San Francisco Events May Soon Allow Marijuana Sale and Consumption

On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman announced that the city would soon be accepting applications for city permits to allow legal cannabis sales and consumption at public events. That means parades, festivals, concerts, fairs, farmers markets and more could all soon have legal weed available for attendees. And the best part is, those attendees will be able to smoke, vape or otherwise consume that cannabis at the event itself.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Set To Approve Permits for Marijuana Ahead of Annual 420 Event

Every year, San Francisco hosts a 420 event in Golden Gate Park. Dubbed “420 in the Park,” the festival is a gigantic gathering at Hippie Hill. Historically, 420 in the Park has eschewed licenses and permits. But the totally unofficial festival has become massively popular in recent years, thanks to legalization, and thus, more of an issue for city residents. The larger crowds have attracted some violent attendees, harshing everyone’s vibe. And the trash left behind has reportedly been outrageous; as in, 11-tons-of-garbage outrageous.

To attempt to get a handle on things, San Francisco actually permitted the event in 2018. It brought in sponsors, set up fencing around the Sharon Meadows site, beefed up security, and, most importantly, provided an adequate number of wastebaskets and portable toilets. With more food vendors and trucks, a real sound system and paid DJs, 420 in the Park finally looked like an official party.

No doubt, this year’s crowd will be even bigger. And to head off any potential problems, San Francisco is planning to allow cannabis vendors to obtain permits to sell at the Hippie Hill event. Cannabis is legal for adults to buy, possess and (privately) consume in California. But in many ways, events like these break all the rules. Ironically, that wasn’t such a big deal when it was illegal to buy and consume weed. The authorities tended to just look the other way. But now that there’s a legal industry, with rules and regulations to follow, events like 420 in the Park are more difficult to pull off.

City Officials Say Permits Will Keep Fentanyl-Laced Weed Out of the Event

Events like San Francisco’s annual 420 bash now have a more complicated legal landscape to follow. They need permits from the state and they need permits from the city. But first, the city needs to implement the state law that lets cities permit cannabis events. Only if, however, those events meet certain criteria, criteria that will change in 2022—you get the picture.

But all the complexity has a clear purpose: safety. The more we learn about products coming out of California’s unregulated cannabis producers, the more cause there is for concern. From pesticides in flower to lead in vape cartridges, product quality has so far been a major issue for consumers. And last year’s 420 in the Park is a good example. “The thing that we are really worried about and what happened last year is that we had people .. that were selling pot with fentanyl in it,” said city Supervisor Vallie Brown.

Fentanyl is an extremely addictive and lethal synthetic opioid painkiller. Fentanyl-laced weed isn’t common, but consuming it all guarantees a trip to the hospital. At last year’s 420 event, Brown said several people had to be taken away in ambulances.

Permits for Marijuana Sales and Consumption Still Face Challenges

San Francisco’s plan to permit the event to reduce illegal sales and consumption of untested products could run up against some other challenges. For one, city ordinances prohibit smoking in public parks, and California’s adult-use laws prohibit cannabis consumption anywhere smoking is forbidden. Then, there’s the state law against consuming alcohol and cannabis in the same space.

For now, then, San Francisco isn’t worrying much about the consumption issue. It’s going to happen anyway, and officials plan to handle problems on a case-by-case basis. But event goers can breathe easy. The city actually has a law making marijuana offenses by adults law enforcement’s lowest priority.

San Fransisco Supervisors say the permits will vary in cost depending on how many people will attend the event. For smaller events up to 500 people, permits will be as low as $500. For larger events of 2,500 or more, however, permits can cost as much as $3,000.

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Israel’s Cabinet Approves Export of Medical Cannabis

In a decision that thrilled the country’s cannabis industry, Israel’s cabinet gave a final OK on January 27 to regulations permitting the export of medical marijuana. The law was unanimously passed in the country’s parliamentary body the Knesset in December.

News of the legalization of exportation is a long time coming in the eyes of many Israeli cannabis professionals. A government committee approved a plan to move towards legal exportation in 2017, but the process dragged over concerns about exported cannabis getting into the hands of entities in areas where marijuana is not yet legal.

The decision makes Israel the third participant in the global legal cannabis market. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada also allow for exportation. The global cannabis market, according to a report by Energias Market Research, was projected in 2017 at $8.3 billion, and stands to rise to $28 billion by 2024.

On Monday, Ehud Barak, chairman of Israeli company InterCure, announced plans to launch operations in 10 countries over the next two years.

“I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” Israel’s finance minister Moshe Kahlon commented to the Jerusalem Post. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.”

