In 2014 we had a landmark year in the liberation of cannabis. Today marks another knockout blow to prohibitionists nationwide.
In 2014 Maryland, New York and Minnesota legalized medical cannabis. Oregon, Washtington DC, and Alaska have all approved recreational cannabis. Obama allows hemp production for research in Colorado and Kentucky. Uruguay becomes first country legalizes and regulates production, sales, and consumption of cannabis. It was a step forward
Over the last 24 hours (3) states have legalized recreational cannabis:
In the USA, we now have 4 states with recreational, 23 with medical, and the Nation's capital with recreational cannabis. Does this not inspire you? Does this not motivate you that we now have more than doubled the amount of states with recreational cannabis in one year? If doesn't perhaps this will...
I gave out some news at today's CHA Meetup.
Colorado has just lifted a 6-month "moratorium" on cannabis businesses for the first time allowing for a non-seed-to-sale infrastructure. Prior to October 1, all dispensaries were required to cultivate 70% of their dispensed product. Now licences will be given for dispensaries as well as cultivators. Over 200 new business licenses will be doled out in Co.
Yesterday Nevada made a huge impact, approved 371 new cannabis business licenses!!!
In the last month close to 600 new cannabis business will have sprung up in those two states alone.
I've talked to some of you about opening businesses and you are considering investment, you really have to get going. Legalization is happening so fast it isn't even funny. People are out there and they are pushing and making a huge difference at this point. They cant stop it.
Nope I don't own a dispensary but I have done enough evidence to post a blog on it, so take it for what its worth. I'm a non-dispensary patient or owner letting you know what I know about opening a dispensary. First and foremost you may already know that due to the state ran programs there is no cookie-cut model available in the business of medical cannabis shops other known as 'dispensaries'. The dispensary business in some states is less prohibitive than others. It's important to look at the entire national landscape of the industry when determining what the strategy of your company will be when getting into the business. Why? Well I have seen evidence that the market right now is very much about positioning for growth driven by looser legislation. Based on what I have seen and heard many cannabis entrepreneurs have opened dispensaries looking to "cash in on the green rush" without having a real affinity for the plant. I think the markets like California and Colorado (not sure about Washington) are excellent markets to open a dispensary in order to gain industry experience and create a structure for future locations in markets all over the USA. The way I see this industry rolling out from a dispensary standpoint is that most states will be "limping in" to this industry with many first time local entrepreneurs thinking that they want to open a dispensary in their home state, the issue is that when new state ran programs open up local governments do not want rookie dispensary owners. State governments are looking for proven dispensary owners that have a proven set of operating procedures from soup-to-nuts so they can count on these dispensary owners to steer away from diversion of product to the black market. State governments will want to see that an applicant into the industry not only is felony-free but that they have a legitimate business planned to help the sick. Regardless of what market you operate a few things hold true. Most states are looking to go into a model known as "seed-to-sale" a vertically integrated market where dispensaries grow and distribute their own medicine allowing auditors more transparency but also putting more responsibility on dispensary owners to get into the game. Prospective dispensary owners have to understand one major knock against the business (other then the Schedule 1 CSA of cannabis) the 280e IRS tax code . This piece of tax code is a punitive and prohibitive tax put on all dispensaries and will restrict all tax write offs making it challenging to operate and causing many businesses to have to open a shell corporation to buy supplies from just to get write offs. This tax code causes additional accounting, legal, and operating costs of a second business unnecessarily. The voices of this fledgling state ran industry are not being heard, but it is critical this piece is understood. Another issue with the "seed-to-sale" model is it prohibits purchasing cannabis from distributors forcing 100% of cultivation to come from the dispensary which could lead to challenges of patients getting certain medicines due to geographic restrictions and also could be a problem for dispensary owners if any crop issues arise and they cannot supply an adequate amount of medicine. My advice for any cannabis entrepreneur out there would be to start small, create your standard operating procedures and continue to expand on your franchise-like model. Don't be afraid to look nationally into different markets at the lesser restrictive state programs initially, gain your footing, and expand your empire into other markets based on your experience in the existing ones. If you do not do this, you will be applying for licenses to dispense cannabis paying lofty 5 figure application fees only to get turned down because a company already operating in the industry will get that license.
