under current state law. They can only sell from caregiver to registered patient,” said Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney.

Technically, that’s illegal until Michigan begins licensing medical marijuana businesses next year. Traverse City’s medical marijuana ordinance allows for dispensaries where caregivers can provide products to the patients they care for. Before the raid, seven dispensaries that went through a zoning and background check by the city were operating in Traverse City and three more are going through remodeling or renovation, said Dave Weston, the city’s zoning administrator.

Cooney said he’s not a big fan of the legalization of medical marijuana, but welcomes the new rules and regulations that are on the way.

“The Legislature, over the past five years, has flip flopped back and forth,” he said. “So we’re constantly trying to figure out what the state is going to do. It’s been very confusing for law enforcement.”

Before the new regulations were passed last year, the 218,556 medical marijuana card holders were supposed to rely on the 38,100 registered caregivers, who could supply marijuana to up to five patients to use to help treat a variety of ailments. That model will stay in effect with the new regulations, along with five categories of licenses — growers, who can produce up to 500, 1,000 or 1,500 plants, processors, testers, transporters and dispensaries.

To start fresh, the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs wants the dispensaries that are operating now to shut down Dec. 15 and not open again until they get a license. And that has caused a panic among medical marijuana users, who have crowded licensing board meetings to tell regulators that the transition time will leave them without the medicine that they need to function.

As a result, lawmakers have introduced bills in the House and the Senate that would allow the dispensaries to stay open during that transition period while they’re awaiting a license.

At a hearing on the bill in the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee last week, Carla Boyd, a board member of the Michigan Epilepsy Foundation from Grand Rapids, said shutting down the dispensaries would be devastating for many people, including her 15-year-old daughter Laine, who has found relief from epileptic seizures with cannabis-infused oils.

“You just can’t abruptly stop take any anti-seizure drugs,” she said. “If you shut down existing dispensaries for any amount of time, people are going to end up in the hospital, I promise you that.”

But Steve Linder, a Republican political consultant representing the Michigan Responsibility Council, which consists of successful entrepreneurs who want to get into the medical marijuana business, want the dispensaries shut down immediately.

“This gives a carve-out for people who knowingly are breaking the law,” he said. “Everyone feels compassion for people who need access to medicine. But it’s a patient’s responsibility to find themselves a caregiver.”

His stance brought this testy exchange from Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, one of the sponsors of the legislation allowing dispensaries to stay open during the transition.

“What millionaires are you working for and who wants a monopoly in this business?” Jones asked Linder.

“That’s kind of like my wife asking if I look fat in this dress,” Linder replied. “I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.”

Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said he supports the bills and expects quick action in both the committee and the full Senate.

“This was an unintentional oversight when we passed the comprehensive legislation last year,” he said. “But this is not going to drag out. It’s not going to linger.”

How Long Is My Cannabis Good For?

MRR/October 13, 2017

At some point, we all wonder how long is our cannabis is good for

At some point in our cannabis careers, we’re all posed with the question, “How long is my cannabis good for?” Maybe you’ve found a few nugs tucked in your winter jacket from last year’s ski trip, or when harvesting a medical crop you may need a way to safely store the excess buds until you’re ready to consume the fruits of your labor.

Like a fine wine cellar or whiskey barrel, cannabis is best when aged in a cool, dark place, and while there is no steadfast expiration date for cannabis, there are a few key elements to consider when storing cannabis for any extended period.

Ideal Temperatures for Storing Cannabis

Mildew and other molds on cannabis and other organic matter thrive in temperatures between 77° and 86° F, so basic precautions of keeping your cannabis in a cool, dark place will go a long way. Excessive heat can dry out the cannabinoids and terpenes that have taken months to develop. When these essential oils get too dry along with plant material, it can result in a hot, harsh smoke.

Lower temperatures also slow the process of decarboxylation of cannabinoids, the process that transfers THC-A into the psychoactive THC and eventually degrades into the less desired CBN. Additionally, warm air holds more moisture than cold air, which brings us to the next

Humidity Factors for Cannabis Storage

Humidity control is paramount to keeping mildew and other mold contaminants away from your cannabis. Keeping your cannabis stored in a controlled environment with the proper relative humidity (RH) ranges can be a bit of a balancing act, but the general consensus is to keep cannabis between 59% and 63% RH when stored to maintain and enhance color, consistency, aroma, and flavor.

