Kentucky governer supports medical marijuana

Governor Matt Bevin was asked about his stance on cannabis this week. He was speaking at a community event and explained how personal the topic is for him. During his answer, he clearly stated that cannabis has medicinal benefits for many people. At one point he got very emotional and mentioned his young nephew who fought and died from cancer. Unfortunately, countless other people are going through a similar situation. Legally, they can only rely on dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. He realizes that, and claims he will support a well-written bill. It was stressed during his talk that the main goal shouldn’t be to raise tax money.

Kentucky is one of the few remaining states without an active medical marijuana program. The southern states are notorious for their history of harsh marijuana laws. Cannabis has a much more negative stigma among the general population. States like Kentucky are not known for being progressive with any of their laws. Conservatives hold control of the state government and the population of voters is also strongly republican. However, medical marijuana is one of the rare topics that both democrats and republicans can agree on. Now that more then half the country has legalized medical marijuana, they are finally taking steps in the right direction.

Also this past week, a medical marijuana bill was introduced by Senator Stephen West. A lot of the rules drafted in the bill are likely to change before it has the chance to pass into law. It is very early on in the process, but still very promising. The timing is perfect with the Governor making his pro-cannabis remarks. One thing to keep in mind is that Bevin is not a supporter of recreational marijuana use. My guess is that more then half the country will need to have legalized cannabis before Kentucky reconsiders. However, anything is better then their current laws.

Michigan may cut costs for patients

The regulatory authority in charge of the medical marijuana industry in Michigan is LARA (The department of licensing and regulatory affairs). Currently, they are proposing a new set of rules. According to Michigan.gov, cardholders can expect a 33% reduction in their state application fee. In addition, officials aim to eliminate various other processing charges. The goal of the new rules is to cut costs for patients. The administration drafted these changes shortly after expanding their available online services. Instead of increasing profits, they openly passed on the savings.

The state has been lacking when it comes to licensing businesses in a timely fashion. However, they have a solid system available to patients and caregivers. Online services mentioned earlier include : ability to submit application online, check status of application, renew or replace cards, remove caregivers, and withdrawal from the program. Hopefully it will incentivize more people to renew. It will be easy for many to simply let their card expire, now that weed is legal. Possesion limits remain the same unless you’re a caregiver. The patient-caregiver system is great, and I hope it continues to thrive. It promotes the small batch craft cannabis growers.

Proposed Rule Changes

All of the changes seem to benefit registered patients. The key changes include:

  • Changing the application fee from $60 to $40.
  • Eliminate $25 caregiver background check fee.
  • Eliminate $10 Change form fee(replace card fee).
  • Extends the renewal period from 60 days to 90 days.
  • Allows MMMP staff to contact patients/caregivers by e-mail to increase response speed.
  • Allow patients to change the person authorized to posses plants at any time.

Michigan passed medical marijuana in 2008, and dispensaries were not legally operating at the time. The regulatory system has been in place over 10 years. Each year they’ve improved and now it seems the state has mastered the administrative role. Hopefully in a few years we will say the same thing about commercial licensing. No one here is an expert at regulating this plant, so trial and error should be expected. Those getting into the industry right off the bat need to be ready for unexpected rules and procedures.

A public hearing will be scheduled next month and hear the communities opinion on the proposed changes. LARA will not make any of these changes before the hearing.

Canadians claiming Cannabis On Tax Returns

Many cannabis consumers are going to be shocked to realize their pot smoking might make them eligible for some cash back from the government. Canada legalized weed nationwide and it’s the second country in the world to do it. Even so, for them to return millions of tax dollars back to smokers sounds too good to be true. However, the Canada Revenue Agency considers cannabis to be a permitted medical expense. Some canadians can include cannabis on tax returns. Those looking to cash in need to meet several specific conditions before anything can be written off. First, the person using marijuana needs to prove they possess a prescription to use the drug from their licensed physician. If you’re a recreational user, then kiss that money spent on weed goodbye. The CRA is not going to refund everyone in the country that wants to get high, regardless of how much money in taxes they are pulling in.

The second obstacle to obtaining a tax retun for weed is showing it comes from a licensed producer. Buying from unlicensed distributors means the government isn’t going to receive their tax. This never makes them happy. It certainly will not make them want to give you additional deductibles. So if it isn’t a habit already, start saving all the receipts from the provisioning center. The payback is going to be huge for daily users. It will also highlight how much of the yearly budget goes to the sweet leaf. Once that realization is made, many begin to grow. That realization is what helped me get started, outside of my intense interest.

