New Hampshire House Overrides Governor’s Veto on Home-Grown Medical Cannabis

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a bill that would allow for the home cultivation of cannabis by medical marijuana patients. The measure, HB 364, will now head to the Senate after the House voted 259 to 120 to override the veto.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved HB 364 by a margin of 14 to 10. Two additional votes will be needed in the Senate to override the veto by the required two-thirds majority. The Senate is expected to vote on the veto on Thursday.

All home cannabis cultivation is currently a felony under New Hampshire law. Under HB 364, registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers would be allowed to possess up to three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings. The bipartisan and bicameral measure was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Renny Cushing and Republican Sen. John Reagan.

In the governor’s veto message, Sununu said that allowing home cultivation of cannabis would put a burden on law enforcement agencies in the state and compromise regulations to prevent the diversion of medical marijuana to the illegal market.

Activists Call on Senate to Follow Suit

Matt Simon, the New England political director for cannabis reform advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project said in a press release that overriding the governor’s veto of HB 364 will help ensure that medical marijuana patients can access their medicine affordably.

“It’s encouraging to see the House vote so strongly in favor of HB 364. This bill is critical for patients who are successfully using cannabis to stay off opioids, but are unable to afford the high-priced products that are available from dispensaries,” Simon said. “Sadly, 10 senators voted against HB 364 earlier this year, putting the preferences of a few police chiefs ahead of the needs of patients and their families.”

The Marijuana Policy Project noted in its release that two polls have shown that 68 percent of New Hampshire’s residents support legal medical marijuana and that all three states that border New Hampshire have already legalized home cultivation for patients, caregivers, and adults 21 and older.

“Residents of the ‘Live Free or Die’ State overwhelmingly support cannabis policy reforms, so it’s clear that any senator who opposes this simple step forward is incredibly out of touch with their constituents,” he said. “Patients, caregivers, and their advocates will be watching the Senate vote closely and hoping that common sense and compassion will finally prevail.”

New Hampshire legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in 2013. As of the end of last year, more than 7,000 residents had registered as patients in the state program. Currently, patients are only permitted to obtain medicinal cannabis at one of four licensed dispensaries, leading many to say that the cost and travel involved make it difficult to access their medicine.

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DOPE Interviews Marco Benevento And Leon Michels

By Scott Recker

Marco Benevento has long been known as a piano and keys savant, and a deep and innovative explorer of psych-rock and jazz, but lately, he’s been leaning into pop sensibilities, building punchy, catchy songs that value a good hook and brevity. And on his new album, Let It Slide (out September 20), Benevento dives even deeper into that, pairing with producer Leon Michels, who was in Sharon Jones’ band the Dap-Kings, and has also worked with Raekwon, among many other notable names.

DOPE caught up with Benevento and Michels to talk about how they met through Dan Auerbach’s band the Arcs and the lyrical themes on Let It Slide, as well as how they achieved the album’s sonic backbone.

Dope: You both have really diverse and experimental histories, pushing yourselves in all sorts of different directions. Sonically, what was the goal for Let It Slide?

Marco Benevento: I guess the goal was for us to figure out how my original demos were going to sort of turn into real songs.

Leon Michels: We found that about a third of the way through the record, that we landed on, like, a sonic theme where we ended up using a lot of cassette and running sound through cassette. This is the first record that I did after I moved out of [New York City] to upstate New York, so it was also a complete experimentation in the new studio, trying to figure out how it worked.

How did the new studio impact the sound?

Benevento: It was constant discovery, and there was no normal thing that Leon did because it was his new studio, so we just used whatever we felt like in the moment. Also, another aspect is: now, to work on some music with Leon, it was only 25 minutes away from my house [in Woodstock]. We could casually work from like noon to 3 p.m.— after we play tennis, we’ll record some music for a little bit. We both have kids and a crazy busy family life, so around 3 or 3:30 was the witching hour when we had to be home or whatever and go into dad mode, but it was super convenient to have it so close.

There’s plenty of great experiment directions on the record and a lot of gritty soul type of stuff, but it also leans into this really fluid, breezy sound. I feel like there are a lot of great vocal hooks on the record, and some solid pop sensibilities. What made you want to lean into that?

Benevento: I always wanted to have two-and-a-half, three-minute simple pop songs. That’s kind of easy to digest, and you kind of know where the chorus is and the verses—it’s simple. I’ve kind of been working, for the last couple records—I’d say since Swift— on figuring out simplicity. I feel like Leon really brought that out in everything—keeping it simple and trimming the fat off of everything. On a lot of stuff, we were like, “Oh that doesn’t need to be there, at all.”

Michels: Some of the songs we trimmed down from five minutes to three minutes.

Benevento: We spent a lot of time figuring out what the catchiest part was and saying, “Well if that’s the catchiest part, let’s just repeat it again.” The goal was to make short, poppy songs.

The “gaffiano” interludes are, I believe, a reference to how you manipulated your piano strings to get the sound that you got on this album. Can you talk a little about that?

Benevento: We recorded two songs, and I remember recording the third song and thinking that the piano just doesn’t sound like the right instrument for what we’re going for, and I didn’t even tell Leon or the engineer or anyone. I just put gaff tape on the strings because we’ve done shows in the past where I just sort of mute the strings with my hands, and it’s a part of the show that features the piano having another sound. I know that muting the strings almost sounds like a Japanese instrument or a harp or a cross between the two. I just put the gaff tape on the piano, thinking that it would help it not sound so piano-y, because the piano has such a mood about it, and I love it—that’s why it’s my favorite instrument—but when you can manipulate it a little bit, but still play it like a piano, it sounds like a whole other thing. It is a reference to putting gaff tape on a piano, so the guys were like, “What do you call that?” I was like, “I don’t know, I just put gaff on a piano.” And the guys were like, “A gaffiano!” And it sort of stuck.

