Senate Passes Bill Allowing Banks To Serve Cannabis Business

My favorite number is three. This is now the third time the Federal Government has attempted to pass legislation which would allow banks to service cannabis businesses. As The Denver Post mused, “the third time could be a charm.” This author surely hopes so! For those who are not already aware, the vast majority of cannabis business must operate entirely in cash. A rare few are able to find a bank willing to stick their necks out and take the risk of serving a cannabis business. This is because there are laws which prevent banks from dealing with customers who they know work with illegal drugs. Technically cannabis is illegal under Federal law, set as a Schedule I controlled substance. For cannabis business who are unlucky enough to not be able to find a bank who will work with them, they must pay literally everything in cash. For those things which cannot be paid in cash, special crafty measures must be taken by cannabis business to transform cash into a check format. If it isn’t painfully obvious, carrying large amounts of cash is extremely dangerous, and leads businesses to be creative to try to mitigate their risks. Colorado has tried to move this issue forward on their own, but were held at the goal line by the Federal Government. Most people are not aware that a bank cannot operate without a certification from the Federal Government.

The Federal Government has already provided a measure of protection for cannabis business which operate in compliance with state law. It would only make common sense to allow these business access to the most basic of need of a business; a bank. Thankfully Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Washington Senator Patty Murray are making a move for a end zone touchdown run. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed their measure as an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. The measure will “forbid the use of federal funds to penalize a financial institution that works with marijuana enterprises legally operating under state laws.” Seems like just what the doctor, or in this case the banker, ordered!

Senator Murray cheered the measure saying, “This amendment is really about providing clarity, stability and security for our banks, credit unions and small-business owners who want to be able to operate in full daylight.” These business are proud upstanding members of the community, and should not be relegated to dashing to and fro carrying large amounts of cash in fear. Senator Jeff Merkley was quoted also praising the measure, “It makes no sense to have bags of cash, and it’s an invitation to organized crime, an invitation to theft, and invitation to tax evasion.” Allowing cannabis business access to legitimate banking services will ensure tracking and transparency, and ensure the long-term future of this fledgling industry.

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Not everyone is on board with this move. You can check the voting record of our Illinois Senators Kirk and Durbin on this bill. Spoiler alert!…Senator Kirk voted against this measure and Senator Durbin voted for the measure. If you are not pleased with the way they voted, take advantage of your privilege as an American and tell them what you think. Kirk was quoted sharing his thoughts and understanding of medical cannabis when he said, “We do not have too few veterans who are high right now. I don’t see that as a problem in our country.” Seems Kirk is stuck in the prohibitionist mindset and seems to think medical cannabis is a front for druggies who just want to get high, and cannabis is a drug to abuse and has no medical value. When you contact him, please try to remind him of what Dr. Tod Mikuriya said; “We should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first, that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties on the side.” Also share with him some educational sources that have been particularly impactful to you, which can help educate someone not familiar with medical cannabis about the facts on the topic. This author’s recommendations would be shows like Weediquette, which do a great job of bringing facts and a calibrated perspective to the medical cannabis discussion. Also top on my list would be The Scientist: Are We Missing Something?, which is a monumentally wonderful documentary about Raphael Mechoulam, who is the grandfather of our modern scientific understanding of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. If you live in Illinois please contact Senator Mark Kirk today to make your voice heard, and educate a Senator blinded by fear and misinformation!

Have you contacted Senator Mark Kirk and shared with him how you would have liked him to vote on this bill? What educational sources did you recommend to him? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Posted In: News

Blood Donation And Cannabis Use

Donating blood is one of the most giving, kind, and selfless acts a person can do for their fellow human. Recent events have reminded us just how important this literally life saving act really is in the big picture of life. In honor of World Blood Donor Day, Leafly did us all a favor and contacted several major blood banks and asked them directly if illegal or legal cannabis use would bar a person from donating blood. Most cannabis users are likely to have a giving spirit, as reflected in the common custom of generous sharing when fellow cannabis users circle up. So having the ability to give blood would likely be a privilege and an honor for the vast majority of cannabis users. I must admit before I discovered the truth from Leafly, my guess would have been that cannabis users are banned from donating blood. It seems the medical community’s factual understanding of cannabis leads them to not be driven by fear.

