[Editor’s Note: We love the way San Francisco and other Californian cities are leading the way, making safe spaces for legal adult-use cannabis.]
Last year, some 420 in the Park festival goers were hospitalized after smoking fentanyl-laced weed. City officials hope permits can keep dangerous drugs out of the event.
On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman announced that the city would soon be accepting applications for city permits to allow legal cannabis sales and consumption at public events. That means parades, festivals, concerts, fairs, farmers markets and more could all soon have legal weed available for attendees. And the best part is, those attendees will be able to smoke, vape or otherwise consume that cannabis at the event itself.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Set To Approve Permits for Marijuana Ahead of Annual 420 Event
Every year, San Francisco hosts a 420 event in Golden Gate Park. Dubbed “420 in the Park,” the festival is a gigantic gathering at Hippie Hill. Historically, 420 in the Park has eschewed licenses and permits. But the totally unofficial festival has become massively popular in recent years, thanks to legalization, and thus, more of an issue for city residents. The larger crowds have attracted some violent attendees, harshing everyone’s vibe. And the trash left behind has reportedly been outrageous; as in, 11-tons-of-garbage outrageous.
To attempt to get a handle on things, San Francisco actually permitted the event in 2018. It brought in sponsors, set up fencing around the Sharon Meadows site, beefed up security, and, most importantly, provided an adequate number of wastebaskets and portable toilets. With more food vendors and trucks, a real sound system and paid DJs, 420 in the Park finally looked like an official party.
No doubt, this year’s crowd will be even bigger. And to head off any potential problems, San Francisco is planning to allow cannabis vendors to obtain permits to sell at the Hippie Hill event. Cannabis is legal for adults to buy, possess and (privately) consume in California. But in many ways, events like these break all the rules. Ironically, that wasn’t such a big deal when it was illegal to buy and consume weed. The authorities tended to just look the other way. But now that there’s a legal industry, with rules and regulations to follow, events like 420 in the Park are more difficult to pull off.
City Officials Say Permits Will Keep Fentanyl-Laced Weed Out of the Event
Events like San Francisco’s annual 420 bash now have a more complicated legal landscape to follow. They need permits from the state and they need permits from the city. But first, the city needs to implement the state law that lets cities permit cannabis events. Only if, however, those events meet certain criteria, criteria that will change in 2022—you get the picture.
But all the complexity has a clear purpose: safety. The more we learn about products coming out of California’s unregulated cannabis producers, the more cause there is for concern. From pesticides in flower to lead in vape cartridges, product quality has so far been a major issue for consumers. And last year’s 420 in the Park is a good example. “The thing that we are really worried about and what happened last year is that we had people .. that were selling pot with fentanyl in it,” said city Supervisor Vallie Brown.
Fentanyl is an extremely addictive and lethal synthetic opioid painkiller. Fentanyl-laced weed isn’t common, but consuming it all guarantees a trip to the hospital. At last year’s 420 event, Brown said several people had to be taken away in ambulances.
Permits for Marijuana Sales and Consumption Still Face Challenges
San Francisco’s plan to permit the event to reduce illegal sales and consumption of untested products could run up against some other challenges. For one, city ordinances prohibit smoking in public parks, and California’s adult-use laws prohibit cannabis consumption anywhere smoking is forbidden. Then, there’s the state law against consuming alcohol and cannabis in the same space.
For now, then, San Francisco isn’t worrying much about the consumption issue. It’s going to happen anyway, and officials plan to handle problems on a case-by-case basis. But event goers can breathe easy. The city actually has a law making marijuana offenses by adults law enforcement’s lowest priority.
San Fransisco Supervisors say the permits will vary in cost depending on how many people will attend the event. For smaller events up to 500 people, permits will be as low as $500. For larger events of 2,500 or more, however, permits can cost as much as $3,000.
San Francisco Events May Soon Allow Marijuana Sale and Consumption was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: Disgraced Papadopoulos is a known liar and on probation. Why would a legit company put him on their board?]
Last September, biopharmaceutical company C3 International quietly announced the launch of the company’s flagship pain management pill, Idrasil. Idrasil is a medical cannabis pill and C3 claims it’s the first standardized form of the drug. And to help develop policy and a marketing strategy for the pill, C3 International has enlisted the counsel of George Papadopoulos, fresh off his 14-day stint in the clink for lying to the FBI during their investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. On Tuesday, Papadopoulos announced he had joined the Board of Advisors of C3 International, Inc. on Twitter.
