Tag Archive: medical marijuana

  1. Let’s Talk About Cannabis and Anxiety

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    Ever had a “bad trip” on cannabis? Perhaps you smoked too much or tried edibles for the first time and weren’t prepared for the effects? It’s well known that overly-strong cannabis doses can cause panic and anxiety. So people often scratch their heads and laugh when they find out doctors recommend cannabis to treat anxiety disorder. But doesn’t it cause anxiety in the first place?

     

    It might be a cliched notion, but when confronted with two completely opposite points of view, the truth is almost always somewhere in between. When faced with one extreme accusing cannabis of causing psychosis, and another proclaiming it’s a remedy, it’s wise to take both points of view with a grain of salt.  

     

    Cannabis and anxiety is a complex topic that’s only beginning to move to the forefront of the legalization conversation. And, believe it or not, many cannabis users experience remarkable relief from anxiety disorders with cannabis. So how is this possible? Can cannabis really help treat an anxiety disorder? We’re only now beginning to see studies that show the cannabinoids’ true roles in our stress patterns and physiology.

     

     

    What Is Anxiety?

     

    Anxiety is a normal response to stress. Literally, everyone experiences it from time to time. But sometimes anxiety becomes an ugly monster that takes over life. At this point, you might be diagnosed with one of the many different types of clinical anxiety disorders:

    • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)  
    • Panic disorder
    • Panic attacks
    • Agoraphobia
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Selective mutism
    • Separation anxiety
    • Phobias
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

     

    That’s a lot of syllables and categories that don’t really tell us much about what anxiety is, or its physical causes.

     

    I Thought Anxiety Was All in My Head?

     

    Wrong. Anxiety is a physiological reaction to stress. Like all physiological reactions, it can be well-adapted to external circumstances or dysfunctionally adapted. When the reaction to stress is dysfunctional, a cascade of hormones are released into the body to wreak their havoc – and the aftermath ain’t pretty. The physical symptoms are:

    • Increased heart rate or palpitations
    • Choking sensation
    • Shaking
    • Sweating
    • Pain in your chest
    • Feeling hot or cold
    • Goosebumps
    • Numbness
    • Tingling
    • Nausea
    • Intestinal cramps
    • Fear of losing control, dying or a sudden sense of detachment from reality

     

    You can have one or all of these symptoms, which can vary widely. But all of them have one thing in common – they’re normal reactions to increased stress hormones.

     

    It’s Just the Way We Work

     

    There’s an evolutionary basis for these physical symptoms when exposed to stress. The most basic benefit? These physical reactions are intensely unpleasant, encouraging us to exit stressful situations that cause these symptoms. Even better, these unpleasant hormones give us the energy we need to escape a bad situation fast, increasing our chances of survival. Consider the following scenario:

     

    You dip your toe into a South American lake. It looks like a pleasant place for a swim. The water’s wonderful and relaxing, so you wade a little further in. Suddenly, you see it frothing as a bird flails to escape. A pool of blood mixes with the frothy water and you realize you’ve stepped into piranha territory.

     

    Would it be evolutionarily expedient to stay in the water? How about moseying out slowly as the school of killer fish rapidly descends on you for dessert? Of course not!

     

    Stress Is an Important Survival Tool

     

    The best survival reaction would be to run away from that lake so fast that you appaer to levitate. This is where anxiety comes in. It releases stress hormones that prepare your body for the intense burst of physical activity you need to survive, better known as “fight or flight.”

     

    This reaction is real, and it has a powerful effect on the human body. In fact, the physical effects can be so powerful that they can provide seemingly superhuman strength. These are the hormones that allow a 280lb man to lift a 3,000lb car off an accident victim. Or they might give a mother the strength to run into a burning building to rescue her child. If these hormones can do all this, they aren’t all bad, and they most definitely aren’t all in your head.

     

    Wearing Out the Button

     

    But what if these hormones are always being activated without the accompanying explosion of activity? Consider, if you will, another scenario:

     

    You’re in L.A. on the 405 at 11pm. You check your mirrors, signal, and switch lanes to exit. Suddenly you see a red Corvette screaming toward you at half the speed of light.  

     

    The same physiological response that saved your ancient ancestors from saber tooth tigers just allowed you to jerk your car back into the previous lane in time to avoid becoming protoplasm on the side of the road.

     

    All That Adrenaline and Nowhere to Go

     

    So, was the situation with the red corvette any less life-threatening than the piranhas? Heck no! The exact same stress response saved you twice. However, in the case of the piranhas, you just levitated through water at breakneck speed (not easy to do). In the case of the nut behind the wheel, you’re still sitting on your keister, likely suffering from heart palpitations and homicidal rage. What are you supposed to do with all that extra blood sugar and adrenaline?

     

    Depending on your current lifestyle and occupation, you could find yourself facing this type of fight or flight response several times a day. Any normal person who experiences this hormone response while forced to be immobile or calm will have a negative reaction (think of an encounter with an aggressive customer who might be threatening your life). These hormones aren’t meant to be circulating in great amounts while sitting still.