Keeping your RH below 65% reduces the chances for mold to occur. However, if your RH drops too low, you risk your trichomes becoming brittle and drying out the essential oils.

LA could become the biggest marijuana market in the world. But will the city be ready?

By GFarma News

September 15, 2017

With the cannabis industry set to be legalized in California at the start of next year, the pressure is on for Los Angeles, as some anticipate that the city will be among the hottest marijuana markets in the country, if not the world.

“It’s the California gold rush again – it’s the ‘Green Rush,’” said Greg Meguerian, owner of The Reefinery medical marijuana dispensary in Van Nuys. “The world’s paying attention, and at the end of the day, this is Los Angeles. It’s going to be the largest market in the world … it’s going to be huge.”

“If I’m a tourist from another country, why would I go to Washington if I can go to Hollywood?” he said.

The revenue projections appear rosy to those cannabis businesses looking to be a part of the Los Angeles market. Some believe that with about 10 million people in Los Angeles County, the market potentially eclipses entire states like Colorado and Washington, which have already legalized marijuana.

But with less than four months to go, city officials still have a hefty workload ahead of them as they race to meet a mostly self-imposed Jan. 1 deadline to set up a program that could potentially issue licenses to dispensaries, cultivators, distributors and other sectors in the industry.

And once licenses become available, demand is expected to be high in the Los Angeles area, compared to other parts of the state. A survey of cannabis businesses conducted by the state Department of Food and Agriculture in 2016 found that there were 2,718 companies interested in getting licenses in Los Angeles County, which is the highest number of the counties mentioned in the survey, followed by 1,415 for San Diego, 1,177 for Sacramento and 1,141 for Alameda.

Local licenses are critical because cannabis businesses must obtain them before they can even begin to apply for a license with the state.

But some groups representing cannabis businesses are concerned Los Angeles city officials may be cutting it close, and it could be well into next year before a licensing program is available to many that want to operate.

The city is not expecting to adopt local regulations until the end of October, with licensing applications expected to be made available in November. Hiring has not quite begun for the city’s cannabis department, which will be tasked with processing applications.

City Council President Herb Wesson has been leading the process for developing the regulations for L.A.’s cannabis industry, and says he is “guardedly optimistic” that the city will be able to get a licensing program running before January.

His aides said they are aiming to get regulations adopted by the end of October, and the application process started in November.

Businessman Brian Blatz, who has spent the last two years getting his marijuana distribution business ready to enter L.A.’s market, said that there have already been delays and any further ones would be hard to take, as he does not plan to start operating until a license is issued to him.

“I won’t move a stem until we have, at the bare minimum, a local license in Los Angeles,” he said.

Blatz said he is expecting to begin paying rent next month on a facility in Los Angeles, which means there will soon be more bills to pay, despite not being able to earn income.

“I’m interested in the city of Los Angeles, as I know a lot of people in this industry are, and they’re trying to be as patient as possible,” he said. “But it’s very difficult … I have investors, and I have money at risk. Every time that they delay or hold back on the licensing, it costs us a lot of money.”

Blatz said ideally he would want Los Angeles to make licensing applications available to businesses like his starting in November, so that he could be ready to apply with the state on Jan. 1.

Some businesses say that while they are eager to be a part of the Los Angeles market, if the process takes too long, they have other options.

“There’s definitely the desert cities around us that have moved much more quick,” said Ryan Jennemann, who co-founded THC Design, a cultivation company based mostly in Los Angeles.

“We are very actively looking at surrounding cities right now,” he said.

There are also a few legislative hurdles to get through for the city, before it can launch its cannabis licensing program. The L.A. City Council still needs to weigh in on a “social equity” component to the regulations that would give licensing priority to those that have historically been most affected by drug law enforcement policies, such as the federal government’s so-called “war on drugs,” a crackdown that led to many minorities being incarcerated.

With worries that L.A. may not be able to make licenses available to many operators by Nov. 1, some in the industry are pressing the city to develop an application process that can feasibly be completed by cannabis businesses in time before Jan. 2, so that those businesses are not left out when the state makes its applications available.

