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July 2014 | News Nuggets

LOS ANGELES

Riverside MMJ measure
qualifies for ballot but gets city pushback

Riverside initiative
supporters turned in enough signatures to qualify for a ballot on legalizing
tax and regulat

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LOS ANGELES

Riverside MMJ measure
qualifies for ballot but gets city pushback

Riverside initiative
supporters turned in enough signatures to qualify for a ballot on legalizing
tax and regulating a small number of medical cannabis collectives. In 1996, California voters approved medical use of
cannabis with unclear regulations. The city of Riverside, which now bans collectives through a zoning code, could provide a field for
medical cannabis users. Although supporters of
medical cannabis say taking away collectives can prevent ill people from accessing
much needed medicine, the opponents argue that collectives might increase crime. Only 10 or fewer collectives would be permitted by the Riverside
measure in commercial and industrial zones but near parks, schools and housing
areas they would be still prohibited.  However, not even one month after the good news had been
delivered, the Riverside city attorney filed a lawsuit to stop the county
registrar from putting the initiative before the voters. “’The lawsuit
against the registrar was filed at the City Council’s direction,’ Riverside
spokesman Phil Pitchford wrote in an email. He declined to comment on why
officials chose to sue now rather than waiting to see if voters approved the
measure,” according to the Press Enterprise.

Advocates start petition for
medical cannabis collectives in Santa Monica

A petition
is planned to be circulated for a ballot by proponents of medical cannabis in
Santa Monica to regulate collectives. The purpose of a zoning ordinance
that was filed with the City Clerk’s office is to ” have medicinal
collectives operate with reasonable regulation that mirror those put forward by
the League of California Cities and California Police Chiefs Association,”  as a notice of intent to circulate
petition states. The file came one month after Santa Monica Police Chief
Jacqueline Seabrooks called in the City Council to back State Senate Bill 1262.
The bill would put the State in charge of issuing licenses to collectives and cultivation
sites. It would establish statewide standards for physicians prescribing
medical cannabis and mandate state reviews of physicians prescribing the drug
more than 100 times a year. However, the commission voted five to one to
recommend that the council include space for collectives in the final draft of the zoning ordinance
update, because the ouncil has not taken action on the zoning code, there are
no medical cannabis collectives
within the city borders.

OREGON

 

Oregon
cannabis measure receives $100,000 donation

Major
contributions and actions have paved the way for Oregon’s qualification for a
state initiative to legalize cannabis in the November ballot. The proposed
campaign needs to collect 87,213 signatures from registered voters just to
qualify for the ballot. However, much has gone into the campaign’s efforts—it
has received its third $100,000 contribution in less than two months. New
Approach Oregon, the sponsor of the initiative, has received $100K from Drug
Policy Action who successfully financed the Washington 2012 legalization
measure. Also, George Soros who is a cannabis advocate, has spent over $80
million on legalization efforts in the past two decades. Owner of a medical
cannabis clinic chain, Paul Stanford, is creating his own legalization
initiatives: One that would protect an adult’s right to possess cannabis under
the law and another to regulate the production and sale of cannabis. These
efforts should guarantee a spot for Oregon in the November elections.

House
passes medical cannabis amendment

The
United States House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent the
federal government from interfering with state cannabis laws, but it was a
close one. The Oregon congressional delegation came through easily with all
five representatives voting for the amendment. The unanimity represented the favorability
of cannabis in Oregon, as it was one of the first ever to legalize its medical
use in 1998. It is also one of only 16 states that allows farmers to grow hemp.
The House also approved an amendment freeing states from federal interference
with its laws on growing hemp. Some states are slow on the track to free state
and individual rights, but Oregon is almost always up to speed.

