• Donald Trump picks another Marijuana Opponent to his Cabinet

    November 30, 2016

    President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday named six term Republican Congressman Tom Price, (R-Ga.) as his pick for Health and Human Services secretary, a position to manage all of the federal government health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    Price, 62, an orthopedic surgeon, is considered as the most consistently anti-marijuana members of the Congress. He has been voting against a number of marijuana proposals before the House in recent years.

    Price had voted against a measure that would prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state recreational marijuana laws. He also voted six times against amendments preventing the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. And he also voted three times against a measure that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans who might benefit from it.

    However, Price has supported a limited measure preventing the Justice Department from interfering with states that allow the medical use of cannabidiol. He has also voted to ensure that federal funds aren't used to stymie research into industrial uses of hemp.

    During the campaign, Trump railed against the Affordable Care Act and vowed to repeal and replace it. He frequently pledged to respect state marijuana laws, saying that he personally knows people who benefit from medical marijuana.

    Marijuana advocates are now worried that Trump administration may not end up following through on those campaign promises by filling the Cabinet with people like Price and Sessions. It was recently revealed that Trump was putting on Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, another vicious opponent of marijuana legalization, to head up the Justice Department as U.S. Attorney General.

    Meanwhile, Trump adviser Newt Gingrich has tweeted his approval, calling Price “the right leader to help Congress replace Obamacare."

  • Maryland Medical Marijuana Panel to hire Diversity Consultant

    November 30, 2016

    The Maryland Cannabis Commission announced Monday it will hire a diversity consultant in order to take steps toward evaluating minority participation in the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry.

    The announcement follows the filing of a lawsuit alleging the commission improperly ignored race when evaluating applicants for licenses, and calls by African-American lawmakers to stop the licensing process until the alleged racial discrepancies can be sorted out.

    Meanwhile, the commission gave preliminary license approval to 102 dispensaries to open medical marijuana dispensaries across the state and near marijuana growing sites. However, it will release the names of the dispensaries given preliminary approval on Dec. 9.

    Critics point to the lack of minority-owned businesses among those named as finalists to grow and process medical marijuana.

    "The commission is in the process and plans to hire an expert consultant who specializes in minority business affairs to do a disparity evaluation and provide future guidance on minority business enterprise initiatives and make recommendations to the commission," said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

    The Maryland state attorney general cautioned against providing extra weight to minority applicants, suggesting preferences would be unconstitutional without a history of racial disparity to justify the move.

    The commission expects to award final licenses to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in time for the entire program to be up and running this summer.

    However, it is still unclear whether the consultant would study Maryland's industry as it stands now, the medical marijuana industry in other states, or review data from other industries that could shed light on conditions for minorities trying to get into the medical marijuana business in Maryland.

  • Teva, Syqe Medical sign deal to distribute Medical Marijuana Inhaler in Israel

    November 30, 2016

    Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tel Aviv-based Syqe Medical Ltd. have signed a distribution and cooperation agreement to market medical marijuana inhaler for pain management in the country, according to a joint statement announced on Monday.

    Under the agreement, Teva, the world’s largest generic medicines producer, will be the inhaler’s exclusive marketer and distributor of an inhaler in the country while the device for the delivery of medical marijuana will be developed and manufactured by Syqe Medical.

    In Israel, pain relief from medical marijuana has been delivered via edibles containing the plant; inhaling smoke; or through commercial inhalers until now. However, inhalation is considered the most efficient way of administering medical marijuana for pain relief.

     “Teva Israel is entering the field of medical marijuana out of a deep commitment to patients coping with pain, which is one of the company’s core therapeutic areas,” said Teva CEO Avinoam Sapir, who also serves as the company’s director for Africa and the Middle East.

    “State-of-the-art technology and groundbreaking medical devices such as those developed by Syqe Medical, and which generate tremendous therapeutic value for patients and medical staff alike integrate perfectly into the strategy of Teva Israel”, he added.

    The medical marijuana inhaler is designed to treat pain without getting patients high. The pocket-sized product will be available for home use next year to individuals approved by the Israeli Health Ministry. Nurses will provide training for both patients and medical professionals.

    The device will be marketed for Israel’s growing medical marijuana industry. Around 26,000 patients in the country are currently licensed to use medical marijuana, with that number expected to double by 2018, according to data provided by the companies.

  • Donald Trump’s Attorney General could hamper Marijuana Industry

    November 25, 2016

    The US President-elect Donald Trump has preferred Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the post of Attorney General. The vibrant marijuana industry in the country could be hampered if Sessions were confirmed as the top law enforcement official in the Trump administration.

    Sessions, a Republican, is known for his racist remarks, anti-immigration reform stance and for his drug war-era rhetoric around drug policy. He has been a bitter critic of marijuana legalization. He has vehemently criticized the Obama administration’s approach to drug policy, including its tolerance of states where voters have approved the use of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes, or for both.

    “Good people don't smoke marijuana", Sessions said during the Senate's Caucus on International Drug Control in April. He also pointed to the tenuous theory that marijuana is a gateway drug, and said, “you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have."

