Canadian Marijuana Workers May be Denied U.S. Entry

The list of negative consequences from cannabis being illegal at the federal level seems to keep growing longer and longer.  The government is now stating that if Canadians legally work in their medical marijuana industry they can be denied entry into the United States and could even receive a lifetime ban.  The Customs and Border Patrol Agency has made it clear that they do not recognize these marijuana businesses as legal entities whether they are operating legally in their home country or not.  Law enforcement has far too much power if it has the authority to ban someone from a country forever for doing nothing wrong.  Preventing a substance that you consider illegal is one thing, but preventing family members and visitors from ever seeing the great United States again is a crime.  Especially when the federal government is allowing its own states to pass laws that directly contradict their own criminal code.

Canadians have to be aware of this so they can take preventative steps and avoid being denied entry.  This applies to anybody that has ever used illegal drugs in the past, not just workers in the marijuana industry.  It will likely apply to an even larger number of people once recreational marijuana legalization takes effect on October 17th.  It is unclear exactly how Homeland Security will evaluate whether someone is associated with the cannabis industry.  The best bet for those visiting the country would be to never admit to any past marijuana use or involvement in the legal marijuana industry.  It is unlikely that the officer will be asking those type of questions without a solid reason to believe you are involved with cannabis, but it is definitely a possibility.  Open admission is a guaranteed way to get yourself denied entry.  You will be treated as a potential harm to society without a second thought.

These types of questions will probably become more popular among border patrol agents come October so they can exercise their power with more results.  Luckily a democratic representative from California, Lou Correa, is questioning this policy as well as asking for clarification on how it will be enforced.   The letter addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security asked for a response by the beginning of October.  It seems the letter will have little effect on the enforcement of banning Canadians but the response should help clarify what to expect when crossing the border.  Hopefully it will be crystal clear for travelers what questions to expect and what type of answers could land them in trouble.  There will likely be a large number of people who suffer because they weren’t aware that their legal activities can still have serious consequences.

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Washington D.C. Police Now Required to Cite Public Weed Consumption

We all know that we aren’t supposed to smoke cannabis in public regardless of its legal status.  Realistically, the temptation to light up outdoors on a beautiful day will not be ignored by many stoners.  Depending on where you live, the risks vary but it will always result in some form of punishment.  Thankfully no one else will ever be arrested for public marijuana use in the U.S. capital.  Instead, those that are unlucky enough to evade the police will face a small fine of $25.  Police will feel more like they are giving out a parking ticket then capturing some criminal.   They will certainly not be going out of there way to cite people with a measly fine.  They will likely only cite people who are blatant about their consumption.  Catching someone for an arrestable offense always justifies an officers time and effort whether it is for marijuana possession or a serious assault.  This policy change strips away the justification for wasting the taxpayers’ money and redirects the polices’ attention to more serious issues.

Before this policy change, officers already had the option to cite instead of arrest someone for public consumption.  The change in policy simply mandates a citation instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the officer.  The new change will of course not apply to minors or people that have outstanding warrants.  This law also won’t apply to the large area of the capital that is considered “federal land”.  Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level and violators could face federal penalties for consuming and possessing marijuana.  Records have shown that possession arrests have been falling ever since marijuana was legalized in D.C. in 2014.  The same can not be said for public consumption arrests.  They rose from less than 100 in 2014 to almost 300 the past couple of years.  It seems the police are targeting the same group of people in a different but legal way.  The policy change put forward this past week is targeting this practice and aims to strengthen relationships between members of the cannabis community and the police force.

I would like to think that before the change was made, officers went with a citation more often than not when someone was caught smoking in a public area.  While there is no data on how many people were offered citations over an arrest, the number of arrests were far too high.  Nobody gets arrested for drinking in public unless they are being obnoxious or are a danger to themselves and others.  Cannabis should be given similar treatment and even more leniency then this harmful substance.  This issue does seem like a minor thing to discuss considering many states are still arresting people for possession regardless of where they consume it.  However, it is important that the punishment always reflects the crime so that the majority of people respect the law and those who enforce it.

 

 

 

Coca-Cola and Aurora Consider Producing Marijuana Infused Drinks

This week another beverage giant, Coca-Cola, has shown interest in possibly partnering with Aurora Cannabis in order to develop various weed-infused beverages.  While nothing has been verified by either company, they have both made statements confirming that they are thinking about pursuing this business opportunity.  Even though no solid agreements were made, this didn’t stop Aurora’s stock prices from soaring today.  It saw an increase of 12% when the news of this partnership first broke.  Both companies have hinted that they will be producing beverages that are more focused on approving health then getting stoned.  CBD seems to be the main focus of Coca-Cola, at least for the time being.  They mentioned that the non-psychoactive compound is already being used in beverages across the world for health benefits and that they are monitoring this closely.  It is likely that they are focusing on this instead of THC infused drinks because recreational marijuana is not yet legal in Canada or the U.S.  There will also be a period of time after it is legalized next month where stores will not yet be operating.  So it makes sense to first focus heavily on the already existing medical marijuana industry.