     

    So, there’s NOTHING to be embarrassed about if you suffer from anxiety. Almost everyone has experienced this phenomenon. And the ones that don’t probably actually do and just don’t know it.

     

    Your body is built to work this way. It’s the world that’s poorly adapted to our biology and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up on an evolutionary scale. Perhaps, centuries from now, our physiological responses will evolve to adapt more appropriately to these stressful situations that require small movements and calm. We might even call it the “react and relax” response.

     

    It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

     

    Meanwhile, we need to deal with the here and now. The world is nuts and it’s actually a testament to humanity’s resilience that we can survive here at all. Just because anxiety might become a diagnosed mental illness doesn’t mean it’s your fault, it’s all in your head, or a weakness. Just the opposite.

     

    The world we live in today is every bit as tough and stressful as it was when our ancestors lived here. We’re dealing with biological responses that are very poorly adapted to the stressful situations we regularly deal with. So, how do we cope?

     

    The Medical Approach

     

    Doctors have lots of handy little pills. They’ve got ones that make you larger, some that make you small, and others that mom gave you that don’t seem to do anything at all.

     

    Fortunately, some people really do benefit from medicines that help regulate our stress responses. Unfortunately, many others have a hard time getting past the unpleasant side effects. These can include:

    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: weight gain, insomnia and sexual problems.
    • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: high blood pressure, nausea, headaches and trouble sleeping.
    • Tricyclic Antidepressants: low blood pressure, blurry vision, dry mouth and constipation.
    • Benzodiazepines: addiction and risk of overdose.

     

    If you have trouble dealing with these side effects (it’s hard to believe some people don’t), don’t despair. There are other natural ways to combat the stress caused by our unnatural world.

     

    Cognitive Behavior Therapy

     

    Think of this as a way to rewire the brain – perhaps even give you a little adaptive evolutionary kick start. Basically, it involves teaching your brain entirely new thought patterns. For an oversimplified example, we can revisit our homicidal Corvette. Was he/she really trying to kill you, or just trying to get somewhere fast?

     

    We tend to think in a reactionary way to situations that causes a feedback loop and increases our anger and stress hormones. We might think, “that (insert expletive) tried to kill me!” This doesn’t help. It’s also probably not true. Instead, you’d replace the defensive thought with, “I’m in control of my car and forgive this person for their careless act.”

     

    This is a lot harder than it sounds. It requires an almost superhuman effort of self-control since we aren’t built to think that way. It’s also very worthwhile and life-affirming for many who find it improves other areas of life as they learn. Want to learn more about this proven therapeutic tool? Check out this page.

     

    Meditation

     

    This is another acquired skill that can help to reduce stress hormones and repair stress-induced damage. The best part about meditation is it can be used as long as time and circumstances allow. Learn more about meditation and its benefits here.

     

    Physical Activity

     

    Considering the root of the problem, fight or flight without the release of either, increasing physical activity, and sweating, as often as possible can help. This will help to use all of the extra glucose and adrenaline released into our systems.

     

    There are many ways to do this, but if it’s possible to time physical activity closely with stressful situations, you might experience more relief. For instance, if you have a fight with a loved one, you can take a walk around the block to “cool off.”

     

    Where Does Cannabis Fit In?

     

    Many people use cannabis to treat stress and anxiety, and use it very effectively. This is confusing to some scientists that don’t approach medicine in a functional way. It’s well-known that THC can sometimes give you the heebie-jeebies. So it doesn’t seem like cannabis is the ideal herb for anxiety of any kind.

     

    But THC isn’t the only compound in cannabis; and unlike the controlled environments in research studies, it’s usually taken with many other cannabinoids at the same time. Just like many medications produced by big pharma, THC alone can produce a very different effect than the whole plant from which it’s derived.

     

    Dose and Ratio Matter

     

    Cannabis is one of those herbs that can have opposite effects at different doses, and at different mixtures. Taking a little may make a person relaxed and happy while taking a lot can push a novice to borderline psychosis.  

     

    Some of the compounds in cannabis elevate anxiety, while others cause relaxation. The overall effect that a cannabis product has on you will depend on the ratio of each compound present, and your own physiological reactions. Discover more about them here.

     

    Bottom line: you’ll never know how a new strain or cannabis product will affect you until you try it. That’s why it’s so important to start small and work your dosage up if you’re among the majority who suffers from a little occasional anxiety. It may be tempting to overdo your cannabis dosage since it won’t kill you, but the difference between a great day and a horrific afternoon can a few milligrams of THC.

     

    How Do I Find the Best Cannabis for My Needs?

     

    That’s a very good question with an answer about as clear as mud. Clinical studies can provide a general idea of how compounds work on most, but not how they work on everyone. Clinical studies on single compounds won’t tell us what happens when they’re combined with others, either. And when the compounds are as magical and dynamic as they are in cannabis, experimental results can be positively confounding.

