Medical Marijuana and Universities

Medical marijuana legislation in the United States currently provides essential protection from prosecution to approximately 2.3 million patients.  These patients are allowed to take their medicine almost everywhere, but when it comes to a federally funded college campus, those protections can vanish.  Medical marijuana use is viewed as narcotics use thanks to the controlled substance act that still lists marijuana as a dangerous drug.  Colleges are continuing to enforce a complete prohibition of the plant, and I’m afraid some people are not aware that bringing their medicine on campus can have serious consequences.  Not only have some students faced criminal prosecution, but they have also suffered additional penalties from the school administration.

One of the best ways to eliminate running into any trouble would be to seek off-campus housing.  It simply isn’t a viable solution to live in a dorm and hardly ever be able to find relief.  There would be nowhere safe to store it and even the idea of smoking off campus would mean getting a new small supply each time.  Edibles would be effective and stealthy, but many people prefer smoking/vaporization because the effects are immediate and much more predictable.  Storing edibles may be harder to detect but I would still not recommend keeping it anywhere on school grounds.  It wouldn’t surprise me if university police decided to weigh the whole edible and charge as if it were normal cannabis.  Having your medicine at housing near campus guarantees no legal trouble and allows you to use it as needed.  Patient possession limits are often set high enough to be considered intent to sell by police/universities.  In Michigan, patients are allowed to have 2.5 ounces in their possession which would easily land non-patients a felony charge for intent to distribute.  Always remember you’re subject to different laws on school grounds, regardless if it’s a college, high school, elementary etc.

I’m uncertain how long this type of prosecution will continue but I would expect to see some legislation taking effect before federal law officially changes.  Arizona has already made headlines this year when the supreme court ruled that banning medical marijuana on public colleges violated the protections of the voter-approved law.  Students in Arizona who have medical marijuana cards will not face criminal prosecutions but they have faced administrative penalties.  The possession, use, and sale are all still prohibited on college grounds due to the federal funding provided by the U.S. government.  That funding would not be threatened based on whether students are criminally prosecuted, but instead would be based on whether schools still prohibit the substance.  This is definitely a step in the right direction as students will likely be willing to risk administrative action in order to have their medicine easily accessible.  While other states have yet to enact similar policies, colleges across the country are removing the requirement that first-year students need to live on campus.  Universities are doing this so patients can continue using their medicine and pursue an education without the risk of endangering their future.  We still have a long way to go to ensure protection in the educational environment is not limited to those who treat their illnesses with pharmaceutical drugs.

 

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Parent Company of Corona Invests Big in Cannabis

The beverage company that owns several brands of wine and beer including Corona and Modelo just gained 38% ownership in the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth.  In order to acquire this much ownership of Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer, Constellation Brands made a record-breaking investment.  The owner decided to drop $3.8 billion in order to establish his company in the cannabis community before Canada’s recreational sales begin and before that sector of the economy explodes.  He believes like many other cannabis consumers and businessman that the time for federal legalization in the United States is also quickly approaching.  Robert Sands is confident that Canopy growth has market-leading capabilities that will allow them to expand and build their company across international borders.

This nearly $4 billion investment by an alcohol company is clear evidence of the culture change we have and currently are experiencing in both the U.S. and Canada.  If this kind of thing were to happen just ten years ago it would have been considered shocking and extremely risky.  Ten years ago there wasn’t even a Canopy Growth Corp. operating in Canada.  Although medical cannabis laws have been in place in the country since 2001, recreational legalization didn’t pass until this year.  Also, the U.S. hardly had any laws regarding medical cannabis besides a few select states which were mostly out west.  The market was in early development and did not have the legal protections or the enormous customer base that continues to grow over time.  Many still think that shifting focus away from the lucrative alcohol sector that Constellation brands worked so hard to build is questionable even at this point in time.  There still is no guarantee that legalization won’t hit more roadblocks and get delayed for years.  Nobody knows for sure if Canopy Growth will be successful in expanding its operations into a new country with established medical and recreational companies.

This move has to be extremely exciting for Canopy Growth’s point of view.  With an enormous boost in capital, it should be able to maintain it’s status as the largest cannabis company/producer in Canada.  Canopy also has stated they will not grow or distribute any of their products until it is legal at all levels of the government.  They will not be dealing with individual states that have passed laws allowing recreational or medical cannabis.  They are playing it safe and trying to remove any possibility of liability.  This may have an impact on their ability to establish themselves in the United States and other countries because other companies may be willing to take the risk and build their business behind the security of state or local laws.  However, with the type of cash they now have access to, they might be able to enter late and still be successful.  They would still have a strong reputation from their presence in the north and use that as a sales point for new customers who aren’t aware.  Another result of this investment is that Constellation will now be able to select four of seven directors for the company.  Management positions are going remain the same for Canopy Growth for the time being. When news of Constellation Brands acquisitions first broke the stocks for the Canadian company rose 31.3%.  I’m hoping that everybody has made their investment before Robert Sands did.