Crain's recap of the "Business of Pot - The Stakes are High"
A cannabusiness panel at John Jay College of Criminal Justice? Times sure have changed for New York City. Walking in I couldn't help but wonder if it was a setup, if pot-sniffing dogs and so-called "Drug Recognition Experts" would be rolling out the red carpet for this crowd, taking the mailing list, and collecting admission tickets. To my relief, nothing of the sort occurred, in fact, the panel was actually quite inviting. One would never guess cannabis could feel so welcome in a school that produces career oriented professionals soon to get paid to sniff the weed out of New York City. That said I was ecstatic because to my knowledge this would be the first public appearance by Senator Savino to discuss the Compassionate Care Act, an Act much maligned by my peers. An Act deemed a failure by long time activists in my circle. I felt strongly about the bill for a number of reasons; I liked that the health commissioner was given power over the disease list, the fact that New York would have legal cannabis, and the "seed-to-sale" model would ensure patients are getting high quality medicine. I wasn't one of the pro-cannabis advocates pulling for a medicinal program that would be loose out of the gate. I, like many, have some concerns about cannabis legalization. I have seen too many irresponsible stoners who don't know enough about the substance and I have concerns about irresponsible use. I've seen people blow cannabis smoke into babies faces thinking its funny. I believe cannabis competency is a real issue that faces society and a ramp up period of medical cannabis is helpful. I've been arrested for minor cannabis offenses a few times, so I am very sensitive to this topic, but I realize that my own self-interest may not necessarily be the greater good and when it comes to cannabis, I think society needs a good degree of education. I run a cannabis trade association and I can tell you that even the most experienced cannabis users know very little about its effects on the body's biology, both positive and negative.
Kudos to Crain's magazine who put the event together, giving over 200 potential cannabis entrepreneurs first hand access to hear Senator Savino explain what the New York business climate will look like in just a few months. The crowd was excited and curious about this new business, many attorneys were present, consultants, I met a person looking to rent his warehouse for a cannabis grow operation, an activist group, along with plenty of lobbyists. In the end it seemed like many people trying to figure out how to break into the "green rush" more than people currently active in the industry.
The panel featured four key industry players, Hanan Kolko an attorney, partner of Meyer, Suozzi, English, & Klein, Derek Peterson, Chief Executive of Terra Tech Corp; Megan Sanders, a general partner at Marimind Cannabis Engineering, and State Senator Diane Savino, who took stewardship of the Compassionate Care Act from a predecessor and was responsible for convincing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill.
The session began with Senator Diane Savino's opening remarks in which she was asked to tell everyone what the CCA is, what's allowed and not allowed. The Senator didn't waste any time diving into the the Compassionate Care Act's 18 year history, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and entrusted to her by State Senator Tom Duane two years ago when he left office. She said, "While New York is regarded as a progressive liberal state, in many ways, it has never been progressive when it comes to drug policy. In fact we had the most Draconian drug laws in the nation up until four years ago with the Rockefeller drug laws." Senator Savino worked tirelessly to revise the Compassionate Care Act into something that was reflective of what was working and not working among the hodgepodge of state laws in the 22 states that already had a medical cannabis program. The original version, she was adamant, had no chance of gaining the John Handcock of Gov. Andrew Cuomo as it was written with provisions giving patients the right to grow their own medicine, hospitals permission to cultivate and administer, and pharmacies the right to dispense.
The Senator explained why the bill had to be updated,
"There were so many things about that bill that were inconsistent with the (current) industry as we knew it. When I took over the bill I started rewriting it to accurately reflect what medical marijuana should be and could be. One of the first things I did was look at what medical marijuana in a state that had a program that was legal. First place I went to was Colorado. I got to see Colorado before recreational use was legal, it was purely the medical marijuana product. I researched New Jersey and other states and that helped me draft the bill." She continued, " I set out to make the bill the most tightly regulated bill in the country, partly because I knew that Andrew Cuomo would not sign the bill, if it were not the most tightly regulated bill in the country."
Senator Savino called New York a "watershed state" and believes that the current version of the CCA will become the standard template for the rest of the country. The moderator asked Savino about the program's inception, set to begin in 18 months and he was quickly corrected that we are only 16 months away. She stated the Department of Health and State Police Commission are developing the draft of regulations "relatively soon" and they are looking at other states best practices to do so.
