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Cannabis news briefs: Jerry Brown’s cannabis signing spree, Utah’s cannabis compromise, and more of the top cannabis news you need to know for the week

By Rick Schettino
Oct 09, 2018

California governor Jerry Brown has been an essential fixture in forming the state’s marijuana policy not only as Governor but as the former Attorney General and also the former mayor of Oakland. Brown is ending his eight years as governor delivering a mixed bag in signing and vetoing some key marijuana and hemp bills last week.

Brown approved the implementation of hemp bill SB-1409 which will finally allow the Golden State to join 26-plus other states which have authorized the start of statewide industrial hemp-growing under commercial and research provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill. Currently, only a small hemp project in Riverside County is growing hemp for CBD under a federal experimental USDA permit run by long-time hemp innovator Chris Boucher.

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Hemp industry observers have long thought the predominant marijuana grower community in California has had little interest in seeing hemp grown outdoors, fearing a possible hemp cross-pollination, which might impact THC quality.

Brown also signed a bill to allow recreational retailers to co-locate facilities for medical and recreational marijuana. He also signed another bill that will expunge or reduce prior-cannabis convictions. Another measure forbids recreational marijuana retailers from advertising while their licenses are under suspension. A plan to allow certain free medical marijuana donations to medical patients was also approved, as was a new expansion for "safe injection zones" for illegal drug consumption. Brown did, however, veto a measure allowing public school students to bring their medical marijuana to school.


Utah governor Gary Herbert/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Utah agrees to medical marijuana compromise

A historic compromise has been made among Utah's power structure and cannabis proponents to bring medical marijuana to the western state of 2.76 million citizens. The deal replaces next month’s all or nothing vote, the passage of which was not assured. Amendment 2 will become law.

Former opponents including the Mormon church, Legislative leaders, police, and Governor Greg Herbert held an October 3 press event to confirm their plans to call a special legislative session to implement medical marijuana rules before the year’s end. No home grows will be allowed, but a robust group of qualifying medical conditions is expected to be approved.

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The negotiations were spearheaded by Utah Patients Coalition campaign director Connor Boyack and treasurer DJ Schanz. Marijuana Policy Project staff were consulted during the negotiations, and the organization’s state policies director, Karen O’Keefe, provided important analysis that improved the final compromise legislation.

MPP officials said the agreement means the group can refocus and re-double its effort to pass recreational marijuana in Michigan, which is up for a vote next month.  

At a dispensary near you

Chicago-based Cresco Labs raised $100 million in private funding which is earmarked for continued expansion in Illinois and nationwide. Cresco Labs operates three cultivation centers in the state and recently completed an expansion of its Joliet facility which more than doubles its production and processing capabilities. Additional acreage is available. Cresco also has plans to increase its national footprint with licenses to operate in Pennsylvania and Ohio. It has also acquired dispensary and cultivation operations in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

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Las Vegas area dispensaries recognized the potential for trauma last week at that city's one-year anniversary of the horrific Mandalay Bay shooting, where gun violence killed 58 people and injured over 850 more attending the Route-1 Harvest Festival. The Las Vegas Cannabis industry is providing marijuana at substantial discounts to anyone who is suffering from PTSD.  

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The Las Vegas-area dispensaries offering discounts for those suffering from PTSD include Sahara Wellness, Silver Sage Wellness, Exhale Nevada, Medizin, and Euphoria Wellness.

"PTSD is already recognized as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in the State of Nevada. Many of the dispensaries see a number of veterans that have PTSD," said John Laub, President of the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association. "We believe that marijuana can help more people that are suffering. This is a great way for the cannabis industry to give back."

Young and old alike

A research report published last Wednesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that cannabis may have a greater effect on short and long-term memory than alcohol in teens. Researchers studied four cognitive functions: Problem-solving, long-term memory, short-term memory manipulation and the ability to stop a habitual behavior when needed. Marijuana had "significant" negative effects on all four functions. The study could not correlate any of the negative effects to alcohol consumption.

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Meanwhile, a massive federal drug use survey has shown a significant increase in monthly marijuana use by Baby Boomers. Over the past decade, there has been a major change in the demographics of marijuana users. As recently as the early 2000s, teens were more than four times as likely to use marijuana than those in their 50s and 60s. Now, according to the study, Americans ages 55 to 64 are slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than teens ages 12 to 17. Seniors age 65 and older have also greatly increased their marijuana use which sat at nearly zero in the mid-2000s. However, 2.4 percent of seniors now use marijuana monthly.

Major companies using more energy than the cannabis industry

In light of the recent U.N. report on climate change that states humans have little more than a decade to clean up the earth (and their act), New Frontier Data shows this week that a number of mainstream companies, including Google, McDonald’s and Starbucks use, on average a significant amount of more energy than the cannabis industry.

The data can be seen below in this week’s Cannabit:


Courtesy New Frontier Data

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