Alabama Lawmakers Pushing to Legalize Medical Marijuana

A bi-partisan coalition of 20 Alabama House lawmakers, including Republican House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, have co-sponsored a bill to legalize and regulate medical cannabis. Republican State Rep. Mike Ball introduced the bill, HB 243, on Wednesday. But Ball, who is a former agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, also wants lawmakers to re-up a pair of laws authorizing cannabidiol research and permitting patients with severe seizure disorders to access certain medical cannabis products.

Politician Behind CBD Laws Proposes Bill to Legalize, Regulate Medical Cannabis Industry

In 2014, Alabama took its first steps toward the broader legalization of medical cannabis by passing Carly’s Law. Carly’s Law, which Rep. Ball sponsored, authorized a University of Alabama, Birmingham study on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a treatment for seizures. “The research is paying off,” Ball said. The UAB study focused exclusively on conducting clinical trials on children suffering from debilitating seizures. So while Carly’s Law did not include any wider legalization of CBD oil or cannabis, it did provide children participating in the study with access to non-psychoactive CBD oil.

In 2016, after some failed attempts to legalize medical cannabis the previous year, Alabama passed Leni’s Law. Leni’s Law decriminalized cannabis-derived CBD (as opposed to hemp-derived) for patients with a limited set of medical conditions. The bill, named after an Alabama child whose family moved to Oregon to access legal CBD oil, came on the heels of data UAB reported in March 2016 showing 50 percent of the Carly’s Law study participants saw improvement in seizure control.

House Bill 243, introduced Wednesday, would extend Carly’s Law, which expires in July, to Jan. 1, 2021. It would also revise Leni’s Law to include anyone over age 19 who is diagnosed with a qualifying condition.

Prohibition Hurts People With Legitimate Medical Needs, AL Lawmaker Says

Beyond renewing the state’s existing medical cannabis legislation, House Bill 243 would flesh out Alabama’s nascent industry with a regulatory and licensing program similar to those in other medical-use states. Rep. Ball says he has received input from doctors who want Alabama to adopt a medical card approach. HB 243 would do exactly that, while also making sure physicians have a key role in the patient registration process. “We want to give doctors latitude on this,” Ball said.

Accordingly, HB 243 would set up the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commissions. The Commission would establish and oversee a patient registry for those with qualifying medical conditions diagnosed by their doctor. In addition to issuing cards to registered patients, the commission would begin the process of licensing a production industry in Alabama. The bill specifies the commission would handle licenses for cultivators, processors, transporters, manufacturers and dispensary operators.

Given it’s 20 bi-partisan co-sponsors, Rep. Ball’s bill hit the House floor with significant momentum. But there are still some lawmakers who worry any cannabis-friendly stance jeopardizes their political careers. For those legislators, Rep. Ball has a clear message: “We don’t need to let fear stop us from helping people.”

Ball said it was “a shame” that Alabama has moved so slowly to provide patients with effective medicine. He also said that failing to act because of concerns about the risk of drug abuse—CBD, of course, is non-psychoactive and non-addictive—does nothing to prevent abuse and everything to hurt patients. “The only people we’re hurting is people who have legitimate medical needs,” Ball said.

The post Alabama Lawmakers Pushing to Legalize Medical Marijuana appeared first on High Times.

Survey Finds Majority of Montana Residents Want Legal Marijuana

A new survey has found that a majority of Montana residents favors the legalization of marijuana in their state. Results of the Big Sky Poll were released by the University of Montana on Thursday. A bare-bones majority of 51 percent of registered voters replied “yes” when asked the question, “Do you think marijuana should be legalized in Montana?” Only 37 percent of respondents said that they were opposed to the legalization of cannabis.

Support for legalization by political affiliation varied widely, with 80 percent of Democrats but only 33 percent of Republicans saying that pot should be legal. Responses also differed markedly by age. 67 percent of voters aged 18-26 and 64 percent of 27-46-year-olds favoring legalization; for those aged 47-66, support dropped to 56 percent, while only 29 percent of those 67 and older favored the legalization of cannabis in Montana.

Cannabis Has Montana Residents Seeing Green

Andrea Effertz of Kalispell, Montana told local media that she supported the legalization of marijuana because cannabis sales could be a source of new tax revenue for the state.

“I think it could be really helpful for our roads, maybe, our school systems, whatever it could go toward,” she said.

Another Montana resident, Karen Nichols, also cited the funds that could be raised from taxes on marijuana sales as a reason to support legalization.

“The state needs tax revenue,” said Nichols. “We’ve made huge cuts in social services, and any way we can restore some of that funding I think is great.”