As it turns out, if you are an illegal or legal medical cannabis patient, you are in fact able to give blood, provided you’re not medicated at the time of donation. This response was echoed by three local Washington blood banks including Bloodworks Northwest, Cascade Regional, & Biomat USA, and even the American Red Cross who “is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States, collecting and processing approximately 40 percent of the blood supply and distributing it to about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.” All four of these blood banks stated clearly that they do not test for THC, but will provide the donor with a short evaluation and mini-physical to determine if they are cleared to provide blood that day. Here is what the Red Cross said specifically;

“The American Red Cross does not test for THC. Under the current medical eligibility policy set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blood donation, individuals who are currently under the influence of licit or illicit drugs or alcohol are not accepted for donation. Legal or illegal use of marijuana is not otherwise a cause for blood donation deferral. It is important that individuals do not present to donate under licit or illicit drugs or alcohol. Presenting donors must be generally healthy and feeling well at the time of donation. Potential donors should get a good night’s sleep, eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids at least two hours prior to donating.”

If you read their statement, “feeling well at the time of donation” would be a not so direct way of telling you to be sober and not medicated. During your mini-physical they will likely “take your blood pressure, temperature, and a small sample of your blood to test your iron level,” and include “some questions about your health history and places you have traveled to recently.” Pretty standard stuff for someone who is about to take your life’s essence and transfer it to someone who desperately needs a trusted source of blood. Please take the responsibility to provide a donation of good quality and follow these guidelines; eat a quality meal, have a quality night’s sleep, steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, and cannabis prior to your donation appointment.

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The Red Cross has a handy pamphlet which is a great FAQ, and specifically states their position on cannabis use clearly:

“While the Red Cross does not encourage the use of controlled substances, marijuana or alcohol use does not necessarily disqualify you from giving blood as long as you are feeling well. If you have EVER injected any illegal drugs, you can never give blood.”

If you are a legal medical cannabis patient here in Illinois, or even if you are an illegal medical cannabis patient, you are now aware that you have the ability to give blood. The theme of this year’s World Blood Day was “Blood connects us all,” so please remember the greatest joy in life is giving, and the greatest gift you could give is life, so give blood today!

Posted In: Medical Marijuana Information

The Magic Of Vaporization

Vaporizing cannabis is like smoking cannabis, but without the smoke part. By heating cannabis to a point below combustion(fire), but above the boiling point of the the oily essence, the cannabinoids and terpenes are released into a vapor form without the material actually burning. By not combusting the material, only the oily essence of the plant is transferred to the patient, leaving everything else behind. When a smoke is inhaled, it inherently contains carcinogenic chemicals, particulate, and tar, any of which may irritate the respiratory system. If you currently choose smoking flower as your method of ingestion, please switch to vaporization, as vaping has more positives and less negatives than smoking. Both cannabis flower and cannabis concentrates can, and should be, vaporized and not smoked. Long time smokers will be shocked and impressed with the quality flavor of vapor as compared to smoke, which can taste ashy and strongly bitter, especially to new consumers.

This idea of magically releasing the essence of cannabis flower without burning it may seem like voodoo at first thought, so let’s delve deeper into this phenomenon. The key is to keep a keen eye on the temperatures we are discussing. The temperature at which flower cannabis ignites into flame combustion is around 450-550°F depending on the moisture content of the cannabis, so most dry flower vaporizers will not go above 420°F. The oil locked inside the cannabis plant contains the cannabinoids and terpenes, each of which has a unique boiling point. As the plant matter increases in temperature, each chemical will hit its own boiling point and the once liquid will now depart from the leaf as a vapor. When water boils and changes from a liquid to a gas, it is changing its phase of matter in the same way the chemicals in cannabis do when heated to their boiling points. The smells of cannabis, which come of the terpene chemicals, boil off at a range of 246-388°F. The cannabinoids in cannabis boil off 315-428°F. So to be clear, vaporization happens in phases, not all at once. To properly vaporize a sample, one must ingest breaths of vapor from the sample as it heats and crosses the ideal temperature for vaporization, which will be unique to each strain’s chemical profile but be around 390°F. Keep in mind that this temperature is for both oil and dry flower. Most dab rigs will operate at a higher temperature(anywhere from 500-1000°F), but only to precipitate the vaporization of the sample all at once into a large single cloud. Dabbing connoisseurs know that the lower the temperature the better the flavor, but the risk of leaving some product behind un-vaporized increases. It’s a balance between flavor and efficiency when choosing dabbing temperatures.

