Weed-Friendly Gala To Benefit Planned Parenthood Coming To Colorado

The Colorado cannabis community will have a chance to show its support for reproductive health services on Thursday, October 17th. A coalition of marijuana businesses are teaming up to host an award ceremony honoring pot brands whose proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood of the Rockies — at what could be precisely the moment in which the national healthcare organization needs the support the most. 

In August, the reproductive health organization announced that it was being forced to turn down funds from the federal government. The impetus was a policy change that would have put in danger its mission to provide the 1.6 million individuals who rely on its services with accurate and essential health information. 

At issue is the Trump administration’s decision to change a policy affecting Title X, which gives $286 million in annual funds to health care organizations. The White House decreed that groups that receive Title X funds are no longer allowed to discuss abortions with individuals, expect in cases of medical emergency. Previously, healthcare providers were actually required to give patients information on abortion when asked. 

In response, Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer be accepting Title X funds, and that it was launching a $45 million political campaign in presidential election swing states. The group plans on financing organizing programs and investing in canvassing, as well as digital, TV, radio, and mail ads, all aimed at turning the recent tide of pro-life policy changes on the state and federal levels. 

“Who we elect will determine our access to birth control, cancer screenings, sex education, abortion access and more,” executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes Kelley Robinson said of the campaign in a press statement.

Pot and Planned Parenthood

In Colorado, it appears that the organization has allies in the cannabis industry. Lisa Farrimond-Gee, director of marketing and cannabis social responsibility at Denver dispensary chain Lightshade, said that her company and Planned Parenthood have a lot that ties them together. 

“Both groups are about getting the government out of the way of personal choices and believe people have the right to make personal choices,” she told Westword. “The cannabis industry is about the choice of whether this is a medical drug you want to use or a recreational drug you want to use.”

The October 17th gala is named “A Night at the Cabaret,” and will include the presentation of awards to cannabis companies that have played an active role in their communities through donating, volunteering, or instituting social equity-focused business practices. Hosting the event is Mason Jar Event Group, Irie Weddings, and Cannabis Doing Good. 

Attendees will be able to pass by Lightshade before the event to pick up complimentary cannabis products meant to be paired with certain meal courses and events during the evening’s gala. Colorado laws ban giveaways at social consumption events. 

For Terrapin Care Station dispensary chain director of communications Peter Marcus, the night will provide not only hope for people across the country who depend on Planned Parenthood’s health services, but also excellent optics for marijuana businesses. “When cannabis companies build roots, they build goodwill with the public, and the community embraces them as a local business,” he said. “We want feedback from the community, and encourage nonprofits to reach out to us.”

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Canadian Cannabis Company Will Sell Marijuana For Less Than $5 Per Gram

Weed smokers living in Quebec are about to see much lower prices in the legal market. Starting tomorrow, cannabis company HEXO is rolling out a new line of ultra-affordable flower.

Ultimately, the new product line will give Canadians a chance to purchase larger quantities of weed. Additionally, the weed will be sold at super-low prices that work out to be less than $5 per gram.

HEXO Introduces “Original Stash”

The new line of flower from HEXO is called Original Stash. According to a press release from the company, Original Stash will come in one-ounce packages.

That’s a marked difference from traditional weed sales, which typically sell in smaller eighth-ounce quantities.

The new line of smokable flower isn’t only focused on selling in larger packages. It will also offer much lower prices than those typically seen in the legal market. Specifically, HEXO will sell the one-ounce packages of flower for $125.70, including sales tax. That works out to $4.49 per gram.

For now, HEXO will start with a hybrid sativa strain. The company calls this pilot strain OS.210. And HEXO reports that the strain comes in at 12-18 percent THC.

Trying to Undercut the Illegal Market

HEXO developed this new line of dried flower primarily to compete with—and ultimately undercut—the illegal marijuana market. The company said that the price point was calculated to compete with black market prices.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for the average consumer to distinguish products that are legal, versus those that are not,” HEXO CEO and co-founder Sebastien St-Louis said in the press release. “Our aim with Original Stash is to disrupt the illicit market, educate consumers about the value of a regulated and tested product, and drive them to purchase their cannabis legally.”

He added: “We’re now competing directly with the illicit market and providing consumers with an affordable, controlled, quality product. Moreover, we are giving consumers the option of less packaging in a 1 oz format, which we know is a priority for so many.”