     

    Studies have shown that CBD acts as an antagonist to THC in CB1 receptors (the receptors that make us feel high). But a few others show less of this effect with CBD than previously thought. What’s more likely is that scientists have failed to take into account each person’s unique chemistry. The general consensus is that CBD does help with relaxation and perception of a more mellow high, and our fellow canna-connoisseurs tend to agree.

     

    So a good start would be finding a strain with some CBD as well as THC. You might want a 50/50 mix if you don’t want to feel much from the THC, or go with a lower CBD:THC ratio if you’re open to a little couch lock for the day. But this still leaves a lot of room for experimentation.

     

    Getting High Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum

     

    Budtenders and enthusiasts everywhere generally agree that sativa provides a more cerebral high while indica gives us couch lock and munchies. This statement is as credible as an old wives’ tale. The truth is even more convoluted than our most experienced cannabis scientists will admit.

     

    We see studies that test how disconnected neurotransmitters absorb compounds in a Petri dish and show cannabinoids’ effects on rats and mice. We even see studies assessing whether administering Marinol can reduce cannabis self-administration in “cannabis dependent” individuals like methadone for “cannabis addicts.” (It’s okay to laugh at the silliness of this concept.)

     

    Remember, anyone can submit a scientific study to the community – even a paranoid Reagan-era mad scientist who thinks any pill is good idea if it’s got “Lilly” or “Abbott” stamped on it. Heaven forbid you take the actual substance in its natural form.

     

    Each one of these studies fails to take into account the most important variable – us! None of these chemical reactions takes place in a vacuum. They take place in our bodies where receptors are affected by what we eat, what we’re doing at the time, and how much dopamine and serotonin we already have in our systems – even what we were thinking about five minutes ago.

     

    How in the world would it be possible to completely narrow down the effects of a strain or specific compound in the midst of such chaos?

     

    Why Not Try Your Own Scientific Approach?

     

    The best way to figure out the right regimen for your personal well-being is to try several different types, strains, ratios and administration methods and keep track of how they make you feel. There’s something to be said for applying the scientific method to our own health and wellness routines. After all, even scientists have to admit that what works on a lab rat may have absolutely no bearing on humans.

     

    Even if you’re an extremely experienced user, you can benefit from this method. We often fall into certain habits or a rut with our medicine and lose great opportunities to improve results.

     

    Here are some questions to consider while experimenting. Does edible CBD have a more relaxing effect than smoked or vaped CBD? Does the ratio of CBD to THC affect your high? Do the other cannabinoids present, like terpenes, affect your overall feel? Prefer natural terpenes to artificial flavors? Edibles, inhalation, or both? Do you like to titrate your doses in tiny amounts or take larger doses one to three times daily?

     

    If you have questions or are unsure where to start, Nugg’s Cannabis Concierge service is here for you. Our team of experts will listen to your needs and concerns, and offer the most up-to-date product and industry info to make sure you have the best possible cannabis experience.

  2. We’ve Stumped the Bureau of Cannabis Control—And Ourselves

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    As many of you know, our FAQ column helps answer some of the more perplexing aspects of new cannabis laws. But sometimes a reader gives us a juicy question we can’t answer, or find the answer for.

     

    When this happens, we turn to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is more than happy to provide answers to confusing legal questions.

     

     

    Can the Bureau of Cannabis Control Dictate MMJ Limits?

     

    About a month ago, we received a great question: 

     

    “How much cannabis concentrate can be sold to qualified medical patients?”

     

    First, you should know that the state attempted to establish default possession limitations with SB420 in 2003. But these attempts were shot down in 2010 by the People v. Kelly.

     

    According to Ballotpedia, “the basis for the court’s ruling in People v. Kelly is that the 2003 legislation amounted to an amendment to Proposition 215 and that the California Constitution prohibits legislative tampering with ballot initiatives approved by voters.”

     

    This has been a sticky wicket for those wanting to limit cannabis. Basically, the ruling said the amount of cannabis a medicinal patient can have is the amount the doctor says he/she can have. If the doctor prescribes a daily bath in hash oil, that’s a legally defensible position.

     

    This was good news for patients who no longer had to fear prosecution if they truly needed larger amounts of cannabis. The limits established by SB420 still remained in Health and Safety Code Sec. 11362.77, but there is now a valid defense if a patient has a rec for larger amounts.

     

    Can Prop. 64 Revoke This Medical Defense?

     

    Unfortunately, Prop 64 changed all this. The proposition establishes a pathway for the legislature to alter any part of the voter initiative with a two-thirds vote to “further the purposes and intent” of the act. So, naturally, people assume the sky’s the limit for legislative overreach. It’s not.

     

    No section of Prop 64 addresses the amount of cannabis a medical cannabis patient can possess. In fact, all of the patient possession limits in current law are actually installed by SB94, the new law designed to enact Prop 64. So, technically, the legislature once again attempts to establish limits for these needy people, just like in SB420, that hasn’t been voted into law, defying Prop 215.

