AG Jeff Sessions May Be Just a Few Days From Declaring War on the Legal Marijuana Industry

AG Jeff Sessions May Be Just a Few Days From Declaring War on the Legal Marijuana Industry

By Sean Williams, Motley Fool

When it comes to the fastest-growing industries in the United States, legal marijuana is certainly in the discussion, if not at the top of the list. According to Marijuana Business Daily’s latest report, “Marijuana Business Factbook 2017,” U.S. legal weed sales are expected to increase 30% this year and 45% in 2018, and to quadruple between 2016 and 2021 to $17 billion. That type of growth is a big reason why marijuana stocks have doubled or tripled in value over the trailing year.

But it’s not just sales growth that’s been impressive — it’s the shift that underlies cannabis’s expansion. An October-released Gallup poll showed that an all-time record 64% of respondents now want to see pot legalized nationally. This is up from just 25% in 1995, the year before California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis for compassionate-use patients. Even stronger favorability is seen with medical cannabis. A survey conducted by the independent Quinnipiac University this April showed that an overwhelming 94% support legalizing medical pot, compared to just 5% who oppose the idea.

Sessions loathes the marijuana industry but has been kept at bay

But not everyone is on board with the expansion of cannabis in the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just might be the most ardent opponent of marijuana in the country. Having previously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions has argued on numerous occasions that marijuana use isn’t a viable substitute for opioids and that pot use correlates with increased crime rates. He has also leaned on the fact that marijuana is still a schedule I drug at the federal level, meaning that it has no recognized medical benefits and is wholly illegal, just like heroin and LSD.

However, medical and recreational pot businesses have taken solace in the fact that both the Cole Memo and Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment have thus far protected their right to operate in the 29 states that have legalized medical cannabis and eight states that voted to green-light recreational weed.

The Cole Memo, named after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who served under Barack Obama, outlines a series of “rules” that states have to follow in order for the federal government to maintain a hands-off approach. These rules include ensuring that minors don’t gain access to pot, that drivers under the influence of cannabis are dealt with harshly, and that cannabis grown within a state stays within that state.

Meanwhile, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which was introduced in 2014 and has been included in every budget proposal since, disallows the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute marijuana businesses operating in the aforementioned 29 states.

But these protections may soon disappear, allowing Sessions to officially declare war on the U.S. pot industry.

Is this the end of the green rush in the U.S.?

In September, Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown by lifting the debt ceiling and passing a budget extension through Dec. 8, 2017. However, talks to formulate a new budget, or at least another extension, haven’t gone well in recent weeks. In just four days, the deadline could be hit without a new budget, leading to a government shutdown.

But there’s even more at stake for the marijuana industry.

Back in September, the House Rules Committee blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (this is the same as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment), which would provide protections for pot businesses against federal prosecution. Keeping this amendment out of the House GOP’s budget proposal is bad news, but it’s certainly not the end of the world for the industry. As long as the Senate includes the amendment in its budget proposal, the pot industry would still be protected. Yet, as noted, the Senate and House, as well as Democrats and Republicans, aren’t seeing eye to eye. If Dec. 8 passes without a deal, or if the Senate introduces a budget proposal that also excludes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, Sessions would be free to wage war on the marijuana industry and begin prosecuting companies. In other words, he could use federal dollars to go after marijuana businesses.
Furthermore, Sessions recently announced that the Justice Department would halt the practice of guidance memos and is reviewing the Obama administration’s guidance memos, including the Cole Memo, to see if the administration overstepped its bounds.

While it’s tough to tell exactly how Sessions would approach reinstituting federal law, the assumption is that he would first tackle the largest offenders (i.e., the largest marijuana grow farms). This would suggest that smaller grow farms and dispensaries would possibly be off the radar for some time, but it would be a crushing defeat for big business and investors who’ve taken a chance on marijuana stocks.