Consumers Might Not Know They’re Buying Illegal Weed

Recreational marijuana has been legal in all of Canada for over a year now. Despite this, surveys show that many Canadians still purchase illegal weed.

However, in many cases, consumers might not know they’re buying from illegal sources. According to HEXO, many illicit products have the same packaging as legal products. Further, many illicit sellers use home delivery services and websites that look legitimate.

Recent surveys found that roughly 20 percent of people who purchase weed from an illegal website had no idea it was not a legal source.

Similar trends exist for edibles and topicals. In fact, a full third of Canadians who bought illegal edibles or topics were unaware they were purchasing from illicit sources.

“Illegal cannabis websites are well built, allow consumers to purchase online, and products are delivered to their doors,” St-Louis said. “But we know that illegal cannabis products can—and often—contain heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants, and that concerns me deeply.”

For now, HEXO’s Original Stash will launch in Quebec first. The company said the product is set to roll out across Canada at some point in the future.

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Navigating Cannabis Staffing and Hiring Challenges

With more cannabis staffing and recruiting challenges than ever before, building a healthy pipeline of top candidates can be an uphill battle. From a lack of qualified candidates and working capital to the haze of lingering stigma and industry volatility, cannabis hiring and retention challenges are more apparent than ever.

Understanding the pain points of cannabis staffing and how to flip them in your favor is critical for attracting the talent you need to grow your business.

Emerging Candidate Concerns

Low unemployment coupled with high demand for qualified talent has led to fierce competition among cannabis hiring managers and HR professionals. This means finding candidates with the right skills and industry experience can be exceptionally difficult.

Dispensary and budtender jobs are some of the most popular entry-level cannabis employment opportunities. But since these are customer-facing roles, the requirements to work in a dispensary span a range of skillsets.

Not only do candidates need excellent interpersonal skills, they should also have a deep understanding of the differences and synergies in strains, terpene profiles and cannabinoid contents. The starting hourly pay for these retail dispensary jobs is only about $12-16 per hour. Finding candidates with relevant dispensary experience at such a low rate is not an easy feat.

Source: Vangst

Then there are the extractors and directors of extraction. While these positions are higher-paying than dispensary jobs, they are more dangerous and require a more specific skillset. Engaging qualified candidates for this high-risk position can take a lot of time and effort. In addition, employers also have to assume liabilities and higher compensation demands.

Source: Vangst

Other cannabis employment types that staffing departments and agencies have to hire are highly specialized.

Source: Vangst
Source: Vangst

Not only do you need talented and knowledgeable salespeople, marketers and accountants, there are also laboratory workers, trimmers, cultivation laborers and supervisors, master growers, dispensary managers and delivery drivers to account for.

Lack of Working Capital

With market demand continuing to rise, having the manpower in place is vital to remain competitive. But hiring costs money. Recruiting, advertising and interviewing requires adequate cannabis funding and/or working capital. Unfortunately, obtaining and securing capital to grow and hire is difficult in the industry today.

Making the wrong hiring decision can be costly. If you break any laws during the recruiting process, you can get hit with a hefty lawsuit. The majority of industry players today are startups with limited financial resources. A lawsuit can mean shutting down shop and going out of business.

The Volatile Nature of the Industry

The advancement and adoption of cannabis legislation are rapidly underway for medical use, recreational use and everything in between.

With shifting public sentiments, state-specific cannabis laws and licensing requirements, the industry is in a constant state of change. Even the requirements to work in the cannabis industry vary from state to state.

The ever-rising tide of volatility makes it difficult for companies to find enough stability to make responsible hiring decisions. One regulatory revision can require a company to pivot its branding, product line and entire marketing strategy from top to bottom. A shift in strategy can mean a shift in employee requirements and skillsets. This instability tends to be unappealing to candidates who are accustomed to a well-established workplace structure and culture.

With so much volatility and uncertainty, prioritizing employee relationship management seems like a wise decision. But in-house cannabis human resources is just not in the cards in many cases. Instead, cannabis staffing, recruiting and HR tend to be outsourced along with accounting and compliance.

Lack of Suitable Cannabis Recruiting Platforms

While perceptions are changing, misconceptions about the industry are still pervasive.

