What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right

What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right

Original Post: Cannabis Now: What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right

[Canniseur: Not everything about cannabis legalization is positive. The negative issues have stopped legalization in several states. The cannabis industry in legal states is mostly owned and run by white men with money. SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) understands this and is trying to capitalize on this problem. The legalization movement must ensure minority engagement and not cater to the financial elite.]

After a years long, near-unopposed and near-perfect victory parade through the West and the Northeast, cannabis legalization is now on a losing streak.

And now that the movement-turned-industry is staring at obstacles apparently isn’t prepared to solve, anti-legalization prohibitionists are capitalizing. For once, they have an honest point that commercial cannabis can’t honestly counter: legalization hasn’t really been all that good for the people it promised to help the most.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign promise to legalize recreational marijuana in his first 100 days in office is now more than 365 days overdue. After state lawmakers abandoned this year’s proposed legalization scheme earlier this spring, legalizing in 730 days is no guarantee.

Next door, in New York State, an industry-friendly legalization proposal floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of his annual budget proposal was also ditched after a revolt in the New York State Assembly. Lawmakers of color watched other states legalize on promises of “righting the wrongs of the drug war” only to watch cannabis become a well-capitalized white man’s game — and decided that they had had enough of empty promises and wanted a guarantee.

“They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in,” said Assembly Leader Cheryl Peoples-Stokes in a March New York Times interview. “But that’s not something I want to trust.”

Now Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is hoping he has the secret sauce. Like his counterpart in New Jersey, Illinois’s first-term governor, sworn in this year, also promised to legalize marijuana on the campaign trail. Earlier this month, Pritzker’s allies in the state legislature unveiled a proposal that would legalize possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for anyone 21 or over, expunge low-level cannabis convictions, and also set up a low-interest loan program for people of color interested in joining the cannabis industry.

But as the Chicago Tribune reported, like his counterparts in New York and New Jersey, Pritzker — a hereditary billionaire whose also-wealthy relatives, scions to the Hilton hotels family fortune, helped fund Prop. 64 in California, one of the successful legalization ballot initiatives — is also having a tough time winning over lawmakers of color, who are also wary of legalization’s overpromises.

Never one to waste a crisis, familiar faces like Smart Approaches to Marijuana, arguably the nation’s most prominent anti-legalization group, have arrived on the scene. SAM is known for its willingness to lie or dial up outrage — last fall, Kevin Sabet, SAM’s founder and director, told a Kentucky state legislature committee the old “fentanyl in cannabis” fib — but for once they’re right on.

As per the Tribune:

Abu Edwards, national director for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said the proposal benefits “white men in suits who work on Wall Street.”

This is about creating a big business that African-Americans are not going to have the capital to get into,” said Edwards, who is African-American. “It’s not about a person smoking a joint, this about big corporate greed coming into our communities and benefiting off of addiction in our communities.”

Well — and he’s mostly right! Cannabis isn’t very addictive and certainly is not very addictive compared to other drugs. Nationwide, only 138,000 people sought help for cannabis use in 2015, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse; compare that to the estimated 2.5 million Americans who have an opiate-use problem.

But it’s hard to argue the “big corporate greed” point. Consolidation and corporatization is absolutely happening. Former House Speaker John Boehner, who hated weed until he realized he could make money off of it, is selling cannabis stock tips and taking huge fees to lobby Congress. The point is particularly hard to argue in Illinois, where several existing big-time medical-marijuana companies have been lobbying Prtizker to get first and only dibs in the recreational market.

Pritzker appears to get it. His proposal has the automatic expunging of past offenses, which is a step up from states like California, where jurisdictions like San Francisco had to hire coders to write algorithms to do the expunging. And some kind of equity program for entrepreneurs baked into the bill is also an improvement. Will it work? Remains to be seen, but in the meantime, the cannabis industry has absolutely given its opponents an opening. It’s not just and it’s not equitable, and it needs to address this in a hurry if it wants to be taken seriously — and resume its once inevitable-looking winning ways.

What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right was posted on Cannabis Now.