In other words, let the nail-biting begin for U.S.-based pot companies and marijuana-stock investors.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

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Published at Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:20:45 +0000

Michigan Continues to Fine-Tune How Marihuana Businesses Can Operate Before Licensure

Michigan Continues to Fine-Tune How Marihuana Businesses Can Operate Before Licensure

Michigan Continues to Fine-Tune How Marihuana Businesses Can Operate Before Licensure

co-authored by Hilary Vigil

Earlier this month, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) announced that its forthcoming emergency rules will allow existing unlicensed medical marihuana businesses to continue to operate while they seek licenses under the new Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (“MMFLA”). LARA’s announcement was a surprising reversal of its earlier proposed policy that continued operation after December 15, 2017, would harm an applicant’s chances to receive a license.

LARA’s announcement came by press release, accompanied by an “FAQ” document, and was followed by an Advisory Bulletin the next day. Even with the release of three informational documents, though, LARA’s change in policy left many uncertainties as to how the policy would be implemented. LARA has now quietly issued an updated FAQ sheet to address at least some of those uncertainties.

As anyone following this issue knows, this has been a fluid and rapidly evolving situation, where LARA, members of the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board (the “Board”), and the Michigan Legislature all have expressed divergent views. LARA’s new policy also comes at a time when LARA is simultaneously completing emergency rules and putting the finishing touches on an application process that opens in less than three weeks—creating a whole new regulated industry from scratch in less than a year after the MMFLA took effect. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that LARA’s press release, FAQ, and Advisory Bulletin appeared to create as many questions as they provided answers.

Overview of Conditions for Continued Operation

First, the basics. In September, amid controversy after some Board members stated that they would not vote to give a license to businesses that had opened without one, LARA announced that those businesses had until December 15 to close. If they did not, their continued operation would be an “impediment to licensure.” This led to hours of contentious Board meetings, with patients and dispensary owners arguing that patients would be without access to critical products (especially extracts and edibles) for the months until product began to move through the new regulated system. In response, legislators in both chambers introduced bipartisan bills to provide for temporary licensure.

LARA’s decision to create a path to licensure for those medical marihuana businesses that wish to remain open during the transition period is a direct response to patient concerns. Under the new approach, LARA’s emergency rules will provide that continued operation of an unlicensed facility is not an impediment to licensure—subject to the following primary conditions:

  • By December 15, the host municipality has adopted an ordinance allowing the activity, either a pre-MMFLA ordinance or a new MMFLA ordinance, and the applicant submits an attestation by the clerk along with its state license application.
  • The applicant applies for state licensure by February 15, 2018.
  • The applicant can then operate without a state license until the earlier of its state license application being denied or June 15, 2018.
  • If and when the applicant is granted a state license, the applicant must then comply with all MMFLA rules and regulations.

LARA was careful to say that operating without a license under these conditions is not “legal” under Michigan law. Operation during this interim period is instead a “business risk” for the operator—just as it is for those dispensaries operating today.

Ambiguities and Uncertainties

Apart from the fact that LARA’s safe harbor for existing medical marihuana businesses really isn’t one, LARA’s pronouncements left a lot of significant grey areas, including:

(1) When must a facility be open to qualify for “continued operation” treatment? LARA’s original press release and FAQ document could be read to say that the applicant must be open by December 15—but could also be read to say that only the municipal ordinance must be in place by December 15. LARA’s revised FAQ document deleted what could have been interpreted as a requirement that the facility must have operated “prior to December 15,” meaning LARA need only look to the municipality having an ordinance in place by that date. Theoretically, LARA’s policy now opens the door to applicants opening early—if they can satisfy the municipal ordinance requirement and wish to take the business risk that law enforcement will not act.

(2) Does the municipal attestation have to state that the applicant itself is specifically authorized to operate? LARA’s press release and FAQ stated that the local clerk must attest that the municipality has an ordinance allowing marihuana establishments or has adopted a new MMFLA ordinance. Press reported that LARA’s spokesperson said that if a municipality has adopted a new MMFLA ordinance, that is all an applicant must show on its application. But LARA’s Advisory Bulletin states that “the municipality must authorize the temporary operation of the applicant.” (Emphasis added.) Does this mean each specific applicant must be authorized? How does LARA determine that a specific applicant has been authorized if the municipality does not confirm that?