All medical marijuana expenses cannot be written off. Canada gives patients the option to subtract either a number or percentage from the total expense. Options include subtracting $2,268 or 3% of the user’s net income. So if you make more then roughly $74,000/yr you would opt to subtract the $2268 from the yearly expense. Everyone else could benefit by subtracting a substantially smaller amount. Someone making 40,000/yr only needs to reduce $1200 from their yearly cannabis expense.

Despite all the restrictions, it still seems like a fair deal for the Canadian people. It likely will be a really long time before the U.S. refunds anybody for pot. Becoming federally legal for medical purposes is the first hurdle. People all across our country are purchasing medicine from licensed producers. The blatant difference is the federal government sees them as criminals instead of patients.

Cultivation Agent- Indoor Growing Consultant

As the laws around cannabis continue to change in the right direction, it is being put under the spot light for a lot of people who have never even considered being associated with the plant.  There is also a huge majority of people that have experimented with the drug but would have never tried learning to grow before it became legal.  The demand for growing information seems to be higher then it ever has been, especially here in Michigan.  Now that there is legal protection to cultivate your own medicine/product, it only makes sense to reduce or even eliminate future purchases.  Growing your own plants and enjoying the harvest is one of the most rewarding things imaginable.  Watching the entire process happen and the plants mature into months worth of usable product is always worth the work.  High quality cannabis is extremely valuable and will drain your wallet if you are purchasing it regularly.  If you’re willing to put in the time and have the space, all you’re missing is a consultant.

Cultivation Agent

My indoor growing consultation service is now available to those in the southeastern region of Michigan.  With over 4 years of medical marijuana growing experience and a passion for writing and reading about the culture of cannabis, I am confident I can save you from the endless hours of research and disappointing harvests.  Trial and error is not a fun process, especially when you’re expecting to come out with the craft cannabis on the top shelf at the dispensary.  Walking you step by step through the method that has brought me great success will have you on the right track and informed so it’s easy to make the correct adjustments when needed.  Anybody can grow weed, but growing high quality weed that is packed full of flavor is a unique skill.

How it Works

It simply is not possible to give all the information needed up front in the initial consultation.  There are going to be countless questions that come along throughout the growing process.  My relationship with customers will be ongoing and continue as long as the customer wishes.  Charges are based on an hourly rate and are reduced as a grower gains ability.

In-home consultations before first harvest: $35/hr

Consultations after 1st harvest : $25/hr

Looking forward to a successful grow with you!

Contact Cultivation Agent 

Phone: 586-817-2369

Email: contact@cannabiscultureblog.com

Oakland County’s First Legal Dispensary has Opened

Here in Michigan, Oakland County is well known for its anti-marijuana reputation.  Officials has routinely raided any type of medical marijuana provisioning center that has opened in it’s jurisdiction.  This has a lot to do with the county sheriff, and former attorney general Bill Schuette.  When these raids happened, the state was not offering licenses for dispensaries to operate.  Dispensaries were simply operating based off the local governments approval.  In Oakland County, the interpretation of the law was always that patients could only obtain cannabis from their registered caregiver and that caregivers may only support 5 patients.  So any establishment providing medicine to more then the same 5 registered patients, was violating the law in their eyes and worthy of a large amount of police resources.  This approach caused a  large cluster of shops to open up shop in Detroit, outside of Oakland County.

Now that the state of Michigan is issuing licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate, one CEO has his eyes on Oakland County.  Greenhouse is the name of the dispensary that has been approved, and it opened it’s doors to patients on February 1st.  It’s located in Walled Lake and the owners are not worried about dealing with law enforcement because they plan on strictly following every rule and regulation.  If the state doesn’t start licensing more cultivators, then running a successful business will be difficult for them.   Especially with all the unlicensed dispensaries being given an extension to operate until their applications begin to be processed.  However, I think that Greenhouse is still in a very good position to be successful because of its location.  There is a lot of money in Oakland County and many residents who have been driving to Detroit will happily make the switch locally.

With the recreational use of cannabis being legalized last November, there will be even more of an opportunity for Greenhouse to be successful.  This licensed facility will already have the majority of the resources needed when the time comes to apply for recreational licenses in a year or two.  The recreational licenses will be much harder to obtain for those who want to start from scratch before legal sales begin.  It took Michigan 10 years before they created a regulated system for medical marijuana sales, so it has to be much quicker this time around.  Regulators have got to be feeling the pressure now.  Voters have made it clear it’s time to draft policies outside of prohibition.