Lingering market stigma presents a grave challenge for cannabis staffing and hiring. In fact, many mainstream recruiting platforms are unwilling to partner with cannabis companies. Fortunately, there are some relatively new cannabis HR agencies and platforms to help solve some of the challenges of hiring in cannabis. Vangst GIGS, for example, is the first and only fully-compliant cannabis staffing platform. The CBD staffing agency has been up and running for just a few years now.

Future of Cannabis Staffing and Hiring Demands

While hemp-derived CBD has been legal since the signing of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, marijuana-derived CBD is still illegal. But this may change sooner rather than later.

There is growing bipartisan support for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. Beyond improving quality assurance and resolving the disconnect between state and federal laws, federal cannabis legalization will have a profound impact on the U.S. economy.

In fact, New Frontier Data, projects federal legalization will create $128.8 billion in additional tax revenue and 1.63 million legal cannabis jobs in the U.S. by 2025.

Cannabis payroll deductions could also increase to $9.5 billion by 2025 because more legal entities, customers and employees would be participating in the market.

With federal legislation likely coming in the near future, knowing how to navigate and scale cannabis human resources, including hemp staffing, are more important than ever. You need the right people and processes to take advantage of the market opportunities legalization would create.

Companies that adapt to industry changes will be better at recruiting top talent and mitigating future staffing shortages. Forward-looking companies and fund managers are already obtaining cannabis business loans and ramping up HR preparations and organizational structuring to get a jumpstart on the pace of change.

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Jury Selection Begins In First Federal Trial Over Opioid Epidemic

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jury selection began Wednesday in the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic despite a last-minute request from lawyers to delay it because of news reports on a settlement offer.

Two
Ohio counties claim drug companies that made, distributed and sold
prescription painkillers engaged in a deadly conspiracy that has
inflicted massive damage on their communities and created a public
nuisance that costs the counties hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The legal situation became a bit more complicated Wednesday as multiple defendants asked Judge Dan Polster to delay the trial after reports that the three big drug distributors were offering a total of $18 billion over 18 years to settle the suits set for trial and some 2,000 others.

Two
people with knowledge of the talks confirmed to The Associated Press
that the offer had been made. They spoke on the condition of anonymity
because they weren’t authorized to disclose details from ongoing talks.
The offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The
lawyers argued that jurors who read or saw any of the coverage would be
tainted when learning of the massive amount of money possibly being
discussed.

Polster denied the motions and said he didn’t believe
many of the potential jurors would have been exposed to the stories. He
said he will question members of the jury pool to determine whether they
were aware of the coverage.

“There’s no way to avoid this,” Polster said. “Something leaked out. I can’t control leaks and we’re going forward.”

Polster said a delay could have pushed the trial into next year.

“Only a fool would start a trial in Cleveland in January or February,” Polster said.

If
a settlement is reached for any of the defendants before or even during
the trial, it would end their part of the case. But it’s not clear
whether the trial would proceed against other companies if some settled.

It’s
expected to take up to three days for attorneys for Summit and Cuyahoga
counties, home to Akron and Cleveland, and six drug companies to select
a 12-person jury. Prospective jurors from nine northeast Ohio counties
were mailed a 19-page questionnaire that asked whether there were people
in their lives who used, abused or overdosed on opioids.

Those
with close connections to the crisis are expected to be excluded from
serving on the jury. The pool does not include people from Summit
County, which is a separate subdistrict in the 40-county Northern
District of Ohio and has its own federal courthouse.

Trial
arguments are scheduled to begin Monday. The trial is considered a
bellwether because it could help shape how future trials are conducted
or possibly spur the global settlement sought by Polster, who is
overseeing more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by local governments and other
entities against drug companies.

The federal lawsuits have been
merged into a class action known as multi-district litigation. Polster
has made clear since being assigned to the litigation that he wanted
communities dealing with effects of the opioid crisis to get help as
soon as possible.

Counting prescription drugs and illegal ones
such as heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, opioids have been blamed for
more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

Five drug
manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, have used settlements or
bankruptcy filings to be dismissed from the trial, winnowing the list of
defendants to six: generic drugmakers Actavis and Cephalon, which are
both now owned by Teva; the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal
Health, Henry Schein and McKesson; and the pharmacy chain Walgreens —
but only in its role as a distributor.

The companies say they complied with the law and supplied only drugs that doctors prescribed.

The trial itself is expected to last about seven weeks.