You already alluded to this, but do you feel that manipulation led to the sound on this album being different from previous albums?

Benevento: Maybe the point was that I’m a piano player and this is a piano, bass and drums sort of band, but the piano wasn’t a feature. It’s a weird thing to admit to and say, but I’m a songwriter and an arranger and a performer. I’m definitely a piano player but to turn it into not a piano-y thing is basically what I’ve been doing over the last couple of records. On this one, we really hit it pretty good with the pop sensibility—more synths, more bass and drum parts and then vocals. And then a keyboard part here and there. It’s definitely a less piano-sounding record.

Michels: I had to fight with Marco to get him to play solos. He didn’t want any solos.

Benevento: [Laughs] That’s true. You did bring out more of the piano-y aspects, like the organ solo on one of those tunes and the “gaffiano” parts. The showy piano parts, I guess.

Michels: Marco is such an insanely talented piano player, but because you spent so many years just in bands where you were completely flexing on the piano, you have an aversion to it on your own music.

Benevento: That’s true.

Michels: But that’s some of the best shit because everyone likes to hear Marco Benevento solo.

What are some of the lyrical themes on the record? I sort of got a “hold on to what’s important and shed what’s not” vibe. Am I on track?

Benevento: Honestly, this is crazy to admit, but there were no themes when I was writing the lyrics, but it turns out there’s a theme. Other people who have interviewed me have asked the same question, and I’m like, “That’s true—there are a lot of songs about letting go. That you would be better off if you just let it go and move on” sort of themes, which I honestly realized after the record.

Michels: Which is a very Marco thing. When you hang out with Marco, he’s about as easygoing as it comes.

Leon, what was it like working with people like Sharon Jones and Raekwon? How did that impact you as a musician and a producer?

Michels: They all impacted me in different ways. Sharon, I mean, I basically joined the Dap-Kings when I was 16, so essentially, outside of my high school band, she was the first band I was ever in. That was the power of live music and reacting to her on stage. She had a huge influence on me. Raekwon was more of a bucket-list dream thing because I was such a Wu-Tang fan growing up, and also it was a super high-pressure situation, because those guys work in a different way than I do—live, especially. Everyone I work with teaches me something different.

DOPE Interviews: Marco Benevento and Leon Michels
DOPE Magazine

How did you two meet?

Benevento: We met through Richard Swift, our friend who passed away about a year ago, just a badass drummer and producer. Richard connected us because Leon had to miss a couple of gigs with the Arcs, which is a Dan Auerbach side project, and Richard Swift was one of the drummers. There were two drummers. He recommended that I sub for Leon, so that’s how we got connected. I knew what Swift was up to, I knew what Dan Auerbach was up to, and I was definitely a fan of what Dan had done, especially that Dr. John record. That freaked me out. I knew a lot of people in that band, but I really didn’t know what Leon was up to, so I thought if Richard is recommending that I sub for Leon, I should check out what he’s done. And then I was like, “Oh, no, I got to get into what’s going on.” That’s how it happened. And then Leon and I just connected on the record and put some dates on the calendar. And then it was like Insta-bro.

Marco, you used to do more instrumental-leaning stuff. What made you want to get into vocal work and lyrics on the last three records?

Benevento: The first couple of records I made—this was like ten years ago —I was playing more instrumental music, so that’s just what it was. We played rooms that were more like a jazz room. It evolved into a lyric thing around the record TigerFace, which is our fourth record. And I had the singer from Rubblebucket: her name is Kalmia [Traver]. Rubblebucket is such an amazing band. They’re so cool. I had a song on that record, TigerFace, that lent itself to some lyrics, and I asked her to sing the melody on one of the tunes on TigerFace. I wrote the lyrics and she sang it, and hearing one of my songs with a singer was like … I remember that day. I remember sitting in my studio. It was a mind-blowing experience of like, “My music with a singer, I like this!” And then the following record I made after TigerFace, Swift, is basically my first vocal record. And I was thinking that I would hire Kalmia again to come sing, and I thought, “If I keep on bringing her to sing, she’s going to have to join the band. I should just try to do it myself.” It just evolved naturally to me being like, “Dude, just do it yourself. Try it.” Making the record with Richard was super fun and he made me feel like I was singing the whole time. Making Swift was definitely the start of something new, adding vocals, basically adding a whole another instrument to the trio.

This interview was originally published in DOPE magazine and has been edited for length and clarity.

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Illinois Teen Sues E-Cigarette Maker After Vape-Related Illness

CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois teenager who fell ill with a lung disease after vaping for over a year sued a leading e-cigarette maker on Friday, accusing it of deliberately marketing to young people and sending the message that vaping is cool.

Attorneys filed a lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court on behalf of 18-year-old Adam Hergenreder, who was hospitalized at the end of August for about a week after complaining of nausea and labored breathing.

The 85-page suit argued Juul Labs conveyed in advertisements and through social media campaigns that kids could boost their social status by vaping. It also said Juul never fully disclose their products contain dangerous chemicals.