The Advisory Bulletin also states that if the municipality has authorized operations by a pre-MMFLA ordinance, the municipality must also be “pending adoption” of a new MMFLA ordinance. How can a clerk attest to this? Is a draft before a city council sufficient, even though council might not act favorably?

The revised FAQ document begins to address only part of this question. In a final section added to the end of the document, LARA responded to the first ambiguity regarding attestation by a municipality: “Local units of government may pass a resolution that authorizes the clerk to sign the attestation form—which will be provided by LARA—in order to allow for local authorization of continued operation of proposed medical marihuana facilities.” Potentially, then, since “continued operation of… facilities” is plural, once the clerk signs an attestation form confirming local authorization, all applicants within the municipality will be authorized to continue operations. But since each applicant needs to submit the attestation with an application, it is also possible that a municipality will provide the attestation to some businesses, but not others. Whether and how a clerk may attest to a pending ordinance also remains unclear. Presumably, LARA’s form will help resolve these questions.

(3) Must the applicant be in compliance with the municipal ordinance? LARA’s initial FAQ stated that the applicant can continue to operate if “in full compliance with local authorization.” In a classic Catch-22, most if not all of the municipal ordinances adopted or being drafted around the state prohibit operation unless the operator also has a valid state license, or provide that the municipality will not issue local permits until a state license is granted. It is, therefore, impossible to operate prior to state licensure in compliance with such ordinances. Do municipalities that wish to allow continued operations need to amend their ordinances to account for this? If so, the time is very short.

LARA’s revised FAQ document fixes this problem in two ways. First, it removes the language “in full compliance with local authorization” from the requirement for continued operation. Second, it includes a simple, direct mechanism for a municipality to authorize continued operation without resorting to the lengthy and uncertain process for amending an ordinance:

LARA recognizes that amending or passing ordinances at the local level is a time-consuming task and that it might not be feasible for a local governmental entity to accomplish before December 15, 2017. LARA also recognizes that certain local medical marihuana ordinances—that have already been passed—require state approval before local approval is given. Local units of government may pass a resolution that authorizes the clerk to sign the attestation form—which will be provided by LARA—in order to allow for local authorization of continued operation of proposed medical marihuana facilities.

Under this new FAQ section, applicants need not be in full compliance with a local ordinance in order to obtain local authorization. The limited effect of the revision is to allow applicants who are unable to fully comply with municipal ordinances (because state licenses will not be issued until next year) to continue operations despite that noncompliance.

(4) Will there still be a gap in the transition period when patients cannot get product? LARA’s Advisory Bulletin states that when applicants receive their state license, they will need to comply with MMFLA rules. Presumably this means dispensaries buying product only from licensed growers and processors, using secure transporters, collecting and remitting the new cannabis tax, etc. A dispensary that receives a license as a provisioning center before new licensed grows are producing product, though, would not be able to immediately comply with the new regulatory requirements, such as obtaining medical marihuana only through the seed-to-sale system. Thus, there may still be a gap during which sufficient product is not yet flowing through the regulated system. The revised FAQ document does not address these timing issues, but the eagerly anticipated emergency rules might bring clarity yet.

Unintended Consequences

As is the case for any major transition for an industry, unintended consequences are inevitable. One here may be that existing dispensaries that are authorized for continued operation under local ordinances, with owners who know they cannot be licensed due to disqualifying criminal or financial histories or other ineligibilities, will be able to operate as late as June 15, 2018, without adverse consequences—a major windfall for facilities that were supposed to close by December 15 of this year. Or, investors who wish to win first-mover advantage may well start looking for existing dispensaries to acquire, allowing them early market entry. In the end, all that is certain in this process is that some uncertainty will continue. Hopefully, though, LARA’s emergency rules and forms will provide some greater clarity.

As always, check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.