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Space Case: New Book Features Images From The NASA Archives

Some people enjoy stargazing out in the vast open air, while others prefer to cozy up at home and leaf through a solid hardcover book full of mystifying images of space. For these armchair astronauts, there’s a brand-new publication that not only includes 128 pages worth of text and photographs of space—it also includes a preface from Bill Nye (the science guy).

Stargazing: Photographs Of The Night Sky From the Archives of NASA is published by Chronicle Books and authored by Nirmala Nataraj, a New York-based writer and editor who wrote the book’s introduction as well as a series of bite-sized blurbs that accompany the images, each one describing the science behind the corresponding photograph as well as the technology used to capture it. The book includes a range of different phenomena, from meteor showers and eclipses to the aurora borealis and beyond.

Space Case: A New Book Features Images From The NASA Archives
Airglow/ From “Stargazing: Photographs of the Night Sky from the Archives of NASA” by Nirmala Nataraj, published by Chronicle Books, 2019

In one image, viewers are treated to a rare panoramic view of the sky above the earth’s equatorial Pacific, as seen from the International Space Station. Another photograph documents a phenomenon called airglow, which takes place about 60 miles above earth when the upper atmosphere’s particles collide with rays from the sun. An additional photo shows the Andromeda Galaxy, captured by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, while yet another image comes from the Hubble Space Telescope and shows a blue galaxy 45 million light-years from Earth.

Space Case: A New Book Features Images From The NASA Archives
Andromeda in Infrared/ From “Stargazing: Photographs of the Night Sky from the Archives of NASA” by Nirmala Nataraj, published by Chronicle Books, 2019

“It is possible that within a couple of decades, the sights that many of us have been able to enjoy on a clear night will no longer be viewable,” writes Nataraj. “Pristine sky-watching conditions, which have diminished significantly in the last century, may simply become a thing of the past—making the images in this book even more poignant and awe-inspiring.

In the words of Bill Nye, “These NASA photographs of stars, taken from the ground and from the spacecraft built to study them, fill me with admiration and awe. Even photographs of our spacecraft and fire rockets to launch them are amazing. In glance, you get a sense of the remarkable power and thrust required fa send our instruments and astronauts into the darkness.”

Space Case: A New Book Features Images From The NASA Archives
A Diamond and Lizard in the Sky/ From “Stargazing: Photographs of the Night Sky from the Archives of NASA” by Nirmala Nataraj, published by Chronicle Books, 2019

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Semper Fidelis: Twenty22Many Hooks Vets Up With Free Clones And A Healing-Based Community

Twenty22Many, a nonprofit suicide-prevention, PTSD-awareness and medical-cannabis organization for veterans, has a mission to give out 8,000 cannabis clones to as many US military veterans. Sadly, that figure is approximately the number of veterans who kill themselves in the United States over the course of a year. Most of these fatalities involve Vietnam War vets, who take their own lives more frequently than their younger peers.

Speaking to High Times, project founder Patrick Seifert points out that this general age group makes up the bulk of the crowd that comes to the Twenty22Many center—located alongside the Olympia outpost of Washington State’s annual marijuana festival, the Seattle Hempfest, in a building that used to house Seifert’s dispensary, Rainier Xpress. Within these walls, people can make CBD purchases, pick out hemp clothing and access a truly special program for cannabis-using veterans.

Seifert takes photos of the vets who come in for complimentary clones and posts them on social media to mark the occasion—and perhaps as a method of motivating the program participants’ peers. They are photographed in front of a United Stales flag flanked by framed collections of marijuana-themed patches: “Drug War Veteran” and “Narcotics Task Force” peek out among them, as well as an NBA-logo parody in which the initials have been swapped out for “THC.” The vets’ expressions run the gamut from startled to hopeful to giddy at the notion of taking home their own cannabis plant.

Seifert says that few turn down the request to be photographed for Twenty22Many’s Instagram account. That speaks volumes to how much they appreciate the Olympia advocates, especially when one considers that veterans across the country are often penalized for seeking out medical marijuana, despite the many benefits the plant offers to vets in particular.

The Department of Veteran Affairs has not made it easy for veterans to get access to cannabis. Veterans are not supposed to risk losing their VA health benefits due to marijuana usage. Residents of VA hospice facilities cannot consume marijuana on site, and VA doctors were instructed in a 2017 memo that although they could discuss marijuana usage with patients, they cannot make any official recommendation for a state’s medical-cannabis program.