New Bill Would Allow Government Workers to use Legal Weed

As things stand right now, private corporations across the country in states with or without legal weed are drug testing applicants and current employees for marijuana.  This is not required by law but instead has been a common practice among businesses since the drug war was launched in the 1970’s.  Even when states began legalizing the herb for medical and recreational purposes, things have remained the same.  There may have been a decrease in the number of employers testing for marijuana or other drugs, but it’s still very common.  A large reason for this is insurance companies refusing to provide service to businesses unless they make a considerable effort to maintain a drug-free workplace.  Even though there is evidence showing the ineffectiveness drug testing has had on workplace safety, tradition has trumped information.

It was exciting to hear that on July 26th a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress called the “Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act”.  If passed it would prevent the government from denying employment to new employees or punishing existing employees for a positive THC drug test given that the cannabis use is legal in that state.  Civilian government employees cannot be punished as long as the use was outside of the workplace.  The only other exception to the bill is that positions requiring a high-security clearance are not barred from testing for the drug.  This would be an enormous positive change for the entire country because many private companies would likely follow suit and stop testing for the drug as well.  Also, I’m sure there are a ton of recreational/medical marijuana users who have passed up an opportunity or never considered working for the federal government due to their marijuana use.  The government has been notorious for its strict policies on cannabis use citing its schedule 1 status under federal law.  My mother and other people I know who are civilian employees have been randomly drug tested and went through a thorough background check to ensure there’s no history of drug use or other criminal activity.

The fat-soluble nature of THC is what allows the government and companies to be able to detect its use.  Essentially all other drugs that are known to man exit the body in a much shorter period of time.  For example, meth is only detectable in urine for around 72 hours.  One long weekend and you’re good to go back to the office on Monday after a tweaked out Friday night.  Heroin and Cocaine are the same way.  It seems the hard drugs are eliminated by the body much quicker as if our body is flushing them out for our own well being.  With marijuana and other drugs, detection times will vary from person to person due to an individuals metabolism among other factors.  Marijuana metabolites are stored in fatty tissues and are slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of days or weeks.  If this weren’t the case there would be little reason to drug test employees. It would be much harder for those who use other drugs to be detected by an upcoming drug screening.  The effectiveness of workplace drug testing would be further questioned and likely eliminated shortly after marijuana is no longer tested for.

Allowing government employees to use cannabis on their own free time could benefit the employer as well.  It gives them a much larger list of qualified applicants to choose from and likely a better candidate for the position.  Outside of new employees, existing employees may decide that using cannabis to relax and unwind is a much more effective than alcohol.  Having access to a safer alternative could help prevent work-related problems caused by alcohol abuse.  Also, employees won’t have to hide their use from co-workers and will be less hesitant to build stronger relationships with the people they work with.  Those suffering from medical conditions that interfere with their effectiveness on the job would be able to find relief without turning to prescription medication that comes with a long list of side effects.  The list of positive results from a bill like this passing could go on forever and I can’t wait to see the workforce begin to openly accept the cannabis community.

 

 

Perfecting the Seedling Stage of Growth

When a seed has visibly sprouted above ground and its first set of leaves are visible the seedling stage has officially begun.  There are several different environmental conditions you can control to help your young plant grow a strong root system and a supportive main stem.  One of these conditions is keeping a consistent air flow present at all times.  It is crucial that there is some wind resistance blowing against the support system of the plant.  I’m sure you have witnessed the images of long skinny cannabis stems that are stretching like crazy for the light without any root support.  The wind that comes from your fan will signal to the plant that it needs to build a stronger foundation in order to survive its conditions.  Cannabis is amazing at adapting to whatever environment it is placed in and that’s why it can grow in climates throughout the world.  Be sure when first adding wind to the environment, that you gradually get your plant use to the airflow.  At first, it’s going to be extremely weak so putting the fan on a medium/high setting could really stress out the plant beyond the point of recovery.  As the stem continues to grow stronger, kick the fan up to its usual setting.

