Posts Tagged “Florida Medical Marijuana News”

Canadian cannabis company pays $40 million for Florida pot grower

by: Palm Beach Post Updated: 

In the first big-dollar deal in Florida’s budding marijuana industry, a Canadian company paid $40 million for one of seven firms allowed to grow and sell cannabis in the state.

Liberty Health Sciences of Toronto this month bought Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua County, an operation that’s still very much in start-up mode.

Chestnut Hill has yet to open a retail outlet, and Liberty Health Sciences Chief Executive George Scorsis acknowledges that the company remains in a “pre-revenue” phase.

Chestnut Hill’s most valuable asset is its state license to produce medical marijuana.

However, state officials have said they’ll issue more licenses for cannabis cultivation as more patients join Florida’s medical marijuana registry, so even the license could prove a depreciating asset.

“It’s possible there could be some devaluation as the state issues more licenses, but we thought it was important for us to be one of the first entrants in the market,” Scorsis said Friday in an interview.

Pot proponents pushed medical marijuana as a safe treatment for cancer, chronic pain and other ailments.

The large sum paid for Chestnut Hill stoked concerns that the nascent industry quickly has shifted into a speculative mode.

“This is a completely immature company, and it’s going at a big dollar value,” said Ben Pollara, who led the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

Florida voters in November overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, which makes marijuana available to people with cancer, epilepsy, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

They must get a doctor’s permission to buy cannabis.

The Canadian company’s arrival underscores just how hotly contested Florida’s marijuana market could become.

Most industry players expected half a million Floridians to sign up for the medical marijuana program, but Scorsis says the number could be higher.

“We always saw Florida as a tremendous opportunity because of the sheer population size,” Scorsis said.

Before he took over Liberty Health Sciences, Scorsis ran Mettrum Health Corp., a cannabis cultivator in Canada.

That company sold earlier this year for more than $400 million.

Liberty Health Services is an offshoot of another Canadian cannabis company, and Scorsis said its hallmark is growing marijuana cheaply compared to its competitors.

“We are the lowest-cost producer in Canada, and we also will be the lowest-cost producer in Florida,” Scorsis said. “We need to ensure that the product we produce is affordable.”

So Liberty Health Services could bring price competition to Florida, where prices have proven higher than in California and Colorado.

“Right now, there’s not much competition, and there aren’t many patients to compete for,” Pollara said.

As of July 12, there were 23,350 patients on the state’s cannabis rolls, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Now that Scorsis has taken over Chestnut Hill’s operations, he aims to begin opening dispensaries.

Scorsis said he’s negotiating three leases in South Florida and one in Central Florida.

He said the stores will focus on explaining the effects of cannabis to patients.

“Our retail outlets will be a combination of education centers and retail outlets,” Scorsis said.

While Liberty Health Services paid a hefty sum to get into Florida’s marijuana market, Scorsis stressed the company’s altruistic bent.

“Medical cannabis is there because patients need it,” he said, “and we need to work backward from there.”

By JOE REEDY, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida legislators are back on a path to passing a bill for enacting the state’s constitutional amendment expanding the use of medical marijuana.

Gov. Rick Scott added medical marijuana to the agenda for the special legislative session that began Wednesday after lawmakers reached a compromise on key elements. The House’s Health & Human Services Committee passed it on Wednesday night. The Senate’s Health Policy Committee will meet Thursday morning, with both chambers likely to review it later in the day.

“Both sides made significant concessions and were able to come together,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the House’s bill. “Neither one of us got everything we wanted, but we both got something we could live with.”

The amendment, approved by 71 percent of voters in November, expands legal use beyond the limited prescriptions for low-strength marijuana allowed under a 2014 law. It also expands the eligible ailments beyond the current list of cancer, epilepsy and chronic muscle spasms to include HIV and AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and similar conditions.

When the bill implementing the amendment fell apart late in the session, the Senate wanted to limit each treatment center to 15 locations with no sunset provisions and make medical marijuana subject to sales tax. The House wanted no caps and no sales tax.

Under the agreement, there will be a limit of 25 retail dispensaries per medical marijuana treatment center, which can increase by five for every 100,000 patients added to the registry. The cap would expire on April 1, 2020. The legislation also adds 10 more medical marijuana treatment centers, meaning there would be 17 statewide by October. Four additional centers would be added for every 100,000 patients.