The Cannabis Industry Has Lots of Jobs, But Few Are High-Paying

The Cannabis Industry Has Lots of Jobs, But Few Are High-Paying

Original Post: Cannabis Now: The Cannabis Industry Has Lots of Jobs, But Few Are High-Paying

[Canniseur: The rise of legal cannabis is an opportunity to do things better. Pay equity is a huge issue and while our business owners and leaders certainly deserve great returns on their work product and risk taking, everyone deserves a livable wage. I hope our industry can rise to an exceptional standard and pave the way to better worker salaries.]

Cannabis legalization means the new pot jobs look like the rest of America, where opportunity is constricted and inequality is high.

Presidential candidates can be tough on climate change — by some metrics, they must be — but anyone wanting to be president must also say a few nice things about coal. This is because in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states any would-be president almost certainly must win, coal is equated with decent work.

Such appeals are mostly a nostalgic technique, as only 53,000 Americans work in the coal industry today. This is a fraction of the jobs created by the cannabis industry, for which 2018 was a year of record growth. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, as many as 300,000 Americans now work in the cannabis industry. If current trends continue, that figure could eclipse the million-worker mark by decade’s end.

Marijuana-sector jobs increased by 44 percent last year, according to Leafly. In Florida, cannabis-industry jobs spiked by 703 percent alone, an increase that tracked with a tripling of that state’s medical-marijuana patient base. If Florida were to legalize cannabis for adults over 21, well — look out, LinkedIn!

But what are these jobs? The Times has an answer, and it’s not entirely encouraging.

While exact numbers are elusive, as the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics does not yet have a cannabis-industry specific cut-out, it appears most cannabis jobs “are on the lower end of the pay scale,” the newspaper reported. These are the unskilled labor and low-skill retail jobs, the trimmers who do “rote agricultural work” for “$10 to $15 an hour” and the “budtenders” who make “about $25,000” a year, the newspaper reported.

If you have one of these jobs, you may make a little more, maybe closer to the salary survey published in early April by Fortune. If you do, chances are you live in a city like Los Angeles, Seattle or Oakland, where the egregious cost of living eats up any salary increase you enjoy over a counterpart in Nevada or Ohio or Arizona.

This is not to say that there are not good jobs in cannabis. There are! They are just not that many of them — and they’re going to people who already had good gigs in other sectors outside of cannabis. In fact, having a job outside of cannabis is the way to get a very good job inside of cannabis, as per the Times.

“For upper-level managers and executives, companies say they prefer candidates with a background in highly regulated industries like alcohol or pharmaceuticals,” the newspaper said.

The Times mentions a few of these folks. There’s David Dancer, who worked in marketing for Charles Schwab before MedMen recruited him to be their chief marketing officer. He is now producing “slick videos” and doing the labor of making cannabis attractive to people who do not use cannabis (like people who might have been attracted to investing with Charles Schwab, for example). At Oakland’s Harborside, a household name in California cannabis for more than a decade, the new chief operating officer is an attorney whose resume lists jobs in real-estate development.

There is also increasing demand for “chemists, software engineers and nurses,” the newspaper reported — which is to say there is room for educated people with white-collar jobs. These jobs are available for anyone with the opportunity to attain education, maybe at one of the universities offering cannabis-specific concentrations in one of these traditional fields.

But if you are a budtender or a trimmer, your career track is limited — as are your earnings, even as the cannabis industry continues to balloon into an economic force measured in the tens of billions. This is the caveat that every breathless report touting the marijuana industry’s job-machine must carry. There are jobs, but there are not a lot of great jobs — and if there is a great job, it’s held by someone poached from another good job somewhere else.

Okay, but so what? What this means is that cannabis looks like America, where wealth is concentrated at the privileged top and a good job requires a good education or good connections — in other words, privilege. This is not the cannabis industry’s fault. Cannabis has worked very hard to assimilate and to become part of society — and has not always succeeded, even with all of these billions — and this is what society looks like.

So, about those coal jobs. Why were they good, why do they carry such nostalgic appeal, why must every Democratic presidential candidate tread very lightly in Appalachia while Donald Trump cooks up wild fantasies about coal’s “resurgence”? They were good in part because they were union jobs. It is not an accident that the militant and successful strike by teachers happened in coal country — this was how their great-grandparents won decent jobs in the mines.

