Doctor’s License Revoked After Improperly Recommending Cannabis for 4-Year-Old

Dr. William Eidelman has been issuing medical cannabis recommendations in California since 1997, just a year after the state became the first in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana. Now, however, Dr. Eidelman is facing a revocation of his license to practice medicine. According to the California Medical Board, Eidelman improperly recommended medical cannabis treatments for a 4-year-old in 2012. Eidelman isn’t in trouble for the cannabis recommendation itself, but for the diagnosis that led him to make it.

Hollywood Doctor Could Lose His License for Recommending Cannabis to a 4-Year-Old

According to a California Medical Board report, a father and his 4-year-old son came to Dr. Eidelman’s office in 2012 seeking treatment. The father said the boy was misbehaving in school. 30-minutes later, the father and son had a medical cannabis recommendation from Eidelman. In just a half hour, Eidelman diagnosed the young boy with “a probably combination of ADD/ADHD and bipolar disorder.”

Eidelman’s recommendation suggested providing the 4-year-old with small doses of medical cannabis in cookies. In the medical board report, the doctor described the boy as nervous and agitated, but not abnormal. But the boy’s father had previously obtained a medical cannabis recommendation from Eidelman for his own ADHD and bipolar disorder years earlier. The father hoped that what had worked for him would also work for his child.

Simple misbehaving doesn’t mean a child has an attention deficit or mental health disorder, however. Those determinations require lots of data, time with psychiatrists and interviews with the child’s parents. Eidelman provided none of that, and so the medical board found his diagnoses “grossly negligent.”

Are Doctors Making Medical Cannabis Recommendations Too Quickly?

“Tantrums alone … do not support either diagnosis,” the board wrote in its decision to revoke Eidelman’s license. “Labelling a child with a significant mental condition can be harmful if those labels are incorrect, and pernicious results may follow.”

The CMB takes seriously the issue of negligent medical cannabis recommendations and recommendations based on negligent diagnoses. “The mission of the Medical Board of California is consumer protection and as such, it is the Board’s highest priority that physicians are following the standard of care when treating their patients,” CMB spokesperson Carlos Villatoro said in an email to High Times.

Dr. Eidelman’s case came to the CMB’s attention after a school nurse reported the boy’s father to Los Angeles law enforcement and child protective services. Eidelman had suggested the boy consume medical cannabis cookies at school.

69-Year-Old Doctor Vows to Keep Recommending Medical Cannabis Treatments

An important takeaway from the medical board’s decision is that it found no fault with the medical cannabis recommendation itself. The board acknowledged that there is simply not enough evidence to suggest that administering cannabis to a child violates standards of care. Rather, it was the ADD/ADHD and bipolar disorder diagnoses, “all but made up out of whole cloth,” that led to the revocation of Eidelman’s license.

But Eidelman insists that he has a court order staying the revocation until a March hearing. There’s no record of an injunction with the case file in San Francisco County Superior Court, however. And the medical board says it hasn’t received a court order.

This isn’t the first time Eidelman has faced consequences for making recommendations when he shouldn’t have. Between 2000-2001, Eidelman gave several undercover investigators medical cannabis recommendations. When asked about how previous disciplinary actions against Eidelman impacted the January 4 decision to revoke his license, CMB spokesperson Carlos Villatoro told High Times that “the Board considers all previous disciplinary actions when deciding on new charges.”

Nevertheless, Eidelman is still practicing medicine and still adding to his list of 10,000-plus medical cannabis recommendations—despite facing up to a year in jail for practicing without a license. “From the beginning of my career, I’ve been looking for things that really worked and weren’t toxic,” Eidelman said in a 2015 interview with Cannabis Talk Radio. “And cannabis really works.”

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Medical Marijuana Will Be Prohibited in Missouri Veterans Nursing Homes

After Missouri voters approved a new medical marijuana program by a decisive margin of 65 to 35 percent in November, the state’s veterans have been playing the waiting game. Forget getting their cannabis covered by the government—would they finally be able to talk to their VA doctors about ditching opioids for cannabis (in the case of many chronic pain sufferers) without being at risk of losing their benefits?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director Grace Link announced new regulations on Monday that clarify the answer, at least for now, is still no.

“We have to meet VA standards,” said Link. “We have to comply with federal guidelines.”