City officials have some motivation to get its licensing program set up sooner than later. The industry is expected to be a boon for city coffers, with estimates coming in at around $50 million in tax revenues for the first year of licensing, according to figures projected by Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin’s office.

Meanwhile, as city leaders work to shepherd its licensing program through the process, illegal cannabis businesses, including cultivators, continue to feel the threat of being shut down through ongoing enforcement by state and city authorities.

The City Attorney’s Office has filed criminal actions against more than 1,700 marijuana businesses and shut down more than 800, since the enactment of Proposition D, a ban on marijuana businesses. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for that office, said officials continue to enforce the measure and pursue criminal cases against such businesses.

Erik Hultstrom, who co-founded the Southern California Coalition, a trade group that has lobbied on behalf of its cannabis business members, said that he believes “the city really wants to get it done right,” so the process to set up the licensing program might not go as quickly as some are hoping it would.

But that leaves some businesses, which supply cannabis or provide services to dispensaries, operating in a “limbo,” making them vulnerable to enforcement actions by the city, he said.

Some cultivators have complained of aggressive enforcement from the city, and say that they have had to let go of employees and take apart their facilities.

Hultstrom, who is also the president of a cultivators trade group, said he supports interim measures providing “short-term clarity,” that could “keep unnecessary enforcement from happening to the good operators.”

But some operators have been willing to take the risk, despite this uncertainty. Jennemann, who started the company in the Bay area, said he moved to Los Angeles in 2014 because he saw promise in L.A.’s market.

“I wanted to position my company to have a foot in the (door of the) largest market in the world,” he said.

“Granted I can make my product somewhere else,” he said. “But the bulk of it is still going to be sold in Los Angeles, so I’d like to have my roots in the city where most of it is being sold.”

Why the Elderly Are the Fastest-Growing Pot Demographic in the U.S.

By GFarma News

August 29, 2017

On a recent Friday at the Balfour Riverfront Park senior living facility in downtown Denver, an unusual event took place among the day’s regular activities. In between scrapbooking at the Sky Bar and water walking in the Pompeii Pool, the facility was hosting a “cannabis 101” seminar in the Moffat Depot community room.

As one of the 50 or so attendees bellows at his neighbors to quiet the chitchat, Joseph Cohen, medical director at Holos Health, a Denver holistic medicine and medical marijuana evaluation center, steps in front of the audience in the sunlight-filled room, tastefully decorated with golden chandeliers, chenille couches, and potted mock orange trees. “I will try to go slower than my usual pace for my talk,” he says into a microphone, noting he’d be discussing cannabis’ uses for a variety of age-related diseases.

“The idea is to minimize psychoactive activity and maximize therapeutic effects,” he says, then adds with a smile, “Unless you want to have psychoactivity. Then go for it.”

This free seminar is the brainchild of Stratos, a Colorado marijuana company that produces medical cannabis tablets. Since launching in 2014, the firm has found its simple and discreet product lines — which come in somber bottles with names like “Sleep,” “Relax,” and “Energy” — are a hit among one demographic in particular: seniors. “The baby boomer generation has been huge for us,” says Kate Heckman, Stratos’ sales director, who’s watching Cohen’s presentation from the side of the room.

Stratos stumbled upon a seemingly surprising phenomenon: According to a 2016 study, seniors are the fastest-growing pot demographic in the country, with marijuana use among those 55 and older increasing by 53 percent between 2013 and 2014. But the trend isn’t as unusual as it might sound: Many of the ailments cannabis is most often used to treat are those that often plague the elderly, such as joint inflammation and pain, insomnia, muscle spasms, and decreased appetite.

Many older consumers have disposable income to spend on marijuana, at least according to the sort of luxury senior-living amenities on view at Balfour Riverfront. The compound, nestled in the heart of Denver’s booming downtown and surrounded by modern condos and lush riverfront gardens, feels more like an all-inclusive resort than an assisted-living facility, with its valet parking out front and open-air patio bars. For the most part, the residents attending the cannabis 101 talk look hale and healthy, boasting the poise and vigor of those who’ve earned a comfy retirement. Cohen, with his comfortable short-sleeved shirt, well-manicured beard, and grey ponytail, fits right in.

