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Liable Luncheon

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On June 11 in Yakima, a Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce luncheon was held that was called “State of the County.” The meeting addressed various county issues and was attended by all three Yakima County Commissioners, two state legislators and all candidates for county commissioner.

The $30 luncheon may seem benign, but Elizabath Hallock, owner of Sweet Relief Cannabis Boutique in Yakima and candidate for the 14th Legislative District House seat, disagreed. Hallock, whose background is in law, filed a lawsuit against the Yakima County Commissioners alleging that they violated Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

The commissioners discussed several issues pertaining to Yakima County policies at the meeting. These topics included cannabis, water rights and a new large infrastructure project. One of the subjects up for discussion was whether or not commissioners would seek another advisory vote on cannabis. On Nov. 7, 2017 voters passed an advisory vote to ban cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas. Each commissioner in attendance verbally stated that they would not seek a second advisory vote, according to attendees. Several notable Yakima County cannabis business owners were not in attendance or aware of the meeting.

According to Hallock, the luncheon failed to comply with the OPMA on several grounds. The first procedural requirement, according to the OPMA, is that “all meetings must be open to the public.” By charging $30, Hallock alleges that this meeting was not open to the public, but restrictive to non-members of the chamber who couldn’t afford to attend.

The second procedural requirement of OPMA reads, “a member of the public may not be required as a condition of attendance to register his or her name or other information, or complete a questionnaire, or be required to fulfill any other condition to be allowed to attend.” Hallock also alleges that this requirement was violated, due to the fact that all chamber luncheons require registration upon entrance.

Finally, special meetings, which Hallock alleged this chamber meeting qualified as, require that: “notice of the special meeting be ‘prominently displayed’ at the main entrance of the agency’s principal location, and at the meeting site if the meeting will not be held at the agency’s principal location; and posted on the agency’s website,” according to the OPMA.

There was no indication at the chamber meeting that this particular luncheon was a public meeting, according to Hallock. No sign was displayed on the door, and the meeting was not listed on the commissioner’s website, where public meetings would normally be listed. The commissioners claim that it was listed on their calendar.

So what defines a meeting, special or otherwise? According to the OPMA, “joint meetings—regular or special—of two or more county legislative authorities may be held in the county seat of a participating county if the meeting agenda includes an item or items that ‘relate to actions or considerations of mutual interest or concern to the participating legislative authorities.’” According to Hallock, a special meeting is defined as any meeting that is held in addition to the County Commissioners’ regular meetings, which are held every two weeks.

“This isn’t about money. This is about open government.” Hallock told CULTURE. “What I want to see, is the State of the County being held at a time people can attend, and make it free and open to the public. Because it’s so important.”

Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita declined to comment to CULTURE due to the ongoing nature of the lawsuit. Leita previously told the Yakima Herald that he did not believe the meeting violated OPMA because no official vote was held. Yakima County Commissioner Ron Anderson also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is currently in settlement negotiations. If Hallock wins, she has pledged to give her award to the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan group aimed at voter registration.

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Europe Cannabis Testing Market Expected to Reach $770 Million By 2027

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The European cannabis testing market is expected to grow to a little over $770 million USD from $431.58 million in 2019. The market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2027.

A new report, “Europe Cannabis Testing Market to 2025 – Regional Analysis and Forecasts by Type ; Services ; End User and Country,” outlined the growth of the industry to 2025. The growth of the market can be attributed to the European government funding cannabis research for doctors as well as the increasing demand for researching cannabis quality. The report mentions non-medical uses of cannabis and problems with CBD oil products are likely to have a negative impact on the growing market.

The European cannabis testing market is split into three segments: testing laboratories, drug manufacturers and research institutes. In 2019, the testing laboratories held the largest share of the market and is expected to continue growing due to testing performed in the reference labs for various diseases.