“Unfortunately, the scene hasn’t changed much,” says Brad Burge, director of strategic communications for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which recently completed the first clinical trial to examine the effects of CBD and THC on veterans suffering from PTSD. “The VA continues to prohibit its health-care providers from recommending medical cannabis or helping veterans obtain it, despite numerous state laws acknowledging its efficacy.”

And though there are rules barring the removal of health benefits over cannabis use, a handful of recent cases have shown that the VA can and will penalize veterans for marijuana. In June, the VA denied a Massachusetts vet and his family a housing loan because it didn’t find his job “stable and reliable” enough. His profession? Assistant manager of a thriving cannabis dispensary. Another vet working in the cannabis industry, retired Army Maj. Tye Reedy, lost his pension when the VA took away his position as an academy liaison officer at the US Military Academy at West Point. The academy explained to Reedy that his job as director of operations services at Acreage Holdings “brings discredit upon the US Military Academy and the Army.”

“We are still a long way from medical cannabis being supported by the VA,” says Burge.

It makes you wonder why the Twenty22Many vets agree to pose for the camera at all. In some shots, the vets hold the crown of their new plants at face level, obscuring a mouth or a cheekbone with a winsome green leaf. Still, those who pose for the pics are risking something. But for many, the importance of accessing cannabis—and convincing other vets suffering from similar symptoms to try marijuana—outweigh the risks.

“Anecdotally, hundreds of veterans have publicly testified that cannabis access has saved their lives after being driven to near-suicide under a pharmaceutical load of dozens of pills a day,” Eric Goepel, CEO and founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition advocacy group, explained to Forbes. “Current research supports the potential efficacy of cannabis in dozens of different applications, all of which could have direct positive impacts on overall veteran health. Whether for pain relief, as a sleep aid, or for help in overcoming stress and anxiety, so many veterans find relief in cannabis because it provides an alternative way to manage their conditions far better than a slew of toxic pharmaceuticals.”

Seifert offers his story as an example. He started smoking marijuana in 10th grade when suffering from PTSD from sexual abuse. “Lo and behold, I probably was using it to help me with those feelings that I was having at such a young age,” he says. After high school, he served in the Marines and was stationed in Hawaii from 1992 to 1995, then came back home and worked private security jobs. Then he got into a car accident, which would lead to narcotic pain-pill prescriptions and eventually to addiction. “It was tough on me,” Seifert remembers. However, “Slowly but surely, I was able to get off of those, and start healing myself with cannabis.”

Years later, he opened his dispensary—or “safe access point,” as it’s called in Washington—in Olympia. “Within the first year, we started seeing something pretty marvelous happening,” Seifert says. “Veterans just coming [in]—pouring through our doors.” Any veteran could bring in a service photo, and Seifert would frame it and hang it on the dispensary’s “Wall of Fame.” Vets could also usually count on a free gram of marijuana every time they visited the shop.

In 2012, the VA published a suicide-data report that found 22 veterans kill themselves every day in the United States—that’s 8,000 lives lost each year. (There’s some debate about the exact number of veteran suicides, but the figures published by the VA are generally accepted.) The investigation studied death certificates from 1999 to 2011, and concluded that veterans made up 22 percent of self-inflicted deaths in the United States. That’s particularly troubling because they only made up 13 percent of US adults in 2012, according to that year’s Gallup poll.

When Seifert read about the study’s findings, he decided that his dispensary was not doing enough. A 2014 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 51 percent of veteran respondents knew a fellow vet who had taken their own life. Seifert was determined to do more to help his peers.

In the early days of Twenty22Many, the group would order pizza and talk about veterans’ health over slices and cups of coffee. How could they make more of a difference in getting vets access to cannabis? Their first goal, they decided, was getting PTSD on the list of Washington’s qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The VA says that 15 percent of Vietnam vets, 12 percent of Gulf War vets, and 11 to 20 percent of vets from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have the condition, and that it can be caused by military sexual trauma as well.

The group did its research and found that no one had ever presented the addition of PTSD to Washington State’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana on a standalone State Senate bill. It had always been bogged down by a long list of other potential qualifying conditions that sent it back to committee again and again. Twenty22Many took advantage of its location in the state capital and presented its plan for a standalone PTSD bill to State Senator Steve Hobbs. Within days, Hobbs signed on as the legislation’s main sponsor and the bill passed the State Senate unanimously. Now a more seasoned lobbyist, Seifert thinks back to that early success in awe, especially as other senators followed up by adding traumatic brain injury (TBI), another condition that affects many veterans, to the list of qualifiers.

