Showcase Your Marijuana Growing Skills at the Fair!

March 10th, 2014
Marijuana fair

Marijuana fairIf you were among the hundreds of thousands of people rejoicing when Colorado voted to legalize marijuana last year, you might be eagerly planning a trip to the Centennial State to celebrate in style. Although Colorado is full of places to visit (and of course you must experience the great Rocky Mountain high!), you might want to make sure your visit coincides with the Denver County Fair.

Denver County Fair Offers Marijuana-Themed Exhibits!

This year, in honor of the legal status of recreational marijuana, the Denver County Fair is offering a selection of booths focused on marijuana. A few of the categories in this year’s fair include Best Marijuana Plant, Most-Potent Marijuana Brownies, Best Hemp Fabric, and even a contest to see who can roll a joint the fastest!

Tracy Weil, the marketing and creative director for the Denver County Fair, says, “We look at the trends and what’s happening in our city, and we want to reflect that.”

Don’t Worry, the Fair Is Still Family-Friendly!

Because the county fair is geared toward families and children, entrance into the marijuana exhibits and contests is limited to those over the age of 21, just like for beer gardens available at the fair. Additionally, there will be no actual marijuana at the fair.

For example, the joint-rolling competition will use oregano in place of marijuana, and the best marijuana plant will be decided based on photos submitted for each entry. In this way, the Denver County Fair board can make sure the fair maintains its reputation for being a fun-filled family event.

The Colorado State Fair Offers a Medical Marijuana Education Booth

Although the Denver County Fair is fully embracing the legalization of marijuana, the Colorado State Fair has not followed suit. However, there will be a booth sponsored by the Cannabis Patients Network at the state fair this year.

The purpose of the booth is to provide information and education regarding the use of medical marijuana. The group hopes that by visiting their booth, more people will be open to the idea of using marijuana as a valid treatment for some medical conditions. The booth will be staffed by volunteers who can provide first-hand information about medical marijuana.

Is Marijuana the Ingredient for Increased Fair Attendance?

Whether including marijuana categories at the fair is purely for fun (like at the Denver County Fair) or a way to provide increased education regarding the validity of marijuana as a medical treatment, the fact that some half a million people will visit fairs this year guarantees more exposure to both recreational and medical marijuana use. It just may be that marijuana is the secret ingredient to drawing in more visitors than ever before!

Share Your Opinions!

Are you looking forward to showcasing your marijuana plants or homemade brownies at the fair? Do you think marijuana exhibits are appropriate for the fair? Share your opinions with us!

Obama’s Pot Statement Has People Aflame!

February 3rd, 2014
reefer madness

reefer madnessBy now we have all seen the photograph of President Obama circulating around the news and Internet – you know the one, where he is wearing his fancy white hat and smoking what is purported to be a joint (although I have my doubts about that!). We have also heard, over and over again, his statement in a recent New Yorker magazine interview: “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

No matter what side of the marijuana fence some social media watchers are on, the president’s quote definitely created a storm of controversy – a new version of ‘reefer madness.’

Was the Statement Outrageous, or Simply True?

I should not be surprised at the outrage this statement created. After all, we live in a country that is deeply divided about the issue of marijuana and whether it should be legal at all, regardless of whether it is used medicinally or recreationally.

We also live in a nation of strong people with equally strong opinions – that very thing which makes our country great also makes controversial issues like marijuana legalization a battle where there really should not be one.

Still, I am surprised. One thing that has been bothering me since reading the article in the New Yorker is how much of the article had absolutely nothing to do with marijuana at all, yet the one thing people are talking about is a statement about the drug. In fact, several more things were said by President Obama on the topic, but it seems like conservatives only want to focus on one nine-word statement and ignore the other three paragraphs!

Studies Show Marijuana to Be Less Harmful Than Alcohol and Tobacco

I might not agree with most of the president’s politics, but we are in agreement when it comes to his thoughts about both marijuana in general and the movement toward legalization of the drug. For one thing, studies have shown that marijuana isn’t more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, either one.

A study recently released by the University of California San Francisco followed 5,000 marijuana smokers for a period of 20 years to discover the long-term effects smoking pot had on their lungs. The results were not surprising for marijuana advocates – the lungs of people who used marijuana regularly were nowhere near as damaged as the lungs of comparable cigarette smokers!

As far as comparing the dangers of marijuana to those of alcohol, the numbers don’t lie. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, approximately 26,000 people died as the direct result of alcohol use. In the same year, there are ZERO deaths reported to be the result of marijuana usage. In fact, a recent study found that for anyone to overdose on marijuana, he would need to consume close to 40,000 times the amount of THC present in one joint.

Parents up in Arms, but for What?

I can understand why some people – especially parents – might be upset about the president admitting to smoking marijuana when he was young, and also making a public statement that he doesn’t think it is as dangerous as alcohol. However, I also believe that the type of parents who are willing to blame the president if their children smoke weed have a lot more problems than what the president is talking about in a magazine.

I also think that children and young adults who even know about the president’s statement heard it from their parents. After all, I don’t know any 12-year-old kids who read the New Yorker. Truly, it would not even be on anyone’s radar if people weren’t making such a big deal about it!

If people want to talk about how dangerous marijuana is, they need to be looking at the criminal aspect of it far more than the actual use of the drug. In states where marijuana is completely illegal, there are still people smoking it. However, instead of being able to walk into a well-lit marijuana dispensary, people are lurking on dark street corners to buy it from shady characters. Why do people find this a better alternative than legalizing it? I have never understood that mindset.

I also don’t understand why prescription drugs can be ordered by a doctor and filled at a pharmacy, but marijuana can’t be. After all, prescription drug abuse is rampant in the United States, and over 60 percent of deaths attributed to the illegal use of drugs were caused by prescription drugs. Yet the nation is not up in arms about whether they should continue to be allowed!

Marijuana and Prohibition – Similar Scenarios

I consider the national marijuana issue to be similar to that of the Prohibition era. Back in the day, there were dry counties where people could not purchase alcohol, so people simply drove to the next county.

There were bootleggers who supplied alcohol to anyone who could pay for it, and they definitely added a criminal element to it! Yet once Prohibition was lifted, the bootleggers had to find another enterprise. I think the same thing would happen if marijuana were legal.

