FDA acknowledges benefits of CBD in public comment request

FDA acknowledges benefits of CBD in public comment request

By Nat Stein

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) wants to hear from you.

In a notice published to the federal register this week, the agency, which regulates pretty much anything that goes into your body, announced that it's "requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 17 drug substances."

FDA will then funnel those comments up the chain and out of the country, though they could come to impact domestic drug policy.

Some context: the United States is party to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a United Nations (UN) treaty meant to curb drug trafficking and abuse by restricting imports/exports, limiting use to scientific and medical settings, and compelling member nations to punish infractions of the treaty. It's like the international version of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). So, ahead of an upcoming meeting scheduled for Nov. 6-10 in Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization (WHO)'s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is gathering input from member nations' health departments to prepare recommendations for the U.N. Secretary-General, subject to a vote by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). If the UN ends up changing its drug controls, it's likely that member nations, including the U.S., would follow suit.

OK, so here are all the substances under consideration: Ocfentanil; Furanyl fentanyl (Fu-F); Acryloylfentanyl (Acrylfentanyl); Carfentanil; 4-fluoroisobutyrfentanyl (4-FIBF); Tetrahydrofuranylfentanyl (THF-F); 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA); AB-PINACA; AB-CHMINACA; 5F-PB-22; UR-144; 5F-ADB; Etizolam; Pregabalin; Tramadol; Cannabidiol; Ketamine.

Good for you if you know what half those substances are. About that last one, Time Magazine just ran an illuminating cover story on Ketamine, the party drug that's showing promise as an anti-depressant.

What jumped out to us is the FDA's description of Cannabidiol (CBD):

"Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States. CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA. At the 37th (2015) meeting of the ECDD, the committee requested that the Secretariat prepare relevant documentation to conduct pre-reviews for several substances, including CBD."

That little phrase is a big deal, since it puts the FDA at odds with another executive branch agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which (possibly illegally) considers CBD to have no medical benefit. (Medical benefit is, of course, a defining characteristic of drug scheduling that, consequently, has a major effect on criminality, health applications and scientific research.)

Many people, here in Colorado and nationwide, can attest to the therapeutic properties of CBD. If you're one of those people, and you want FDA and WHO to hear about it, you can submit a comment up until September 13.

You can do so online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail addressed to Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Apparently, all submissions must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-N-4515 for “International Drug Scheduling; Convention on Psychotropic Substances; Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; Ocfentanil; Furanyl fentanyl (Fu-F); Acryloylfentanyl (Acrylfentanyl); Carfentanil; 4-fluoroisobutyrfentanyl (4-FIBF); Tetrahydrofuranylfentanyl (THF-F); 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA); AB-PINACA; AB-CHMINACA; 5F-PB-22; UR-144; 5F-ADB; Etizolam; Pregabalin; Tramadol; Cannabidiol; Ketamine; Request for Comments.”

August 21, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
A government health agency is funding the first-ever study on medical marijuana’s impact on opioid abuse

A government health agency is funding the first-ever study on medical marijuana’s impact on opioid abuse

By Trey Williams

Researchers hope to provide evidence-based recommendations on medical marijuana that will help shape health care practices and public policies

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the first-ever, long-term study to research the impacts of medical marijuana on opioid use.

The NIH has awarded a five-year $3.8 million grant to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System to study whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain, including people with HIV.

“There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain,” said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore, in a statement. “We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much needed guidance.”

The study comes in the midst of a rising opioid epidemic and increased interest in legal medical and recreational marijuana. There has been debate over the possible use of medical marijuana as a substitute for opioids, as well as whether the drug should be legal at all.

President Donald Trump has stated his intent to tackle the country’s opioid crisis, on Thursday saying the White House would declare it a national emergency.

Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions, while vehemently opposing marijuana legalization, also rejects the idea that medical marijuana could solve the opioid crisis.

