Ontario man fighting for medical cannabis access returns to work

Ontario man fighting for medical cannabis access returns to work

A Windsor man who went public last month with his fight to use medical cannabis on the job is back on the job.

Joshua Jacquot left his job at Ventra Assembly last November to cope with his symptoms of anxiety and depression. He went public after confessing to his employer that he was using CBD oil on the job and was not allowed to access his medication “in any form possible” on company property.

Jacquot says he has met with management about returning to work and expects to be back on the job on Wednesday.

“They told me they would have to get a form for my doctor to fill out and that I would have to wait,” he told BlackburnNews.com. “I went to work today, actually. I talked with my human resources department. They said they’re still working on the form.”

Jacquot says he has tried to anti-depressants in the past to control his symptoms but found they didn’t help and was subsequently prescribed medical cannabis by his doctor. He was forced to take time off work in December after a suicide attempt and tried to return in January without the use of CBD oil and found it too difficult.


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Published at Tue, 28 Feb 2017 01:30:57 +0000

Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Releases Draft Initiative for Comment

Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Releases Draft Initiative for Comment

Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Releases Draft Initiative for Comment

Today, the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol released its draft initiative. The Coalition is accepting comments until Saturday, February 25, so those wishing to weigh in should do so quickly.

The draft is available on Dropbox, and may be accessed through the Coalition’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/RegulateMichigan/. The Dropbox site enables direct comments on the document.

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Published at Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Washington State readies for battle with Trump over legalized cannabis

Washington State readies for battle with Trump over legalized cannabis

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee, both Democrats, have fired a shot over the bow of the Trump administration and indicated plans to defend the will of  voters after White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested yesterday that the federal government may crack down on states that have legalized recreational cannabis.

In an open letter to newly confirmed U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, Ferguson requested a meeting and indicated they are prepared to defend the state’s system.

“I was deeply disappointed to hear the White House Press Secretary’s comments today regarding marijuana legalization by states like Washington,” he wrote. “Last week, Governor Inslee joined me in sending a letter to Attorney General Sessions, asking for a meeting on this issue. I look forward to sharing how our state’s approach is working.”

Washington voters legalized recreational cannabis use nearly four years ago. At the time, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office promised to take a hands-off approach as long people kept it away from children and prevented locally grown cannabis from crossing state lines. Under a new attorney general that could change, as selling it still remains a crime under federal law.

Spicer offered no details about what any renewed federal efforts in legal-cannabis states might entail but said he expected “greater enforcement.”

“I will also be very clear with AG Sessions that I will defend the will of Washington voters. My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the federal government does not undermine Washington’s successful, unified system for regulating recreational and medical cannabis.”

At the time of this posting, President Trump hadn’t yet tweeted a response.

Read the full letter here.


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Published at Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:32:53 +0000

Suits to Resurrect MILegalize 2016 Initiative Failing, Attention Turns to 2018

Suits to Resurrect MILegalize 2016 Initiative Failing, Attention Turns to 2018

Suits to Resurrect MILegalize 2016 Initiative Failing, Attention Turns to 2018

We have previously reported on twin court battles challenging a now-rescinded state policy on “rehabilitation” of petition signatures that kept MILegalize from making Michigan’s 2016 ballot. Coverage can be found at the links below:

MI Legalize Petition Signers Head to Federal Court, but Are Unlikely to Find Early Relief

No Marijuana Measure on November Ballot—Federal Judge Rejects Bid to Halt Michigan Election Process

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court closed the door on one of these challenges, rejecting without comment a petition for certiorari that asked the Court to hear a challenge to the decisions of Michigan’s appellate courts.

The other litigation effort to belatedly save the 2016 MILegalize initiative appears to be languishing before Judge Parker in the U.S. Eastern District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The State of Michigan filed a motion to dismiss that case back in October, and briefing on the motion was complete on December 9, 2016. No further action has been taken by the court in that case.