“To put it mildly, Adam didn’t stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs,” said Hergenreder’s lawyer, Antonio Romanucci.

The filing comes as health officials investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses nationwide reported in people who used vaping devices. An Illinois man died in August after contracting a lung disease linked to vaping.

Hergenreder recently told the Chicago Tribune that last year he started buying homemade devices filled with THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana, off the street. Vaping companies say blame should be put on those black-market devices, called dab sticks, for a spate of hospitalizations.

Friday’s lawsuit did not directly raise that issue, including whether it is possible that the makeshift devices containing THC could have caused or contributed to Hergenreder’s illness.

Hergenreder, from the Chicago suburb of Gurnee, was released from the hospital on Sept. 6 with “significant lung damage,” according to the lawsuit. He appeared with his mother and his attorney at a Friday news conference announcing the litigation.

San Francisco-based Juul said in a Friday statement that it’s “never marketed to youth” and has ongoing campaigns to combat underage use. It added that its products are meant to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes, which Juul called “the deadliest legal consumer product known to man.”

Among the precautions Juul said it’s taken to ensure young people aren’t drawn to its e-cigarettes was to close Juul’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. The company said it has also deployed technology that restricts a sale until someone’s age is verified.

The new lawsuit accused Juul of sometimes relying on indirect advertising to children, including by employing social media users with huge followings to promote Juul products in tweets or Instagram posts.

The lawsuit also names a gas station in Waukegan as a defendant, accusing it of regularly selling Hergenreder nicotine-based Juul products when he was too young to legally buy them. Federal law prohibits e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.

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Sports and Pot: Exploring the Role of Cannabis in Athletic Recovery

By Anthony Ricciuto

The stigma associated with marijuana, which once cast cannabis consumers as lazy underachievers, is now a thing of the past. Cannabis has slowly gained mainstream acceptance, even in athletic arenas, and for good reason.

Athletes in all sports, at all levels, are forever looking to improve their training recovery time. This is why they are constantly experimenting with new modalities to see what can enhance this very important part of their training cycle. And for athletes looking to improve their recovery, cannabis has a lot to offer in more ways than one. As a sports nutritionist and strength coach, I have worked with over 100 world and national champions from a variety of sports including Olympic athletes and professional bodybuilders. I’ve incorporated cannabis into my athletes’ training regimens with very positive results. Let’s take a look at a few ways that cannabis can take an athlete’s performance to new heights.

Reducing Pain

Without a doubt, cannabis is one of the most beneficial medicines for managing pain. Marijuana’s medicinal benefits have been touted for decades as the herb helps reduce pain levels in those suffering from different issues, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, degenerative disk disease and much more. Those reading who are not serious athletes might not be aware of it, but competitive athletes are in pain all the time. The grueling training sessions performed multiple times a day can really take a toll on the body. When you are in the gym for three sessions per day preparing for competitions, you can bet that pain is going to follow. I am not talking about the pain that occurs during the session, like muscle burn when doing a drop set. I am talking about two specific types of pain that all athletes must deal with.

The first is delayed-onset muscle soreness. This will hit an athlete two days after a particularly strenuous training session. This is good pain, but it’s pain nonetheless. After an intense leg workout, an athlete will limp around for a few days—and that is the norm day after day, week after week. By the time they have healed up, it’s time for another leg session, which keeps them in a constant cycle of soreness.

The second is old-man wear and tear. If you have been in any sport competitively for any length of time, you know that by beating your body down decade after decade, eventually it’s not going to be so forgiving. The cartilage in a knee can wear down or an old shoulder injury will act up when it rains. Either way, the mileage you put on your body will show up in different forms, and this is why many athletes turn to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory or opiate-based pharmaceuticals to help cope with the pain. But as we have seen over and over again, cannabis is a much healthier alternative to help alleviate the pain many athletes deal with on a daily basis.

Sleep Quality and Quantity

When it comes to recovery, the two biggest factors are optimal sleep and the current nutritional regimen. Cannabis can really help improve the quality of sleep for athletes. Muscle damage from a workout gets repaired during the sleep cycle—the body’s cells are recycled and a cascade of different hormones is activated to produce muscle growth. If your sleep time or quality of sleep is negatively affected, your rate of recovery will dramatically decrease. Many athletes also deal with insomnia due to nutrient deficiencies and the intense demands they put on their central nervous system.

An athlete’s sleep can also be compromised when they’re in a caloric-restriction phase prior to competing in combat sports or a physique event like bodybuilding. During this time, athletes might find themselves having difficulty falling asleep. Then, when they finally get to bed, they wake up a few short hours later wide-awake. Cannabis has been proven to improve sleep duration and quality of sleep time and time again. When an athlete gets a good night’s rest, their performance is dramatically improved. When it comes to improving sleep, I’m a big fan of indica-dominant edibles. Nothing will help you get to sleep better than a high-THC indica in tincture form. My one issue with those cute little gummies and brownies most are familiar with is that I don’t want my athletes consuming excess sugars and fats not accounted for in their nutrition plan. This is why I prefer medicinal cannabis tinctures, which I’ve found to be accurate in dosage and very effective.

Sluggish Appetites

As I touched on above, the second factor to consider in recovery is proper nutrition. The problem some athletes face is not being able to take in enough meals per day to help them replenish what they lost through their training sessions. If you are not taking in the right amount of protein, fat and carbs to help this process, your recovery will be subpar. Cannabis can be quite helpful for those athletes that are having a hard time achieving the calorie requirements they need to reach peak performance.

