Legal marijuana supporters have enough signatures to put the proposal to a vote
Voters in Maine will decide in November whether the state should legalize marijuana.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Wednesday that supporters of a referendum to legalize pot in the state had obtained enough signatures to pass it on to lawmakers, who will either enact the proposal or bring it before voters in November, according to the Associated Press
May 3 - 5th at Caesar's Palace Las Vegas Nevada
News out of Anchorage and Denver this week was good for marijuana smokers, as both the city of Denver and the state of Alaska moved closer to the legalization of marijuana social clubs. Smokers could thus socialize in a venue with other adults where marijuana smoking would be legal.
Until now, in the states that have legalized recreational use (and in the District of Columbia), marijuana smokers are only permitted to exercise their newly won freedom in their home or as a guest in someone else’s home. Holland-style coffee shops or marijuana lounges were not legalized by those early voter initiatives.
That is about to change.
Denver NORML and The Committee for the Responsible Use Initiative in Denver have announced the final language for their municipal initiative. They expect to be cleared this week by the city to begin circulating petitions seeking the signature of registered voters, putting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
The proposal would license and regulate private marijuana social clubs and special events where adult marijuana smoking would be legal. The state legislature had earlier indicated some interest in amending state law to permit marijuana social clubs, but when that stalled, Denver NORML began to move forward with their municipal voter initiative. Clubs could not sell or distribute marijuana, and bars, nightclubs and restaurants could not become private marijuana clubs or host special events.
The most current polling suggests the proposal is favored by a clear majority (56%) of voters in Denver.
Denver NORML executive director Jordon Person offered this appraisal of the proposed initiative. “Passage of this ordinance would be a historic first step in moving towards the ultimate goal of normalizing the consumption of marijuana in our country. The initiative would provide responsible adults a legally defined space where marijuana could be consumed and shared with other like-minded adults — a simple, yet necessary accommodation for states that have passed some form of legalization. This is a pragmatic approach that focuses on the basics and provides the city of Denver a solution to an issue that is not going away.”
Proponents have until August 15 to collect 5,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
In Alaska, the decision to license some version of marijuana lounges was made by the Alaska Marijuana Control Board last November, and this week the board issued draft regulations to define when and where “on-site consumption” would be permitted.
The proposed regulations are now open for public comment before the board finalizes them.
While the outline is still tentative, marijuana cafes would be permitted only in conjunction with an existing marijuana retail store, on the same premises, either indoor or outdoor, but with a separate entrance and separate serving area. A separate license would be required for on-site consumption.
Customers could purchase small amounts of marijuana ( 1 gram of marijuana, edibles with up to 10 milligrams of THC, or .25 grams of marijuana concentrates) to consume on-site and would not be permitted to bring their own marijuana to smoke on-site. Strangely, they would be required to leave any unfinished marijuana behind to be destroyed, and “happy hours” would not be permitted. Marijuana lounges would be permitted to sell food and non-alcohol beverages.
Marijuana Control Board chair Bruce Schulte explained the board was proceeding with a degree of caution, because this is new territory for state legalization regulatory agencies. One of the more difficult issues the board had to deal with, according to board member Brandon Emmett, was whether to permit dabbing.
Laboratories of Democracy
As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “a state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Denver and Alaska are exercising that important role as we move forward with better and better versions of legalization. What we learn from these initial experiments with marijuana social clubs will inform subsequent states in the coming years.
Several states stand a good chance of legalizing adult-use marijuana this November if advocates are successful in getting measures on the ballot, though one could run into substantial resistance, according to the latest polling data.
Support for recreational cannabis legalization is particularly strong in California, where many marijuana backers are confident they’ll be able to pull off a long-overdue win (another rec measure failed in 2010, just two years before Colorado and Washington State legalized).
Voters there support legalization by a solid 60%, according to a Probolsky Research poll released in February.
The odds also are encouraging at this point in Massachusetts and Michigan, where efforts are underway to get legalization initiatives onto the fall ballot. About 53% of voters in each state support rec legalization, according to a UMass Amherst study released in February and an EPIC-MRA poll performed in March.