Disgraced Trump Campaign Aide Will Advise Medical Cannabis Startup on Product Marketing
It would take a long memory (by today’s standards) to remember that George Papadopoulos was one of the first of President Trump’s campaign advisors to go down as a result of the Mueller investigation. In fact, the same month C3 International announced the launch of Idrasil, September 2018, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for lying to investigators in January 2017.
Papadopoulos served his time in December. Currently, he is on a 12-month supervised release, aka parole. But parole doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from starring in a docuseries about his and his wife’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Nor does it prevent him from touring to promote his new book, Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. And it doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from serving on the advisory board of a medical cannabis startup.
George Papadopoulos Joins C3 International Board of Advisors to Market Medical Cannabis Pill
Despite a return to public life determined to capitalize on his exile from political life, Papadopoulos kept his announcement about C3 International and Idrasil focused on the medicine. Idrasil “is a revolutionary product that will assist in weaning Americans off the deleterious opioid epidemic that is affecting thousands, and killing hundreds, of Americans every single day,” Papadopoulos wrote in a tweet published Tuesday. He also described C3’s approach to pain medication as “new thinking.”
C3 International says Idrasil consists of a proprietary blend of concentrated cannabis extract. The company says its approach is all about exact, consistent dosing. Idrasil comes in three doses, 12.5 mg, 25 mg and 100 mg. But press releases don’t specify the specific cannabinoids in the concentration, or the ratio of THC to CBD. It’s likely, however, that Idrasil contains low amounts of THC, a principle cannabinoid responsible for psychoactive effects. The pill form, C3 says, “eliminates the unwanted euphoria and social risks associated with smoking cannabis products.”
While some medical cannabis patients may wish to avoid stigma and the psychoactive effects of cannabis, a more common concern is proper dosing. Even with lab-tested edible products, the concentration of cannabis in a particular “serving” can vary throughout the product. Cannabis extract pills help ensure accurate, consistent dosing.
C3 International hasn’t been reached for comment about Papadopoulos joining the company’s advisory board. It’s unclear why Papadopoulos is particularly qualified for the role. As part of Trump’s campaign he made no statements about cannabis legalization. But following Papadopoulos’ indictment, HuffPost did describe him as “a little known, little-qualified 30-year-old.”
Former Trump Aide Announces Involvement in Medical Marijuana Startup was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: Seed to sale tracking is so very important to ensure we, the consumers, know the quality of the cannabis we’re purchasing. It’s equally important that corporations do the right thing.]
Organigram, Inc. is Atlantic Canada’s original licensed producer of medical cannabis. Since starting out in 2013, the company has won multiple awards for its cannabis products and services. But on Friday, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia certified a 2017 class action lawsuit against Organigram. The court’s certification means the company will go to trial. In a statement, Organigram has vowed to fight back against the class action, which stems from pesticide contamination in the company’s medical cannabis products.
Medical Cannabis Producer Organigram Faces Class Action Suit over 2016-2017 Pesticide Contamination
Based in Moncton, New Brunswick, Organigram, Inc. is the region’s largest licensed medical cannabis supplier. But the well-known company stands accused of making its customers ill with pesticide-contaminated cannabis.
In late 2016 and early 2017, Organigram issued two, large-scale, voluntary recalls of medical cannabis produced between Feb. 1 and Dec. 16, 2016. Independent, third-party laboratory tests detected the banned pesticides myclobutanil and bifenazate in multiple lots. The lab tests prompted the product recalls, which in 2017 led to the class action lawsuit against Organigram.
Class-Action Lawsuit Against Organigram Claims Patients Suffered Adverse Health Effects
Speaking with the CBC, lawyer Ray Wagner said his clients are suing Organigram for compensation and punitive damages. According to Wagner, the lawsuit has two components. In the first place, the lawsuit aims to compel Organigram to issue refunds for the sale of all products identified in the recall. In its defense, Organigram says it has already voluntarily reimbursed many of the recall-affected customers.
A second component of the class action claims that patients who consumed medical cannabis from Organigram became ill and suffered adverse health effects from the pesticide-contaminated products. In a statement issued Tuesday, Organigram said that it is considering an appeal and currently reviewing the supreme court’s decision.
