And, we’re back! A lot to catch up on. While we were enjoying vacation, last week’s news was dominated by Nevada, and more specifically, Las Vegas, where an opening day glut caused worrisome shortages. Another big story just in, NH decriminalizes. And in science news, a new study claims that just because you smoke dope, it doesn’t necessarily make you a dope. Finally, Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s reefer madness rant goes viral, and Alaska dispensaries’ Facebook pages nixed. Here we go…
1. Nevada sells $3 million in weed on first day of RMJ, nearly runs dry
Although the $3.2 million in sales on the first day made national news, the fact that the state nearly ran out of inventory was the top story.
Buyers stood in line for up to three hours on opening day, with many dispensaries saying the demand was even greater than they had anticipated. The well nearly ran dry.
Nevada’s new 47 RMJ shops had their hopes set on a July 13th midday hearing before the State Tax Commission while they considered emergency measures to get wholesalers —either from the liquor industry or others — moving on cannabis deliveries before RMJ shelves run bare.
The Taxation department responded to the brewing shortage in the Silver State, issuing its first wholesaler license, awarded to Blackbird Logistics Corporation, which began shipping almost immediately. Blackbird CEO and co-founder Tim Conder said he obtained a liquor license to begin transporting legal weed after his two-year experience helping establish the state’s MMJ store network.
Blackbird has operated primarily as a logistics and delivery company for medical marijuana, which has been legally sold in Nevada since 2014. Medical marijuana does not carry restrictions on its supply chain under state law, and anyone can transport it. Recreational marijuana, however, can be shipped only by liquor distributors. Blackbird has ten employees in Reno and Las Vegas offices.
The Nevada governor’s office said it initially thought the retailers claimed they had a 60-day supply, but after the wall-to-wall July 4th weekend of sales, many stores reported their supplies were dwindling, even as they continue to service the medical market, not affected by the exclusive wholesaler issue.
$3.2 million in sales is a solid start for Nevada growers. Oregon dispensaries made $3.2 million on the state’s first day of sales and more than $11 million in their first week, while Colorado dispensaries made more than $5 million in their first week, reports USA Today.
Legal recreational marijuana sales in Nevada generated roughly $500,000 in tax revenue in their first four days, according to the Nevada Dispensary Association. That puts the state on track to pull in sales of $30 million over the next six months.
2. NH decrims
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill July 18th to decriminalize cannabis possession. The new law removes criminal penalties for having up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis or up to five grams of hash. With the law’s passage, all of New England has now decriminalized cannabis, but the NH laws don’t take effect for 60 days.
The new law makes possessing the cannabis a violation-level offense with a fine of up to $300 for adults. Minors found with either would be subject to a delinquency petition. Someone can be charged with a misdemeanor, however, if they are caught with marijuana for a fourth time within a three-year period.
It also says police cannot arrest someone for a cannabis violation. Any money collected from fines under the law will go into a fund aimed at alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment.
3. Dope users not so dopey after all
A new study led by Harvard Medical School Affiliate McLean Hospital’s Staci Gruber, PhD, suggests that marijuana may actually improve, rather than impair, executive functioning in adults. “After three months of medical marijuana treatment, patients actually performed better, in terms of their ability to perform certain cognitive tasks, specifically those mediated by the frontal cortex,” explained Gruber in a press statement.
Past studies have shown that ailments such as anxiety and chronic pain often interfere with both attention and executive function. MMJ’s ability to relieve these and other ailments may account for the improved cognitive function.
“Interestingly, two previous studies have noted a positive association between a history of MJ use and improved cognitive performance on measures of psychomotor speed, attention, working memory, executive functioning, and verbal learning in patients with bipolar disorder compared to patients without a history of marijuana use.” “Symptom improvement may therefore result in improved cognitive performance,” wrote the authors.
Since MMJ users in the study did not experience the deficits commonly observed in recreational MJ users, the authors believe that “it is in the public’s best interest to develop a robust, evidence-based understanding of both the positive and negative effects of MMJ use on various aspects of functioning: cognition, quality of life, physical and emotional health.”
4. Alaska dispensaries vexed by Facebook snitch
Facebook pages of at least six marijuana retail stores in Alaska were either taken down or deleted entirely. The fact that all the sites came down around the same time suggest that an anti-pot activist, or a group of activists, searched for and then reported marijuana retailers’ pages.