Given the potential conflicts involved with a medicine that is not federally recognized, 1,350 Missouri nursing home residents, and the employees that work at the homes, are officially prohibited by Missouri law from utilizing the state-legal medical cannabis system. The official reasoning has to do with system funding. It costs $80 million to run the state’s veteran health care system, and a portion of that money comes from the federal government.

This is not a small issue. An American Legion study of 1,360 veterans in 2017 found that those who have served in the armed forces are more likely than the general population to seek medical cannabis treatment. 22 percent of that survey reported that they were currently using marijuana to treat a medical condition. Other VA reports have stated that veterans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain—one of the health conditions that science suggests is greatly helped by marijuana—than other US residents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, veterans’ families are heavily in support of widening scientific and personal access to cannabis. The 2017 American Legion survey found that 92 percent of all veteran households supported more cannabis research, and 83 percent support legalization.

Across the country, veterans’ groups have sought to make clear the positive effects that cannabis have on the lives of war vets. In some states like Oklahoma and Massachusetts, veterans have literally been first in line when cannabis has become available.

Some policy makers have been compelled to address the boundaries that lie between veterans and their medicine. In November, a bi-partisan pair of Congressmen—Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz—introduced three bills related to vets and cannabis.

Of those three bills, one proposal would make it legal for veterans to discuss their medical cannabis usage with their VA doctors without fear of losing benefits. Another would set up a system in which the VA collects data on vets and their weed usage. The third would fund VA partnerships with cannabis studies.

Since Missouri voters chose to legalize medicinal cannabis, the state has taken in over $2 million in application fees. Once the system is up and running, Link said its tax revenues will likely contribute $20 million a year to the Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund, which will fund operating costs from residential facilities, veteran job training, and health care system costs.

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How the Farm Bill Progresses Cannabidiol Like Never Before

Like the rest of the United States cannabidiol (CBD) market, the owners of CBDPure found themselves in a gray area that no other thriving consumer health market had experienced in some time.

Due to the legal status of hemp-derived CBD, companies found themselves walking precarious lines. Not only did the federal classification of CBD leave the market in flux, varying state laws left businesses having to navigate a different set of regulations than producers in other states may have to follow. Compliance with one set of rules meant treating a different set of state rules as secondary. Some sellers chose to ignore state rules, assuming federal rules would trump. Others simply buried their heads in the sand, and hoped nothing would happen. For these CBD sellers trying to be extra-compliant, that meant not shipping to some states, like Arkansas or Louisiana, until a proper resolution could be found.

However, recent changes on the federal level now make it much more precise as to what companies in the CBD space can and cannot do. One such benefit from the changes should be the further emergence of full spectrum CBD oil. This stands to provide significant gains for companies such as CBDPure that have a track record of good compliance and positive feedback.

It may be odd to conceive of an industry earning over $800 million in sales for 2017 isn’t in the mainstream. However, with CBD oil, that is precisely the case. Despite the exploding popularity the last year of CBD among health-conscious consumers, mainstream acceptance was lagging because of the outstanding regulatory concerns. Now, with the law clearer than ever, hemp-based CBD could soon see its name recognition surging.

The Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp

Until 2014, the United States relied on importing industrial hemp. That year brought the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, which signaled the first sign of forward progress on full CBD legislation in America in the last 48 years.

This year, after much back and forth between federal lawmakers, the $867 billion 2018 U.S.Farm Bill passed in December. While the bill covers numerous parameters, one key standout is the legalization of hemp. Under the federal law, the production of hemp is now completely legal. Cultivators are allowed to produce the plant as long as it contains under .3% of THC in its chemical makeup. Numerous restrictions still apply in regards to interstate commerce and other market standards for other industries. This includes no change at the FDA, meaning that CBD and THC may still be banned locally from food products being sold across state lines.

That said, there are numerous benefits for the market thanks to the bill’s passing. By legalizing the plant, the Farm Bill clarifies the status of CBD much more than ever before. Additionally, the passage of the law has opened up CBD cultivation across the country, despite a few persisting interstate regulatory issues. More so, it provides protection for the cultivators of the crop. While it may not be a complete success, the news is undoubtedly a significant step forward.

Opting for Full Spectrum

Consumers can purchase two different types of hemp-derived CBD. The first option is the lesser used isolate. Isolates are 99% “pure” CBD. The product is purified of the rest of the cannabinoids and compounds in the hemp plant by chemically stripping the other natural components out. With isolate, the product is sold in powder form and usually mixed with other foods and beverages.