In prepared remarks for a speech back in March, Sessions said: “I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”

Albert Einstein College of Medicine says researchers have never studied whether using medical marijuana over time reduces the use of opioids, and that there are no studies on how the specific chemical compounds of marijuana—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)—affect health outcomes like pain, function and quality of life. Most studies have focused on illicit, rather than medical, marijuana, and have reported negative effects.

There are a multitude of cannabinoids that make up cannabis, the most prominent being THC and CBD. While the effects of THC are highly psychoactive, CBDs have little to no psychoactive effect. Some researchers and companies have been exploring the effects of individual cannabinoids in an effort to better understand them. Denver-based company Ebbu LLC is seeking to produce cannabis products that by extracting certain cannabinoids would give users the same result every time—whether its something to make them laugh, stay up late or put them to sleep.

Some U.S. senators took a step earlier in the summer toward easing up on medical marijuana. U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana and take steps to improve research.

“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective health care practices and public policies,” Dr. Cunningham said in a statement.

Link to article here.

August 13, 2017 by Aaron A
Cannabidiol slashes seizures in kids with rare epilepsy, study finds

Cannabidiol slashes seizures in kids with rare epilepsy, study finds

Cannabidiol, which is found in marijuana plants, reduced the number of convulsive seizures in children with a severe and often fatal epilepsy disorder, according to research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among children taking cannabidiol, the decrease in the frequency of convulsive seizures -- which involve a loss of consciousness, stiffened muscles and jerking movements -- was 23 percentage points greater than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.

The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial, which is considered the gold standard test for any new medicine.
Cannabidiol, also called CBD, is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant, which is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.

GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that is developing cannabidiol medicines, helped subsidize the study.

"After 3,800 years of cannabis use for epilepsy ... we finally have solid evidence," said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, lead author of the study and director of NYU Langone's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. His own previous research indicates that cannabis was used as early as 1800 B.C. in Sumeria to treat epilepsy; neurologists of the Victorian period used Indian hemp, which is rich in cannabidiol, for the same purpose.

Despite the generally positive results, most study participants reported side effects that included vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea and some liver issues.

"CBD is an effective drug for this type of rare epilepsy but was not a panacea (or cure-all) for these children," Devinsky said.

What is Dravet syndrome?
A total of 120 patients with Dravet syndrome, ranging in age from nearly 2 to 18 years old, were randomly assigned to receive either an oral solution of cannabidiol or a placebo for a 14-week period.

"Dravet syndrome is a severe childhood-onset epilepsy that causes multiple kinds of seizures, developmental delays, speech and language problems, behavioral issues and movement and balance problems," said Brandy Fureman, vice president of research and new therapies at the Epilepsy Foundation. She was not involved in the new study.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that disrupts electrical communication between neurons in the brain. Considered a spectrum disorder, different epilepsy syndromes are defined by clusters of symptoms or features and treated accordingly.

Existing epilepsy medications usually don't work for patients with Dravet, so "up to 20% of these children die from seizures before age 20 years," Devinsky explained.

Within the study, individual participants experienced convulsive seizures at a rate ranging from four per month, on average, to 1,717 per month.

During the 14-week study, frequency of convulsive seizures decreased from an average of 12.4 to 5.9 per month in the cannabidiol group, compared with 14.9 to 14.1 in the placebo group. On average, the change in seizure frequency amounted to a 39% decrease for the cannabidiol group patients, compared with a roughly 13% decrease among the placebo group.

Five percent of the children became entirely seizure-free during the 14-week study. Overall, parents in the cannabidiol group felt that they witnessed "significantly greater" positive changes in their children than parents in the placebo group.

However, there was a downside. Most (93%) of the cannabidiol patients reported side effects, though three-quarters of the placebo group patients did as well. Nine out of 61 cannabidiol group patients dropped out of the study, eight of them because of side effects, compared with just three of the 59 placebo group patients.

"Tiredness (somnolence or fatigue) was most common; others were decreased appetite, diarrhea and vomiting," Devinsky explained.

Based on the overall results, Devinsky believes CBD should be evaluated for epilepsy types beyond Dravet syndrome, which is caused by a genetic mutation and affects about one in 20,000 to 40,000 children in the United States.