Upon completion of the draft of regulations there will be a "Public Comment Period" where they will want to hear from people in the industry. She said "When the Public Commentary Period begins it is imperitive that those who want to be in the industry or are in the industry weigh in on this. The risk takers should really come in and say 'we like the idea, but the model is too restrictive and as a result of that I may not be interested in investing. It's hard to run this industry."
The question arose regarding those in need of emergency care and the Senator claimed that due to Federal laws and CSA scheduling that the Federal government denied any sort of emergency access permits which would involve the transport of cannabis across state lines, so for now it sounds like the suffering will continue to suffer thanks to the Federal Government. The Senator mentioned that the business climate is designed to keep cannabis prices low enough so that patients won't seek the black market for relief, but admitted the environment for entrepreneurs isn't exactly welcoming.
One point the Senator wanted to emphasize was that having cannabis as an alternative medicine for sufferers would reduce the need for other prescriptions, putting co-pay funds back into the patient's pocket to use that money to purchase cannabis. She said, "We will start with 5 license holders, in my opinion that's not enough, but that's what we are going with. There is a chance that we will look at the license holders like liquor licences and a possibility that we will allow the 5 licence holders to open four dispensaries and there should be some consideration to geographic diversity."
Savino was asked about the MRTA bill (Marijuana Recreational Tax Act) proposed by Senator Liz Kruger and she seemed to be bearish on the bill getting through citing how difficult it was just to get the medical cannabis bill approved. "I know intimately from my conversations with the senate that there is not enough support for recreational legalization and I also think that those of us who support legalization for recreational use are looking at Colorado and Washington saying 'we should be there' but they forget it took Colorado almost 13 years to get from medical marijuana to recreational marijuana. Part of the problem is we need to resocialize the way people feel about marijuana and changing the way we talk about it might help. Like to call this panel 'The Business of Pot' while it may be fun it trivializes the issue in some ways. I think we need to start talking about it differently. Those of us who are serious about marijuana for medicinal purposes have started calling it cannabis. Because there is a stigma still associated with marijuana, even though it is changing generationally. I don't think we are anywhere near [recreational use] yet."
Derek Peterson was in agreement with Savino in that he would like to see the medical pi grow before the recreational opens up. His company Terra Tech maintains a $5,000,000 greenhouse in New Jersey, just biding time for the industry regulations to loosten enough to make it palatable to enter the market. He cited New Jersey as a failed operation and not economically friendly, leading to his company's choice to stay on the sidelines for now. The main reason he cited for wanting to see medical develop over recreational was infrastructure, claiming to go strait into recreational would cause confusion, overflow, and without a developed set of best practices, protocols, and regulations it could be chaotic and a flop.
After the Senator's opening remarks Megan Sanders had the chance to speak and quickly displayed optimism in her belief in the growth potential of the industry in New York. Megan cautioned about the importance of people with commercial cultivation experience and that the industry is truly still in its infancy. She stressed the complexity of the industry and risk management, but there was no mistake in her belief in New York as a major market for cannabis and she was quickly backed up by fellow panelist Derek Peterson who estimates 1%-3% of the population in NY would try medical cannabis to the tune of 500,000 potential patients. He said, "People criticize California for their medical marijuana laws because they haven't developed them. It's like the wild west out there, but at the same time its a great litmus test for the rest of the country. They left it up to the entrepreneurs to decide how the laws are going to go up there." Both Sanders and Peterson emphasized the difficulty of running a dispensary, the importance of having experienced people handling the licences, that alot can go wrong and ruin the crop.
In a "seed-to-sale" aka "vertically integrated" market, which is what New York will be, it is critical that the licencee is astute at growing cannabis because they will be unable to source product from the outside and mistakes could destroy an entire crop. This model technically known as the "vertically integrated" model under the CCA, states that all Registered Organizations (the technical name New York State is coining as cannabis dispensary operations) must grow their own product, meaning they must cultivate and distribute. He finished by saying "16 months, 18 months seems like a long time to get started but it takes time to draft a set of regulations to define an industry. At the same time we need to make sure it is economically friendly, many states programs are not economically friendly for the businesses to operate and there is no upside there. Jersey has been a victim of that." The moderator went on to ask about banking and how the companies are operating with all cash and Megan said security and protocols are the highest priority. There is no credit, everything is paid in cash from the mortgage on down and as a result jobs are created in accounting, security, and cash management.