The more commonly consumed, and preferred, option is full spectrum CBD oil. CBD products listed as full spectrum, sometimes referred to as whole plant, offer the entire natural profile of the plant. Unlike isolate, full spectrum provides consumers with CBD as well as other cannabinoids including CBN, CBG and several others. This includes a low, non-psychoactive concentration of THC, which still cannot exceed .3% under the new regulations.

Some opt for isolate as they want purely CBD that is free of any compounds or contaminants that may be in the plant, or concerned that any THC at all may be problematic for them. While the health concerns are understandable, they are far more a rumor than fact. Meanwhile, the benefits of full spectrum can be found in the healing properties of each cannabinoid. CBD gets the fair share of attention for its extensive list of healing properties. However, others like CBC can promote bone growth, while CBDA inhibits cancer cell growth. Those examples just scrape the surface of a growing list of cannabinoids and benefits worth exploring at length. More importantly, study after study confirms that it is the synergistic effect of all the natural cannabinoids and terpenes working together that truly “supercharge” the positive effects of CBD, not just isolated CBD itself.

Buying Trusted Products

As mentioned, the FDA will largely continue its prior position on CBD and THC products being sold from state to state. In a recent statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said, “In particular, we continue to be concerned at the number of drug claims being made about products not approved by the FDA that claim to contain CBD or other cannabis-derived compounds.”

The FDA’s sentiment is one echoed by the CBD industry. While improvements have lessened concerns to a degree, a number of CBD products continue to mislabel or misrepresent what the product contains. Some claiming “natural hemp oil” may mislead consumers about the true amount of cannabidiol present, while others have overstated health claims or claim “cures” that can be attributed to their CBD products.

Consumers must be mindful of the products that they purchase. “If a seller of CBD is saying that they are selling THC-free full-spectrum oil, or that their product is a “cure” for any disease or condition, that seller should probably be avoided, or at least viewed with a high degree of skepticism.” said CBDPure President CJ Montgomery, “The excitement behind CBD has attracted some new sellers to the market that don’t always have the attention to proper science, compliance and testing that they should.”

Like a growing portion of the market, CBDPure offers transparent lab test results for its products on the company’s website. Additionally, the company provides 90-day guarantees on its locally-grown non-GMO, organic standard hemp CBD products. The company says that this approach to sales, which mirrors most thriving customer service-focused health companies and industries, has resulted in “thousands of satisfied CBD customers from all walks of life.”

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Syracuse DA to Wipe Cannabis Convictions, Believes its a Matter of Justice

In Syracuse, New York, Onondaga Country District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has ordered his staff to dismiss all new and pending marijuana charges this year. The policy shift is just part of the district attorney’s broader plan to wipe decades of cannabis convictions from the record. The move will impact the lives of hundreds of Onondaga County residents, clearing the way to better employment and education opportunities, more housing choices and public benefits.

Syracuse District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick Says Expungement is “A Simple Matter of Justice”

Despite a statewide drift toward decriminalization, marijuana arrests in Onondaga County in upstate New York have been on the rise over the past few years. Even with New York lawmakers closing in on a legalization vote later this year, 160 Onondaga County residents are facing cannabis charges already. In 2018, preliminary Onondaga County Crime Analysis Center data said police made 81 arrests for misdemeanor cannabis-only offenses and issued nearly 2,000 violations.

Not all of those arrests resulted in convictions. In fact, about 90 percent resulted in community service, adjournment or dismissal. Fitzpatrick’s plan won’t clear those records. But the DA’s office estimates roughly a few hundred people will qualify under the new expungement policy. Those with other convictions for more serious charges will not qualify to have their marijuana convictions cleared.

Fitzpatrick’s office is taking a proactive approach to expungement. On Friday, the DA’s office told reporters they’d already begun scouring records to identify qualifying misdemeanor convictions and violations. The DA’s staff will search records back 20 years. Anyone with a marijuana conviction or violation dating prior to 1998 should contact Fitzpatrick’s office.

Onondaga DA’s Plan to Expunge Cannabis Convictions is First of Its Kind in Upstate NY

As legalization and decriminalization expand around the U.S., there’s a growing chorus of elected officials and policy advocates calling for record expungement. But according to the New York State District Attorney’s Association, Fitzpatrick’s plan is the first of its kind in the region. Other Upstate counties have floated the idea, especially since Gov. Cuomo announced a plan to legalize adult-use cannabis by the end of the year. So far, however, no other counties have started the expungement process.

