Prominent cannabis advocate Dana Larsen called Mr Fantino's decision to enter the market "shameful" and "unacceptable".

The cops and politicians joining Canada’s cannabis business

By Jessica Murphy BBC, Toronto   29 December 2017

Former police chief and Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino speaks at his company, Aleafia

As Canada moves towards legalising recreational cannabis, there’s a surprising group of entrepreneurs jumping into the market: cops and politicians.

In 2015, former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino was “completely opposed” to marijuana legalisation and supported mandatory jail time for minor cannabis offences.

Mr Fantino, who was also a Cabinet minister in the former Conservative government, criticised the now governing-Liberals’ plan to legalise the drug, saying it would make smoking marijuana “a normal, everyday activity for Canadians”.

In November, along with former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar, he opened Aleafia, a “health network” that helps patients access medical cannabis.

He also had a change of heart on legalisation, telling the Toronto Star newspaper he now supports it as long as it keeps pot away from children and criminals.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he said his 2015 comments were made “in a different era”.

Mr Fantino said his turning point on medical marijuana came when he was minister of veterans affairs and met ex-soldiers who relied on it.

Marijuana activists who have fought against prohibition for decades – and sometimes faced subsequent criminal charges for their activities – were angry over Mr Fantino’s reversal on pot.

Prominent cannabis advocate Dana Larsen called Mr Fantino’s decision to enter the market “shameful” and “unacceptable”.

“I would not buy from those people,” he says, adding he would tell other marijuana users to do the same.

There is also concern the pot counterculture that flourished for decades will be elbowed out of a likely multi-billion dollar industry by a new corporate sector.

Mr Fantino is arguably among the more controversial entrepreneurs to join the “green rush”.

But a number of high-profile former police officers and politicians have jumped into the industry in recent years, including Mr Fantino’s Aleafia colleague and fellow ex-MP Gary Goodyear, former Ontario premier Ernie Eves and former deputy Toronto police chief Kim Derry.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001.

The industry got a boost in 2013 when federal government regulations shifted to allow licensed commercial producers to grow, package and distribute medicinal cannabis to patients.

Registered patients have also skyrocketed from 24,000 in June 2015 to more than 200,000 in June 2017.

Many of companies supplying that market have plans to expand into the recreational product when the product is legal next summer.

In December, the federal statistics agency estimated Canadians consumed an estimated C$5bn ($3.8bn; £2.9bn) to C$6.2bn worth of marijuana in 2015. Canadians spend about C$7bn a year on wine.

The government is pitching the legislation winding its way through Parliament as a way to keep pot out of the hands of minors and to undercut organised crime.

Derek Ogden spent more than 25 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including as head of the force’s drug squad.

He understands the frustration of activist watching the people they battled for decades now entering the industry.

“There’s absolutely no way Canada would be in this position right now as far as taking steps to legalise had it not been for the work that the activists did,” he says.

But Mr Ogden, who now runs National Access Cannabis, a consultancy that helps patients access medical marijuana, says it’s no surprise that ex-cops are in demand.

Licensed producers are hungry for people with security experience who can get clearances and who understand Canadian drug laws.

“One of the ideal groups of candidates to slide into those positions were former law enforcement personnel,” he says.

Mr Ogden himself got into the business around 2014, when Canadian and American producers hired him to consult on security protocols.

His nascent consulting company was “overwhelmed” by the demand.

Mr Ogden no longer believes that people who use medicinal cannabis are simply doing so “to avoid the legal implications” of using the drug recreationally.

He had an “aha moment” after meeting a respected physician who relied on cannabis during a bout with cancer. Mr Ogden now uses it himself for a chronic health issue.

He concedes changing his mind on its recreational use was “a tougher one”.

Former British Columbia municipal politician Barinder Rasode “grew up thinking [pot] was a gateway drug that ruined people’s lives”.

Now she’s president of the new National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education, which researches cannabis production and its use in Canada.

Marijuana activists have done “an amazing job” at highlighting problems with prohibition but with legalisation on the horizon, “having many voices at the table is really, really important”, she says.

“I don’t think the fact that somebody at some point had a different opinion about cannabis should exclude them,” she adds.

“I actually think their voices are extremely valuable.”

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in Canada. Almost 60% of drug offences in the country in 2016 were cannabis-related.

Mr Larsen says he doesn’t “want to put narcs in jail”. But he believes police and politicians who supported prohibition and are now entering the cannabis business should admit they were wrong.

“I want people who were victimised by cannabis prohibition – who went to jail, who had their families torn apart, who lost their children, who couldn’t access medical cannabis – I want their voices to be heard,” he said.