The early win energized the group, and soon the address that housed Rainier Xpress became the headquarters of Twenty22Many. Seifert says that central to the organization’s mission is educating veterans about home grows. “I don’t know if you’ve ever grown before,” he says. “But there’s something spiritual about growing your own medicine.”

Twenty22Many looks to build a seamless circle of support for vets to get started with their own plants. The group’s technique starts with the first roadblock: steep state authorization fees that can be daunting for vets with limited earnings. In 2019, Nancy Murphy, a nurse, stepped in to fill that void, holding $22 discount authorization days— the price drops to zero for vets that are homeless or otherwise financially compromised. In June, the organization held its fourth such event. “It’s such a blessing to finally see those guys coming out of the shadows,” says Seifert.

Once they are properly signed up, program participants receive clones from Twenty22Many, some of which are donated by fellow vets like Caleb Ray Neal. Participants can also help themselves to lights, fans, buckets and barrels that have also been donated. The group often holds free three-hour home-grow classes taught by expert growers Eric Rhetta and Alex Stubbs. There’s also a 24-hour cannabis-growing hotline for veterans. Additionally, the group has already assisted running a veteran help line for four years now. “If they need a sandwich, if they need help getting their DD214 [a form that documents military discharge], we don’t care, you can call for anything and we’ll listen,” says Seifert. “If we can drive to you, we’ll drive to you.”

Establishing a sense of camaraderie and purpose among veterans is at the heart of the group’s mission. In addition to encouraging participants to stay in touch by sharing photos of their cannabis crops, the organization also hosts stoner movie nights. “Some of these guys, you don’t know if they’re sitting at home alone on the side of their bed, or what they’re thinking,” says Seifert. “And we just don’t want to take that chance.”

Seifert knows that things are unlikely to change when it comes to the federal government’s policy on vets consuming cannabis. He is, however, heartened by the work of people like Mike Krawitz, a fellow vet who sits on the Twenty22Many board and has worked tirelessly alongside Americans for Safe Access and other activists to change the World Health Organization’s harsh scheduling of cannabis.

In the photos of the vets that Twenty22Many posts on social media, Seifert is often in the frame, an arm thrown around a flannel-clad shoulder or standing akimbo, thumbs in his front pockets. “There’s really nothing out there that’s doing more to fight veteran suicide than cannabis,” Seifert, who still signs his emails with “Semper Fidelis,” says softly. “So that’s why it’s so frustrating. Having it as a Schedule I drug is really hurting us.” While that is of course true, Twenty22Many has improved the lives of many veterans through both cannabis and camaraderie. Perhaps the biggest asset veterans have in the fight for safe access is each other.

Originally published in the September, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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California Governor Signs Several Marijuana-Related Bills

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a passel of bills affecting the cannabis industry, his office announced on Saturday. Among the legislation that is now law is AB 37, a proposal sponsored by Democrat member of the California House Reggie Jones-Sawyer that will allow cannabis companies to make tax deductions.

AB 37 requires that eligible companies file their taxes as sole proprietors or partnerships. A similar bill was vetoed last year by former Governor Jerry Brown.

At the federal level, such write-offs depart from official Internal Revenue Service policy. But Newsom showed he had little problem with that conflict—despite the fact that on the same day, he announced that he had “begrudgingly” vetoed SB 305, which would have legalized medical cannabis treatment for terminally ill patients at California health care facilities.

Of that proposed legislation, Newsom wrote in a veto message, “This bill would create significant conflicts between federal and state laws that cannot be taken lightly.” In his statement, he suggested that such institutions could lose their federal funding were they to allow patients to use medical cannabis, even though he stated that he finds the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug (and therefore devoid of medicinal value) a “ludicrous stance [that] puts patients and those who care for them in an unconscionable position.”

But hopefully some of the other pieces of legislation the governor put into effect will expand the medical community’s understanding of cannabis. AB 420 (heh) will establish a new cannabis research program within the University of California system.

Other bills that Newsom signed into law include a social equity measure that waives or defers the fees associated with getting licensed as a cannabis business for “needs-based” applicants. SB 34 will make it possible for dispensaries to supply free cannabis to medical patients—an important continuation of the compassionate care programs that play an important role in the history of California marijuana activism.

