Marijuana’s Role In The Insurance Industry Still Unfolding

Pot Users, Sellers Paying Higher Premiums

By Laura Brodbeck , Benzinga

Since marijuana is not yet legal in all 50 states, businesses dealing in the drug have found it difficult to operate. While traditional entrepreneurs have everything from a variety of loan options to several insurance choices, marijuana business owners are lucky if they can find a single bank to interact with or an insurer willing to cover them.

marijuana and health insurance

Marijuana is effective medicine for many people. Unfortunately, health insurance companies are charging users a premium, while rarely covering the drug under policies. Businesses also have had challenges with insurance.

 

Banks say their hands are tied when it comes to marijuana-based companies, but insurers are able to make up their own minds about whether or not to offer coverage to cannabis-related firms and as the industry grows, more and more insurers are jumping on board.

Marijuana firms face a unique set of risks that their insurance must cover. One of the biggest issues the businesses face is theft as most operate largely on a cash basis due to the difficulty associated with opening up a marijuana business bank account. Growers also face pollution issues and both producers and dispensaries struggle with neighbors’ complaints.

As with any small business, owners are typically in need of an insurance policy to guard against a worst-case scenario. However, as the pot industry is still in its infancy, there aren’t many options when it comes to insurers willing to take on a pot company.

Many insurance firms are reluctant to enter uncharted territory while others say they would prefer to wait until the drug has been made legal across the entire nation before stepping into the sector. For that reason, those insurers who do provide coverage to cannabis-based companies can charge higher premiums.

Health insurers have also had to evaluate the growing marijuana industry as more and more of their customers begin to use the drug recreationally or medically.

Most companies say the frequency with which a customer smokes is the most important consideration when it comes to marijuana use, though many still class marijuana as a hard drug alongside cocaine and heroin, meaning that customers who use the drug will be required to pay a higher premium for coverage.

Read more: http://www.benzinga.com/news/15/07/5651502/marijuanas-role-in-the-insurance-industry#ixzz3fEhRaysW

Posted in Economic Development, Investment, Retailers | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Motels Popping Up In Colorado

Colorado Pot Puts Heads In Beds

With pot tourists flocking to Colorado to take advantage of the state’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana, it was only a matter of time until hotels started stepping up to the plate. Welcome to Bud + Breakfast, Colorado‘s first hotel group dedicated specifically to weed tourism.

Bud + Breakfast consists of one property in Denver and another in Summit County. The company describes itself as the pioneering brand in the marijuana hospitality sector.

bud and breakfast Colorado

Get high in Colorado with the help of Bud & Breakfast. This is there mountain location in Silverthorne.

 

The hosts offer “Wake & Bake breakfast sessions” to their guests. “Eggs are cracked and bowls are packed,” the websites say. Both locations also host a “4:20 Happy Hour” every day, where guests can enjoy snacks, beer, wine and marijuana. Massages using cannabis-infused oil are also available at the guest houses. 

Despite the somewhat gimmicky “wake and bake” and “4/20″ offerings that might remind some of their younger years, Bud + Breakfast guesthouses are meant for a more mature audience. Joel C. Schneider, CEO of The Maryjane Group, Inc., which owns Bud + Breakfast, told The Huffington Post that while “guests range in age from 21-80,” he thinks the dominant age group is early 50s to early 60s.

marijuana Colorado

Schneider also emphasized the community aspect of the hotels. “We create a social experience for our guests. We insist that they smoke in the common areas, such as the living rooms, dining room and the outdoor patio,” he said. “We want our guests to feel at home and experience cannabis together. This also allows us to monitor our guests to ensure safety and security.”

Hotels in Colorado create their own smoking policies. Some have banned the practice altogether, while others reserve a quarter of their rooms for cannabis-friendly zones. There’s a grey area when it comes to hotel balconies. With the number of pot tourists flooding the state, it seems likely that more pot-friendly hotels are sure to follow.