But legalization advocates are fighting an uphill battle in Arizona, according to a poll released just this month that found only 43% of voters support legalization, while 49% are opposed and 8% are unsure. It should be noted, however, that a group against legalization was behind the poll.
In Nevada, another prominent possibility that could legalize cannabis this fall, there was no polling data available prior to press time. But the state’s Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Monday identified both a February study that showed 57% support for the rec initiative and a March poll that pegged support at 60%.
At the very least, the nation’s four rec states will likely have more company in their select club after the election results are tallied on Nov. 8, which means even more growth for the cannabis industry.
Speaking with Derek Peterson is Alan Hirsch who has an extensive 30-year career as an investment and merchant banker, specializing in public and private, small and middle market growth companies. He also worked in commercial and savings banking and is an innovative entrepreneur.
And Al Foreman - Al Foreman has over 17 years of experience in private equity, corporate finance, financial technology, and a broad portfolio of transaction experience that includes the origination, structuring, and execution of debt, equity, and M&A transactions globally, as both a principal and an agent. Mr. Foreman is currently a Partner and the Chief Investment Officer of Tuatara Capital. In this role Al is responsible for formulating Tuatara’s macro investment strategy, structuring and execution of new investments, operational due diligence, and he leads the Investment Committee.
Prior to co-founding Tuatara Capital in 2014, Al was a Managing Director with Highbridge Principal Strategies, LLC, a $30 Billion dollar alternative investment management business. Before joining Highbridge, Mr. Foreman spent over seven years as a senior banker in J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank. Prior to J.P. Morgan, Mr. Foreman spent 6 years in the technology space at Vitech Systems Group (Equitrak) and Virtual Growth Inc. Earlier in his career Al was in the Private Bank at Citigroup, where he began as a Management Associate.
Al earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Connecticut where he was a United Technologies Finance Scholar, and a two-time Scholar Athlete Award Winner. Al also holds a J.D. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he was recognized as a Brown & Brown legal scholar, and an MBA from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Mr. Foreman currently serves on the board of the University of Connecticut Foundation, and is a Member of the Nominating and Board Governance Committee and Athletic Steering Committee.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Industry Outlook: Opportunities and Challenges Investing in Cannabis Companies
Marc Ross, Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference LLP
Al Foreman, Tuatara Capital, L.P.
Derek Peterson, Terra Tech Corp
It’s official – Maine voters will see marijuana legalization on the ballot when they vote in the General Election in November. The marijuana legalization initiative made the ballot after a legal battle that seemed ridiculous from the start. Below is a press release from the campaign:
State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.
After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.
Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.
According to a new poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it.
Statement from David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:
“This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy. We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign. It has been a longer wait than expected, but nothing compared to how long the people of Maine have been waiting to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.
“It is time to replace the underground market with a regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses. It is time to redirect our state’s limited law enforcement resources toward addressing serious crimes instead of enforcing failed prohibition policies. And it is time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is significantly less harmful than alcohol.”
Medical cannabis access may reduce opioid addiction rates.
A new report shows that opioid abuse rates are notably lower in states and jurisdictions where patients can legally access medical cannabis, as reported by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Castlight Health, an employee health benefits platform provider, analyzed opioid prescription claims across ?broad demographic categories,? including age, income and geographical location, between 2011 and 2015.
According to the data analysis, 5.4 percent of patients with an opioid prescription in states that prohibit #$%$ were opioid abusers.
In states where #$%$ is permitted, just 2.8 percent of patients abused their opioid prescription.
These findings align with results of a November 2015 study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research that found a strong association between #$%$ access and reduced opioid abuse, as reported by NORML.
Per the National Bureau of Economic Research:
Many #$%$ patients report using marijuana to alleviate chronic pain from musculoskeletal problems and other sources. If marijuana is used as a substitute for powerful and addictive pain relievers in #$%$ states, a potential overlooked positive impact of #$%$ laws may be a reduction in harms associated with opioid pain relievers, a far more addictive and potentially deadly substance.
Our findings suggest that providing broader access to #$%$ may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers.