     

    Prop 215 has not been repealed. It’s still a voter initiative passed by the people. It’s still a valid law and was not only left intact by Prop 64, but Prop 64 repeatedly defers to Prop 215.

     

    Still, unless you want to be the defendant in that inevitable landmark case revisiting the People v. Kelly, you better know the limit the legislature attempts to impose on patients.

     

    Initially, our reader’s question seems reasonable and easy to answer. Under the recently amended SB94, recreational users can buy up to one ounce of flower or up to eight grams of concentrates. Medical patients can purchase up to eight ounces of flower and — oh, wait, the default amount of concentrates a cannabis patient can buy isn’t in the code.

     

    What now? Time to message the BCC! 

     

    Back and Forth with the BCC

     

    On Feb. 7, 2018, we wrote:

     

    How much cannabis concentrate can be sold to medical patients?  So far, the regulations only control flower — 8 ounces. They don’t differentiate for concentrate. Does this mean that 8 ounces of concentrate could be sold as well?

     

    On Feb. 21, we received this response:

     

    Thank you for contacting the Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau). Please see the Health and Safety Code section 11362.77. It defines the daily amounts allowed.

    Best Regards,
    Bureau Staff

     

    That’s not a clear answer, especially since we copied and pasted the applicable code sections that refer to Health and Safety Code section 11362.77 for easy reference. Apparently, their staff didn’t read our entire email.

     

    So we immediately answered back:

     

    I can understand if you didn’t read my question fully. You’re probably getting a million questions. I know it’s referred to in H&SC 11362.77. This is why I mentioned the code at the end of my question and pointed out to you that H&SC 11362.77 doesn’t define medical cannabis at all. The answer is NOT in this code. All this code says is:

    11362.77.  (a) A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried cannabis per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per qualified patient.

    This code doesn’t mention concentrate at all. So, my question still stands, how much concentrate can a patient purchase?

     

    The next day, the Bureau responded yet again:

     

    Hello,

    Yes we do get a million questions a day. Thank you for understanding. The Health and Safety Code section does not define medical cannabis, but it states how much a patient may purchase as a daily limit. I have highlighted the section below that should answer your question regarding the daily limit of concentrate, not flower.

    Best Regards,

     


    Well, that’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t answer the question. The code highlighted above is the amount of concentrate allowed for recreational consumers, not the default amount permitted for medical patients.

     

    Naturally, we immediately responded:

     

    The limit highlighted is for adult-use cannabis, not medical. I am asking what the limit for medical possession is. And it is reasonable to assume that there will be a difference because there is a difference in the amount of flower allowed between adult-use and medical. What they have failed to differentiate is the difference between adult-use concentrate and medical concentrate allowed. 

     

    Nearly one month after sending this reply, we finally got an answer — well, not really:

     

    Hello,

    Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77 states:

    (a) A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried cannabis per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per qualified patient.
    (b) If a qualified patient or primary caregiver has a physician’s recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient’s medical needs, the qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess an amount of cannabis consistent with the patient’s needs.
    (c) Counties and cities may retain or enact medicinal cannabis guidelines allowing qualified patients or primary caregivers to exceed the state limits set forth in subdivision a.
    (d) Only the dried mature processed flowers of female cannabis plant or the plant conversion shall be considered when determining allowable quantities of cannabis under this section.
    (e) A qualified patient or a person holding a valid identification card, or the designated primary caregiver of that qualified patient or person, may possess amounts of cannabis consistent with this article.

    As indicated in the statute, the limit applies to the dried mature processed flowers of the female cannabis plant or the plant conversion. Therefore, the limit would apply to dried flower and the plant conversion as stated in the statute. We have since come to realize that licensed retailers are not able to readily identify what amount of concentrates the plant conversion may amount to. The Bureau is currently working on further clarifying this regulation.

    Best Regards,
    Bureau Staff

     

    In other words, the Bureau of Cannabis Control doesn’t know yet.

     

    The Bureau’s Apparently Stumped—And so Are We

     

    Well, that’s okay. The law isn’t clear to us either; that’s why we asked. The problem is the Bureau of Cannabis Control cites a section of code from SB420 (a law that was rendered partially unenforceable by the People v. Kelly).

     

    While it remains in several amendments, the latest being SB94, it’s old and does nothing to establish an acceptable limit. The section only dictates what parts of the plant can be considered in determining limits.

     

    After over a month-and-a-half of questioning, neither we nor the Bureau of Cannabis Control could find the section of current law dictating the default amount of cannabis concentrate a patient can purchase.

     

    Could it be the amount of cannabis concentrate that a patient can purchase hasn’t been established? Understanding that there’s a subtle difference between possession limits and purchase limits, CAN purchase limits be established since Prop 64 didn’t address medical possession limits — especially since some patients have to travel more than 200 miles to find safe access to their medicine? Can SB94 override Prop. 215 any more than SB420 could?