At Arctic Herbery, owner Bryant Thorp said his shop’s page was shut down Friday or Saturday. Another Anchorage shop, Enlighten Alaska, had its page removed from the site about a week ago, said co-owner Jane Stinson. Also involved in the tussle were Frozen Budz and Pakalolo Supply Co., both in Fairbanks, and Dankorage and Alaska Fireweed in Anchorage.
At Pakalolo in Fairbanks, co-owner Keenan Hollister said he got a notice on the Fourth of July that his company’s page was taken down. “We face challenges every day running a legal cannabis business, but this is a disappointing one,” he said. “It feels like an attack on commerce in our state.”
Facebook’s community standards dictate what is and isn’t allowed on the platform, says spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja. “Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates standards,” she said. “Our team reviews reports to determine whether there was a violation.” On a page explaining those community standards, under a section called “regulated goods,” Facebook says it prohibits “any attempts by private individuals to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition.”
Oddly, although it may be just a coincidence, the Facebook pages went dark around the same time Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was visiting Alaska for the Fourth of July weekend.
5. Jesse Ventura decries federal meddling
The industry is buzzing about an op-ed written for CNBC, by former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura. In the piece, Ventura makes a compelling argument on why the federal government needs to leave the legal cannabis industry alone.
Ventura wrote in part, “When it comes to economics, let me put the state of marijuana to you in this way: If Trump reverses state law, he’ll be crippling, if not bankrupting the states that have legalized marijuana. Not only will this action go against the will of the people who voted for legalized marijuana, this action will cause yet another economic collapse. And no, that isn’t an exaggeration. To be successful, American cannabis business owners have to stay up-to-date on new laws and regulations — that means many are spending their time fighting against unjust laws and regulations, all while running a company with their own capital. This entire industry is unable to get a bank loan or set up a bank account due to federal law. When you can’t rely on a bank to even store your money, you’re wearing more hats than any other small business owner or entrepreneur.”
Ventura continued, “These are hopeful, optimistic business owners who have watched cannabis laws slowly change in their favor, and they’re doing all that they can to work with lawmakers and educate citizens to continue that trend. The cannabis industry is about innovation as much as it is about fighting against oppression. That’s the American way. And it’s all of our jobs as American citizens to remind the federal government what that means: When we the people vote to legalize something, we legalize it. The president doesn’t have the power to overturn our votes. Our faltering economy needs the American cannabis industry to continue to grow and succeed.”
Trending Cannabiz News
Building a better breathalyzer
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have gotten closer to the goal of building a reliable cannabis breathalyzer. Although several companies are working to develop marijuana breathalyzers, testing a person’s breath for THC is far more difficult than testing for alcohol. The new technology exploits a fundamental physical property of THC, specifically, the vapor pressure. Due to THC’s complex chemical structure, it’s vapor pressure is very difficult to measure. More research will still be needed to understand how levels of THC correlate in breath correlate with blood levels, and what blood levels of THC cause impairment, the latter of which may turn out to be the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
North Dakota taking letters of intent
North Dakota Health officials have set a tentative timeline for establishing a medical marijuana industry. Parties interested in manufacturing or distributing medical cannabis in ND are being encouraged to send letters of intent to the agency by July 28. “We want to know how many are really serious about getting into this, either from a grower standpoint or a distribution standpoint,” said Kenan Bullinger, director of the department’s medical marijuana division. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act was approved by voters last November. It allows the use of medical cannabis for 17 medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The agency’s goal is to make MMJ available to patients by next spring.
Michigan giving it another go
A new petition to legalize marijuana in Michigan is making headway. Spokesman, Josh Hovey, says the group has gathered 100,000 signatures in just six weeks, putting it on schedule to make it onto next November’s ballot. The milestone was passed at a posh $250-a-plate fund-raiser last Thursday night. The petition needs to have 252,523 valid signatures within 180-days in order for the initiative to succeed. Legalization supporters gathered well over the required number of signatures last year, but not within that time frame.
CBD turns to THC in the stomach? Study says, “not.”
Two recent studies have caused confusion as to whether oral CBD is converted to THC within the digestive system, and whether people being tested for THC run the risk of testing positive. Under acidic conditions, CBD can indeed be converted to THC and other cannabinoids. It has been argued that this conversion of CBD to THC may also occur after oral administration. However, the experimental conversion of CBD to THC happens under significantly different physiological conditions than in the stomach. A more recent double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial observed no conversion of oral CBD to THC, even with high doses.