Most of my athletes will consume between five to seven meals per day. When you get to meal number five and realize you still have two more to go, it can sometimes be a bit of a drag. Of course, these meals consist of the proper macronutrient layout, so it’s not like an athlete can just go out and eat a pizza and wash it back with a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Some athletes prefer a high-THC hybrid strain to help increase their appetite later in the day when they have lost the enthusiasm for another meal. Others use sativa-dominant strains earlier in the day to keep their appetite up all day long. There are other ways to simulate one’s appetite, but cannabis’s effectiveness is unparalleled (and preferred over pharmaceuticals known to increase appetite).

The difference between an athlete getting in all their prescribed meals for the day and missing out on the last two meals due to a lack of appetite is huge. It not only affects their recovery but also their performance during their next training session. This is yet another reason why cannabis is an important ergogenic aid, allowing athletes to consume optimal nutrients for peak performance.

Swelling and Inflammation

Muscle, joint and tendon inflammation is another issue that all athletes deal with regularly. If you engage in contact sports like football or mixed martial arts, you will have even more issues related to inflammation. When you train hard, you are going to get injured—it’s the name of the game. No matter how hard you try to stay safe, no matter how well your program is designed, no matter what body-therapy modalities you use regularly, injuries will find you. One example is tendonitis in different parts of the body. This is usually caused by overuse and allowing your body to stay in an inflamed state for too long due to dietary and lifestyle choices. Anyone that has suffered from tendonitis knows that not only is it painful and restricts different movements, it also lakes forever to heal. Consuming cannabis on a daily basis can help reduce this inflammation, especially when combined with a nutrition plan that restricts all foods that contribute to this process. This will include taking out all inflammatory markers from the diet like omega-6 fats, refined carbs and sugars. This will allow other rehab modalities like massage, active release techniques and chiropractic sessions to work that much better. Cannabis on its own will produce some amazing results in many aspects of an athlete’s life. But when properly combined with the right holistic approach, it can truly be life-changing.

Tendons and Bones

One of the many benefits of high-cannabidiol (CBD) strains is the positive effect they have on healing tendons and bones. Not only is this shown in medical studies, but in the real world with the athletes I consult. One study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research demonstrated that CBD, when administered properly, helped to heal bone fractures at a faster rate. The study even showed that bones were less likely to re-fracture in that same area. This is due to the direct action CBD has on inhibiting the G protein-coupled receptor 55. When this receptor becomes overstimulated, it can increase the transfer rate of calcium from bones into the bloodstream, leading to a softening of the bones and even contributing to such conditions as osteoporosis. CBD has been shown to prevent this, encouraging better bone density.

A world-champion powerlifter I worked with tore his bicep right off the bone. He had to have surgery to reattach the tendon, and he also had to have screws put into his inner elbow to hold everything in place. During this rehab phase, he consumed high-CBD, moderate-THC strains, microdosing several times per day using a dry-herb vaporizer. When he went back to the doctor four weeks after surgery, the surgeon was completely surprised at his healing rate. In fact, he was told that the progress he made in just four weeks was what most athletes saw at eight weeks after surgery. This is just one example of how cannabis and its medicinal constituents can help athletes recover faster from injuries, even tendon ruptures and bone fractures.

Neurological Damage

One of the oldest lies we’ve been told about cannabis is that it will destroy brain cells and make you stupid. In fact, it does just the opposite. Neurogenesis refers to the growth and development of neurons in the brain. While scientists used to believe that this could not occur after the embryonic-development phase, they now understand that it still occurs even as we age. One of the most beneficial cannabinoids to help in this regard is THCA. Everyone is familiar with THC, but not so many understand the benefits of THCA. Also known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, this wonderful compound can have dramatic neuroprotective properties. One of the best ways to get in your dose of THCA is to juice your fresh flower instead of vaporizing it.

It is well known that cannabis has shown some real promise in treating symptoms of neurological conditions, ranging from Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis to epilepsy. Scientists have found that THC and CBD not only reduce inflammation in the brain but also lower excitotoxicity, which is cellular damage in the brain when its receptors become over-activated. This is why more and more NFL players are turning to cannabis to recover from brain trauma.

Recovery Time

When it comes to methods to decrease the time between training sessions, I have had my athletes use just about everything available. The faster you recover, the more training sessions you can fit into a specific cycle, only to perform that much better on competition day. This is another area in which cannabis shines. I have found that my athletes (from a wide variety of different sports) recover much faster when using some form of cannabis compared with those that do not. I believe this is due to the multiple factors outlined above.

While many supplements and even performance-enhancing drugs have their direct purpose, cannabis seems to benefit athletes in many different areas. Some athletes don’t recover from sessions as quickly as others. This can be due to factors like genetics, recovery methods, sleep quality, nutritional deficiencies and outside stressors. I have personally found that these athletes in particular gain a huge benefit from dosing with cannabis daily. In fact, many athletes that would need 72 hours between training certain movements or body parts can reduce that period to 48 hours by using cannabis. That is a massive improvement. Reducing recovery time by a third really demonstrates the power of the plant.

As you can see, cannabis offers the competitive athlete some huge advantages in the area of performance recovery. It can help target not one but several different areas an athlete may need help in to truly maximize their rate of recovery. This is why I incorporate properly guided protocols for cannabis use with my athletes looking for that competitive edge (all my athletes that consume cannabis are legal medical-marijuana patients with a doctor’s prescription and receive their medication from a licensed producer).