Though Bud + Breakfast’s guesthouses opened just last year, the company is already expanding. Its plans for the future involve taking summer camp for grownups to a whole new level by opening a Cannacamp in Colorado this summer. The camp will offer all-inclusive packages that promise to “combine the enjoyment of recreational cannabis with a traditional ranch/camp environment.”

Colorado Marijuana Industry News via http://www.budandbfast.com/about-60minutes

 

Posted in Economic Development, Investment, Recreation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Profits Could Draw Bigger Competition

Study Concludes That Multinational Corporations Will Enter Marijuana Market

While federal law makes their entire industry illegal, many marijuana store owners, growers and retailers fear something completely different: Big Tobacco.

Today, most legal recreational marijuana operations are small, limited to a single state and barred from ever getting large by regulators who want to keep a close eye on the fast-growing industry. But those small operators struggle to get bank loans for expansion, often produce an inconsistent product and sometimes have no idea how to balance supply and demand for their crops.

marijuana and big tobacco companies

And many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market. At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.

“I think there’s a ton of paranoia that they’re buying up warehouses and signing secret deals,” said Chris Walsh, the editor of Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication.

Tobacco companies for generations have talked privately about getting into the weed business.

This past summer, researchers poring through more than 80 million pages of previously secret tobacco industry documents found that Big Tobacco has long had interest in pot.

“Since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana and marijuana legalization as both a potential and a rival product,” researchers Rachel Ann Barry, Heikki Hiilamo and Stanton Glantz wrote in a June 2014 paper published in the Milbank Quarterly, which focuses on population health and health policy. “As public opinion shifted and governments began relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana criminalization, the tobacco companies modified their corporate planning strategies to prepare for future consumer demand.

“In many ways, the marijuana market of 2014 resembles the tobacco market before 1880, before cigarettes were mass produced using mechanization and marketed using national brands and modern mass media,” they wrote. “Legalizing marijuana opens the market to major corporations, including tobacco companies, which have the financial resources, product design technology to optimize puff-by-puff delivery of a psychoactive drug (nicotine), marketing muscle, and political clout to transform the marijuana market.”

The researchers entitled their paper “Waiting for the Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization.”

Today, spokesmen for Altria Group and R.J. Reynolds said their companies have no plans to enter the legal pot marketplace. Altria is the new name for Philip Morris.

“We continually evaluate opportunities for portfolio enhancement but focus our efforts on companies and products designed to meet the preferences of adult tobacco consumers and companies where we feel we could add value,” said Richard Smith of RJR. “None of Reynolds American’s operating companies is evaluating entering the U.S. market with commercial brands of marijuana.”

states decriminalize marijuana

Jeffrey Friedland, chief executive of the international cannabis investment and development company INTIVA, said it’s unlikely tobacco companies ever seriously considered marijuana as a product. The tobacco documents archive, turned over to the public following the 1998 national tobacco settlement, show that cigarette companies periodically discussed marijuana as both a potential threat and possible product, including combining pot with menthol cigarettes.

“I don’t think they probably got far, maybe just to the in-house legal counsel’s desk,” Friedland said. “They’re not going to do anything until you have an act of Congress and it’s legal.”

Tobacco companies already are facing stiff government regulation and taxation and likely worry that moving into marijuana would bring additional scrutiny when they’re trying to move into e-cigarettes, which aren’t taxed and regulated the same way as traditional cigarettes, he said. Many marijuana stores sell e-cigarettes filled with marijuana oil.

The idea of Big Marijuana runs contrary to the counter-culture attitude of many marijuana industry insiders, especially those who honed their specific strains and growing techniques underground. For them, marijuana is more than a product, and it’s hard to accept that their labor of love could be commoditized, homogenized and sold without the personal grower-to-user relationship many marijuana stores in Colorado strive to maintain.

The reality of the modern world suggests otherwise, said President and CEO Derek Peterson of Terra Tech, a California-based company that makes hydroponic greenhouse equipment for both traditional and marijuana growers and is opening medical marijuana facilities in Nevada. Peterson, a former Wall Street investment banker, also operates a dispensary in California and says the economics ultimately favor large companies.