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So where is this heat suppose to come from if there is no fire during vaporization? Great question! Short answer is from a device designed to hold the material, create heat by some means, and channel airflow through the material and to the user. First there is a division of the marketplace into two realms; dry-flower and oil vaporizers. Dry-flower vaporizers are designed to heat ground up flower material, and oil vaporizers are designed to heat oil. Furthermore, each of these two main categories could then be subdivided into desktop and portable sections. This review could go on for miles if we go into reviewing each vaporizer, so we will leave that to the experts for now. All of these devices create heat and transfer it to flower or oil, but depending on the means and methods, the resulting vapor will vary in taste, density, and cannabinoid content. There are many discussions on the internet about material selection, device design, and user experience. Good advice is to leverage the knowledge and experience of others before buying your new dry flower or oil vaporizer by researching both written and YouTube reviews. This author’s pick would be Storz & Bickel.

If you smoke flower, you should vaporize it instead. Why you may ask? Well first off, study after study has backed up what we have discussed already, that vaporization is “comparable to the smoking of cannabis, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking.” A close second good reason would be that you will be to choosing get more for your money. As David Casarett discusses in his book Stoned, he explains that the relative efficiency of a dry flower vaporization is simply better when he says, “[…]a vaporizer will extract about 50 percent of that THC. Compare that to about 30 percent from a joint. A water pipe is probably between 10 and 20 percent.” Almost unbelievably, smoking cannabis through a water pipe is actually more harmful in the long term than ingesting smoking without water. Paradoxically, the water removes roughly 50% of the cannabinoids, but only about 10% of particulate and tar. This leads the user to consume more smoke to makeup for the loss of cannabinoids, and in the end consume twice as many breaths and therefore around 80% more tar and particulates than if they had not used water filtration. If you consume concentrates, you should vaporize them also. This can be accomplished a number of ways, from e-cigarettes to dab rigs. If you choose a torch heated dab rig, be sure to mind your temperatures and make sure you do not go over the combustion temperature, as you will be smoking your oil, not vaporizing it. The dab experts will tell you that the lower the temperature the more flavorful the vapor.

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Cresco Labs offers a large variety of flower and concentrate products to registered Illinois medical cannabis patients. We offer concentrates sold pre-packaged into disposable vape cartridges and disposable pens. These disposable options are great for a new user or occasional vaporizer, as they are simple to operate and use. Simply put the device to your lips and breathe, no preparation or cleanup. These options are strain specific, and available from all Cresco Labs product lines; Rise, Refresh, Rest, and Remedi. Disposable pens are a great options for those who are looking for a “turn-key” solution, as these come preloaded and pre-charged and are ready to use without any accessories necessary. Disposable cartridges are great for those who are more regular users of vape pens, as you can purchase your own battery to pair with the replaceable cartridges. These cartridges can be screwed off and on easily, but the battery will be a permanent rechargeable accessory of size and style of your choice. Reloadable concentrate pens are available from a variety of manufacturers like Puffco and Kandypens, which are a wholly permanent refillable rechargeable option for the daily vaper. These pens may be best for concentrate connoisseurs as disposable options may have limited strain choices, so a concentrate pen offers the maximum potential as any concentrate of your choice can be loaded into the reloadable chamber. Furthermore these pens offer functionality not offered in disposable options like variable temperature, airflow, and atomizer options. So to be simple, go with disposable options for a trial or occasional use, but go with concentrate pens for more regular use. Medical cannabis patients can rest assured that regardless of the specific device, the method of vaporization will deliver relief quickly and with potency.

If you are looking to try vaporization, visit your dispensary today! Cresco Labs is offering several options available to patients now, including disposable pens and cartridges, wax, budder, rosin, and live resin. If you are looking for a first time trial of vaporization or you are the occasional vaper, pick up a disposable pen or cartridge today! But if you are sold on vaporization, start shopping for your dry flower or concentrate vaporizer now! Please click here and find the dispensary nearest to you!

Posted In: Science

New Research Proves Being Lazy Is Bad For Your Health…But Cannabis Is Not

Recently a group of researchers collaborated to look into the long-term health impacts of cannabis use. Their results reflected a fact that many illegal cannabis users already knew: being lazy may be bad for your health, but cannabis is not. There is a litany of studies which prove what common sense taught most of us, that being lazy is bad for your health. This new research found that the only potential negative impact to cannabis users was a higher risk of gum disease, indirectly proving that being lazy is worse for your health than cannabis. This correlation between cannabis and gum disease may not be so direct in the end, which we will go into more detail on later. At face value this proof directly contradicts the fear Ronald Reagan dumped on America in his heyday in the 80’s when he proclaimed “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” If this were true, 44% of Americans would have had their brains melted, as studies report that percentage of the population has tried cannabis at least once.