In Onondaga County, that process will face some challenges. Records are old, people’s addresses change, and there are tens of thousands of records to comb through. But Fitzpatrick says his office is taking steps to tell people to contact his staff if they believe they qualify. He’s also directing staff to issue letters to everyone they clear.

The DA’s office is also cautioning people that marijuana is still illegal without a medical license in New York. Police will still arrest people for cannabis offenses. But in Onondaga County, at least, district attorneys will decline to prosecute anyone facing a marijuana-only charge.

Decline-to-prosecute policies, expungement initiatives and other marijuana amnesty measures are rightly on the rise around the U.S. But expungement isn’t the only approach. In lieu of tossing past convictions, many cities are adopting or pursuing policies to seal criminal records for cannabis convictions. But the Onondaga County DA thinks the right move is simply wiping the slate clean. “It’s a simple matter of justice,” he said. “One should not be stigmatized with a criminal record by virtue of the fact they were born too early.”

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High Times TV Launches Root’dTV a Series Aiming to End Stigma via Entertainment

On Thursday, Jan. 24, High Times TV launched Root’dTV, a short form mini-series inspired by the Daily Show and the Soup. The format is digestible yet intelligent, and thanks to the pragmatic mind of host Tim Strombel, the negative connotations associated with cannabis consumers are smashed by engaging viewers via clean comedy, lively debate, and insightful interviews.

Strombel has a unique view on cannabis because he was born to a passionate cannabis consumer. Though he wouldn’t find out until his early 20’s, Strombel’s pops was also a hobby grower. But you’d never guess because his father did everything a good father is supposed to: coached his kid’s sports teams, instilled values and work ethic, and was always there for his family.

You’d also never guess because Strombels father worked hard and earned a six-figure income as an engineer—without a college degree, mind you. Unfortunately, Strombel’s father developed aggressive skin cancer and lost his battle in September 2011 at the age of 52-years-old.

During his fight, Strombel saw how his father used cannabis medically to support his treatment and reduce the number of opioids he ingested. He also saw that cannabis media was limited in scope, quality, and generally not something you’d want your friends or family to know you consume. Thus, Strombel was inspired to create content that addressed these shortcomings—and he knew it was something he was meant to do.

Root’dTV departs from the typical let’s-get-stoned-and-hang-out-on-camera approach to cannabis entertainment. The goal is to make viewers laugh, think, and–most of all–feel proud to be experiencing the new age cannabis culture. The industry has the power to end all stigmas associated with cannabis. And the people behind Root’dTV have chosen to make that their mission: to approach cannabis content as if the stigmas never existed, while paying homage to those who came before us who paved the way to where we are today in terms of cannabis laws, regulation, and legalization.

So if you’re looking for a way to stay informed, entertained, and develop an educated foundation on which to speak about cannabis intelligently, look no further. Check out Root’dTV bi-weekly on High Times TV.

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Governor of Pennsylvania Plans Town Hall Meetings to Discuss Pot Legalization

Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s Democrat governor who’s signaled openness towards recreational cannabis legalization, has OK’d a series of town hall meetings to explore the future of marijuana in the state. His recently sworn-in lieutenant governor John Fetterman will be spearheading the 67-county listening tour, the natural next step given Fetterman’s pro-pot campaign promises from last year.

“We are actually trying to figure out this issue, where the people of Pennsylvania are, what is it we can learn from them in terms of what we ought to be doing here,” ABC6 Action News reports Wolf saying at a news conference on Thursday. Wolf made the initial announcement about the town halls earlier that day at an Associated Press interview.

“I am looking forward to the culturally conservative areas,” Fetterman told Pittsburgh City Paper. “I am excited to hear these views.” The lieutenant governor explained that the ambitious survey project was an attempt to get away from “echo chambers” when envisioning the form cannabis could take in Pennsylvania. It’s also a way in which for him to prioritize areas that may not be fully won over when it comes to recreational cannabis in the state.

Fetterman says he wants to open the door to bi-partisan communication, despite the fact that many Republicans have come out against further regulation of cannabis.

“I am happy to meet with any representative and they will be invited,” he said. “I would be honored to share a stage with state [Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman]. This is about listening.” Corman has gone on record calling the legalization of recreational cannabis “reckless and irresponsible.”