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIEW VIDEO!

"If you feel like something's wrong, there's something wrong,"

Possible sex traffickers throughout Kentucky

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) Across Kentucky, there’s been concern about possible sex traffickers approaching young women including right here in South Central Kentucky.

Similar stories of teens being suspiciously approached at shopping centers have been circulating around social media.

13 News reporter Kelly Dean spoke to one teen in the community who shared her encounter on Facebook, a post that received over 13,000 shares in 24 hours.

“As I got closer to her, she was like looking me up and down,” said Liberty Townley, a teen who experienced the suspicious encounter.

Recent stories and warnings have been blowing up social media, from Lexington, to Louisville, to right here in our community.

“Sometimes people aren’t as aware of human trafficking especially in their own community you know,” said Townley.

Townley is a 15-year-old from Glasgow who was shopping in Kohl’s Thursday when she was approached.

“She started asking me like super personal questions that people wouldn’t normally ask someone if they’re like witnessing to them,” explained Townley. Like ‘how old are you? Are you here alone? Are you under 18?'”

The woman claimed to be associated with a religious group that believes in God as a female and she invited Townley to a Bible study.

“She felt very frightened and wanted to get away,” said Jennifer Wright, Townley’s mother.

Unsettling and uncomfortable were words Townley used to describe the overall encounter.

“I was really scared. I was distraught because I never expected anything like that in our quiet community, and I felt like other people needed to be aware because they were probably clueless like I was,” said Townley.

Bowling Green nonprofit, Phoenix Rising, a trafficking awareness group, has received an abundance of calls the past 48 hours.

“We don’t accuse. We don’t know this group, we don’t know who they are, we don’t know anything about them, other than what we’ve been told on our calls,” said Missy Cunningham, Board President of Phoenix Rising​.

While informing the community is great, they’re redirecting the calls to somewhere else.

“We’re not there to investigate, we are there just to help the survivors and educate the public,” said Cunningham. “Get to safety first, and then contact local law enforcement.”

As a victim and an advocate for human trafficking awareness, Cunningham and Townley believe in trusting your intuition during various circumstances.

“If you feel like something’s wrong, there’s something wrong,” said Cunningham.

“If it can prevent one person, you know, save one life, then it’s worth it,” said Wright, regarding the purpose for allowing her daughter to speak out.

The Bowling Green Police Department said they’re investigating the situation. If anything like this happens to you, please file a report with your local police department.

CONTINUE READING…

Big Weed: ten farms could supply all of America with marijuana

When Washington State legalized recreational marijuana three years ago, it created a licensing regime that was supposed to protect and encourage small growers, but the data shows that marijuana growing has consolidated into a few large suppliers, even as the price per gram has fallen — and that the industry’s embrace of exotic derivatives like edibles and concentrates is capital-intensive and inaccessible to small, independent providers.

Recreational weed will be legal in California as of tomorrow, and the state is already the country’s largest marijuana market, thanks to the loose rules around medical marijuana. With legal weed racing across the country, there’s a real risk of the whole industry being captured by a few major firms — the whole US market for THC could be provided with 10,000 acres’ of cultivation acreage, about 10 midwestern farms’ worth.

The market for legal weed was already structurally unjust, with legal restrictions on the ability of people with drug records to participate in it — and since the browner and poorer you are, the more likely you are to get convicted of drug offenses (even though rich white people are the most prolific American drug users), the market was off-limits to the population that was given the harshest treatment by the War on Some Drugs.

Current regulations keep pot farms from infinitely expanding, but as legalization marches forward, bigger farms could well be permitted. This summer, regulators in Washington expanded the maximum farm size from 30,000 square feet to 90,000. California plans on capping farms at 1 acre, or 43,560 square feet, when the market first launches. But the state rules do not currently stop farmers from using multiple licenses, which opens the door for larger farms.

What would happen if pot farms could be as large as wheat or corn fields? According to Caulkins, 10 reasonably sized farms could conceivably produce the entire country’s supply of tetrahydrocannabinol, pot’s most famous active chemical (usually shortened to THC).

“You can grow all of the THC consumed in the entire country on less than 10,000 acres,” Caulkins said. “A common size for a Midwest farm is 1,000 acres.”

Legal Weed Isn’t The Boon Small Businesses Thought It Would Be [Lester Black/Fivethirtyeight]

(via Naked Capitalism)

CONTINUE READING…

State agents seize Heber City shop’s supply of CBD oil

by DJ Bolerjack   Thursday, December 28th 2017

cbd indiana

(KUTV) – The owner of a Heber City business, Medical Vanguard and Aspen Grove Rustics, is baffled after his cannabidiol, or CBD oil product, a nonpsychoactive byproduct from cannabis plants, was confiscated from his store’s shelves.