As officials from San Benito County and the City of Hollister consider revising local ordinances that ban medical marijuana operations, it is becoming clear that state and almost certainly new federal laws will bring about similar changes as evidenced by President Barack Obama's enthusiastic support for medical marijuana as reported by the national media.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will broadcast an episode of "Weed 3," which will include an interview with the president. The marijuana special airs Sunday on CNN and it will apparently feature Obama giving his “full support of medical marijuana” and will also speak about other options for drug abuse treatment that don’t involve incarceration. Gupta and Obama briefly discussed the recent bipartisan bill on the Senate floor introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, which proposes to reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2.
Gupta wanted to know directly if Obama supports Booker’s bill.
Obama responded, “You know, I think I’d have to take a look at the details, but I’m on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I’m also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be."
Obama cited the declining usage rates of tobacco in the United States as an instance of how effective public health models can be if taken seriously. All this can be accomplished without jail sentences.
Meanwhile, the state of California is moving forward with implementing the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which is made up of three bills–Assembly Bill 266, Assembly Bill 243, and Senate Bill 643, with each bill having a different function, while at the same time containing overlapping, identical language regarding certain aspects of medical marijuana control. These new laws were crafted, in part, through the efforts of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy
The commission was formed in light of the likelihood that a marijuana legalization initiative will be placed on the 2016 California ballot, and that serious and thoughtful analysis must be conducted in order to identify significant policy challenges and offer possible solutions. The commission is comprised of leading policymakers, public health experts and academics from across the state and the nation that have done significant work and research related to marijuana.
There are also California ballot box initiatives competing for support in November that will legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over, which will give voters the chance to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system. Under the proposed initiatives, marijuana would be regulated, taxed, and treated similarly to alcohol.
San Benito County, an agricultural-based economy with thousands of acres of ag-zoned land and a small hospitality/tourism industry, could benefit from paradigm shifts in laws and public policy that are bringing a multi-billion dollar medical marijuana industry out of the shadows into the light of day. New local ordinances may facilitate medical marijuana permits for medical marijuana businesses to operate under new laws and regulations that will safeguard public health and provide new revenue streams to local government with which to improve law enforcement, generate new jobs, increase economic development and stimulate investment in new hotels, restaurants and performing arts venues to complement future agri-tourism opportunities in the county.
According to local sources, the city of Hollister is working toward public policy deliberations to consider revising ordinances that ban medical marijuana operations while reviewing similar ordinances that govern and permit medical marijuana operations in neighboring counties. There is no firm schedule for completion of the process, but there is some speculation that local officials may take action by the end of summer.
Clearly TRTC plans to franchise the Blum name nationwide. TRTC director Mike Nahass has purchased a number of domain names such as BLUMCHICAGO, BLUMMANHATTAN, BLUMHOUSTON, BLUMSANDIEGO, BLUMNJ, BLUMNY, BLUMMIAMI as well as dozen more
Terra Tech Corp (OTCMKTS:TRTC) has emerged as one of the top traded stocks on the entire OTC exchange in recent weeks tearing up the charts to highs of $0.7455 as pot stocks heat up across the board. TRTC is easily one of the most exciting stocks on the OTC with a long history of spectacular moves skyrocketing to $1.25 during the last pot stock boom.
When pot stocks heat up TRTC is a great place to be; they are masters at selling the sizzle on the pot sector and getting themselves featured by mainstream media such as the April 23 article on Forbes. And its easy to see why pot stocks are on fire again; Four western US states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington as well as the nation’s capital Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use. An additional 19 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. 2015 was an epic year for the industry; Colorado earned $135 million in taxes and licensing fees on nearly $1 billion in pot sales and the state of Washington took in $70 million on statewide pot revenue totaling $257 million.
Terra Tech Corp (OTCMKTS:TRTC) is one of the original pot stocks on the OTC led by Derek Peterson “The Public Spokesperson for Medical and Legalized Marijuana.” TRTC is the only US-based, publicly-traded company that touches every aspect of the cannabis lifecycle—from cultivation, to extraction, to branding, and now, with the acquisition of Blum, to retail sale.
MCP has been covering TRTC for years; the Company was initially incorporated as Private Secretary, Inc. on July 22, 2008 in the State of Nevada. The Company planned to develop a software program that would allow for automatic call processing through VoIP technology. On January 27, 2012, the Company filed an amendment to its Articles of Incorporation changing its name to Terra Tech Corp and a new pot stock was born.