Personally, whether I agree with President Obama’s entire political stance is irrelevant – I believe in this particular stance. Allowing marijuana to be legal will actually prevent some of the problems associated with illegal drugs. Requiring taxation and licensing for marijuana growers and distributors creates revenue for the states that allow it. Our court system would be far less overloaded with petty possession cases, which in turn saves the courts money.

I can only hope that by having the president openly state his opinion about marijuana, more people in a greater number of states will start to widen their views about the drug. The more people think about it and research it, I think the fewer people will oppose the decriminalization of the drug. It might be a small start toward more progressive thinking, but it’s still a start.

From Chocolate to Pot: Canada Anticipates Booming Marijuana Industry

December 4th, 2013
marijuana legalization

marijuana legalizationIn an interesting turn of events, an old Hershey chocolate factory in Ontario, Canada, is soon going to be producing goods that many people consider to be even more valuable than chocolate—medical marijuana.

This is great news for those groups of people who have been working diligently to make the medical marijuana business a legitimate enterprise in Canada. While small-time growers and distributors have been legally authorized to produce medical marijuana for the last 10 years or so, the industry has remained just that—small-time.

From Small-Time to Booming Industry

Up until now, patients with a medical marijuana prescription have been allowed to grow a few plants for their own medical use, or have someone else grow them on their behalf. Or, they have been able to receive their supply (in limited quantities) from Health Canada.

Now, however, Canada has decided to grant licenses for some entities to grow and process the drug and operate just like any other manufacturing company—although with quite a few more regulations. The privatization of the marijuana industry effectively removes the presence of Health Canada from contracting with their own growers and allows medical marijuana users to order their products via the mail.

How Does It Work?

The process is a simple one: medical marijuana users will simply fill out an application, attach a note from their doctor, and mail it in to one of the companies authorized to process and distribute the drug. Once the order is received, the user simply waits for it to be filled and arrive by courier. This is similar to the process used by mail order prescription drug companies all over the world.

Right now, there are only two companies licensed to manufacture medical marijuana, although there are over 150 applications waiting to be processed and approved. This is a humble beginning to be sure, but industry experts are anticipating the number of businesses authorized to grow, produce and sell marijuana to increase exponentially in the coming years.

This Makes Good Business Sense

One of the reasons the Canadian government has made this decision is to funnel less of the revenue generated from the marijuana industry to the black market. Although marijuana is legal for medical reasons in Canada, there are not enough small-time producers to keep up with the growing demand.

By privatizing the drug and allowing mass production of medical-grade marijuana, Canada hopes to keep a tighter rein on the drug, regulate it more easily, and benefit the economy at the same time. For example, the shift from government-grown and provided marijuana to commercially produced marijuana could actually save taxpayers millions of dollars in subsidies from qualified users.

In addition to this, the creation of commercial growing enterprises creates a competitive marketplace that could reduce the cost of the drug for medical marijuana users. There is also the fact that more jobs will be created, which every country acknowledges as a positive addition to the local economy.

Small-Time Growers Unhappy With This Change

Not everyone is thrilled with these changes, however. The new standard for marijuana production and distribution effectively removes small growers from the equation, as the free market will remove the right of people to grow their own drug in small quantities. Many people who are part of the movement to legalize marijuana feel like this is a step backward.

The concern is that the privatization of the marijuana industry will actually create more problems for the very people who rely on the drug to alleviate medical issues. Without the ability to produce their own pot, many people are worried that they will no longer be able to afford the drug.

However, those who are heavily involved in the pot industry claim that the price is going to remain affordable, and in most cases will actually be less than the prices charged on the black market. For example, the proposed price of a gram of marijuana produced commercially is less than $8.00 (depending on the variety purchased), which is about $2.00 less than the same product costs on the black market.

In My Opinion…

Canada has proven that they are much more amenable to the idea of legalized marijuana, with medical marijuana being allowed nationwide. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where the fight to make even small amounts of marijuana legal for medical purposes is proving difficult to say the least.

While I may not agree with how many different issues are addressed and dealt with in Canada, I can say with certainty that I feel like this is one area where the United States could use Canada as a positive role model. From the more liberal policies regarding medical marijuana to the privatization of marijuana production and distribution, I think that more good things will come of this policy than bad.

Removing the stigma of marijuana use is a good place to start, and allowing companies to participate in the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry can only lead to a much-improved economy.

Also, I am secretly hoping that the old Hershey’s-turned-pot factory will offer tours of the facility just like they did when the end product was chocolate. That is a tour I would pay to take.

Traveling With Marijuana: Yea or Nay?

November 11th, 2013
travelling with marijuana

travelling with marijuanaTraveling with marijuana used to be a major nightmare, with the worry about being caught with your stash always at the back of your mind. No matter how much effort you put into carrying the drug discreetly, getting through airport security was always an event to be sweated through, and then if you were able to get through smoothly, celebrated.

The TSA Makes a Statement

This has been the case even after some states passed laws allowing small amounts of marijuana to be used for medicinal purposed, as few states had passed legislation decriminalizing the drug for medical reasons.

Now, however, it looks like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might be relaxing a little bit, allowing for the fact that there are more states where marijuana is legal (for either medical or recreational use).

While it still has a responsibility to uphold federal laws regarding the possession of marijuana, the TSA states that they do not actively search for marijuana when conducting passenger screening. In fact, they have even gone so far as to post a notice on their website stating, “Security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”

What Does This Mean for You?

If you are a medical marijuana patient, or if you live in one of the states where recreational use of marijuana is legal, you may not encounter any problems if the TSA finds your stash. This is especially true if you are traveling within a state where marijuana is legal in some form (such as California) or between two states where it is legal (like Washington and California). While the TSA maintains they have the option of contacting local law enforcement, the ultimate decision about whether to let it pass or not rests in the hands of the TSA agents.

In the event that law enforcement is called, it seems unlikely action will be taken in states where marijuana has been legalized or if passengers are flying in from a state where it is. However, that decision remains up to the law enforcement official responding to the call.

So, Can I Travel With My Weed or Not?

Let me reinforce the statement the TSA made that while they aren’t going out of their way to look for marijuana, they will call law enforcement if it is deemed necessary. For this reason, I can’t in good conscience tell you to go ahead and keep your baggie in your pocket.