Not only does cannabis offer a proven, multifaceted approach to recovery, it is also completely nontoxic. If you are an athlete that has considered adding cannabis as an ergogenic aid to your recovery program, now is the time to experience it for yourself and take your performance to the next level.

This article originally appeared in the March, 2019 issue. For subscription services, click here.

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Paraguay To Begin Marijuana Production For Research And Medical Purposes

Paraguay will begin accepting applications for the domestic production of cannabis for medical and research purposes next month, according to an announcement made last week by the country’s health minister. Julio Mazzolini, the minister of public health and social welfare, said in a press conference in Asunción on Thursday that a resolution to establish the rules to apply for the country’s first commercial cannabis production licenses had been approved by the ministry.

Licenses for five vertically integrated cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operations will be available. The National Health Surveillance (Dirección Nacional de Vigilancia Sanitaria/DNVS) will accept applications for the five licenses from October 1 through 31. Applicants will be required to include a certificate of good manufacturing practices; a plan for cannabis cultivation, transportation, and security; and a separate plan for exports, if applicable. The applicants that are awarded the licenses will be required to put them into use within 24 months.

Arnaldo Giuzzio, the chief of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency (Secretaría Nacional Antidrogas/SENAD), told the press that licenses would only be available to operations located in the Central Department, the smallest but most populated of Paraguay’s 17 departments.

Medical Cannabis Legalized in 2017

Paraguay legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2017 and a decree to regulate the national program was approved the following year. Qualifying participants under the national program are guaranteed free access to hemp oil and other cannabis derivatives.

Under the decree, licensed manufacturers will be required to donate 2% of their production to the Ministry of Health, a provision reiterated by Mazzolini at Thursday’s press conference. The ministry will distribute the products to domestic patients with a proven scientific need free of charge.

Only patients with a condition for which there is scientific evidence that cannabis may be a beneficial treatment will be eligible for the national program. The nature and amount of required evidence are not clear. So far, the use of medical cannabis has been approved for the treatment of refractory seizures, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other qualifying pain conditions.

Outside of the national program, a few patients who have demonstrated an exceptional need have received authorization to import cannabis products for medical purposes. One such patient is an adolescent with a rare form of severe epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Also last Thursday, Paraguay’s Senate approved a bill that would permit the possession and home cultivation of medical cannabis for qualified patients and caregivers under certain conditions. The bill must also be approved by the country’s Chamber of Deputies before becoming law.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wants To Ban Flavored E-Cigs By Emergency Order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has jumped in with other politicians to demand a quickly-enacted ban on flavored tobacco vaping products. His Sunday announcement came in the midst of a little-understood string of vaping-related deaths by severe lung disease, despite the fact that some of the dead were known to have smoked cannabis products.

It would appear that the health crisis is dovetailing with concerns about the growing number of teen vapers to cause politicians to take a stand. Cuomo’s words follow those of the First Couple. After Melania Trump tweeted her concern over the “growing epidemic” of teen vaping last Monday, the president followed up on Wednesday with a press conference with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Flavored vapes would be subject to much more stringent regulatory requirements.

“We can’t have our kids be so affected,” Trump said. “That’s how the First Lady got involved. She’s got a son […] a beautiful young man, and she feels very, very strongly.” Barron Trump, who is also the president’s son, is 13 years old.

Cuomo’s concern was hardly limited to young people. “Vaping is dangerous,” he announced. “Period. No one can say long-term use of vaping — where you’re inhaling steam and chemicals deep into your lungs — is healthy.”

The governor’s solution? That an emergency regulation banning flavored e-cigarettes immediately be issued by New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council.

New York state would not be the first US jurisdiction to take such a step. San Francisco became the first city in the country to ban the sale of all e-cigarettes back in June. The city is home to leading vape company Juul’s world corporate headquarters, and the company has launched a ballot measure campaign to defeat the ban that could end up being the most expensive ballot measure drive the city has ever seen. This month, the state of Michigan also prohibited flavored e-cigs.

Such legislation may have more momentum in the midst of the vaping health crisis, which many have pegged to the use of thickening agents like Vitamin E acetate by largely unlicensed vape dealers. But it is unlikely to halt the six-death string of fatalities given that many of the deceased were known to have been vaping cannabis products.

But politicians are correct in their assertions that young people are turning more and more to vaping products. Studies show that many teens prefer to consume drugs by vaping. Vape products have the additional bonus of being easy to smoke in a covert manner, without leaving its consumers stinking like tobacco—good for kids looking to consume their marijuana or tobacco on the sly.

Cuomo did offer one caveat to his proposed ban—menthol flavor products would not be affected by the prohibition. He said that’s because menthol products help people to stop smoking regular cigarettes. Ironically, that’s what certain vape product advocates say about the class of inhalants regardless of selected flavor.

That logic didn’t fly with Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association. “While today’s announcement was well-intentioned, it will drive our youth to use menthol-flavored products in even greater numbers,” he told the New York Times.

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A2LA Accredits First Labs in Tennessee and Oklahoma

According to a press release published earlier this week, A2LA announced the accreditation of two separate cannabis laboratories in two separate states; both are the first cannabis testing labs accredited in their states. Demeter Laboratory, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Galbraith Laboratories, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, achieved the ISO 17025:2017 accreditation.