Derek Peterson is a former Vice President at Morgan Stanley. He left Wall Street because he saw a huge opportunity in medical marijuana. His vision is setting up growing facilities in various states to grow herbs such as basil and thyme with plans to switch to Marijuana production as state laws permit.
TRTC has a number of subsidiaries including Edible Gardens which was established in 2007 and proves fresh, locally grown herbs and leafy greens to supermarkets, restaurants and the food service industry. The growing process utilizes time-tested, classic Dutch hydroponic farming methods to grow produce in a safe and healthy environment.
IVXX Elevate is a TRTC subsidiary focused on building a recognizable, superior brand that delivers unsurpassed quality and consistency to consumers of recreational and medical cannabis throughout the legal U.S. markets. TRTC recently launched a new line of pre-filled, IVXX-branded medical cannabis cartridges. An initial order for approximately $170,000, or 10,000 units, has been received from one of Terra Tech’s distributors. This is the first of multiple cartridge lines, each containing varying percentages of cannabinoids, to be launched over the next four months.
The cannabis oil cartridges will offer a variety of cannabis strains of varying potencies in easy-to-use, convenient cartridges designed for use in vaporizers. Made from local, sustainably grown cannabis that has been cleanly extracted using a supercritical CO2 method, the oil is lab-formulated for consistency, and lab-tested for purity and potency. Terra Tech manufactures the pre-filled cartridges at its IVXX Extraction Lab, and will distribute them via its existing distribution network and retail locations.
TRTC has an agenda to move to a higher exchange which may necessitate a reverse split. Everyone seems to think that RS is bad and usually results in lower PPS as the result of panic selling etc., but if we really examine the issue we come to an entirely different conclusion. Yes in almost all cases when a non-revenue, sub penny co with a history of dilution does another RS it almost always ends in more downside. At the other end of the spectrum when an established Company such as TRTC that already does significant revenues does a RS it almost always results in significant moves to the upside.
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Back in March TRTC announced record revenues for the year ended 2015. Total revenues generated for the quarter ended December 31, 2015 were approximately $2.17 million, an increase of 44% from $1.5 million in the same period in 2014; total revenues for the full year 2015 were $9.98 million, an increase of 40.6% from $7.09 million in the year ended December 31, 2014.
TRTC also provided revenue guidance for 2016 calling for $20 million to $22 million. Driving this growth is TRTC’s recently completed acquisition of Black Oak Gallery, DBA: Blüm Oakland, an established, retail medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland, CA. Blüm Oakland, which holds over 42,000 registered patients, has been operating since November 2012 and services close to 1,000 patients each day.
A big part of TRTC recent rise is due to their recent acquisition of Black Oak Gallery, DBA: Blum Oakland, an established, retail medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland, CA which holds over 42,000 registered patients, has been operating since November 2012 and services close to 1,000 patients each day. The acquisition includes Blum’s fully integrated supply chain, which consists of a sophisticated onsite cultivation facility, its portfolio of proprietary strains, as well as its high volume retail storefront. Trailing 12-month non-GAAP revenue for Blum Oakland is over $14 million, which tracks the revenue reported by Blum Oakland in its associated sales tax and marijuana tax reporting and payments.
In March TRTC announced the Grand Opening of its medical cannabis dispensary located at 1921 Western Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada will be held on April 20, 2016. Located adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, the Western Avenue dispensary will offer patients the Company’s proprietary IVXX™ brand of premium medical cannabis, including flowers, shatters, waxes and oils, among other high-quality cannabis products from a range of reputable providers of superior grade medical cannabis. The 3,900 square foot facility is located adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip at 1921 Western Avenue and is expected to benefit from the heavy traffic in Las Vegas.
Western Las Vegas is the first of four retail medical cannabis dispensaries slated to open in Nevada in 2016. Three of those, operating under the store name Blüm, will be in Southern Nevada, on Western Avenue, Desert Inn Road near the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Decatur Boulevard. The fourth is to be located in Reno, in Northwest Nevada. All locations are expected to open in time to take advantage of the very active summer tourism season in Nevada.