What I can tell you, however, is that if you are legally entitled to use marijuana, you should pass through security with no problems provided you transport your stash discretely and don’t make a big deal out of it. In fact, I would imagine that hundreds of thousands of people manage to fly with marijuana on a regular basis, simply because they use discretion.

I have heard stories of people who had their marijuana packed in a suitcase and had it go undetected and other stories of people whose stash was discovered and left alone. However, I have also heard of people transporting marijuana who were immediately turned over to the authorities.

I think a lot of it depends on the amount found, as the people who were arrested had a suitcase filled with blocks of marijuana wrapped in birthday gift wrap. That doesn’t indicate discretion to me, nor does it appear that they were simply using it for medical reasons!

Basically, I think that as long as you are transporting small amounts of marijuana for personal use, it should not be an issue. Obviously, pulling your pipe and lighter out of your pocket to go through security isn’t a smart idea, but having it packed in your bag should not pose a problem. However, keep in mind that a TSA agent having a bad day does maintain the right to turn you over to local law enforcement—so whether it should be okay doesn’t mean it always is.

Times Are Changing

The acknowledgement by the TSA that they do not actively search for marijuana seems to go right along with the more liberal views about the drug that are coming to light—not just in airports, but in the nation as a whole. While less than half of the states in the country have passed legislation regarding the medical or recreational use of marijuana, it feels as if the long-held belief that pot is the ”gateway drug from hell” is starting to fade.

Change comes slowly, and in some states where conservatives are deeply rooted it may never come. However, each victory—such as the Department of Justice saying they are not interested in prosecuting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana and the TSA saying they are not all that concerned about your stash—is slowly adding up to a nation that has much more reasonable ideas about what constitutes a dangerous drug.

I think that nationwide acceptance of marijuana is still a long way away, with years of lobbying and legislation to go through before people are allowed to light a joint with the casual ease of lighting a cigarette or drinking a beer. However, I do believe we will reach that point; I can only hope it comes sooner rather than later.

A Jamaican Pot Tour Offers a Smokin’ Good Time!

October 11th, 2013
Jamaican Pot Tours

Jamaican Pot ToursForget taking a wine-tasting trip to Napa Valley or a vacation centered on all of the whiskey distilleries in the world. The newest hot destination for lovers of a good time is Jamaica. Tourists can visit a variety of related historical monuments and sample different flavors and types of, you guessed it, marijuana!

Most people have a mental image of Jamaica being a relaxed atmosphere full of weed and the well-being brought about by smoking (or ingesting) the drug. It’s an especially popular honeymoon destination, as people envision days on the beach and nights drinking rum and rolling joints in smoky cabanas.

This, followed by a moonlight stroll along said beaches, and all that is missing to complete the picture is a dreadlocked waiter serving an endless supply of chocolate chip cookies.

Not Everyone Loves Bob Marley

The reality is that Jamaica is a conservative country with deep religious roots, and not everyone is happy with the Rastafarian image people associate with it. Marijuana may be present (and both grown and sold) in large amounts, but the drug is still prohibited in the country.

Regardless of the laws, however, tourists heading to Jamaica can pay about $50 to take a tour of legendary singer Bob Marley’s home and visit marijuana plantations. The price of admission is, in addition to the $50, the willingness of the ticket purchaser to smoke some pot with the tour guide. This ensures the guide that the tourists are not law enforcement officers, and presumably also ensures that a good time will be had by all.

But If Marijuana Is Illegal…

How is it that a country can have laws prohibiting marijuana growth and consumption yet overlook them so blatantly? After all, the drug is sold and smoked openly, and the idea that people are taking tours to sample different varieties would indicate that the marijuana tourism trade is only growing.

Part of the issue may be that the seedier areas of the country are currently rife with drug wars and violence due to the prevalence of the drug. It seems like everyone wants a piece of the pot pie, and with few resources available for law enforcement officers, it may be that there simply isn’t the time or the money available to prosecute most offenders.

It could also be, however, that despite the religious conservative roots of much of the population, marijuana is such a huge part of the Jamaican culture that it just doesn’t seem like a law worth heavily enforcing to law enforcement officials.

Despite the leniency, however, laws are still laws. There are movements similar to those in the United States to decriminalize marijuana growth and consumption, not just for medicinal purposes but for recreational ones as well; these groups work toward opening a dialogue with the government regarding the possible benefits of legalizing the drug.

Free Enterprise Creates Wealth for Everyone

The benefits to the country are potentially enormous, both in a financial sense and otherwise. First, legalizing the drug and allowing for its growth and distribution (in addition, of course, to its consumption) would lessen the violence of the drug wars as free enterprise would allow anyone with the desire to become a distributor to do so.

Financially, legalizing marijuana would simply make good business sense for the country. Imagine the number of tourists who would flock to Jamaica to experience marijuana tourism for themselves. The added revenue from more frequent visitors to the country, plus taxation on the sale and distribution of the drug, could increase the size of the country’s coffers exponentially.

For anyone who is already involved in the tourist trade, adding marijuana to the mix certainly seems like a surefire way to garner some success.

Alas…

At the moment, these marijuana tours are conducted with an air of secrecy and the awareness that the law could easily shut the whole operation down at any moment. With continued efforts by pro-marijuana groups, however, there may be a loosening of the laws within a relatively short period of time. It is already being discussed, and many people feel like it is better to make money from the drug legally than turn a blind eye to the growing and selling operations.

Along with several key states in the United States like Colorado and Washington, both of which have laws on the books allowing recreational marijuana use, Jamaica is a location I will be keeping an eye on. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, and may certainly give me an idea about where to take my next vacation.

Will Diego Pellicer Become the Walmart of the Marijuana Industry?

October 4th, 2013
Diego Pellicer

Diego PellicerWhether everyone in the nation is on board with it or not, it looks like there’s a possibility—or a probability, even—that marijuana will become as legal (and socially acceptable) as liquor and cigarettes. With more and more states making moves toward legalizing or at least decriminalizing marijuana usage, it may very well turn out that the United States becomes as liberal about marijuana as many other countries are.

The Walmart of Marijuana?

In anticipation of this presumed result, a man named Jamen Shively has begun to make plans to create a chain of stores similar to Starbucks or Walmart. Instead of selling gourmet coffee drinks or bargain retail items, however, Shively’s plan is to sell marijuana.