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Published at Mon, 27 Nov 2017 17:00:00 +0000

High taxes blocking dispensaries from making as much as Starbucks, study finds

High taxes blocking dispensaries from making as much as Starbucks, study finds

A recent report has found that cannabis dispensaries in the U.S.A. could make more money per store than Starbucks, if only dispensaries were allowed to make normal business deductions on their taxes, which they are currently prohibited from doing under federal law- that means some dispensaries face a tax rate as high as 70%.

The report, called “Cannabis Retail: The $23 Billion Opportunity”, found that dispensaries average almost $2 million per store and estimated the global cannabis market at $56.1 billion. In comparison, the average net revenue of a Starbucks store is just over $837k- but we must keep in mind that that figure is the average of over 25,000 locations in 75 countries worldwide.

The CEO of Arcview, the market research group that issued the report, said, “This report shows that retail cannabis could be as big as the iPhone.  It’s clearer than ever that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those investors and operators who are willing to deal with the uncertainties and difficulties of current regulations”.

Why are cannabis taxes so high?

That $2 million average for dispensaries exists only on paper because dispensaries are prohibited from deducting any of their business expenses since cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. That means in some cases, their taxes can wipe out their net profit!

What currently prevents them is Provision 280E in the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits businesses that traffic Schedule I or Schedule II substances (cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug) from making any deductions.

The provision was originally meant to punish those engaging in criminal activity, but with a growing number of states legalizing cannabis in some form or another, it is increasingly punishing legal businesses.

Changes in the tax code coming up fast?

With the Republicans working on getting their new tax bill passed, the cannabis industry is pushing hard for changes that would allow cannabusinesses to make those normal tax deductions.

If cannabusinesses were able to deduct their business expenses like any other legal business, their after-tax profit margin would average 12%, which puts it in the same league as Starbucks and other specialty retailers.

Photo credit: Snopes

Sources

Entrepreneur: Cannabis advocates want ‘unjust’ federal tax code changed.

Nasdaq Globe Newswire: New Report: Marijuana stores as profitable as Starbucks.

Starbucks: Starbucks reports record Q4 and record FY16 results.

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Published at Fri, 01 Dec 2017 21:10:39 +0000

Michigan’s MMJ Facility Rules Delayed Until End of Week

Michigan’s MMJ Facility Rules Delayed Until End of Week

Michigan’s MMJ Facility Rules Delayed Until End of Week

by Hilary Vigil

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced today at the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board’s monthly meeting that the long-awaited emergency rules needed to implement the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) will not be released until the end of this week. Attendees and live-stream viewers of the Board meeting were disappointed by the announcement, as many had expected the rules to be unveiled during the meeting. Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR), explained that the rules are still undergoing legal review at the Legislative Service Bureau and the Office of Regulatory Reinvention.

This slight delay comes after several months of furious work put into the rules by BMMR, which experienced staffing shortages during that time, according to statements made at today’s Board meeting. BMMR was established as a new division of LARA recently, in April 2017. Despite staffing shortages and the fact that the as-yet unreleased rules will dictate how applicants should apply for medical marihuana facility licenses from the State, BMMR stated that it will be ready to accept license applications on December 15, as planned. Board members also clarified that license application forms will be publicized early next week so that applicants can prepare the required materials in advance.

In addition to the delayed-rules announcement, the Board meeting featured a report by Kevin Sehlmeyer, Michigan’s State Fire Marshal, on fire safety requirements for medical marihuana facilities. Fire safety rules for facilities are forthcoming, as well.

As always, check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.

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Published at Mon, 27 Nov 2017 17:00:00 +0000

It’s Okay to Drive Stoned

It’s Okay to Drive Stoned

In 2015, Colorado resident Melanie Brinegar was pulled over by police for an expired license plate.

Despite no signs of impairment or erratic driving, the cop suspected she was stoned. Melanie answered that she had been medicating, since she is, after all, a licensed medical cannabis patient.