An entire generation of politicians shouted the evils of cannabis, most specifically Ronald Reagan, who confidently professed that cannabis kills brain cells. I want to believe that Reagan was not willfully deceiving the American populous, but instead overcome by fear and overly idealistic paternalistic motivations, motivated to protect his fellow citizens from what he perceived to be evil. Reagan withheld the research from which he drew his conclusion for six years, which is no surprise when you understand the quality of the work in question. What came to be known as the Tulane University Monkey Study was totally discredited when it was finally released. Without going into the full details, the study was laughed off the books because it violated the most sacred of the paradigms of scientific study. Simply put, the study did not draw a conclusion which was supported by the methodology and results. The study concluded that cannabis use causes brain cell death, which is not factually accurate. These results were drawn from data collected by “strapping Rhesus monkeys into a chair and pumping them with equivalent of 63 Colombian-strength joints in five minutes. This was inhaled through a gas mask so that none of the smoke was lost.” All this study proves is that carbon monoxide poisoning, or lack of oxygen, causes brain cell death. The scientists who conducted this study did not discuss the effect of carbon monoxide or control the results for its effect. Reagan was plain wrong, cannabis does not cause brain cell death. To the contrary, we as United States citizens all are shared owners in patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids As Antioxidants And Neuroprotectants.” This patient states that “cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” It is painfully heart breaking that Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nine long years, unwittingly preventing the medicine which could have help him the most. Today in Illinois agitation of alzheimer’s is an approved condition for legal medical cannabis.

Now back to the present and the study released last week. In this study “Researchers from Arizona State University, Duke University and the University of Otago in New Zealand performed a longitudinal study on a group of 1,037 New Zealanders. Starting at the age of 26, scientists tracked the habits and health of the participants from the age of 18 through 38.” So for two decades these individuals were tracked, comprised of a group of tobacco users and cannabis smokers, and their health analyzed and compared to glean understanding about the effects of cannabis use. Not shockingly, the tobacco users were found to have “reduced lung function, poor metabolic health and an increased risk of periodontal disease.” Shocking to those who are reefer madness minded, “scientists could not identify a statistical association between smoking cannabis and any major health problems, except periodontal health.” Those results are clear, cannabis use is not the evil prohibitionists of yesteryear would have us believe. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

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Before we depart this topic, let’s focus in on the one negative regarding the increased risk of periodontal disease. As High Times discussed, this conclusion may not be crystal clear. This is because researchers were not able to prove that cannabis was single-handedly to blame for the decline in oral health. Before going any farther, let’s just take note that cannabis is known to cause dry mouth, and dry mouth is know to lead to oral health issues. Keep that in mind next time you feel locked to the couch and the kitchen seems just too far away! Proactively staying hydrated is good for your health in too many ways to mention beyond just oral health, so drink up! This study used what is referred to as self-reporting to collect data, meaning the participants filled out questionnaires on their own and then submitted them to researchers. As we all have experienced when visiting the dentist and asked about our oral hygiene habits, we seem to have a tendency to over-report our dental health knowing we fell short, but should have done better. This is why we say yes to the dentist when they ask if we brush and floss regularly, knowing we may not have been good all the time. So if the participants of this study knew they should have been brushing and flossing but were not, they may have mis-reported their frequency in this study in the same way people mis-report their oral health habits at the dentist. This possibility for skew in the data could potentially have masked the truth that it was cannabis smokers poor oral hygiene habits which resulted in the decline of their oral health, not simply cannabis smoking itself.

Furthermore the introduction of tobacco into the mix via the classic European “spliff” (a cannabis cigarette with tobacco mixed in), will further cloud the findings. If spliff smokers report themselves as cannabis smokers only, as they likely see themselves, then they therefore would be improperly classified. It is indisputable that tobacco causes a decline in oral health, so additional research would be necessary to differentiate the influence of tobacco and cannabis in spliff smoker’s oral health. The decline seen in oral health in this study may have been unduly influenced by tobacco hidden inside spliffs. For now it seems this study may potentially indicate that cannabis use causes a higher risk of gum disease, but it is definitely is a great reminder to medical cannabis patients to brush three times and day and floss morning and night!

