Marijuana News in MA and World

CO Marijuana Taxes

Sales records for recreational and medical marijuana in Colorado in 2015 have been released by the Colorado Department of Revenue. With both markets combined, a total of $996,184,788 in sales are reported. An industry attorney, Christian Sederberg said, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”

School construction projects benefitted to the tune of more than $35 million from marijuana sales taxes. The state collected over $135 million in 2015 for marijuana taxes and fees, according to The Denver Post.

Attorney Steve Fox said, “These are amazing numbers, especially on the tax revenue side.”

Three types of taxes are in place regarding marijuana sales in Colorado. Wholesale marijuana transfers require a 15-percent excise tax. Two types of sales tax are in place including the general sales tax of 2.9-percent and a special marijuana sales tax of 10-percent.

In terms of economic growth and an improving economy, Fox commented, “I’m really proud of our state and proud of our legislators and local officials, who have helped us transition away from an underground market so quickly so that our state can see the benefits of tax revenues, regulated sales, jobs and economic development.”

In December alone, the state collected $2 million in medical marijuana taxes and fees. Recreational marijuana sales brought in $11.3 million dollars in taxes and fees to the state.

Colorado saw a steady incline in marijuana industry sales numbers throughout 2015. One of the biggest months of growth was measured between November and December, showing a 21-percent increase in recreational and medical marijuana sales.

Woody Harrelson Marijuana

Hawaii plans to allow for eight medical marijuana dispensary operators across the islands. Movie star, business owner and marijuana advocate, Woody Harrelson, has filed a dispensary application in Honolulu County.

A total of 66 applications for dispensary permits were issued. All of the applicants’ names have been listed on the Hawaii Department of Health website, according to The Washington Post.

The creator of the Tetris video game, Henk Rogers, also applied for a dispensary permit. Rogers is the owner of Blue Planet Foundation, an energy independence advocacy company. Other big local names, Dirk Fukushima and Charles Kawakami have also applied for dispensary permits.

In Hawaii, each dispensary owner is permitted to have two processing facilities and two retail locations, making the actual total of medical marijuana dispensaries to open at 16.

Breakdown of dispensary locations:

  • Oahu – 6
  • Hawaii Island – 4
  • Maui – 2
  • Kauai – 2

Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries are slated to open in July. Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical marijuana using a legislative process. Laws are on the table for legalizing recreational marijuana in the near future in Hawaii.

(Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Hospital Emergency Room Marijuana

Emergency room doctors in states where marijuana is legalized–either for medical or recreational use–are reporting a slight incline in patients where marijuana-related anxiety is the chief complaint. But as Dr. Larry Bedard, the former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians importantly noted, “The most common reason someone goes to the ER for a marijuana reaction is anxiety,” which is nothing too serious, especially in comparison to side effects caused by other legal and illegal substances. Nobody has ever overdosed or died from marijuana use alone, a fact the federal government confirms.

Dr. Bedard said, in a phone interview with The Cannabist, “Part of an anxiety reaction is you have an impending sense of doom. So a lot of people come in [to the hospital] thinking they’re dying, when they’re actually having a panic attack. That’s very common. If you’re smoking a joint and suddenly you can’t breathe and your chest feels tight and you start to get numb and tingly, you start to think you’ve been poisoned.”

The doctor recommends time, water consumption and practice taking calms breaths if anxiety forms from marijuana use. If a patient is experiencing extreme anxiety and does not have alcohol in their system, a sedative is sometimes administered to speed the relief from anxiety.

Writer for The New York Times, Maureen Down, noted an unpleasant experience following the consumption of a marijuana-infused edible: “The fact that I was not a regular marijuana smoker made me more vulnerable, and I should have known better.”

When asked about marijuana-related deaths, the physicians noted that no deaths are reported solely from marijuana consumption.