Licenses for exportation will be granted by the country’s health ministry.

Israel’s medical marijuana system has been overseen by the country’s agricultural branch since 2017. Agriculture minister Uri Ariel told the Jerusalem Post that the cabinet’s decision sends a “historic message to farmers of Israel, young farmers, to patients and the Israeli economy.”

Of course, this is far from the first time that Israeli companies could be expanding beyond the borders of the country. Israel’s Tikun Olam, founded in 2007 and still the country’s largest marijuana company, expanded into Canada back in 2014 when it partnered with MedReleaf. Among its various forays overseas, the company founded Tikun Olam USA in 2016, co-founded a cannabis developer in Australia in 2017, and opened a division in the UK last year.

Israeli cannabis companies are not the country’s only entities getting involved in the worldwide weed industry. In August, plans were announced for an Israeli genome analysis firm to partner with a Swiss cannabis corporation in mapping cannabis genomes in the hopes of creating marijuana strains tailor-made for specific ailments.

Last summer, the Knesset moved to decriminalize marijuana possession for its population, nine percent of which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has calculated use cannabis. Thus far 25,000 Israelis have received a license to use medicinal cannabis, which has been legal in Israel since the early 1990s. Israel was the site of the first lab to isolate the THC cannabinoid back in 1964, a feat achieved by scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni.

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Patients Left in Limbo as Louisiana Experiences Medical Cannabis Delays

Now approaching the fourth year since Louisiana lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation, patients have been stuck in a frustrating and painstaking wait as treatment remains unavailable.

On Monday, patients and medical cannabis advocates received another disappointing update on the lengthy regulatory and testing process, potentially leaving the recently purported summer 2019 start date in jeopardy. Still unable to obtain treatment from regional pharmacies, there is still no definite timeline for when medical-grade cannabis products will finally come to the Bayou State.  

Gathered at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s public stakeholders meeting patients, regulators, state-sanctioned growers, and the universities overseeing the process convened to discuss the current state of the stymied medical cannabis program.

Louisiana Patients Grow Weary of More Delays to Medical Cannabis Access

Katie Corkern, a mother and medical cannabis advocate, has pleaded for years with Louisiana lawmakers to make treatment available for her 12-year-old son, Connor, who’s been suffering from debilitating seizures.

At the most recent meeting, she said her son has been to the hospital 15 times since lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation. Despite Connor’s neurologist recommending that he use medical pot to help control his seizures, Corkern has been unable to get him treatment.    

“We’re waiting, and Connor doesn’t deserve this,” she said at the meeting. “Neither do the citizens that you all don’t get to see.”

Passed back in 2015, these frustrating delays are due in part to the particularly restrictive medical cannabis framework that Louisiana lawmakers have implemented. For instance, medical-grade marijuana is only allowed to be grown at the agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University, leaving the entire system in the hands of only a couple of cultivators.

Over 1,300 days have passed since the law was put into place. So, the frustration expressed by patients is certainly warranted. Several attendees at Monday’s meeting pointed fingers at the regulatory hurdles that the agricultural department must follow, particularly regarding the decision that all medical cannabis products must be tested in-house. 

Louisiana’s Restrictive Medical Cannabis Framework Leaves Patients in Limbo

Despite the repeated pleas from Corkern and other patients in need, lawmakers don’t seem to be searching for an immediate solution to this dire impediment.

Ilera Holistic Healthcare, the grower operating at Southern University, hasn’t started growing its product yet. And the initial estimate of having medical pot available by summer or early fall is now being questioned as too optimistic by state agriculture officials.  

While GB Sciences, the research and biotechnical development company growing out of LSU, has already started production on its therapeutic cannabis crops, they’ve refrained from giving an estimate on when treatment will be ready for patients.

Just last week Dr. Richardson, LSU’s Vice President of Agriculture, expressed cautious hopefulness that the first batch of medical cannabis products would be ready for patients by this summer. That optimism seemed to have waned a bit during the public meeting on Monday, however.

“To give you a particular date, we’re unable to do that,” said John Davis, president of GB Sciences Louisiana. “There are so many different factors that are outside of our control.”

Lab Testing Isn’t the Only Issue

Shifting the burden of testing from the agricultural department to a private lab would almost certainly help streamline the process. But Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said his agency must ensure all products are safe for patients, adding that he couldn’t find a private testing lab that could meet the state’s strict criteria.  

“We are doing all that we can as quick as we can, “said Strain. “Keep in mind, there are no clinical trials. We must make sure it’s as safe as it can be.”