With efforts to salvage the 2016 initiative apparently stalled, MILegalize has joined with the Marijuana Policy Project in preparing a draft of an initiative for 2018. As we wrote last week, anyone with comments on that draft has been asked to submit comments by this Saturday, February 25. In the meantime, MILegalize has scheduled a $500 per ticket fund raising event in Detroit for March 23.

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Published at Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Pot sales are mellowing out

Pot sales are mellowing out

The Columbian / Associated Press

When recreational marijuana arrived in Washington, prices were still inflated by the black market. A gram of flower in 2014 could sell for $40.

“Those days are gone,” said Jim Mullen, co-owner of a trio of Clark County marijuana stores called The Herbery.

An average gram sells for $8.08 in Washington, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. An agency spokesman said the price has dropped every month after its initial spike.

“It’s simple economics,” Mullen said. “It’s a business, just like anything else. It’s marijuana instead of widgets, you know?”

Competition from more retailers and growers is driving down the price of marijuana flower — the industry’s most sold product. Some predict revenues could plateau soon and local businesses are searching for ways to keep moving forward.

Customer loyalty

Mullen’s strategy for his Vancouver-based dispensaries is simple: Keep the customers happy.

“Our sales, I think, are going to increase because of great customer service, great products and great selection,” he said.

He compares the stores to Cheers, the Boston bar and setting for the 1980s sitcom of the same name, hoping they can become a place where customers have rapport with staff and return for a welcoming environment.

“It’s not just order off the menu and get them out the door,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to spend a few minutes talking with our budtenders about what’s new.”

Customer loyalty may become increasingly important as market forces drive down marijuana’s profitability. Clayton Mosher, a sociology professor at Washington State University Vancouver and author of a forthcoming book about marijuana policy, believes sales are heading for a plateau as demand hits the ceiling.

“We’ve had sales now for two-and-a-half years in Washington; I think the people that are going to use it have decided they are going to,” he said. “I don’t think that (new user) demographic is going to increase at all.”

Sales trends in Clark County lend credence to the theory. Revenues rose early on as marijuana first hit the shelves, but those revenues leveled off considerably in 2016. Dispensaries that have been open since the beginning saw sales peak in the latter half of 2015. Collective tax revenue for Clark County dispensaries has declined four out of the last five months.

Retailers say the price is falling as more marijuana flower has flooded the market. According to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, flower harvests grew from nearly 60,000 pounds statewide in fiscal year 2015 to 226,500 pounds a year later. Flower comprises 60 percent of recreational marijuana sales, according to a 2016 report by the University of Washington Cannabis Law & Policy Project.

“This is not an exaggeration: We’ll get a call or a producer will come by with samples no less than twice a week,” Mullen said. “The majority of those are new companies that are starting up or are trying to move into a new market.”

Mullen said he used to buy directly from eight growers — now he buys from over 30.

‘Fighting for the consumer’

Prices are also falling as retailers try to get an edge over their own competition. Washington licensed over 200 new retailers just last year and Oregon’s own market came online in 2015. Portland alone has 125 approved dispensaries, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

“In the old days, we saw 80 percent Oregon IDs” from customers, said Ramsey Hamide, co-owner of Main Street Marijuana. “Now it’s 80 percent Washington IDs. People are definitely shopping closer to home these days.”

Hamide’s store runs at a higher clip than most. A Friday afternoon crowd will flock around glass displays while workers in moss-colored shirts dive through the fracas. It’s friendly and lively, but there is definitely a premium on transactions, Hamide said.

“You’ve got to get more people through the door to make the same amount of money,” he said in a recent interview. The company also opened new locations in east Vancouver and Longview.

Its location in Uptown Village sells marijuana flowers for $6 to $12 per gram, and he said that the low-end price will likely fall to $4 per gram by spring.

The dispensary hopes to offset the price drop with more volume. It already logs between 1,500 and 2,000 transactions per day, and added online ordering and an express lane in the hopes of clocking even more.

It’s a familiar hustle for Hamide, who spent years with his brother reselling and wholesaling event tickets before graduating from the University of Washington with a business degree. Their drive to be the top destination in the Portland metro area has led them to beat the prices of their competitors — who then respond with their own price cuts.