Posted In: Science

Infant Reduces Seizures Using Cannabis Oil After All Else Fails

An infant from Albuquerque, NM named Amylea Faith Nuñez recently returned home from the hospital. Not only did she return from the hospital, but she returned from the brink of death. Her seizures, some lasting as long as an hour, severely damaged her body leaving her unable to eat normally. Amylea suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, unable to be quelled by the entire arsenal of modern western medicine. Amylea’s mother was interviewed by local station KRQE News 13, to whom she detailed that doctors explained to her “that she [Amylea] was going to be in a wheelchair… that she would pretty much be a vegetable and never really lift up her head…and her seizures were just going to be something that I was going to have to get used to”. A prognosis like that hardly leaves room for hope.

Doctors had leveraged all their medical experience, putting to work all the medicines they had available to them, prescribing eight medications to all be taken together, and were unsuccessful in reducing the frequency of her seizures. Amylea’s doctors were left with no option but to tell her mother they could not help her, and to go home. Undeterred, her parents fought for Amylea to be treated with a controversial cannabis oil. They were likely drawing on the many anecdotal examples throughout the internet, like Charlotte Figi who was featured in CNN’s documentary Weed. Furthermore the diamond-hard evidence that GW Pharmaceuticals shared with the world recently. GW proved through a FDA blessed double-blind placebo controlled trial, known as the gold standard in disease research, that Epidiolex, their whole-plant cannabis medicine featuring CBD, is an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy. The study found that the frequency of compulsive seizures was reduced an average of 39%, compared to 13% with placebo. These findings were collaborated by Lurie Children’s Hospital, a local Chicago hospital, along with hospitals across the county. If you would like to learn more about using CBD to treat epilepsy in children watch this documentary by National Geographic, this one by Vice, or go to the Epilepsy Foundations’s website.

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Image Courtsey of WDJT Milwaukee.

After just three months of treatment with a hemp oil called Haleigh’s Hope, Amylea proudly raised her head in defiance of her doctors’ prognosis. Her mother told reporters, “It was kind of like I could tell the doctors, ‘Look what she’s capable of’ compared to them saying she’s never going to be able to hold up her head.” KRQE reported that “according to the family, at 2-months old, Amylea was the first and the youngest patient to receive this type of treatment at the hospital.” The hospital which was treating Amylea was likely open to allowing this treatment, even though it is not blessed by the FDA, because at least cannabis’s legal status is officially legal in Colorado. Doctors in Colorado were not allowed to administer the treatment themselves due to legal issues which would put them at odds with both the DEA and their malpractice insurance, but allowed her parents to administer the medicine. Cannabis grown on an industrial scale which contains less than 0.3% THC, known colloquially as hemp, can be used to manufacture products which can be sold legally inside the US. Cannabis definitely suffers from quite a quagmire of cloudy laws. Since Haleigh’s Hope has less than 0.3% THC, it is classified as hemp not cannabis, and therefore it can be shipped across state lines legally. If you are interested to learn more about the manufacturing of Haleigh’s hope oil, watch a video from them here.

Amylea is a brave pioneer, and needs the support of kind strangers to make trips from her home in Albuquerque, NM to her hospital in Aurora, Colorado for checkups. Please support Amylea and her family if you can!

Do you think doctors should be using cannabis as part of their medical arsenal? Tells us what you think on Facebook or in the comments below!

 

Title feature image courtesy of Instagram.

Posted In: News

Sitting Member Of US Congress Proudly Admits Using Cannabis Illegally For Arthritis Pain

Recently while speaking on Capitol Hill Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) proudly gushed about how he used a cannabis topical to treat arthritis pain in his shoulder. While visiting Hempfest in San Bernardino, CA the Congressman picked up a topical product infused with cannabis. He explained that he suffers from arthritis pain in his shoulder from surfing, and that he was able to receive real relief from cannabis, which allowed him to sleep peacefully and restfully for the first time in years. You can listen to just his comments here, or the entire meeting here.

Rohrabacher proclaimed:
“I went to one of these hempfests in San Bernardino…and you know what? I tried it [topical cream] about two weeks ago, and it’s the first time… in a year-and-a-half that I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, because the arthritis pain was gone. Now don’t tell anybody I broke the law…They’ll bust down my door and, you know, and take whatever’s inside and use it for evidence against me. The bottom line is that… there’s definitely cannabis in there, and it makes sure that I can sleep now.”