The agriculture department’s lab supervisor admitted the first round of testing has taken longer than expected, but that subsequent testing should go much more smoothly. Testing isn’t the only obstacle preventing Louisiana patients from receiving treatment, however.

GB Sciences is currently operating out of a temporary site while it waits for approval to move into the main facility. According to Davis, this has limited production capabilities and stopped the company from setting up a proper supply chain. He also stated that the company wants to ensure that refills will be available to patients once the first batch of products are rolled out to regional pharmacies.

It’s abundantly clear that state regulators have taken a cautious, molasses-like approach to implementing its medical cannabis framework. Unfortunately, while they continue to drag their feet, it’s patients like Connor who will continue to suffer at the expense of this restrictive and bogged down system.

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Former Trump Aide Announces Involvement in Medical Marijuana Startup

Last September, biopharmaceutical company C3 International quietly announced the launch of the company’s flagship pain management pill, Idrasil. Idrasil is a medical cannabis pill and C3 claims it’s the first standardized form of the drug. And to help develop policy and a marketing strategy for the pill, C3 International has enlisted the counsel of George Papadopoulos, fresh off his 14-day stint in the clink for lying to the FBI during their investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. On Tuesday, Papadopoulos announced he had joined the Board of Advisors of C3 International, Inc. on Twitter.

Disgraced Trump Campaign Aide Will Advise Medical Cannabis Startup on Product Marketing

It would take a long memory (by today’s standards) to remember that George Papadopoulos was one of the first of President Trump’s campaign advisors to go down as a result of the Mueller investigation. In fact, the same month C3 International announced the launch of Idrasil, September 2018, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for lying to investigators in January 2017.

Papadopoulos served his time in December. Currently, he is on a 12-month supervised release, aka parole. But parole doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from starring in a docuseries about his and his wife’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Nor does it prevent him from touring to promote his new book, Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. And it doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from serving on the advisory board of a medical cannabis startup.

George Papadopoulos Joins C3 International Board of Advisors to Market Medical Cannabis Pill

Despite a return to public life determined to capitalize on his exile from political life, Papadopoulos kept his announcement about C3 International and Idrasil focused on the medicine. Idrasil “is a revolutionary product that will assist in weaning Americans off the deleterious opioid epidemic that is affecting thousands, and killing hundreds, of Americans every single day,” Papadopoulos wrote in a tweet published Tuesday. He also described C3’s approach to pain medication as “new thinking.”

C3 International says Idrasil consists of a proprietary blend of concentrated cannabis extract. The company says its approach is all about exact, consistent dosing. Idrasil comes in three doses, 12.5 mg, 25 mg and 100 mg. But press releases don’t specify the specific cannabinoids in the concentration, or the ratio of THC to CBD. It’s likely, however, that Idrasil contains low amounts of THC, a principle cannabinoid responsible for psychoactive effects. The pill form, C3 says, “eliminates the unwanted euphoria and social risks associated with smoking cannabis products.”

While some medical cannabis patients may wish to avoid stigma and the psychoactive effects of cannabis, a more common concern is proper dosing. Even with lab-tested edible products, the concentration of cannabis in a particular “serving” can vary throughout the product. Cannabis extract pills help ensure accurate, consistent dosing.

C3 International hasn’t been reached for comment about Papadopoulos joining the company’s advisory board. It’s unclear why Papadopoulos is particularly qualified for the role. As part of Trump’s campaign he made no statements about cannabis legalization. But following Papadopoulos’ indictment, HuffPost did describe him as “a little known, little-qualified 30-year-old.”

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Russia May Authorize Cannabis Imports for Scientific Research

Russia may be en route to more scientific studies on marijuana. Last week, Russia’s health ministry proposed a bill that would raise the amount of cannabis that’s legal to import into the country— for the study of the plant’s “addiction-causing capacities,” RT.com reports.

The proposed legislation would make it legal for the ministry to import 1.1 kilograms of cannabis, 300 grams of hashish, and 50 grams of hash oil. The amount of THC the ministry is legally allowed to import would rise from 10 grams to 50 grams per year.

No other usage besides scientific purposes would be allowed under the proposed regulations.

The regulation draft cited recent studies that have compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct its first review of cannabis’ scheduling since the 1961 and ’71 International Drug Conventions. The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence released a report last year underlining its belief that CBD is a low-risk substance that has documented health benefits, and called marijuana a “relatively safe drug.” The report also gave credence to scientific data that’s been published suggesting cannabis can play a role in fighting cancer.

In recent years, Russia has taken a hard line on the legalization of cannabis, even going so far as to chastise other countries for regulating the plant. When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances.