One problem the store will likely have to deal with is an overflow of patients.  Improvising a balanced system that efficiently process each person without making them feel rushed is key.  Nobody will want to come back if they feel like they can’t make the proper decision due to pressure.  I wouldn’t want to be the one creating the forecast for their first year of operation, as there are no similar businesses to base numbers off of.  Luckily for Greenhouse, it will likely take a while before another store successfully obtains a license in any county the way things have been going.  They really need to capitalize on the lack of local competition, so they can invest later on when the competition comes.  It will be easy to differentiate their brand if they receive a big enough head start.  Before we know it Oakland County will be an place of opportunity for these entrepreneurs instead of an area of restricted access.  Those who took the risk years ago in this county have to be shaking their heads wishing they had waited for this profitable and legal opportunity.

Attorney General prospect William Barr will respect state’s choice to legalize

As things stand right now, the United States attorney general is Matthew Whittaker.  He was appointed by President Trump after Jeff Sessions was asked to resign from his position last November.  Barr was the chief of staff for Sessions at the time of his resignation, and is going to be used as a temporary replacement until a permanent candidate is selected.  President Trump has made it relatively clear that his number one choice for that new position now is William Barr.  He is very popular among republicans and doesn’t technically need a single vote from the democratic isle of the Senate to be confirmed, due to their majority.  The marijuana industry is watching closely because it’s highly likely he will be the lead law enforcement officer in our country, and have a large impact on how federal marijuana laws will be enforced.

With a track record of not being very green friendly, its logical that he would take a very traditional approach to cannabis and try to enforce federal law on states that have successful and well established regulatory systems in place.   Last week while testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr claimed he would not use any federal resources to interfere with states that have already decided to regulate cannabis.  As long as businesses are complying with their individual state laws, he claims there will not be any interference.  During Jeff Session’s time as attorney general, there was a ton of fear spreading throughout the industry because of his outdated approach to cannabis.  Sessions went as far as rescinding the guidelines that were established by President Obama and designed to provide protections to businesses operating legally under state law.  William Barr is not claiming to be pro cannabis in any sense though.  He has admitted that personally he believes the drug should have remained in its illegal status.  His stance is pretty confusing because he claims that Congress should figure out a way to stop state initiatives because he views them as “a backdoor nullification to federal laws”.

This guy does not seem like the ideal candidate by any means for those who are involved with cannabis.  It definitely seems to be improvement from the direction the administration was heading with Sessions in charge.  While that is not saying much, it seems that the momentum from cannabis reform has reached the point of no return despite his personal view of the plant.  It isn’t fair to expect a pro cannabis view from anyone that Trump would want in charge of our country’s law enforcement.  The Senate is expected to make their vote next month on whether or not to confirm him.  It is predicted with a high degree of confidence that he will be confirmed as attorney general. I’m sure that this stance on states right’s will help insure he gains even more votes from the Senate.

Michigan’s current Medical Marijuana Problem

Currently, there are several major issues facing the newly regulated medical marijuana industry in Michigan.  There have been issues in the past with local ordinances causing many businesses owners to close down shop, but the new regulations are putting a serious strain on the industry as a whole.  Very few retail locations have been given a license by the state despite a massive amount of submitted applications.  Now anyone without a license that continues to operate may face criminal charges and lose the chance of ever obtaining one in the future.  Hundreds of these stores have been operating for years under the approval of their local government.  Patients and dispensaries never had any issues existing in an unregulated environment.  Marijuana has always been unregulated throughout history, like most things that naturally exist.  The argument behind regulation is that patients will know where their medicine is coming from and that it’s not contaminated.  Realistically, all the regulations are doing is making it harder for the dispensaries that have been approved to serve nearly 300,000 patients.

Testing for contaminations has been available for patients and dispensaries in Michigan for over 5 years now.  PSI labs and Iron labs both offer testing when it comes to potency and the presence of mold or pesticides.  One of the dispensaries that I had been using before it closed its doors already mandated all products to be tested by their vendors.  So the real reason for regulation is so that the government can not only tax it but also control how and where provisioning centers operate.  Not only are dispensary owners and their employees getting screwed while the state takes its time licensing, but patients are also affected.  People are piling into the few remaining stores and wait times are becoming outrageous.  It doesn’t even matter what day or time of day you decide to pick up some medicine.  To make the problem even worse, the state is requiring that the approved dispensaries only obtain products from approved cultivators/processors.  Word is spreading that shortages are coming very soon because there are nowhere near enough approved growers to supply the current demand.  People who are dependent on these shops for access are probably in a panicked state right now.  Judging by the number of people I have seen entering the dispensary, there are a lot of people who don’t have caregivers or any black market contacts.