Wolf, now in his second term, has his own record of supporting marijuana legalization. During his administration in 2016, the state got its first medical cannabis program, with its first dispensary opening at the start of 2018. Last month, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board approved a process that could expand the list of qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient.

Under Wolf’s guidance, Pennsylvania is also licensing commercial hemp farmers, in accordance with the recently passed US Farm Bill.

It may be an uphill battle getting the state’s legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to approve recreational cannabis laws— despite a 2017 poll that reported 59 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of pot legalization. But Pennsylvania’s laws do not permit any ballot referendum that would make it possible to bypass the legislature via the creation of new bills.

But between popular opinion and the promise of legalization’s financial gains, Republicans may soon be feeling the squeeze. In July, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that the state could face a $1 billion financial shortfall — which could partly be assuaged by the $580 million in tax revenue the state could reap from recreational cannabis.

“Pennsylvania’s budget challenges are now a consistent factor in all state policy decisions,” wrote DePasquale in that summertime report. ”Taxing marijuana offers a rare glimmer of fiscal hope, providing a way to refocus the state budget process away from filling its own gaps.”

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Denver’s Sweet Leaf Retail Owners Plead Guilty to Racketeering, Drug Charges

In December of 2017, Sweet Leaf, Colorado’s largest dispensary chain, was raided by Denver PD after a year-long undercover investigation into the business. Law enforcement shut down all locations for what the state refers to as “looping,” or selling more than the “legal” amount of cannabis to a customer at one time. Two years after the raid, the case came to a head today: Sweet Leaf’s owners Matthew Aiken, Christian Johnson, and Anthony Sauro pleaded guilty to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA)—a law that focuses on racketeering and illegal distribution of cannabis.

Under a plea agreement with the Denver District Attorney, the men will serve one year in prison, face a year of parole, and one year of probation for charges under COCCA. They will also have a felony on their records for marijuana distribution. And, according to reports, Aiken, Johnson, and Sauro are also required to hand over the assets of their other businesses, Dynamic Growth LLC and AJS Holdings. They’re also required to pay fines of $125,000 each for not filing tax returns and participating in organized crime.

“It’s absolutely terrible what’s happening to these men,” says Nichole West, Sweet Leaf’s former vice president, who served 30-days in jail last December along with retail operations manager Ashley Goldstein, as they both pled guilty for felony marijuana distribution charges. “They are hardworking guys who genuinely care about their team and community. I hope this can serve as a learning moment for the entire industry to push for federal legalization and that at the very least Colorado cannabis professionals demand change on the currently still grey regulation surrounding ‘transactions’ in the state of Colorado.”

The Sweet Leaf saga is deep for a number of reasons, one of which being that it’s the first legal, white collar cannabis case in history. Another being proof that weed still isn’t actually legal. But on its face, the story chronicles a nightmarish tale of the complexities of writing and comprehending brand new law—and the integration of a once-black-market-industry into a legally accepted landscape. It also paints a picture of what (still) happens when cannabis businesses are targeted by law enforcement.

Prior to the Sweet Leaf raid, the cannabis law in Colorado stated that a “Retail Marijuana Store and its employees are prohibited from selling more than one ounce of retail marijuana flower or its equivalent in Retail Marijuana Concentrate or Retail Marijuana Product during a single sales transaction to a consumer.”

The store is said to have sold multiple ounces to customers within a day in separate transactions between 2016-2017. Under the previous iteration of the law, doing this isn’t technically illegal—and it’s likely how a number of dispensaries were also doing business in Colorado.

According to reports, a memo was sent out by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in May of 2017, clarifying that only one-ounce of cannabis can be sold to a person in a single transaction within a business day. West and former MED compliance officer Renee Rayton (who was indicted for allegedly participating in an unrelated cannabis trafficking ring) communicated about the confusion of the law. Rayton clarified her “uppers” stated that doing more than one transaction with a person is against state law.

After the Sweet Leaf raids and arrests—in which 18 budtenders were arrested, but the charges have since been dropped—Colorado’s cannabis law changed on Jan. 1, 2018, to specifically define a transaction. Now it states that a “Retail Marijuana Store and its employees are prohibited from transferring more than one ounce of Retail Marijuana flower or its equivalent in Retail Marijuana Concentrate or Retail Marijuana Product in a single transaction to a consumer. A single transaction includes multiple transfers to the same consumer during the same business day where the Retail Marijuana Store employee knows or reasonably should know that such transfer would result in that consumer possessing more than one ounce of marijuana.”