Giving the cop an excuse to run a roadside sobriety test, in which Melanie did not pass, a blood sample was taken showing Melanie four times over the state’s legal limit.

In court, Melanie said what many cannabis connoisseurs identity with, and what is often ridiculed in the media by so-called “addiction experts” and the police — that is, with cannabis, Melanie “drives better” and “is able to focus.” That, “when I smoke I don’t get high.”

The jurors believe her and Melanie was acquitted.

In fact, the jurors tried doing the same roadside sobriety test Melanie was subject to, and despite being sober, some of them failed. They concluded that Melanie, although “legally high,” was not impaired.

The foreman on the jury had this to say,

“The law allows you to infer that the person was impaired if they have over 5 ng/ml. But you may also feel free not to infer that and in any case use all the evidence to make your judgment.”

Of course, Colorado’s Head of the District Attorney’s Council freaked out. “You are putting lives in danger,” he told the media. “I want the message to be understood. It’s about driving while under the influence of drugs — it’s not about recreational or medical, it’s about being paired when you drive.”

But how does one define impairment?

Is it okay to drive stoned?

The truth is, driving stoned doubles your risk of being involved in an accident.

Now, that sounds bad until you consider the legal limit of alcohol in your system (a blood alcohol level of .08) actually increases your risk of an accident seven and a half times. For younger people, the risk is even higher.

Even a .05 blood alcohol level increases the risk of an accident by three and a half times, almost double the risk of stoned driving.

Stoned driving is one of the safest risks you can take.

Consider, talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device — this increases your risk by a factor of four.

And forget texting and driving. Estimates put this activity at a “range from eight to 23 times increased risk”

Dr. Mark Kleiman, a drug policy researcher with New York University, compared the risk of stoned driving as about the same as driving with children in the backseat.

Do “addiction experts” and drug-warrior cops ever mention these facts? What about the politicians?

Of course not.

If stoned driving is an issue threatening public safety, then we would have dealt with it long ago because people have been driving stoned for decades.

But will legalization increase the number of people smoking and therefore more people on the road, stoned and driving?

Possibly, but there’s no increase in serious car accidents in Colorado. And a growing number of juries are acquitting people convicted of stoned driving, even when they are over the state’s legal blood-THC limit.

Hopefully, something similar happens in Canada.

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Published at Fri, 01 Dec 2017 21:27:35 +0000

Expert Joints LIVE!: Brevved Up

Expert Joints LIVE!: Brevved Up

Join Craig Ex aka ‘The Expert of EXPERT JOINTS’ and get Brevved Up with Brevner – Thursday at 4:20pm PT from Studio 710 for another episode of his weekly weed webcast!

This week Craig welcomes Vancouver based Recording Artist Brevner to the show. He’ll also sample products from Thompson Caribou, get some Grow Tips from The Soil King… and a whole lot more!

Original air date – November 30, 2017


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Published at Thu, 30 Nov 2017 20:35:41 +0000

Man who tended to large marijuana grow near Willamette River sent to federal prison

Man who tended to large marijuana grow near Willamette River sent to federal prison

The Columbian / Associated Press

Man who tended to large marijuana grow near Willamette River sent to federal prison

PORTLAND — The only person arrested in connection with an elaborate marijuana grow on a private farm along the Willamette River in Yamhill County was sentenced Tuesday to two years and three months in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Ratcliffe described 44-year-old Manuel Madrigal as playing a limited role tending to the marijuana crop, compared to others who were never caught but set up and cultivated about 6,400 plants found on the property.

Federal prosecutors pursued the case because of the size of the grow operation, and public safety and environmental concerns, as the plants were adjacent to a public recreational area, the Willamette River.

According to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s’ Office, the operation was located in Dayton in June 2016 on wetlands near the Willamette River and was run by a Mexican drug trafficking organization.

The Yamhill County Interagency Narcotics Team, along with state police, seized over 6,500 plants worth more than $9 million. Oregon State Police SWAT was called on to provide protection for the agencies during the raid.

