Dealers Caught with More Than 100,000 Counterfeit Weed Vape Cartridges

Dealers Caught with More Than 100,000 Counterfeit Weed Vape Cartridges

Original Post: Merry Jane: Dealers Caught with More Than 100,000 Counterfeit Weed Vape Cartridges

[Canniseur: While this is a start, the black market for vape cartridges is so large, ‘when it comes to slowing the damage done by counterfeit vape carts, this single arrest is nothing more than a flea bite on an elephant’s backside’. ]

While it’s unclear if these black market vapes contain chemical thickeners, the bust offers an important look at the underground industry which has led to a slew of vape-related illnesses.

Police officers in Kenosha County, Wisconsin say that a tip from a local high school student led them to a sophisticated counterfeit THC vape cartridge manufacturing operation that could potentially be tied to the vape-related illness that has already hospitalized hundreds of Americans and killed at least six.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, brothers Tyler and Jacob Huffhines were arrested after a search warrant of a condo in Bristol, WI turned up 31,200 filled vape cartridges, 98,000 empty vape cartridges, and 57 mason jars filled with what appeared to be cannabis oil. At the height of the operation, police say the crew was filling 3,000-5,000 cartridges every single day.

Local sheriffs say that they were led to the Huffhines brothers thanks to a pair of parents who pushed their son to tattle after catching him puffing on a vape cartridge, which the teen said he purchased for just $16. Authorities have sent samples of the oil to a laboratory, but it is not yet clear if the vape cartridges or cannabis oil confiscated from the Huffhines contains vitamin E acetate, the diluent currently thought to be causing the rash of vape illnesses.

But while parents, health experts, and even the president have all decried the vape illnesses as a cause for grave concern, most experts have failed to consider how black market vape cartridges are actually produced, and how potentially dangerous chemicals can be distributed to youth across the country. And so whether these particular Wisconsin cartridges contain chemical thickeners or not, the busted operation is an important look at the underground vape industry. 

Gallery — Here’s What Fake Vape Carts Actually Look Like:

At similar cart mills around the country, like-minded dealers order cheap empty vape cartridges and familiar packaging from overseas manufacturers, and mason jars full of cannabis oil from black market dealers — usually in California, Oregon. Next, the dealers will use syringes or pipettes to measure oil into each cartridge, screwing the tops on and folding them into boxes with names like Dank Vapes, Mario Carts, Exotic Vapes, and countless others. In Wisconsin, authorities say that the Huffhines paid a team of employees $20 an hour to fill cartridges and stuff them into thousands upon thousands of boxes labeled with various strains of “Dank Vapes,” “Chronic Carts,” and “Dabwoods.”

Since the cannabis oil is typically imported from a black market source, and traditionally sent by mail, illicit cart makers often do not know exactly what is in the mason jars they are sourcing. What may appear to be a potent THC distillate flavored with botanical terpenes could actually be cut with vitamin E acetate, glycol, or another diluent. On the other hand, it is also possible that counterfeit vape makers could purchase and add their own cutting agents to further stretch the selling potential of their untested cannabis oil. Without lab testing, there is frankly no way for consumers to know what it actually inside vape cartridges produced on the black market.

Wisconsin police say they are investigating to see how far the Huffhines’ suspected cannabis cartridge organization spread, and whether the brothers were responsible for distributing their carts on a national scale. But even if it is found that the brothers were selling cartridges cut with vitamin E acetate to high schoolers across the country, the widespread and decentralized nature of the black market cart industry means that it is almost certain that there are still countless other dealers pushing thousands upon thousands of similar products. In an interview with Leafly this week, Michigan-based Floraplex Terpenes CEO Alec Riffle estimated that there are 50 million vape cartridges cut with vitamin E acetate currently circulating throughout the US black market.

Tyler and Jacob Huffhines are being charged with manufacturing, distribution, and delivery of more than 10,000 grams of marijuana, as well as gun charges, cocaine possession, and a slew of other crimes. But when it comes to slowing the damage done by counterfeit vape carts, the single arrest is nothing more than a flea bite on an elephant’s backside.

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Original Post: Merry Jane: Dealers Caught with More Than 100,000 Counterfeit Weed Vape Cartridges

New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

Original Post: Merry Jane: New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

[Canniseur: More states with medical cannabis programs allow out of state residents to either get a card or use their card from their home state. This is a good thing and, at a low level, creating medical cannabis a ‘national’ program. Although it’s still contained entirely in each individual state. Confused? So am I!]

Thanks to a recent ruling from a New Mexico judge, residents from across the nation can now secure the right to purchase and consume cannabis legally in the Land of Enchantment.

If you’re planning a trip to New Mexico to check out the picturesque scenery or see if you can find and liberate a few new extraterrestrial friends, you can now add a little medicinal greenery to your desert vacation — even if you don’t actually live in the Land of Enchantment.

According to a report from the Phoenix New Times, a ruling from a New Mexico District Judge has opened the state medical marijuana program to out of state residents. Now, anyone who qualifies can register for a legal weed card in New Mexico, no matter where they live.