At a press conference in Seattle recently, Shively unapologetically confirmed that his plans involve being in the business of “Big Marijuana.” He is planning on getting his foot in the door now of a market where to this point there is no market—or at least marijuana has not yet become a branded product on a large scale.

Having a grandfather who was heavily involved in hemp manufacturing and who was known as something of a hemp magnate has played a role in Shively’s decision to invest in this particular product. In fact, his company name, and ultimately the brand he’ll be promoting, is Diego Pellicer, which was the name of his grandfather.

Jamen Shively is certainly someone who appears capable of taking this business plan and running with it. A former Microsoft executive, Shively appears to have a good handle on what the advent of a marijuana superstore could mean to the country, both in terms of revenue generated through taxes and in terms of pushing the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable drug consumption—something many pro-marijuana people believe is necessary to get the idea of legal marijuana into the country’s consciousness.

Surprising Reactions

The reactions from different sides of the marijuana debate have been interesting, to say the least. Some small distributors are upset with Shively, claiming that he has overstepped his bounds and made claims that are not credible. Some of the most vocal opinions against Shively have in fact come from other distributors or growers of legal marijuana—which opens up the question of whether they are afraid Shively will not succeed and bring federal law enforcement down on everyone, or whether he will succeed and force them out of business.

Regardless of who is asking it, though, the real question is this: should marijuana become Big Business in the first place? It seems as if Jamen Shively is simply taking the opportunity to capitalize on what he and many others see is the inevitable nationwide legalization of marijuana. As he summed up during an interview, “It’s a $100 billion industry in search of a brand. Never in the history of capitalism—forget America, in the world—has such a giant vacuum existed.” Following the basic tenets of supply and demand, Shively is acting like any other smart businessman; he is taking the ball and running with it.

Will the Government Intervene?

In the recent past, the federal government has targeted other marijuana dispensaries and growers and prosecuted them for drug crimes. Some people are concerned that Shively is walking around with a target on his back, drawing attention that could ultimately land him in prison. After all, he is very publicly conspiring to traffic drugs—something that has landed many less vocal people in federal prison.

However, the Department of Justice recently released a memo stating that they are no longer interested in prosecuting people for marijuana crimes in states where the drug has been made legal (for either recreational or medicinal purposes). This means that if Shively opens up a chain of stores in states like Colorado or Washington, he should be immune from prosecution.

Is Marijuana Here to Stay?

Just like health care reform and a thousand other decisions handed down by the government throughout history, whether or not pot becomes legal is going to be determined by the will of the people—and the public opinion making itself known in polls right now certainly seems to suggest that marijuana will eventually become legal throughout the majority of the country. You don’t have to like it, but pot is more than likely here to stay.

With this thought in mind, I have to say that I think Jamen Shively is something of a visionary. Not in the sense of coming up with some miraculous business plan that has never been seen before, but in the sense of being able to see which way the business winds are blowing and taking advantage of the opportunity to make a few (billion) bucks. In the business and finance world, you want nothing more than to be compared to the Starbucks and Walmarts of the world.

This is one story I will be following closely, as it will be fascinating to see whether Shively will succeed. If he does, I say more power to him. Nobody thought Sam Walton’s company was going to be the success it is now, with the Walmart brand totally dominating the retail industry and known worldwide. I am anticipating the day when the name Diego Pellicer is similarly well-known.

Department of Justice Memo Paves the Way for Marijuana Legalization

September 13th, 2013
Marijuana crimes

Marijuana crimesIn a landmark decision last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a memo stating that they would no longer be prosecuting people for marijuana possession as long as they live in a state where marijuana is legal. This is a victory for people who have been working toward the legalization of marijuana countrywide, as it paves the way for more states to move forward with marijuana legalization.

What this means to the layman is that in states where marijuana is legal (for medical or personal use), the Federal government is no longer interested in prosecuting casual or recreational marijuana users. The stance the DOJ has taken is that as long as the state in question has their own regulations in place there is no need for them to intervene.

What Kind of Regulations are Required?

One of the conditions required by the Department of Justice is that in states where marijuana is legal, a strict system must be in place to control the sale and distribution of the drug. There are several specific items the regulations need to encompass. For example, there must be a concentrated effort made to restrict marijuana use or possession only to people over the age of 18, and sale or distribution of the drug cannot occur in areas where there are minors (i.e. close to a school). Advertising by distributors also cannot be targeted toward minors.

These are the same (or similar) regulations that already exist to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors. This implies that the Federal government is beginning to loosen their stance regarding the potential harm of recreational marijuana use, equating it with using tobacco. While there may be personal health concerns with both tobacco and marijuana, it is unlikely that the public at large is going to be harmed by their use.

Does Law Enforcement Agree with the Department of Justice?

Law enforcement personnel tend to disagree with the Department of Justice’s stance, however. As a whole, the police force tends to believe that marijuana is a so-called gateway drug. This means that while it may not cause addiction itself, it leads the user to experiment with and become addicted to more dangerous drugs. According to the director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, the memo set forth by the DOJ is not based on fact, but instead on opinion. However, he does state that they are willing to discuss this issue.

What Does the Public Think?

There has been a flurry of opinions aired on both sides of the issue of legalization of marijuana. Obviously, for people who have been active in their efforts toward decriminalizing marijuana, this is a victory. Many have equated it to the ending of Prohibition, when it again became legal for people to produce, sell, and purchase alcohol. These groups believe that legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana simply make sense.

Other factions are equally opposed, making it clear that their belief is that legalization or decriminalization of marijuana creates a public health risk, especially to young people. Kevin Sabet, who is one of the founders of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), claims that “more marijuana is never good for any community.” He feels that the Department of Justice is making a huge mistake by declining to intervene in marijuana prosecution at the state level.

Personally, I feel like the Department of Justice memo is a step in the right direction when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. Using valuable financial and justice system resources in an effort to prosecute marijuana crimes is simply a waste of time and money. In addition, marijuana users are not typically criminals in the accepted sense of the word. Taking away the right to use marijuana recreationally and responsibly, plus prosecuting people for possessing or using the drug, simply creates suffering where none need be.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of individual beliefs, people on each side of the issue can probably agree that Colorado and Washington, the two states that recently legalized marijuana for personal or recreational use, are going to be in the spotlight over the next few years. The voters in these states have shown that they are in favor of legalization of marijuana, and the lawmakers have upheld their decision.