According to the Department of Health, the state registry now has 16,614 patients. A recent state revenue impact study projects that by 2022 there will be 472,000 medical cannabis patients and $542 million in sales.

Sen. Rob Bradley, the Senate’s main sponsor of the bill, said marijuana would not be taxed because it is considered to be medicine.

Patients and caregivers say the proposed rules remain too restrictive. The bill allows patients to receive an order for three 70-day supplies during a doctor’s visit that they could then take to a medical marijuana treatment center, but it bans smoking. The smoking ban is likely to be challenged in the courts. Training for doctors would drop from eight hours to two but they would still have to stringently document patients’ conditions before prescribing marijuana.

“There’s that saying about having something done is better than perfect. People are counting on something getting done,” said John Morgan, who played a key role in getting the amendment on the ballot and passed.

Morgan has said he will sue the state for not allowing smoking, but Rodrigues said there aren’t any scientific studies to show that smoking is effective.

“If he wants to sue us, that it is his prerogative. I am confident it can be defended in front of a judge,” Rodrigues said.

For the past month, medical marijuana supporters have said it would be easier for the Legislature to establish the framework of rules instead of the Department of Health, which went through several rounds of litigation when trying to determine who would be licensed to produce and distribute pot.

The amendment requires new laws to be in place by July 3 and enacted by October. Rodrigues said he is optimistic the bill will pass, despite an ongoing feud over the state budget.

“If they were going to have an impact, I believe we would not have to an agreement in the first place,” Rodrigues said.

___

Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joereedy . Read more of his work at https://apnews.com/search/joe%20reedy .

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Florida Senate starts shaping up medical marijuana plan

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More growers, access to treatment for snowbirds and greater flexibility in the relationship between patients and doctors are among the items likely to be included in a Senate proposal to carry out a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November to broadly legalize medical marijuana.

The Senate Health Policy Committee held a workshop Wednesday on the implementation of Amendment 2, which garnered the support of more than 71 percent of Florida voters, as lawmakers try to reach consensus on five pieces of legislation floating in the Senate.

The most controversial issues include how many licenses the state should award to marijuana growers, now limited to seven. Also, they include who should be deemed eligible to qualify for the treatment and whether to maintain the “vertical integration” system —- requiring medical marijuana organizations to grow, process and distribute cannabis products —- currently in use.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who was instrumental in the passage of medical marijuana laws in 2014 and 2016 and is the sponsor of the chamber’s highest-profile piece of cannabis-related legislation this year, was the only senator to appear before the committee.

The 2014 law allowed non-euphoric marijuana for limited types of patients, such as children with severe seizures. The 2016 legislation allowed full-strength marijuana for terminally ill patients. But the constitutional amendment will make cannabis available to a far-broader group of Floridians.

Under Bradley’s bill (SB 406), the state would have to issue five new licenses by the end of the year and could see another 20 marijuana operators —- nearly quadruple the seven current licensed “dispensing organizations” —- once the number of patients registered for the treatment reaches 500,000. The number of licenses would go up as the number of registered patients increases.

Bradley, a former prosecutor, acknowledged that his bill was likely too restrictive but cautioned against an open market for marijuana, which he pointed out is still an illegal drug under federal law.

“I hear a lot of talk about the current system as being a cartel,” he said. “This is not the selling of lawnmowers or office supplies. In those cases, there should be unlimited markets free from government oversight. This is very different. … Mom and pop stores don’t grow and sell medication that treat your wife’s cancer.”

But Bradley stressed the importance of having “a lot of different options from different providers” to keep prices down and guarantee patient access to the once-demonized substance that is now medicine in Florida.

Bradley frequently referred to a measure sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, that would require the state to issue 10 new licenses by October, and, like Bradley’s bill, includes a component requiring more licenses as the number of patients grows.

Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Dana Young, who referenced the other Senate measures throughout the meeting, told reporters her panel will propose a bill during the first week of April, at the earliest, giving time for the House and the Senate to hash out differences before the legislative session is scheduled to end on May 5.

The final product will likely be a hybrid of the Senate measures already filed, Young indicated.

“I do think that more licenses up front and different thresholds will be something almost certainly we’ll move to. The question is how many and what thresholds,” Young told reporters after Wednesday’s meeting.

Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for the political committee that successfully promoted Amendment 2, said Wednesday he felt “pretty good about” the Senate’s approach, in contrast with a House proposal that drew Pollara’s wrath.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, is steering a measure (HB 1397) that would, among other things, bar all but terminally ill medical marijuana patients from using vaporizers or edibles to consume cannabis products.

Young, R-Tampa, said she has not been in negotiations with her House counterparts on the issue.

“I have not had any conversations with Leader Rodrigues or any members of the Florida House on this legislation,” Young told reporters when asked. “Obviously, we have got to pass a bill through both houses, but beyond that, no.”

 

Medical Marijuana Bill Headed to Senate Floor

It’s officially “go” time for the Florida Legislature to finally reach an agreement over the future of medical marijuana in Florida.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Senate’s proposal to regulate medical cannabis, green-lighting the bill with only one “no” vote, from Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for approval.

SB 406, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, is the Senate’s idea of how Florida will regulate the state’s newly expanded medical marijuana industry after nearly 72 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment last fall.

Senators heard several amendments to Bradley’s bill on Tuesday. One of the amendments, pushed by Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach and former Sen. Frank Artiles, would add minority and veterans diversity plans for medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs).

Another amendment would require doctors to check the Compassionate Use Registry to verify patients weren’t “doctor shopping,” or seeing multiple doctors to get several prescriptions for medical marijuana.

Bradley’s bill, seen as the less restrictive measure moving through the state legislature, would grandfather in the seven current MMTCs and increase the cap on the number of marijuana dispensaries, expanding the number of businesses by five more when the state has 250,000 patients, 350,000 patients, 400,000 patients and then every 100,000 thereafter.

SB 406 would also allow eliminate the three-month waiting period and would also allow patients to increase their prescription cannabis supply from 45 to 90 days or even greater than 90 days with a doctor’s approval.

The legislation would create a coalition to research medical marijuana through Tampa’s H. Lee Moffitt Center and Research Institute, one of the top medical research centers in the state.

The goal of the coalition, according to the bill, is to conduct “rigorous scientific research,” and to “guide policy” for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for medical marijuana.

An education board, appointed by Dr. Alan List, the chief executive officer of the Moffitt Cancer Center, will adopt a plan for medical marijuana research in Florida. By Feb. 15 of each year, the board would need to report to the governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House on research projects, community outreach initiatives and future plans of the coalition in regards to medical marijuana.

Nonresidents would also be allowed to apply to receive medical marijuana in Florida as long as they are able to get medical marijuana in their home state and qualify in Florida.

Another amendment would require the Department of Health to have computer software system to track marijuana from “seed to sale,” following pot as it’s planted and distributed to patients statewide.

Bradley’s legislation has had a relatively easy time sailing through the Senate, but now the real negotiations begin to regulate Florida’s medical cannabis industry.

On Monday, a Florida House committee passed that chamber’s proposal to regulate medical pot and the bill has many provisions at odds with the Senate’s proposals.

Anti-drug groups like the Drug Free America Foundation have largely been behind crafting HB 1397 and say a more restrictive proposal is the correct way to prevent “abuse” of the state’s newest prescription drug.

The House measure, for example, includes the 90-day wait period for patients, bans edibles and vaping and also prohibits pregnant women from ingesting the drug even if their doctor suggest it.

In order to pass and become a law, both chambers will need to reach an agreement over what the state will and will not allow when it comes to medical pot.

Both bills are now ready to be heard by the House and Senate, but no hearing dates have been set.

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Canada marijuana company Aphria buying into Florida’s market

Voters take second shot at legalizing Florida medical marijuana

This year’s Amendment 2 would broaden access for diseases with symptoms other than seizures or spasms

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida voters have a second chance to approve a state amendment legalizing medical marijuana for ailments including glaucoma, AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder, after narrowly rejecting a similar measure two years ago.

The legislature in the meantime has allowed limited use of non-smoked, low-THC pot for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms, and two dispensaries have opened in the state with home deliveries allowed statewide. Delays in fully implementing the law have added to arguments in favor of legalizing medical marijuana under the state constitution.

Florida would become the 26th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize the marijuana plant for medical use. Florida is one of 16 states where only part of the marijuana plant is used.

Opponents of the measure in 2014, which failed to garner the required 60 percent of the vote, had expressed concerns that Florida would be overrun with pot shops and that children wouldn’t be adequately protected from potential bad effects of the drug.