Derek Rodriguez, a cannabusiness owner who lives in nearby Arizona, was the first non-resident to obtain a New Mexico MMJ card. After a change in the state’s medical marijuana program removed a residency requirement, Rodriguez sued for his right to participate in the New Mexico system. And while Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that the residency removal was intended to facilitate reciprocity for MMJ cardholders from other states, District Judge Bryan Biedscheid sided with Rodriguez, and ruled that the program is open to any person who would like to apply, regardless of any MMJ status in their home state or country.

States like Nevada and Hawaii already allow reciprocity for medical marijuana cardholders from other states. But when it comes to open enrollment in an out-of-state program, New Mexico’s new policy is the first of its kind. Despite recent pushes from local cannabis advocates, New Mexico has not yet been able to pass a recreational legalization proposal.

“It’s fantastic that New Mexico is going through this in a very public manner,” Demitri Downing, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona, told Phoenix New Times. “The more and more people discuss it, the more and more people understand the nuances of what doesn’t make sense. And what doesn’t make sense is not having reciprocity.”

Joining Rodriguez, two Texan men also sued New Mexico for the right to join the state’s medical marijuana program. For a huge number of Texans, New Mexico reciprocity could allow them to take a short drive from the draconian drug policies of the Lone Star State to legally access cannabis elsewhere.

New Mexico officials say that they plan to appeal Judge Biedscheid’s ruling to try and reign in the reciprocity clause.

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Original Post: Merry Jane: New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

Anesthesiologists Say Cannabis Consumption Before Surgery Could Be Deadly

Anesthesiologists Say Cannabis Consumption Before Surgery Could Be Deadly

Original Post: Merry Jane: Anesthesiologists Say Cannabis Consumption Before Surgery Could Be Deadly

[Canniseur: PSA: Let your doctor know you use cannabis. Don’t imbibe before surgery.]

American doctors are still tip-toeing around legal cannabis, but when it comes to pre-surgery preparation, marijuana abstinence is becoming a new point of focus.

Doctors in legal weed states are pushing surgery patients to be honest about their cannabis use and to avoid consumption in the hours before going under the knife, or risk potential complications including heart attack or death.

Over the past year, a series of studies into pharmaceutical anesthetics and cannabis has found an inverse relationship between the effectiveness of pre-surgery sedation drugs and marijuana use. But in addition to decreased sensitivity to anesthetics, doctors are now warning patients to specifically avoid cannabis in the same ways that they would water and food in the hours before surgery. Since marijuana can raise our heart rate and lower our blood pressure, the combination of cannabis intoxication and surgical anesthetics can cause severe cardiac and respiratory complications.

“Most of the conditions, in the worst case scenario, may lead to death,” Dr. David Hepner, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts’ Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe. “I’m not saying that it’s very common, but the potential is there.”

Since California first legalized cannabis for medical use in the ‘90s, doctors have maintained a robust skepticism for cannabis. And since federal restrictions have stood in the way of in-depth clinical research, and piecemeal legalization has hindered product uniformity, physicians in both cannabis-friendly and prohibition states have largely dismissed or ignored weed altogether. When it comes to surgery, though, more anesthesiologists are beginning to dig deeper on patient pot use.

“We’re not going to have any judgment — there’s no stigma,” Dr. Hepner said. “It’s just important for us to know, because the cannabis could interact with the anesthetic, and we need to know how to adjust.”

On the other end of the communication divide, Hepner said that since legalization, patients have been more forthright with disclosing their cannabis use — a trend that he hopes will continue as general social stigmas dim even further. And while previous studies have shown that frequent cannabis use can necessitate increased doses of anesthesia in surgery patients, Hepner noted that the more serious heart and lung complications are only a threat for patients who consume marijuana in the hours immediately preceding a procedure.

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Original Post: Merry Jane: Anesthesiologists Say Cannabis Consumption Before Surgery Could Be Deadly

Florida Doctors Label Seizure Patient a “Drug Addict” for Consuming Cannabis

Florida Doctors Label Seizure Patient a “Drug Addict” for Consuming Cannabis

Original Post: Merry Jane: Florida Doctors Label Seizure Patient a "Drug Addict" for Consuming Cannabis

[Canniseur: This story makes me see a deep, dark red. Medical education has been characterizing cannabis as a narcotic in their curricula since the middle of the 20th century. Physicians are frequently acting like it’s 1950 again. We’re in a sorry state. Cannabis has medical uses and is biochemically active. Doctors who believe that cannabis consumers are addicts need medical education. Doctors are as prone as anyone or any profession to be out of date.]

The doctors told the seizure patient that he should seek drug addiction treatment, despite the fact that he was carrying a medical marijuana card.

More than half of all Americans live in a state with legal access to medical marijuana. But while millions of Americans use cannabis products to relieve a vast array of ailments and conditions, the country’s medical community is still largely skeptical about the once controversial plant.

For Florida medical marijuana patient Michael Morell, the discrepancies between state pot laws and the local medical community were so vast that he requested an early dismissal from a Miami area hospital after doctors labeled him a drug addict for consuming cannabis.