Authorities arrested Madrigal after officers found him camping out in the gardens in a makeshift living area – “complete with a kitchen” – hidden underneath a tarp, according to the sheriff’s office.

Madrigal pleaded guilty in June to possession with intent to distribute 50 or more marijuana plants.

Officers had placed hidden cameras in the fields, capturing men tending to the plants and squatting at the site. The private landowners were unaware of the marijuana growing but cooperated with the two-month investigation.

Madrigal told authorities he arrived at the operation two weeks before his arrest.

The prosecutor sought a 2 1/2 -year sentence for Madrigal, while defense lawyer Fidel Cassino-DuCloux asked for two years.

Cassino-DuCloux cited Madrigal’s tough childhood, having watched his mother nearly die at the hands of his father, and being whisked away to Mexico by his father without his mother’s consent. The defense lawyer also referenced state law in Oregon, where recreational use of marijuana is legal, in his argument for a lesser sentence.

On July 1, 2015, Oregon became one of a handful of states where anyone 21 and older can possess pot and grow it in their backyard.

“There is a chasm between the state and the federal government,” Cassino-DuCloux argued. “The fight between the state and the federal law is an idiosyncrasy that’s lost on citizens.”

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown didn’t buy that.

“He’s not being charged with a state crime,” Brown said, noting that Madrigal pleaded guilty to a federal offense. The differences between state and federal law don’t warrant leniency, the judge said.

Brown also pointed out that Madrigal had previously been convicted under state law in Illinois of manufacturing and delivery of marijuana, and served 2 1/2- years in prison for that offense. Madrigal’s lawyer countered that the conviction was more than a decade old.

“I apologize I wasn’t more careful to observe the law,” Madrigal told the judge. “I can’t say how sorry I am your honor.”

Madrigal said he’s had a rough time turning 44 behind bars and promised to be an upstanding citizen when he’s released from prison.

Brown fashioned what she called a compromise sentence of two years and three months in prison. She said she believes Madrigal, a college graduate who has taught English and Spanish and is now learning French while in custody, is repentant.

She told him he must not associate with marijuana. “It’s a violent crime to even possess marijuana,” Brown said. “You have to stay miles away from that kind of conduct.”

The judge assured Madrigal that he would hear if the U.S. Congress ever changed the federal law on marijuana, but added, “I don’t see it coming.”

“You simply have to change your approach, or you’re going to end up in your 50s in a federal prison,” the judge said.

Brown recommended Madrigal serve his sentence at a federal prison near San Antonio, Texas, where his family lives.

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Published at Wed, 29 Nov 2017 17:18:52 +0000

Seattle pot-shop mural: art or ad appealing to kids?

Seattle pot-shop mural: art or ad appealing to kids?

The Columbian / Associated Press

Seattle pot-shop mural: art or ad appealing to kids?

Hashtag, a Seattle pot store, has an outside wall brightly decorated by the muralist known as Henry, the city’s most prolific painter of playful, slightly psychedelic scenes.

A state Liquor and Cannabis Board officer slapped Hashtag with a violation notice in September, saying the mural and its orange walrus frolicking with a green narwhal were “appealing to children because it has cartoon characters.”

The mural itself has no images or references to marijuana or the store. So Hashtag owners appealed, saying it was allowable art, not a sign. The case has been awaiting a hearing with a judge, at which Hashtag’s lawyer would square off against an assistant attorney general.

This week the LCB reversed itself — after inquiries by The Seattle Times — and dropped its complaint. “After an inside review of the mural on Hashtag, our enforcement team concluded that the mural is not advertising, therefore allowed,” said agency spokesman Brian Smith in an email Tuesday.

That decision illustrates the challenges of LCB officers not only in discerning art from advertising, but in determining whether some art appeals to kids like a pied piper of pot.

Hashtag co-owner Logan Bowers said the state’s “might be appealing to kids” standard is “dangerously vague.”