She added that she is in favor of legalization provided that tight regulations are enacted to ensure public safety.

“I do support it, if it’s done well,” Nichols said.

The UM Big Sky Poll was conducted online between February 21 and March 1 with 293 Montana registered voters. The poll collects and reports the views of Montana residents on a variety of local, state, and federal issues. It is commissioned with the support of the University of Montana Social Research Laboratory. The ongoing survey will next be conducted in the fall of 2019. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.72 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

National Support for Legalization Rising

Another poll released this week showed that support for the legalization of cannabis continues to grow nationwide. The 2018 General Social Survey found that 61 percent of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana. That figure is the highest ever in the history of the survey, which has been following the views on cannabis legalization in the United States since 1973. Support for legalization today is almost four times higher than the lowest level of 16 percent, recorded in 1987 and 1990.

Support for cannabis legalization in the 2018 survey was also the highest level recorded for all age groups, U.S. regions, and political affiliations. For young adults aged 18-34, 72 percent favored the legalization of marijuana.

The post Survey Finds Majority of Montana Residents Want Legal Marijuana appeared first on High Times.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir

Bob Weir was a founding member of legendary rock band the Grateful Dead. I ran into Bob the other night at an eatery in Northern California. A mutual friend had e-troduced us about a year ago, and we’d been exchanging emails about getting together ever since. But we could never manage to get our schedules to line up. I had already eaten, but he was just starting so I introduced myself and he invited me to join him for a chat while he ate.

Bob was everything I hoped he’d be: curious, engaged, and interesting. We talked about the Perseids meteor shower, the tastiness of the food at the restaurant, new immunotherapy developments in cancer, world music. We also talked about the Redwood trees surrounding us, and the Native Americans who lived on the land before us. Unlike other rock stars I’ve met, he wasn’t trying to posture — he was just being himself. And his self is very likable.

When his steak arrived, he asked me if I wanted some. “I just had it,” I said, “it’s delicious.”

“What’s your next book?” he asked.

“I’m writing about the aging brain. The neuroscience of it, and what we can do to stay mentally active and healthy.”

“That’s an important topic,” he said.  

Given his well-known hearty ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs for the past fifty years, I was curious to know what he was doing to stay mentally fit, He described some medicinal mushrooms that he’d been taking. “They contain a neurotropic growth factor. After dinner, come back to my place and we can take some if you want to.”

I’ve never been a big drug user. While the people around me were experimenting with all kinds of chemical substances, I was learning to play the guitar, and working hard to become a neuroscientist. I’ve spent my life around people who were smarter than me, and I wanted to be sure I could keep up.

I did smoke marijuana with Joni Mitchell a few years ago when I was helping her put together her Shine CD. For one warm L.A. evening, I put my apprehensions aside and just enjoyed the ride. Taking mushrooms with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead? Hmmm. He seemed intelligent and rational. I decided this might be an experience I could look back on and savor. I said yes.

We began the fifteen minute walk back to his place. “You know, I kind of worked for you about 30 years ago,” I said.

“Really?”

“I had a job in 1977 at A. Brown Electronics.”

“In San Rafael…”

“Right, repairing speakers that you and the Dead had blown out.”

“There was no shortage of those.” he said.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

Shutterstock

We both laughed. A. Brown Electronics had been a small-time hi-fi repair shop that barely eked by until the Dead discovered them. Re-coning speakers became about 95 percent of the company’s business. In those days, a concert stage speaker consisted of a powerful magnet with a thick, black cone-shaped paper radiating outwards, held in a metal frame. The output of an amplifier — an AC electrical signal — modulated the magnet, which caused the paper to vibrate and create sound. Send in too much power and the paper would blow apart under the strain. Re-coning involved shaping and inserting new paper between the magnet and metal frame. It was an eco-friendly alternative to buying new ones.

“You play guitar, don’t you?” he asked me.

“Yes.”

“Maybe we can play together later.”

I worked to control my exuberance. I tried to sound cool — like sitting in with Bob Weir was the kind of thing I did every day.

“Sure,” I said.

But if I get really high on mushrooms, I wondered, would I be able to play the guitar? Would my fingers do what I wanted them to do?

We got to Bob’s place and he started rummaging around a drawer in the kitchen. Was I really going to do this? What if I got too disconnected from reality? Quiet, I told myself. If anyone has experience with drugs, it’s Bob Weir. He’ll know what to do. Trust him.

He took out a plastic bag of a very fine brown powder, and a small bamboo spoon. He angled the spoon at about 45 degrees, put it in the powder, and carefully withdrew a large mound of the stuff. He then expertly tapped the side of the spoon with his index finger, letting some of the powder fall back in the bag. Realizing he had tapped too much,  he put the spoon back in for just a little bit more. With his other hand, Bob lifted a cup, and put the powder in it, then repeated the same measurement for a second cup.