     

    We’ll let you know when we find out.

  3. Thought the Elections Were Over? Not if You Live in Los Angeles!

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    On March 7, 2017, Los Angeles City voters will be choosing new candidates to run their city and voting on several ballot measures. Two of these measures would allow the city to regulate cannabis businesses in response to the recent passage of Prop 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California.

     

    These two are Measure M and Measure N.

     

     

    Measure N: the Initiative That Sparked Measure M

     

     

    Measure N is a citizen’s initiative that was created and qualified by several of the cannabis business owners operating under L.A.’s current limited immunity rules.

     

    Measure N would establish specific rules for the commercial regulation and taxation of marijuana in L.A. and would prevent the council from making any additional changes to the regulations without specific approval from the voters. In short, Measure N would:

     

    • Give priority licensing to the current established medical marijuana dispensaries that are complying with existing law.
    • Maintain 135 dispensaries and allow the City Council to increase the number of dispensaries but not decrease them.
    • Allow the city to issue Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) related permits including manufacturing, cultivation, and sale.
    • Limit enforcement options against permit holders who violate the operational standards and guidelines.
    • Allow sales of recreational marijuana by permit holders at an 8% tax rate.

     

    Because Measure N also takes power away from the city to make certain changes to these laws, a voter initiative would be required if changes became necessary.

     

    A Two-Tiered Enforcement System?

     

     

    Measure N also creates a two-tiered enforcement system for violators of the city’s regulations. This system would establish criminal penalties for those who don’t hold licenses, but only allow for a misdemeanor to be levied against permit holders who violate these same regulations after a series of other penalties are levied:

    • 1st violation: a correction letter
    • 2nd violation: a two year period of infraction
    • 3rd violation: a two year period of permit suspension
    • 4th violation: misdemeanor

     

    Therefore, the initiative would allow for criminal penalties to be levied against non-permit holders only. It’s possible this type of enforcement system would face legal review.

     

    The proponents of Measure N have now abandoned their support of the initiative in favor of the city’s counter-initiative—Measure M.

     

    Measure M: the Council’s Counter-Initiative

     

     

    Measure M was created by the City Council in response to the qualification of Measure N. Since the City Council’s countermeasure seems to strike a compromise that the proponents of Measure N found acceptable, they have abandoned Measure N and thrown their full support behind the City Council’s Measure M.

     

    Measure M will give the City Council the power to tax and regulate Los Angeles’s marijuana industry under the rules of Prop 64, which is now law.

     

    Unlike Measure N, with Measure M the City Council will retain the authority to amend existing regulations and adopt new ones. But there’s a catch—they must conduct public hearings with the citizens first.

     

    These public hearings will focus on commercialization of recreational and medical cannabis, and how license applications for current compliant businesses will be processed, among other topics.

     

    Measure M will also authorize:

    • New criminal penalties for violations.
    • New nuisance abatement rules.
    • Increase in fines for use of power and water with non-compliant cannabis activity.
    • Disconnection of power and water for non-compliant cannabis activity.
    • New business taxes which include:
      -A 10% tax on gross recreational sales.
      -A 5% tax on gross medical sales (this is a 1% reduction from the current level).
      -A 1% tax on transportation, testing or research sales.
      -A 2% tax on manufacturing, cultivation and other commercial activity.

     

    Why Are These Measures Necessary? Isn’t It Already Legal?

     

    With the passage of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act by the state legislature and Prop 64 by the people, Los Angeles’s current rules under Proposition D are no longer compliant with state law.

     

    Measure D was a simple limited immunity measure. Basically it provides prosecution immunity to a select group of people who were legally operating cannabis dispensaries before a certain date—IF they followed a specific set of rules.

     

    Since the state now requires dispensary applicants to show proof of city licensing or other positive approval of operations, an agreement not to prosecute does not qualify L.A.’s current operators to apply for a state license. Additionally, specific licenses are necessary for cultivation, transport, testing, manufacturing and other activities.

     

    Los Angeles must pave the way for new business licensing if cannabis businesses are to survive in the city under the new state regulations.

     

    Why Didn’t L.A. Offer Business Licenses in the First Place?

     

     

    Los Angeles, like many other California cities and counties, was reticent to issue business licenses to dispensaries because marijuana is still considered illegal on a federal level. These attitudes are changing now as medical marijuana is legal in more than half the states in the U.S., and is fully legal in seven states and Washington D.C.

     

    Council president Herb Wesson spearheaded the effort to put the countermeasure on the ballot, which is now endorsed by Police Chief Beck and Police Union head, Craig Lally.

     

    With the passage of Prop 64, many local municipalities are jumping to ensure they have taken full control of their licensing authority before the state begins handing out official business licenses in 2018.

     

    Others are working just as hard to ensure that marijuana businesses will not be allowed at all in their communities. Long story short—Los Angeles wisely opted for regulation.