Earlier this month TRTC said it has had its final business license approved by the Las Vegas City Council. The Company now possesses all the permits issued by the City of Las Vegas necessary to operate this medical cannabis dispensary. The Company is still awaiting final issuance of the State Registration Certificate from the State of Nevada, which is expected to be issued upon completion of the State of Nevada’s operations inspection. The Grand Opening of the dispensary was held on April 20, 2016 although the Company has not yet issued a pr on the opening.
Clearly TRTC plans to franchise the Blum name nationwide. TRTC director Mike Nahass has purchased a number of domain names such as BLUMCHICAGO.COM, BLUMMANHATTAN.COM, BLUMHOUSTON.COM, BLUMSANDIEGO.COM, BLUMNJ.COM, BLUMNY.COM, BLUMMIAMI.COM as well as dozen more
Nevada is an important market for the cannabis industry as the state will recognize the medical status of non-residents. Nevada also has around 40 million annual visitors with 30% of those coming from California. Recreational marijuana use will be on the Nevada ballot box come November.
On April 14 TRTC announced its subsidiary, Edible Garden, a retail seller of locally grown hydroponic produce, herbs, and floral products, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Nutrasorb LLC, a spin-off of Rutgers University, to grow and commercialize nutritionally-enhanced lettuce varieties.
Under the terms of the agreement, Edible Garden has the right to grow and sell Green and Red Super Lettuce across the North American and European continents as well as Australia. The produce will be high in vitamins A & C, magnesium, iron and potassium contents. It will also have high levels of fiber and chlorogenic acid. These nutritionally-enhanced, proprietary Green and Red Lettuces were developed by scientists at Rutgers University following years of intensive research.
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TRTC has once again seen spectacular highs and has emerged as an Investor favorite leading the current pot stock boom. the Company is the only US-based, publicly-traded company that touches every aspect of the cannabis lifecycle—from cultivation, to extraction, to branding and to retail sale. This gives TRTC a huge advantage because on-site cultivation reduces that cost to about $700 per pound, while the company’s retail price will remain at industry levels 5 to 10 times higher. TRTC is turning into a Revenue leader reporting $9.98 million in sales for 2015. Derek Peterson “The Public Spokesperson for Medical and Legalized Marijuana” is a master at selling the sizzle on the sector and getting their story into the national media spotlight with such news outlets as the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Fox Business News, The Huffington Post, the Daily Telegraph and CTV news all covering TRTC in the past. When pot stocks heat up TRTC is the place to be
APR 23, 2016 @ 09:57 AM 1,007 VIEWS
Cannabis CEOs Share The Trends That Spur Their Business
The United States’ cannabis industry is rapidly expanding, but without federal legalization, large companies that do business across state lines can’t enter the market. We asked small business CEO’s and others in the industry to describe some of the trends that spurred their businesses.
1. Cannabis-Friendly Social Media
“Facebook FB -0.96% and Instagram deletes marijuana business accounts, so there’s an accelerating trend of cannabis consumers and companies embracing cannabis-specific social networks like the one we are creating. Consumers can share their cannabis experiences in a stigma-free environment while businesses can safely invest time and energy into building their followings without fear of getting deleted. We’re excited to be on track to cross a million users.” –Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, a social network for cannabis consumers
2. Vertically Integrated Business Models
“From our perch, vertical integration in the cannabis industry is both powerful and necessary. When you control all aspects of the cultivation cycle from seed to sale, you have complete transparency and visibility into the quality and integrity of the product that you’re ultimately distributing to the consumer. The cost savings and economies of scale that exist from vertically integrated operations are significant as well.” –Derek Peterson, CEO ofTerra Tech a vertically integrated cannabis-focused agriculture company.
3. Regulation Compliance
“The cannabis industry is rapidly transforming into a compliance industry- if businesses are not actively examining how compliant they are with ever-changing state law, then they aren’t going to be in business for long. It’s time for businesses in the space to act responsibly, and advents in technology allow for increasingly practical methods of enforcing and practicing compliance.” –Kyle Sherman, CEO of Flowhub which offers point-of-sale and seed-to sale tracking software.