“Here,” he said, “I’m going to give you a few days’ supply so that if you like it you can take it until you have a chance to get your own.” He measured out eight more portions and put them into a sealable plastic sandwich bag. Eight?! I wondered. What if I never came down?

He picked up the two cups with mushroom powder in them and brought them to the stove. “We’ll use hot water,” he said. “It dissolves better and doesn’t get clumpy.”

“Cool,” I said. He seemed to be thinking very clearly. Bob boiled the water, mixed the powder carefully with the bamboo spoon, handed me a cup, and together we brought the cups to our lips and took our first sip. It tasted like mushroom soup.

I felt a strange sensation on my tongue. Must be the umami receptors, I thought. In addition to the four basic taste receptor cells located on the human tongue (salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), Japanese scientists have discovered that we have a fifth group — umami receptors — that are stimulated by certain meat broths, soy sauce, and mushrooms. The western diet is lighter on these flavors than the Asian or Native American diet, and we rarely get a pure umami flavor in the food we eat. The inside of my cheeks, the roof of my mouth, and the sides of my tongue were tingling as these rarely used receptors woke up and started signaling the gustatory cortex in my brain. Either that or I was hallucinating.

Bob started talking about consciousness and meditation, and I found myself discussing neural synchrony. I noticed that patterns on the wall seemed to dance about. Not vividly, not cartoon-like, no images from Fantasia, just a mild impression, a kind of imagination. I knew the patterns weren’t really dancing.

Bob spoke about the shamanic tradition. “Much of the wisdom of the Native Americans has been lost,” he said. “Plant-based medicines, conservation practices. And the understanding that we really are all one.”

“Like mushrooms,” I added. “Fungi are connected underground via a subterranean web of mycelium.”

“Yes,” he said. “And they help other plants communicate with each other by attaching themselves to their roots — especially trees like these.” He gestured with his hands towards the Redwoods out his window.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

Shutterstock

In my mind’s eye, I could see the vast fungal internet underneath the ground below us. I felt connected— to Bob, to the trees, to plants in general, and to myself. Yes! Here I was in me. Happy. Secure.

Time seemed like a circle rather than a line; as though part of my consciousness experienced this feeling long ago, and I was just remembering it now. Bob’s voice sounded far away for a moment, and then very close. My education as a neuroscientist seemed to be circling my consciousness, as if I stood in the middle of a merry-go-round of different research findings, gently moving up and down, up and down.

Mushrooms are a mixture of proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, and a variety of trace elements. One of the active ingredients in the mushrooms we took is called Hericium Erinaceus Polysaccharides, commonly referred to as HEP. HEP leads to the secretion of neurotropic growth factor. That, in turn, increases levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which is normally secreted in great quantities during Stage IV sleep. The dreamy quality we associate with sleep, or being in certain altered states, is mediated by this neurochemical. HEP rapidly increases gene expression of neurotropic growth factor in the hippocampus–the seat of memory. This could simultaneously improve the storage of new memories, and the retrieval of old ones, even long lost memories that heretofore seemed to be forgotten.

HEP also has neuroprotective and neuroregenerative qualities, allowing for the repair of damaged nerves and the growth of new ones. It has been shown to improve overall cognitive performance and is even effective in people up to 80-years-old who are suffering from mild cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that it reduces depression and anxiety. At that moment, I was certainly feeling contented and unstressed.

Another ingredient in the mushrooms we took is Cordyceps Militaris, which has been shown to diminish anxiety while boosting energy levels. Think about that for a moment: more energy but also less anxious. Coffee tends to boost energy levels but at the cost of increased nervousness and anxiety.

We grew quiet. I couldn’t say how much time had passed. We looked at the bottom of our empty cups and then at each other.

“The effect is subtle,” Bob said, “but I feels like it makes my day a little bit lighter and my focus a little bit better.”

My mouth was still tingling with stimulation of the umami sensors. I was filled with the overwhelming sense of my connection to nature, to Bob, to an ant that was moving across the floor. I was one with the insects. My tongue seemed to be vibrating at the spiritual frequency of the universe.

Bob turned to me as I was studying the wood grain in the table. “You realize of course that these are not hallucinogenic mushrooms — they’re purely medicinal, perfectly legal. I bought them on Amazon.com.”

I looked up. “What?”

The post What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir appeared first on High Times.