If this partnership were to happen, it would be the first time a major non-alcoholic drink producer entered into the cannabis market.  This is shortly after the major $4 billion investment Constellation Brands made in Canopy Growth, Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer.  A lot of investments and partnerships are being considered as we come closer and closer to recreational marijuana in Canada.  Alcohol producer Molson-Coors had already announced earlier this year that they plan to produce cannabis-infused drinks with Hydropothecary.  I would be willing to bet there will be more partnerships made by companies that have no existing relationship with cannabis.  As long as a corporation has the existing infrastructure to easily produce a cannabis-related product or service, the possibility exists.  Coke would have to invest little to nothing into their existing bottling and distribution centers.  They would just need to source CBD or other cannabinoids and simply add it into the existing production process.

Cannabis infused drinks, if priced competitively, are extremely popular among cannabis consumers and patients.  It is a great way to consume cannabis without the harms of smoking or eating unhealthy infused sweets.  Most popular edibles that are produced have lots of fat and sugar.  The target market for these new types of drinks would be the more health-conscious consumer.  That is as long as Coca-Cola doesn’t decide to produce marijuana-infused drinks that are as bad for you as drinking coke.  I think it would be a much smarter move to create a drink with much less sugar and caffeine.  After all, they are planning on producing a beverage aimed at improving health.  If they are successful at accomplishing this, they may even be able to reduce the negative stigma associated with their popular brand name.

Both companies have made it clear that there is absolutely zero guarantee that this merger will happen despite the great opportunity.  Having an enormous corporation like Coca-Cola on Aurora’s team would put it in a better position to compete with Canopy Growth.  They also probably will be developing marijuana-infused beverages with the knowledge and expertise Constellation Brands brings to the table.  Both Coca-Cola and Aurora saw a rise in their stock value without any solid plans being announced.  Imagine what type of increase they would see if a merger is confirmed, or if Aurora was able to expand to the United States.  There is great opportunity ahead for Canada’s biggest medical marijuana producers.

Should Marijuana be Classified as a Psychedelic/Hallucinogen

Classifying psychoactive drugs into different categories is usually a pretty straightforward process.  The consistently documented effects of a substance are compared to one of the three main drug categories: stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens.  Some drugs have many properties that make it possible for them to fit into more than one of these groups.  Determining how drugs affect the central nervous system is the key to differentiating between stimulants and depressants.  Stimulants are known for increasing the activity in the CNS, leading to feelings of energy and alertness.  Depressants do the opposite, while hallucinogens interact mostly with the chemical serotonin.  With drugs like alcohol or cocaine, it is extremely easy to figure out where to classify them.  That’s because alcohol will always slow users down mentally(reaction times) and physically when it comes to heart rate and breathing.  There aren’t different strains or types of alcohol or cocaine that allow users to have a different experience.  The only difference will lie in how potent those depressing or stimulating effects will be from batch to batch.  Cannabis is much more difficult to throw into one category.

Everyone has heard the phrase that drugs affect everyone differently.  This is true in a sense, but it’s also true that drugs have basic effects that will happen to the vast majority or all of its users.  For example, cannabis will make users feel very euphoric and more sensitive to sounds and taste.  I’ve never come across someone who has argued food doesn’t taste better while high.  The same goes for listening to music.  It just sounds so new and full of detail.  There are so many strains available now that users can customize their high by selecting a strain that was bred for a specific effect or medical condition.  This is the main reason why its difficult to categorize marijuana.  If someone were to get their hands on an extremely powerful indica such as Gorilla Cookie or Banana Kush, there would be no stimulant properties to be found.  If you manage to stay awake after using one of these strains, the strong feeling of relaxation will make it very tempting to just kick back.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, sativas can make people so alert and sensitive to their surroundings that paranoia kicks in.  However, no strain will ever cause visuals or make users see things that are not really there.

This doesn’t mean that high-grade cannabis can’t be too powerful or overwhelming to new users.  High doses of this new substance can cause distortions in time and cause some people to panic.  I don’t believe that this means it should be classified as a hallucinogen. That is because these type of effects will not continue after using the substance several times and they will not happen at all if the dosages are proper.  Another reason why it shouldn’t be classified with other psychedelic drugs is that cannabis will never take the user into the deep depths of their mind like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms do.  Even the most potent of edibles will not have you rethinking the meaning of life in the way a trip can.  The potential for a negative experience is also much higher when dealing with these stronger drugs.

I don’t believe weed should be placed in just one of these categories, it qualifies as both a stimulant and a depressant based on the strain and the user.  I know friends who say that weed makes them tired every time they try it, regardless of the strain or grower.  Then there are people who are obsessed with figuring out what their ideal strain is, and acquiring it regardless what the cost may be.  The stoner stereotype would make it seem that weed is a 100% depressant substance that destroys productivity.  At the same time, the successful stoners in our society have modeled that it can stimulate the best of our creativity.  Cannabis really is a one of a kind drug.