     

    So, What Can You Do?

     

     

    That’s easy, VOTE! Make sure that you’re registered to vote, that you know where your nearest voting location is, and that you vote YES on Measure M.

  4. Medical Marijuana Tax Could Rise 15% in California

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    Shopping for your medicine should be a relaxing and soothing part of any healing process, and it’s especially true with cannabis.  A pleasant surprise, like a new strain or an edible in a favorite flavor, would be welcome and appreciated.  No one, however, wants a surprise from the tax man in the form of sticker shock. And a new medical marijuana tax act is officially on the table in California.

     

    What you'll learn about:

    [Click any of the section titles below to jump there]

     

    Medical Marijuana Tax Might Become 15% Higher

     

    California NORML, the state advocacy group for the reform of marijuana laws, has announced it’s opposition to  Senate Bill 987 introduced by Senator Mike McGuire.  This bill, otherwise known as The Marijuana Value Tax Act, if passed, would impose an additional 15% sales tax on the sale of medical marijuana in any retail setting, such as a dispensary or collective. Senator McGuire had this to say about the bill:

     

    “We made a commitment last year as we were working through the huge undertaking of setting statewide regulations for medical marijuana that we would follow up on a statewide excise tax,” Senator McGuire said. “This needed revenue will make our communities stronger by focusing on the impacts of cultivation and use of marijuana, including funding local law enforcement and neighborhood improvement programs, state parks, drug and alcohol treatment and environmental rehabilitation.”

     

    SB 643 & SB 987

     

    Last year, Senator Mike McGuire passed SB 643 – The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act – that was part of a historic three-bill package covering every aspect of the commercial medical marijuana industry which will be regulated and subject to licensure in California.

     

    His latest bill, SB 987, creates a tax that would be the responsibility of the purchaser, and is based into the price of marijuana. It would amount to a 15% price increase across the board on any form of medical marijuana. Under SB 987, 30% of all revenue from the MVT will go to the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to distribute via grant programs designed specifically for local agencies who oversee the regulation of cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distributing and sale of marijuana.

     

    California NORML director Dale Gieringer is quoted on their website as saying “At this time when providers already face burdensome new costs under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act it is unwise and unfair to impose any new state tax on medical marijuana.” Gieringer goes on to state that he believes further taxes will “only encourage marijuana suppliers to move to the illegal, untaxed, unregulated adult use market.”

     

    Legitimate Patients in Trouble?

     

    Suppliers moving out of the legitimate medical marijuana industry could have an impact on patients who rely on legitimate suppliers.  Limited choices, higher prices and supply shortages are the economic realities of fewer suppliers in a market like this one.  Coupled with the automatic 15% sales tax which is proposed, these concerns make Senate Bill 987 a non-starter for California NORML.

     

    A medical marijuana tax in California could become very real. Concerned patients should contact their senator.

  5. DEA Responds to Their Chief’s Comments That Medical-Marijuana is a “Joke”

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    So far, more than 15,000 people have signed the petition demanding that DEA head Chuck Rosenberg be fired for calling medical marijuana a “joke.” Well, now the DEA responds to his comments.

     

    And guess what? It seems they’re officially on notice now.

     

    When a Washington Post reporter called the agency about our efforts (Change.org), a spokesman was forced to defend his boss’s outrageous comments:

     

    “Acting Administrator Rosenberg indicated that marijuana should be subject to the same levels of approval and scrutiny as any other substance intended for use as a medicine,” he said. “DEA supports efforts to research potential medical uses of marijuana.”

     

    That sounds nice, but the reality is that people suffering from cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis don’t have 5-10 years for the federal government to slow-walk marijuana through the FDA approval process.

     

    They are suffering right now, and in 23 states they are able to legally use doctor-recommended cannabis to find relief.

     

    That’s no “joke.”

     

    So let’s keep up the pressure on behalf of the patients who need our help.

     

    Please share the petition with your friends via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail: http://change.org/nojoke

     

    We’ve already got the DEA’s attention. By generating more signatures, we can push this up the chain of command to the White House and pressure President Obama to take action.

     

    Find the original post & sign the petition at Change.org.

  6. Veterans To Get Access to Medical Marijuana After Senate Approves Funding Bill

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    Amendment Would Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana to Their Patients in States Where It’s Legal.

     

    The Veterans Equal Access Amendment was sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. It passed the Committee 18-12 in a bipartisan vote. The funding bill will now be negotiated with the House’s version as part of an omnibus spending bill.

     

    “On this eve of Veterans/Armistice Day where we remember those who served in the military and the treaty agreement to reach peace concluding WWI, we see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States, ” said TJ Thompson, a disabled Navy veteran.

     

    Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program. The Daines-Merkley amendment authorizes VA physicians and other health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the use of medical marijuana to veterans who live in medical marijuana states.