Manager of the business, Jenifer Tringham, told 2News Wednesday that they had checked with the DEA and found it was legal in all 50 states at the time.

The manager found the law confusing and since numerous smoke shops across Utah were selling the product, he assumed it was legal.

That profit was on the shelf for weeks, and Tringham said they were helping a lot of people and making a nice profit from it. But when the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing found out about them selling CBD, they were served a subpoena by state agents.

“We didn’t realize that here in Utah, those that have a medical card and that suffer from epilepsy, they’re the only ones I can really have a CBD oil on hand,” Tringham said.

Dr. Marc Babitz, with the Utah Health Department, said CBD oil is legal only by use in Utah, not to sell.

“Number one: You must see your neurologist, somebody that specializes in seizure disorder who documents that you have a seizure disorder. They fill out forms, you fill out forms, bring them to the Department of Health, verify the information is correct and if everything is fine we issue you a card in the card allows you to be in possession of CBD oil.” Babitz said.

That oil has to be purchased outside of the state in places where it’s legal. Like Nevada and Colorado. With that card, it’s legal to bring back into the state.

“I don’t know of anything that would allow the sale of marijuana products of any kind,” Babitz said.

Now, it’s unclear whether the owner will face charges.

“Right now we’re not selling it. We are abiding by what we were told to do and that was to take it off the shelf and that’s what we’re doing right now.” Tringham said.

If you want to hear more from business owners or the Department of Health on this issue watch the news story above.

CONTINUE READING….

MISC.

http://kutv.com/news/local/gallery/state-agents-seize-heber-city-shops-supply-of-cbd-oil#photo-4

http://kutv.com/news/local/state-agents-seize-heber-city-shops-supply-of-cbd-oil

Marijuana firms in cloudy haze over banking woes

(Reuters) – Zach Lazarus, chief executive officer of A Green Alternative, a marijuana dispensary in San Diego, California, has lost count every time he re-opened a bank account after it was closed because of his connection to the cannabis industry.

Lazarus has had to play a game of “whack-a-mole” with banks, likening his frustrations to a popular arcade game in which a player repeatedly gets rid of something only to have it re-appear somewhere else.

“We have had Chase Manhattan and Wells Fargo shut us down … my wife’s personal bank accounts and credit cards have been shut down as well, all because I‘m in the cannabis industry,” he says.

Lazarus and other marijuana business owners in the $8 billion industry resort to cash-only transactions for business and to pay employees because they cannot get access to banks.

Despite making legal inroads in the United States, with California the latest state to legalize marijuana for recreational use starting Jan. 1, owners still feel the pinch.

The main problem is the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy – making it almost impossible to get banking services.

Banks are governed by federal laws and doing business or extending services to the firms means tougher scrutiny, often at significant costs, as banks have to do their own due diligence to prove transactions are legal.

They are required to prove that the firms are not selling to minors, funding crime groups, and not using the pretext of selling marijuana to push illegal drugs among other things.

A poll conducted by industry publication Marijuana Business Daily in 2015 showed 60 percent of the companies operating in the cannabis industry reported not even having a basic bank account.

UNDERGROUND ECONOMY

The void makes it hard for cannabis companies to conduct basic financial transactions such as deposit money, receive federal insurance or pay taxes.

“Most marijuana companies have a courier service, or a Brinks truck, or a big wheelbarrow full of cash that they send to the Internal Revenue Service to pay their taxes,” says Stuart Titus, CEO of California-based Medical Marijuana Inc (MJNA.PK).

With an estimated 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers, according to Marijuana Business Daily, many marijuana business owners pay their employees in cash. bit.ly/2nQBeYw

“It is basically a kind of underground, cash-based economy,” said Titus.

Sapphire Blackwood, director of public affairs for the Association of Cannabis professionals, says she got paid in cash at her last firm, a San Diego-based cannabis consulting company.

“Because I get paid in cash, and even though I did no illegal activity, I’ve had to deposit so much cash every week and every so often … I felt like I was being stared at by the banks. It’s frightening,” she said.

Blackwood’s current firm also had banking problems. All the deposit accounts were closed because the word “cannabis” was in the name of the company, she said.

SHADY WORKAROUNDS

Workarounds exist but most are borderline unethical.