ARIZONA

Cannabis
infused kitchen proposed in Apache Junction

Apache
Junction commissioners are contemplating allowing a site for the growth and
cultivation of medical cannabis. Last month, commissioners heard a request for
a permit to allow medical cannabis cultivation and an infusion kitchen
facility. The applicants are Natures Wonder Inc., whom already operate a
dispensary in Apache Junction, the facility they propose is a two parcel site
located on 18th Avenue. This facility will serve two purposes, 1.) it will be
use to cultivate cannabis plants and 2.) it will have an infusion site where
products like candies and other edibles, beverages and lotions will be
produced. According to paperwork this will be a production facility strictly
for Natures Wonder only, and will not serve directly to patients. A few concerns
from the commission are the proper agriculture use of the land, how the odor
will be contained and proper packaging. Natures Wonder will have Capital Care
Connections to manage the facilities while research is being done on how the
odor and packaging issues are being dealt with in Colorado and California.

Cannabis
to be offered to hospice patients in Phoenix

Comprehensive
Hospice, based in Phoenix, plans to provide medical cannabis to dying patients
starting this summer. “It’s a wonderful thing we could do to help our patients
be more comfortable,” Margaret King, medical director, said. The struggles were
inevitable for this hospice and its physicians, especially the approval from
the Arizona Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring
Program. It is required under law for all physicians to register under this
database to regulate their activity. King says that she is not a cannabis user,
but she is open to the idea of other forms of medicine and alternative healing.
This decision may be the stepping stone for other hospices, hospitals and
clinics to offer their patients another way to be comfortable and deal with
their illnesses.

SAN DIEGO

Medical cannabis
regulations supported by California Senate

California
is in the process of enacting a new initiative to legalize medical cannabis in
the state. The Senate Bill 1262 will not force any changes in the San Diego
City Council’s ordinance to regulate dispensaries, but it has made some major
provisions. These include: Cities and counties have the authority to impose
zoning conditions or ban shops, sales are only to be conducted at licensed
shops, the plant can only be grown at licensed sites, applicants must undergo
fingerprinting/background check in order to operate a shop or cultivate the
plant, cultivation sites must weigh all cannabis before being transported to
dispensaries and must do so again within 8 hours at the destination, and
finally, security precautions must be adhered to. County officials and
environmental/agricultural commissions are against this initiative because it
would give them more responsibility without any pay increase. This will open a
new door for Californians and deter crime rates that have recently skyrocketed
involving cannabis-related thefts and violence.

San Diego to consider regulations of medical cannabis delivery services

Regulations on
storefront medical cannabis clinics move the attention of San Diego City
Council to mobile dispensaries. However Lynda Pfiefer, representative of San
Diego’s Development Services department, said the city’s current regulations
don’t permit mobile dispensaries or delivery services in any zone, the cannabis
dispensary locator website Weedmaps.com
shows delivery and mobile medical cannabis providers in the city. “If we
were made aware of a fixed location within the city of San Diego from which a
marijuana mobile/delivery use was being conducted, we would investigate and
enforce, as appropriate,” Pfeifer stated. In April, Councilwoman Myrtle Cole proposed
that drivers making deliveries to patients’ homes from a dispensary possess a
county-issued medical cannabis identification card and documentation “that
they are making a delivery from a permitted cooperative storefront.” The
motion also proposes that deliveries originate from the storefront and be
labeled for a specific person. The City Council’s Committee on Public Safety
and Livable Neighborhoods will discuss regulations this month, in its second
meeting on the issue.

MICHIGAN

Oakland
dispensary owner contends with local police

Pete
Trzos’s undetermined future reminds us of how unstable and unreliable the
justice system and legal systems are, especially when it comes to medical
cannabis, a fairly new change that has taken some longer than usual to accept.
For Trzos, a medical degree and career is not enough to prove innocence in a
case that has taken over a year to make. Trzos’ medical cannabis dispensary and
his father’s three-story, nearly hand-built home in Keego Harbor had been
raided shortly after opening his dispensary. Police argued that the raid was
intended to catch Trzos before his attempt at an “illegal drug operation.”
Trzos’ attorney believes that the legal system has been so accustomed to
cannabis being illegal and prosecuting those in possession for so long, they
have not adjusted to the change yet. The prosecutor’s office says the law is clear—those
guidelines laid out in the statute passed in 2008 are set in stone and anything
outside those limits is illegal. But the reality is, Trzos is awaiting several
other cannabis-related cases to see where the law stands. He is unable to use
his medical license, but he plans on becoming an expert witness in the legal
system once the case concludes.

