Though recreational marijuana is legal across California, not all Californians can easily access it. There are large swathes of the state, known as “pot deserts,” where anti-marijuana legislation bars the sale of marijuana. But legislators are looking to change this. This week, lawmakers introduced a bill that would revolutionize cannabis delivery in California.
What is a Pot Desert?
Though the West Coast may have a rep for weed, not everyone can readily partake. The Sacramento Bee issued a report that found that 40 percent of the state is 60 miles away from a legal dispensary. Just like “food deserts”—areas where grocery stores are few and far between—”pot deserts” are parts of California where patients have to travel long distances to buy cannabis.
Food deserts are often due to real estate prices or population. Conversely, pot deserts occur when local legislation prevents dispensaries from moving in. Though Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana, it also gave local lawmakers the ability to ban it. Numerous parts of the state exercise this right.
The Majority of Californians Have Trouble Accessing Legal Marijuana
To figure out what percentage of California has ready access to cannabis, the Sacramento Bee looked at which counties issue dispensary licenses, and which do not. Up to March of 2018, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control gave out 284 dispensary licenses.
Most dispensaries are located in urban areas. Specifically, 30 percent of Californians are 30 miles or fewer away from at least one. This accounts for the Californians who live in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. In these areas, marijuana retail is very accessible.
An additional 20 percent of lives within 30 and 60 miles of a dispensary. But 38 percent, the majority of Californians, live between 60 and 120 miles from one. This is especially true of Eastern Californians, as most dispensaries are located along the coast.
Pot Deserts Mean Poor Access To Medical Marijuana
Not only is cannabis inaccessibility an inconvenience; it’s also a public health issue. California has some of the most advanced legalization legislation in the country. This means that people suffering from a host of conditions can and do use cannabis as treatment.
And for many, cannabis isn’t just one treatment option: It’s the only medicine that works. For instance, many parents argue that cannabis is the only effective treatment for children with autism. Unlike other medications with decreasing efficacy and negative side effects, cannabis helps children with autism socialize, maintain a healthy appetite and cope with anxiety.
The scientific community is making progress in cannabis research. But if people in states like California cannot access the medicine they need, why bother with legalization?
What Lawmakers Are Proposing
This week, Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced Senate Bill 1302. This legislation would permit licensed delivery services to transport marijuana throughout the entire state. As seen with Canadian legislation, people in rural areas of the state would be able to order marijuana and have it delivered anywhere.
However, this legislation might conflict with one of the tenets of Prop. 64. According to Californian law, counties and cities can prohibit cannabis delivery from outside areas, in addition to banning the sale of marijuana entirely.
This week, this legislation is headed to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee for discussion and approval.
Will California Resolve Its Pot Desert Issue?
Only time will tell. What we do know, so far, is that though most Californians voted for legalization, some areas are staunchly anti-marijuana. Hopefully, the needs of medical marijuana patients will outweigh the demands of those who don’t want marijuana businesses ‘in their backyard’.
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Across the board, Canadians are smoking more weed than ever. But who will be celebrating the most after marijuana become legal this summer? This week, Statistics Canada released new data on which provinces smoke the most weed. Not only is the disparity between the biggest pothead states and the least 420 friendly striking, but the province with the highest marijuana use might surprise you. Here’s a closer look at their findings.
Canadians Spent And Made Billions on Cannabis
Statistics Canada looked at all things weed for 2017. In total, Canadians spent an impressive $5.6 billion on marijuana last year. This includes medical and recreational marijuana. They estimate that 4.9 million Canadians used marijuana in 2017, out of a total population of around 36 million. Supposedly, 10.4 percent of marijuana use was medical marijuana.
This means that the legal marijuana market today excludes a staggering 90 percent of marijuana sales. Once cannabis is legal, producers will have to meet the demands of a massive legal market. Plus, the government will be able to tax 90 percent more product.
However, even prior to legalization, cannabis production is big business. British Columbia accounted for $1.1 billion of the cannabis industry. The second two largest marijuana producers were Quebec and Ontario, with 31 percent and 22.7 percent respectively.
Marijuana exports also increased to over $1 billion. Most of this came from British Columbia and Quebec. Unlike the United Kingdom, which paradoxically bans cannabis consumption but leads the world in exports, Canada will soon produce and consume a massive amount of weed.
Who Consumed The Most Cannabis in 2017?
Judging by production, one would assume that British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario consumed the most weed. However, Nova Scotians lead marijuana use by several grams. On average, Nova Scotians consumed 27.06 grams in 2017.
British Columbia and Alberta are almost tied for runner-up. BC residents used 24.8 grams while consumption in Alberta came to 24.08 grams.