Medical Marijuana Inc0.17923

MJNA.PKOTC Markets Group – (Current Information)

+0.02(+15.48%)

MJNA.PK

  • MJNA.PK

A widely-used practice is to create a shell or a holding company whose operations are acceptable to banks, and conduct financial transactions through the holding company.

“In many states that have legalized cannabis, pot companies deposit cash under a different description,” says Tim McGraw, CEO of Canna-Hub, a California-based real estate development and property management company for the cannabis industry.

“A lot of operators set up accounts as real estate management companies or call themselves ‘medical marijuana’ companies when they are anything but,” McGraw added.

Others use personal bank accounts to deposit cash earned from the sale of products, wire payments to employees and pay companies.

However, California’s state treasurer John Chiang wants the state to consider creating a public/government-owned bank that could serve cannabis companies.

Chiang’s office formed a group made up of representatives from law enforcement agencies, banks, taxing authorities, local government and the cannabis industry.

It held several meetings with owners to discuss ways to alleviate banking challenges and make information more available to banks for better transparency.

Talks have also begun to form a multi-state group to lobby Congress to ease federal regulations for marijuana companies and remove the Schedule I drug classification.

But it will be an uphill battle. In November, Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a congressional hearing said former President Barack Obama-era guidelines on cannabis will remain, meaning even though a state can legalize marijuana, it will continue to be illegal on the federal level.

To view a graphic on Legalization legislation jpg, click on this link: tmsnrt.rs/2AC91Hk

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

CONTINUE READING…

Marijuana firms in cloudy haze over banking woes

(Reuters) – Zach Lazarus, chief executive officer of A Green Alternative, a marijuana dispensary in San Diego, California, has lost count every time he re-opened a bank account after it was closed because of his connection to the cannabis industry.

Lazarus has had to play a game of “whack-a-mole” with banks, likening his frustrations to a popular arcade game in which a player repeatedly gets rid of something only to have it re-appear somewhere else.

“We have had Chase Manhattan and Wells Fargo shut us down … my wife’s personal bank accounts and credit cards have been shut down as well, all because I‘m in the cannabis industry,” he says.

Lazarus and other marijuana business owners in the $8 billion industry resort to cash-only transactions for business and to pay employees because they cannot get access to banks.

Despite making legal inroads in the United States, with California the latest state to legalize marijuana for recreational use starting Jan. 1, owners still feel the pinch.

The main problem is the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy – making it almost impossible to get banking services.

Banks are governed by federal laws and doing business or extending services to the firms means tougher scrutiny, often at significant costs, as banks have to do their own due diligence to prove transactions are legal.

They are required to prove that the firms are not selling to minors, funding crime groups, and not using the pretext of selling marijuana to push illegal drugs among other things.

A poll conducted by industry publication Marijuana Business Daily in 2015 showed 60 percent of the companies operating in the cannabis industry reported not even having a basic bank account.

UNDERGROUND ECONOMY

The void makes it hard for cannabis companies to conduct basic financial transactions such as deposit money, receive federal insurance or pay taxes.

“Most marijuana companies have a courier service, or a Brinks truck, or a big wheelbarrow full of cash that they send to the Internal Revenue Service to pay their taxes,” says Stuart Titus, CEO of California-based Medical Marijuana Inc (MJNA.PK).

With an estimated 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers, according to Marijuana Business Daily, many marijuana business owners pay their employees in cash. bit.ly/2nQBeYw

“It is basically a kind of underground, cash-based economy,” said Titus.

Sapphire Blackwood, director of public affairs for the Association of Cannabis professionals, says she got paid in cash at her last firm, a San Diego-based cannabis consulting company.

“Because I get paid in cash, and even though I did no illegal activity, I’ve had to deposit so much cash every week and every so often … I felt like I was being stared at by the banks. It’s frightening,” she said.

Blackwood’s current firm also had banking problems. All the deposit accounts were closed because the word “cannabis” was in the name of the company, she said.

SHADY WORKAROUNDS

Workarounds exist but most are borderline unethical.

Medical Marijuana Inc0.17923

MJNA.PKOTC Markets Group – (Current Information)

+0.02(+15.48%)

MJNA.PK

  • MJNA.PK

A widely-used practice is to create a shell or a holding company whose operations are acceptable to banks, and conduct financial transactions through the holding company.

“In many states that have legalized cannabis, pot companies deposit cash under a different description,” says Tim McGraw, CEO of Canna-Hub, a California-based real estate development and property management company for the cannabis industry.

“A lot of operators set up accounts as real estate management companies or call themselves ‘medical marijuana’ companies when they are anything but,” McGraw added.