Medical cannabis advocate
group sues the city of Oak Park

The
Safer Oak Park Coalition, a group aiming to decriminalize cannabis in Oak Park,
recently filed a lawsuit against the city. The group has met all of the
requirements needed to get their proposal on the next ballot in August, but the
city is taking its time, and some believe it’s being intentionally delayed to
further the process until the April election. Andrew Cissell, an Oak Park
resident and runner for Michigan House, stated that he turned in the required
signatures for both cities, Oak Park and Hazel Park, to put the proposal on the
ballot, but only Hazel Park has been confirmed to be on the August ballot. The
group’s campaign falls under the larger Safer Michigan Coalition, who has
worked for local cannabis legalization efforts since 2011. The final stage of
the process is getting an approval on the ballot language from the state of
Michigan, then it should be in the August ballot.

WASHINGTON

Washington cannabis test lab
opens

The
first cannabis testing lab in Washington officially opened early last month.
With the growing industry, testing all cannabis for recreational use is
necessary and required in the state. Colorado has had an effective role in
approving testing labs across the country, and Washington intends to do the
same. The Liquor Control Board awarded Analytical 360, a 22,000-square foot
laboratory in Yakima, the first testing license. It has also given away 40
licenses for cannabis cultivation and processing, but intends to start
providing retail shops and other testing labs with licenses, too. Analytical
360 operates another lab in Seattle and is hoping to receive a permit for that
location as well. This could become a thriving industry for cannabis testing
labs across the state if these do well with regulations. Recreational cannabis
is on its way to a better, more useful and more innovative market.

Governors ask banks for
assistance with cannabis banking

As
cannabis legality becomes more open and accessible, cash flow is in need of a
home in Washington State and Colorado. The banks are still wary of doing
business with legal cannabis companies, despite a deal made in November.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are
battling against the banking systems in their states. The two governors wrote
letters to four banking regulatory agencies asking them to provide additional
guidance on dealing with cannabis company business and reminding them of the
deal—“to consider whether guidance would be appropriate once the U.S.
Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
commented on cannabis banking.” The major financial institutions are still wary
to pursue this path because of the possibility of backfiring. However, both
governors believe that more serious risk lies in the lack of banking because of
seemingly criminal activity “associated with accepting, storing and
transporting large quantities of cash.” Banks that start this new business will
ultimately have the upper-hand, because sooner or later, this will become a
common phenomenon. It will also make the banks prosper and companies safer.

BAY AREA

San Jose City Council to vote
on cannabis regulation

The
city of San Jose has the largest population in the Bay Area, as well as the
10th largest in the country, but it is also home to more than 30 medical
cannabis collectives. This large amount has called the attention of officials
and the city council to vote on laws that will regulate these collectives. The
vote will be on “an ordinance that would zone out most of the city’s pot clubs
and impose a ‘closed-loop’ cultivation system requiring dispensaries to grow
the drug on-site. It would also put in place buffer zones between pot clubs and
schools, community centers, homes, rehab clinics and other ‘sensitive use’
facilities.” The club owners in the San Jose area feel the proposal is a “de
facto ban” but advocates of this implementation believe it to be much-needed
after being a hidden, unchecked sector for so long. This large city can only
await the vote, but it will be unlikely to change the situation for most
medical cannabis users and distributors.