That 111-page ruling, handed down by Justice Ann E. Smith of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, came on Jan. 18, 2019 at the end of a two-day hearing on the suit. Responding to that ruling, Organigram issued a statement saying that it does not expect the suit to impact its businesses operations “in any material manner.”
Do Health Canada Regulations Have Enough Teeth to Protect Consumers from Toxic Cannabis?
As a major cannabis producer, Organigram can afford to cover the costs associated with lawsuits like this, even if plaintiffs win. But the certainty with which Organigram is confident a lawsuit over massive product recalls won’t hurt its bottom line raises an important question.
If class action suits don’t phase a major producer, what incentive is there for companies like Organigram to strictly adhere to Health Canada’s regulations? Furthermore, what recourse do patients and retail customers have when they’re sold toxic, potentially harmful cannabis? Organigram lost its organic certification after the recalls. But a few months later, the company regained it.
So far, just 176 people have registered with Wagner for the class-action suit against Organigram. But the pesticide-contaminated products impacted thousands of purchasers. While literally getting sick, Canada’s medical cannabis patients are likely also tired of subpar products making it onto dispensary shelves. Underweight packages, mold contamination: these are just some of the issues medical and retail customers across Canada are facing.
Class Action Lawsuit Against Canadian Cannabis Producer Will Go To Trial was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: Michigan will start selling adult-use cannabis hopefully in early 2020. We’re speculating the Feds will make a move this year and alleviate the banking issue faced by the cannabis industry. ]
Michigan’s cannabis industry is picking up a few tricks of the trade, depositing cash in community banks, credit unions and with third-party companies.
In the 2018 midterm elections last November, Michigan voters approved a measure to legalize a retail adult-use cannabis industry. As that industry begins to gain its footing, cannabis companies are looking ahead to the banking issues they’re soon to face. Fortunately for them, legal marijuana industries in other states have already shown that there are a number of ways around cannabis’ well-known cash crisis. And Michigan’s cannabis companies are availing themselves of many of those tricks. For now, however, the banks housing the industry’s cash are trying to be low key about it. But it looks like the secret is out.
Michigan’s New Legal Industry Faces the Old Cash Question
The perennial cash question that’s long plagued the legal cannabis industry is on the table again in Michigan. And companies know that it’s an urgent question, thanks to a few highly publicized provisioning center (read: dispensary) robberies. To put it simply, federal prohibition has made much of the U.S. industry “cash only.” Due to regulations against banking the proceeds of an illegal operation, major U.S. banks have refused to work with the cannabis industry. Without the financial services all other legal businesses can rely on, marijuana companies face some major challenges. How to store and transport all that cash? How to handle payroll and other essential business transactions, like paying taxes? It’s a headache at best.
Furthermore, large amounts of liquid currency, belonging to whoever holds it, make cannabis companies tempting targets for heists, endangering workers and putting the entire operation in harm’s way. At this point, just about anything is better than handling massive amounts of cash. But for cannabis companies, some of the best options have been community and regional banks, and credit unions. More of these smaller institutions, often geared toward supporting local businesses, are beginning to provide essential financial services—if not comprehensive ones—to cannabis companies.
It’s not that small banks and credit unions aren’t subject to the same federal regulations as large banks. Rather, working with cannabis companies poses less risk to the “brand,” and to the reputation of the institution. Or at least that’s why major banks have so far opted out. They say they’re concerned over losing (more conservative) clients who might see the bank’s involvement with weed as too large a risk.
The concern over optics isn’t entirely wrong. Banks that do provide services to state-legal cannabis companies have to report all transactions to the federal government, in compliance with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network requirements.
Michigan Cannabis Businesses are Hiring “Go-Betweens” to Handle Cash Flow
The same logic has been at work in Michigan, where community banks and credit unions are reaching out to the industry, but trying to keep their activity under wraps. “The first rule about banking cannabis is that you can’t talk about banking cannabis,” said Paul Samways, an accountant with Cannabis Accounting. “The second rule about banking cannabis is that you can’t talk about banking cannabis.”
The need for Fight Club-style secrecy is perhaps a bit overstated. And in fact, it could end up hurting small banks and credit unions. If a bank isn’t aware that a client is depositing revenue from a cannabis business, it could be liable for federal money laundering charges. Nevertheless, banks are keen to not disclose whether they have any cannabis industry clients. Neither do they want to be seen accepting large cash deposits from people just walking through the door.
