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By Jackie Moe and CULTURE staff
 

THE STATE
 
Long Beach might soon tax medical cannabis
Long Beach voters could vote in November on a ballot measure

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By Jackie Moe and CULTURE staff

 

THE STATE

 

Long Beach might soon tax medical cannabis

Long Beach voters could vote in November on a ballot measure establishing a five percent tax on medical marijuana dispensaries. The City Council will hold public hearing this month to determine whether to take the proposal before voters.

The city, which has 35 dispensaries, faces an $18.5 million budget deficit for 2011. “We’re looking under every rock to find revenue sources and under one of those rocks could be a marijuana tax,” Long Beach Councilman Patrick O’Donnell told Bloomberg News.

The city is also considering a 10 percent tax on non-medical marijuana if a state ballot measure to legalize marijuana is approved in November.

 

Two Lake Forest dispensaries re-open after court ruling

Two Lake Forest medical marijuana dispensaries are back in business following a state appellate court ruling.

An Orange County Superior Court judge had ordered all dispensaries in the city shut down in May, but in a July 6 decision the state Court of Appeal of the Fourth Appellate District in Santa Ana lifted that preliminary injunction.

The court action was requested by an attorney for the two dispensaries, Vale Tudo Café and Care Mutual, the Orange County Register reported.

Lake Forest sued dispensary owners in September claiming they were open in violation of the city’s zoning ordinances, which resulted in the shutdown of 21 dispensaries.

 

Pot raids in Shasta County continue despite a tight budget

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to raid pot growers despite a lean budget year thanks to federal grants.

Sheriff Tom Bosenko told The Wall Street Journal that fighting pot isn’t his county’s biggest crime problem, but “it’s where the money is.”

The U.S. Department of Justice provides the county with about a half-million dollars in anti-drug funds, an infusion of funds that comes at a time when the department has had to lay off 10 percent of its staff due to declining local funding.

To qualify for the federal funds, the department maintains a squad devoted to patrolling wooded areas looking for marijuana farms.

 

THE NATION

 

Denver is eyeing a six percent tax on marijuana sales

Denver is looking at taxing medical marijuana sales to help raise money for youth activities.

A councilman for the Colorado capital has proposed placing a six percent levy on the November ballot, The Denver Post reports. The proposal still must go before a council subcommittee.

The measure would raise $4.24 million a year and, if approved by voters, would only expire after 10 years. Councilman Doug Linkhart said the tax proceeds would go to after-school, recreation and summer programs, for teens between the ages of 13 and 15. Part of the funds would also go to anti-crime programs including a center for troubled youths.

The tax is on top of a 7.72 percent sales tax the city already collects.

 

Montel Williams pushes for medical pot to NY lawmakers

Former talk show host Montel Williams recently lobbied New York state legislators in favor of a medical marijuana bill.

In his visit to the state capitol in Albany, Williams told lawmakers about his use of medical marijuana since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago. He says cannabis helps him suppress the pain.

Medical marijuana “changed my life—it allowed me to have my life back,” Williams said, according to the Albany Times Union.

New York would be the 15th state to consider some sort of marijuana legalization bill—Californians will be asked to vote Nov. 2 on whether to legalize possession and cultivation for non-medical purposes. The New York proposal would only allow pharmacies to distribute marijuana and limit its availability to patients with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses

 

Cannabis compound can relieve pain from sickle cell disease

Researchers from the University of Minnesota medical school recently reported that a synthetic compound based on marijuana could be used to ease pain for patients suffering from sickle cell disease. The disease is a genetic blood disorder that can result in strokes and damage vital organs.

According to researcher Kalpna Gupta, the pot-based compound can reduce pain just as effectively as painkillers like codeine and hydrocodone, according to a recent issue of journal Blood. “This paper provides proof that we can use other classifications of drugs to treat pain in patients with sickle cell disease,” Gupta says. “Cannabinoids offer great promise in the treatment of chronic and acute pain, and they’re effective in much lower amounts than opioids, the only currently approved treatment for this disease.”

 

THE WORLD

 

More English folks are growing cannabis for money

From teachers to lawyers to plumbers, a growing number of British professionals are willing to risk breaking the law by cultivating and selling marijuana. 

The U.K.-based Sunday Times interviewed numerous cannabis cultivators who, despite having careers in financially-promising fields, are earning a decent income on the side working in the tax-free, marijuana industry.

The rise in middle-class horticulture isn’t being driven by a desire to indulge—most of the sellers do not even smoke it—but it’s motivated by a desire for profit, according to interviews. Hannah, for example, is a 31-year-old school teacher who began growing to pay her bills and school loans.

While most of the growers interviewed did not consider themselves criminals, all of them recognized that what they were doing was illegal according to British law.

 

Increase in number of Japanese buying seeds online

Japan has been seeing an increase in the number of people who have been arrested or questioned by police over concerns they are growing cannabis in their homes—a suspicion bolstered by a growing number of marijuana seed purchases through online sources, according to U.K. media reports.

Last year, 123 people were arrested or questioned by officials—more than 3 and a half times the number of people from a decade ago. The son of former Finance Minister Masayoshi Takemura was attested in February for cultivating pot in his home. Many seeds come from suppliers in the Netherlands and are typically heat-treated when they arrive in Japan to prevent them from germinating. However, many packages of seeds are shipped in unmarked packages via international mail and slipping past customs officials. Offenders caught shipping seeds that aren’t heat-treated could face up to three years in prison for violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law.

 

Medical cannabis—without the high?

Medical marijuana that’s high in medicinal properties but low in psychoactivity is the latest thing to catch the attention of some dispensaries as well as researchers and pharmaceutical companies, according to an ABC7 News report. Scientists are exploring a compound named cannabidiol (or CBD), which could prove effective in combating muscle pain and inflammation—but has no psychoactive effect, unlike THC. At least one dispensary in Oakland is being supplied with strains that are high in CBD and low in THC, according to Steve DeAngelo who runs the Harborside Health Center in Oakland. A British pharmaceutical company recently got a green light to market Sativex, a cannabis spray that uses a CBD formula. 

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