No mercy was spared on the dispensary owners. Today, prosecutors said Aiken, Johnson, and Sauro knew that Sweet Leaf employees allowed customers to make multiple purchases on the same day, exceeding the state’s one-ounce possession limit. According to local reports, investigators believe Sweet Leaf was responsible for almost 2.5 tons of illegal cannabis entering the black market.

According to a statement by Denver DA Beth McCann, law enforcement was tipped off by a watchful citizen who observed the same people making multiple purchases from one Sweet Leaf dispensary in a day. “The vast majority of Denver’s marijuana industry businesses and owners are reputable and responsible and strive to obey our marijuana laws,” she said in a statement. “However, Sweet Leaf is an exception. My office will prosecute those who do not comply with our marijuana laws.”

The takeaway? Cannabis prohibition is still alive and thriving—even in the states where legal pot laws are in place. Alas, Aiken, Johnson, and Sauro are banned from working in Colorado’s cannabis industry for the next 15 years, as a result.

 

Edited: headline was changed from ‘Convicted’ to ‘Plead Guilty.’

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Man Pursued by Police for Public Masturbation in Target, Found With 9 lbs of Weed

Police in Dover, Delaware, discovered nearly nine pounds of weed after pursuing a man who had been masturbating in a Target store. Lewis Foreman, 23, of Dover and two others were arrested in the case, according to local media.

Officers were sent to the Target store on Jan. 19 and again on Thursday after it was reported that a man was masturbating in one of the fitting rooms with the door open. On both days, the man exited the store and drove away in a gold Jaguar, according to police.

After fleeing from the store on Thursday morning, law enforcement officers tracked Foreman to the Manchester Square neighborhood of Dover. When police tried to stop him, he escaped on foot and entered a rear door of a nearby residence. Foreman then hid in the attic of the home with a woman, Tyra Mifflin, age 20. While the pair hid, a three-year-old child was left unattended in a bedroom of the house, according to police. The adults then surrendered themselves to police after hiding for a short time.

Search of Home Reveals 9 Pounds of Pot

Police then obtained a search warrant for the residence. When the warrant was executed, officers found 8.75 pounds of marijuana in sealed bags, digital scales, packaging materials, and $4,432 in cash suspected to be proceeds from drug sales. While police were still on the scene, 29-year-old Keyarra Johnson arrived at the home and was also taken into custody.

Foreman has been charged with two counts of indecent exposure, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of a Tier III quantity of marijuana, second-degree conspiracy, endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked and released on an $8,750 cash bond.

Mifflin and Johnson were each charged with possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of a Tier III quantity of marijuana, second-degree conspiracy, endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were released on an $11,250 unsecured bond. The child has been placed in the custody of a relative, according to authorities.

While Delaware has a medical cannabis program and state legislature has decriminalized small amounts, possessing 8.75 pounds of cannabis is still illegal. Public masturbation is also illegal– not only in Delaware, but in every state of the country.

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A Dive into the Longstanding Love Affair Between Comedians and Cannabis

From Cheech and Chong to George Carlin, comedians have openly experimented with cannabis for eons. As a comedian myself, I find that cannabis shifts my perspective by transforming mundane day-to-day activities into more colorful experiences. For me, it’s easier to see the peculiarities and ridiculousness that life brings after I smoke. If you want to make people laugh, you have to know how to laugh yourself. And with so much chaos and technological stimulation, sometimes it can be hard to see the humor in life. But weed makes it easier. That’s why I took a dive into the lives of comedians to gain a better understanding of the inherent connection between cannabis and comedians, and the role the plant plays within the comedy community.

The Longstanding Love Affair Between Comedians and Cannabis

Doug Benson

Doug Benson

Who else is more fit than quintessential cannabis comedian, Doug Benson? From his show Getting Doug With High to his documentary Super High Me, Benson’s been a major cannabis advocate and has deeply contributed to the destigmatization of cannabis. But the herb didn’t become a part of his repertoire until later in life.

 “I was a late bloomer, not getting into cannabis until I was 28-years-old,” says Benson. “Other comics on the road turned me onto it. And after a few years of smoking whenever it was available, I started buying my own cannabis, talking about it on stage, and then, eventually, I’d get high before going on stage. Cannabis helps me to access my silly side, so I like to write and perform when high. And pretty much everything else I do is under the influence of cannabis.”