Many patients including myself, strictly go to these stores for the processed forms of the plant that are harder to find at an affordable price.  They always seem to have really great deals on edibles, cartridges, and concentrates.  The top quality buds are priced higher than what most growers are offering it for.  Plenty of low-mid quality buds can be purchased at a great price for the budget smokers who aren’t as interested in higher potency and stronger flavor.  After my last few visits, I think I will simply go without the other concentrated forms of the plant for now as prices will likely rise as the available legal supply dwindles.  Waiting for more than 30 minutes just to get in the bud room kinda turned me off as well.  We will just have to hope the state starts handing out more licenses in a hurry, or the supply issues will continue to get worse.

 

How do Running and Weed Mix

We all know that someone who smokes cigarettes is going to struggle much harder to keep up with a non-smoker when it comes to a foot race that requires any stamina.  Based on that logic, it would make sense to say that smoking anything is going to limit your lung’s performance in any type of intense aerobic activity.  If you were to judge this topic based on professional athletes and marathon runners who have opened up about their cannabis use, it may contradict this assumption.  One great example is ultra-marathon runner Avery Collins who has completed more than 30 of these races.  He is known for winning a 200 mile run through the Rocky Mountains that I couldn’t even imagine completing with years of training.  He claims that cannabis helps him avoid pain while keeping his mind in the moment.  The proof of marijuana’s effectiveness may lie in the fact that many professional marathons now test runners for pot, and treating it as a performance-enhancing drug.

While I have never completed a marathon in my life, I do enjoy running a lot and competed in my share of races.  I discovered marijuana’s positive effect on running during my time running for my high school cross-country team.  It was an accidental discovery as I thought I was being irresponsible by smoking up before an intense practice day.  The very first thing I noticed after 20 minutes or so of running was that the soreness in my legs was much more manageable.  Normally after having a few practices back to back, I would always be thinking about the constant pain with each step.  This shouldn’t have been a shocker because marijuana has always been known to be great for inflammation and pain, but I thought the negative effect on my breathing would far outweigh that benefit.  It also became clear that I didn’t notice any limitations on my ability to breathe normally.  Even if there was, it could have easily been avoided by i consuming an edible or vaporizing instead.

Edibles seem to be the most popular choice among runners.  This is likely because most runners are concerned with exposing their lungs to any type of risk, minimal or not.  The trickiest part about edibles is getting the appropriate dose so it doesn’t negatively affect performance.  With so many different brands with varying potency and black market products with unlimited levels of THC, knowing your tolerance and preferences is key.  It’s delayed effect will make it impossible to re-dose during a run unless you’re putting in some serious miles.  I have never reached distances over 10 miles with or without marijuana but I don’t really see the desire to personally.  I enjoy reasonably shorter distances and constantly trying to improve those times.  Running is nice for me because it’s a great stress reliever and a healthy way to distract the mind.  Combine it with some weed and it has a positive compounding effect.

Best Ways to Conserve Cannabis

Whether you make the decision to take the time and effort to grow your own cannabis or purchase it from someone with more experience, making the stash last is always a challenge.  There are several different techniques used by stoners over the years.  The number one tip to extending your buds lifespan is to avoid blunts and joints when possible.  No other method of smoking wastes anywhere near as many buds per session.  Don’t get me wrong, puffing on a joint is my favorite and most relaxing way to unwind.  If it didn’t deplete my supply so quickly, I would probably strictly smoke joints.  They seem to provide the most flavor while burning almost as slow as them tobacco wraps.

However, every other method of consumption is much more efficient, especially when smoking alone or with a small group of people.  Packing a bowl/bong will use approximately 0.2-0.4 grams each session in comparison to the 0.9-1.5+ grams of bud you will find stuffed in a cone.  While a joint will provide more hits and last longer than a bong, just a few rips out of a decent rig will provide a comparable high.  It produces much more smoke then a joint ever could in one hit.  If you were to pack three of these bowls back to back you would most definitely be higher than you would off a standard joint.  The same amount of marijuana can be used for a much stronger effect.  Most people come to realize that they are using much more product than necessary after purchasing a bong for the first time.

Are there any other ways to consume weed that uses even less than packing a bong?  Of course, but you’ll have to trade all that marijuana smoke for some vapor.  The healthier alternative of vaporizing is not as popular among patients and consumers as smoking.  I think a lot of this is due to the fact that smoking marijuana has been the traditional way to use it for thousands of years.  Smoking seems to pack a stronger less clear-headed high then vaporization in my own personal experience.  The high just has a different feeling to it than one produced by vapor.  Another reason many people steer clear of vaporization is the high price tag on the equipment.  While I haven’t used a portable herb vaporizer in a couple years, they did seem to be sub-par quality with a lot of problems in comparison to their stationary versions.  I’m sure they have made a lot of progress and improvements over the last few years, but you still need to be prepared to drop a couple hundred dollars for a decent one.  Cleaning was always a challenge for these older versions.  Non-portable options like the volcano vaporizer typically run $500 -$700.  A lot of people see that price tag and run over to the glass section to buy a nice piece for a fraction of that.  In the long run, the vaporizer will save users a shit ton because very little product is needed to fill up huge bags of vapor.  For the occasional smoker, it might not be worth it to make this investment.  However, for regular users and patients that are concerned about the effects smoke is having to their lungs it’s a great alternative and a nice way to save some cash.