    "We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger," Sessions said at the hearing.

    Ironically, Trump has however stated that marijuana legalization should be decided "state-by-state”.

    Meanwhile marijuana advocates are opposing Sessions’ nomination to Attorney General, where he would have power over U.S. drug policy. As attorney general, Sessions would be responsible for directing U.S. federal prosecutors on federal priorities and overseeing the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Aaron Herzberg, a California-based medical marijuana real estate company, believes Sessions will be bad for the industry. Likewise, Larry Cote, a partner with the law firm Quarles & Brady opined that he suspects Sessions will be a "strong opponent," within the Trump administration of "any efforts to legalize or re-schedule marijuana".

  • Denver Voters approve Marijuana for Social Use

    November 17, 2016

    In a historic development, the voters of Denver have approved the social use of marijuana in permitted private establishments, according to the election results on Ordinance 300 released Monday night from the Denver Elections Division.

    Although there are still a handful of ballots left to count, “Support for Initiative 300” has passed 53 percent to 47 percent in updated results that makes its proponents to declare victory over the ordinance. There are still about 32,000 ballots to be counted, but the margin is at 17,173 votes.

    “I’m really happy that the folks of Denver saw the sensibility of this measure,” Yes on 300 organizer and co-owner of Denver Relief Consulting Kayvan Khalatbari said in a statement. “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings.

    “It is also a victory for the city of Denver, its diverse neighborhoods and those who don’t consume cannabis, as it will reduce the likelihood that adults will resort to consuming in public”, he added.

    The measure would allow Denver businesses, from bars to cafes and even yoga studios, to seek permits to create “consumption areas” if they obtain backing from a local neighborhood or business group. It would enable customers, aged 21 and over, to consume their own marijuana in designated areas.

    However, the opponents have been arguing that the passage of Ordinance 300 would encourage more public use and harm public safety.

    The Denver City Council has 60 days to write the rules regarding the measure. The permits will cost a business $1,000 and be valid for up to one year.

    Notably, Denver’s ordinance is a four-year pilot program. In the U.S., half of states and Washington D.C. allow some form of marijuana use though the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug considering as dangerous as heroin.

  • First Medical Marijuana Dispensary opens in Newton

    November 17, 2016

    In a first of its kind, a medical marijuana dispensary has been opened in Newton city on Tuesday; four year after Massachusetts passed medical marijuana legislation in the state.

    Garden Remedies, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Karen Munkacy, opened the first medical marijuana dispensary in the county, which is the ninth medical marijuana dispensary to open in Massachusetts state.

    The dispensary is a long standing dream of Dr. Karen Munkacy, who survived from breast cancer. “We’ve all been working very hard to make medical marijuana safely and legally available for patients in Newton,” Dr. Munkacy said. “We’re very excited to serve the people in this area.”

    “As a doctor, cancer patient in remission, wife, and mother, I have compassion for anyone who can be helped by medical cannabis,” Dr. Munkacy stated.

    Located at 697 Washington St., the Garden Remedies celebrated the opening with the apropos cutting of a green ribbon. The dispensary features products grown and produced at Garden Remedies’ cultivation facility in central Massachusetts, under the approval of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

    The facility has a staff of growers, technicians, patient advocates and others, who will serve customers looking for pain relief alternatives. It offers multiple types of medical cannabis, including indica, sativa and hybrid, in a range of ingestion forms, such as vape products, flowers and tinctures.

    Medical marijuana patients who have registered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health can now make appointments online at www.gardenremedies.org.

    Garden Remedies' opening comes just one week after Massachusetts voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana with the passage of Question 4. Recreational marijuana shops are expected to open in 2018.

  • Maine Voters approve use of Recreational Marijuana

    November 15, 2016

    Voters in Maine have approved the ballot Question 1 that allows recreational use of marijuana in the state. The final results on the referendum, which took nearly two days to count, were tabulated on Thursday afternoon.

    The new marijuana law will come into effect 30 days after Gov. Paul LePage certifies the election results. People 21 or older will now be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes. The measure will also allow people to cultivate, distribute and sell marijuana and marijuana products.

    "The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it," said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

    The new marijuana law will allow people to use it in a nonpublic space or in a private residence and institute a sales tax, with 98% of revenue from sales taxes going to a general fund. The state will also develop rules to regulate retail sales of marijuana and marijuana products, which may be taxed at 10 percent.

    After passing the new law, marijuana market in the state is expected to boom. Industry watchers Arcview Market Research and New Frontier Analytics has projected that legalized marijuana would grow to $200 million in annual sales in Maine and $773 million in Massachusetts by 2020.

    Meanwhile, Maine joins California, Nevada and Massachusetts, which passed recreational marijuana measure this week. However, Arizona rejected a similar measure.

    Maine became a pioneer in decriminalizing marijuana in 1976. It legalized medical marijuana in 1999. Since then, various attempts were also taken to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes but remained unsuccessful.

    Notably, the use of recreational marijuana was already legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. However, marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government in the U.S.