Humidity should also be in central focus early on in the plant’s life cycle.  It is crucial to maintain the appropriate humidity throughout the entire growing process because humidity affects the rate at which your crops will transpire.  Cannabis plants will always try and maintain a equilibrium when it comes to the water levels inside and outside the plant.  So if the humidity in the grow room is too low the plant will begin to transpire dangerously quick and lose its necessary nutrients.  New stunted leaves, dying flowers, and older shriveling leaves are all indications of rapid transpiration.  In the seedling, stage humidity needs to be at its highest levels.  I would recommend aiming for 70% and decreasing by around 5-10% each week until reaching the 40% mark.  Until the plant has fully developed roots, lower levels of humidity in the air will cause stunted growth.  It’s important to understand that levels above 45% are usually dangerous and unwanted in a grow room because they can cause mold and mildew in mature plants.  It’s often hard to reach 70% humidity for your seedlings without the help of humidity domes or using a humidifier.

Another important determination to make is when to begin adding nutrients to the plant.  I would say that it should be right around the same time you set up the fan and begin building its root structure.  Up until the point where it shows its first set of leaves you should be fine using plain water that has been PH’d correctly.  When you do begin adding nutrients, remember less is more and that the last thing you want to do is cause nutrient overload this early on.  General Hydroponics brand has a chart that includes the appropriate amounts for the different stages of growth, including the seedling stage.  I would use this as a guide more than a precise measurement.  They often overstate the amount of nutrients you need in order to sell their product more quickly.  I would also start smaller than the recommendations for other brands too until you know exactly how your plant will react.

The last important thing a grower should monitor is the space between the light and the top set of leaves.  During this stage, I would highly recommend only using compact fluorescent lighting due to the intensity of other lighting sources.  Just like with high winds, high voltage lighting can cause irreversible damage that the plant may never recover from.  Even with CFLs, not maintaining the right distance can cause similar problems.  The ideal height should only be 2-4 inches above the highest point of the plant.  Any higher than that, and you’ll likely see it begin to stretch into a skinny long stem.  These lights still emit heat and if they are really close will cause leaves to wither and dry up.  Make sure to check the height at least once a day and make adjustments as needed.  Maintaining the perfect environment early on always pays off and leads to a strong support system capable of holding the densest of buds.

 

Strain in Rotation: Wonder Woman

The most recent strain in my rotation that I have had the chance to grow several times over the past year is Wonder Woman.  This indica dominant hybrid has a fruity/piney taste on the inhale that cannot be ignored.  The flavor that this strain brings to the table is the reason why it has been a repeat in the garden this year.  Yes, the yields are on the heavier than average side when compared to other strains, but it definitely isn’t the highest I’ve seen even in my own small garden.  It likes to grow short and bushy like most indica strains tend to do.  If you give it enough time in the vegetative cycle, it can grow some monster branches.  The typical 2 months in veg 2 months in flower time frame has yielded as much as 8.5 ozs per plant.  This is really impressive considering the premium quality of the buds it is capable of producing in the right growing conditions.

Wonder woman originates from breeding the 1998 cannabis cup winner, Ice, with a strain known as Top 44.  Ice is sativa dominant and Top 44 is a pure indica strain.   This results in wonder woman initiating more of a heavy body high than an energetic one.  It’s an extremely relaxing feeling that also comes with a strong appetite boost.  It’s best used for medical conditions like depression, insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD.  This is because the mind is put at ease and there isn’t a ton of racing thoughts that many people experience from sativa strains.  For those who don’t suffer from any medical conditions, it tends to bring a lot of euphoria and laugher.  I know that it will stick around the rotation for years to come because it is extremely popular among consumers for the flavor and growers for the shorter flowering period.  Expect it to be ready after 8 complete weeks although I have seen better results from adding an extra week.

 

 

My Personal Germination Method

Throughout the cultivation process, every grower uses their own unique technique in the way that they care for their plants.  There are a ton of paths one can take to end up with a premium grade harvest.  The germination stage is just one step in that process and there are also a variety of unique ways this stage can be initiated by the grower.  Like most new growers, when I first started I went with one of the more popular methods using paper towels.  There is no doubt plenty of growers who have had success using this technique, but I still would not recommend pursuing it unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

The paper towel method involves placing one or more cannabis seeds between a few moist paper towels and placing it in a dark area of the house.  It seems that the main issue with this strategy is the fact that paper towels are very absorbent by nature and will not stay moist for a long period of time.  So unless you are able to dampen the paper towels every few hours, the environment will be far to dry for the taproot to emerge.  Remember that moisture and darkness are the two key environmental factors that a seed needs in order to start germination.  Another reason I avoid the paper towel method is that the taproots are extremely delicate and can be exposed to potential damage when transplanted to the growing medium.  Taproots are the foundation of your plant’s structure and should not be touched or exposed outside of the soil.