Detailed in a new feature from the Miami New Times, Morell was taken to Homestead Hospital in late June after suffering an epileptic seizure. Morell was diagnosed with epilepsy as an adult, and after trying a variety of narcotic treatments to no avail, he settled on a cannabis nasal spray recommended by a local physician and sanctioned by local medical marijuana laws.

After running a slew of tests, including a CT scan, MRI, EKG, and a toxicology report, doctors found a cyst in Morell’s brain. But when a hospital psychiatrist stopped by Morell’s room more than four hours after the final tests, he didn’t want to discuss the brain scans. Instead, the doctor looked at his toxicology report, and repeatedly asked if Morell used illicit drugs. After denying any illegal drug use, the doctor asked if Morell used cannabis. Morell did not hide his medical marijuana use, but made clear to note that he had a license to consume the plant, and that it had helped reduce his seizures significantly.

Not willing to see the patient’s side of the situation, the psychiatrist and another physician both came to the conclusion that Morell suffered from cannabis use disorder.

Understandably, Morell was appalled by the doctors’ focus on his cannabis use, and requested an immediate release from their care. Before he could reach the door, though, Morell says that he was told that cannabis could make his seizures worse, induce schizophrenia, and that he should seek drug addiction treatment. Those sentiments were backed up in consultation notes that Morell turned over to the New Times. And to boot, his exit paperwork suggested that he go to a drug treatment facility — after he was hit with a $60,000 hospital bill.

“Doctors and hospitals need to understand that marijuana is a medicine,” Karen Goldstein, the executive director of Florida’s chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), told the New Times. “They need to update their policies.”

Across the medical marijuana landscape, doctors have been largely reluctant to consider medical cannabis as a serious treatment, in part because of federal prohibition and lasting stigmas. There are also research barriers that have prevented any longitudinal, clinical research on cannabis that could bring the plant in line with other, more widely accepted medications.

“A doctor is responsible for the health of a patient regardless of the cause,” Goldstein continued. “If they’re making a moral decision, then that’s wrong.”

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

Original Post: Merry Jane: Florida Doctors Label Seizure Patient a "Drug Addict" for Consuming Cannabis

Michigan Unveils Social Equity Program to Help Cities Hit Hardest by War on Drugs

Michigan Unveils Social Equity Program to Help Cities Hit Hardest by War on Drugs

Original Post: Merry Jane: Michigan Unveils Social Equity Program to Help Cities Hit Hardest by War on Drugs

[Canniseur: We can only hope this is a real effort on the part of state and local legislators  If it is, Michigan will become a leader in the social equity cannabis landscape. True social equity is easy to talk about, difficult to actually obtain.]

When Michigan voted to legalize cannabis in November 2018, the Wolverine State broke the seal on adult-use marijuana reform in the Midwest. And as Michigan begins to work out the specifics of the impending legal industry, local regulators are trying their hardest to make sure that residents most affected by America’s drug war have a fair shot at getting in on the green rush.

This week, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced a new social equity plan in 19 cities, focused on correcting the damage done by the War on Drugs and encouraging entrepreneurship from those previously incarcerated for cannabis crimes.

“We want to provide an opportunity to get into the business to individuals that might not otherwise have that opportunity,” Andrew Brisbo, director of the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency, told the Detroit Free Press. “And we’re focusing our resources on those specific communities that have been disproportionately impacted.”

If the plan is successful, Michigan regulators will award 50% of all cannabis business licenses to social equity participants, including residents who have lived in the 19 cities for more than five years and those who have a marijuana charge on their record. The equity licensing structure will be active in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Hamtramck, and 15 others.

In addition to priority status for qualified applicants, the equity plan will cut licensing costs by as much as 60%. The $7,000-$47,000 application and licensing process will be reduced by 25% for those who have lived in the select cities for more than half a decade, another 25% for those with cannabis crimes on their record, and another 10% for those who have previously acted as caregivers in Michigan’s medical marijuana program.

“This will provide an overall benefit to the community, ensure that individuals operating the facilities are from that community, and you’re providing good economic opportunities,” Brisbo said.

But while Michigan’s city-specific equity program sounds great in principal, implementation will still need some serious follow-through. Currently, regulators are unsure if the full extent of their plan will come to fruition in a timely manner — or at all.

Since each individual Michigan municipality will decide for itself whether to allow legal weed businesses, there is a chance that one or more of the 19 selected cities will ban the cannabis industry altogether. Adding further potential delays to the equity plan, the majority of Michigan’s initial licenses will go to existing medical marijuana companies, and regulators have not yet explored whether any of the state’s established medical ganjapreneurs would qualify for equity consideration.

As cannabis legalization creeps into the Midwest, states like Michigan have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of their West Coast peers and construct a more socially just cannabis industry. And while it is still yet to be seen if the Wolverine State can actually follow through on those ideals, the equity program is a good place to start.

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

Original Post: Merry Jane: Michigan Unveils Social Equity Program to Help Cities Hit Hardest by War on Drugs

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