Russian press also takes an active role in demonizing the drug. In 2017, Russian news network Rossiya 24 aired coverage pinning actor Morgan Freeman’s statements against Russia’s tampering with the US election on Freeman’s marijuana-use.

In 2015, Russian governmental agencies responsible for regulating the country’s media ordered a Wikipedia page to be restricted that contained references to marijuana. Wikipedia acquiesced to the demands so that Russia would not block its population from accessing the rest of the site. Reddit has also come under fire from the Russian government when it discovered a thread “on the cultivation of growing a narcotic plant” in 2015.

As recently as last December, Putin has gone on the record with some rather off-the-mark views about cannabis consumption. Marijuana Moment reports that at a meeting with cultural leaders, Putin agreed with a music producer that hip-hop’s presence on the radio in the U.S. promoted drug use.

“I am most worried about drugs,” the president reportedly said. “This is the way towards the degradation of a nation.” Putin stopped short of suggesting rap music be banned entirely, but did express an openness towards regulating hip hop genres.

Nonetheless, the Moscow Times reports that the proposed measure will be up for public discussion until Feb. 8.

When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances.

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Hemp-based CBD is Legal. So How Do You Use it and Where Do You Get it?

With the passage of the Farm Bill at the end of last year, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for CBD. Estimates vary, but Business Insider recently put the cannabis-derived supplement at a $1 billion value and Rolling Stone’s most recent deep-dive article reported that by 2022, the CBD market will outpace the THC market, hitting a value of $22 billion. That’s a hell of a lot of hemp. So what exactly is it? How do you use it and where can you get it? We checked in with Jessica Hanson over at My Natural CBD, a vegan and organic line of CBD products from Southern California to get the skinny.

Q. What is CBD?

Jessica: Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a cannabinoid that’s available in supplement form and has a number of possible uses, including help with stress, anxiety, pain, and sleep problems. Unlike medical cannabis, CBD is legal in all 50 states, even if you live in a state where medical cannabis is currently illegal. It is extracted in oil form and then processed and sold in various types of products, including tinctures, gummies, vapes, and CBD-infused edibles.

Hemp-based CBD is Legal. So How Do You Use it and Where Do You Get it?

Courtesy of My Natural CBD

What is CBD For? What Types of Things Can it Help With?

Where do I start? The biggest benefit of CBD, in my opinion, is the easing of anxiety and mental health issues for people of all ages. Recently, the National Council for Aging Care posted an article touting the benefits of CBD for panic attacks, moderate depression and general anxiety in seniors. It quoted a study showing how CBD gummies help stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain (which is the main goal of medications like Zoloft). I personally have used CBD oil for years for sleeplessness and pain. One of my favorite blogs, The Sleep Doctor, has a great article about how people with sleeping issues can benefit from pain. He explains that “CBD has the ability to reduce anxiety, which can be helpful in reducing sleeping difficulties and improving quality of sleep. CBD may increase overall sleep amounts and improve insomnia, according to research. CBD has been shown to reduce insomnia in people who suffer from chronic pain.” Vice also just put out a great article recently about how CBD oil is thought to have anti-pain, anti-soreness, and anti-inflammatory benefits for everyone from professional athletes to teenagers.

Hemp-based CBD is Legal. So How Do You Use it and Where Do You Get it?

Courtesy of My Natural CBD

Where Can I Get It and Is It Legal?

In regards to legality, the answer is (finally) YES. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been reclassified as an agricultural crop and is finally allowed to be treated as such. In terms of where to find it, you have a few options: if you live in a state that has legalized medical marijuana such as California, it could be as quick as driving to your local dispensary. If your state hasn’t quite gotten on the legalization bandwagon, however, you can very easily order it online from a CBD store. Most high-end US manufacturers, like My Natural CBD, will offer a variety of products; both full spectrum and isolate, and will drop ship to you within a few days. There are also reputable subscription services that will auto-ship a 30-day supply to you every day so you never run out. That’s my favorite way- it saves you a ton of time and brainpower from trying to remember to order every month.

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Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee

Two marijuana decriminalization bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature, according to media reports. One would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of pot, while the other would protect holders of medical marijuana identification cards from other states. Both bills were sponsored in the Tennessee Senate by Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle and in the House of Representatives by fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson.

The first measure, SB256/HB235, would amend state statute to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. The second bill, SB260/HB234, would permit holders of medical marijuana program identification cards from other states to possess up to one-half an ounce of cannabis. The bill also removes criminal penalties for medical marijuana cardholders who transfer cannabis to other cardholders.