“We get a lot of pushback from other stores,” Hamide said. “We get a lot of pushback from vendors who think what we’re doing is bad for the industry. But I’m fighting for the consumer. I don’t know how that’s bad for the industry.”

It appears to be working. Main Street Marijuana is the highest-grossing dispensary in the state, raking in more than $1.3 million per month.

“Not a lot of people have disposable income to waste, and they seek out the best deal,” he said. “The second we get a better deal (from producers) … we change our price.”

What’s next?

The price drop has not been unexpected. Before voters approved the legal marijuana marketplace, many predicted prices would be driven down by market forces.

Marijuana tax revenues are part of a multipronged funding package to hire 61 positions at the Vancouver Police Department. Revenues fell from $790,500 the first fiscal year to about $500,000 the second.

No positions will be impacted by the decline, according to Natasha Ramras, the deputy finance director for the city of Vancouver. She said the city budgeted for marijuana tax revenues to hover around $500,000 after the initial spike.

“We knew once Oregon matched the law we would lose, as a city, the revenue because those sales would go back,” she said.

For retailers, though, it may mean a bumpier path forward. Mullen said some local, industry peers are struggling. While licensing restrictions will keep Washington from being flooded with other retailers, Mosher suggested those without high sales may want to cultivate customer loyalty.

“People actually like established relationships with their budtenders,” he said. “They say, ‘I only go to The Herbery, or I only go here.’ ”

For others, business is business. Hamide said Main Street Marijuana will position itself to sell flower at the lowest prices, even if it means buying out competitors’ liquidation sales.

“People are either going to get it or they’re not. The one’s who don’t get it are going to go out of business,” he said. “When they go out of business, they’re going to have clearance sales and guys like me are going to scoop it up at an even cheaper price.”

Other marijuana products such as edibles and concentrates could become more important, as well. While those products don’t sell as much as flower, their prices have not fallen as much.

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Published at Sun, 19 Feb 2017 14:05:50 +0000

3 Reasons the Marijuana Stock Market Will (Most Likely) be Fine with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

3 Reasons the Marijuana Stock Market Will (Most Likely) be Fine with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

By Keith Speights, The Motley Fool

Here’s a look at why the marijuana stock market will (most likely) be fine, despite Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

(Photo: Getty Images)

President Trump selected a U.S. senator known for his opposition to marijuana legalization to become the new attorney general for the country. Jeff Sessions raised concerns among marijuana legalization proponents during his confirmation hearings with comments such as this one: “The U.S. Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state, and distribution of it, an illegal act. So if that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”

Now, Sessions isn’t just a nominee anymore. He is the U.S. attorney general, with broad powers to enforce federal laws. What will change for the expanding medical marijuana industry? Possibly very little. Here are three reasons not to worry (too much) about marijuana stocks being negatively impacted by Jeff Sessions.

1. Trump’s previous statements

Remember that the attorney general reports to the president. Sessions’ views on marijuana legalization aren’t nearly as important as Trump’s views on it.

Trump has indicated that he is personally opposed to legalizing marijuana. However, during the presidential campaign, he said, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.” He has also expressed support for legal use of medical marijuana.

During Sessions’ confirmation hearings, a spokesman for the Trump administration stated that the attorney general would implement the president’s agenda. It seems unlikely that Sessions would go against Trump’s policies.

2. Different priorities

Even if Sessions personally wanted to pursue targeting marijuana suppliers operating in states that have legalized marijuana, he’s going to have many more critical things on his plate. For one, there’s defending President Trump’s immigration-related executive orders in court.

Prior to Sessions being sworn in, Trump announced several other executive orders that should keep his new attorney general quite busy. He wants to intensify efforts against international drug cartels. A new national task force charged with reducing violent crime will be created. Trump also wants measures enacted to address violence directed at law enforcement.

It seems pretty clear that Trump’s law enforcement priorities will take plenty of time to implement. He hasn’t mentioned anything related to cracking down on individuals and businesses that are violating federal laws in states that have legalized marijuana.