Wayne Hall, professor and director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland in Australia, also believes the findings are "sufficiently encouraging" to warrant further research of cannabidiol that focuses on "related forms of epilepsy."

'Critically important' for the epilepsy community

"No one study decides an issue; the sample size is still relatively small (because this is a rare syndrome and so hard to study large numbers of cases) and the duration of treatment so far has been relatively short," Hall, who was not involved in the research, wrote in an email.

Still, Hall said the research, which carefully measured safety and efficacy for a "substantial" number of children, showed "clear evidence of benefits in reducing seizure frequency and severity over the duration of the trial."

Dr. Brenda Porter, associate professor of neurology at Stanford School of Medicine, said she's "glad to see" data coming out. Porter is not one of the researchers behind this study, though she too has published papers on cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy.

"Interestingly, it looks similar to our other seizure medications in terms of efficacy and tolerability," Porter said. "So, sadly, not a home run for most patients but another tool in our treatment regimen."

The marijuana plant is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Scientific researchers studying cannabidiol must meet federal security requirements and follow federal practices. Some scientists have said these federal requirements have slowed research supporting medicinal benefits of the plant.

Porter believes the study may open the door to having "more thoughtful discussions with our patients about the efficacy and the side effects" of cannabidiol. "Hopefully, the FDA will see this as a sign it should be moved off of Schedule I. If it stays on Schedule I, we will have trouble getting it to our patients when it does become available."

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Changing the schedule of a drug falls to the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Department of Health and Human Services. An interested party, such as a drug company, may also petition for the process to begin. The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse provide guidance to the DEA when reviewing scientific evidence on which to base a schedule change.

Dr. David Gloss, director of clinical neurophysiology at CAMC Health System in Charleston, West Virginia, believes the new study is "very important" because "there's a lot of people using cannabidiol for all kinds of stuff." Gloss co-authored a review of cannabinoids for the Cochrane Library, which publishes systematic reviews of medical research. He was not involved in the new research.

He noted that generating more evidence of effective use is "a good thing." Already, there is existing "medical evidence of efficacy for narrow neurologic conditions," said Gloss, who hopes that when enough evidence is available, the classification of cannabidiol as a Schedule I drug might be reconsidered and changed.

The University of Queensland's Hall believes that boundaries between medical use of cannabinoids and the recreational use of cannabis by adults should not be blurred. "If future clinical trials confirm these promising results, then appropriate regulation will enable the drug to be safely used for medical purposes," he said.

The Epilepsy Foundation's Fureman said, "before publication of this trial, much of the clinical evidence about CBD's effects on people's seizures was uncontrolled and anecdotal." She added that the new study is "critically important" for the epilepsy community, which believes a CBD-based medical product would be a first-in-class therapeutic option.

On the need for more scientific research, all these experts agree.

As Devinsky said, "natural substances are not necessarily safe and effective. They need to be evaluated rigorously."

Link to article here.

August 07, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
Should California start its own bank to serve marijuana companies? It wouldn't be easy.

Should California start its own bank to serve marijuana companies? It wouldn't be easy.

Young cannabis plants grow at a Desert Hot Springs greenhouse owned by marijuana cultivator Canndescent, one of the few cannabis firms that's found a bank willing to take its deposits. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

By James Rufus KorenContact Reporter

With recreational marijuana sales set to become legal in California next year and most banks unwilling to open accounts for cannabis companies, pot entrepreneurs are desperate to figure out what to do with their piles of cash. Now, some want the state or cities to get involved.

Over the last year, there has been increasing interest among cannabis businesses and public officials in the idea of public banks: government-owned institutions that would take deposits, make loans and, in California at least, be willing to work with marijuana companies.

Gubernatorial candidate and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for the creation of a public bank and has discussed the idea with members of the cannabis industry. This week, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson said he wants to look into creating a city-owned bank that might serve cannabis businesses.

But would it work?

Maybe, said Matt Stannard, who has been an advocate of public banking long before California residents voted to legalize recreational pot use last year.