Meet Your New Instagram Crush: 420 Old Fat Lesbians

Are these your cannabis internet heroines? Instagram has answered with a resounding yes when it comes to Lee and Sue, a.k.a. the 420 Old Fat Lesbians. The retired duo started their account on March 3 on a lark, a fun way to entertain themselves, having moved from Florida to Maine after 10 years of coupledom. On the power of around 30 short, goofy, majority cannabis-themed clips, their follower count has swelled to 71 thousand in under a month. Lee and Sue now field their followers’ admiration and occasional adoption requests with grace and aplomb as they navigate their newfound virality.

“We are humbled and have nothing but gratitude for the kind words coming our way,” the pair told High Times.

What’s the secret to this wild popularity? Some may chalk it up to the pleasure of sharing the couple’s small moments of queer love, woefully lacking in the hetero-centric world of online marijuana personality. Take for example, a March 5th post from when Lee was in the hospital (recovering from a heart attack, it would be explained to a worried fan). Sue stole her away for a cannabis break in the hospital bathroom. The pair set up their phone’s camera, readied their medicated cannabis lollipops, and queued a Chicken Dance Elmo doll positioned between them on a windowsill. The doll flaps his arms and Sue and Lee follow his lead, sucking away happily on the canna-pops in what seems like a moment of real tenderness. Cue viral swoon.

But trust that the pair are hardly one-dimensional love bugs. Sue has a talent for fashioning smoking instruments from the unexpected — a mermaid doll’s crotch, a plastic unicorn, KY jelly container, and a green transparent gas mask have all been fodder for her cannabis creativity.

And of course, there’s the account’s light choreography to classic queer party tracks. A post featuring Friday night Sister Sledge session makes it impossible not to bop along. One shot of the two swaying to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”, in which hard hat-clad Sue hoists said accoutrement, is a deadpan dream.

Not to mention their sweetly and clunky scripted lesbian puns. “About to tap this sweet lady,” Sue says, lighting up a DIY bowl-equipped Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup container. A certain self awareness runs throughout the bits. Not for nothing have the woman chosen an IG handle perfectly constructed to elicit both guffaws and a knee-jerk follow for queer marijuana consumers starved for relatable content (their IG profile’s subtitle: “The Likes of Dykes”).

We’re thrilled to witness the birth of two LGBT cannabis icons in their pre-blue check flush. Such was the ocean of our affection that High Times had to reach out to the pair to learn more about their thoughts on life, love, and dank herb. By the way, potential sponsors, Lee and Sue await your DM.

Meet Your New Instagram Crush: 420 Old Fat Lesbians

Courtesy of Sue and Lee

HT: Hi, friends. First things first — what are your favorite strains? Preferred ways to consume cannabis?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: White Widow, Blueberry Kush, Northern Lights, Purple Train Wreck … too many to list. We both like vaping and edibles, but alternate with bong rips and joints. Seems to work for us.

HT: Will weed will lose its outlaw cache should it become legalized on a federal level in the United States?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: We think it depends on the permit fees, taxes, etc. behind all of it! Smaller businesses may not be able to afford filling the government’s pockets, so we’re sure there will still be a black market.

HT: What has been the reaction among your friends and family to your newfound cannabis fame?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Some of our friends and family are surprised, maybe a little shocked, but all care for us deeply and want the best for us.

HT: You’re both medical marijuana users who gave you followers the chance to check in with the two of you on Lee’s recent hospital stay. Has cannabis been aiding in her recovery process?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Yes, some forms of indica keep Lee relaxed and we both use it for pain. It’s so much better than opioids that don’t work as well and cause addiction. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana.

HT: If I’m not mistaken, a lot of your fans are reacting to a queer relationship that seems to be thriving. What are your tips for reaching old fat lesbian status with a loved one?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Accept each other without trying to change them, and if you’re lucky enough to find your twin soul like we have, the journey is just that much sweeter.

HT: Love is great, but sex … that KY jelly smoke sesh, I hear, was a fan favorite. Does cannabis plays a role in your sexual relationship? (When doctor’s orders allow, of course.)

420 Old Fat Lesbians: It helps relax our minds.

HT: What are your plans and goals for the future of 420 Old Fat Lesbians? Will you be doing more product reviews? DIY paraphernalia inspo posts?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: We will keep our options open. We are new to this and our minds welcome whatever possibilities come our way.

The post Meet Your New Instagram Crush: 420 Old Fat Lesbians appeared first on High Times.

Nebraska Lawmaker Justin Wayne Pushes for Reform of Drug Laws

A Nebraska lawmaker is pushing for a change in the state’s drug laws that he says are outdated, according to a report in the Lincoln Journal Star. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha has introduced two bills that would adjust penalties for some drug possession and distribution offenses. At a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Wayne said current laws were putting people who were not involved in the distribution of drugs in prison for trafficking and creating overcrowding in state prisons and county jails.