According to Cassy VanTassel, M.S., quality manager at Demeter Laboratory, Oklahoma is still developing and defining their regulatory framework for cannabis testing requirements. “Even though the State of Oklahoma is still establishing regulations and legislation, Demeter will always strive to meet the highest quality standards, so our customers know they are getting the best quality testing,” says VanTassel. “Demeter chose A2LA as its Accreditation Body due to their reputation in the industry, their diverse clientele, and the quality of their assessors.”

In Tennessee, Galbraith Labs is looking to aid the hemp industry in product safety testing. Christy Myers, customer service manager at Galbraith Laboratories, says they want to help farmers produce safe hemp products. “We are proud of our commitment to stay current within our industry and achieve the high standards set by A2LA,” says Myers. “Adding cannabis testing to our line of services was a great opportunity for Galbraith Laboratories to serve the community by helping farmers produce safe and legal hemp.”

Galbraith Labs was founded in 1950 as a contract lab in Knoxville serving many industries. With their newly established accreditation, they hope to aid the cannabis industry in Tennessee with hemp testing. Demeter Laboratory is the first medical cannabis lab in Oklahoma. Their goals include “advancing quality controls in medical cannabis, supporting safe consumption of cannabis and ensuring the transparency of the cannabis community.”

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California Pledges $20 Million to Public Awareness Campaign Against Vaping

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will spend $20 million on a public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping nicotine and cannabis products and step up efforts to halt the sale of illicit products amid a rise in vaping-related illnesses.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the actions Monday as part of an executive order.

Many of the hundreds of nationwide vaping illnesses appear linked to use of cannabis-based oils, though some people reported vaping nicotine products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California has seen at least 63 cases and one of the six deaths reported around the country.

At the same time, flavored e-cigarettes made by companies such as Juul Labs are contributing to a rise in youth smoking. The public awareness campaign Newsom announced aims to tackle all forms of vaping, he said.

“As a father of four, this has been an issue that has been brought to the forefront of my consciousness,” he said.

While President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have announced plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, Newsom said he doesn’t have similar executive authority. But he said he wants lawmakers to send him legislation to do so next year.

A similar effort failed this year, but the lawmakers behind it said they’ll try again.

“We fully support the Governor’s belief that these products should be banned, and we look forward to working with him to pass legislation that will bring an end to this public health crisis and protect the youth in our state,” Sen. Jerry Hill and Assemblymen Jim Wood and Kevin McCarty, all Democrats, said in a statement.

Hours after the governor’s announcement, health officials in central California said a resident of Tulare County died of “severe pulmonary injury” connected to the use of e-cigarettes. The person’s name and age weren’t released.

Most of Newsom’s actions center on the use of e-cigarettes, though he said the state is stepping up its enforcement of illicit cannabis products as well.

A spokesman for Juul Labs, one of the most prominent e-cigarette companies, said the company is reviewing Newsom’s announcement and applauds action to crack down on counterfeit and knockoff vaping products.

“On reported illnesses, we have been monitoring the situation closely,” spokesman Ted Kwong said in an emailed statement. Juul products do not contain THC or any compound derived from cannabis, he said.

Beyond the public awareness campaign, Newsom has directed the state departments of public health and tax and fee administration to explore ways to warn people about the potential dangers of vaping and tackle the sale of illicit products.

He’s asked the public health department to explore new warning signs at retailers and in advertisements.

On the tax side, he’s asking officials to consider changing how e-cigarettes are taxed, because they typically face lower taxes than traditional cigarettes. Making the products more expensive to buy could make them harder for teenagers to purchase, he argued. Juul did not specifically comment on that aspect of Newsom’s proposal or his call for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration may also try to implement a tracking system on the distribution of nicotine-based vaping products, similar to the “track and trace” program it already uses for legal cannabis.

Such a program would allow it to track the amount of vaping product distributors are giving retailers. The department would then track that against the tax it is collecting from retailers. That would help the state see if retailers are making money from illicit or untaxed products, said Nick Maduros, the department’s director.

Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association says the legal marijuana industry already follows rigorous standards and it supports efforts to place those same standards on nicotine-based products.

The post California Pledges $20 Million to Public Awareness Campaign Against Vaping appeared first on High Times.

Weedmaps Details Plans to Remove Unlicensed Cannabis Businesses from Its Platform

Online cannabis platform Weedmaps announced last Wednesday new details of its plan to remove listings and advertising for unlicensed websites from its services. Weedmaps announced last month that it would work to remove listings for unlicensed cannabis businesses in California, responding to criticism that including them was contributing to the state’s illicit market marijuana sales. The company also announced that it would take steps to support regulated businesses owned by minority entrepreneurs.

“Just three weeks ago, we announced a first-of-its-kind program to help social equity participants gain a rightful foothold in the cannabis industry. We also announced our plan to use the power of our platform to help support licensed cannabis businesses,” said Chris Beals, the CEO of Weedmaps, in a press release on Wednesday. “While these policy changes will only have a symbolic impact on the size of California’s unlicensed market without more licensing opportunities and other large listing platforms following suit, we want to continue to lead by example.”

Weedmaps said it plans to make several enhancements to its website to support licensed businesses, including a new user interface to highlight license information to make it more visible. The company also plans to develop online resources to help consumers learn where California licensing information can be found and will create an educational program and software to help licensed operators comply with driver and delivery tracking regulations.

“As these efforts progress, the company will explore ways to work with regulatory agencies in California to provide enhanced functionality and to encourage consumers to verify that they are buying fully tested products from licensed retailers,” Weedmaps wrote in the release.