He’s optimistic, but also warns that there are plenty of potential pitfalls.

“I’m not going to say that if you create a public bank, it's going to solve all of the marijuana industry's banking problems,” he said. “But it’s worth a try.”

Why a public bank?

A public bank is much like a private one, taking deposits and making loans. There are a few big differences:

Owned by shareholders.
Run by a board of directors selected by shareholders.
Run to generate profit and return profit to shareholders.

Owned by the public.
Run by elected or government-appointed officials.
Run to support public priorities and return profit to the public.
Stannard, policy director for Sonoma, Calif.-based advocacy group Commonomics USA, said there are a handful of potential benefits of public banks, some economic and some social, irrespective of their use by the marijuana industry.

If California had a public bank, the state could deposit tax revenue there rather than at a private bank. Those deposits would then be used to make loans.

But unlike at a private bank, those loans could be used to support state needs — such as affordable housing — and profits could be returned to the state coffers.

The Bank of North Dakota, the only publicly owned bank in the country, has paid $85 million into various state government funds over the last four years, according to its most recent annual report. It makes low-interest student loans and farm loans and helps finance local public-works projects, all priorities set by state leaders.

Newsom, in a series of tweets in May during the California Democratic Party convention, said California should develop a state bank to offer student loans and finance the construction of healthcare facilities and housing.

Stannard said the state could also make cannabis banking a priority, if for no other reason than to address the public safety concerns presented by the industry’s current reliance on cash.

“The voters of California have voted to allow recreational marijuana but, given the status quo, that’s a huge mess, and it’s dangerous,” he said. “A public bank may be the best way to clean up that mess and the best way to provide financial and physical security to the industry.”

But what about federal drug laws?

Most banks won’t knowingly work with marijuana companies because marijuana is an illegal substance under federal law. Banks are overseen and insured by federal agencies, so federal rules, not state ones, are key.

State- or city-owned banks could get around at least some of that federal oversight. At the Bank of North Dakota, deposits are insured by the state itself, not by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., taking one federal agency out of the mix.

The bank is overseen by the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions, not by federal bank examiners. Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s noted in a 2014 report that Bank of North Dakota “has no oversight from U.S. government authorities or banking regulatory bodies.”

But there’s still at least one way federal rules could block public banks from working with pot businesses: by shutting them out of the Federal Reserve system.

To be able to process checks, wire transfers and electronic payments — in other words, to interact with the rest of the financial system — banks must have an account with one of the nation’s 12 regional Federal Reserve banks. Without such an account, a bank is “nothing but a huge cash vault,” said Mark Mason, one of the founders of Fourth Corner Credit Union, a Colorado institution that aimed to serve that state’s cannabis industry.

When Fourth Corner applied for an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 2014, the application was denied, in part because of its plans to focus on the marijuana businesses. The credit union sued, arguing it was entitled to an account, but a federal district judge sided with the Kansas City Fed.

The credit union appealed and it now appears Fourth Corner will be able to get an account — but only if it pledges not to work with cannabis businesses. Mason said the credit union’s plan for now is to serve marijuana advocacy groups and perhaps businesses that are connected to the industry but that don't grow or sell cannabis.

There has been no firm ruling on the key issue in the case: whether a financial institution that plans to work with cannabis companies will be able to get a Fed account. Stannard said public officials and cannabis entrepreneurs pushing for public banks should be aware of this, though it shouldn’t stop them from proceeding.

“It is not a settled question,” he said. “There are legal barriers still. But our position is it’s a battle worth fighting.”

He also suggested that the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the central bank for California and eight other western states, may take a different approach than its counterpart in Kansas City. What’s more, he suggested California’s size could allow it to succeed where Fourth Corner failed.

“There’s a big difference between an application from a tiny credit union and an application from the sixth-largest economy in the world,” he said.

How long are the odds?

If California, Los Angeles, Oakland or any other jurisdiction in the state successfully creates a public bank, it would be the first to do so in the United States in nearly a century.