Proponents say loopholes have been closed this time, including requiring parental written consent for underage patients and that caregivers register with the state Health Department.

This year’s Amendment 2 would broaden access for diseases with symptoms other than seizures or spasms. The measure lists 10 illnesses: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It also allows doctors to prescribe pot for any other similar kind of ailment.

The department will regulate how medical marijuana can be distributed along with mandating identification cards for caregivers and patients. Many rules and regulations — from how the marijuana is grown to regulations on how it can be transported for in-home delivery — already have been passed by the legislature under laws for limited use of marijuana. Those regulations also will apply to the constitutional amendment.

This election is almost over.  We have just over a week to go.

We have five days to raise what we can and make our last advertising purchases.

We came up short last time. We will not lose again… if we have help.

Please click here to donate to our last days of advertising… which will be matched 5x.

Thank you,

– Raymer Maguire, IV
Deputy Campaign Manager

Yes on 2
Pd. Pol. Adv. paid for by People United for Medical Marijuana, 20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1600, Orlando, FL 32801

We have two weeks to the end of this election. Early voting has started. Can you help (or help again)?

In reality, we only have 10 days left to fundraise… and we are making daily decisions as to where we target our advertising.

At any given moment, the No on 2 campaign can tap one of their big donors and try to overtake us.

THIS IS IT. We have a very clear opportunity to win—something we’ve been fighting towards for years.  We can’t let the patients down by faltering in the last stretch.

Every donation is matched five times over… PLEASE… help us close the deal by donating here.

Thank you for supporting this campaign.

– Ben Pollara
Yes on 2
Pd. Pol. Adv. paid for by People United for Medical Marijuana, 20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1600, Orlando, FL 32801

Fantastic news: Despite millions of dollars spent against us, the latest poll of Amendment 2 shows us at 74%!

This poll confirms what other polls have shown all along–voters recognize it is time to do what legislature failed to do and pass a compassionate medical marijuana law letting doctors use their best judgement for their seriously debilitated patients.

Importantly, we are showing 13% higher support than we did at the exact same point in the 2014 campaign, 18 days before the election.

Still, we can’t let our guard down. We are still advertising and will continue to do so right until the end.  

As such, we must continue to fundraise to pay for these communications.  Please make a donation here now, and it will be matched 5-to-1.

Thank you.  Onward to victory!

– Ben Pollara
Yes on 2

Florida – Vote Yes on Amendment 2 on Nov 8th
In 3 weeks, the Amendment 2 campaign ends.

If things go well, we will secure the right of doctors to recommend what’s best for their seriously debilitated patients… and remove the risk of arrest for thousands of patients and caregivers.

In order for things to go well, though, we have to communicate right through to election day—particularly to those audiences who aren’t sure or whose support is tenuous.

With more candidates on the airwaves and online than ever, costs are high.  But the stakes are higher for the patients we’re fighting for.

If you donate here right now, Barbara Stiefel will match your donation 5 to 1.

We have to keep asking. We cannot risk a repeat of 2014.  We MUST fight right to the end.

Thank you for your support,

– Ben Pollara
Campaign Manager
Yes on 2
Pd. Pol. Adv. paid for by People United for Medical Marijuana, 20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1600, Orlando, FL 32801

Medical cannabis advocates boycott Publix over donations to Drug Free Florida

Written By Emily Gray Brosious

Medical marijuana supporters call on Publix heiress to stop funding anti-cannabis campaign.

Medical marijuana advocates are boycotting Publix supermarkets after discovering the family who founded the Florida supermarket chain donated $800,000 dollars to Drug Free Florida, a campaign fighting to block medical cannabis legislation from passing in the state.

“I never thought buying groceries could be a political statement. That is, until I realized the family that owns Publix donated nearly a million dollars to a platform that I strongly oppose,” medical cannabis advocate and Lauderhill, Florida, resident Heidi Handford writes in a Change.org petition. “The money I was spending on groceries was being used to take down the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative.”

Handford says her spouse has been successfully using medical cannabis for the past 30 years to subdue a rare and painful bone disorder, and she now “feels betrayed by a corporation I used to patronize.”