Swiss selling CBD smokes
Shoppers in Switzerland will soon be able to purchase CBD-infused cigs. The major Swiss supermarket chain Coop is billing the product as “the world’s first hemp cigarette.” Asccording to Heimat, the manufacturer of the CBD cigs, the smokes are so low in THC that they’re legal under Swiss law. While many EU countries cap allowable THC at 0.2%, Swiss law has a higher limit of 1%. Read all about it at Leafly.com.
Oregon hemp bills die mysterious death
Bills that aimed to bring industrial hemp into the mainstream of Oregon agriculture have died despite lacking strong opposition or a hefty price tag. Under House Bill 2371, would have brought the crop under an official OSU research pilot program. And a new industrial hemp commission devoted to raising funds for research and promotion would have been created under House Bill 2372, similarly to several other Oregon agricultural products. Both proposals unanimously passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in April but then languished in the Joint Ways and Means Committee until the end of the 2017 legislative session, then fell off the face of the earth. “It’s the biggest mystery I’ve ever bumped into in this building,” said Rep. Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, the bills’ chief sponsor. One Cannabiz News reader suggests, “to solve the mystery, follow the money…” Read more here.
Closing dispensaries increases crime
A new study out of USC Marshall School of Business shows that closing medical marijuana dispensaries actually increases crime in the area where they operated. The Journal of Urban Economics study is entitled, “Going to Pot? The Impact of Dispensary Closures on Crime.” The study found a connection between closing dispensaries and an increase in crime around the former location. When the two professors examined the impact of temporary restaurant closures in Los Angeles County, they found an increase in crime similar to what they found with medical dispensaries: an increase in car thefts, property crime, and thefts. Once again, Leafly has the story.
AG Jeff Sessions in another SMH moment
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is shaping up to be a shoe-in for this year’s Dope of The Year award. (If there isn’t one, there should be.) Last Tuesday Sessions stood before a crowd at DARE America’s 30th International Training Conference in Grapevine, TX, and told the organization how grateful he was for its support of the war on drugs, stating, “No doubt about it. It helped turn the tide.” However, contrary to Sessions’ recollections, in 2003, the US Government Accountability Office found “no significant differences in illicit drug use” as the result of the program. Numerous other studies supported that finding, reporting “no significant differences” between DARE students and others.
So-called “synthetic marijuana” overdoses plague PA
One hundred and two people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, overdosed on synthetic marijuana in three days, according to C. Robert May, director of Lancaster Emergency Medical Services. None of the overdoses were fatal. “Heroin is normally the issue but in the last week there’s been an overdose of synthetic marijuana,” also known as K2, May told CNN. “The assumption is that heroin is not readily available, so people are turning to K2.” The treatment of the overdose patients took place between the morning of July 7 through the morning of July 10. More overdoses followed — by the following Friday, July 14, a total of 158 overdose patients were involved in emergency response calls. According to May, some calls involve two to four patients at once, with a few patients repeating in a span of a few hours.
Uruguay first in pharmacy pot
Pharmacies in Uruguay have begun selling cannabis directly to consumers, culminating a long and pioneering legalization effort that began over three years ago. The nearly 5,000 users who have registered with the government in the small South American country will be able to buy five-gram (0.18oz) sealed packets for $6.50 each. Uruguay became the first country in the world to pass a law legalizing the recreational use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in 2013. But implementation has been slow, and since then several other countries have moved towards a more flexible approach.
Walmart goes 420-friendly
Walmart’s addition of the Rosineer RNR-PV1 rosin press on their website has become viral news. The device is used to produce cannabis concentrates using heat and pressure to squeeze out and collect the oils, leaving behind a potent and pure concentrate. Green Rush Daily reported that Walmart’s e-commerce site is selling the unit for $449.00.
Thanks to Lloyd Covens of West420 NewsWeekly for his contributions to this report. The NCIA/CCIA’s fall convention in Anaheim will feature California’s cannabis czar Lori Ajax as keynote speaker, Thur., Sept. 21. On the following day, West420 NewsWeekly hosts its 4th conference, CBOutLook at the Anaheim Hilton hotel. Details at www.CBOutLook.com. Hope to see you there.