The first measure, LB89, was introduced by Wayne in January and would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana and possession with intent to deliver. Wayne told his colleagues on the committee that the state’s current laws are resulting in defendants being sentenced unfairly.

“We have arbitrary numbers in the marijuana statutes that presume a person is a distributor,” Wayne said. “Our law needs to be nuanced because if not … we are prosecuting people who simply may have a habit, although illegal, but are not considered drug manufacturers or distributors.”

Under LB89, possession with intent to deliver five pounds or less of marijuana would be reduced to a Class lV felony. Quantities greater than five pounds would continue to be a Class llA felony, with penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

For simple possession charges, more than one pound up to five pounds of marijuana would be a Class l misdemeanor. More than three ounces to one pound would be a Class lll misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of three months in jail.

Legalization ‘Inevitable’

In testimony at the hearing, Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro said that the War on Drugs was a failure, just like Prohibition before it.

“Legalization of marijuana across the country is inevitable,” Nigro said. “Use of marijuana runs across racial and socioeconomic lines, yet African-Americans are four times as likely to be arrested and charged for marijuana offenses.”

ACLU of Nebraska Attorney Spike Eickholt told the lawmakers that he’s seen people with less than an ounce of marijuana facing the same penalties as if they’d been caught smuggling 500 pounds of pot down the highway.

“Prosecutors do charge, and in my opinion overcharge, those kinds of cases,” said Eickholt.

The second bill by Wayne, LB652, would make it a Class l misdemeanor to possess a residual or very small amount of a controlled substance, with a punishment of not more than one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Wayne said that residue can’t get anyone high, but is still treated as a Class lV felony with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

“Right now there’s no basic distinction and no protection from prosecutors for someone simply caught with a pipe that has residue, versus someone caught with actual measurable amounts (of a drug),” Wayne told the committee.

Nigro said that half of the cases handled by his office were drug cases, 70 percent of which were for possession. Of those, 39 percent were for charges of possessing residue. Changing the law would save the county resources, he said.

“It would be one thing if all of this was reducing drug use and making our communities safer. It isn’t,” said Nigro.

The post Nebraska Lawmaker Justin Wayne Pushes for Reform of Drug Laws appeared first on High Times.

Black Lawmakers Threaten Block of New York Legalization Sans Racial Justice Measures

In New York, the process of getting marijuana legalized has uncovered some deep divides in the cannabis movement. Some of the state’s Black lawmakers say that unless racial justice is prioritized, they will withdraw their support of Governor Mario Cuomo’s legalization bill, which has also raised alarm over what some see as its over-reaching influence of medicinal marijuana conglomerates.

An article published by the New York Times on March 11 outlined the concerns of Black elected officials. “They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in,” commented Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the state’s first Black female Assembly majority leader. “But that’s not something I want to trust. If it’s not required in the statute, then it won’t happen.”

The Governor’s office holds that adding the allowances for correcting the racial disparities of the War on Drugs would be best added in after the passage of the bill. “We have to be careful about how we implement the legislation so we don’t have to change it every few years,” said Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David to the Times.

That reasoning may not be good enough if the Governor plans on retaining the support of the state’s lawmakers of color for his bill, which he originally pledged to pass within the first 100 days of his current term and encouraged by included in April’s state budget. Some of the politicians involved in the criticism of the bill have been some of legalization’s most passionate activists.

Various proposals have been raised to make sure that the legalization of marijuana and any windfall it brings to the state will include measures to correct the racially biased negative effects of the drug’s prohibition. Many hold that the legislation must explicitly set up an economic equity program that would designate a certain number of cannabis business licenses be given to entrepreneurs of color. Others have called for investments in communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs. People-Stokes has introduced a separate legalization bill that would earmark half of the state’s cannabis tax revenue for job training programs.

Lack of racial justice measures is not the only criticism the mayor’s bill has faced. Its requirement that licensees start the process with the requisite property and equipment already in place presents a serious boundary to lower income entrepreneurs.

Others have raised concern over the influence on the bill held by already-established cannabis business interests. In January, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association sent a memo to the Governor calling for a ban on home grow operations. That communique stated that allowing individuals to grow their own cannabis would “make it impossible for the state to eliminate the black market.”

In February, that same group found it necessary to kick out one of its members, the nationwide dispensary chain MedMen, over charges of racist and sexist remarks uttered by its executives.

In New York city, efforts are being made by the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Black Latino and Asian Caucus to save space in the cannabis industry to come for smaller business. They’ve proposed that the city retain control over delivery and cultivation of weed.