Balfour is part of a growing trend of operations and organizations tackling the issue of seniors and marijuana use. For years, Harborside Health Center, a prominent dispensary in Oakland, California, has been hosting monthly support groups for patients over 50. In early 2017, New York City nursing home captured headlines for allowing residents to store and use cannabis on site. The storied National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has organized cannabis informational sessions and lobbying efforts geared towards seniors under its so-called “Silver Tour.” And earlier this year, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, a major organization of medical providers, discussed cannabis use at its annual conference. Judging from the interest at this cannabis 101 seminar, events like these won’t be the last of their kind.

Many nursing homes, whose higher level of care is regulated by the federal government, could be fearful of losing Medicare and Medicaid funds if they permit cannabis use. But an assisted-living facility like Balfour doesn’t have rules prohibiting its residents from consuming marijuana as long as they don’t violate the facility’s no-smoking policy. (In other words, no joints or bongs.) But there’s another barrier to entry for even those at Balfour: A lack of education. After long being told cannabis is no different than other dangerous street drugs, many could be confused about this bold new world of legalized marijuana.

That’s why, after some initial hesitation, Balfour agreed to Stratos’ proposal to hold these seminars, several of which are also taking place at other Balfour residences in the area. “For me, it’s really important for communities like Balfour not to be some kind of gatekeeper or paternalistic guardian,” says Balfour CEO Michael Schonbrun, who hasn’t noticed anyone actively consuming cannabis at his facilities — but adds that it doesn’t mean folks aren’t doing so. “We want our communities to be places where people are exposed to new ideas. Let people make their own decisions.”

Plus, adds Schonbrun, “When you get old, something happens to your body. If this is something that can help with arthritis, cancer treatments, diabetes, and a whole range of other illnesses, why not bring it to people’s attention?”

According to Cohen’s presentation, medical marijuana can help with all of those ailments and many more. Over his hour-long talk, aided by a text-dense PowerPoint presentation that’s devoid of psychedelic stoner images, the physician holds forth on every aspect of the modern cannabis industry. In a slow, droning voice, he covers marijuana research and the war on drugs, cannabinoid receptors and terpenes, transdermal marijuana patches, and ultra-high-potency “dabbing” (the latter of which elicits a rumble of concern from the audience). Cohen says his wife found relief from an autoimmune disease thanks to cannabis, and he speaks of the plant like a true believer, listing condition after condition it can be used to treat: Anxiety, opioid withdrawal, diabetes, osteoporosis, psoriasis, neuropathy, muscle spasms, Parkinson’s, cancer. He even recommends low-THC, high-cannabidiol strains for diabetic dogs.

But many of these treatments aren’t yet supported by thorough research. Studies related to marijuana use among the elderly are especially scarce, which is a concern since many older people have conditions or take pharmaceuticals that cannabis could impact in unexpected ways. “While they certainly are not the target of the new Big Marijuana industry, there are health and safety concerns [for this population],” says Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of the major anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “For example, older people are more likely to drive unsafe and have weaker memories — marijuana, in particular THC, makes those things worse.”

To the contrary, at least one recent study suggested marijuana could actually improve cognitive functioning in elderly brains. But that research was preliminary; there’s still a lot we don’t know about cannabis’ potential benefits — and its risks. According to Cohen in his presentation, that’s because the “medical-industrial complex” and the federal government have long worked with doctors and universities to suppress science around the plant. “Welcome to America, folks,” he says with a wry smile.

At the end of Cohen’s presentation, an attendee stands up and introduces himself as a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University. “You do a very nice presentation, but you do yourself a disservice when you talk about medical facilities suppressing medical information,” he tells Cohen sternly.

A physician in the audience concurs. “I am very suspicious of people like you who accuse the medical establishment of suppressing medical research,” he says. “You said that up front, and you lost me.”

These seniors, it turns out, don’t need convincing that marijuana has been unfairly stigmatized for decades. They’re already okay with legalized cannabis use. Now they just want the facts, minus the hyperbole.

Cohen’s rabblerousing doesn’t turn off everyone at cannabis 101. After the talk, several folks approach Heckman about potential doses of Stratos capsules. Others will likely take part in upcoming Stratos-sponsored shuttle rides to a nearby dispensary.