The number one method I have had the most success with and find the easiest is germinating directly in the soil or another preferred growing medium.  It’s simplistic, but every time I have tried it with healthy seeds a stem broke the surface just 5-6 days after planting.  Make sure that the seed is not too deep below the surface of the soil.  This is a common mistake and for whatever reason people assume the seed should be a half inch or deeper into the dirt. Ideally, there should only be a 1/4 inch of space or a sprinkled amount of soil covering the seed.  It’s important to keep a thin layer of growing medium above the plant so that moisture is still present and it also won’t take too long to break the surface once sprouted.  Leave 7 days time before digging up the seed to see what is causing it not to sprout.  Patience is key and checking on its status too early could damage the taproot and potentially kill your plant before it can even grow.

There is some disagreement among growers about when exactly a planted seed should be exposed to a light source.  I would argue from experience that the seed will sprout just fine without any light.  The optimal time to turn on the light would be right after the main stem becomes visible above the soil.  This is when the plant will need UV rays in order to continue to grow more sets of leaves and stronger roots.  Others have claimed using a light before the seed sprouts add heat to the process which helps speeds it up.  In my opinion, if you can’t wait 4-7 days for a sprout then growing isn’t the hobby for you.  Either way, the best type of light to use for the beginning of the seedling stage is CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights.  They generally have the spiral design and do not generate much heat which is perfect.  Young plants shouldn’t be exposed to high wattage lighting because it will be overwhelming and can drastically stunt growth.  It’s best to change the light type after the seedling stage has passed and there are several sets of mature leaves and branches.

Michigan Increases it’s Number of Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

Yesterday was a major victory for patients suffering from a variety of serious diseases in Michigan.  People who couldn’t qualify to use marijuana legally either risked prosecution or continued to use less effective pharmecutical drugs.  The existing list before the change took effect only included eight conditions.  They more than doubled that list by adding 10 new qualifying conditions that a physician can legally recommend marijuana for.  The old list included cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Chron’s disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Now protection will be expanded to those suffering from arthritis, autism, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s syndrome, and colitis.  I would expect to see an explosion in the number of registered patients in my state as a result of this change.  The number of people who have one of these new conditions is enormous, but many will not take advantage of the expanded coverage.

I think that the most noticeable difference will be an increase in the amount of elderly medical marijuana users.  One of the key conditions that now qualifies is arthritis.  This disease is more common among the older generation and its addition to the list will likely attract some senior citizens.  I also believe that with the success of marijuana legalization across the country and in Canada, more people will be questioning their negative attitude surrounding the plant.  When I have visited local dispensaries rarely did I see anyone over the age of 65 in there.  However, this is likely because they have registered caregivers that grow or acquire their medicine for them so they don’t have to travel.  This age group is generally known for their opposition to drugs that have been illegal their entire lives.  Those facing old age are the ones who need cannabis the most and hopefully, these new conditions will lead more elderly patients to try alternative medicine.

There seems to only be positive results when more conditions are allowed to be treated using marijuana.  If I were to write the law it wouldn’t be a list of qualifying conditions, but rather discretion would be given to physicians. They should be able to recommend marijuana whenever they feel it could positively benefit their patient.  Leaving it up to the government to decide what conditions should qualify doesn’t make sense.  Doctors are the ones who have the most knowledge regarding the side effects of diseases and are familiar with each patient’s unique scenario.  Either way, there will be a noticeable growth in the economy of medical marijuana businesses in order to meet the demand of more registered patients.  More jobs are going to come to the state if recreational marijuana passes in November and now we don’t need to wait until then.  Dispensaries and cultivation facilities will need additional help and more new facilities will probably start springing up as well.

Compared to other states medical marijuana programs, Michigan is definitely blessed.  Looking at Ohio cities banning home cultivation or other states like Texas only allowing CBD oil for seizures makes our laws feel relaxed.  We pretty much lie right in the middle of the spectrum of marijuana enforcement.  There are lots of dispensaries to shop from across the state but only in large cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and a few others.  For people who live far away from these areas, their selection is limited to the black market or what they themselves can grow.  At least these patients are still being provided protection from the law despite accessibility issues.  Ten years down the line I envision Michigan’s marijuana industry to be developed like the west coast currently is.  We are just a little behind the marijuana pioneers but still on the right track.