On the way into the event I had the pleasure of running into Mr. Kolko in the elevator and we discussed how we got into the business, his story goes like this "one day me and the partners of the firm were out to lunch and I brought up medical marijuana. I asked them if they wanted to get involved and they all did, from that day forward, here we are." Mr. Kolko was very outspoken and passionate on the subject. When asked about insurance coverage Kolko said, "Well you wouldn't have a prescription you would have a recommendation. At this point insurers are not compelled to cover medical marijuana although they are free to do that, but I feel they will recognize that medical marijuana is a safer and cheaper treatment in the long run. So I suspect insurance companies will ultimately realize they are better off covering medical marijuana than not." Kolko mentioned that a recent article in the Journal of American Medical Association that opioid use is down in states that have a medical cannabis program and that insurers look at those statistics. He went to emphasize the climate for cannabis as a budding industry has many challenges specifically the "7 year sunset" clause and the "kill switch" and these regulations are not entrepreneur friendly. Kolko went on to emphasize the sheer large geographic size of New York State and the provisioning in the CCA that allows for expansion beyond 5 dispensaries. I got the sense that he was of the belief that upon execution of the program, there would be immediate public outcry for more licenses to get delved out due to a lack of access geographically to the medicine. In fact, when asked where the program would be 3 years from now, Senator Savino hoped to see 15 licenses granted to the field. Peterson concurred that once implemented, public demand will force more outlets as sick and terminally ill patients won't be able to drive great distances to get to dispensaries.
The topic of profit margins was raised by the moderator to Derek Peterson and Megan Sanders they gave the following information:
One of the major topics discussed was security of the dispensaries and "diversion" or the amount of leakage of the medicine into the black market. The Senator emphasized that diversion would be a critical piece to continuation of the program beyond the 7-year window and Kolko pointed out the Cole Memorandum and heavily recommended reading it to understand how the Department of Justice is dealing with diversion under the consideration of Federal laws which prohibit the Federal government from using tax payer money to go after state licensed medical cannabis businesses. Sanders also chimed in on the Cole memo stating the importance of compliance especially in New York if we hope to get recreational cannabis at some point down the road.
In closing, Kolko got a round of applause when he convincingly exclaimed "We ought to remember the Controlled Substances Act is the law we are operating under, it is a 40 year old failure, but it is a bad law we are operating under!"
Senator Savino was asked her opinion and she said, "I totally agree, if we spent half the money we spent on trying to control the supply, maybe we could figure out how to control the demand."
At the end of the discussion Senator Savino said that mailing cannabis across the state would be illegal under the CSA and that a courier service would be a "cottage industry" that would develop. I perceived this as a nudge to would-be entrepreneurs to focus on the courier end of the business instead of the dispensary end. I am able to read between the lines fairly intuitively and I believe that Savino was intimating that the business you want to be in New York is the delivery of cannabis to medical patients. It would appear to me that New York wants a few big companies controlling the supply and free market of competition in the transport of medicine to clients. This appears to be a loop-hole and an area I suggest potential cannabis entrepreneurs explore.
Crain's did a feature on Terra Tech Corp's New Jersey $5,000,000 greenhouse facility aimed at producing cannabis and betting on their brand to win a coveted licence in New York. Currently produce is developed in the greenhouse and sold through Shop Rite, according to Derek Peterson, Chief Executive of the company.
Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted the Compassionate Care Act include only infused products and concentrates, put a 7-year term on the bill requiring renewal, and reserved a "kill switch" into the program, in which he could end the program at any time. Perhaps the most tricky provision in the bill allows a mere five licence holders to open four dispensaries and put up a $2,000,000 bond or have assets or land of its equivalent. Not what I would call an environmentally friendly market for business owners. Only wealthy risk-takers need apply this round, New York.
Frequently Asked Questions for future Cannabis Industry Professionals on the CCA.