This admission is groundbreaking and momentous, as Allan St. Pierre, executive director for NORML, told Cannabis Radio host Russ Belville, “This is definitely the first legislator in Congress in at least thirty-some-odd years who has acknowledged to using marijuana illegally. Back in the 19-early-80s, there was a congressman, Stewart McKinney… and he and a guy named Newt Gingrich introduced a bill, and it was all about his [McKinney’s] need to use medical marijuana, even back in the 1980s.” This is really no surprise that Rohrabacher is open to using cannabis, as he was instrumental in passing Federal legislation that prevents the Federal Government from going after after cannabis companies operating within state laws, as discussed in a previous blog post.

Surely there are many desks throughout the halls of Congress with some variation of high-class alcohol stashed inside. America’s most trusted “wellness product”, widely used for stress-relief throughout the levels of society. The legislators who walk the halls have the opportunity to have first-hand experiences with fellow members who have consumed alcohol. Life is all about perspective, as they say, and so being exposed to the responsible consumption of alcohol would allow the members of Congress some first-hand experience to use as a foundation from which to build their opinion of alcohol consumption. Imagine a world in which alcohol prohibition had persisted, reefer madness-like propaganda about alcohol was indoctrinated into society, and all personal alcohol use was clandestine and underground. Surely the idea that alcohol could be responsibly used by adults would be hard for those in the halls of Congress to imagine. Without a personal first-hand experience, a person is resigned to call upon their imagination to project the knowledge they have gathered into a real-world like arena, and from there make a conclusion about their opinion.

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Rep. Rohrabacher surfing – Courtesy of Instagram

Today the members of Congress have been blessed by the courageous honesty of Rep. Rohrabacher, and now have a personal connection to a person who has received palliative relief from arthritis pain. Unlike the Anslinger era propaganda movie Reefer Madness would have us believe, Rohrabacher’s relief was not accompanied with a murderous-rage, an addiction to heroin, and the irresistible urge to jump out of a window. Hopefully this personal admission by Rohrabacher will enlighten his fellow Congress members, melting away the negative stigma of cannabis use, and be a first-hand anecdotal example that cannabis is real medicine. Contrary to more open cannabis states Colorado, Washington D.C. does not have retail dispensaries, as sale is forbidden, which results in cannabis still being partially underground. All the more reason why Rohrabacher’s honesty will give his fellow members of Congress the perspective they need to gain the ability to make more informed decisions about cannabis legislation.

Please click here and find your representatives in our Federal and State Government, and share with them the news about Rep. Rohrabacher’s success with using a cannabis topical for arthritis relief, in case they were not already aware. Also share with them how you feel about cannabis, and how you would like them to vote on cannabis legislation. Please take action, and earn the changes you would like to see in the future.

Do you think the government should take note of Rep. Rohrabacher’s success and pass legislation to require the DEA to deschedule cannabis? Please tell us how you feel in the comments below or on Facebook!

Posted In: Uncategorized

Illinois Medical Cannabis Program To Expand

Illinois politicians agreed this week on a bill to expand and extend the Illinois medical cannabis pilot program. A bill sponsored by Democratic State Representative Lou Lang was passed by the House on Memorial Day, and the Senate yesterday evening. The bill just made it through the process in time, as yesterday was also the close of the Illinois legislative session for the year. This bill, along with the bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis, now head to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature. Rauner has indicated through his spokesperson that he will sign both bills into law sometime in the next 30-90 days. The bill will become law when it is signed, but there may be some lag in the issuance of updated doctor certification forms and rules from the Illinois Department Of Public Health.  Read below for a breakdown of the changes to the program:

  • Pilot Program extended to July 1, 2020.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and terminal illness added as qualifying medical conditions.
  • Patient and caregiver cards valid for three years, instead of one.
  • Upon renewal of patient and caregiver cards, no fingerprinting is required.
  • Doctors will no longer have to RECOMMEND cannabis and the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but will simply certify that there is a bona-fide Doctor-Patient relationship and that the patient has a qualifying condition.
  • Minors who are patients may have two caregivers.
  • The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will be reconstituted, and a new procedure created for accepting patient petitions for the addition of new conditions to the program.
  • Fixes a conflict in the law that threatened the lawful gun ownership of medical cannabis patients, plus more.

Rep. Lang issued a statement praising this success; “Governor Rauner and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin deserve credit for their willingness and commitment to reform and extend Illinois’ medical marijuana program. I want to thank them for their cooperation to find a bi-partisan legislative compromise on improving a program designed to ease the pain and suffering of seriously ill individuals, including children.”