Will that happen in cannabis? Maybe, but probably not. Most union jobs in the United States in 2019 are in the private sector.

In this way, cannabis just isn’t so special, but isn’t that what legalization wanted all along?

TELL US, do you want to work in the cannabis industry?

The post The Cannabis Industry Has Lots of Jobs, But Few Are High-Paying appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The Cannabis Industry Has Lots of Jobs, But Few Are High-Paying was posted on Cannabis Now.

Study: Everyone Prefers Low-Dose Cannabis Edibles — Even Mice

Study: Everyone Prefers Low-Dose Cannabis Edibles — Even Mice

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Study: Everyone Prefers Low-Dose Cannabis Edibles — Even Mice

[Canniseur: The results of this research are not surprising. I’ve always believed that cannabis consumption is self regulating. Once we understand how cannabis works in our own system, we inherently know when to stop. The research has many nuggets of information that are important for a better understanding of the effect…and self regulation…of cannabis consumption.]

Super-strength cannabis edibles have a small but passionate legion of defenders. In certain cases, for instance, there is a wholly valid medical justification for a 1000-milligram brownie — but the truth is, marijuana-laced goodies are not for everyone.

And this is particularly true at high doses.

Whenever “extreme adverse effects” result from cannabis, it seems an edible (or a plateful of them) is involved. This is why most states with legalized adult-use cannabis have passed laws limiting the amount of THC in edibles, and why these limits haven’t been overturned.

It turns out preferring a mild buzz to a days-long, edible-triggered, near-psychedelic odyssey may be wired into our brains. Because as researchers at Indiana University and Purdue University recently found, this preference appears to be absolutely wired into the brains of mice.

In a study, results of which were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers at the Department of Psychology and Indiana Alcohol Research Center, Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis fed a cohort of mice dough infused with THC, in variable amounts.

Know Thy Limits

Doses in the dough ranged from 1 milligram of THC per kilogram of bodyweight to up to 10 milligrams of THC per kilogram. The mice also had access to “normal” food and water, which suggests they were not attacking the dough out of hunger. (For comparison’s sake: a 180-pound man would be eating an edible with roughly 800 milligrams of THC were he to match the mightiest mouse dough.)

The mice ate the dough — as lab mice are wont to do — but the more powerful the dough, the less the mice ate, researchers found. When the dough was at 5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg, some of the mice ate “significantly less” than 100%, suggesting there was something in that dough that disagreed with the mice.

“The simple fact that mice self-administered THC dough could be seen as evidence that it is rewarding,” the researchers wrote. “However, inspection of consumption patterns indicates that THC might have been aversive at higher dose.”

But not every mouse shied away from the highest-strength dough. Some mice ate it all, no matter how strong. After eating the dough, effects included less movement and a decrease in body temperature — you know, typical stoned mice things. Interestingly, the impact was most pronounced in the male mice, the researchers found.

The study “demonstrated what appears to be THC-induced conditioned taste aversion,” the researchers wrote, adding that the mice did not appear to be stressed and were otherwise perfectly fine, if very blazed.

The study is notable for a few reasons. There is limited scientific data on self-administration of THC, even among animals. And since there are still legal and “ethical” barriers to performing such experiments on humans, as the researchers noted, mice — who, like rats, provide something of a yardstick for understanding biology and functions like the immune system in humans — are the next-best option. And this study is one of few where an animal subject had access to self-administered THC at all, meaning it’s one of the few where desire for THC could be gauged.

It’s neither accurate nor fair to say that edibles are a liability. But among the problems that have arisen during the cannabis legalization era, powerful edibles — and eating too much of them — has absolutely been one of the marijuana movement’s biggest challenges.

The good news is that edibles are relatively easy to manage, because this is what labeling is for. And if you are a human who prefers a microdose to a heroic macro-brownie, just know that you are not alone in the animal kingdom.

Study: Everyone Prefers Low-Dose Cannabis Edibles — Even Mice was posted on Cannabis Now.