Baby Boomers Medical Marijuana

Data compiled from medical marijuana patient registries in 8 states were used to determine the average age of medical marijuana patients across the U.S. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the data showed that those in their 40s and 50s made up the majority of the U.S. medical marijuana patients.

These numbers were published prior to the full assessment that will be printed in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal, according to NORML.

A breakdown of some numbers from the study:

  • 50-percent of Alaskan patients are over 50
  • 58-percent of Nevada patients are over 45
  • Nearly 50-percent of Vermont’s patients are over 55
  • 44-percent of Oregon’s patients are over 50

The information used for this study came from data in states where mandatory patient registry programs are in place. The study reported, “In several states, individuals in their 50s represented the largest age group of participants.”

As a whole, the study also found that there are approximately 650,000 medical marijuana patients nationwide.

Hemp Airplane

A small, two-engine airplane prototype made mostly of hemp is in production. A Kickstarter campaign for the plane is set to begin on April 20, 2016, to help complete the prototype. The plane, dreamt up by Hempearth, is a four-seater and will have a flight speed of 210mph.

Sufficient testing has been conducted to compare the strength of hemp fiber to fiberglass. The results show that hemp fiber is as strong, if not stronger than fiberglass. The plans for this particular plane include a 36-foot wingspan and the aircraft will be constructed of at least 75-percent hemp. Hemp bio-fuel will be used instead of traditional fuel.

One of the key principals of this project is to display the versatility of the hemp plant. An airplane of this type is environmentally friendly and can change the future of flight. The project is also designed to raise awareness about “the importance of hemp to humanity,” according to information shared by Hempearth.

The maiden flight will be taking place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  Kitty Hawk is the location of the Wright Brothers’ maiden flight.

On Hempearth’s initial flight, live streaming to the entire world will be available from GoPros attached to the wings of the plane. Live broadcasting is not permitted from the location.

(photo c/o: hempearth.net)

Marley Natural

Marley Natural, Bob Marley’s brand of marijuana strains and products, has raised some controversy upon launching because, initially, it will only be available in California, and not Jamaica. Medical marijuana patients in California show excitement to try the marijuana, while some residents in Jamaica are less than pleased. The ill feelings come from the Rastafarian culture which not receiving much funding from the global marijuana brand, according to reports from The Verge.

Marley Natural is available in four strains. Each strain is grown to produce specific effects.

Marley Natural strain types:

  • Marley Green
  • Marley Black
  • Marley Gold
  • Marley Red

The marijuana brand uses a pesticide-free grow process and also has a line of marijuana oils available. Signature accessories, such as pipes made from American black walnut wood, are also offered.

Marley Natural Spokesman, Zack Hutson, says, “We’re not only natural in how we source our products and how they’re made; it’s important for us to demonstrate to people that the herb can be a natural part of life, which was the way Bob viewed it. So that’s what we’re hoping to do really with this brand – help people understand the herb the way Bob did.”

For now, the brand will remain in California markets only. Marley Natural has said that they do plan to explore markets in other states in the near future. Bob Marley branded marijuana products began their creation in 2014. This is their first official product launch. The company plans to branch out into more product types, including hemp-based products, down the road to raise awareness of the multiple uses of the plant as a whole.

(Photo credit: theverge.com)

Oregon Marijuana Dispensary

The first drive-thru recreational marijuana dispensary in the country is set to open on April 20, 2016, in Gold Beach, Oregon.

The location of this drive-thru dispensary is directly across from a hospital, according to Time.com. It is supposed to be treated similar to a drive-thru pharmacy. Some controversy exists since it is on the California/Oregon border, and marijuana is still not legal for recreational use in California.

Supporters of the drive-thru service in Oregon find that this option is going to make it easier to obtain marijuana legally. The process will be more convenient for those that wish to maintain anonymity when purchasing marijuana.

Julie Schmelzer, Economic Development Director for Curry County, says, “I believe this venture is going to be quite an asset to the area. This could help Gold Beach and the southwestern coast become a destination for those interested in the new green tourism.”