In February 2019, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) passed a joint resolution supporting medical cannabis. The resolution allows doctors to use their best judgment in prescribing cannabis-based medicines, and calls on MEPs to address barriers that prevent cannabis research. The aim is to clearly distinguish between what is considered medical-use cannabis and what is considered non-medical.

Currently, there are no countries in the European Union that allow smoking cannabis or home-growing for medical purposes. The World Health Organization has previously recommended that CBD should not be classified as a controlled substance. The European Union has already approved a CBD-based medicine that helps treat severe seizures.

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Retired Jamaican Sprinter Opens Medical Cannabis Dispensary

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Former Olympic sprinter Michael Frater has opened his own medical cannabis dispensary. Frater said a personal injury led him to opening 4/20 Sports Therapeutic Bliss in Kingston, Jamaica.

Frater represented Jamaica for over a decade and was a part of the 2012 London Olympics team that set the world record in the 4 x 100 meter relay. However, knee problems over the past five years have caused him to retire. Frater said he tried cannabis oil to treat his bad knee and felt the difference within a month.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential,” Frater said.

A previous study found a link between cannabis athletes using cannabis as a means of recovery or treat pain. The study found a combination of THC and CBD was the most beneficial in providing well-being and calming factors in athletes, as opposed to just CBD on its own.

Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange, attended the opening ceremony and helped cut the ribbon. Also in attendance were Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda and former teammate Asafa Powell. Grange also urged other Jamaican athletes to get involved with business in Jamaica.

“What is important about what you are doing is that you are not just an athlete who at the end of your active career, sit down, fold your arms and wait for something to happen, you have set an excellent example for others to follow,” Grange said. “I always knew that you were special. There was a group of you during your era of active running that I considered special athletes.”

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Nebraska Senator Introduces Medical Cannabis Bill

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The Nebraska Senate recently introduced a new bill that would legalize medical cannabis in the state.

Introduced by Senator Anna Wishart on January 15, the bill (LB474) would pick up where a previous November 2020 ballot initiative failed. Wishart herself worked on an attempt to collect signatures for ballot consideration. They collected 190,000 signatures and only needed 120,00 but the initiative was still rejected by the Supreme Court for a technicality. The court claimed it violates single-subject rules.

“The ballot initiative was not about medical marijuana, because it was not going to be prescribed by a doctor. It was not going to be distributed through a pharmacy,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts when the bill failed. “It wasn’t a real medical thing.”

Wishart hopes that her newest bill will help residents gain access to cannabis. “[Friday] I introduced another bill, LB474, to legalize medical cannabis,” said Wishart. “I do this to honor the Nebraskans I have met along this long and winding journey. They deserve representatives who will show up and go the distance for positive change that improves the lives of families in our state no matter how many challenges are met along the way.”

Parents such as Crista Eggers are frustrated that the ballot measure was not considered back in November, as she was hoping for medicine to treat Colton, her six-year-old son. Colton has intractable epilepsy and so far hasn’t found any medicine that helps treat his condition. Under the current law, he can’t try cannabis-based medicine. “So many people were counting on that, people that didn’t have time to wait,” Eggers said.

She also expresses that, as excited as she is, she is also wary of getting too excited. “It’s exciting and we’re hopeful,” she continued. “I think more hopeful than we’ve ever been, but it also comes with that feeling of, ‘Why are we here again?’ We should be doing, as a state, everything we can to help those who are in need. This fight isn’t just for Colton. Our first has become for all those individuals who so desperately need an option.”

“On the journey to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska, I have met so many brave people that inspire me,” said Wishart about her strong desire to legalize. “Veterans who have lost limbs in war serving our country, cancer survivors who have beaten all odds, people with debilitating pain who refuse to give up, and kids like Colton who suffer from seizures at such a young age and still show up to their life with a smile. All of these Nebraskans deserve the right to access a plant-based medicine that has evolved with humans for over 10,000+ years. None of them should be treated like criminals in our state.”

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