Benson’s view on the role of marijuana within the realm of comedy is unique because he’s been able to weave it into his creative identity in a way that’s genuine to who he is as a performer and human being. I asked Doug why he thought so many comics consumed cannabis, and he says that, essentially, they have the most fitting schedules for it.

We’ve got the time for it,” he says. “We can get high all day because we work at night, then we can get high all night because we don’t have to get up in the morning unless we have to catch a flight, or do morning radio or tv. But I can do those things high, too!”

And if you’ve ever seen his stand-up (or Getting Doug with High) you’d know he’s a master at getting high and doing his job– a lifestyle many would consider a dream. When it comes to a crowd he’s performing in front of, however, he prefers them to be in the sweet spot: not too high nor too stoned. “The drunk audience is too loud and yell-y,” he says. “The high audience is more polite but can get a little too quiet. I think the perfect level of F-ed up for an audience member is to arrive high and have just one or two drinks. I like to assume that’s what most of my fans do.”

When it comes to consuming cannabis, Benson’s a versatile guy. His favorite method of consumption is taking bong rips. “[They] get me where I want to be the quickest,” he says. When that’s not available, he enjoys puffing blunts–but ones without tobacco (take note, people!)

 “That’s gross,” he says. “I’ve never smoked cigarettes or cigars.”

Benson doesn’t discriminate, though. He loves weed in its many forms. “I love that there are so many ways to consume cannabis!”

He says he enjoys dabbing if he’s going to sleep soon after, while vape pens are nice when you’re in places where smoking is prohibited (which comes in especially handy when you’re on the road and visiting places, like Texas). Edibles, Benson explains, are ideal for plane trips–just as long as you don’t sit in an emergency row. “If the aircraft goes down,” he says, “you don’t want to be high and responsible for logistics.”

Touché.

The Longstanding Love Affair Between Comedians and Cannabis

Courtesy of Jesus Trejo

Jesus Trejo

Jesus Trejo is fairly new to cannabis and tends to gravitate towards CBD dominant strains, like Harlequin. Trejo prefers to minimize the effects of THC and finds that strains heavier in CBD put him in a happy mood with less paranoia and intoxication.

“For the longest time I stood clear of marijuana, but with time and research, I was able to find strains that help me instead of intoxicating me,” Trejo says. “CBD brings a level of focus and non-judgment to my train of thought as I convert premises to jokes. I try not to go on stage medicated because my performance is adversely affected when I’m under the influence. I move around a lot on stage, and if I smoke beforehand, it usually doesn’t go too well.”

Trejo says he prefers performing in front of a high audience rather than a drunk audience for a number of reasons.

“The major difference between performing for a drunk audience versus a high audience is the attention span, for sure!” he says. “With a drunk audience, you’re dealing with amplified versions of people’s personalities whereas with a medicated audience, you’ll find they follow the narrative of the jokes more but the laughs maybe a little delayed, but they are listening. Listening is a big part of stand up, which is why I’ll take a high audience over a drunk one any day.”

When asked why he thinks comedy and cannabis go hand in hand, Trejo, offered some useful insight regarding some of the struggles comedians face.

I think a lot of comedians flock to cannabis because of its wide array of benefits including: medical reasons, a creativity boost, relaxation, or simply for the good o’ hangout,” he says.

But he also notes the social effects of the plant as another reason it’s used by so many comics.

“Cannabis has the tendency to bring people together, especially within the comedy community,” he says. “Comedians love hanging out with each other after shows, giving each other joke tags, recounting a good night of comedy, or just roasting one another over some good o’ puff, puff pass!”  

Trejo makes a valid point: so much of being a comedian involves being a member of a larger community of comics. And there’s truly nothing more fun than smoking weed with some of the most intelligent and highly entertaining people in the world.

The Longstanding Love Affair Between Comedians and Cannabis

Jessimae Peluso

Ms. Jessimae Peluso

Jessimae Peluso (MTV, Sharp Tongue Podcast) also turns to marijuana to unlock her silly side and jump-start her creativity. “Cannabis is my favorite ingredient for creativity!” she passionately exclaims. “It shuts out the negative narrative in my mind and allows the fun goofball some stage time. I can smoke and write but I cannot smoke and perform. I’d get too distracted by some lady’s furry jacket, and I’d probably stop doing comedy and start petting the jacket.”