A handful of states had their own public banks in the 1800s, but now the Bank of North Dakota is the only one remaining — and its origins have a parallel in the current public-bank movement.

The Midwestern bank was created in 1919 at the behest of wheat farmers who felt they were being overcharged by banks in Chicago and Minneapolis. Today, the cannabis industry feels mistreated and is pushing for a public option.

“This industry has been shut out of traditional banking systems in California, creating a catalyst for us to take up the public-banking question,” said gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer John Chiang, who has said he is interested in public banks but has not endorsed the idea.

He leads a group of regulators and cannabis industry representatives trying to bring the industry into the mainstream. Public banking will be the focus of the group’s next meeting, to be held in Los Angeles next month.

There’s also the notion that a public bank could provide loans that private banks are less interested in making.

“Imagine … a bank where its vision statement is to finance the building of affordable housing,” Wesson said in a speech Tuesday. “Imagine if we had a bank that is focused on working with small business entrepreneurs to give them loans.”

There have been campaigns for public banks for years in other states and cities, especially in the wake of the financial crisis, but they haven’t gone anywhere. A 2012 California Assembly bill calling for the creation of something approaching a state bank never made it to a vote.

In Massachusetts, the state Legislature in 2010 called for a study on the feasibility of creating a state bank. The resulting report recommended against such an institution, finding that the state would have to borrow billions of dollars to set up the bank and that depositing public funds in such a bank could put taxpayers at risk.

That, Stannard said, is how most public banking campaigns die.

“It’s always a question of political will,” he said. “You have public officials who are risk averse, and the safest thing to do is nothing.”

Even if the idea moves forward, creating a public bank could take years.

Dan Newman, a spokesman for Newsom’s campaign, said the lieutenant governor is open to the idea of a public bank that would work with cannabis companies, but said such an institution is not “a short-term answer or an immediately scalable option.”

And, of course, there’s the banking lobby. Private banks and their trade groups would probably fight the creation of a public bank, on the grounds that a public institution could have an unfair competitive advantage, said Simone Lagomarsino, chief executive of the California Bankers Assn.

“Who’s going to regulate the bank? Who’s going to examine it? If it loses money, are taxpayers OK with absorbing a loss? These are questions our bankers would be asking,” she said.

Link to article here.

August 02, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
Marijuana Access For Veterans Hinges On Upcoming House Vote

Marijuana Access For Veterans Hinges On Upcoming House Vote

By Steve Birr

The future of marijuana treatment for America’s veterans rests on an upcoming vote in the House of Representatives that will determine if they can be granted medical access.

The House Rules Committee will convene Monday to determine whether the Veterans Equal Access amendment can be offered for inclusion in the appropriations bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon is hoping bipartisan support for the amendment, which opens up access to medical marijuana for veterans through VA hospitals, can help get it out of the committee and onto the House floor for full debate, reports Military.com.

The amendment successfully passed in the House last year after failing to garner enough support in 2014 and 2015, however budget negotiations in the Senate stripped the measure from the final appropriations bill. The amendment allows VA doctors to recommend marijuana as a treatment option in states with medical legalization and sign the necessary paperwork to ensure the patient can get access.

“All we’re trying to do is make conversations between veterans and their VA providers about all treatment options more accessible,” Blumenauer told Military.com. “We have Republicans, Democrats, and veterans behind this effort. Our hope is that the Rules Committee will take note of the overwhelming bipartisan support for this amendment, show compassion for our veterans, and give us a vote.”

Proposals to loosen federal restrictions on marijuana and open up access to cannabis products for veterans are also gaining bipartisan traction in the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Veterans Equal Access amendment for the VA appropriations bill July 13.

Building bipartisan momentum for marijuana issues concerning veterans comes on the heels of American Legion, a veterans group with more than 2 million members, formally launching a campaign in May advocating the government open access to the substance for returning service members. It is unclear if the Trump administration, which has been adversarial towards legal pot, will support these efforts.

The current federal classification of marijuana greatly restricts the ability of researchers to study the medical application of cannabis with federal funding. It also prevents doctors at the VA from discussing marijuana for treatment, even if it can cut down or replace a patients daily intake of opioid painkillers.