“I think it’s hypocritical that Publix has no problem selling drugs like opioids, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine across their stores and pharmacies, but they use my money to dispute what numerous studies have shown: medical marijuana is medicine,” Handford writes.

Her Change.org petition asking Publix heiress Carol Jenkins Barnett to stop funding Drug Free Florida’s campaign against the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative has already received nearly 42,000 signatures.

The medical cannabis initiative, also known as Amendment 2, will appear on Florida’s Nov. 8, 2016 ballot. If passed by voters, the amendment would legalize whole plant medical cannabis for individuals with specific debilitating diseases and conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.

If the amendment fails to pass, that would mean keeping the state’s current more limited medical cannabis program, which only allows for medical use of nonpsychoactive cannabis oil by certain qualified patients.

State election records show the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust donated $800,000 to Drug Free Florida, “the lobbying group running a scare-tactics campaign to kill Florida’s medical marijuana amendments,” as Miami New Times reported in July 2016.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jenkins Barnett, daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins, was the largest Publix shareholder as of June, with ownership of approximately 5 percent of the supermarket chain. She is estimated to be worth about $1.8 billion.

Florida: Medical Cannabis Bill Headed Back To Florida Senate

A medical cannabis bill is headed back to the floor of the Florida Senate after being approved in the rules committee Monday.

The bill (SB460) was debated on the Senate floor last week but was referred back to committee because of the number of late amendments sought.

When Senator Rob Bradley introduced the bill in October, he wanted to expand the Right to Try Act to allow terminally ill patients to use non smokable cannabis of all strengths and doses. However, the Republican from Fleming Island has added regulations to resolve issues that have come up since the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act signed by Governor Rick Scott two years ago.

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Onward:

Los Angeles-based Med-X says it’s the first cannabis company to try and raise money– $15 million for a 21 percent stake — through online crowdfunding. At his site New Cannabis Ventures, the financial analyst Alan Brochstein calls the opportunity a “very bad idea” for investors. Med-X has a book value of $369,000 and no apparent sales, but has decided on $70 million valuation.

According to the company’s prospectus, “[Med-X] determined the price of the shares arbitrarily. The offering price of the shares of common stock has been determined by management, and bears no relationship to our assets, book value, potential earnings, net worth or any other recognized criteria of value.” Med-X did not respond to a request for comment.

Colorado dispensaries sold more than $996 million worth of cannabis in 2015.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would end the denial of government financial aid to students who have a drug conviction.

At The Influence, executive Shaleen Title writes that the industry needs to talk about reparations: “The marijuana industry is different from Hollywood, tech and every other industry currently struggling with a “diversity” problem. Because this industry was created by campaigns using talking points about the systematic destruction of communities of color to encourage voters to pass legalization.”

Massachusetts’ Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to the Centers for Disease Control urging research into MED as an alternative to opiods. In New Hampshire, heroin dealers could face murder charges.

A study found that smoking pot before age 16 is associated with damage in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, the area responsible for willpower, focus and planning skills. Labels warning about consuming during pregnancy will appear in Colorado later this year.

The Seattle Times introduced readers to Ian Karl Eisenberg who runs Seattle’s busiest dispensary. He’s been under fire for gentrifying his neighborhood and displacing black residents. Asked if cannabis was a moral business he said “Is working for Boeing and making warplanes moral?”

At the Super Bowl, San Francisco’s abundance of weed surprised visiting NFL dignitaries. The weekend was the biggest ever for California delivery serviceGreenRush with sales more than 300 percent above normal.

The Cannabist’s pot critic Jake Browne picked the five most stoner friendly Super Bowl ads. After the game, Denver’s winning quarterback Peyton Manning said he wanted a Budweiser.

A flurry of legislative action across the country: New Mexico may vote on REC in November. A Republican state rep filed a MED bill in Iowa. A Democrat in the Connecticut state legislature is pushing for REC. California lawmakers proposed a 15 percent tax on MED. Rhode Island lawmakers will consider a REC bill.

The Mormon church opposes MED, raising questions about whether a bill will pass in the Utah state senate. New Orleans may reduce penalties for possession. Vice has a dispatch from Puerto Rico’s legalization movement. The island territory is known for tough penalties.

A judge dismissed a pesticide-related lawsuit against LivWell, the largestgrower in Colorado, on grounds that the plaintiffs hadn’t been injured. Oregon ordered cannabis users to stop using the pesticide Guardian.
Oregon may start to allow out-of state residents to invest in cannabis companies. Like Colorado, the state currently has a two-year residency requirement.