But Wait; There’s More

Another important piece of legislation signed into effect was Assembly Bill 1291, which requires cannabis companies that employ 20 or more people to provide a notarized document confirming that they will adhere to a labor peace agreement. That’s a promise that the company will not interfere should workers decide they want to form their own union, and also means that any potential union will not encourage strike activity.

That legislation has already been on the books in California since last year, but the new law gives businesses a 60-day deadline to produce such a notarized communication. Should the business fail to do so, workers can lodge a complaint with state labor authorities.

New York state also requires cannabis businesses of a certain size to sign labor peace agreements. The spread of such legislation is one indication of a growing movement to unionize marijuana workers, led in part by the United Food and Commercial Workers national labor union. UFCW now represents workers in California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington State.

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Bill Would Remove Cannabis Possession As Grounds For Deportation

A bill introduced by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. recently would remove possession of cannabis as grounds for deportation under federal law. Under the bill, the Remove Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act (S. 2021), the offenses for which an undocumented immigrant could be deported would be amended. The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey in June and in the House last month with an identical companion bill from fellow Democrat Assistant Speaker Ray Ben Luján of New Mexico.

“This Administration’s efforts to use marijuana possession as a tool for deportation is misguided and does not make our communities safer,” said Booker in a press release. “Limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on deporting people for something two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing. This legislation will remove another one of ICE’s weapons that have been deployed to execute this Administration’s hardline immigration policy.”

Why This Bill is Necessary

With the bill, the Immigration and Nationality Act would be amended, adding the phrase “other than the distribution of marijuana” to the section that defines “illicit trafficking in a controlled substance” as an offense that warrants the deportation of an undocumented immigrant.

The measure also adds that “any offenses involving the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana shall not be considered as grounds of inadmissibility.” The bill would also allow immigrants who have been deported or denied a visa to reapply for admission to the country or have their visa reissued.

“The Trump administration’s decision to use marijuana as a weapon against our immigrant communities is despicable,” said Luján. “The federal government should not be wasting resources to wreak havoc on immigrant families when there are children held in border camps that are desperate for legal services, hygiene products, and basic humanitarian care. Providing care for these children and families should be where the Trump administration devotes its funding—not working as a deportation force.”

“I’m proud to be fighting for this legislation to hold President Trump accountable and defend our immigrant communities from senseless and hateful policies,” he added.

More than 34,000 immigrants were deported between 2007 and 2012 for marijuana possession, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Since President Trump rescinded guidelines that listed misdemeanor offenders and cannabis convictions as a low priority, the crisis has worsened, according to Luján’s office. He adds that “this anti-immigrant agenda from the Trump administration stands in contrast to the policies of dozens of states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana use and possession.”

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Eight Months After Ban, Food And Drink With CBD Is Still Being Sold In NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — Food and drink are still being sold with CBD in New York City, months after health officials banned restaurants and cafes from selling edibles spiked with or accompanied by the trendy cannabis derivative because of safety concerns.

The city’s health department surprised bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, and other food sellers in February by telling them they were not permitted to put cannabidiol, or CBD, in prepared foods because it hadn’t been approved as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They also can’t provide CBD to customers to add it themselves.

City health
inspectors started seizing CBD-laced products, then backed off and gave
food establishments until Oct. 1 to comply with the rules or face a fine
of up to $650.

Yet on a recent spin around Manhattan in the days
after that deadline passed, an Associated Press reporter was able to
find CBD-infused coffee, cookies and other food items still for sale.

In
the coffee bar at Le District, a fancy grocery near the World Trade
Center, a sign read: “Add an extra dose of CBD oil to any drink for $5.”

At the Fat Cat Kitchen cafe in Manhattan’s East Village, freshly baked CBD cookies and brownies sat on display in a glass case.

CBD-infused
drinks — including lavender matcha latte and white peach iced tea —
were also on sale at the Forever Coffee Bar, near Columbia University’s
new satellite campus in upper Manhattan. Customers could get 10
milligrams added to their beverage for $2.50.

Owner Artem Arnopulo
said he was aware the ban was in place. Health inspectors, in fact, had
already visited another one of his Manhattan cafes in September and
asked it to stop serving CBD-laced items.