Hashtag commissioned the mural, Bowers said, and Henry let him see a sketch before he painted it. “But we didn’t exert any creative control,” Bowers said. “It never occurred to us that it might run afoul of the rules because we never considered it advertising.”

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, pushed for tighter regulation of pot advertising after he got tired of seeing a “Got Weed?” billboard as he crossed the Ballard Bridge daily. Such signs, visible to school buses, are not what he envisioned under Washington’s strict legal-pot regulations.

After being asked about Hashtag’s mural this week, Carlyle said he drove by the store on Stone Way North near Lake Union.

“In the big picture it’s vital that LCB is vigilant and relatively strict about interpretation of advertising appealing to children,” Carlyle said in an email. “But I also freely admit I’m deeply uncomfortable with this one because Henry is culturally relevant art that goes to the soul of our community.”

Ballard artist Ryan Henry Ward has painted more than 180 murals, often with fantastical creatures, on building exteriors, school interiors, garages and even vehicles, primarily in Ballard, according to his website. He describes his “whimsical work” as “primitive images with a dreamlike, surreal quality.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if his Yellow Submarine-esque characters had some appeal to children. And the LCB’s Smith said Hashtag was hit with a violation after someone complained about the mural.

“I can absolutely see both sides” of the argument, Carlyle said. “I’ve got four kids. We all want to be responsible.”

But Carlyle noted that Hashtag’s “signage is small” and it’s hard to tell from the street that it’s even a pot store. “It’s like freedom of speech,” he said of its mural. “You have to err on the side of art.”

Bowers said the store purposefully avoided anything commercial in the mural, “as its purpose is beautification” of what he called a rundown building.

He noted that Henry painted a mural on the side of a bar that depicts two walruses holding beers and it has been uncontroversial. It’s flimsy logic, he said, to ban images that might appeal to kids. “Is a child going to walk by, see a fish on the side of a building and then conclude he’s going to smoke marijuana? Do children pound hard liquor if the grocery store looks too nice?”

The Hashtag violation follows stricter advertising regulations mandated by the state Legislature. The new rules took effect in July. They don’t allow stores to have sign-spinners, inflatable advertising, signs that depict marijuana or a store’s products, or signs with movie or cartoon images that appeal to children.

“Several stores will need to revise their signs,” Smith said.

Advertising rules are the most commonly violated, according to Smith. The LCB has issued 178 such warnings or violation notices since 2015, with 32 of those coming since the new rules took effect in July.

An LCB official has contacted Hashtag’s owners to let them know “we would be rescinding the violation notice,” Smith said, and the attorney general’s office would follow up in writing.

“I’m pleased they dropped the violation,” Bowers said, “as I think it’s obvious that artwork should not be censored or regulated by the LCB or any state agency.”

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Published at Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:22:10 +0000

Cannabis-infused Cooking comes to Chicago with Windy City High

Cannabis-infused Cooking comes to Chicago with Windy City High

Cannabis-infused cuisine is coming to Chicago with Windy City High, described as a “communal dinner experience centered  around culinary exploration and genuine relationships, both new and old”.

The Dec. 4 event comes courtesy of Herbal Notes, a California-based company whose mission is “elevating the cannabis conversation around the dinner table”.

The fine dining pop-up has yet to find a location, but the 6-course cannabis-infused meal, which includes a cannabis cocktail, has garnered thousands of reservation inquiries and has already sold out- Chicagoans seem to have great interest in infusing cannabis with high cuisine.

As Manny Mendoza, the founder and chef of Herbal Notes, told CBS Chicago, “Let’s do more than just get together and smoke weed and get high”. Instead, he wants to reduce the stigma around cannabis use and show people the many medicinal properties of the plant. His cooking focuses on CBD, a non-pschoactive compound found in cannabis, which has been seen to have anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and anti-psychotic properties.

Although Illinois hasn’t legalized recreational cannabis yet, under 10 grams has been decriminalized, and Mendoza is doing everything he can to bring Windy City High to Chicago legally. The focus of the event is on cannabidiol (also known as CBD), which is non-psychoactive.