Three Measure Z cannabis collectives shut down

The city of Oakland has had an immeasurable advantage
throughout the nation’s war on drugs and cannabis debate, and has been
protected by Measure Z for the past 10 years. Passed in 2004, Measure Z puts
adult cannabis use at the bottom of police enforcement’s priority list, making
it easier and more accessible. Measure Z clubs, or speakeasies, have since
opened throughout the city with little to no interference from the police. The
measure is designed to keep cannabis out of the streets and away from children,
allowing for adult access only in a private setting. However, complaints from
local businesses, residents and parents in the past few months has set the
measure on a downhill course. Now, three Measure Z clubs have been forced to
shut down, and others have followed suit as to avoid trouble from law
enforcement. Although many have fought back, claiming to be private
establishments, the city has extended the measure’s gray area to exclude more
than it originally stated: ” . . . markets, stores, cabarets, establishments
selling alcoholic beverages, cafes and restaurants, retail outlets, stores and
other commercial establishments.” These clubs have to be more careful
until the state changes cannabis laws for all of California.

COLORADO

Locations selected for medical cannabis in Eagle County

Eagle County has finally decided on the selected locations
and businesses to approve for their state-licensed cannabis program. The
application process to become a selected license holder is tough for those in
Eagle County. The Board of Commissioners approved only eight, after allowing
for cannabis dispensaries in the county, but only six from Eagle River Valley
were given licenses, three of them saved for those currently operating. The criteria
for meeting application consists of: Being 200 feet away from schools,
residences, day cares and rehab centers, 500 feet away from high schools, an
interest to work with schools and organizations that work with children, 
submitting an employee training plan and outlining the process that they will
take in order to avoid selling to people under 21. Application ends early this
month.

Colorado to spend $10 million
on medical cannabis research

Colorado
Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill
(SB-155) that will go into medical cannabis research, funded by the

state’s $10 million medical cannabis program cash fund. The research will be
conducted to find the therapeutic and medical benefits of the drug. State
Representative Crisanta Duran, a co-sponsor of the bill, believes that
“patients will benefit from this investment and Colorado will become a national
leader in developing medical marijuana research.” The research will also
indicate who and which diseases should be added to the list of illnesses aided
by the use of cannabis. It is intended to give physicians a better
understanding about the biochemical effects of prescribing cannabis to their
patients, as well as serve the current knowledge of other state-funded cannabis
research about dosage and allow for clinical trials by the state. This will not
only benefit the medical and cannabis communities, but it could be a possible
breakthrough in finding the importance of medical cannabis and the degree to
which it works.

UNIVERSAL

Alaska makes progress on
cannabis industry

Alaskans
had the favorable upper-hand in discussing the potential flourishing business
prospects of the inevitable legalization vote come November. Around 120
businessmen, entrepreneurs and residents of Anchorage gathered to learn about
the vast number of benefits that would arise from the Alaskan vote to legalize
cannabis. Many residents who attended were not cannabis users but argued for
state rights, personal liberties, and the emergence of a new era. In the
November general election, Alaska’s eight-page initiative will call for
legalization of recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older at a tax rate
of $50 per ounce. The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will be left to
make and regulate the rules, having nine months to do so. Challenges facing
legalization: Federal law, banking, and cultural clashes. During the seminar,
speakers assessed these issues but also stated that this potential industry
will quickly overcome these hardships and make it easier once it is legalized.

Slow progress for cannabis in Israel

Meanwhile
in Jerusalem, current medical cannabis policies are being scrutinized and challenged
by the Barak Corporation. Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or sat in on
the court ruling, which rejected the petition against medical supplier Sarel
Corporation and others. Barak declared the policy invalid on the grounds that
the government did not advertise the rights that corporations would have to
distribute cannabis and how they would be exempt. The court rejected his point
by calling it “premature” as they have not yet occurred. The defendant spoke,
claiming that Barak’s wish was only to remain the dominant distributor, having
little competition and no legal drawbacks. The petition to amend current
policies did not pass, but more recently, discussions of the beneficial medical
aspects of cannabis are increasing in number.

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