Still, despite Cohen’s thorough presentation, questions remain. When the doctor asks if audience members have questions, a man with white tufts of hair sprouting above his ears raises his hand. “You have gone through this huge list of what it will do,” he says. ”But will it grow hair?”

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Agrees with Marijuana Legalization

MG Retailer/August 15, 2017/Danny Reed

Neil deGrasse Tyson is famous for his notable work in the field of astrophysics. He hosted the revival of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and is following Sagan’s footsteps in another way as well.

Like Sagan, Tyson does not believe marijuana should be criminalized.

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous,” Sagan wrote in the 1971 book “Marihuana Reconsidered.” “An impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

Tom Angell, of Marijuana Majority submitted a question to Tyson at a public event asking the physicist about his views on marijuana.

“If you really analyze it,” Tyson said, “relative to other things that are legal, there’s no reason for it to ever have been made illegal in the system of laws.”

“Alcohol is legal,” he continued, “and it can mess you up way more than smoking a few J’s.”

Tyson is not an advocate for marijuana. “I don’t count myself among active recreational drug users,” Tyson said in a 2015 Reddit AMA. “For me, the least altered state of awareness I can achieve is the one I seek, because that one is most likely to be closest to reality.”

However, even if his job takes him into the cosmos, Tyson seems to have a grounded approach to marijuana. His views are in line with the majority of Americans. A recent poll showed that 94 percent of Americans support medical marijuana while 61 percent support recreational use.

In Denver, Marijuana Users Aren’t Hard-Core Partiers — They Really Just Want To Sleep

By GFarma News

September 20, 2017

Contrary to the popular image of stoners as party animals, many cannabis users may just want to go to sleep, if a Denver-area survey is a reliable indicator. The survey, conducted by Consumer Research Around Cannabis, found that only pain relief rivals sleep as a reason for using marijuana.

Consumer Research surveyed 1,258 marijuana users in the Denver metropolitan area and nearby parts of Wyoming and Nebraska.

The survey found that 47.2% of the respondents bought marijuana to help them sleep. Using cannabis to resolve insomnia is so common that several sites like Leafly and HelloMD list top strains for going to sleep. HelloMD goes a little further and suggests that users who have problems staying asleep should eat an edible because it releases the marijuana slower and lasts longer. The site also recommends using a vape pen to help them fall asleep faster.

Many people with sleep problems like cannabis because they aren’t left feeling groggy in the morning, which is a common problem with over-the-counter sleep aids. Marijuana also doesn’t have the addictive properties that some prescription sleep aids like Ambien or Lunesta.

Contrary to the myth of hard-partying stoners like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, only 28.5% of the people surveyed said they used marijuana to have a good time with friends and family. More people (32.8%) said they used marijuana for creative purposes and expanding perceptions and thought processes rather than partying.

Some 47.2% said they buy marijuana is to treat chronic or recurring pain, tied for first place with sleep as a motivating factor. It was followed by 45.7% who used it to help depression or anxiety.

Sessions Says He has “Serious Concerns” About Legal Marijuana….What’s Next?

Weedistry/August 9, 2017

With thousands of jobs and billions of dollars at stake, it’s a burning question: Is Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions preparing to mess with voter-approved sales of recreational marijuana?

It’s a question of prime importance in six Western and two New England states that have legalized marijuana use despite a federal law of the land classifying weed as a controlled, dangerous drug. And it appears Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts are likely to get a lot of company.

Fourteen additional states are planning similar recreational-sale initiatives, possibly this year. The rush to legalize marijuana has been driven by the potential tax and economic boosts of an industry already generating an estimated $6 billion in annual sales. Twenty-nine states also have decriminalized or legalized medical marijuana.

Last year, while still a Republican senator from Alabama, Sessions made his opposition clear: He called weed dangerous and “not something to laugh about.” The government needs “to send that message with clarity — that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

This year, as President Trump’s new attorney general, Sessions said marijuana’s effect “is only slightly less awful” than heroin’s. (Nearly 13,000 people died from heroin overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while no one has ever been recorded as fatally overdosing on marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration says.)