Johnson told local media that she decided to sponsor the bills, which were written by Kyle, partly due to the personal experience of her father, who had multiple sclerosis.

“I still believe he would have benefited from medical marijuana in treating the tremendous pain he was in,” Johnson said. “And if we have something who can benefit folks visiting family in Tennessee, they shouldn’t be punished for taking their medication.”

Johnson also believes that decriminalizing marijuana is a matter of criminal justice reform and treating simple possession appropriately.

MMJ Bill Also Pending

The bills from Kyle and Johnson come less than three weeks after two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis, announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

After introducing the measures, Bowling said in a press release that she believes cannabis can be part of the solution to the nationwide epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.

“I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans,” Bowling said. “Our constituents can use a natural and effective option for pain relief that is not controlled or pushed by Big Pharma. When I see medical studies showing that states with medical cannabis programs had an average 23 percent drop in opioid prescription use and overdoses, I see a real option we can use.”

If the bill succeeds, patients with certain qualifying health conditions would be able to obtain a medical marijuana identification card to allow them to legally purchase cannabis. A commission would be created to regulate patient access and license cultivators and retailers. Bowling said the experience of other states was called upon to draft this medical cannabis solution for Tennessee.

“I wanted a new bill that is Tennessee-specific and takes the best of what worked in other states and leaves out what did not. This bill delivers what I wanted,” Bowling added. “The legislature has not yet had that kind of bill to consider. The Bowling-Travis bill creates a fully functioning framework to license growing, producing and dispensing operations.”

All four cannabis bills are now pending before the Tennessee legislature.

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The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Support Legal Weed

In the lead up to the 2020 Presidential election, there are a lot of important issues that warrant debate. Everything from healthcare to net neutrality will be discussed during campaign season, but there’s one issue of particular importance: the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis.

Legal weed isn’t really a wedge issue that causes people to shift their party allegiance. But it’s still important to know what major politicians think about its status, as we buildup to the next election. This look into ten Democratic contenders (only some have announced their exploratory committees while the rest have coyly voiced their interest in running) will explore how their views have changed and how they interacted with the so-called War on Drugs in the past.  

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Elizabeth Warren (Katherine Taylor/Wikimedia Commons)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is the first major Democrat to announce her intentions of running for president. A fierce advocate for consumer protections, the Harvard-professor-turned-Massachusetts-senator is now a supporter of federal legalization. Back in 2016, Warren refused to endorse the issue when it hit her home state’s ballot. But, as public opinion in the Democratic party shifted, Warren has followed the wind and earned an A-rating from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).  

With Cory Gardner, a Republican Senator from Colorado, Warren introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act in June during the previous Congress. If passed, the bill would have amended the Controlled Substance Act to block federal interference in state-legal marijuana-related activities. She was also a co-sponsor of the Carers Act that would protect medical pot patients from federal punishment; and the Marijuana Justice Act, legislation that would have ended federal prohibition and directed the courts to expunge people’s records.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Cory Booker

While he hasn’t formally announced whether he’s running for president, Senator Cory Booker’s name has been thrown around as a potential candidate since he served as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  

In the last Congress, Senator Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that other senators on this list co-sponsored. While the bill wasn’t signed into law, it would have removed cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, ended federal prohibition, and set up a structure that reduces law-enforcement funds for states that disproportionately target low-income residents or people of color for cannabis-related charges. In addition to having some good ideas, Booker also knows how to maximize his message around legalization. On the most recent 4/20, Booker released a video on Mic that laid out his views on the racial discrepancies related to legalization.  

Booker, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, even joked that he was planning on “sending brownies to [Senator Lindsey Graham’s] office to celebrate his new chairmanship,” after Graham indicated he wasn’t planning on tackling marijuana reform.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Senior Airman Christopher Muncy/ Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Instead of announcing her intentions to run for President in an intimate speech in her hometown of Albany, New York, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a grand announcement on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. A savvy move for someone who doesn’t have much name recognition outside of her crusades against sexual assault in the military, Gillibrand is a tough former attorney who supports progressive policies like Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee.

Gillibrand admits that before she became a senator, she was a bit more conservative leaning as a member of the House from northern New York. In the House she didn’t support any bills related to legalization, in fact, she went as far as to block an amendment that would have defended medical marijuana from increased federal scrutiny in 2007. Since then, however, she’s had a change of heart. A co-sponsor of Senator Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, Gillibrand supports full legalization and is an advocate for additional research to see how its medical uses can assist veterans with specific mental health conditions.  

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

Secretary Julian Castro

Julian Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was first elected into public office at 26-years-old. His name started appearing on people’s political radar after he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, similar to President Obama’s claim to fame by giving the same speech at the 2004 convention.