     

    In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in Conant v. Walters the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana, regardless of its illegality under federal law, as well as the right of patients to receive accurate information. The Daines-Merkley amendment supports that first amendment right and restores a healthy doctor-patient relationship.

     

    There are numerous federal healthcare programs besides the VA such as Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP – but only the VA prohibits physicians from discussing and recommending medical marijuana to their patients. A Medicare patient may freely discuss medical marijuana use with her doctor, while a returning veteran is denied the same right.

     

    Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, illnesses typically suffered by veterans. A 2014 study of people with PTSD showed a greater than 75% reduction in severity of symptoms when patients were using marijuana to treat their illness, compared to when they were not.

     

    A legislative version of the Daines-Merkley amendment was included in groundbreaking Senate medical marijuana legislation introduced in March. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. The bill was introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and generated enormous interest.

     

    With the Senate approving one element in the bill, supporters say it is time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the full bill.

     

    “The politics around marijuana have shifted in recent years, yet Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley hasn’t held a hearing on the bill,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We will move the CARERS Act piece by piece if we have to but now is the time for the Senate to hold a hearing on the bill as a whole.”

     

    Originally posted on Drug Policy Alliance.

  7. Colorado “Gas & Grass” Sells Weed and Fills Up Your Tank

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    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Recreational marijuana users can now buy pot while filling up their gas tanks in Colorado Springs.

     

    “Gas & Grass,” a gas station that also offers the convenience of purchasing medical marijuana — all in one — is the first of its kind and is officially open for business.

     

    The store owner, Andreas Nilsson, explained the innovative concept.

     

    “We have combined the two for the purpose of adding another level of convenience for our patients to be able to do their shopping of gas at the same spot where they would otherwise get their medical marijuana”

     

    Medical marijuana patients who shop at Gas and Grass will receive 15 cents off every gallon of gas, and anyone can fill up at the station. The company says it hopes to emulate the loyalty/rewards programs that many grocery chains use to bring buyers back.

     

     

    “This is an opportunity to expand the market,” said Cannabis advocate Robert Chase back in September. “We still need the owners to be responsible.”

     

    But innovative ideas like “Gas and Grass” have many wondering: What’s next — Donuts and Cannabis or Coffee and Weed?

     

    “Those are all likely combinations,” said Chase. “There’s nothing in regulations now that prevent that.”

     

    And particularly at Gas & Grass, you do need a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to shop. However, anyone will be able to purchase gas and other items typically found at gas stations.

     

    The Denver7 reported on the story and spoke with street-goers, who had mixed reactions.

     

    “You can buy cigarettes, you can buy beer, so why not?” said one woman getting gas at a Denver Conoco.

     

    One Denver man would rather not see it.

     

    “I think it’s a little crazy, especially in downtown Denver.”

     

    The store is modified to follow state rules with separate entrances for the store and the pot shop.

     

    Originally posted by The Denver Channel.

  8. Bernie Sanders Proposes Taking Marijuana Off The Government’s “Most Dangerous” Substances List

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    WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, called on Wednesday for marijuana to be removed from the federal government’s list of the “most dangerous” substances.

     

    The United States has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I is reserved for what the Drug Enforcement Administration considers to be the “most dangerous” drugs lacking currently accepted medical value and carrying the highest potential for abuse. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside substances like heroin and LSD.

     

    Sanders said at an event at George Mason University in Virginia that marijuana should be taken off the Schedule 1 list. The Washington Post first reported the news.

     

    “In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws,” Sanders said at George Mason. “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

     

     

    Sanders’ chief rival for the nomination, Hillary Clinton, has said she wants to see how laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, Washington and other states work before supporting federal changes to how marijuana is classified. Four states and the District of Columbia have now legalized recreational marijuana, and 23 states have legalized the drug for medical purposes. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has said he’d reclassify marijuana to Schedule II, where substances like cocaine and oxycodone reside.

     

    A Gallup poll from last week found that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, but the poll question did not distinguish between recreational and medicinal legalization.

     

    Sanders has previously hinted that he supports loosening restrictions on marijuana. During the first Democratic primary debate Oct. 13, he said he would vote “yes” on a statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult useThe Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, has given the candidate an “A” grade for his stances on the issue.

     

    “I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for nonviolent offenses,” he said. “We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs which has done an enormous amount of damage.”

     

    Samantha Lachman Staff Reporter, The Huffington Post

  9. Top 10 Cannabis Sativa Strains for Overcoming Writer’s Block

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    Cannabis cures a variety of ailments, and while writer’s block isn’t on the list of medical ailments to get you a medical card in any state, recreational marijuana can still assist in artistic endeavors. If you’re looking to spark up something creative, try one of these tasty sativa strains, favored by writers for their brain-stimulating properties.