3. The other governmental branches

What if Sessions does direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to go after marijuana businesses? Even though federal laws clearly prohibit the sale of marijuana, there is legal uncertainty about the U.S. government’s rights to shut down state markets. Expect states where marijuana is legal to fight in the federal court system.

Then there’s Congress. Two congressmen from California, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Rep. Sam Farr, have successfully pushed for inclusion of an amendment into federal spending packages over the past three years that prohibits the federal government from using funds to enforce marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Rep. Rohrabacher and Rep. Farr are trying to keep that amendment in place.

Rep. Rohrabacher and 12 co-sponsors from both major political parties also introduced legislation titled the “Respect States Marijuana Laws Act of 2017.”  This bill would change the Controlled Substances Act to prioritize state law above federal laws.

There’s no guarantee that these efforts by congressional representatives will gain traction, of course. However, any actions by Sessions to crack down in states where marijuana is now legalized could allow Rep. Rohrabacher and the other co-sponsors to win more support for their bill.

A reason to worry

I don’t think there’s much reason to worry about marijuana stocks being hurt by Jeff Sessions or the Trump administration in general. There is one reason for concern, though.

Falling cannabis prices will eventually make it more difficult for some marijuana companies to succeed. Marijuana could become just like any other commodity. Only the biggest and most differentiated companies will survive if that happens. The biggest risk for marijuana stocks probably isn’t enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws but another more universal law: the law of supply and demand.

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 Sun, 19 Feb 2017 23:38:49 +0000

Trump Administration May Eliminate Office of National Drug Control Policy/Drug Czar Position

Trump Administration May Eliminate Office of National Drug Control Policy/Drug Czar Position

The Trump Administration may eliminate the Office ofNational Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which is headed by the nation’s “Drug Czar”.

The ONDCP seal.

According to the New York Times, the White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending.

The Times states that, “Mr. Trump has spoken volubly about the nation’s drug problems, yet the list includes the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking.”

Eliminating the ONDCP would be an unprecedented move that would remove federal drug czar as a position in the government; given that the drug czar is forced by law to oppose any attempt to legalize an illegal substance – regardless of the merits in favor of doing so – it’s certainly not a position many drug reform advocates will be upset about losing.

Of course at this point anything can happen, and Trump may very well end up retaining and funding the ONDCP, but the fact that he may not is an interesting revelation.

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 Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:17:43 +0000

Pro-pot lawmakers to join forces, launch cannabis caucus

Pro-pot lawmakers to join forces, launch cannabis caucus

The Columbian / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers looking to draw attention to pet issues have formed groups in favor of everything from auto care to zoos. Now, there’s a caucus for cannabis.

Rep. Earl Bluemenauer said the move is a sign of how mainstream the drive for marijuana legalization has become.

“This is happening all across the country, and its going to continue,” said the Oregon Democrat, an advocate for legalized marijuana since the 1970s. “The industry is growing, as is public acceptance and demand for medical marijuana.”

Blumenauer is one of the caucus’s founding members, along with California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Alaska Republican Don Young.

A wave of states approved recreational marijuana in November, a seeming boon for the argument that federal laws and regulations need to be revised to keep up.

But it remains to be seen whether new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of legalized marijuana, will roll back Obama-era policies that have allowed pot businesses to flourish in states where it is legal.

The marijuana industry brought in $6.7 billion in legal sales in the U.S. last year. That figure is expected to grow after eight states — including the economic bellwether of California — passed marijuana-related referendums in November.

With that election, a total of eight states and the District of Columbia have now legalized recreational use of the drug and 28 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department declined to interfere with states that had legalized marijuana, even though federal law defines it as an illegal drug.

Rohrabacher said he doubted the new administration would target medical use, which has mainstream support, but recreational use could be vulnerable. 

He and other members of the caucus pointed out that Trump said during his campaign that states should be allowed to make their own laws regarding marijuana use.

Congress passed a spending bill in 2014 that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal money to prosecute medical marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. That prohibition, co-sponsored by Rohrabacher, must be reapproved every fiscal year.