Others use personal bank accounts to deposit cash earned from the sale of products, wire payments to employees and pay companies.

However, California’s state treasurer John Chiang wants the state to consider creating a public/government-owned bank that could serve cannabis companies.

Chiang’s office formed a group made up of representatives from law enforcement agencies, banks, taxing authorities, local government and the cannabis industry.

It held several meetings with owners to discuss ways to alleviate banking challenges and make information more available to banks for better transparency.

Talks have also begun to form a multi-state group to lobby Congress to ease federal regulations for marijuana companies and remove the Schedule I drug classification.

But it will be an uphill battle. In November, Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a congressional hearing said former President Barack Obama-era guidelines on cannabis will remain, meaning even though a state can legalize marijuana, it will continue to be illegal on the federal level.

To view a graphic on Legalization legislation jpg, click on this link: tmsnrt.rs/2AC91Hk

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky: Marijuana Legalization Bill to be Introduced For 2018

cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

Republican state Senator Dan Seum plans on introducing legislation for the 2018 session that legalizes the adult use of and sale of cannabis.

Lawmakers in the 2018 legislative session will be primarily focused on crafting and passing a two-year state budget bill. The Senator believes that casting adult use legalization as a “jobs bill” will gain in traction.

“I’m looking at adult use, because that’s where the money is at,” Seum said.

According to the DEA, agents confiscated over 300,000 marijuana plants in Kentucky in 2016 — the third highest total of any state in the nation.

Enter your information below to send a letter to your state elected officials in support of this effort.

CONTINUE HERE!

Rob Kampia Leaves Marijuana Policy Project

December 24, 2017

By  Tom Angell

Marijuana Policy Project founder Rob Kampia is no longer employed by or serves on the board of the organization.

He is starting a new cannabis policy group called Marijuana Leadership Campaign (MLC), structured as a for-profit LLC consulting firm.

The new company “will focus almost exclusively on changing U.S. laws,” Kampia said in a relatively unusual memo shared with Marijuana Moment late Saturday night, which also says that the firm has lined up “nearly $500,000 in seed money” from “a marijuana investment firm in Los Angeles, a major marijuana dispensary in Colorado, Kampia’s wealthy friends in Texas (where he lives half-time) and a coalition of new donors in South Carolina.”

The split with MPP is occurring as greater attention is being paid to past allegations of sexual misconduct by Kampia amidst a national backlash against workplace sexual harassment and abuse.

In 2010, a lengthy Washington City Paper story reported that Kampia had sex with an intoxicated MPP employee, an incident after which a staff revolt nearly led to his ouster from the organization. He later took a leave of absence to seek therapy, telling the Washington Post that he was “hypersexualized.”

Now, Kampia’s departure from MPP comes as several sources tell Marijuana Moment that a major newspaper is working on a story about previously unreported allegations against the former executive director. It is unknown when that article will be published, but its existence has been an open secret in cannabis reform circles for weeks.

Formally leaving the organization is the second and final wave in Kampia’s diminishing role at MPP, which he co-founded in 1995.

In November, days before Thanksgiving, MPP announced that Kampia had stepped down from his role as executive director but would remain at the organization in a new capacity focused on fundraising and strategy.

The new memo, shared with Marijuana Moment just before midnight on the day before Christmas Eve, says that the first announcement “opened new business opportunities for Kampia” and that while he “initially proposed splitting his time equally between MPP and the new MLC, Kampia and his fellow MPP board members reached a second milestone by voting unanimously on Dec. 20 to end his full-time status at MPP this weekend.”

It was also revealed this week that Kampia is no longer a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Advisory Council. Kampia said in an interview with Marijuana Moment on Sunday that he remains a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) board of directors.

The memo appears to lay out the case that Kampia’s departure from MPP has nothing to do with any old or new allegations of sexual misconduct, and he said in the interview that conversations among the organization’s board “about me shifting into lesser roles at MPP extend all the way back into late October.”

“We didn’t even talk about the s-word at all,” he said, referring to sex. “It wasn’t even on our minds, which I think was kind of naive of us given the stuff that’s happening with all of these celebrities.”

But Kampia acknowledged in the interview that he “did know that there was a story in the works somewhere” at the time he registered the domain name www.marijuanaleadershipcampaign.com on December 5.

“I didn’t know which publication. I didn’t know any of the questions. I didn’t know the name of the reporter. I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I just knew that people were sort of talking about how there’s a story in the works.”

Kampia has been a key architect of many of the most significant marijuana policy victories over the past two decades, and has arguably been the legalization movement’s best fundraiser.