4. Cannabis Branding
“The first wave of legal cannabis branding was/is at the local level. Now, some cannabis brands are leveraging celebrity endorsement and nostalgia in hopes of connecting with consumers. Think: Marley Natural, Willie’s Reserve and Leafs By Snoop – just to name a few. ” –David Paleschuck, Vice President at Dope Magazine
We can assume there were quite a few cheers when California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, becoming the first state to legalize marijuana's medical use, but 2016 could go down as the most remarkable year for the marijuana industry to date.
Since this first approval 20 years ago, the marijuana industry has witnessed 24 states in total legalize #$%$, of which Pennsylvania became the latest just this past week. Additionally, four states ? Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska ? have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The 2016 elections could result in a sizable boost to both figures as favorability to marijuana among the American public continues to rise. Gallup's national poll from Oct. 2015 showed that 58% of its respondents favor the idea of nationwide legalization, whereas a CBS News poll conducted a year ago this month demonstrated that roughly five in six people want to see #$%$ legalized.
But just as exciting for the industry is the opportunity that may be at hand for investors. Marijuana is among the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., with ArcView Market Research expecting the industry to grow at a brisk compounded annual rate of 30% between 2016 and 2020, ultimately reaching an approximate market value of $22 billion by 2020. Investment opportunities where industries can sustain a 30% growth rate for a half-decade or longer simply don't come around very often, making marijuana a seemingly attractive investment opportunity.
Smoking pot just got somewhat of a green light from federal regulators, and weed-smokers are over the moon about the latest news.
According to a Fortune report, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (or DEA) approved the smoking of marijuana in bona fide medical research settings. It’s the first time the agency has given the thumbs up to the practice.
The news bodes well, not only for smokers; according to a Fortune-Morning Consult poll, a majority of Americans approve of legalizing pot. Those polled show that one-in-four, or 25 percent, support decriminalization.
Officials found that 78 percent of residents across all states favor medical marijuana use and 58 percent back legalization for recreational use. The news is not all surprising considering 24 states have already legalized pot for medicinal purposes (pain management and other chronic conditions that allopathic medicines have not addressed).
The Obama Administration and DEA cleared the way for American military veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) to use. Many vets and advocacy groups have longed lobbied Congress to legalize the use of marijuana as an alternative and low-cost way to the treat this condition and other ailments.
Approved trials are already underway in the private sector to study the possible medical benefits of marijuana and its constituents, like cannabis extracts (cannabidiol). However, the DEA established a new milestone by legalizing the testing and evaluation of the plant for the expressed purpose of legal medical drug development. Apparently, tolerance has entered the calculus.
The move in support of marijuana legalization runs counter to the drug agency’s longstanding disapproval stance against medical or recreational use. Just last year, DEA boss, Chuck Rosenberg, characterized medicinal marijuana as a “joke.”
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” he said. “If you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”
Federal officials say they are trying to systematize marijuana from being a Schedule 1 drug. Its current classification places it in the same company with LSD and heroin — two highly addictive narcotics. The drive is to remove it altogether or place it in a category of less dangerous drugs.
In January of 2015, proponents of the drug realized a small victory. During a criminal trial that involved allegations against illegal marijuana growers in Northern California, federal judge Kimberly U. Mueller paused and convened a hearing over five days to discuss several issues.
The judge took a radical step towards considering and evaluating research that contends marijuana is safe and offers medical benefits. She also explored removing pot from the schedule of addictive drugs.
Today, lawmakers appear to have a change of heart and are discussing options to offer vets state-sanctioned marijuana medical intervention programs.
Recently, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure that is geared towards empowering doctors to make alternative treatment decisions. Federal lawmakers are working once again to provide military veterans with more direct access to state medical marijuana programs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment that gives Department of Veterans Affairs (or VA) doctors the latitude to offer treatment recommendations to patients while bypassing normal bureaucratic red tape.
Although the 2017 Military Construction Appropriations bill is only a stopgap measure, if approved, it does not allow funds to be used to prosecute doctors that recommend medical marijuana, according to Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“This measure removes unnecessary barriers to medical marijuana access for the men and women who have volunteered to serve in our armed forces. It will save veterans time and money, and it will allow them to have more open and honest discussions with their primary care providers.”