Link to original article here.

July 24, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
States Keep Saying Yes to Marijuana Use. Now Comes the Federal No.

States Keep Saying Yes to Marijuana Use. Now Comes the Federal No.

Marijuana plants in a grow house and dispensary in Quincy, Mass. Voters in the state approved a law to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Credit Adam Glanzman for The New York Times


In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for conservatives, last year’s elections also yielded a win for liberals in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.

A task force Mr. Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.

That has pitted the attorney general against members of Congress across the political spectrum — from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey — who are determined to defend states’ rights and provide some certainty for the multibillion-dollar pot industry.

“Our attorney general is giving everyone whiplash by trying to take us back to the 1960s,” said Representative Jared Huffman, Democrat of California, whose district includes the so-called Emerald Triangle that produces much of America’s marijuana.

“Prosecutorial discretion is everything given the current conflict between the federal law and the law of many states,” he said in an interview last month.

In February, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said the Trump administration would look into enforcing federal law against recreational marijuana businesses. Some states are considering tougher stands: In Massachusetts, for example, the Legislature is trying to rewrite a law to legalize recreational marijuana that voters passed in November.

Around one-fifth of Americans now live in states where marijuana is legal for adult use, according to the Brookings Institution, and an estimated 200 million live in places where medicinal marijuana is legal. Cannabis retailing has moved from street corners to state-of-the-art dispensaries and stores, with California entrepreneurs producing rose gold vaporizers and businesses in Colorado selling infused drinks.

Mr. Sessions is backed by a minority of Americans who view cannabis as a “gateway” drug that drives social problems, like the recent rise in opioid addiction.

“We love Jeff Sessions’s position on marijuana because he is thinking about it clearly,” said Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman for Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.

He dismissed the idea of recreational drug use. “‘Recreational’ is a bike ride, a swim, going to the beach,” he said. “Using a drug to put your brain in an altered state is not recreation. That is self-destructive behavior and escapism.”

Marijuana merchants are protected by a provision in the federal budget that prohibits the Justice Department from spending money to block state laws that allow medicinal cannabis. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department did not interfere with state laws that legalize marijuana and instead focused on prosecuting drug cartels and the transport of pot across state lines.

In March, a group of senators that included Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, asked Mr. Sessions to stick with existing policies. Some lawmakers also want to allow banks to work with the marijuana industry and to allow tax deductions for business expenses.

Lawmakers who support legalizing marijuana contend that it leads to greater regulation, curbs the black market and stops money laundering. They point to studies showing that the war on drugs, which began under President Richard M. Nixon, had disastrous impacts on national incarceration rates and racial divides.

In a statement, Mr. Booker said the Trump administration’s crackdown against marijuana “will not make our communities safer or reduce the use of illegal drugs.”

“Instead, they will worsen an already broken system,” he said, noting that marijuana-related arrests are disproportionately high for black Americans.

Consumers spent $5.9 billion on legal cannabis in the United States last year, according to the Arcview Group, which studies and invests in the industry. That figure is expected to reach $19 billion by 2021.

A Quinnipiac University poll in February concluded that 59 percent of American voters believe cannabis should be legal. Additionally, the poll found, 71 percent say the federal government should not prosecute marijuana use in states that have legalized it.

“This is part of a larger set of issues that the country is wrestling with right now, where a very strong-willed minority is trying to impose its value system on the country as a whole,” said Roger McNamee, an industry investor.

But marijuana businesses are bracing for a possible clampdown.

“People that were sort of on the fence — a family office, a high-net-worth individual thinking of privately financing a licensed opportunity — it has swayed them to go the other way and think: not just yet,” said Randy Maslow, a founder of iAnthus Capital Holdings. The public company raises money in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon and a co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, is urging marijuana businesses not to be “unduly concerned.”

“We have watched where the politicians have consistently failed to be able to fashion rational policy and show a little backbone,” he said. “This issue has been driven by the people.”

Link to article here.