In the memo, he says that MLC “will work alongside the institutions he views as most effective in each sector” of the movement and industry. While the document names MPP, NCIA and New Federalism Fund as “leading the charge,” and says that the new company will “provide substantial funding” for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) and Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Kampia said in the interview that he hasn’t “cleared the fact that I want to give them money” with those groups.

LEAP and DFCR did not respond to requests for comment.

The memo says Kampia will divide his time between work on Texas, South Carolina, Michigan and congressional cannabis policy reform efforts as well as “raising money to make MDMA (known as ‘Ecstasy’) available as a prescription medicine for the treatment of PTSD and end-of-life anxiety.”

He plans to raise more than $2 million in 2018 from steering committees comprised of donors contributing at least $100,000 each.

When asked if the investors who have already committed nearly half a million dollars to the new venture are aware of the looming newspaper story on sexual misconduct allegations, Kampia said that “they know about the worst allegations that have ever been made about me, and I have no reason to believe that the [newspaper] story will be worse than that, so these guys are friends of the family and they’re not going to be surprised by anything in the [newspaper] and in fact they might be pleasantly surprised.”

Several of the projects mentioned in the MLC document are campaigns that Kampia had been raising money to support through MPP, but he rejected the idea that his outside efforts would drain the nonprofit of resources.

“Are there people that want to fund Texas where they might otherwise be nervous about writing a check to MPP, where they might have to pay for payroll for Rhode Island, Vermont and the national operation?” he asked, suggesting that his new outfit would be “value-added” rather than competition.

“One thing for sure that no one would do if not for the fact that I’m going to agitate for it, is to take out Congressman Pete Sessions,” he said, referring to the Republican House Rules Committee chairman who has consistently blocked marijuana amendments from being voted on. “Take out, meaning not to date him,” he said, but to un-elect him.

In the memo, Kampia twice offers quotes that he suggests are in jest, at least in part.

In the first instance, he jokes that working full-time for nonprofit organizations is “a good way to avoid amassing wealth,” while working on marijuana policy reform through an LLC will allow him to form business relationships with for-profit institutions.

Kampia, who owns a Washington, D.C,. row house that he has often referred to as “The Purple Mansion,” dismissed concerns that people might take offense to his quip about amassing wealth.

“It depends on what your definition of wealth is. I don’t have cash,” he said in the interview. “All my money goes into my mortgage. So you could say that I have we
alth or not, depending on your perspective. I don’t mind if that offends people or not, because socialists who are averse to wealth probably already hate me.”

He also “half-jokingly” wrote that he hopes “to be standing behind President Rand Paul during his bill-signing ceremony [for ‘the ultimate bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level’] in the White House in 2022.”

“I don’t think Trump is going to survive reelection,” he said when asked what Paul’s path to the presidency in the 2020 election would be. “I would like to see [Trump] impeached…and I think Mike Pence is tainted as a result of being in bed with Trump. So I think that you are going to see a bunch of challengers… Rand Paul was obviously my favorite candidate last time around and so I’m cheering him on. I don’t have any inside knowledge, though. I haven’t talked to him personally.”

The memo mentions Kampia’s holiday vacation plans in the Caribbean and says that when he returns to the country the new organization will hold a series of leadership meetings in Austin, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

He will also write a book that “provides an insider’s look at the marijuana-legalization movement.” He told Marijuana Moment that the working title is, “How We Legalized Marijuana.”

The memo offers a very specific account of the book’s progress to date.

“I’m particularly excited about writing my book, which will be nonfiction but will oftentimes read like fiction, as my life is strewn with outrageous experiences that are sometimes relevant to readers who have an interest in politics generally and marijuana policy specifically,” Kampia wrote. “The book is already one-eighth written, and I’m planning to spend my time in the Bahamas and other sunny islands writing another three- eighths of the book. In fact, one reason I’m leaving MPP is to write this book, with an aggressive book tour planned for the fall of 2018.”

As of Sunday afternoon, Kampia was still listed as an employee and board member on MPP’s website.

An MPP communications staffer could not be reached for comment by publication time, but a board member who did not wish to be named said, “I can confirm that we have been negotiating his permanent separation from the org for weeks and that he is no longer conducting any MPP business.”

Read Kampia’s full three-page memo on the new firm belowhttps://www.marijuanamoment.net/rob-kampia-leaves-marijuana-policy-project/:

CONTINUE READING…

Labor unions see organizing California marijuana workers as a way to grow

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Unions have caught a whiff of a rare opportunity to organize a whole new set of workers as recreational marijuana becomes legal in California.

The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labor’s lagging membership — if infighting doesn’t get in the way.