Posted In: News

Prescription Opioid Abuse Rates Drop in Medical Marijuana States

States with medical cannabis experience a noticeable dip in opioid abuse.

Data gathered by health benefits provider Castlight Health indicates that when medical marijuana is available, people experiencing pain are less likely to overuse opioid prescription pills.

In states with medical cannabis, only 2.8% of the population abused opioid prescriptions whereas in states without medical cannabis, 5.4% of the population abused their opioid prescriptions. That discrepancy represents a significant one: people in states without medical marijuana laws are twice as likely to abuse an opioid prescription.

As NORML notes, this finding is in line with what two other significant studies discovered in the last two years. In 2014, one study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that states with medical marijuana experienced less opioid overdoses while in 2015, RAND found that states with medical marijuana had less opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Considering “one out of every three (32%) of opioid prescriptions are abused”, medical marijuana certainly appears to be at least the partial solution to solving this national epidemic. Moreover, the CDC just recommended that doctors stop testing opioid patients for marijuana, a policy change that would allow these patients to use medical marijuana without worrying about losing their pain medicine and thus reducing abuse rates.

Opioid abuse in America is a vast epidemic (see: Prince) with no end or cure in near sight. Marijuana may just be the answer to at least containing this epidemic.

Posted In: News

Las Vegas Approves Medical Marijuana Billboard Advertisements

Medical marijuana has finally hit the Las Vegas strip, and that means Sin City has a new legal vice to monitor.

With legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries now a viable entity and perhaps a threat to the city’s bread and butter (casinos and strip clubs), Las Vegas must decide how visible medical cannabis should be. That answer is apparently very, very visible.

The Las Vegas City Council just approved billboard advertisements for the city’s nascent industry. That means tourists flying and driving into Vegas’ bright lights will soon be met with a sign welcoming guiding the city’s greener pastures.

Las Vegas City joins its neighbor, Clark County, as the second Nevada-based area to give the okay to cannabis billboards. But that trend is by no means indicative of the medical cannabis advertising landscape in America.

Even in states like California and Colorado, billboards for dispensaries remain almost unheard of. Dispensaries sponsor highways, but it’s rare to see much more than that.  So while a major victory for Vegas’ dispensaries on the strip, the news could portend to be even news for the national medical marijuana industry.

Nevada is a unique state in that it offers reciprocity to medical marijuana cardholders from other states. A growing number of states (four and counting) offer legal marijuana sales and fall into a similar category. These companies want to make the best, fastest, and most decisive first impression on tourists.

There is still no better way to do that than via a billboard. Despite social media and the desire to tune the world out, billboards have a cemented, intrinsic film value–just ask the film industry. When people drive into a foreign city like Las Vegas, Denver, or Los Angeles, their first impression will be what greets them high in the sky.

Likewise, cannabis does not yet have the acceptance that Jennifer Lawrence has. In fact, many new wave internet entities won’t even allow digital ads from cannabis companies. In the last year, both Facebook and Instagram have been criticized for deleting marijuana pages. Similarly, Google has faced the ire of the industry for not allowing simple advertisements to be purchased.

Those outlets still remain, at best, hazy ones for the industry to tackle. Companies even in Colorado are limited to reviews, word-of-mouth, savvy PR moves, and a few other small-time tactics.

Advertising in the modern marijuana industry still remains one of the steepest challenges all businesses ranging from dispensaries to edible companies currently face. It’s difficult to get the word out about a new company or product when you’re limited to niche cannabis magazines, organic social media, and cannabis-centric sights like Whaxy.

While the cannabis industry isn’t the film industry just yet, but it might be one of the few industries with advertise dollars to back it up. Cannabis companies have money to spend, but few outlets to spend that money; it’s a conundrum.

Recently, Vermont debuted some (pot-less) cable television commercials with people plainly speaking about the state being ready for legalization. Clearly, between the slow acceptance of advertisements about weed and the will to get the word in within the industry, the evolution is occurring.

In Illinois, we were able to place these resourceful ads on placards at bus stops, but remain limited. Hopefully more states take this necessary step in the evolution of an industry and allow traditional billboard and television advertisements to find homes.

It’s the natural, inevitable evolution of the cannabis industry, and we couldn’t be more excited to help that evolution come to fruition!