“Not arresting people is not good enough,” said Donovan Richards, a Queens councilperson. “Economic justice must be served.”

The post Black Lawmakers Threaten Block of New York Legalization Sans Racial Justice Measures appeared first on High Times.

Over 800 CVS Stores Will Start Carrying CBD Products

CVS stores in eight U.S. states will begin carrying CBD topicals this week, according to information released on Wednesday from Curaleaf Holdings Inc. The company announced a deal to sell products with CBD derived from hemp at 800 CVS stores during an earnings conference call with investors.

CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. with nearly 10,000 locations. A CVS spokesman confirmed in an email to MarketWatch that the company was entering the CBD market and began selling creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions, and salves last week.

“We have partnered with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality,” the spokesman said.

CVS stores in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee will be selling CBD products. The company said that it would not be selling any supplements or food products with CBD.

Curaleaf CEO Joseph Lusardi said on the conference call Wednesday that the company’s products would be sold at about 800 CVS stores to start and hoped to see that number increase. Curaleaf hemp lotions and patches should be available in CVS stores by Friday and on the company’s website “soon,” he said.

Lusardi said that Curaleaf is also negotiating distribution deals with other large consumer outlets.

“We’ve been having dialogue with national retailers for many months now,” said Lusardi. “We’ve got a number of potentially exciting partnerships in the pipeline.”

Curaleaf Expands Its Reach

Curaleaf operates 40 cannabis dispensaries in 12 states, with recent acquisitions bringing the company into the lucrative California and Nevada markets. The firm recently launched a line of products with hemp CBD, including lotions, patches, tinctures, and vape pens. Although hemp and products derived from hemp were legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration continues to treat CBD as a drug and has banned the use of the cannabinoid in foods and beverages pending new regulation. The agency has announced that it will hold hearings in April to pursue a legal pathway to make CBD available to consumers. CBD products are still widely available, however, and pills, capsules, lotions, vapes, tinctures, patches, and other cannabidiol products can be easily found in many states.

Stock prices were up for both companies in trading on Thursday after the announcement of the distribution deal. Curaleaf was up nearly 20 percent at more than $8 per share despite announcing a loss of $16.5 million on Wednesday. Revenue for the quarter was $32 million, up from $6.3 million the previous year. The stock has risen more than 50 percent in the last three months. Shares in CVS were up more than 2 percent in Thursday’s trading.

The post Over 800 CVS Stores Will Start Carrying CBD Products appeared first on High Times.

New Jersey Lawmakers to Vote on Marijuana Legalization Bill Next Week

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly are due to vote on a bill that would make recreational cannabis legal in the state next Monday. Will it pass? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

Here’s what we know: Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have their work cut out for them when it comes to getting the bill passed. New Jersey Republicans have proven to be tough opposition for the legalization movement, even when the pro-pot camp has many factors on their side; a broken criminal justice system and the promise of a billion dollar industry and the taxes that go along with it, to start.

“I won’t get into specific names,” Gov. Murphy told the press on Tuesday. “We still have a ways to go, let me just say that.” In the New Jersey Senate, there are 26 Democrats, and the legislation needs 21 of them to vote in favor of the bill to pass. The problem is that some of the party’s players, like Declan O’Scanlon and Kip Bateman, have told media outlets that they will not be voting in the affirmative.

If the legislation does not pass Monday, the Governor has said that it will not be taken up again until the fall. Next week, the state’s lawmakers go on break for three months in order to work on a state budget package, and the governor has commented that “Trying to move a marijuana bill during a budget break is not heathy.”

Last Monday, the sweeping legislation — the bill’s text runs a smooth 175 pages — passed committee approval. A slew of amendments meant that the crowd of opponents and advocates that have gathered had to wait until after 6 p.m. to testify, at which point the proposed legislation’s final version had not yet been seen by the public. Most of the citizens who had assembled to testify were sent away without having spoken — the Assembly’s committee allowed only 25 minutes of public opinion, while the Senate committee declined to hear any testimony at all, provoking censure.

But some of the last-minute additions to the bill did strengthen it as a corrective to decades of racially biased policing — essential in a state that sees Black residents arrested at three times higher rates than white, even when cannabis usage rates are consistent across racial demographics. One of the last-minute provisions allows for individuals in prison or on parole or probation to be be able to vacate or dismiss their cannabis charges.