“We’re a mass-produced society, from the food we eat to the television we watch,” he said. “Ultimately, big alcohol or big tobacco is going to come into this space. I just can’t imagine that won’t happen.”

Because state-legalized marijuana remains a patchwork of rules, few companies are operating in more than a single state. That’s an advantage for the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes the mainstreaming of marijuana.

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy co-founded the group with the message, in part, that Big Tobacco wants in on Big Marijuana. SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet said Americans would be naïve to think tobacco companies won’t try to use the same techniques they long used to market to kids.

“We’re going to see the nightmare repeat,” he said. “It’s one thing to say you don’t want see someone to go to prison for having a joint in their pocket. It’s another thing to have Philip Morris-type tactics.”

Election of a conservative president could alter marijuana legalization efforts radically, Walsh said.President Barack Obama’s administration generally has taken a hands-off approach in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, but that could quickly change.

Also a possibility: Our next president could open to the door even wider to legalization by pushing the Food and Drug Administration to remove marijuana’s listing as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, he said.

Meanwhile, Friedland said tobacco companies likely are taking a wait-and-see approach.

“I think they’re freaked out and they’re not going to touch it because it will bring down the wrath of governments on them until it’s legal,” he said. “And then I think they end up owning the industry.”

Marijuana News via http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/04/11/cigarettes-and-marijuana/70746772/

Posted in Economic Development, International News, Retailers, U.S. Law | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Senators Could Ease Federal Prohibition Of Medical Marijuana

Bill Introduced To Streamline Marijuana Regulations

Senate legislation announced today would shield medical marijuana patients, doctors and businesses from federal prosecution in states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and would remove marijuana from the category of most-dangerous drugs.

marijuana helps TBI patients

Medical marijuana is nothing new in the U.S. or other countries.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would deal a sharp blow to the U.S. government’s longstanding war on marijuana by banning the Drug Enforcement Administration from cracking down on patients, growers, doctors and dispensaries in states that have legalized medical cannabis. It would give military veterans in states with medical marijuana laws easier access to the drug by allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis.

The legislation also would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug, which has no benefit, to a Schedule II drug, which has an accepted medical use. Rescheduling marijuana would, in effect, be the federal government’s first acknowledgement that the drug has medical benefits.

“This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine,” Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients. Schedule I is reserved for what the DEA considers to have the highest potential for abuse and no medical value. Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I for decades, along with other substances like heroin and LSD.

While a lower schedule for marijuana would not make it legal under federal law, it may ease restrictions on research. The bill would not force states to legalize medical marijuana, but would protect states that do from federal interference. The bill would make permanent medical marijuana protections from the DEA included in the federal spending bill that President Barack Obama signed into law in December.

Currently, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and a dozen others have legalized a low-THC marijuana for medical use. All would be protected under the Senate bill. Four states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana.

The sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. States that have legalized marijuana or softened penalties for possession have done so because of federal guidance urging prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations.

The Senate medical marijuana bill comes just weeks after Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced bills in the House that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules altogether, transfer oversight of the substance from the DEA to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and regulate marijuana in a way similar to alcohol.

Medical Marijuana News via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/09/senate-medical-marijuana-_n_6834534.html

Posted in Medical Marijuana, Medicinal Uses, Politicians, Regulation, U.S. Law | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Tax Could Generate Refund For Taxpayers In Colorado

Colorado Marijuana Sales Generate Windfall

Thanks to Colorado’s new marijuana tax and a quirky state law, residents may get a special one-time tax refund next year. The total could be about $59 million, according to Fox 31. That’s how much the state expects to collect from taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana, which Colorado legalized last year. Some of that money was slated for schools, but it may go back into taxpayers’ pockets instead.

marijuana tax refund Colorado

The reason for the refund: Colorado is expected to collect more in total tax revenue than it thought it would this year. That’s not permitted in a year the state rolls out a new tax, which this time was the 28 percent pot tax. The pot tax itself didn’t generate as much money as expected.