July 17, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
Happy 710! Celebrating National Dab Day

Happy 710! Celebrating National Dab Day

By Lisa Rough

Most people who are familiar with cannabis recognize 4/20, either via its definitive history or the myths surrounding it. The number "420" has roots in cannabis more than 30 years deep, but a more recent cannabis holiday is taking the cannabis community by storm: 7/10, also known as Oil Day or, more affectionately, Dab Day.

July 07, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
People Line Up to Buy Recreational Marijuana in Nevada

People Line Up to Buy Recreational Marijuana in Nevada

Getty Images

A customer pays for cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary on July 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


By Daniel Politi of Slate

Hundreds of people lined up in the middle of the night to be among the first to buy legal marijuana in Nevada, which became the fifth state to allow recreational sales on Saturday morning. Tourists and locals alike were in the often-long lines celebrating the first sales that came after voters in Nevada approved legalization in November.

Now anyone who is 21 and older can buy up to an ounce of marijuana in Nevada. And while tourists are expected to make up a big percentage of the customers, marijuana can only be consumed in a private home. That’s why dispensaries seem to be banking on the popularity of edibles, particularly in Las Vegas.

Customers line up outside Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary as they wait for the midnight start of recreational marijuana sales to begin on June 30, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nevada is now the fifth state—after Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska—to fully regulate and tax the recreational marijuana market. Three other states—California, Maine, and Massachusetts—also approved legalization of marijuana last year but they have yet to implement the legal sales.

Supporters of legalization say Nevada is set to take in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue on the sales. “The shows, the gambling, the drinks … now legal pot,” a 26-year-old visitor from Chicago who bought marijuana at a dispensary a block away from the Strip told the Los Angeles Times. “Who wouldn’t want to come visit?”

Link to article here.


July 02, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
Best marijuana edibles: Valhalla awaits you with infused gummy candies

Best marijuana edibles: Valhalla awaits you with infused gummy candies

By Oscar Pascual on June 15, 2017

Put the bears and worms to rest and move up to a line of gummy candy for grownups made by Valhalla Confections.

Valhalla has taken a childhood pleasure and transformed it into a delicious cannabis-infused treat for adults. The California-based company handcrafts all their products using organic, gluten-free ingredients such as fair trade non-GMO sugar to create these mouthwatering delights. The Kosher gelatin used in these treats also provides added health benefits that can improve metabolism and reduce inflammation.

The same quality and care also applies to the flowers Valhalla uses to make their gummies. Their vibrant cannabis strains are locally sun grown and sustainably farmed, and the name of each specific strain used is stamped on the packaging so consumers know exactly what they’re getting. Valhalla’s Blue Dream and Sour Diesel strains are used to medicate their tangerine-flavored sativa gummies, while OG Kush and DMC is used for their sour watermelon indica flavor. Not to be outdone, their CBD flower Cannatonic is infused within a 2:1 CBD to THC flavor called “Tropical Twist.”

Patients using Valhalla can rest assured knowing that Valhalla’s dosing is consistent and precise, as all products go through rigorous testing from some of the most respected laboratories in the cannabis industry. Each pack of indica and sativa gummies come with six 10mg doses, while the Tropical Twist flavor comes with six individual doses of 60mg CBD and 30 mg THC.

Valhalla’s frequent testing standards also ensures that all their products are free of pesticides and fungus.

Link to review here.

Link to order Valhalla's here.

June 25, 2017 by Harvest Bloom
Feds seize product meant to keep marijuana away from kids

Feds seize product meant to keep marijuana away from kids

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

Posted on Jun 17, 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Los Angeles has seized a Colorado company’s shipments of a product intended to keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

CBP took a shipment of 1,000 storage cases en route from California to Stashlogix of Boulder, Colo. on April 28 of this year. Stashlogix designed the boxes and was importing them to sell to marijuana, tobacco and pharmaceutical consumers stateside. The product was being sold to people who had children and wanted to keep drugs safely locked up and out of reach.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in eight states plus Washington, D.C., and medical use is authorized in 21 additional states. But it remains illegal for all purposes under federal law. In the view of CBP, Stashlogix’s containers are “drug paraphernalia,” even though everyone involved acknowledges the product is aimed at preventing drug use by children.