Should the bill pass next week, the Governor and Senate President have surmised that cannabis sales could start by the beginning of next year. But should marijuana advocates fail to find the votes they need, New Jersey lawmakers also have the option of passing legalization off to the voters, who in February were polled by Monmouth University as being in favor of regulating recreational cannabis 62 to 32 percent. When asked about this option, Senate President Sweeney expressed reluctance to dodge the legislative showdown, explaining that voter initiatives require future initiatives should legislation need to be altered — a likely prospect when it comes to a program as complicated as cannabis legalization.

The post New Jersey Lawmakers to Vote on Marijuana Legalization Bill Next Week appeared first on High Times.

Three Reasons Why Live Resin Represents the Future of Cannabis Products

The global cannabis industry and consumers alike owe a debt of gratitude to William “Kind Bill” Fenger, now part of multi-state operator Acreage Holdings (CSE: ACRG.U). Kind Bill is widely recognized as the founder of live resin production. For the uninitiated, live resin refers to a concentrate produced using freshly harvested or immediately frozen plant material that does not undergo drying or curing. The resulting concentrates, produced almost exclusively through hydrocarbon extraction, feature unrivaled quality – rich in terpenes with a resulting flavor profile that fully captures the essence of a given harvest.

According to a report published in 2018 by ArcView Research and BDS Analytics entitled Concentrates: The Hottest Product Category in Cannabis – “retail consumer appeal is propelling concentrates toward an estimated $8 billion in retail sales by 2022, outpacing growth in traditional flower.” According to the same report, concentrates represented only 10% of legal sales in the United States in 2014, and were expected to eclipse 27% by the end of 2018. Our internal estimates suggest that concentrates in California may exceed $2.7 billion in retail sales annually when the market matures.

Not only are they an exciting way to consume cannabis – live resin concentrates are becoming more mainstream. The category includes everything from vape cartridges to “dabs,” which are becoming less of a niche and more of a trend. Consumers are flocking to the ease and discrete nature of cartridges, which previously lacked the true “cannabis experience” since they are typically produced with THC distillate. Live resin production is changing that for good. “Dabs” are also becoming easier to consume with revolutionary rigs, e-nails, and portable devices.

Three Reasons Why Live Resin Represents the Future of Cannabis Products

Strawberry Banana Sugar, Courtesy of Coachella Manufacturing

Live Resin is a Superior Product For Consumers

Producers of distillate and distillate-based products are officially on notice. Cartridges outpace any other category of concentrates by a wide margin, and live resin cartridges will change the way we consume cannabis from vape pens. Why consume a basic, distillate-based, often adulterated product when you can experience the essence of the plant and your favorite strain through a live resin cartridge? Most distillate-based products feature harsh chemical fillers and “terpenes” from who- knows-where.

Your answer might be simple – you haven’t had the option, or you didn’t know any better. Do yourself a favor and try live resin today, whether through a cartridge or a dab rig.

According to Jason Nelson, SVP of Production for multi-state operator Cresco Labs (CSE: CL) “Fresh frozen extracts preserve the maximum cannabinoid and terpene content associated with the raw flower by flash freezing freshly harvested material, just prior to extraction. Cresco’s highest quality extracts known as sugar, sauce and THC Diamonds are all produced using live resin technology.”

As consumers finally turn to live – distillate products might just take a dive. It’s only a matter of time before live resin makes its way into topicals, tinctures, and other manufactured products.

Three Reasons Why Live Resin Represents the Future of Cannabis Products

Sour Diesel Batter, Courtesy of Coachella Manufacturing

Live Resin Features Lower Risk For Cultivators

Johnny Cultivator can spend 90-120 days from start to finish on their production process, with two to four weeks adding incremental risk from mold, mildew, pests and more through the drying and curing phase. Then he gets to trim the product with expensive staff or machinery. At the end of all those costs, he may lose an entire harvest from mold and need to extract it anyway!

Instead, Johnny Cultivator can harvest the full plant, put it in an extremely cold freezer, and sell it, or pay for it to be processed into a superior product through live resin technology – one that may soon cost less than distillate to produce.

In California, the cultivation tax on trim is $44 per pound, $148 per pound on flower, and only $20.64 per pound on live or frozen full plant material. While live resin production features lower yields because of water weight, impending supply increases from cultivation in California will favor the economics of live resin production versus distillate. The market is completely flooded with distillate, and the product is inferior for any educated consumer who has tried live resin. The price of trim continues to increase, while the price of distillate is tanking. How is that sustainable?

If you are growing – why take the incremental risk of drying and curing? Because the market is presently favoring distillate and flower. But times are changing.

According to world-renowned brand, leading cultivator, and multi-store retailer Connected Cannabis, live resin captures the essence of their award-winning strains. Per Caleb Counts, founder of Connected: “when properly executed harvests for whole plants are freshly frozen, coupled with a flawless cultivation season and hydrocarbon (“BHO”) extraction – the combined process captures the unique and exotic terpene profiles that our strains have come to be known and desired for.”