About 67 metric tons of marijuana was sold in Colorado in 2014. That’s 148,238 pounds of the weed you inhale.

Which is a lot. The largest recorded African elephant weighed almost 11 tons (24,000 pounds). To put that in perspective, in one year, Colorado smoked more than 6 times the size of the heaviest recorded elephant that ever walked this green earth.

While that deserves a green star, that’s not all the weed they bought in the Centennial State, no sir. The initial 2014 report also states that 4.8 million marijuana edibles were sold (cookies, mac ‘n cheese, etc.). But why stop there? Almost 1.5 million marijuana infused non-edible products (such as lotions, and creams) were also sold.

So much money was made off of legal marijuana sales that $30 million might go back into tax payer pockets, since there’s a limit of how much the state can keep for its schools.

But the state is poised to take in $219 million more in total revenue than it thought it would during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Read more at http://gazette.com/everyone-in-colorado-may-get-a-marijuana-tax-refund/article/1547188#Dw8KauIMe34214DB.99

Posted in Colorado Law, Economic Development, Taxes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Colorado Sued Over Marijuana Legalization

Nebraska, Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Pot

The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing state-legalized marijuana from Colorado is improperly spilling across state lines.

legal marijuana in Colorado draws lawsuit from Nebraska and Oklahoma

Many states are green withy envy as Colorado streamlines law enforcement and the revenue code.

The suit invokes the federal government’s right to regulate both drugs and interstate commerce, and says Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana has been “particularly burdensome” to police agencies on the other side of the state line.

In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just 7 miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400 percent in three years.

“In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining plaintiff states’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems,” says the lawsuit. “The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the lawsuit makes a distinction between legalized marijuana and the extensive commercialization permitted by Colorado.

“What we take issue with is this licensing scheme, this commercialization, that the state has promoted at the expense of Oklahoma and Nebraska,” Pruitt said. “This is not just simply that Colorado has legalized the use and possession … there are illegal products that are being trafficked across state lines. Clearly we’ve been injured.”

marijuana legalization

Marijuana sales in Colorado are rising.

In a statement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he wasn’t “entirely surprised” by the lawsuit, but said Nebraska and Oklahoma are attacking the wrong people.

“Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action,” said Suthers. “However, it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Lawsuits filed by the states directly with the Supreme Court are rare, and Pruitt said there’s no way to know how quickly the court may respond.

On Jan. 1, Colorado legalized the recreational sale of marijuana to adults, regardless of where they live. And while the law prohibits people from taking that pot outside Colorado, some police officers in bordering states say they’ve seen an increase in marijuana flowing across the borders.

“Is it all coming from Colorado? Hell no. It’s coming from all over. But I can tell you our numbers are double what they were last year,” BJ Wilkinson, the police chief in Sidney, Neb., said in June. “Twice as often now, when we walk up to a car, we can smell burned marijuana.”

The federally funded Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team says it has documented a 13,000% increase in marijuana seizures in its four-state operating area from 2005 to 2012. Those statistics were gathered before recreational sales of marijuana became legal in Colorado this year.

On Thursday, Deuel County, Neb., Sheriff Adam Hayward welcomed Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning’s lawsuit. He said he hopes the federal government will act. Hayward for months has been asking his state’s leaders to take a harder line against Colorado’s marijuana marketplace.

He said while marijuana was always available in his area, it was never so widespread. He said minor traffic stops on the nearby interstate that used to take a few minutes to deal with now can take hours because so many people are illegally carrying marijuana out of Colorado.

“And now you’re tying up two or three officers,” Hayward said. “It’s a diversion of resources.”

He said harder drugs, like heroin and meth, have followed the increase in marijuana availability. Deuel County lies on Colorado’s northeastern border.

“You know, they used to be drug dealers. But now they’re legal and they’re called businessmen,” Hayward said. “But those businesspeople haven’t given up their bad habits. They’re selling marijuana out the front door, legal marijuana, and illegal drugs out the back door.”