A proclaimed progressive who’s called off of PAC donations for his campaign, Castro was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) when they published a rather restrictive memo in 2014 regarding public housing tenants who use cannabis. The memo, which was an update to a 2011 document, clarified that “owners must deny admission to assisted housing” if individuals are illegally using cannabis. Even if a tenant resided in a state where medical or recreational use was legal, the owner was still required to deny entry to the housing. Since then, Castro has criticized the Trump administration for voicing intentions to interfere with legal state markets but it’s still not clear where he stands in regards to federal legalization and regulation.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Seth Taylor/ Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Kamala Harris

Since first joining the Senate in 2016, Kamala Harris has become a national player thanks to the viral nature of her pointed questions in Judicial Committee hearings. California’s junior Senator turned Presidential candidate has cultivated an image for herself as a “progressive prosecutor,” but some of her actions as California’s top law-enforcement officer don’t represent that label.

Back in 2014, when Harris’ campaign for Attorney General was heating up, she was asked about her Republican opponents’ support of legalizing cannabis on the federal level. Instead of voicing her support or opposition to the policy, she simply laughed and stated he was entitled to his opinions. In 2018 however, now that the national conversation around weed has shifted, Harris is on board with legalization at the federal level and tweeted her support of Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act. In her new book, The Truths We Hold, Harris voiced her support for regulation and for removing “non-violent marijuana-related offenses from the records of millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Crockodile/Flicker

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

The Democratic superstar from Texas whose popularity led him to think posting an Instagram story during a dental examination was a good idea, is an exciting breath of fresh air for the party. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke may have lost in his bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz last November, but he awakened a national fanbase that catapulted him to financial dominance and the top of many prediction lists. While he has yet to set-up an exploratory committee or announce his candidacy, a group of activists and former staffers are waiting in the wings for him to make an announcement.

In a livechat recorded while driving around Texas, O’Rourke talks about his belief that ending the Drug War is one of the most important challenges for the country. While he’s quick to indicate he believes there’s no “perfect option” when it comes to keeping cannabis away from children, he believes a federal system of legalization and regulation is the best way to control the customer base and ensure fewer profits flow to illegal drug enterprises.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar, the senior Senator from Minnesota, blew onto the national stage in a big way over an exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his committee hearing. She doesn’t have the widespread name recognition of other superstars in the party, but Klobuchar was just elected to her third Senate term in November with 60.3 percent of the vote, a resounding victory in a state where Hillary Clinton only beat President Trump by 1.5 percent.

While Klobuchar has a D-rating from NORML, she was a co-sponsor on Sen. Warren’s STATES Act. If passed, the bill would have prevented federal interference in states where cannabis is legal, ended the prohibition of industrial hemp, and allowed banks to provide financial services to legal cannabis businesses. A Democrat from the midwest, Klobuchar hasn’t made any public statements about federal prohibition, but with legalization likely hitting her state this year, expect her to make her position known soon if she decides to run.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Thomas Sørenes/Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Jay Inslee

The only Governor on this list, Jay Inslee currently serves the people of Washington. Before being elected to the state’s top Executive position in 2012, Inslee represented Washington in the House from 1993 up until his Gubernatorial election. While he has so-far positioned himself as a potential candidate whose primary focus will be fighting climate change, he also stands out as a leader from the first U.S. state where recreational cannabis-use was deemed legal.  

At this year’s Washington Cannabis Summit, the Governor announced his Marijuana Justice Initiative.  An attempt to give clemency to individuals who have been prosecuted for weed charges in Washington between 1998 and 2012, the Governor will pardon residents over the age of 21 who only have one cannabis misdemeanor on their record. In Inslee’s opinion, expunging these convictions removes obstacles for these individuals to obtain “housing, employment, and education.”

(If you or someone you know lives in Washington and is interested in requesting a pardon, start the process by filling out the form on this page.)

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Kaveh Sardari/Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Potentially the candidate with the lowest national profile, Representative Tulsi Gabbard has represented Hawaii in Congress since 2013. While the Congresswoman has a shaky track record when it comes to LGBT rights and foreign policy, Gabbard has evolved into a more progressive candidate and distanced herself from many of her previous positions.

Gabbard, who has a B+ from NORML, supports a gauntlet of reforms related to legalization. A co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act in 2018 in the House, Gabbard is an advocate for reduced federal interference in legal states, industrial hemp production and increased research into the medicinal benefits of both THC and CBD. During an interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, Gabbard voiced her frustration with the pharmaceutical industry and the way it profits off the opioid crisis by selling both addictive substances and medications designed to wean people off the drugs. In her opinion, marijuana legalization on both the state and federal levels will play a big part in reducing the addiction and overdose rates in the U.S.