How these two states handle the regulation of marijuana, and how well they can control the growing business of marijuana growing, selling, and distribution, will either make or break the decisions of other states who may be following their lead.

Missouri Representative Rory Ellinger Paves the Way to Legalize Marijuana

August 16th, 2013

It might come as a surprise to the historically conservative people of Missouri that the Democratic State Representative Rory Ellinger has been 100 percent behind a bill that will legalize marijuana in his state. In the last session of the Missouri House of Representatives, the bill to decriminalize marijuana in amounts less than 35 grams was debated before being turned down. Although on the surface this looks like defeat, it does not deter Representative Ellinger from his ultimate goal.

As more states lift their laws regarding marijuana use, both for medicinal and recreational purposes, Missouri would seem to be one of the least likely states to take, much less consider, such action. After all, what used to be a swing-state in previous Presidential elections is now one of the most staunchly conservative states in the country. However, if Rory Ellinger has his way, this could change.

What does the proposed bill contain? Mainly, Ellinger is in favor of allowing the consequences of marijuana possession to be reduced below current law, with charges for possession being reduced to misdemeanors. This will likely include a fine and probation instead of jail time for most offenders. Of course, this would  not apply to people who have prior felonies or who are in possession of large amounts (greater than 35 grams) of marijuana. The congressman also proposes that any charges resulting in possession of small amounts of marijuana be erased from the subject’s record after their successful completion of the terms of probation.

Although the proposed bill is a good start toward opening up a dialogue regarding the legalization of marijuana, it could be years before Missouri catches up to other, moreprogressive, states. Many are under the impression that marijuana is a more dangerous drug than alcohol and will rebel against any type of legislation to encourage legal use of the drug. If this bill is passed it will lead the way toward legalization and taxation of the drug in Missouri. There are many supporters of the decriminalization of marijuana who believe that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, which is legal in every state in the country. As Ellinger put it, “I don’t know anyone who died of a marijuana overdose.” This is a viewpoint that has recently been taken in other states like Colorado and Washington.

If legislation is passed allowing marijuana to be grown and used for personal use in Missouri, the burden of prosecuting these crimes lifted from the court system could focus more of their resources on other, more serious, crimes. With regulation and taxation in place, Missouri could also benefit from the revenue generated through a tax on marijuana purchases. Currently, tax revenue on alcohol and tobacco products is used for drug treatment programs, alcohol and tobacco awareness programs, and other anti-drug campaigns in the school system.

Although there has been no formal proposal regarding the revenue if marijuana were made legal, it may be part of Ellinger’s motive in opening a dialogue about the issue. After all, 25% of Missouri’s tax dollars fund K-12 schools, and another 15% is used to fund Medicaid. The additional monies from the taxation of marijuana could mean a substantial increase to the state’s two most important public services.

Safety Alert for Marijuana Users with Kids and Pets

June 22nd, 2013

It’s taken for granted, “You have to watch what your kids and pets put in their mouth,” but too many kids and pets are “falling through the cracks” where marijuana is legal. In Colorado, a new study points to a major spike in young children needing treatment for eating marijuana-spiced brownies, candies and cookies – even drinking pot-containing beverages. Veterinarians also say that animal poisoning from marijuana has grown from being rare to alarmingly common.  Here’s how to tell when your children or companion animals are in trouble from marijuana.

How Serious Is the Problem for Children?

“We need to educate marijuana users, the community and medical professionals about the potential dangers,” says George Wang, MD.  He’s the lead author of a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that tracks increasing emergency room treatment for kids ingesting pot.  Wang is also the clinical instructor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine as well as a fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center.

Wang stresses that the booming marijuana market has increased pot-laced edibles.  He points out that legalization is not the only thing that has changed.  Pot is more dangerous because it’s stronger than in past years.  Current products can contain higher concentrations of THC.

Children who have ingested marijuana are being brought to doctors with difficulty walking and lethargy, extreme sleepiness, and respiratory problems.  Since doctors hadn’t seen this often, many children endured numerous expensive tests when parents didn’t reveal exposure.

How Serious Is the Problem for Cats and Dogs

At Colorado’s Wheat Ridge Clinic, veterinarian Stacy Meola has lost two dogs who died from baked goods made with marijuana butter.  That’s commonly sold at dispensaries.  And, the number of dogs made sick by marijuana has quadrupled in Colorado since marijuana became legal in 2000, according to a study by Dr. Meola.

The Pet Poison Helpline says cats and dogs can be poisoned by directly eating pot, by ingesting marijuana in baked foods, or by second-hand smoke exposure.  Symptoms of poisoning can be seen within three hours.  They might have trouble walking, or seem lethargic or severely depressed.  Other symptoms include dilated pupils, hyperactivity, seizures, vocalization and vomiting.  Low blood pressure and low heart rate as well as respiratory depression may be harder to identify.  They may go into a coma before death.

Veterinarian Dr. Debbie Van Pelt told Denver’s CBS 4, “They basically [lose] a lot of their fine motor control.” That exposes them to other dangers, like falls.  As with any medical emergency, don’t wait to see what happens.  Get them medical help and tell doctors what they ingested as quickly as possible.

I believe that marijuana should be 100% legal for responsible adult usage.  But please be careful, keep it in a secure place, and away from pets and children.

Regulating Troubles for California Medical Marijuana

June 12th, 2013

Making medical marijuana legal may turn out to be easier than regulating it.  Legislative attempts to clarify medical marijuana regulation in California just failed to pass the State Assembly.  So, even though voters legalized it way back in 1996, there’s still no state agency effectively regulating this multi-billion-dollar industry.

Regulation remains in the hands of individual municipalities and that leads to inconsistencies.  Some cities have vague guidelines.  Others have robust rules and some have actually banned medical marijuana dispensaries entirely.

Disagreement Plagues Regulation Attempts

The recent legislation by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) met with both cheers and concerns.  It would have created an agency in California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to manage medical marijuana from where it was grown through where it was sold.

The conflict between federal and state law is a continuing issue, too.  A growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries open to the public have already closed from federal prosecution efforts and/or local government bans.  On the other hand, there’s been an increase in medical marijuana delivery services, which might be appreciated by the public anyway.