PayPal Wants To Help You Buy Marijuana (& Bank)

PayPal Wants To Help You Buy Marijuana (& Bank)

Original Post: Cannabis Now: PayPal Wants To Help You Buy Marijuana (& Bank)

[Canniseur: As they say, follow the money. Lobby money is now flowing into DC in support of the SAFE banking act. Ultimately, unlocking mainstream banking for the cannabis industry helps everyone. Won’t it be wonderful to use square upon check out at your local pot shop?]

The online payments platform has officially joined a lobbying effort in support of federal banking reform.

Like U.S. currency issued by the federal government, PayPal, one of the earliest online financial-services companies, has been and still is used to purchase illegal things — a broad category that, according to the federal government, still includes cannabis.

With very few exceptions, legal cannabis businesses remain locked out of mainstream options for banking and payments-processing. Only about 40 financial institutions nationwide handle marijuana-related accounts, it is believed.

(If you do encounter a dispensary that accepts credit cards or writes checks, there is a strong possibility they are lying to their merchant-services provider or have a very secretive arrangement with a daring credit union.)

This is why you must enter cannabis dispensaries with cash-stuffed pockets — and why the dispensary manager must slink out of a side door and into an armored car in order to deliver tens of thousands of dollars in hard currency to the taxman.

Like most anyone else who has experienced it firsthand, PayPal thinks this arrangement is bad and wrong. (Even Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, knows this cannot stand, as he told Congress during an April 9 hearing.)

This is why the San Jose-based company has officially signed on as a support of the SAFE Banking Act, a bill proposed in Congress that would end the madness and allow law-abiding cannabis businesses to use banks and other payment solutions, like PayPal.

PayPal started lobbying Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act earlier this year, according to a release from U.S. Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-Colorado), the bill’s main sponsor.

PayPal started lobbying Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act earlier this year, according to a release from U.S. Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-Colorado), the bill’s main sponsor.

The company listed lobbying Congress on cannabis banking as among its activities on Capitol Hill during the first three months of 2019, Perlmutter said.

Solutions for the cannabis industry’s cash-flow problem — that is, one of the only ways for money to flow is in risk-seeking cash — have been hard to find.

Efforts to charter public banks at the state level to accept marijuana money have not resulted in any concrete action, necessitating action at the federal level.

Thus, banking is among the cannabis industry’s top priorities in Washington, where a variety of companies are spending tens of thousands of dollars a month in order to influence Congress, with mixed results at best. Other priorities include descheduling cannabis to allow for interstate trade, fixing the tax code, and passing some kind of nationwide legalization bill that also includes a social-justice component like equity requirements.

Not every cannabis business wants all of those things, so the SAFE Banking Act is a not-common example of broad consensus. It’s also an instance where there’s great interest from a powerful lobby that does not necessarily have anything to do with marijuana.

Banks are aware that the cannabis industry is expected to reach tens of billions of dollars in annual sales over the next decade, according to nearly every estimate, and they absolutely want part of that business.

Here is where banks are very good, no matter how much money you have (or don’t): Congress listens to banks because Congress listens to money. If every big bank in the United States marched into Congress and told Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell that they want to be able to handle cannabis cash and that Congress could forget calling them for campaign contributions until they could, it is a fair bet that Congress would do something.

This may be happening. The American Banking Association is spending $10,000 a month on lobbyists keeping cannabis banking on Congress members’ minds, Perlmutter’s office noted. Other lobbying firms pushing for SAFE Banking include the National Cannabis Roundtable, a recently formed lobbying group chaired by former House Speaker John Boehner.

As Perlmutter’s office noted, the main obstacle to progress remains Republicans. The chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, has yet to say what chance the bill has in getting a hearing in his committee. Without a hearing, the bill won’t get a vote and without a vote, it can’t become law.

Will Crapo listen to PayPal, if not Boehner or Trump’s treasury secretary? A voice like that won’t hurt. Until the change happens, you can still use PayPal to buy cannabis. Just not in a dispensary.

Feature Photo Credit: Marco Verch

PayPal Wants To Help You Buy Marijuana (& Bank) was posted on Cannabis Now.