Final Draft of the Compassionate Care Act
I See alot of companies branding themselves with the word marijuana and I encourage them not to do so as I firmly believe the word marijuana will go to the wayside much like the Redskins NFL team name is about to be changed. Why? There are some people, myself included, that have a level of commitment to cannabis deeper than simply getting baked. As Americans become more accepting of cannabis, they will learn more about the history of the plant and will learn that "marijuana" is a propagated term by those who sought to stigmatize the plant. The word "marijuana" is so taboo that to this day news organizations will use it in headlines to raise eyebrows. Google "3 year old marijuana" and you will see a slew of articles that have attention grabbing headlines because people associate marijuana with getting high. No responsible parent is teaching their 3-year old how to smoke cannabis and get high. Cannabis is a sacred plant, has been a staple in spiritual practice for many years and offers incredible healing powers. The first time cannabis was used as an intoxicant was in 500ce while it has been prescribed as medicine far back as 2700bc. This culture has been hoodwinked into believing that cannabis has more value as "marijuana" the recreational drug than it does as cannabis, the great medicine, the great cultural unifier, the industrial manifesto of over 50,000 uses, and the perception altering spiritual plant. Cannabis can no longer compete with "marijuana" in the modern slang. A line of demarcation has to be drawn between those who respect cannabis as a great natural resource, the "man's best friend" of the plant kingdom, the milk of the God's and those who want to defame cannabis as "marijuana", the recreational drug. It is clear to me that mainstream America wants industry professionals to keep calling cannabis "marijuana" so we can't break the cycle of minimizing it's true medical, cultural, social, and spiritual value but industry heads and activists have to do better than that. It is up to us to act accordingly and educate the population to have the proper respect for cannabis, one such example of this are the Rastafarians who never call cannabis "marijuana." It's time to stop demeaning cannabis, by calling it by the propagated name given to it by those who made it illegal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mayor DiBlasio was credited for opening up Governor's Island 7 days a week this Summer. I'm overjoyed with the effort the city is making to invigorate the island and make it something New Yorkers can be proud of and create memories there. Many of us have been, many have not, and outside of New York City, Governor's Island is virtually unheard of. The island has use which dates back as far as the 1600's used by the Dutch during the days before New York, when it the land was known as New Amsterdam. After the British took it over, it was used as a military base, a critical location allowing the British to create a line of fire all encompassing, due to three other well positioned forts, one located at the base of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. The part is a world in and of itself, many of the buildings are run down and a few are still in shambles, broken windows and all. Of the 150 acres that belong to New York City, there is still much work to do. On the upside, Governor's Island has a lovely vibration, the openness, the lack of corporate entities in your face, the fact that there are no cars on the island, the arts focus and commitment have all the proper intentions. Families enjoy a peaceful place to be in community and out with their families.
The Governor's Island Trust has released a statement on their website "The Trust is transforming Governors Island into a destination with great public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit, and commercial facilities. 30 new acres of park and public spaces are now open to the public."
I have submitted for a permit at Governor's Island to create the "New York Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Festival." My goal was to have a public outdoor festival inviting 30 vendors, artists, public speakers, and producing seminars around cannabis awareness. The goal of the event is to educate New Yorkers about the past, present, and potential of the cannabis industry. I believe that having a festival off the mainland will be a draw for tourists to the island and would have the potential to grow into an enormous island-encompassing event in time with live entertainment, tents, a carnival, something that would truly make a difference at Governor's Island. New York has always been the most "hip and trendy" city in the world, but when it comes to cannabis it has not taken a leadership role. The time has come for a community rally around cannabis, for the public to take it's power and shape New York City the way we want it.
Governor's Island has plenty of space and pinache to turn that land mass into the capital of the cannabis community. It has already become a breeding ground for artistic creativity, blending the two communities is a natural synergy and one that begin to shape New Yo
CHA is focused on awareness and education of cannabis as well as the deconstruction of stigmata surrounding the plant. One of the major ways to push the social agenda of acceptance is by providing a safe haven for like-minded cannabis lifestylers. The CHA has begun to lay the foundation for a full blown global community around cannabis through the commitment to providing events 365 days a year around cannabis. At the present time the CHA is hosting weekly networking events and the first of many monthly events, however the goal is to ensure that more opportunities to be in community with like-minded people arise. While the CHA is just a fledgling organization based out of New York City, we have seen tremendous support for our initiative and want to encourage cannabis leadership nationwide and worldwide. Begin to organize and coordinate events that allow people that are passionate about cannabis to get together and meet. Cannabis is a cause of champions and it only takes the commitment of one person to make a difference and champion the cause! The stigmata attached to cannabis is unacceptable and only through the work of others will cannabis become a mainstream accepted medicine at the social level. The beautiful thing about cannabis is how open it is, people of every demographic, preference, race, ethnicity, and occupation advocate its use. There are endless possibilities of the type of events and programs that can be formed in the name of this great divider! Cannabis can be the common thread that brings people together that would normally never converse and be the uniting force that joins them toward a common goal.