Will Medical Marijuana Turn into a “Grey” Market?

The lack of consistency leaves medical marijuana in a legally precarious spot.  In San Luis Obispo, a civil grand jury issued a report acknowledging the delivery services operated in a grey market since the city simply did not have applicable regulations.  That can be said of the vast majority of California municipalities.

Assemblyman Ammiano won’t be satisfied with that.  While his bill did not directly address medical marijuana delivery, the bill could have moved services beyond a confusing “no-man’s-land” status.

Ammiano says he will push for statewide regulation to help make sense of the pseudo-legal status medical marijuana appears to be stuck in for the time being. Ammiano’s office is considering several administrative and legislative ways to try to get approval for a state agency to regulate medical marijuana.  He hopes to have something on the governor’s desk by the end of the current legislative session.

Training Drug-sniffing Dogs Not to Detect Pot

June 10th, 2013

Ever wonder what dogs think of human intelligence? It’s probably not a good time to ask them in Washington state where marijuana use was recently legalized for recreation. Certain police departments there are teaching dogs trained to alert to marijuana to ignore it. It’s called pot-desensitization training, and departments in Bellevue, Bremerton and Seattle have joined the Washington State Patrol in this kind of reverse training. The dogs that have learned to alert to marijuana need to learn that people changed their mind about that one drug.

Typically, drug-sniffing dogs alert to any one of several illegal drugs. That used to include cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine. Police cared that a dog found any one of those. Now, they need to know a dog doesn’t alert for marijuana. So, how successful will retraining be?

Dog-human Misunderstandings Plague Police

At the University of California-Davis, a former dog hander did some tests. Lisa Lit, also a neurologist, worked with 18 law enforcement dog/handler teams. She had each team conduct eight searches, which lasted about five minutes apiece.

Although there were no drugs around, Lit told the people participating that searches could involve up to three targeted scents. She also said that red paper indicated a scent. It really didn’t, but she wanted people to think it did to see whether people would unintentionally alert the dogs to an imaginary scent they believed to be real. To throw the dogs off, Lit put unwrapped sausages in some packages.

Even though dogs’ ability to detect scents is amazing, dogs are also expert at reading human signals and doing exactly what we want. At least, that’s how Lit explains why these dogs were about twice as likely to incorrectly alert at packages designed to trick the people than at packages stuffed with sausages. Their sense of smell wasn’t off and neither was their sense of what people wanted them to do.

The dogs incorrectly alerted during 123 of 144 searches. Sometimes, they messed up multiple times during a search, which added up to 225 inaccuracies. In only 21 searches, did dogs correctly not alert. That’s a success rate of only 14.5 percent.

Actually, that doesn’t surprise me. Imagine being bonded with someone who controls your whole life. Now, imagine that someone wants nothing more than to find illegal drugs. If that all-important person indicates with body language, tone, or whatever that you should find something, wouldn’t you? Would you try to tell someone who can’t smell what you do and who can’t understand your body language and bark that they’re confused?

Let me know if I can help you with some life insurance. I’m fast, easy, and real.

What Does Marijuana Do to Your Weight?

May 29th, 2013

marijuanaThe munchies are legendary, but what does research actually show about whether smoking pot can make you gain weight?  At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the University of Nebraska, researchers looked at 4,600 adults in a joint study.  The results showed less obesity among marijuana users than among those who had never used marijuana.

About 12 percent of the study participants said they currently used marijuana.  Another 42 percent said they had in the past, but were not during the study.  The researchers checked cholesterol levels, glucose and insulin levels after fasting, insulin resistance, and waist circumference.  They adjusted the data for age, gender, physical activity, and whether participants used alcohol or tobacco.  It turned out that the people currently using marijuana had much smaller waists than those who had never smoked marijuana.

It appears that the well-known effect marijuana has of making people hungry doesn’t lead to automatic weight gain.  Plus, researchers have found marijuana use can help with a disease intimately linked with obesity – diabetes.

Do Marijuana Users Have Less Risk of Diabetes?

Marijuana appears to help regulate weight by improving insulin control.  Insulin resistance occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing glucose from the bloodstream.  Among study participants currently smoking marijuana, insulin resistance was reduced by 17 percent.  Likewise, insulin levels were reduced by 16 percent.

Some of the participants had used marijuana more than a month ago, but not since.  They showed the same tendencies to a much smaller degree. Interestingly, the amount of marijuana they smoked didn’t seem to make any difference.

This indicates that marijuana users are less likely to develop diabetes or become overweight or obese than people who don’t use pot.  Of course, that’s not an endorsement of marijuana for weight control, but the research is interesting.  These findings have been published in the American Journal of Medicine.

This information doesn’t surprise me.  Despite this, it can be very difficult to get life insurance if you use marijuana.  But I’ve figured out this complicated mess, let’ me know if I can help you.

Why Legalizing Marijuana Is Not the Last Word

May 23rd, 2013

medical marijuana dispensaryCalifornia was the first state to legalize medical marijuana.  That was in 1996 and since then, it has generated more than $100 million in annual tax revenue.  It’s still not legal under federal law, though.  Hundreds of Californian medical marijuana dispensaries have been closed in the last couple of years.

Long-standing Dispensary May Close

One of the state’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries is fighting the Justice Department to stay open.  Berkeley Patients Group was just served with a lawsuit this month by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.  Losing the lawsuit would mean the property would be seized and the business closed.

Federal Threat Joined by City Governments

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court ruled that city governments are authorized to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries.  While such record keeping is lax, law enforcement agencies say the number of California dispensaries has dropped significantly is recent years.

The Berkeley Patients Group doesn’t face city opposition, though.  City Council member Darryl Moore calls the group a national model.  The City Council is considering a resolution to oppose the United States Attorney’s forfeiture action against the group.

Dispensaries Are Forced to Relocate

Last year, Berkeley Patients Group moved and reopened in response to correspondence stating it was violating state law by being within 1,000 feet of a school. The current lawsuit doesn’t allege that, but other California dispensaries recently received similar threats from the U.S. Attorney.

Seven San Jose shops and San Francisco’s Hemp Center have been warned of prison sentences and property seizure unless they close.