Trade Group Calls for Fines Against Weedmaps

But the efforts being taken by Weedmaps to remove unlicensed operators from its platform isn’t sitting well with some licensed businesses, who believe that action should be taken more quickly. After Wednesday’s announcement, the United Cannabis Business Association, a trade group representing mostly Southern California retailers, sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Bureau of Cannabis Control chief Lori Ajax asking that Weedmaps be fined up to $85 million for violations of state regulations related to the listings for unlicensed companies.

“We request the state immediately and retroactively impose the maximum fines permissible by law on Weedmaps’ illegal operations,” wrote the UCBA.

The trade group also noted that unlicensed cannabis operators have been implicated in the ongoing rash of vaping-related lung illnesses that so far have affected nearly 500 cannabis and nicotine users and taken at least six lives.

“Just last week, after a series of deaths, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally warned consumers to avoid vapes containing THC,” the UCBA wrote in its letter to Newsom. “While still under investigation, all 57 cases so far in California have involved purchases from unlicensed “pop-up” shops. This outbreak serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers that the unlicensed industry poses to consumers.”

An audit conducted by the UCBA released this week determined that 2,835 unlicensed cannabis dispensaries and delivery services were operating in California, compared to the 837 licensed retailers serving California’s market.

Ironically, an audit of the UCBA website on Thursday afternoon revealed that only four of the 39 member retailers were displaying license numbers with an ‘active’ status according to the BCC’s license search tool. Dozens of the listed license numbers had a status of ‘canceled,’ while several others produced no results from the BCC website. 

A spokesperson for the UCBA assured High Times that all of the group’s members are properly licensed by the state, but was unable to explain why the trade group was listing invalid license numbers for its members on its own website. After the discrepancy was brought to the trade group’s attention, the license numbers on the UCBA site were updated later on Thursday to reflect currently valid numbers.

Weedmaps CEO Responds to Criticism

In an email to High Times, Beals said that removing unlicensed operators is “not as simple as flipping a switch” and that many licensed businesses had not yet submitted licensing information to Weedmaps. In the statement he seems to blame governing bodies and the recreational market for his company’s recent involvement with less-than-legal companies.

“But more importantly, the fact remains that California has not made enough licenses available for a legal cannabis market to thrive and self-regulate and a disproportionate number of those without licensing are people of color and those without unlimited capital,” Beals said. “Roughly 75% of California municipalities have declined to make cannabis licenses available, so when you consider the impact this has on consumers that depend on cannabis for their medicinal needs, the issue becomes even more magnified.”

Beals also said that efforts to stem California’s cannabis illicit market by sanctioning digital platforms are misplaced. 

“We know from other jurisdictions that trying to censor the internet will have no impact on the size of the unlicensed market,” he said. “This information is widely available on any search engine. The only proven solution to unlicensed dispensaries, particularly in California, is to make sufficient licenses available to meet consumer demand and allow unlicensed operators to have a chance to comply and compete.”

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Fungal Monitoring: An Upstream Approach to Testing Requirements

Mold is ubiquitous in nature and can be found everywhere.1 Cannabis growers know this all too well – the cannabis plant, by nature, is an extremely mold-susceptible crop, and growers battle it constantly.

Of course, managing mold doesn’t mean eradicating mold entirely – that’s impossible. Instead, cultivation professionals must work to minimize the amount of mold to the point where plants can thrive, and finished products are safe for consumption.

Let’s begin with that end in mind – a healthy plant, grown, cured and packaged for sale. In a growing number of states, there’s a hurdle to clear before the product can be sold to consumers – state-mandated testing.

So how do you ensure that the product clears the testing process within guidelines for mold? And what tools can be employed in biological warfare?

Mold: At Home in Cannabis Plants

It helps to first understand how the cannabis plant becomes an optimal environment.

The cannabis flower was designed to capture pollen floating in the air or brought by a pollinating insect.

Photo credit: Steep Hill- a petri dish of mold growth from tested cannabis

Once a mold spore has landed in a flower, the spore will begin to grow. The flower will continue to grow as well, and eventually, encapsulate the mold. Once the mold is growing in the middle of the flower, there is no way to get rid of it without damaging the flower.

A Name with Many Varieties

The types of spores found in or around a plant can make or break whether mold will end with bad product.

Aspergillus for example, is a mold that can produce mycotoxins, which are toxic to humans2. For this reason, California has mandatory testing3for certain aspergillus molds.

Another example, Basidiospores, are found outside, in the air. These are spores released from mushrooms and have no adverse effects on cannabis or a cannabis cultivation facility.

Fungi like powdery mildew and botrytis (PM and Bud Rot) typically release spores in the air before they are physically noticed on plants. Mold spores like these can survive from one harvest to the next – they can be suspended in the air for hours and be viable for years.

How Mold Travels

Different types of spores – the reproductive parts of mold – get released from different types of mold. Similar to plants and animals, mold reproduces when resources are deemed sufficient.

The opposite is also true that if the mold is under enough stress, such as a depleting nutrient source, it can be forced into reproduction to save itself.4

In the end, mold spores are released naturally into the air for many reasons, including physical manipulation of a plant, which, of course, is an unavoidable task in a cultivation facility.5

Trimming Areas: A Grow’s Highest Risk for Mold

Because of the almost-constant physical manipulation of plants that happen inside its walls, a grow’s trimming areas typically have the highest spore counts. Even the cleanest of plants will release spores during trimming.