The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez, says that organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit, and that growers could label their products with the union’s logo as a marketing strategy.

“If you’re a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you,” national Vice President Armando Elenes said.

But United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery store employees, meat packers and retail workers, registered its intent to organize cannabis workers across the country.

“We would hope they respect our jurisdiction,” UFCW spokesman Jeff Ferro said.

Teamsters organizer Kristin Heidelbach said there’s no need for unions to battle each other. There will be plenty of workers needing representation as small cannabis businesses run by “happy stoner” types give way to large pharmaceutical corporations, she said.

The green rush that begins in 2018 is an opportunity for unions to regain influence that began declining in the late 1950s, said David Zonderman, a professor of labor history at North Carolina State University. But discord between unions could upend it, as could resistance from cannabis business leaders.

California's top marijuana regulator talks about what to expect Jan. 1, when legal pot market opens

“Are they going to be new age and cool with it,” Zonderman said, “or like other businesspeople, say, ‘Heck, no. We’re going to fight them tooth and nail’?”

Last year, California voters approved sales of recreational marijuana to those 21 and older at licensed shops beginning Jan. 1.

Cannabis in California already is a $22-billion industry, including medical marijuana and a black market that accounts for most of that total, according to UC Davis agriculture economist Philip Martin. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, when California was the first state to approve such a law.

Labor leaders estimate recreational pot in California could employ at least 100,000 workers from the north coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Joaquin Valley, harvesting and trimming the plants, extracting ingredients to put in liquids and edibles, and driving it to stores and front doors.

Pot workers have organized in other states, but California should be especially friendly territory for unions, said Jamie Schau, a senior analyst with Brightfield Group, which does marketing analysis on the marijuana industry.

The state has one of the nation’s highest minimum wages and the largest number of unionized workers across industries. Its laws also tend to favor employees.

At least some workers say they’re open to unionizing.

“I’m always down to listen to what could be a good deal for me and my family,” said Thomas Grier, 44, standing behind the counter at Canna Can Help Inc., a dispensary in the Central Valley community of Goshen.

The dispensary — with $7 million in yearly sales — sells medical marijuana.

Called a “bud tender,” Grier recently waited on a steady flow of regular customers walking through the door to pick out their favorite strains.

He said that so far, no unions have contacted him. Grier gets along with his boss and said he doesn’t want to pay union dues for help ironing out workplace disputes. But he hasn’t discounted the possibility of joining.

After recently entering the marijuana industry, Los Angeles resident Richard Rodriguez said one sticky traffic stop three months ago converted him into a “hard core” Teamster. He’d never been in a union until this year.

Rodriguez said an officer pulled him over while he was delivering a legal shipment of pot. He was accused of following too closely behind a semi-truck and was detained for 12 hours, he said.

A union lawyer stepped in, and Rodriguez said he was released without being arrested or given a ticket.

“Most companies can’t or are unwilling to do that,” he said, “because employees are easily replaced.”

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Meet Dan Canon, the House candidate who wants to cure the opioid crisis by legalising marijuana

Mr Canon isn’t shying away from the controversial topic in his outsider House bid

Dan Canon, a candidate for the US House of Representatives in Indiana, has a simple solution for curing America’s opioid crisis: Legalise pot.

“I think the criminalisation of marijuana is an anachronism,” Mr Canon told The Independent in a recent interview. “There’s just no place for it in 21st century America.”

Mr Canon, a music teacher turned civil rights lawyer who lives with his wife and two kids in Southern Indiana, claimed he’s not personally invested in legalising marijuana – “I never personally enjoyed using it,” he said – but took interest in the issue when some of his legal clients asked him about it.


Slowly, Mr Canon became convinced that legalising marijuana was the solution to America’s opioid crisis – and more.

More than two million Americans are currently dependent on opioids. The broad class of drugs includes both illegal street drugs, like heroin, and legal painkillers, like morphine, oxycodone or hydrocodone. The two variants share a sinister interplay: The majority of heroin addicts, studies show, start off by misusing their legal pain medication.

The consequences of this pattern are staggering: More than 90 people in the US die from an opioid overdose every day. Between 2002 and 2016, the number of fatal heroin overdoses alone jumped more than 500 per cent. As the crisis continues to worsen, experts forecast that almost 500,000 people could die from opioid use in the next 10 years.

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Mr Canon gives a speech on the campaign trail in Indiana (Dan Canon)

Mr Canon puts the blame for this crisis squarely at the feet of pharmaceutical companies. He claimed these companies push doctors to prescribe “fistfuls” of opioids to pain patients even when a natural, safer option already exists.