Legislative Efforts Are Planned to Support Dispensaries

Two bills are pending that could create a new statewide system for licensing and regulating medical marijuana.  The system would clarify the role of dispensaries.  That could hamper city and federal efforts to drive dispensaries out of business.

In 2016, California voters may also see a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana similar to the initiatives that passed in Colorado and Washington last year.  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already signaled support for it.

The prohibitionist wall is crumbling, so I don’t think it will be long for California, and many other states.

Is Pot Legal in Colorado? Yes and No

May 15th, 2013

smoking marijuanaImmersed in a tangle of disjointed laws, how legal it is to use marijuana in Colorado remains unclear.  While laws permit private use for medical reasons or entertainment, most people are subject to another set of laws every week.  They work and lots of employers require drug tests.

The Colorado Court of Appeals says there’s no protection for medical marijuana users, much less people who test positive for the drug without a medical reason to use it.  They can be lawfully fired if they test positive for THC even if it doesn’t affect their work.

Just across the state border, employees cannot be fired for lawful use of medical marijuana in Arizona, unless it jeopardizes the employer’s federal contracts or licensing.

In Washington where recreational use of marijuana recently became legal, the state Supreme Court ruled that people can be fired if they test positive for marijuana use, even if it’s for
medical reasons.

The California Supreme Court also ruled it’s legal to fire employees who test positive for marijuana. In 2008, a bill passed the state legislature to change that, but the governor vetoed it.  There’s been no
further action.

People Lose Jobs over Marijuana Use in States Where It’s Legal

Wal-Mart fired an employee who had a medical marijuana card.  He said he used it to alleviate symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor, but a federal appeals court ruled against him in Michigan.

In Colorado, Dish Network fired an employee who was a medical marijuana patient without claiming he was ever impaired while working.  He had been paralyzed in a car crash during his teen years.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than half of the states have laws that permit marijuana users to be fired.

The man fired by Dish Network is appealing.  His attorney points out 127,816 medical marijuana patients employed in Colorado could lose their job even though they are technically complying with Colorado state law.

Can Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Law Help?

There are no plans to enact legislation to protect Colorado workers even though recreational marijuana use is legal under state law.  The Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities law has been used to protect people who smoke cigarettes from being fired for smoking when off the clock.  Activists may pursue that option.  For now, it seems people who need marijuana to help them stay on the job may be fired despite recent changes in state law.

Marijuana History Has a Way of Repeating

May 6th, 2013

marijuanaLong before the popularity of recreational drugs in the 1960s, using marijuana was not only legal, but was also recognized for its value as a medicine.  Marijuana was used by ancient civilizations like China, India and northern Africa.  Once it spread to Europe, British and Spanish invaders established it on the American continent.  At one point, it was grown as a commercial crop here along with tobacco.

The United States Officially Recognized Medical Marijuana

Until the early 1940s, the United States Pharmacopoeia recognized medicinal applications for marijuana.  Then in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act made it illegal to have marijuana in the U.S. for anything other than medical and industrial uses.  An excise tax was applied for those legal uses, but the Supreme Court ruled the Marijuana Tax Act was unconstitutional in 1969.

Marijuana Was Ruled to Have No Medicinal Uses Fairly Recently

During the Nixon administration from 1969 to 1974, Congress enacted law to make marijuana a Schedule I drug without an accepted medical use, but that was soon challenged.  Robert Randall sued the federal government for his arrest when attempting to treat glaucoma in 1978.

Marijuana has since been found to be ineffective for this, but a judge then required the FDA to grow and provide Randall medical marijuana.  George H.W. Bush ended that in 1992.

States Are Taking Us back to Legal Marijuana Use

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now say medical marijuana is legal.  Colorado and Washington say it’s legal for recreational use, and there’s a movement in other states to legalize pot.  During this transition, patients who may have been helped by marijuana were forced to try it as criminals.

Indecision Can Be Costly

Last year, federal agencies killed almost 300,000 marijuana plants, and state and federal efforts to fight marijuana use may have cost about $20 billion.  That estimate comes from Jeffrey Miron.  As a senior lecturer at Harvard University, he has said reduction in law enforcement combined with tax revenue for legal marijuana use could generate close to that.

In my mind, that’s $20 billion in our tax dollars, wasted.  It appears our severe case of indecision has a big price tag.

Can You Get Life Insurance if You’re Sick?

April 30th, 2013

Do you think you can’t buy affordable life insurance because your health puts you in a high-cost bracket? Genworth Financial estimates that between 39 and 54 percent of people with health problems don’t have life insurance.  Many of them can get coverage at low rates, though.  It hinges on whether their health condition is under control.

Is Your Health Problem under Control?

Conditions like asthma, depression, high cholesterol and other problems that can be controlled won’t necessarily block you from getting life insurance.  You may even be able to get a preferred rate, or the second best rate, if your medical records show your health problem is under control.

Here’s what I mean by under control.  If you have no significant symptoms and/or are taking medication and are otherwise healthy, insurance companies have little reason to decline to cover you.  But, you need to draw that to their attention.

Explain How Your Health Problem Is Being Controlled

If an insurance company asks whether you have a chronic condition, they may neglect to ask if it’s being successfully controlled with medication or other treatments.  You can’t stop there.  And, that’s how I can help.  I can be sure the decision makers understand the actual state of your health, and how insurable you really are.

Otherwise, you might get a quote that’s way higher than necessary.  And, here’s something else you can do.  You may be able to improve the outcome of your medical exam.  Watch what you eat and drink before the exam.

Take Steps to Improve Your Medical Exam Results

For example, avoid alcohol and foods that raise blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar.  You know what I mean.  Food with a lot of caffeine, cholesterol, fat, salt, and sugar show up in tests. And, be sure to take your meds appropriately before those tests.

Here’s something that may surprise you.  Skip a heavy workout the day before your exam so an elevated protein level doesn’t make it appear that you’re sick.  And, this won’t be a surprise.  A good night’s sleep will help you look healthy.

If you are concerned about a health problem being an issue, feel free to discuss it with me in complete confidentiality.

Action Says More about Marijuana Legalization than Law

April 22nd, 2013

marijuanaWhile disagreement remains between federal and state law over pot and the legality of marijuana varies from state to state, something fundamental has changed.  The Justice Department is debating how to respond to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.  Officials from both states have met with Attorney General Eric Holder, but it’s still unclear if we’ll see a federal challenge in court.  Other federal action is already apparent, though.  Since 2010, the drop in marijuana plant eradication has been dramatic.