Guests can also look forward to goodie bags that will help them get started on some cannabis cooking of their own.

For more cannabis-infused cuisine, check out the first episode of Chronic Cooking with Craig Ex and Chef Cody!


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Published at Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:03:42 +0000

Cannabis poisoning sends pooch to hospital

Cannabis poisoning sends pooch to hospital

The Columbian / Associated Press

Cannabis poisoning sends pooch to hospital

Of all the things Andy Healy worried could poison her dogs, cannabis wasn’t on the radar.

That changed, though, after what was supposed to be a fun 15-mile hike in the woods ended with an evacuation and a trip to an emergency animal hospital.

Healy set out Oct. 29 on the Siouxon Creek Trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest with her friends Laura Stockton and Rick Blevins and her two 5-year-old border collies, Fen and Jil.

Nearly 13 miles into the hike, Fen began to stumble and weave. She sat down and was unable to get back up. She lost the ability to move her front legs; then, she couldn’t move her back legs. When Healy reached out to touch her dog, Fen flinched. Then, her eyes glazed over.

Immediately, Healy knew her dog had been poisoned. Based on the symptoms, Healy suspected cannabis poisoning. Healy, a trauma nurse, had researched the topic after recreational marijuana use became legal in Washington, but she never imagined Fen would come across cannabis in the middle of the woods.

But Dr. Heather Poncelow, a veterinarian at Columbia River Veterinary Specialists in Vancouver, said it’s more common than people probably think.

Poncelow and her colleagues frequently see THC toxicity in dogs. And while it’s more common to see poisoning in dogs that got into cannabis in their home, exposure happens in parks and other public places “relatively frequently,” Poncelow said.

The good news, though, is THC toxicity is rarely fatal.

“It’s extremely uncommon, or rare, that a pet would die from THC toxicity,” Poncelow said.

Fortunately, Fen has fully recovered, but not without leaving Healy with a harrowing story to tell.

Rescuing Fen

Healy often hikes alone and has thought about how she would evacuate one of her 35-pound dogs if something were to happen. But a recent hip replacement surgery, from which Healy is still recovering and building endurance, would have hampered those efforts.

“It would’ve been all I could do to carry her out,” Healy said of Fen.

Luckily for Healy, her hiking partners are also her teammates with Silver Star Search and Rescue out of Washougal. The trio used trekking poles, a tarp and some line in their packs — along with tree branches — to create a litter to carry Fen the 2 1/2 miles back to the car.

It was dusk by the time they reached the trailhead, and Fen was unresponsive. Her breathing was shallow — just six breaths per minute — and her body temperature was dropping.

Healy made the nearly two-hour drive to Columbia River Veterinary Specialists, where veterinarians treated Fen for hypothermia, warmed her up and monitored her breathing.

“They assured me that this looks like classic marijuana poisoning,” Healy said.

A few hours later, Healy took Fen back to their Ridgefield home. Another 10 hours would pass before Fen could stand and walk and another day before she was running and playing.

Healy suspects Fen came across a cannabis edible while the group stopped at a vacant campsite to rest and eat a snack. Fen and Jil were exploring the area, and Healy admits she was distracted while talking to her companions.

Healy doesn’t think anyone left the edible intentionally. More likely, she said, a camper dropped it without realizing.

The troubling thing with cannabis edibles, Poncelow said, is many of them are meant to provide multiple doses. A dog, however, will eat the whole thing.

“When they’re getting edibles, they’re getting exposed to more THC than if they got a hold of a half-smoked joint,” she said.

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists see about one to three cases of THC toxicity each week. While that hasn’t changed since marijuana became legalized, people do seem to be more cavalier and don’t secure their cannabis from pets and children, Poncelow said.

Healy hopes Fen’s experience serves as a warning and a reminder about the danger marijuana poses when it gets in the wrong hands — or paws.

“People need to think of it as leaving a loaded gun around a kid,” she said. “It’s not harmless.”

(Why?)

Published at Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:02:49 +0000