Equities.com interviewed Dixie Brands CEO Tripp Keber.

A former federal judge asked President Obama to commute the 55-year sentence he delivered to a music producer who brought guns to pot deals. TheDEA searched the homes of two Portland-area extract factory owners.  Their facility was shut down in December for code violations.

A judge ruled that Nevada acted constitutionally when it accepted registration fees for MED cards before product was available. The FDA sent warning lettersto eight CBD companies telling them to stop making health claims about their products. One of the targeted companies has the bizarre name Morguetorium and sells products called Morgue Juice.

In an interview with Leafly, blogger and journalist Andrew Sullivan said cannabis saved the lives of many AIDS patients in the 1990s, by enabling them to tolerate heavy pharmaceutical regimens. “I found it intolerable that the government would actively prevent people from saving their own lives.” Sullivan, who’s best known as an early advocate for same-sex marriage, edited “The Cannabis Closet” a book of writings by stereotype-defying users.

Deborah Dunafon, owner of Denver-area strip club Shotgun Willie’s has opened a pot shop across the parking lot.  Meanwhile, her husband, Glendale, Colo. mayor Mike Dunafon, received an ethics complaint after voting to allow it. He was not her husband at the time of the vote, but they were living together.

Illinois Farmer Today found that local growers don’t like to discuss their work. The Cannabist published a stoner’s ski kit.

Actor and cannabis activist Woody Harrelson applied to open a MED dispensary in Honolulu County, Hawaii.

Alex Halperin
@alexhalperin
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Vote Yes On Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative ‘For Humanitarian Reasons’

Florida voters are going to see a medical marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for the second election cycle in a row. The 2016 version is different than the 2014 version in a handful of ways. The 2014 initiative lost by just 2 percent. An improved initiative, lessons learned from the 2014 campaign, and a higher voter turnout due to a Presidential election will hopefully overcome that 2 percent. Florida residents want medical marijuana, and not the version previously passed by the Florida Legislature that doesn’t really help anyone. The Editorial Board at the Miami-Herald agrees. Per an excerpt from a recently published article by the media outlet:

But this is about sick people. Passage of the amendment means patients will go to a doctor, who can recommend they receive a medical marijuana card. The card will be issued by the Florida Department of Health, giving a patient the right to buy medical marijuana at dispensaries expected to spring up across the state.

Today, 23 states already permit medical cannabis use, and three more are poised to advance similar laws this year. Florida should join the group, primarily for the sake of an ailing population that wants it available.

Floridians have sent a signal they want medical marijuana. For humanitarian reasons, voters should approve the measure this time around.
I love the compassionate approach the outlet took. A lot of media outlets will tout the business side of a reform effort, if they even support it at all. At the end of the day the United for Care campaign is about compassion, and helping sick people get access to a medicine that is proven to be safe and effective. If you live in Florida, tell everyone that you know to vote for the initiative in November!

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Here’s the news:

U.S. Legal marijuana sales climbed to $5.4 billion in 2015 up from $4.6 billion in 2014, according to a report from The ArcView Group and New Frontier. REC sales climbed from $351 million to $998 million and the report predicted sales of $6.7 billion in 2016. (The $4.6 billion in sales is a upwards revision of an oft-cited 2.7 billion figure.) The report predicts that sales will rise to more than $21 billion in 2020, with REC accounting for more than half of revenue.

The City of Denver released 28,000 infused products that it had recalled last year for pesticides. The products, made by EdiPure and Gaia’s garden contain lower levels of the chemicals than is permitted on food. This reversal comes amid growing tensions and fingerpointing between producers, regulators and testing labs over recalls. On his blog Cannabis Candor, consultant Adam Koh has written some very in-depth posts about Colorado’s pesticide problem, with tough words for the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, and its METRC database.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that heavy marijuana use can lead to reduced cognitive abilities in middle age.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucus, doesn’t support legalization but said he believes it’s a legitimate question for states to decide. This might be the only issue where the conservative Senator aligns with President Obama, who said he won’t push for legalization during his last months in office.  Unlike the president, Cruz may not have a strain named after him, but if you’re aware of one, or other candidate strains, definitely write to alexhalperin@gmail.com with the details. I’ll protect the anonymity of responders if desired.