So what does Sessions intend to do now?

He warned four governors in letters released last week that he had “serious concerns” about the effects of legalization and suggested the states’ drug detente with the Justice Department was at risk.

The letters were sent to Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Kate Brown of Oregon (all Democrats) and Bill Walker of Alaska (a left-leaning Independent).

In the similar-sounding letters, Sessions didn’t outright tip his hand regarding a possible federal crackdown, leaving government and industry officials to read the letters as tea leaves and interpret them differently. Some supporters of legalized weed are worried, some encouraged — just slightly.

Citing a series of recent federal and state investigations into the impact of pot legalization, Sessions listed repeated breakdowns in security, distribution and the controlled use of marijuana in all four states.

For example, a 2017 state police impact report on Oregon’s market, Sessions wrote, found that as much as two-thirds of marijuana production occurred in the black market; marijuana-related emergency room visits had soared by 55%; law enforcement was unable to keep pace with out-of-state cannabis diversion — pot grown legally in Oregon then shipped out of state.

Gov. Brown’s Salem office did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the Juneau office of Gov. Walker.

Sessions asked both Inslee and Hickenlooper — using the same language in separate letters — to prove that “all marijuana activity is compliant with state marijuana laws,” and told them the impact reports raise “serious questions about the efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures’ in your state.”

The attorney general was, in part, responding to a letter sent to him in April co-signed by the four governors urging the administration to continue the Obama administration approach to state marijuana sales — regulate but don’t raid. The governors’ letter also asked “the Trump administration to engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”

Inslee, who is worried about getting into a drug battle with the other Washington, reacted coolly to Sessions’ letter, saying it relied on “incomplete and unreliable data that does not provide the most accurate snapshot of our efforts since the marketplace opened in 2014.”

Washington state Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson said he was disappointed by Sessions’ letter, and “also disappointed that [Sessions] has yet to accept my repeated invitations to meet in person to discuss this critical issue face to face.”

Colorado’s Hickenlooper, however, did meet recently with Sessions and told reporters he didn’t think a crackdown was in the works, partly because Sessions has too many other government balls to juggle.

Patrick Rosenstiel, spokesman for the New Federalism Fund — a collection of cannabis firms opposed to federal intervention of the state systems — saw an upside to Sessions’ letters. The letters suggest a willingness to work with the states, he said in a statement to The Times, “but there is still a need for congressional action to provide clarity for officials at the local, state and federal levels.”

Sessions had formed an anti-crime task force this year to study the legal marijuana issue. Last week, citing documents obtained from the task force, the Associated Press reported the study group is recommending the U.S. maintain sales oversight but keep its distance.

Critics speculated that was bad news for Sessions, since it would effectively continue the policy instituted under President Obama, guided by standards written by former Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole. The 2013 Cole Memo, as the provisions are referred to, lists rules the states should follow to avoid federal intervention.

They include preventing distribution of cannabis to minors; blocking gangs, cartels or criminal enterprises from worming into the state system; and preventing marijuana shipments to states that haven’t legalized such sales.

Sessions asked Inslee to outline steps his state is taking “to combat diversion of marijuana, to protect public health and safety, and to prevent marijuana use by minors.”

Washington weed has been sent to 43 other states, Sessions said, referring to a 2016 impact report’s finding on intercepted mail shipments. More than a dozen THC labs (which extract the compound that gives cannabis its euphoric effect) literally exploded in one year alone, Sessions noted, and marijuana-related calls to poison centers soared.

Inslee and Ferguson said, contrary to Sessions’ claim that 17 THC extraction labs exploded in Washington state in 2014, “no licensed extraction business has exploded” in three years of sales. “The incidents referred to in Sessions’ letter were black- or gray-market facilities, often using butane in an enclosed space rather than a lab.”

In his letter to Hickenlooper, Sessions said interdicted shipments of Colorado weed were headed for 34 other states, and he noted that marijuana-related traffic accidents and deaths were on the rise in Colorado.

“Although youth marijuana use declined at the national level for the time period after Colorado enacted ‘recreational marijuana’ laws, youth use in Colorado ‘increased 20%,’” Sessions wrote, quoting from an impact report done in conjunction with the Office of National Drug Control Policy.