Posted In: News

Pennsylvania Poised to Become America’s 24th Medical Marijuana State

Pennsylvania’s long wait for medical marijuana will soon be over. Last week, the Keystone State’s House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 3 which legalizes medical marijuana for those with severe illnesses.

The bill is now being weighed by the state Senate which is expected to make a few amendments and then give its blessing. Thereafter, the bill goes to the governor’s desk, and Governor Wolf has stated he will sign that bill when that time comes.

The state’s patients may need to wait a few weeks to officially celebrate as the bill’s final parameters get set in stone, but medical marijuana in Pennsylvania appears to be a foregone conclusion. Likewise, that means America now has, with 24 medical marijuana states and the District of Columbia, a near even split of states with medical marijuana versus those without medical marijuana laws in place.

That number represents a clear tipping point, and as more states continue to discuss legalization (both medical and recreational) this year, those scales should tip even further of progression. It will be fascinating to see if this fact has an impact on a federal level and if America’s new president acts on marijuana reform.

In the mean time, Pennsylvania’s many patients with epilepsy, cancer, HIV, and other serious ailments will soon have relief. Like New York’s medical marijuana program, patients in Pennsylvania won’t be able to consume cannabis via inhalation. Medical relief will be offered in tincture, pill, and salve form.

While not ideal regulations, it’s a much needed positive step in the right direction for another East Coast state.

 

Posted In: News

Florida House Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

Last week, Florida’s House voted 99-16 in favor of the state’s “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” bill which would legalize low-THC medical cannabis in the Sunshine State.

House Bill 307/1413, also known as Amendment 2 and sponsored by United For Care, would expand Florida’s medical marijuana from just cannabidiol (CBD) oil (passed in 2014) to strains carrying THC for those with life-threatening and very serious ailments. The bill’s fate now moves to the Senate, which should approve the bill for a public vote in November.

That expected result would mean 60% of Floridians would have to vote in favor of the bill come November. A recent poll shows the issue is polling at 65% in favor of the bill, so the bill appears to be in good shape.

But if history is any indication, there is no sure thing in Florida. In 2014, an essentially identical bill with the same name (Amendment 2) was polling well over 60%, but fell just short of victory come election day.

Should the bill come to fruition, the same five dispensaries currently cultivating CBD-centric strains in Florida would also be responsible for growing and dispensing these low-THC strains for patients in need of cannabis’ psychoactive chemical’s medical properties. Those benefiting from this bill’s evolution include Florida’s current medical marijuana patients with severe illnesses like cancer, epilepsy, HIV, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS, Chron’s, MS, and Parkinson’s.

Like New York, Florida’s bill contains the caveat that patients may not actually inhale cannabis. Marijuana will only be consumed in capsules, tinctures, salves, and “oral consumibles.”

As is the case with many regions across America, Florida should have the chance to evolve its stance on medical marijuana come this fall and cannabis as a whole In the last year, major Florida areas such as Miami-Dead, Palm Beach, and Tampa Bay have all decriminalized marijuana possession.

 

Posted In: News

Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Program Sees February Growth

The AP reports that Illinois’ medical marijuana sales reached nearly $1.5 million in January sales, up from the $1.2 million number achieved in January.

The cause of this noticeable rise in sales is twofold: more patients and one more dispensary. The state served 3,042 patients in February, up from January’s 2,774 patients, indicating that the program’s members are becoming more comfortable with this modern form of medicine.

Moreover, the state added another dispensary to the mix, raising the total of medical marijuana clinics in Illinois to 29. That one dispensary could very well be responsible for the nearly 300 person increase in patients.

Additionally, the state sold saw a major increase in edibles and concentrate sales, as that number rose from $132,000 in January to $362,000 in February. Clearly, patients have become confident in consuming cannabis in these different, edible and hash forms.

Likewise, because of the increased sales, tax dollars collected from the sales rose from $66,000 in January to $83,000 in February. While it’s mostly good news for Illinois, the state has one mild head-scratcher: of the total 4,800 registered patients in Illinois, only 3,042 purchased medical marijuana in February.

That number means 1,508 patients who qualify for the program and are not yet utilizing the program’s medical benefits. Perhaps some of these patients live an inconvenient distance from the 29 dispensaries and will benefit when one opens closer to them.

Illinois’ nascent medical marijuana program began serving patients on November 9, 2015, and has now reached $4.4 million in total sales with the average price of a gram checking in at $14. As more dispensaries open and the industry matures, expect all of these sales numbers to continue a steady ascent.

 

Posted In: Cannabis Industry