The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Think About Legal Weed

Nick Solari/ Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is the most popular Senator in the United States and will be a strong contender if he decides to run for president once again. The politician is regarded for adhering to the same ideological beliefs over his decades in public service, and that also expands to his views on marijuana. An advocate for treatment instead of punishment for addicts, Sanders has long opposed the failed War on Drugs. Comparing it to tobacco and alcohol, the Senator, who co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, told an audience of college students back in October 2015 that he believes the government should end the federal prohibition of cannabis.

As he does with every issue, Sanders likes to tie his support for legalization and criminal justice reform to his crusade against the one percent. During a Democratic Primary debate back in January 2016, he shamed the fact that millions of individuals have marijuana-related crimes on their record but “the CEO’s of Wall Street companies who destroyed our economy have no police records.”

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Lab Testing Reveals There’s Lead in Most Vape Cartridges

With new lab testing requirements for cannabis products that went into effect in California at the beginning of this year, licensed manufacturers have new hurdles to clear to bring safe and compliant merchandise to market in 2019. And many industry insiders are concerned about the addition of analytic testing for heavy metals, a new requirement included in the Phase-3 testing implemented by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Jacqueline McGowan, the director of local licensing and business development at Sacramento lobbying firm K Street Consulting, told High Times that many in the business expected the new standards could be a challenge.

“We knew this was going to be an issue back in July of last year when we saw phase-2 testing standards go into effect and how that affected the marketplace,” says McGowan.

Of the more than fifty licensed cannabis testing labs in California, only a fraction are ready to perform the new tests, which also include screening for mycotoxins—poisons created by molds and fungi.

McGowan says that one her clients, Rebecca Kirk of CWG Botanicals in Oakland, was concerned about the possibility of vape cartridges not passing the new tests. Although her company, a cannabis cultivator, manufacturer, and distributor, had not yet produced any cannabis oil cartridges, she was in the process of product development. After obtaining eight different samples of cartridges, she sent them to a laboratory for independent analysis.

“What we do know, is that just about every cartridge out there has lead in it,” says McGowan.

McGowan said that it is difficult to find empty vape carts that are produced domestically.

“They all come from China,” she says. “There are a few that say that they are manufactured in the U.S., but in reality, they’re assembled in the U.S. The parts are still from China.”

McGowan adds that there are no BCC requirements ensuring that the hardware used for cannabis products be tested for safety.

“We’re going above and beyond the regulations in this project because we’re seeing failures for oil we know is clean,” said McGowan.

Josh Myers, the director of sales at the cannabis ancillary products supplier the Calico Group, said that “it’s absolutely true” that some vape cartridges on the market are contaminated with lead. He said that the Chinese manufacturers are “already well aware of this. Most of the manufacturers have already got on board, but there’s still a tremendous amount of product … that still has lead in it.”

Myers added that some California cannabis companies are having empty cartridges independently analyzed and are finding that about 5 percent are testing positive for lead.

Due Diligence is Key

Greg Magdoff is the CEO of cannabis testing company PharmLabs, which will begin Phase-3 testing for heavy metals at its lab in the Coachella Valley early next month. He also confirms that he’s heard from manufacturers whose vape cartridges have failed heavy metal tests even though the oil had passed before it was put inside. Magdoff says that companies should know that cannabis can be contaminated from the material it is contained in, including inks or paints used on wrappers and containers.

“It’s really important that people understand that these heavy metals can leach out from packaging, cartridges, etc. into the product,” Magdoff tells High Times.

He also cautions manufacturers eager to cut costs to closely consider their responsibility to consumers.

“If they decide to get a good deal and they’re getting hundreds of thousands of carts overseas, they have to do their due diligence, take one of the empty carts to a local lab and get a metals test– digest it down and see what’s in there,” says Magdoff.

Kirk tells High Times that some fellow manufacturers have shown her cartridge test results that have passed the new standards for heavy metals. But those tests were conducted on the oil inside, not the cartridge itself. Kirk says that terpenes are acidic and could be causing lead to leach from the cartridge into the cannabis oil.

“We honestly don’t know,” she says. “Is it now contaminated because it’s been sitting in there a year?”

Kirk is still looking for vape cartridges that she is comfortable using for her products.

“We’ve got to find something that gives us assurance that six or nine months down the line we’ve still got a clean product,” said Kirk. “We’re looking at a potentially great deal of liability.”