When asked why she thinks comedians consume weed, Peluso says that it’s a way in which comedians–and people, in general– experience relief from life’s pains. “Most of my comedian friends have severely traumatic pasts,” she says. “A few of those people also suffer from addiction. I think cannabis provides some reprieve from the pain and allows the mind some calm in order to create without the side effects of pharmaceuticals or narcotics”.

In terms of consumption preference, Peluso is a flower-power love child. “I’m an old soul and old school lady who loves flower,” she says. “I recently smoked sun grown Strawberry Cough from Humboldt Farms. [It was] DEE-LISH-US! [I] love a nice j[oint], or a cute little-packed bowl. One of my favorite new ways to [get sonted in the morning] is with my Wake & Bake mug! You can simultaneously drink coffee and smoke kush.”

Watch Jessimae Peluso every Wednesday at 4:20PST. For Weedsday on Facebook live & Instagram Live.

The Longstanding Love Affair Between Comedians and Cannabis

Wolfie

Queen Wolfie

Rachel Wolfson, better known as ‘Wolfie,’ has been smoking since she was 19-years-old and is known for her cannabis-driven weed memes @wolfiememes. Wolfie explains that weed and comedy are compatible because, in essence, it gives comics the ability–and relief–to pursue their art.

Comedy and cannabis go hand-in-hand,” she says. “It’s a substance comedians just gravitate toward naturally. I think the reason so many comedians consume cannabis is because a lot of us have anxiety, trouble sleeping, mental health issues, or just enjoy smoking weed”.

For Wolfie, cannabis is an integral part of the creative process– and sometimes a part of her performances. “ I think it helps with my writing,” she says, “and depending on the show, I think it helps with my performances. Some shows I don’t prefer to smoke right before because I think it affects my energy since I’m already low energy. However, if it’s a weed show, I’ll probably smoke like eight blunts before and one right on stage.”

The connection between cannabis, comedy, and creativity is so evident it’s tangible. Whether comics use the plant regularly, recreationally, or medicinally, one thing is certain: we aren’t going to stop using it anytime soon.

Follow writer/comedian: Sara Weinshenk/Shenk Podcast

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Advocates Sue Michigan to Remove Cannabis from Controlled Substances List

A group of cannabis activists in Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the government to remove marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances. Despite being legalized for medical purposes in 2008 and the beginning of legal recreational sales last year, cannabis is still listed in the Michigan Public Health Code as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This classification indicates that a drug has no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.

Michael Komorn, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said cannabis should not remain as a scheduled drug.

“This is not a controlled substance,” Komorn said. “The idea that someone would be growing an opioid … and bringing it to a pharmacy because they were running low on their meds is the scenario that would have to exist in order for marijuana to remain as a scheduled drug.”

“It’s intellectually dishonest,” Komorn said.

The lawsuit was filed last week in the Michigan Court of Claims against Michigan Board of Pharmacy and its chairwoman Nichole Cover. The suit maintains that with the state acknowledging through legislation the medical efficacy of cannabis, the State Board of Pharmacy should remove the Schedule 1 designation. The suit also claims that Cover should not be serving as both a member of the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board and the chair of the Board of Pharmacy, which does not recognize cannabis as a medicine.

State spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said in a statement that “the Michigan Department of Attorney General is in the process of reviewing and preparing a response to the”  lawsuit, according to media reports.

Historic Activist Named As Plaintiff in Lawsuit

The plaintiffs in the legal action are NORML of Michigan, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Dr. Christian Bogner, a researcher studying the effect of cannabis on autism, medical marijuana patient Josey Scoggin, pharmacist Paul Littler, and poet and activist John Sinclair.

Sinclair has been a cannabis activist in Michigan for more than 50 years. In 1967, his arrest for possessing two joints led to an outcry that resulted in the annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor. He said at the Cannabis Counsel Office in Detroit on Wednesday that it is time to stop prosecuting people in Michigan for using cannabis.

“For 80 years they’ve been locking people up and taking their possessions and harassing and terrorizing us as citizens because we like to smoke weed,” said Sinclair. “I want to be part of every effort to completely remove the police from our lives regarding marijuana. They’ve got nothing at all to do with marijuana.”

The Michigan Supreme Court overturned Sinclair’s conviction in 1972, writing in its decision that “not only that there is no rational basis for classifying marijuana with the ‘hard narcotics’, but, also, that there is not even a rational basis for treating marijuana as a more dangerous drug than alcohol.”

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