Legalization advocates said Colorado did the right thing by ending the war on drugs, and said marijuana was widely available and consumed in Nebraska and Oklahoma before Colorado legalized pot.

Colorado’s marijuana system requires extensive background checks for growers and vendors, along with strict ongoing licensing and monitoring by police.

“Coloradans overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. In so doing, we’ve chosen the licensed and regulated marijuana businesses over violent criminal organizations. Colorado has created a comprehensive and robust regulatory program for the sale of marijuana in Colorado,” Mike Elliot of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group said in a statement. “And the data is overwhelmingly showing that Colorado has enhanced public safety, the economy, and the freedom of its citizens. If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed, they will put the violent criminal organizations back in charge.”

Mason Tvert of the national Marijuana Policy Project was more blunt: “These guys are on the wrong side of history.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/18/colorado-marijuana-lawsuit/20599831/

Posted in Colorado Law, Politicians, Regulation, Tourism, U.S. Law | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Colorado Marijuana Industry Banking In Oregon

Oregon Bank Welcomes Colorado Marijuana Businesses

An Oregon bank is openly offering service to the marijuana industry in Colorado at a time when banks here are lurking mostly in the shadows.

MBank, based outside Portland, is part of a growing number of financial institutions, mostly Washington-based credit unions, that are banking openly with marijuana businesses.

marijuana industry Colorado

But it is the first to venture across state lines and the only bank to announce publicly that it is serving Colorado marijuana businesses.

The bank said it also is taking marijuana-related deposits in Washington, the other state where recreational pot is legal and has been serving Oregon-based medical marijuana dispensaries since September.

While some industry analysts see its announcement as somewhat brazen, considering pressure from regulators to keep any participation with the marijuana sector quiet, MBank officials say they’re confident it’s a good idea.

“It’s a bold maneuver and not one for a lot of folks to take on,” MBank president and CEO Jef Baker said Tuesday. “We looked to regulators, both state and federal, to help us come to the conclusion that we can do banking in this sector.”

The $165 million bank, in business since 1995, is putting trust in what it said is “tacit approval” — bank-speak for acceptance that isn’t in writing — from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

“We had to vet the program and expose ourselves to additional audits,” Baker said. “But to be sure, we’ve put together something that meets without objection, though not necessarily specific approval.”

An FDIC spokesman said the agency does not comment on bank operations.

MBank partnered with Guardian Data Systems to hook marijuana businesses. Already about five in Colorado have established accounts, Baker said, with about 30 other applications pending.

“Finding access to traditional banking services has been one of the most daunting challenges faced by owners and operators in our industry” said Lance Ott, principal at GDS, which is handling the preliminary screening of account applicants.

“To date, there has not been a permanent (federally) compliant solution to the cannabis industry. With this partnership, cannabis industry operators no longer must shield the nature of their business from banking institutions,” he said.

Only medical marijuana is legal in Oregon, although voters in November approved recreational sales to begin in July.

Federal regulators have offered guidance to bankers willing to work with the industry, mostly by requiring a restrictive set of rules and filing reports about account-holder transactions. Bankers balked at opening their doors to the industry, at least publicly.

Some business owners offered anecdotes of account closures if even a hint of their participation became known to others. As a result, banks willing to work with the industry have remained a trade secret that businesses protect.

A number of business solutions — such as point-of-sale ATMs and credit-card processing machines — regularly are offered to marijuana shops, but all require the participation of a bank and the vendors aren’t willing to identify their partner.

For that reason, Colorado bankers doubt that MBank’s openness will work.

“I wonder if this bank will suffer the fate as those in Colorado that tried to work openly, only to be told to close accounts,” said Jenifer Waller, vice president of the Colorado Bankers Association. “I’m not sure Colorado banks will step out again after this since each test trial has met with the same result: closed accounts.”

Colorado Springs State Bank was the last to openly work with the marijuana industry here. In October 2011, it closed about 300 industry accounts amid concerns about working with companies that violate federal law. Marijuana remains on the government’s list of illegal drugs, and no bank has stepped into the light since.