Conrad Barber-Dueck, Chief SNA Analysis and Data Developer for Statistics Canada, explains why these provinces use more marijuana than most. “We know that consumption is sensitive to demographic so younger people, the 18 to 25 age group, are the most likely to consume,” Mr. Barber-Dueck said. “This is one of the reasons why these provinces have higher consumption, certainly in the case of Alberta, which has a fairly young demographic, and Nova Scotia, […] which has many universities.”
These Provinces Used The Least Marijuana
Unsurprisingly, more remote places consumed significantly less cannabis. Use in Nunavut came to 13.62 grams per capita, followed by 15.30 grams in the Northwest Territories and 16.37 grams in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Barber-Dueck clarifies, “If you look at the other side, where people consume the least, it tends to be in more northern locations where probably access to cannabis is not as good. […] Closer to where it’s produced there might be a more consumption.” This is most likely why British Columbia comes in second, plus, Mr. Barber-Dueck adds, “there’s a bit more for culture for that [in the West].”
In most provinces, cannabis consumption hovers between the high teens and low twenties. In Ontario, residents consumed 21.00 grams on average, ahead of Quebec’s 18.49 grams.
Who Bought the Most Medical Marijuana
25.1 percent of Albertans who bought marijuana did so with a medical marijuana card. This was the highest in the nation. Alberta is only the fourth most populous province at about four million people. By comparison, over 13 million people live in Ontario and 8 million in Quebec.
Canadians Are Smoking More Weed Than Ever Before
Statistics Canada used a variety of surveys conducted by their organization and other sources. “We started with a bunch of health-related surveys on drug use, and we got a volume for cannabis consumption over many years,” Mr. Barber-Dueck explains. “These surveys had been done by Statistics Canada and by Health Canada.”
Afterward, Statistics Canada pulled from other questionnaires asking Canadians if they smoked weed, and if so, how much do they spent on it. With these figures, they were able to estimate the value of the cannabis industry.
These findings follow a separate Statistics Canada report that charted the increase in marijuana use, nation-wide. In 2015, 12.3 percent of Canadians over 15 used cannabis. By comparison, in 1985, that figure was at 5.6 percent. This means that in 20 years, cannabis consumption has more than doubled.
Not only do these reports shed light on which provinces will use the most cannabis per capita, but they convey Canada’s growing use, and simultaneously, growing support for cannabis. We’ll have to wait for next year’s report to see how Canadian marijuana legalization and law enforcement impacts individual consumption.
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Just because marijuana is still illegal in New York City doesn’t mean you can’t find it’s popular non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. Not only does cannabidiol, abbreviated to CBD, relax you without the high, it also has a host of health benefits. CBD reduces pain, inflammation and skin conditions and improves your mood, even with casual use. On the medical side, this cannabinoid can treat epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases. For all these reasons, CBD is increasingly popular, whether infused in soaps or added to coffee. Here’s where to buy CBD around New York City today.
More than a hipster Bushwick coffee shop, Caffeine Underground has live music, thai chi and a diverse selection of CBD products. Using Queens-based Flower Power coffee beans, this Brooklyn hotspot will add CBD to just about any drink. They also sell Flower Power beans that you can bring home.
Ian Ford, the owner of Caffeine Underground, wrote to High Times, “They’ve [CBD snacks and drinks] become quite popular in the neighborhood, and we have regular customers who find it helps them work, study, relax, and even reduce their arthritis pain.”
And CBD goes way beyond coffee here. Caffeine Underground also sells CBD candy, smoothies and jams. Whether you’re trying to finish that novel or chill out to live music, you should check out this health-conscious cafe.
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In light of the opioid crisis and the Attorney General’s intense opposition to marijuana, renown Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes open letter to Jeff Sessions about cannabis. In his letter, Dr. Gupta outlines the three main benefits of cannabis: It reduces pain, opioid withdrawal symptoms and addicts’ craving. Here is what Dr. Gupta says in his letter that comes after multiple failed attempts to contact Sessions.
Who Is Dr. Sanjay Gupta?
The Atlanta-based reporter and neurosurgeon is most famous for his CNN medical reporting, for which he won an Emmy for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Besides maintaining a Time magazine column, appearing regularly on CNN and CBS and publishing multiple books, Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon. Today, he works at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and teaches at the Emory University School of Medicine.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes open letter to Jeff Sessions about cannabis and begins by admitting that he did not always support medical marijuana. And it took years of research to convince the doctor. He explains, “Not only can cannabis work for a variety of conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and pain, sometimes it is the only thing that works.”
The medical reporter’s profound change of view when it comes to cannabis motivated him to write to the Attorney General. “I changed my mind, and I am certain you can,” says Dr. Gupta.
National Medical Marijuana Could Fight The Opioid Crisis
Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes open letter to Jeff Sessions about cannabis that includes some alarming statistics. According to his findings, 45,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017. In light of the toll opioids are taking on Americans, the doctor points to states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Between 1999 and 2010, 20 percent fewer people died from opioids in states with medical marijuana dispensaries. This figure comes from a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Other recent research also supports Dr. Gupta’s claims.