And that has led banks and the marijuana industry to resort to a number of go-betweens. Sometimes, banks set these up on their own. Using armored truck services, cannabis companies can deposit funds while vehicles haul the actual cash to a Federal Reserve Bank.
But there are other ways around the cash-handling issue: third parties. Third-party companies like PayQuick are sprouting up across the country, just to provide cash banking services to cannabis companies. Using a hardwired bill verification safe on sight, companies deposit their daily earnings. Those funds get wired to the company’s bank account and the cash becomes the third-party company’s. Then, the company picks up the safe with an armored vehicle and transports it to a Federal Reserve Bank.
New Michigan Canna-Businesses Find Ways to House Cash in Banks was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: Fascinating article on cannabis use disorder (CUD). Remember: Use and abuse goes hand-in-hand with about everything – from cannabis to video games and everything in-between. ]
The widely successful efforts to legalize and decriminalize cannabis have dramatically shifted the conversation on the drug. Emphasizing cannabis’ myriad health and wellness benefits as well as the historical harms and injustices of criminalization, those efforts have downplayed the drug’s potential risks. But for the same reasons that researchers have only a vague understanding of cannabis’ medicinal effects, their knowledge about what contributes to cannabis misuse and abuse, and how, is also limited.
With instances of cannabis use disorder (CUD) on the rise, researches say understanding cannabis dependency and addiction is just as important as understanding how to best use it as medicine. And a new study in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence is delving into the causes and consequences of the recent rise in CUD.
Nine Percent of Cannabis Users Will Develop a Dependency
Cannabis is much less addictive than drugs like heroin or cocaine. Only an estimated nine percent of cannabis consumers will develop a dependence on it. Compare that to heroin, which hooks about 25 percent of its users. But the rate of cannabis use is much, much higher than heroin or other hard drugs. So that nine percent actually impacts a far greater number of people.
Because there is no known lethal dose of cannabis for humans, and because physical symptoms of withdrawal are slight—hardly the gut-punishing agony of coming off the hard stuff—the popular perception is that marijuana addiction doesn’t exist. But the science says otherwise. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists have all identified symptoms of cannabis dependency and addiction. They say CUD has three symptoms—the “Three Cs”. First, there’s loss of control over one’s use. Second, there’s compulsivity of use. And finally, harmful consequences of use.
Researchers also distinguish between cannabis dependency and addiction. Dependence is a physical condition. A cannabis consumer develops a tolerance and experiences withdrawal if they suddenly stop. Addiction, on the other hand, is a psychological phenomenon, an experience of a loss of control. Dependence and addiction often overlap, but they don’t have to.
Researchers Identify Complex Causes Behind Cannabis Use Disorder
For researchers, cannabis use disorder is any combination of addiction and dependence on the drug. And CUD is on the rise, but researchers don’t have a clear understanding of why. One of the most compelling conclusions to come out of the new study, however, suggests that cannabis’ ever-increasing potency is a major factor.
According to the study, a person’s first dose of THC can significantly influence their risk of developing symptoms of CUD. For example, if a person’s first experience with cannabis is with a product containing 12 percent THC or higher, they are more than four times at risk of developing CUD symptoms within the first year.
But addiction and dependence are about more than just the substance. If it were that simple, every cannabis consumer would have problems with CUD. That’s why the new study focused on the impact of pre-existing mental disorders. “The risk of addiction is really less about the drug and more about the person,” says Itai Danovitch, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai. It’s also about social and environmental context. In an effort to overcome decades of anti-scientific ideas about cannabis, the drug’s real risks have taken a back seat to evidence of its many benefits, especially in public policy discussions.
Psychologists Target Early Intervention to Prevent Cannabis Use Disorder in Teens
As a result, young people especially are growing up in a world where the dominant stance on cannabis is shifting. And the knowledge that cannabis is less risky than many other common substances may be contributing to the sense that it’s relatively risk-free. But during adolescence, a period of intense brain development, a person is even more susceptible to developing symptoms of CUD.
That’s why scientists and health professionals are calling for more early intervention programs to prevent teens from developing dependencies on cannabis and other substances. If the risk of addiction really is more about the person, then young adults are people whose developing brains make them more vulnerable to use disorders.
Other groups, like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), are calling for new rules to better identify the risks of cannabis. NORML deputy director Paul Armentano says regulation, not prohibition, can best mitigate the potential risks of CUD.
Cannabis Use Disorder is on the Rise. Scientists are Trying to Find Out Why was posted on High Times.