National Geographic visited towns in the Indian Himalayas where farming families survive by growing cannabis and rolling it into finger hash also known as charas. “Nearly 400 of the 640 districts in India have cannabis cultivation,” says Romesh Bhattacharji, ex-Narcotics Commissioner of India. “It’s time for the Indian Government to stop being a slave of UN-backed policies: since 1985, cannabis use and cultivation has only proliferated. Prohibition has failed.” The photographs by Andrea de Franciscis are gorgeous.

Illinois’s Republican governor Bruce Rauner declined to expand the conditions eligible for MED, contributing to a gloomy market outlook for the state. A proposed bill in Colorado would allow dispensaries to apply for “special events permits.” It doesn’t specify whether these permits would allow selling, consumption or both, but it’s clear that food must be available.

Oregon, which does not currently allow REC edibles, might limit packages to 50 mg of THC and individual doses to 5 milligrams, half of what’s allowed in Washington and Colorado. A proposed bill in the Beaver State would allow REC dispensaries to sell MED.

Republicans in Alabama’s state legislature are urging the feds to reform marijuana laws. Three New Jersey MED dispensaries and others nationwide have had their pages deleted by Facebook. Green Flower Media, which doesn’t touch the plant, had its account closed by Chase Bank.

Toronto-based firm Jacob Securities, which had planned to raise a cannabis investment fund advised by “Cannabis Queen of Beverly Hills” Cheryl Shuman, has imploded. The proposed fund contributed to its difficulties, according to New Cannabis Ventures.

The big Canadian bank CIBC forecasted legal sales up north that could reach $10 billion annually.

Several Seattle MED business owners are suing the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board over the awarding of new licenses in the city. “The entire process is a mess,” one plaintiff said in a statement. “I am watching phantom entities gobble up scarce licenses that will put real people out of business.”

An Australian man was acquitted for driving nine days after smoking pot, which throws the existing rules in New South Wales state into doubt. He had previously been pulled over and was told to wait a weekafter smoking to drive.
A Native American church is suing the U.S. Postal Service over confiscating “sacramental” MED sent in the mail to Ohio.
Washington D.C. may license pot cafes. Detroit dispensaries will have to apply for licenses in March. The battle for Delaware MED licenses is on. Alaska’s REC rules are set.

No one knows how much water goes into growing Colorado’s pot crop, but it appears lower than the six or more gallons per plant per day that has been reported in California.

Sacramento became to biggest city in the state to allow industrial-scale growing. California named its first MED czar, Lori Ajax, who’s currently chief deputy director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department. Her Medical Marijuana Regulation Bureau is part of the ABC. California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown abolished the March 1 deadline for cities and counties to create their own MED industry regulations or accept the state’s.

Yes, cannabis companies pay taxes. CNBC also brings up 280E, the section of the tax code that the industry considers an unfair burden. Electrum Partners’ Leslie Bocskor discussed his outlook on the finance channel as well.

In a first, Colorado farm CBDRx won permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to market its hemp as organic. As a federally illegal drug, Marijuana cannot legally call itself organic, even if a crop meets all of the criteria. The CBDRx further complicates hemp’s legal status; the federal government’s definition of hemp is cannabis with minimal THC content.

The owner of shuttered Colorado business VIP Cannabis pleaded guilty to charges stemming from November 2013 federal raids. (These remain the largest federal operation ever taken against a Colorado MED business.) Glendale Colorado Mayor Mike Dunafon has been slapped with an ethics complaint for voting to approve a REC dispensary owned by the woman who’s now his wife.

The University of East Anglia’s Dr. Peter McCormick (Ph.D) did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit to discuss his research on decoupling THC’s medical use as a pain reliever from its “negative cognitive side effects.”

Authorities in Northern Ireland found a Vietnamese national who had been trafficked into the countryworking in an illegal cannabis facility surviving on canned dog food.

Leo vapes. But not at the Oscars.

Don’t drink weed lube.

Tomorrow’s Super Bowl in Silicon Valley is a marketing opportunity: at least one dispensary assembled tailgate packages that include a “medicated pizza” called Weezza.

My improving Web presence owes a great deal to Joshua Jennings or “Jodajen.” Check out his site, he may be able to help you.

Alex
@alexhalperin

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