The small, coastal town has experienced significant hardships recently. This new business venture is expected to help attract tourists while assisting the residents of Oregon with an additional option for purchasing recreational marijuana legally.

Celebrity Doctor Oz Marijuana

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a well-known celebrity doctor, has changed his views on medical marijuana. Recently, the doctor was on the Larry King Live show and shared his new perspective on marijuana as a medicine.

According to HuffPost, Dr. Mehmet Oz shared his new views on medical marijuana: “I have. I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the belief that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.”

Oz has joined the likes of other world renowned doctors, like CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to recognize that marijuana does have real medicinal benefits. Dr. Gupta has solidified his reasoning for supporting medical marijuana and has openly voiced his support. Another medical professional that openly supports medical marijuana is the chief health and medical editor for ABC News, Dr. Richard Besser.

Recent polls show that 86-percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Scientific evidence continues to prove the vast array of medical benefits from marijuana.

(Photo: miaminewtimes.com)

Medical Marijuana USA

It’s been two decades since the first medical marijuana laws were passed in the U.S. Since then, 85-percent of the American population now resides in states where medical marijuana is legal, which breaks down to roughly 275 million people. Americans for Safe Access, a pro-marijuana non-profit, has released a report grading each state’s medical marijuana program.

Each state is evaluated separately, using the same criteria. The overall grade is based upon a cumulative scoring system creating an average as the resulting grade. No states received an “A” in the report, but many states did receive “B” and “C” grades.

Some of the criteria that the grades are based upon includes:

  • Access to medicine
  • Patient rights/civil protection from discrimination
  • Ease of use/navigation of program
  • Functionality
  • Consumer Safety/Provider Requirements
  • Cultivation
  • Manufacturing
  • Laboratory Operations

Most common qualifying conditions for medical marijuana are:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • PTSD
  • Wasting syndrome
  • Epilepsy

As a whole, the grade for the United States is a “D-” because many states still do not have medical marijuana programs, thus resulting in “Fs” for each of those states. This means that much more work needs to be done to make sure that patients are getting proper access to safe, quality medicine. Forty states have medical marijuana programs in place. The report concludes that only a handful of these states are meeting the needs of their patients to an above satisfactory degree.

This report helps each state see where it needs improvement. It also helps state legislatures make changes to existing programs to improve patient access, qualifying conditions list and conduct proper studies to expand existing qualifying conditions lists.

View the report: Medical Marijuana Access Report 2016

Facebook Marijuana

Facebook has begun deleting business pages for legal medical marijuana dispensaries around the country.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona, California, New Jersey, and other states, have seen their pages removed from the social media giant. Facebook implemented a policy that prevents advertising for the sale of drugs, tobacco and guns. However, with states having the ability to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, Facebook is not recognizing states’ rights laws and maintains their own guidelines.

Three New Jersey medical marijuana dispensaries have been victims of this, reports ABC News. A board member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, Peter Rosenfeld, says, “It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of New Jersey. They’re treating it like they’re selling marijuana illegally when it’s a fully sanctioned nonprofit that’s controlled and regulated by the state of New Jersey.”

Facebook spokeswoman, Arielle Aryah, said, in regards to the removed pages, that the pages were removed because for “violating our Community Standards”.

Many dispensary owners find that social media outlets, such as Facebook, are a valuable way to communicate with patients.

Golden State general manager, Aaron Epstein, says that he will find a different outlet to inform patients if Facebook continues its current policy. He stated, “If Facebook doesn’t want to be a part of that, that’s their prerogative. We’ll find other avenues to get information to our patients.”

Given that marijuana is approved in more states for medicinal purposes than recreational use, some industry business owners want to see changes to Facebook’s policies. These businesses are not condoning drug use, they’re attempting to relay information to patients about medicine that can help relieve symptoms from debilitating and terminal illnesses.