Below I have created an abstract of the potential of what a cannabis community might look like once fully established. Feel free to take a look! This could be your city in 2015!
Brad Gibbs, of Greenest Green, which has just opened a new state-approved lab in Denver Co., filled with $100,000 in equipment, specializing in BHO, says that the new product is so superior, buds will eventually disappear, at least among, “our generation,”—users under 40. “Dabs are the future of cannabis, both recreational and medicinal,” he adds.
A wise man once said, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! When it comes to cannabis, those words are applicable to the surging popularity of cannabis concentrates known affectionately as "dabs". Many cannabis users considering themselves traditionalists have chosen to side with the "flower" over the "oil" but it seems that many cannabis users are also dropping smoking flower altogether for "dab-life." There are so many reasons for why many users are making the switch from flower to oil, but the main reason is the strength of the dab, also known as BHO (Butane Honey Oil), shatter, or wax. Detractors are wary of dabs, the chemicals in their manufacture, and the potential health risks. Essentially Dabs are manufactured through a process which concentrates the psycho active chemicals in cannabis and enhances the psychoactive effects. What makes dabbing interesting is that the high is so strong, it is hard to believe at times one is smoking cannabis. To be able to get super high from cannabis, as some have compared it to the first time they got high, and know that you are vaping something healthy for the body vs an alternative drug that can kill you is a great feeling. There are many advantages to dabbing and many in the industry believe that oil concentrates will trump the popularity of the flower itself in the future.
At the recent Cannabis Cup by High Times in Denver a panel was recorded discussing the health risks of dabbing, featuring two doctors on the panel. Below is the panel video recording of their discussion at the Cannabis Cup in Denver:
This Independence Day 2014 should be a special one for cannabis lifestylers. You have a clear path to legalization in front, a prohibition era-like vibe around the plant. No longer is it a secret to discuss, it's a legitimate industry. New York recently became the 23rd state in the nation to adopt a medical cannabis program, that is nearly half of all 50 states. In 2014 more states will have adopted a medical cannabis program than ever before. It is clear that the leverage has clearly swung in favor of cannabis vs. the oppressors. It appears to me that social engineering is taking place in favor of cannabis through media sources and news. The people need the medicine, the economy needs the revenue. This modern day "green rush" as its been coined fascinates me. If you follow this industry's news you have one article about an entrepreneur being praised for opening a cannabis related business or a company press releasing new cannabis technology, then the next article could be about a guy getting busted for $1.2m in pot. You have two people in the same business, but due to geography one is going to jail. It's quite an interesting time in American history happening right now. Well enjoy the ride, it's just getting started.
The war on drugs is far from over, but fortunately for cannabis supporters the war on cannabis is in most states in the USA as far as my own personal research indicates. Not so fast, some will say, there are still a ton of cannabis arrests. In fact, The nation continues to have thousands of cannabis arrests.
Even in states like Colorado and Washington State where recreational cannabis is legal, cops continue to use what's left of the law to fine and arrest cannabis users. The truth is while cannabis arrests are still occurring, when you take the time to research cannabis news like I do, day in and day out, you find that by all of the cannabis arrest articles in the news are due to irresponsible use, recklessness, and blatant disregard for the law. No longer are you hearing about police using undercover NARCs and detectives to bust the small time dealer for pot. All the articles I have been privy to over the last several years have involved occurrences such as:
Cannabis users need to face the facts that the majority of the population is still uninformed of the benefits of cannabis and many people may never be for cannabis legalization due to its psychoactive properties. As a responsible open-minded person I have to respect the points of view of the opposition that cannabis is not for everyone and they should not have to be subjected to cannabis being a part of their life, I feel their privacy deserves as much respect as the cannabis user. Most if not all of the circumstances above are situations which could potentially interfere with the lives of non-cannabis users. As laws ease up, marketing vamps up, and use of cannabis is increasing steadily. Police are now focusing their concentrated on other narcotics but if cannabis users are going to be careless, they can still be arrested. My message to cannabis users is this "don't be sketchy, be safe, and respectful to your neighbors's rights not to be exposed to the cannabis culture, it's not for everyone."