The Drug Enforcement Administration Is Destroying Fewer Marijuana Plants

From 2000 through 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) destroyed fewer than four million marijuana plants per year.  From 2005 through 2009, that effort grew to more than 10 million plants destroyed in 2009 at the peak.  The next year saw only a small decline, but eradication was down to 6,735,511 plants by 2011.  And, 2012 saw just 3,933,950 plants destroyed, or fewer than had been destroyed in 2005.

Several things came together to slow DEA eradication efforts.  For one, changes in California’s state budget meant fewer local law enforcement personnel could help. Marijuana seizures are also down along U.S. borders. A nine percent drop was seen from 2011 to 2012.  That’s equivalent to 2,999,000 pounds.

The DEA also says drug trafficking is moving operations from public to private land.  Although “vast mountainous regions” of drug production are still on public land, the DEA says that’s in places where it’s hard to detect and reach.

States Have Taken a Stand on Legalizing Marijuana

Several states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes:  Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont.  The District of Columbia also has, and  Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative to legal medical marijuana last year.

Rhode Island not only legalized medical marijuana, but also decriminalized possession of  less than one ounce.  And, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Overall, this is another move in the right direction in regards to public marijuana policy.

Medical Marijuana and the Science that Supports It

April 15th, 2013

medical marijuanaIf you’re using marijuana to treat a serious medical issue, you may not get coverage to pay for marijuana.  But, you can’t be denied health insurance just because you’re sick starting in 2014.  Pre-existing conditions for children already must be covered, and adults will finally get that protection next year.  So, who know what the future of medical marijuana will be?  There’s a wealth of science showing it’s effective in treating severe conditions.

Marijuana Reduces Nausea

Numerous published studies confirm that marijuana can help reduce nausea and vomiting thanks to the psychoactive ingredient delta-9-THC.  The first confirmation was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1975.  That research involved patients undergoing chemotherapy.

In just five years, the Food and Drug Administration listed 33 different studies on how marijuana affected nausea and vomiting.  And, the research continues.

Marijuana cigarettes have been found to be 30 percent more effective at relieving nausea than just the THC.  The National Cancer Institute sponsored a study that showed inhaled cannabis had a 71-percent efficacy rate and taking delta-9-THC orally only had a 44-percent efficacy rate.  Patients have reported virtually instant relief from smoking marijuana.

Official Acknowledgement from the DEA

In 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief administrative law judge actually ruled marijuana had medical value in treating chemotherapy side effects.  That decision, however, was over turned by the DEA administrator.  Hence, we now have states ruling that medical marijuana use is legal and the federal government ruling differently.

Medical Benefits of Marijuana Extend Beyond Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is not alone in causing nausea.  People with AIDS who use powerful anti-viral drugs and protease inhibitors also suffer severe nausea.  They, too, have found marijuana can help them tolerate treatment.

This benefit helps people keep down desperately-needed nourishment so they retain more strength.  That, in turn, helps them tolerate further treatment.  Maybe, that’s why states have been over-turning DEA intolerance of people using marijuana as another form of medication.

Will Colorado Export Pot?

April 12th, 2013

marijuanaMedia sources have reported that officials in Copenhagen, Denmark, have looked at the possibly of importing marijuana from Colorado and/or Washington state. Copenhagen is Denmark’s capital. It’s also the country’s most populous city. More than one million people (1,974,542 in January 2013 (2013-01-01)) live there. So, could such a lucrative export arrangement help the movement to legalize pot in the U.S.?

Even though it’s legal under Colorado and Washington state law to use pot in private, exporting it is still illegal under both state and federal law. The tension between federal and state law remains to be resolved.

On the state level, there remains a lot of work to be done to get tracking systems in place to manage a legal pot industry. And, the cost of that isn’t exactly meshing with the recent budget cuts. True, marijuana taxes are expected to be lucrative, but which comes first? Do state officials spend the money to set up the regulation before they collect marijuana taxes?

Is Marijuana Legal in Denmark?

Reporter Justin Cremer, a former resident of Colorado, wrote that the Copenhagen City Council was proposing to legalize marijuana for a three-year period on a trial basis. The move was seen as a way to decrease gang activity and to offer “a better life for average cannabis users.” Dealing with illegal drug sales poses considerable risk.

According to the deputy mayor for social affairs of Enhedslisten, a Denmark socialist political party, Denmark politicians are interested in importing cannabis. The party’s deputy mayor, Mikkel Warming, said they were considering importing pot from Colorado and Washington along with other possibilities, including Great Britain, which has state-controlled medical marijuana production.

Beer, pharmaceuticals and tobacco are already imported legally around the world. It does appear likely that marijuana would ultimately follow a similar path, but marijuana is still illegal at the national level in the U.S. and in some other countries.

Will Federal Legislation Help Medical Marijuana Users?

April 10th, 2013

marijuanaTwo bills that deal with patient rights to access medical marijuana have been introduced in the current federal congressional session.  Here’s what they say and what action has been taken on them so far.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 689, States’ Medical Marijuana Patients Protection Act, February 14.  It says neither the Controlled Substances Act nor the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act may prohibit or restrict the medical use of marijuana in states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.  It was referred to the Subcommittee on Health and there has not been a Roll Call vote on the bill.

Another bill in the House, H.R. 784, is titled States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act.  The language of that bill amends the Controlled Substances Act in order to exempt real property from civil forfeiture related to medical marijuana in states that have made medical marijuana legal.  It could protect those who rent space to medical marijuana dispensaries from federal property seizure.  It, too, was referred to the Subcommittee on Health, as well as to House Energy and Commerce and House Judiciary.

Do You Think These Bills Will Become Law?

Let me know what you think Congress will do in the immediate future about medical marijuana.  I doubt either of the above bills will make it through Congress.  I’m not even sure they’ll make it out of committee.  I suppose it depends on whether those in Congress can feel the change that’s coming.

Call me a dreamer, but I like to think that during someone’s lifetime marijuana will become a legal and regulated substance nationwide, similar to wine and beer.  Imagine the tax money that could be raised, and the millions that would no longer be prosecuted for its use.