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Michael J. Fox Foundation Strongly Urges Support of Medical Cannabis Research

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The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) asserted its support of increased access to cannabis for the purpose of medical research. In addition, the foundation is promoting three specific cannabis reform bills that would eliminate barriers to research.

The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, or H.R. 601, would increase pathways to cannabis research, most notably for Parkinson’s disease. The VA Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, or H.R. 712 and S. 179 in the Senate, would increase access to medical cannabis for veterans. The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act, or H.R. 4322 and S. 2400 in the Senate, would reclassify cannabis at the federal level. MJFF specifically joined the Parkinson’s Foundation to send letters of support for The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act.

“Removing barriers for medical cannabis is one way in which Congress can help scientific researchers determine what the benefits of medical cannabis might be for Parkinson’s disease,” said Thompson, senior vice president of public policy for MJFF. “Our role on the public policy team is to work with Congress and the administration to ensure there is access and funding for research and care initiatives that can benefit people living with Parkinson’s and, right now, that includes access to medical cannabis for research.”

Impressively, MJFF also sent a letter to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2018 to urge the government to reschedule cannabis. Last June, MJFF also sent a letter to the FDA again urging global cannabis reform through the World Health Organization. A third letter was sent to the FDA urging improved quality of labeling and safety.

Fox himself rarely talks about medical cannabis in the public eye, but has signaled support for the reclassification of the plant. On Oct. 17, MJFF’s Third Thursday live webinar informed viewers about medical cannabis and other alternative therapies. The webinar can be watched on demand after the live event.

 

 

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Arizona Dispensaries Can Now Apply to Sell Cannabis

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Just months after voters approved Proposition 207 in November 2020, Arizona’s cannabis program is now poised to approve applications for dispensaries.

At last count, 40 out of the 131 medical cannabis dispensaries in the state have applied to sell recreational cannabis. “We are reviewing the applications in order,” said Arizona Department of Health Services Spokesperson Steve Elliott. “The pace of individual approvals will depend on whether each application is complete.”

“This has been a long journey. And, today is a big day for all of us,” said Lilach Mazor Power of Giving Tree, a Phoenix dispensary that is applying to sell recreational cannabis. “Today marks the day that we’re this much closer to be able to share our experience with others.”

There has been some concern in the past about the $25,000 fee associated with the licensing process, but Demitri Downing of the Arizona Marijuana Industry Association feels that the fee will more than pay off for those who are able to enter the industry. “If you gave me a suitcase full of cash with $15 million, I would have trouble buying you a license,” Downing said. “Everybody’s waiting for that license to be worth 17, 18, 19 million dollars for the right alone—the right alone—to sell adult-use marijuana.”

Currently, only existing medical dispensaries are eligible to sell recreational cannabis. The state will eventually expand the recreational program after all the already established dispensaries have had a chance to apply, and many are hopeful that it won’t be long before these initial licenses are processed. “Seeing how easy and smooth the application is and how Arizona is on top of it…I think we can say between 48 hours from now. It depends on how long it takes them,” Power said.

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Jay-Z Launches Fund for Minority Cannabis Business Owners

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Rapper and record producer Jay-Z recently opened an investment fund to assist minority cannabis business owners who are trying to get into the cannabis industry.

The fund is the result of Jay-Z’s drive to help Black people get the opportunities they deserve. Minority groups have been largely kept out of the cannabis industry due to bearing the brunt from the War on Drugs, and instead, wealthy, white investors have taken hold. “We were the ones most negatively affected by the War on Drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions,” Jay-Z told the Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to do something in a real, concrete way, where I do my part.”

While the industry is growing fast, even despite the ongoing pandemic, black people still have trouble accessing the market due to the fact that they were, and in some places still are, more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis. Currently, the industry is still 81 percent white, with only 4.3 percent of business owners being Black, according to a 2017 Marijuana Business Daily survey.

In order to create the fund, Jay-Z acquired two cannabis firms based in California: Left Coast Ventures and CMG Partners. Under the heading of Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp., the goal is to fund “Social Equity Ventures” starting with $10 million, and adding in two percent of net income each year to grow the fund.

In addition to this, the money that companies will receive will be significant. The plan is to invest up to $1 million in each cannabis startup it supports. Jay-Z will run the fund along with Desiree Perez, the CEO of Roc Nation, his entertainment company.

Of course, great financial backing or not, one single fund can’t back all the minority business owners and bring full equity to the industry overnight, but the future holds a lot of opportunity for minority groups trying to get into the industry.

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Strain of the Week: Orange Cookies

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January is known for a few things. First, New Year’s resolutions (that tend to fade in interest after about 30 days), second is honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and of course, third is the annual return of Girl Scout Cookies. Having been in the cookie business since the 1920s, the Girl Scouts have consistently built up a cookie empire to help break countless Americans from their lofty goals of eating healthy and losing weight. This year, the organization unveiled a new cookie, called “Toast-Yay!” that offers a crunchy cinnamon flavor inspired by arguably the best breakfast foods—French Toast. While the hype for cookies is ever present, the year-long obsession with cookies-related strains is hard to beat.

There are numerous strains that are made famous through sporting the “Cookies” name, such as Orange Cookies. Not only identifiable as a flavor that the Girl Scouts organization doesn’t embrace (they offer some lemon flavors instead), but this strain also offers a beautifully light orange blossom scent as well. The large, dense buds that made up our sample of Orange Cookies was bright green, and nearly oozed trichomes by the look of the white sheen that covered its surface. As a result, it’s sticky in every sense of the word.

Upon inhalation, the smoke is smooth and pleasant, and brings on an interesting cerebral buzz that settles into full blown euphoria as it spreads throughout the body. While your muscles are soothed and relaxed of nearly all tension, your body is calm and relaxed—but that doesn’t mean that you will be completely sedated or disoriented. Orange Cookies not only has a unique flavor profile, but it also helps in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression for some consumers. It’s the perfect way to sit inside and count the days until a warm spring day arrives.

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