Another topic I want to discuss is the Pope Francis recently coming out to condemn cannabis. (Article found on the NEWS tab) The reason I am not religious are many, but when I read about the Pope condemning medical cannabis it reminds me that one of the main reasons I am not religious is the use of guilt in order to control members of religions. Guilt is one of the most powerful ways to manipulate people to do what you want and stay engaged and it has always been a staple in religion from the beginning. Here you have a plant made by nature being condemned for medical purposes by a mere mortal. I don't care if you are the Pope, if a mere mortal is going to challenge a natural substance which is proven help save peoples lives you are dealing with cult like tactics in my opinion. Guilt will keep people coming back to ask "God" for forgiveness, it will keep people donating money to "atone for their sins", and it will keep people praying. I am actually personally quite pleased with the Pope's position, again reminding me why I think religion is not for me.
Kick the tires and light the fires. Florida has taken some measure to legalize a strain of cannabis known as "Charlotte's Web" that we have featured on our "LEARN" page in the past. Over 120,000 epilepsy sufferers will now be served along with ALS and cancer sufferers. Far from a recreational or full blown medical bill but it is a victory nonetheless. Credit to Gov. Rick Scott for making it clear to the world that cannabis is a vital treatment for patients suffering from (3) harsh illnesses. For a bi-partisan state like Florida, passing legislation in favor of any form of cannabis, in my opinion was a major step forward. Gov. Cuomo in New York is on the precipice of passing the Compassionate Care Act in NYC over the next day or so. We are looking at a bill known often as the Gottfried-Savino bill that has been getting limited in many ways since it's inception, some activists have even gone as far as to say the bill has been stripped apart. I've been in political circles with cannabis activists and advocates; I have heard many emotionally charged debates for cannabis legalization. CHA firms stands behinds cannabis as a medicine and industrial use however we do recognize the vast majority of Americans have never even tried cannabis as a recreational drug. While we are for personal liberty and freedom, as a responsible American I am concerned to a degree with what a world with legal cannabis will look like. Frankly, none of us really know. Sure we've seen Colorado, Washington, and California's culture take off and for the most part it looks very promising. What have not seen however are the media explosions that will occur to drive the cannabis lifestyle here in the US or anywhere else. Even Uruguay, the only country with a Federally regulated cannabis business, does not have a fully legal private sector with marketing driven messages being dispersed to the population. Sure I want cannabis to be free and legal however I just hope that some cannabis activists and advocates stop and think for a moment about how media will portray cannabis once it is mass marketed. The reality that cannabis will go from being in the shadows to IN YOUR FACE like it or not. Cannabis will be thrust in the face of those who it may not be healthy for. Not everyone is cut out for using cannabis and in fact the only Federal cannabis farm in the nation, at the University of Mississippi is spending $3 out of every $4 dollars on researching fighting cannabis addiction.
Video of the United States Federal Cannabis Research Program
If the Government's spending 75% on all its funding on fighting addiction common sense tells me we are getting closer and closer to a fully legalized cannabis system. Sooner or later cannabis will be completely legal and it will be the most marketable news everywhere. It's important that people understand that are for cannabis that legalization is not a question of "if this will happen?" the question is "when it will happen?" When it does happen cannabis activists and advocates will get the pleasure of personal liberty and freedom of their favorite recreation but at the same time it is very possible that many people will get caught in the hype and their lives may be negatively impacted forever. Reality is cannabis won't kill you, but I have seen people use it as a gateway drug plenty of times. People who started clean, then smoked pot as their first experience with drugs, progressed into this and that, next thing you know they are on heroin. I don't know if they wouldn't have ended up on heroin anyway, I'd like to believe that cannabis had nothing to do with it. Truth is I know 10x more heroin addicts that use cannabis as a means for staying sober so I can argue that cannabis is doing more good than harm. I just don't want to see little kids getting their hands on cannabis too young. I've done many studies on the brain and have concerns on what smoking cannabis too young or eating edibles or vaping too young etc can do. Can I be for legalization and still have concerns? Can I be responsible and objective in the debate? Well that's what I do. Just think about what it will be like when we have CTV "Cannabis TV" and cars powered on hemp gasoline and homes built with hempcrete, and our athletes and leaders are all advocating. How many more people will become cannabis users? And if they did, would that be a bad thing? Do activists really think about this stuff? I don't know but I hope this blog post made you think a little deeper than "I want my weed and I want it now!"
Below is a copy of the Compassionate Care Act currently under review in Albany NY by Governor Cuomo