Three Reasons Why Live Resin Represents the Future of Cannabis Products

Biscotti Pour, Courtesy of Coachella Manufacturing

Live Resin Provides Differentiation For Extraction Companies

All of this talk about consumers and cultivators – but what about actually making live resin concentrates?

Live resin is best (and, some would say, only) produced using solvent (hydrocarbon) extraction, which features an extremely limited number of licensed producers in California. Previously designated a felony in California prior to legislation our parent company helped draft and sponsor in 2016 (State Bill AB2679) – solvent extraction requires expensive infrastructure and protocols to ensure it is conducted safely. There are simply higher barriers to entry for extractors using solvents when compared to other types of extraction like ethanol and CO2. Capacity is, therefore, extremely limited in California at this time. But the juice is worth the squeeze. Producing more specialized products versus ordinary crude and distillate helped us become a leader in California BHO while the distillate market continues to tank.

As solvent-based processors and BHO experts, nothing makes us more proud than live resin produced from our Coachella facility. The industry and consumers are evolving, and live resin is going to change the game as we know it.

Visit the Coachella Manufacturing booth at the High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley on April 20th and 21st, and the High Times Cannabis Cup Bay Area on June 22nd and June 23, and judge for yourself.

Coachella Manufacturing is a California leader in solvent-based extraction. We provide live resin production for leading brands, including Connected Cannabis, Team Elite Genetics, Phoenix Tears, Cresco Labs, Tyson Ranch, The Humboldt Cure, Humboldt’s Dankest, and more. Look out for our own brands in 2019: Coachella Premium and STONED. Visit CoachellaManufacturing.com for processing inquiries. Mention this article and receive 20 pounds of free concentrate processing on your first order (minimum of 120-pound order applies).

The post Three Reasons Why Live Resin Represents the Future of Cannabis Products appeared first on High Times.

Mexican President Met With Christian Group To Discuss Campaign Against Drugs

For the second time in a month, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with a group of evangelical pastors to discuss a plan that would give the religious organization access to radio and TV channels to promote Christian morality, including a “say no to drugs” campaign, reports Mexican newspaper Milenio.

The meeting raised concerns not only among those fearing the end of the separation of church and state in Mexico, but also those who hoped President López Obrador, who ran on a staunchly leftist platform, would work for a more politically progressive country.

“In Mexico, it’s easier for pornographic channels to exist than one that broadcasts about values; love of the country, love of institutions,” said spokesperson for the group, the National Brotherhood of Christian Churches, Arturo Farela. “We need other channels, other radio stations that spread the principles and values that the Bible teaches.”

President López Obrador — popularly known by his initials AMLO — took office in December. He has raised eyebrows by taking actions that some see as woefully similar to his more conservative predecessors. In January, AMLO announced his government would distribute 8.5 million copies of the “Cartilla Moral” or “Moral Primer”, a text written in 1944 that proposes a nation based on religious morals and the nuclear family.

During the presidential campaign, AMLO indicated that rather than pursuing armed conflict to end the bloody War on Drugs that has gripped Mexico since 2006, he would offer academic scholarships and internships to young men to sway them from accepting positions with drug cartels. But in January, the president ordered the legislature, controlled by his Morena party, to change the constitution to allow for the creation of a new federal police force — a seeming about-face on the issue.

Marijuana remains illegal in Mexico, despite a November Supreme Court ruling that its prohibition violates Mexicans’ constitutional right to develop their personality. Though many were hopeful that a Morena presidential administration would legalize the drug if the party gained political control, no visible progress has been made on a legislative proposal made in August by President López Obrador’s Secretary of the Interior and Senator Olga Sánchez Cordero.

Sánchez Cordero’s bill, if passed, would legalize production, distribution, and consumption of recreational marijuana — even in many public spaces — for adults. Though it bans edible marijuana products, individuals would be allowed to grow up to 480 grams of cannabis a year, and companies to file for permits to grow and distribute weed.

But instead of heralding the passage of her bill, Senator Sánchez Cordero sat in on the meeting between AMLO and the Christians. She was reportedly tasked by the president with seeing to the logistics of giving the religious group access to the airwaves. The task may involve altering the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship, which designates Mexico as a secular government.

Farela told the press that the National Brotherhood of Christian Churches has another meeting scheduled with AMLO to discuss the religious anti-drug programming on March 27.

The post Mexican President Met With Christian Group To Discuss Campaign Against Drugs appeared first on High Times.