The cannabis caucus will focus initially on increasing medical research and revising banking and tax regulations that impede legal marijuana businesses, Blumenauer said. Measures that would address each of those issues have received broad support in both the House and the Senate in previous Congresses.

“These are things that aren’t strictly partisan,” Blumenauer said.

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Published at Fri, 17 Feb 2017 03:44:18 +0000

Michigan Seeks Input on Multiple Licenses and Co-Location

Michigan Seeks Input on Multiple Licenses and Co-Location

Michigan Seeks Input on Multiple Licenses and Co-Location

As the State of Michigan moves forward in developing rules to implement the State’s new Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) today reached out for stakeholder input on critical issues—whether and how applicants can seek multiple licenses and co-locate operations under different license classes. Specifically, the Director of LARA, Shelly Edgerton, issued the following statement and request:

Many of you have been made aware during previous meetings or conversations regarding the new Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, 2016 PA 281, that the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) was considering holding discussions to get feedback from those who have expressed interest in certain related topics or the new law in general. To examine issues that have been brought to LARA’s attention while working to implement the law, LARA is therefore seeking comments from interested parties on the topics of license stacking and co-locations as it relates to the licensed categories.  The purpose of this document is to gather information only and is not meant to interfere with the authority of the Board or Advisory Panel procedures when they are appointed as provided under the Act.

To that end we are asking for your input by responding to the questions below. We are only asking for brief answers, or comments limited to a short paragraph or a few sentences. Please provide your responses by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28th, 2016. After the responses are compiled, a meeting and/or conference call may be scheduled if appropriate to review the responses and receive additional input. Please submit your responses to curtisc8@michigan.gov.

Questions: Topics: License Stacking and Co-locations

    1. Should an entity be permitted to have more than one grow license at a single location?
    2. Should an entity be permitted to have more than one level of grow license at a single location?
    3. Should multiple licenses issued at a single location be restricted to Class C grow licenses only?
    4. Should the licensed growers, processors, and provisioning centers be allowed to apply for multiple licenses? 
    5. Should a demonstrated ability to sell inventory be required as a prerequisite to issuing additional licenses at a single location? If so, what percentage of inventory over how long of a period?
    6. Should different entities operating at the same location be required to have common ownership interests? 
    7. A few other states, such as Colorado, allow growers and processors to operate at the same location and allow license stacking. Should license growers and processors be allowed to operate at the same location?
    8. There has been some mention of possible safety and security concerns if licensed growers, processors, and provisioning centers are all operating at the same location, such as one building. Should growers, processors, and provisioning centers be allowed to operate at the same location?

We can anticipate that LARA will continue to solicit stakeholder input, although LARA’s statement noted that its work on the rules is to be in consultation with the yet-to-be-appointed Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Board and Advisory Panel. Given that the formal roles of advisory panels are fairly limited under the Michigan Administrative Procedures Act, the new Board and LARA will have some discretion with respect to how deeply they involve the Advisory Panel. While it remains to be seen what opportunities will be provided for public input into the rulemaking process (apart from those required under the APA), LARA’s initial outreach here is a promising first step.

As the rulemaking process in Michigan continues to unfold, check back here to Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.

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Published at Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Banking regulations mean Oregon flush with marijuana cash

Banking regulations mean Oregon flush with marijuana cash

The Columbian / Associated Press

MEDFORD, Ore. — As legalized marijuana brings more business to Oregon, some communities are seeing a large amount of cash in the economy thanks to strict regulations keeping banks away from the businesses.

The Mail Tribune reports that banking officials say that after years of moving away from cash, financial institutions have seen a recent influx due to the marijuana industry.

Many banks will not offer lines of credit to marijuana businesses due to high federal penalties for holding pot-tainted money. As a result, the marijuana industry operates with cash. Dispensaries pay their employees, landlords and lawyers with cash that is then spent in grocery stores and other daily tasks.

People’s Bank Vice President and Operations Manager Dawn DeVita says the Southern Oregon-based institution does not work directly with marijuana businesses, but it has seen an increased volume of cash circulation.

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Published at Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:28:33 +0000