Three Reasons Why Medical Marijuana Helps Opioid Addicts
First, Dr. Gupta delves into cannabis’ ability to treat different kinds of pain. This means that medical marijuana is both a safe and effective medication, especially when compared to overdose-inducing opiates. Part of its efficacy comes from its ability to reduce inflammation, not just limit your ability to feel pain.
Dr. Gupta takes the case of Marc Schechter who suffers from a painful spinal cord condition. Over a decade, Mr. Schechter took 40,000 opiate pills to unsuccessfully address his pain. Once he tried cannabis, however, his pain decreased significantly and without the nausea and depression he experienced with opiates.
The next use for cannabis is weaning opiate users off drugs. Not only does marijuana not share opiates’ painful symptoms, but it can decrease them as well. “In fact, for some patients, cannabis is the only agent that subdues nausea while increasing appetite,” Gupta writes.
Finally, the third benefit of marijuana use for opioid addicts is more neurological. Addiction is a disease, according to the doctor, that can reduce critical thinking skills. The part of the brain most affected by opiates is “responsible for judgment, decision-making, learning and memory.”
In short, CBD, a cannabinoid found in marijuana, can repair this part of the brain. In conclusion, while typical treatments for opioid use perpetuate this ‘brain damage,’ cannabis can treat pain, repair neurotransmitters and reduce the symptoms all at once.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta vs Jeff Sessions
This doctor isn’t the only one whos research proves that cannabis can treat opioids. In his letter, Dr. Sanjay Gupta includes the expertise of other medical professionals from across the country. Furthermore, he invites Jeff Sessions to learn about cannabis for himself, with medical professionals’ help. Hoping to put party politics aside, the doctor also cites John Boehner’s recent change of opinion.
But will Dr. Gupta’s message come across to the obdurate Attorney General? He seems less than optimistic as he writes, “your office declined numerous requests for an interview.” Thus far, Jeff Sessions has remained firmly against cannabis and even blamed it for the opioid crisis.
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Last month, Michigan closed 40 unlicensed dispensaries and promised to shut a hundred more. Since then, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has sent out hundreds of cease and desist letters to unlicensed medical marijuana operations. Now, over 200 Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries forced to close are no longer in the running for official licensing. Here’s a closer look at Michigan’s medical marijuana program, and the Great Lakes State’s many off-the-books businesses.
Dispensaries Are Closing Across Michigan. Here’s Why.
Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008. Only when a Republican majority took over the state legislature in 2016 did they implement thorough laws for regulation, taxation and licensing. By these new legal standards, many of Michigan’s operational marijuana dispensaries are illegal.
Per these new regulations, marijuana dispensaries require state-issued business licenses. As this process can be difficult and expensive, the State offered medical marijuana businesses a grace period lasting until February 15th.
David Harns, Public Information Officer for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, explained to High Times, “In Michigan, there were facilities that were operating before the law was passed and before the implementation started […]. So an emergency rule was written that allowed temporary operation with local authorization.”
With a city clerk’s signature, guaranteeing that a dispensary is abiding by local laws, some businesses remain open. In these cases, “it was not going to be considered an impediment to your licensure if you stayed open,” said Harns.
Many of the dispensaries catering to Michigan’s 277,000 medical marijuana card holders did submit their application by the deadline with local approval. Others, however, did not but remained open. The state is now shutting down these businesses, just as we’ve seen in California.
These dispensaries that are not in compliance with new regulations will, potentially, never qualify for another license. They could even face federal prosecution.
40 Michigan Dispensaries Already Closed In March
“Last month we delivered cease and desist letters to facilities that had not applied for state licensure and were not operating with local approval,” said Mr. Harns.
The first wave of closures occurred early last month with 40 dispensary closures. Upon delivering these letters, law enforcement did not, however, seize any of the dispensaries’ supply.
The Second Wave of Marijuana Dispensary Was Far-Reaching
Over 200 Michigan medical marijuana dispensaries forced to close also received cease and desist letters. Out of these 213 businesses, 150 were in Detroit, 8 were in Flint and 8 were in Lansing, Michigan. The others dispensaries that did not apply for licenses were located in less populated areas.
As the state considers submitted business license applications, dispensaries that met the February 15th deadline are staying open, for now. Though businesses with local approval can operate without hurting their chances at a license, they haven’t received official paperwork.
Both new and existing businesses are in the running for business licenses. And since most places are setting caps for how many dispensaries can open, competition can be steep.
No one is getting licensing priority at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “We’re just going in the order that the application was received, and the order that folks are getting back to us, letting them know if they have deficiencies in their applications,” Harns said.
In the upcoming months, Michigan will send out licenses. These decisions will have huge consequences for medical marijuana entrepreneurs and patients across the state.
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