That has not happened in the Pacific Northwest, where others willing to openly bank the pot industry have crept forward, including Washington credit unions in Olympia, Spokane and Seattle. Although Colorado awaits the opening of the world’s first pot credit union, that won’t happen until federal regulators approve a master account for the Fourth Corner Credit Union to operate. Baker said he wonders whether the institution will ever open.

MBank first took on Oregon-based medical marijuana businesses in September after clearing its plan with state and federal regulators, but at the time it remained focused on dispensaries in that state alone.

That changed as the bank saw opportunity in “an underserved sector,” Baker said.

MBank won’t have a physical office or employees in Colorado. Cash deposits are to be picked up by contracted armored-car services and brought to a Federal Reserve System bank, such as the one located in downtown Denver. Deposits are then credited to MBank’s account and further credited to the account of the marijuana business.

“It’s all electronic and never physically crosses state lines,” Baker said.

Colorado Marijuana news via http://www.denverpost.com/marijuana/ci_27360883/oregon-bank-opens-doors-colorado-marijuana-businesses

Posted in Economic Development, Investment, Regulation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Native American Tribes Get Green Light On Marijuana

Tribal Lands Now In The Marijuana Business

As if state and federal drug policies weren’t already a mishmash of contradiction and confusion, the U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that Native American tribes can grow or sell marijuana on their reservations, even in states that have not legalized pot for medicinal or recreational purposes. The decision was a further recognition of the sovereignty of Indian lands. But its ramifications will be felt far beyond the reservations.

native Americans and marijuana

Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the federal government ranks marijuana in the same category of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and PCP — defined as narcotics that have no established medical use and carry a high potential for abuse. But in 1996, California voters became the first to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, launching a movement that now includes 23 states. Four states have voted to legalize pot for recreational purposes as well.

That growing conflict between state and federal law led the Justice Department earlier in the Obama administration to declare that it would respect the states’ decisions as long as they follow certain guidelines, including action to prevent distribution of marijuana to minors and to prevent money from marijuana sales going to gangs or cartels. That hasn’t worked out so well in California, leading to a hodgepodge of differing local ordinances throughout the state and creating a nightmare for local law enforcement agencies, not to mention neighborhoods concerned about crime and easier access to the drug by children.

Last week’s decision regarding Indian reservations in essence all but legalizes marijuana — for medical or recreational use — in any state where there’s a reservation, even if voters or the legislature in that state have not legalized it.

There are more than 300 Indian reservations in the United States, spread throughout 30 states. San Diego County has 19 reservations, more than any other county in the country, with reservation lands totaling more than 124,000 acres. Tribes that already operate a lucrative casino may not be interested in going into the marijuana business.

On the other hand, poor tribes without a casino but with lots of land might suddenly discover they can grow and sell their way to riches.

The Justice Department apparently has not established specific restrictions or regulations regarding tribal cultivation or sales of marijuana beyond the broad guidelines it asked of the states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug.

The impact on San Diego’s backcountry could be significant as tribes that decide to get into the business compete with each other, with the legal and illegal marijuana dispensaries that already operate in urban areas and with the international drug cartels.

And it is yet another example of the administration skirting Congress to enact a major change in drug policy by decree.

Sources: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/dec/16/native-american-tribes-marijuana-justice/

Posted in Economic Development, Investment, Politicians, Regulation, Tourism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The History Of Medical Marijuana In America

Cannabis First Taxed As Medicine In 1937

The use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back at least 3,000 years. It came into use in Western medicine in the 19th century and was said to relieve pain, inflammation, spasms, and convulsions.

marijuana helps TBI patients

Medical marijuana is nothing new in the U.S. or other countries.

In 1937, the U.S. Treasury began taxing Cannabis under the Marijuana Tax Act at one dollar per ounce for medicinal use and one hundred dollars per ounce for recreational use. The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed this regulation of Cannabis and did not want studies of its potential medicinal benefits to be limited. Unfortunately, in 1942, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because of continuing concerns about its safety. In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which included Cannabis with narcotic drugs for the first time.

Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, mescaline, methaqualone, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

Although Cannabis was not believed to have any medicinal use, the U.S. government distributed it to patients on a case-by-case basis under the Compassionate Use Investigational New Drug (IND) program between 1978 and 1992.

The Cannabis plant produces a resin containing compounds called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive (acting on the brain and changing mood or consciousness). In the past 20 years, researchers have studied how cannabinoids act on the brain and other parts of the body. Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been discovered in brain cells and nerve cells in other parts of the body. The presence of cannabinoid receptors on immune system cells suggests that cannabinoids may have a role in immunity.

Cannabinoids cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. They are also known as phytocannabinoids. The main active cannabinoid in Cannabis is delta-9-THC. Another active cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which may relieve pain and lower inflammation without causing the “high” of delta-9-THC.

Cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Other possible effects of cannabinoids include:

  • Anti-inflammatory activity;
  • Blocking cell growth;
  • Preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors;
  • Antiviral activity;
  • Relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis; and
  • Relieving nausea and ocular pressure.
Posted in Medical, Medicinal Uses, Regulation, Taxes, U.S. Law | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More Marijuana Initiatives On November Ballot

Marijuana Movement On Four Ballots

Marijuana advocates are hoping to extend the legalization wave in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, and pass medical cannabis in Florida.

Styled after Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado in 2012, Measure 91 would set up a state-regulated marijuana market. Home growing would be allowed. Unlike Washington’s I-502, there is no DUID provision written into the proposed law. Taxes and fees would be much less than those imposed in Colorado and Washington. Oregon doesn’t have a state sales tax. The flat tax per ounce from processor to retailer would be $35. License fees would be $1,000 annually. Run by New Approach Oregon and funded largely by the Drug Policy Alliance, Measure 91 currently has a 7-point lead in the polls.

marijuana legalization Oregon Florida Alaska

Marijuana sales in Colorado are rising.

Alaska – Measure 2

Measure 2 would fix the confusion over marijuana law in Alaska by regulating it and setting up the framework for a legal market. In 1975, Alaska’s Supreme Court essentially legalized possession and small-scale grow-ops (24 plants) in the state. Over the years, there’ve been many efforts to overturn that decision. Now voters can decide for themselves. Measure 2 allows  for possession of up to one ounce and the growing of six plants per person. The excise tax from processor to retailer would be $50 per ounce. Drugged driving would be treated similarly to driving under the influence of alcohol, though no amount is specified. Run by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska and funded largely by the Marijuana Policy Project, Measure 2 is currently even in the polls.

Florida – Amendment  2

The most contentious of the three state ballot initiatives is being played out in the Sunshine State, which would be the first in the South to legalize medical marijuana if passed. The big problem, since it’s an amendment to the state constitution, is it requires 60% of the vote. The amendment changes the law to read: “The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.” Patients with cancer, MS, glaucoma, hep C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s and “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential risks” would qualify. No home growing would be allowed. Florida would license dispensaries and processors. Big money has flooded into the state on both sides, led by Sheldon Adelson on the No on 2 side to the tune of $4 million. John Morgan, whose United for Care group is leading the Yes on 2 charge, has pitched in $3.5 million of his own money. Amendment 2 currently has an 8-point lead in the polls.

Washington, DC – Initiative 71

Hot on the heels of marijuana decriminalization going into effect in July in the nation’s capitol comes Initiative 71, which would go quite a bit farther in allowing possession of two ounces and home growing (six plants) without any penalty whatsoever. It falls short of setting up a commercial retail market for marijuana and could run into interference from Congress if passed. Run by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, Initiative 71 currently has a 16-point lead in the polls.

Source: http://www.celebstoner.com/news/marijuana-news/2014/10/08/four-major-marijuana-initiatives-on-the-november-ballot/

Posted in International News, Politicians, Regulation, U.S. Law | Tagged | Leave a comment