San Francisco’s Great 420 Lie: Marijuana-Laced Fentanyl

San Francisco’s Great 420 Lie: Marijuana-Laced Fentanyl

Original Post: Cannabis Now: San Francisco’s Great 420 Lie: Marijuana-Laced Fentanyl

[Canniseur: The truth is, no cannabis is being laced with fentanyl. It’s all fake news. When will the perpetrators of this kind of BS understand the truth will always be revealed? There’s a genuine problem with fentanyl and other opioids. However, cannabis is a safe and healing medicinal plant.]

Why did police and an elected official celebrate 420 by spreading fake news about fentanyl-laced cannabis?

Every year, tens of thousands of people go to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on April 20. Though sometimes there are fights and (very often) the revelers leave lots of trash behind (as other partiers do in other parks every time the weather is nice), 420 at Hippie Hill is generally a reasonable sane affair. People show up, people get extremely stoned, people go home.

One thing that does not happen at 420 in San Francisco are opiate overdoses. Yet for some reason, both a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as well as a captain in the San Francisco Police Department chose to add the threat of opiate overdoses into the mix.

And as KPIX and SF Weekly reported, claims from both Supervisor Vallie Brown and SF Police Captain Una Bailey that “fentanyl-laced marijuana” caused havoc at 420 last year were made with absolutely no factual basis.

By now, the days leading up to 420 in San Francisco follow a familiar and predictable ritual. There are neighborhood concerns about traffic and crowds. There is hoopla over fences and smoking. There is a press conference in which everyone is exhorted to behave. The event happens, and 350 days later, the whole thing repeats itself.

There was one minor hiccup at 420 in 2018. According to a post-fete report published on ABC-7, paramedics revived “several” people near the park with Narcan for a possible opiate overdose. This means they might have ingested fentanyl. They also might not have.

Nowhere in the press report was it suggested or even implied that they ingested cannabis laced with fentanyl — which, thus far, has been nothing more than a myth peddled across the country by anti-legalization zealots, including the most reactionary members of the Trump White House.

According to more than one drug expert, fentanyl-laced marijuana is also a chemical marvel: the two substances require different temperatures to become activated.

Yet by the time the lead-up for 2019 came around, both Bailey and Brown took pains to tell the public that cannabis sold to 420 attendees last year had fentanyl.

“Please do not buy your cannabis on the street. A lot of it was laced with fentanyl. We know that is deadly,” Brown said at the pre-420 press conference, according to KPIX.

In her e-mail newsletter disseminated to area residents — often the main method in which both reporters and members of the public hear from police — Bailey, the SFPD captain, did exhort 420 attendees to buy cannabis from licensed vendors. That was nice, but her reasoning was not.

“Buying marijuana on the street and not from a legal vendor exposes

you to marijuana that may be laced with other drugs,” Bailey wrote. “Last year we had numerous attendees pass out form using marijuana laced with fentanyl.”

Here is the genealogy: “Several” people were revived with Narcan in 2018, after consuming an unknown drug. A year later, “several” people somehow became “numerous” individuals, all of whom smoked fen-laced weed — a narrative that, after it was spread by police and elected officials, was quickly debunked by health experts.

“I know that’s how it’s been reported, but I don’t think we know how people consumed, or got exposed to the opioids that they did,” Tomas Aragón, a physician and a top official at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told CBS SF’s Wilson Walker.

SF Weekly dug a little deeper and discovered that Bailey and Brown had even less of a leg to stand on than a sloppy interpretation of a year-old news article. According to the paper, neither SF DPH nor the SF Fire Department had any record of fentanyl overdoses on Hippie Hill in either 2018 or 2019.

One reason why, the newspaper reported, is that fentanyl can’t be smoked like marijuana is smoked. Direct application to flame, as is done when a joint is smoked, destroys the fentanyl. “It’s not even actually possible to get high from smoking it that way,” said Eliza Wheeler from the local Harm Reduction Coalition, which advocates for hard-drug users.

Opiates are a very big deal in San Francisco and many other places in America. More than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these were caused by opiates.

Why would authorities choose to draw attention away from actual opiate overdoses with demonstrably false statements like this — and why would they do so in San Francisco? Neither Brown nor SFPD responded to SF Weekly’s questions, and Bailey’s newsletter, with its false hysteria, remains online.

San Francisco’s Great 420 Lie: Marijuana-Laced Fentanyl was posted on Cannabis Now.

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