Toxic Metals Found in E-Cigarette Vapor

The danger is real. A Johns Hopkins University study released last year found that lead and other toxic metals had been detected in the vapors produced by some e-cigarette devices. Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, told Forbes that “the metals detected in this study have been associated with multiple adverse health effects under chronic conditions of exposure. Neurotoxins such as lead are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. The other metals listed are even more nefarious to human organs.”

Able called for government regulation of e-cigarette devices to help ensure their safety.

“It is critical for manufacturers of these delivery systems to design, engineer and manufacture these devices to FDA medical device quality standards,” he says. “To continue manufacturing and marketing these devices to the smoking population without further diligence and clinical review is unethical and unconscionable.”

McGowan said that some businesses are hoping for a legislative fix to the problem.

“They’re planning on running a few different testing bills but I just don’t see how in the world they could ever get passed,” McGowan says. “They want to do bulk testing instead of final form testing, but that still means that we will have lead in our cartridges. I’m a consumer. I don’t want to smoke lead. And I don’t want our industry to suffer the consequences of negative headlines.”

In a memo to clients titled “Upcoming Extinction Events” that was published on social media, McGowan and K Street colleague Maximillian Mikalonis warn that sourcing safe vape carts will be a priority for manufacturers in 2019.

“Once cartridges manufactured prior to December 31, 2018, sell out, manufacturers will face difficulty in sourcing hardware for vaporizer cartridges that can pass Phase-3 heavy metals testing. This will have a negative impact on manufacturer sales and the retailers that run out of cartridges for consumers. If only the illicit market has access to cartridges, expect a rough ride for legal cannabis sales,” they wrote.

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Canadian Public Transportation Company Bans All Cannabis Use for Employees

On October 17, 2018, cannabis became legal for all adults across Canada. But already, some Canadian citizens are finding their right to cannabis stripped by workplace policies that prohibit off-duty cannabis use. The Toronto Police Service and Air Canada have already implemented bans on off-duty cannabis consumption. And this week, the Ontario government’s mass transit agency Metrolinx announced a similar ban. Going forward, Metrolinx is prohibiting all workers in “safety sensitive” positions from consuming cannabis, even on their off time.

Metrolinx Says Private Off-the-Clock Cannabis Consumption Violates “Fit for Duty” Policy

Metrolinx is a regional transit agency in Ontario that employs more than 3,700 people. And now, some of those workers are facing an ultimatum: stop consuming cannabis or find another job. On Monday, Metrolinx announced an update to its “Fit for Duty” policy. The policy update added a ban on cannabis consumption by employees “in safety sensitive positions.”

But the ban isn’t just against consuming cannabis at work or clocking in under the influence of marijuana. The ban also applies to an employee whether they’re at work or not, on duty or off. “Recognizing the safety-sensitive nature of Metrolinx’s operations and workplace, the Fit for Duty policy establishes Metrolinx’s requirements, expectations and obligations in respect of employee fitness for duty,” CEO and president Phil Verster wrote in an email statement.

Transit Workers Union Will Mount Legal Challenge to Overturn Metrolinx Cannabis Ban

Transit workers, as might be expected, are not taking kindly to the ban. Many are concerned that the ban violates workers’ legal rights to privacy, not to mention their new right to legal, regulated cannabis. Additionally, many transit workers are challenging the idea that a cannabis ban has any relevant impact on public, transit, or worker safety. “What will be next, a ban on off-duty alcohol use?” asked Chris Broeze, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587.

Broeze called the Metrolinx cannabis ban “extremely disappointing,” while John Di Nino, national ATU president, called it a ‘hugely invasive policy.” Di Nino thinks the policy will likely impact most Metrolinx employees, and many have already contacted him about their concerns. The union is currently reviewing its options to mount legal and other challenges to the Metrolinx policy “to protect our members’ constitutional rights,” Di Nino said.

It’s so far unclear what prompted the Metrolinx policy in the first place. The Amalgamated Transit Union reports “zero incidents” relating to cannabis and transit or workplace safety among its members.

The legality of a ban like Metrolinx’s is also uncertain. Canada’s federal law, the Cannabis Act of 2018, does allow employers to set workplace drug and alcohol policies. The law does protect patients with an authorization for medical cannabis treatments from workplace sanctions. But non-medical use cases do not have the same protections.

For workers in safety-critical jobs, however, blanket bans on cannabis use will likely become more common. Companies, like Air Canada, often cite data about the lingering effects of THC and the difficult of testing for THC “intoxication” as justification for the bans. At the same time, however, there is not substantial data showing that personal cannabis use impacts workplace safety.

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