Best practices include quality control protocols while trimming

These rooms also have the highest risk for cross contamination, since frequently, growers dry flower in the same room as they trim. Plus, because trimming can be labor intensive, with a large number of people entering and leaving the space regularly, spores are brought in and pushed out and into another space.

The Battle Against Mold

The prevalence and ubiquitous nature of mold in a cannabis facility means that the fight against it must be smart, and it must be thorough.

By incorporating an upstream approach to facility biosecurity, cultivators can protect themselves against testing failures and profit losses.

Biosecurity must be all encompassing, including everything from standard operating procedures and proper environmental controls, to fresh air exchange and surface sanitation/disinfection.

One of the most effective tactics in an upstream biosecurity effort is fungal monitoring.

Ways to Monitor Mold

Determining the load or amount of mold that is in a facility is and always will be common practice. This occurs in a few ways.

Post-harvest testing is in place to ensure the safety of consumers, but during the growing process, is typically done using “scouting reports.” A scouting report is a human report: when personnel physically inspect all or a portion of the crop. A human report, unfortunately, can lead to human error, and this often doesn’t give a robust view of the facility mold picture.

Another tool is agar plates. These petri dishes can be opened and set in areas suspected to have mold. Air moves past the plate and the mold spores that are viable land on the dishes. However, this process is time intensive, and still doesn’t give a complete picture.

Alternatively, growers can use spore traps to monitor for mold.

Spore traps draw a known volume of air through a cassette.The inside of the cassette is designed to force the air toward a sticky surface, which is capable of capturing spores and other materials. The cassette is sent to a laboratory for analysis, where they will physically count and identify what was captured using a microscope.

Spore trap results can show the entire picture of a facility’s mold concerns. This tool is also fast, able to be read on your own or sent to a third party for quick and unbiased review. The information yielded is a useful indicator for mold load and which types are prevalent in the facility.

Spore Trap Results: A Story Told

What’s going on inside of a facility has a direct correlation to what’s happening outside, since facility air comes infromthe outside. Thus, spore traps are most effective when you compare a trap inside with one set outside.

When comparing the two, you can see what the plants are doing, view propagating mold, and understand which of the spore types are only found inside.

Similar to its use in homes and businesses for human health purposes, monitoring can indicate the location of mold growth in a particular area within a facility.

These counts can be used to determine the efficacy of cleaning and disinfecting a space, or to find water leaks or areas that are consistently wet (mold will grow quickly and produce spores in these areas).

Using Spore Traps to See Seasonality Changes, Learn CCPs

Utilizing spore traps for regular, facility-wide mold monitoring is advantageous for many reasons.

One example: Traps can help determine critical control points (CCP) for mold.

What does this look like? If the spore count is two times higher than usual, mitigating action needs to take place. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies like cleaning and disinfecting the space, or spraying a fungicide, are needed to bring the spore count down to its baseline.

For example, most facilities will see a spike in spore counts during the times of initial flower production/formation (weeks two to three of the flower cycle).

Seasonal trends can be determined, as well, since summer heat and rain will increase the mold load while winter cold may minimize it.

Using Fungal Monitoring in an IPM Strategy

Fungal monitoring – especially using a spore trap – is a critical upstream step in a successful IPM strategy. But it’s not the only step. In fact, there are five:

  • Identify/Monitor… Using a spore trap.
  • Evaluate…Spore trap results will indicate if an action is needed. Elevated spore counts will be the action threshold, but it can also depend on the type of spores found.
  • Prevention…Avoiding mold on plants using quality disinfection protocols as often as possible.
  • Action…What will be done to remedy the presence of mold? Examples include adding disinfection protocols, applying a fungicide, increasing air exchanges, and adding a HEPA filter.
  • Monitor…Constant monitoring is key. More eyes monitoring is better, and will help find Critical Control Points.

Each step must be followed to succeed in the battle against mold.

Of course, in the battle, there may be losses. If you experience a failed mandatory product testing result, use the data from the failure to fix your facility and improve for the future.

The data can be used to determine efficacy of standard operating procedures, action thresholds, and other appropriate actions. Plus, you can add a spore trap analysis for pre- and post- disinfection protocols, showing whether the space was really cleaned and disinfected after application. This will also tell you whether your products are working.

Leveraging all of the tools available will ensure a safe, clean cannabis product for consumers.


References

  1. ASTM D8219-2019: Standard Guide for Cleaning and Disinfection at a Cannabis Cultivation Center (B. Lorenz): http://www.astm.org/cgi-bin/resolver.cgi?D8219-19
  2. Mycotoxin, Aspergillus: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mycotoxins
  3. State of California Cannabis Regulations: https://cannabis.ca.gov/cannabis-regulations/
  4. Asexual Sporulation in Aspergillus nidulans (Thomas H. Adams,* Jenny K. Wieser, and Jae-Hyuk Yu):  https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7eb1/05e73d77ef251f44a2ae91d0595e85c3445e.pdf?_ga=2.38699363.1960083875.1568395121-721294556.1562683339
  5. ASTM standard “Assessment of fungal growth in buildings” Miller, J. D., et al., “Air Sampling Results in Relation to Extent of Fungal Colonization of Building Materials in Some Water Damaged Buildings,” Indoor Air, Vol 10, 2000, pp. 146–151.
  6. Zefon Air O Cell Cassettes: https://www.zefon.com/iaq-sampling-cassettes

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