Researchers Look to Study Pot’s Pain Killing Properties

The long existing problem of opioid abuse and addiction is receiving a valuable response from a group of researchers at UCLA.  They’re determined to figure out the optimal combination of cannabinoids when it comes to treating pain.  Almost everyone knows someone who has been negatively affected by the opioid epidemic, and it’s encouraging to see this team prove/disprove this commonly substituted solution.  Pain patients have been sharing their success with making the switch to cannabis for years, but medical science has remained far behind.  Today, there are still many people that are unconvinced cannabis can provide relief similar to hard narcotics when it comes to severe or chronic pain.  This is much-needed scientific data that can lead to a serious change in opioid usage rates.  Opioid painkillers have been the go-to drug doctors have been prescribing for pain since the late 1800s.  No other options have really been considered as medically prescribed substitutes for all this time.

Natural alternatives such as cannabis or even the Kratom plant will clearly have far less negative side effects for pain patients.  Not to mention the excruciating physical withdrawal symptoms that can develop after short periods of use.  However, the real test is how effective they stand against the notorious synthetic drugs originating from the poppy plant.  The other limited sources of research available involving opioid use and cannabis have shown some positive results.  One 5 year-long study in the JAMA(Journal of the American Medical Association) pointed to the fact that states that have medical marijuana laws in effect saw 6% fewer opioid prescriptions among Medicaid patients than states without laws in effect.  6% is a significant number of prescriptions. However, the fact that the study was unable to determine whether the people in the medical marijuana states were making the switch over to marijuana led to some uncertainty.  It could be attributed to other factors outside of substituting it with cannabis although it’s unlikely.

This study will not be taking place until it is able to secure more funding along with approval from two major governmental agencies.  The DEA and FDA must both give the go-ahead allowing the university to study a schedule one substance.  This study is by no means guaranteed to happen.  It simply is the goal of the cannabis initiative team.  Those that have a financial incentive in marijuana will be prohibited from giving donations in order to establish an environment of “fair research”.  This could also become a hurdle for the researches, but it is a good policy by the university to help strengthen any future findings that they are able to make.  It would be beyond frustrating to see something so beneficial and promising to the cannabis industry stopped in its tracks by the government, although it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.  The constitutionality of marijuana’s schedule one status has been unsuccessfully challenged several times in court over the years despite it’s well known medical uses and safety profile.  So don’t be surprised if officials pull something similar in an effort to further delay federal legalization here in the U.S.

 

 

 

Michigan Considers Allowing Dispensaries to Start Home Deliveries

Patients in the state of Michigan with a registered caregiver have been taking advantage of home delivery since 2008.  Those who do not have a registered caregiver in the program and use provisioning centers as their point of access will likely have similar options soon.  This is great news because for many patients there simply aren’t any local dispensaries operating nearby.  Also, there are many cases where a patient is severely ill or suffers from a condition that affects their ability to drive.  The fact that caregivers can only supply up to five patients makes it hard for some people to find a grower who can supply them with a steady supply of high-quality medicine.  Along with that, some people benefit/prefer using marijuana in different ways outside of its raw form.  As a result, this sends many patients to dispensaries so that they can have a large selection of products to choose from.

If you live in Michigan or have looked at the local Weedmaps directory, it is obvious that delivery services have been operating for years.  These businesses are hiding in a grey area at best.  They can’t claim to be caregivers because they are servicing anybody with a valid medical marijuana license that contacts them.  While I’m sure a few have run into some legal trouble, the overall delivery market hasn’t been affected or slowed down.  These services are prevalent in metro Detroit and offer reasonable pricing despite their convenience.  Patients most likely wouldn’t see any major changes if deliveries become allowed, it would simply provide protection for brick and mortar stores to expand operations outside their store.  Unregulated delivery services will probably be cracked down on and be forced to apply for a commercial license or close.  This is no guarantee, just what I think is likely to happen considering the closing of all the dispensaries in Detroit lately.  By September 15th, all dispensaries who haven’t been awarded a commercial license must close their doors.  Unless there is an extension to that date, I think this will be applied to existing delivery services soon.  The state hasn’t been too friendly to the medical marijuana businesses that have been operating unregulated for years and I think that trend will continue.

The proposed rules would allow dispensaries to have only one staff member making deliveries at a time.  This driver can only make three consecutive stops before returning.  In addition, the GPS location of the driver must be tracked and logged by the dispensary. There is also a provision added to the proposal that mentions residents living in a city or township banning dispensaries would still be allowed to receive deliveries.  These “dry” communities have accomplished nothing but make medicine less accessible for patients.  At least residents will now have legal protection to acquire medicine without leaving their local area.  It seems that the state is headed in the right direction establishing permanent rules and providing protections for those looking to deliver medicine to patients.  However, I think it could go with a lot less regulation.  Making it so existing delivery services have to have a physical storefront and limiting the number of staff that can be conducting deliveries is just unnecessary.  Marijuana has been unregulated for years through prohibition and even up until last December when the state began accepting commercial licenses.  Those who took all the risks and were the pioneers in the industry are being flushed out by newcomers with lots of capital.  It would be nice to see some of the existing delivery services able to continue to build their business and reap some benefits for all the risks they have taken for their patients.