“That was before the Oct. 1 deadline, and they said, no violation, no tickets. But it was a warning,” Arnopulo said.

Still,
he said he plans to keep serving CBD drinks until the inspectors show
up at his other location and tell them to stop, too.

“We’re
waiting for them,” he says with a grin. “I’m really a bit upset about
it. If we cannot sell this anymore because CBD is kind of special and
people are so excited about it.”

The Fat Cat Kitchen’s co-owner,
C.J. Holm, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Le District initially
denied any CBD beverages were still for sale, then stopped responding to
inquiries after being told an Associated Press reporter had been able
to purchase a coffee with a packet of CBD that afternoon.

Products
with CBD, a chemical in cannabis that doesn’t cause a high, have become
a fad across the country. The chemical is touted by sellers as being
able to relieve pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and other conditions. Those
claims are unproven, and questions remain about its safety.

The
FDA has approved CBD as a treatment for rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
The substance’s status as a potential medicine, however, has triggered
restrictions on its use as a food additive or dietary supplement. The
agency is now exploring regulations that might allow it to be added to
food at a later date. In the meantime, though, restaurants aren’t
allowed to add it to food, just like they wouldn’t be allowed to add
doses of painkillers or other medications.

Michael Lanza, a
spokesman for the New York City Department of Health, told The
Associated Press that no violations had yet been registered in the days
after the October deadline. In the future, he said, health officials
will confront owners of establishments about any CBD sales while
conducting routine inspections of restaurants, delis and coffee shops.

The crackdown only applies to prepared food, not CBD oil sold by itself in shops and pharmacies.

The post Eight Months After Ban, Food And Drink With CBD Is Still Being Sold In NYC appeared first on High Times.

Searching for the Good Stuff

Someone approached me the other day, wanting to know what was the real story about hemp and CBD.

He said he had “a guy” who gave him a CBD salve as part of a study, supposedly “the good stuff,” to help his knee. He couldn’t understand why he was the only one out of 20 people in the group that felt no relief. He happened to have this CBD salve with him, along with a second brand that he hadn’t yet tried. The “good stuff” had slick, colorful packaging, a beautiful logo and powerful marketing messages about the phytocannabinoids and essential oils in the jar. The other CBD product was in a dull grey tin, an ugly duckling, and not nearly so impressive on the outside- I’ll call it “Homer’s Brew.” My friend dismissed Homer’s Brew outright, as not even worth trying. I told him that not all CBD products are created equal, that you can’t always believe the claims on the package, including the cannabinoid potency displayed on the label.

The structure of cannabidiol (CBD), one of 400 active compounds found in cannabis.

I told him to search for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for each of the two products, specifically, lab test results validating the CBD dosage per serving, and also the breakdown of pesticides, heavy metals and microbials. He had to do a little digging and emailing, as it wasn’t readily available for either company, but the next day, results were in. The “good stuff” with the slick packaging and bold claims had mere trace amounts of CBD, with some hemp and essential oils- no tests for pesticides or contaminants of any kind. Hmmm, no wonder he was disappointed. Homer’s Brew’s COA came in with flying colors – a reputable lab had confirmed safe levels of pesticides, pathogens and heavy metals, and the CBD level was substantial, with a detailed cannabinoid breakdown in the lab report.

In spite of the varying legality of hemp-derived CBD products from one state to the next, consumers are gobbling up costly CBD salves, tinctures and edibles in markets, gyms and online. Like moths to a flame, they are pulled in by the CBD name and lofty promises, not always understanding what they are getting for their money. They trust that these products are safe, licensed, inspected and regulated by some agency, otherwise, “they wouldn’t be on the shelves, would they?”

FDAlogoIn spite of the 2018 Farm Bill, FDA still has not recognized the legality of products containing hemp-derived CBD, but some states have gone ahead and given them a green light anyway- check with your own jurisdiction to be sure. In the meantime, hemp-derived CBD products are slipping through the regulatory cracks, depending on the state. It is confusing, for sure, and buyer beware.

Separate yourself from the pack of snake-oil salesmen. Test your products for safety and accurate cannabinoid potency, and make a Certificate of Analysis readily available to your customers. Boldly portray your transparency and belief in the quality of your products through this COA.

Providing this information to consumers is the best path to success- safe, satisfied customers who will refer to their friends and family, and most likely come back for more of your “good stuff.”

The post Searching for the Good Stuff appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.