 

Marijuana in the Upcoming Midterms

It’s approaching midterm election time, and my hope is voter turnout will be good thanks to the marijuana initiatives that will be on the ballots for four states (Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah).  The most exciting measure for me personally is the chance for voters to pass recreational marijuana in my home state of Michigan.  It’s exciting and surprising that North Dakota will also be voting on a measure for recreational use.  Both these initiatives accomplish the same goals of giving marijuana consumers some protection from prosecution, but the language in one is much vaguer than the other.  North Dakota is taking a unique approach that hasn’t been standard practice in previous successful initiatives across the country.  It simply states that it will allow adults over 21 to possess, grow, and purchase cannabis without any legal punishment.  Those with previous marijuana convictions can get those expunged and the initiative also creates penalties for those under 21 who possess, grow, or purchase pot.  Other than that, there is no mention of possession or grow limits for adults.  Setting tax rates and determining how stores and cultivation centers will be regulated was not mentioned either.  An advisor for the campaign claimed the reason for this was to let the legislature do their job and develop all the regulations.  It will be interesting to see how this initiative turns out in a highly conservative state with unclear rules.

Polling from both of these states has shown more positive results for Michigan than North Dakota.  I think that it is likely a direct result of the clear framework MI Legalize has presented to voters.  Many people may see the vagueness as a sign of no rules or limits and vote against it.  Medical marijuana has been legal in both states but it still seems like a large jump for North Dakota to go from no medical marijuana in 2015, to full-on legalization.  It would be terrible to see this bill not go through and see more people continue to get incarcerated but it wouldn’t be that surprising.  At least an opportunity for voters to make a positive change for personal freedoms exists, the same still can’t be said in the majority of the U.S.  Michigan has shown some very good polling results in favor of the measure.  This is definitely still not a guaranteed win, and it would be the first in the Midwest to do so.  Legalization has hit both sides of the coast but has yet to stretch across.  Hopefully Michigan can be the framework of the connecting bridge.

Utah and Missouri both have medical marijuana initiatives that desperately need to pass.  It’s inconceivable that people are still being considered criminals for treating their health condition with natural solutions.  Utah’s initiative is confusing and full of unnecessary regulations that are not in the best interest of patients.  Lawmakers have already agreed to create a compromise that will change much of the rules from the original voter initiative.  The first key component to Utahs bill is that it only covers a handful of conditions.  Qualifying conditions include HIV/AIDS, Cancer, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain.  It also prohibits the smoking of cannabis in its natural form.  They also decided to impose restrictions on doctors such as not allowing them to recommend cannabis to more than 20% of their patients.  This is probably the worst part of the bill and suggests that the percentage of people that could benefit medically from cannabis is very small.  In addition, patients will only be allowed to cultivate their own medicine if they live more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary.  The state wouldn’t have the sick miss a great opportunity to pay taxes.  Who knows how much worse this bill will become once legislators make good on their promised compromise.  At least some patients will be saved the nightmare of an arrest and criminal record.

Campaign organizes not being able to agree on an ideal medical marijuana industry for Missouri has led to their being 3 separate initiatives on November’s ballot.  They couldn’t settle their differences and this could lead to a mixed result come voting day.  The differences in the initiatives mainly involve qualifying conditions as well as tax rates and where those dollars should go.  Amendment 2 wants to set the tax rate at 4% and use that tax revenue to provide services to military veterans.  It also allows patients to qualify for marijuana with their doctor’s approval even if they do not have a “qualifying condition”. It also is the only one that would allow home growing.  Amendment 3 wants the tax rate to be 15% and send those funds to research institutions that study cancer and other serious diseases.  The last initiative, Proposition C sets the tax rate very low at 2%.  It would distribute that revenue to a variety of destinations.  In the case that more than one of these was successful this midterm, the amendments would take priority over the proposition.  Between the amendments, it would simply come down to which receives more votes.  It seems that Amendment 2 would be the best option because it keeps tax rates reasonable while allowing the plant to be grown if a patient chooses to do so.  It’s important to note that it should be a doctor/patient decision to use medical marijuana, not a list developed by those outside the health industry.