     

    Ten strains you'll learn about in this post:

    [Click any of the section titles below to jump there]

     

    Strawberry Cough

     

    Strawberry Cough Best Writer Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.1

    Strawberry Cough combines the Strawberry Fields strain with Haze genetics to create a potent sativa blend. The skunky, berry flavors will capture your senses while the cerebral, uplifting effects provide an aura of euphoria that is sure to leave a smile on your face. Strawberry Cough has been a popular strain since medical and recreational decriminalization began, so it’s easy to find in dispensaries. This will quickly become your go-to strain to overcome creative obstacles.

     

    Chocolope

     

    Chocolope Best Writers Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.2

    DNA Genetics developed Chocolope by crossing Chocolate Thai with Cannalope. The hefty sativa buds give earthy, sweet coffee flavors that provide a dreamy, cerebral effect. Chocolope is your morning or dessert coffee and smoke rolled into one mocha-flavored blunt. It’s also a great strain to blend with tobacco for a quick spliff.

     

    Moby Dick

     

    Moby Dick Best Writer Sativas Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.0

    Moby Dick is a cross between indica-dominant hybrid White Widow and sativa Haze, creating a mostly sativa plant that delivers a charged buzz. The aroma is a sweet citrus from the Haze, which dominates the palate with vanilla and eucalyptus tones. Named for the literary whale, Moby Dick isn’t a myth you have to hunt – it’s the motorized, GPS-enabled submarine you’re hunting it in.

     

    Maui Waui 

     

    Maui Waui Best Writer Sativas Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.1

    Maui Waui (or Maui Wowie) is a classic sativa straight from the shores of Hawaii. Lightweight sativa effects allow your mind to drift away to creative escapes, while Maui Waui’s motivating, active effects may be all you need to get outside and enjoy the sun. The first marijuana strain I ever smoked, Maui Waui is the perfect meditative bud to get you focused on creating a space in the world around you.

     

    Lamb’s Bread

     

    Lambs Bread Best Writers Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.3

    Also called “Lamb’s Breath,” Lamb’s Bread is a bright green and sticky sativa strain. The effects have been known to give mass amounts of energy and positive introspection. Even Bob Marley encountered this wonderful slice of cannabis genealogy while exploring his philosophical and political ideologies. Lamb’s Bread is one of my favorite fast-thinking smokes to get the mind revved up and thinking.

     

    Sour Diesel

     

    Sour Diesel Best Writer Sativa Strains Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.2

    Sour Diesel, or Sour D, is an invigorating sativa named after its pungent, diesel-like aroma. This fast-acting strain delivers energizing, dreamy cerebral effects that have pushed Sour Diesel to legendary status. Many writers, musicians, and artists use Sour D to push beyond the walls of creative blocks, and it can have the same effect on you, if you’re over 21 and living in the right place.

     

    Laughing Buddha

     

    Laughing Buddha Best Writers Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.3

    Laughing Buddha is an earthy cross between Thai and Jamaican strains with a sweet, fruity smell broken up by hints of spice. It provides a rich, pungent smoke. As the name implies, the strain will leave you feeling giggly, so humor writers will enjoy smoking Laughing Buddha most while writing. Writers in other genres, however, will likely only need it for brainstorming.

     

    Willie Nelson

     

    willie nelson best writers sativa versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.1

    Willie Nelson is a mostly sativa cannabis strain lauded for its euphoric, creative effects. This strain leaves you clear-headed, allowing you to perform artistically the way you want. There’s nothing worse than hitting that mental wall you can’t overcome. A walk will clear your head, as will a quick meditation and yoga break, but to prepare for all of it, you need Willie Nelson.

     

    Mexican Sativa

     

    mexican_sativa Best Writers Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 3.0

    Mexican Sativa is a 70/30 sativa-dominant hybrid that offers an uplifting, clear-headed buzz alongside a fresh sandalwood aroma. Being raised on the Mexico/Arizona border, Mexican dirt weed was all we had to smoke back in the day. Though filled with stems and seeds, and not nearly as potent as today’s strains, Mexican Sativa inspired nearly everything creative I wrote from my late teens to mid-20’s.

     

    Green Crack

     

    Green_Crack_Extreme Best Writers Sativa Versability

     

    Leafly Rating: 4.1

    Few strains compare to Green Crack’s sharp energy and focus as it induces an invigorating mental buzz that keeps you going throughout the day. With a tangy, fruity flavor redolent of mango, Green Crack is the perfect daytime smoke for writers looking for a creative boost. This strain will get your brain going, but don’t worry about the name – there’s no cocaine or baking soda anywhere near it, and there is no spoon.

     

    If you need a long-term creative boost, you’re not going to find it in drugs. Working in the creative arts requires you to be a little unhinged, but if you’re fueled by substances, you’ll end up on the wrong path. For short-term help with creative projects, there’s no better natural and organic substance than cannabis. So head to your nearest dispensary, caregiver, or street dealer to find out if they have any of these strains in stock.

     

    Brian Penny Versability Anonymous iPhone SelfieBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance writer, and troll. Penny has been featured on Huffington Post, Lifehack, The Street, Cannabis Now, and Hardcore Games.