The case highlights the ever-growing disconnect between permissive state laws and restrictive federal policies on marijuana use. And it underscores how the strict application of decades-old federal drug rules can, at times, increase the risks of marijuana use in places where it’s already legal.

Back in 2014, the burgeoning legal marijuana industry had a problem. The nation’s first recreational pot shops opened in Colorado that year, selling not just the plant itself but all manner of sweet and savory snacks infused with it. That brought a raft of news reports about the dangers of children accidentally ingesting marijuana products.
The actual risk to kids was generally overstated. But it was nevertheless true that new marijuana products were flooding the market. Consumers didn’t have much experience with them. And many of them were in the form of sweet edible products, palatable to children, dogs, grandparents and anybody else who might happen to be walking by.

Surveys indicate that over half of current marijuana users nationwide are parents. But only 11 percent of them actually lock up their pot.

“People didn’t have ways to safely store these items out of reach of kids, other than up on shelves or in sock drawers,” Skip Stone, a former civil engineer in Boulder, said in an interview. So in 2014, he and a partner launched a company called Stashlogix, creating cases and containers “for the storage and transport of medicine, tobacco & other stuff.”

The company’s most popular product: Small, lockable cases complete with tiny jars and odor-neutralizing inserts. “People love the product,” Stone said. “They use it for all sorts of things, but cannabis is definitely one of them. They keep it locked, they feel safer, they feel more responsible.”

Things were going great. Business was brisk and Stone hired three employees. But it all came crashing to a halt a few months ago, when he received the customs notice in the mail.

This is to officially notify you that Customs and Border Protection seized the property described below at Los Angeles International Airport on April 28, 2017,” the letter read. The agency had seized 1,000 of Stone’s storage bags, valued at $12,000. CBP said the bags were subject to forfeiture because “it is unlawful for any person to import drug paraphernalia.”

In a separate letter explaining the ruling, CBP acknowledged that “standing alone, the Stashlogix storage case can be viewed as a multi-purpose storage case with no association with or to controlled substances.” However, it noted that the storage cases come with an odor-absorbing carbon insert that could be used to conceal the smell of marijuana.

U.S. drug paraphernalia laws are written extremely broadly, allowing authorities to consider not just the products themselves but also how the products are being used in the real world. The CBP letter goes on to cite favorable reviews of the storage case on blogs like the Stoner Mom and the Weed Blog, indicating that marijuana consumers use the cases to store their pot at home.

In sum, according to CBP, the evidence suggests “that there exists one consistent and primary use for the Stashlogix storage cases; namely, the storage and concealment of marijuana.” That’s legal justification for keeping the cases out of the country even if the product’s purpose is to conceal marijuana from children and lock it out of their reach.

Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for CBP, said in an email that the agency can’t discuss the specifics of this case, but added that they are required by law to seize and forfeit drug paraphernalia.

The ruling has turned Stone’s business upside down. In addition to the $12,000 lost in the blocked shipment, Stone said he has an additional $18,000 in product overseas that has to be declared a loss because he can no longer get it shipped to Colorado. The financial difficulties imposed by the ruling have caused him to lay off all three of his employees.

Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said the incident is “incredibly frustrating” and counterproductive. “The whole point of this product is to minimize harm to [children] that we’re trying to protect,” she added.

At the moment, Stone is appealing the ruling. He is also trying to find a stateside manufacturer for his cases, as Customs can’t block shipments of goods produced domestically. Theoretically some other federal agency, like the Drug Enforcement Administration, could still interfere with that production. But the DEA hasn’t traditionally placed a high priority on paraphernalia cases (with one high-profile exception).

“It’s going to take an act of Congress to clear up some of these contradictions between state and federal law,” he said. “These paraphernalia laws are outdated. Keeping kids safe should be more important than outdated regulations.”

Article link here.

June 18, 2017 by Harvest Bloom


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