“In states where there is no medical marijuana available, like Indiana, you’ve got doctors that are left with no option but to prescribe these addictive pharmaceuticals instead of something that is safe, and legal, and natural, and has never caused an overdose death – ever,” he said.

Many of Mr Canon’s fellow lawyers have taken a similar position. Just this year, attorneys in Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, New York and California all filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, claiming they had overstated the benefits of opioids while downplaying the risks of addiction. In two of those cases, the drug manufacturer has already agreed to settle.

But Mr Canon is tackling the issue through a different kind of lawsuit. The 40-year-old currently represents three Kentuckians suing the state over its criminal ban on marijuana. Two of the three plaintiffs say marijuana helped them cure symptoms that would otherwise be treated by opioids.

“I’ve been out here using cannabis on a daily basis to deal with all the spinal problems I have,” Dan Seum, one of the complainants, told The Independent. He added: “It’s a hell of a lot easier to live with that than it is with the opioids.”

Mr Seum was prescribed opioids by his doctor after a botched back surgery. But the drugs, he said, made it impossible for him to function. They did little for his pain, disrupted his sleeping patterns, and made his thinking foggy. His day job – working as a high school football coach – felt nearly impossible. Cannabis was the only thing that cured the pain.

With marijuana in his system, however, Mr Seum said many doctors refused to treat him. That’s when he and the other plaintiffs decided to file suit.

“We just got desperate, and that’s when we found Dan,” Mr Seum said. “Thank God he stepped in.”

The Kentucky suit is still making its way through the courts. A circuit court judge threw the case out in September, but Mr Canon’s law firm filed an appeal shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, there’s some evidence to suggest that the plaintiffs are on the right track.

A 2015 review of more than 40 clinical trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found high-quality evidence that cannabis could be used to treat chronic pain, neuropathic pain and some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Another study published in the same journal found states that legalised medical cannabis saw significantly lower rates of opioid overdoses.

(Mile high city: Inside Denver’s billion-dollar marijuana industry)

The research on medical marijuana is still developing, however, and is riddled with red flags. The same study that found cannabis could treat pain also noted that it could produce serious side effects, ranging from chronic bronchitis to psychotic illness. Marijuana is also potentially addictive: One study found it creates significant problems in work, school or relationships for 9 per cent of adult users.

It’s also far from clear whether marijuana is the opioid crisis cure-all that Mr Canon wants it to be. Gary Franklin, a professor in the department of health services at the University of Washington, is just one of the medical marijuana sceptics.

“He’s got a big assumption in there,” Mr Franklin told The Independent of Mr Canon’s plan. “Number one, that marijuana helps pain, and number two, that if you use marijuana for pain, it would reduce your use of opioids.”

Mr Franklin says he’s seen no evidence that marijuana usage – even if it helps with pain – can reduce usage of opioids. On top of that, the drug is essentially useless in the setting where most people encounter opioids: the immediate aftermath of a serious injury or surgery.

“If someone comes in with an acute injury or needs surgery, they’re not going to give you marijuana,” Mr Franklin, who is also the medical director of the Washington State Department of Labour, said. “They’re going to give you opioids.”

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Mr Canon meets with a supporter on the campaign trail (Dan Canon)

Luckily for Mr Canon, there i
s a long list of other reasons the candidate thinks legalising marijuana is a “no brainer”: It will create more jobs, reinvigorate family farms, and generate more tax revenue for states. Mr Canon points to Colorado, which made $506m (£379m) in tax revenue from legal marijuana in slightly over two years. Much of that revenue, he suggested, could go towards rehabilitation for opioid crisis victims.

If legalising one drug to stop the spread of another sounds counterintuitive, Mr Canon maintains that it’s not.

“You are legalising something that is safe and natural, and has never killed anyone ever to combat the spread of something that is killing a hundred people a day due to overdose,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too difficult to do the utilitarian calculus on that.”

It seems support for Mr Canon’s opinion is growing. A CBS News poll from April of this year found that 88 per cent of Americans favour legalising medical marijuana. Sixty-four per cent support legalising the drug for recreational use too, according to a Gallup poll from October – up four percentage points from the same time last year. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for medical marijuana use.

And as medical marijuana laws keep loosening, Mr Canon claimed, support for legalisation will only grow.

“More and more people are touched by this, and more and more people are in need,” he said. “There’s a reason why there is such overwhelming popular support for the legalisation of medical marijuana: Because it’s touched the lives in some way shape or form of just about everybody.”

He added: “People can recognise good policy when they see it.”

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