Why Canadian marijuana companies are going public in 2017

Submitted by Marijuana News on Fri, 06/09/2017 – 08:45

The marijuana market in Canada is prepped for additional growth: several companies plan to go public in 2017 since the country’s regulations are more favorable, giving investors more options in this growing sector.

Companies are choosing to file their IPOs in Canada because of the more restrictive environment in the U.S., said Michael Berger, founder of Technical420, a Miami-based company that conducts research on cannabis stocks, and a former Raymond James energy analyst. The legal cannabis market expanded significantly during the past year and medical marijuana is now legal in countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada, Uruguay and Colombia.

By 2018, Canada’s legal recreational cannabis market should generate over $10 billion a year.

“One theme we recognized over the last year is an increasing number of companies listing on Canadian stock exchanges,” he said. “These companies are choosing to list in Canada due to better business policies.”

The number of registered patients is growing at a rapid pace in Canada as licensed producers continue to find innovative ways to create value for its shareholders. The number of patients is nearly 200,000 and growing 10% on a month over month basis, Berger said. The liquidity in the market is also beneficial for investors.

“In Canada, companies can use bank accounts, claim taxes, and write off business expenses legally unlike the U.S. where cannabis companies cannot do any of that and are frequently switching banks on account of their account being closed due to the focus on the cannabis industry,” he said.

The Canadian marijuana market and legislation is outpacing the U.S. because Canada has legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana on the federal level, said Jason Spatafora, co-founder of Marijuanastocks.com and a Miami-based trader and investor known as @WolfofWeedST on Twitter.

“Canada has allowed licensed producers of cannabis to take their companies public in a meaningful way compared to the U.S. since there are still American companies which do not touch the plant directly,” he said.

The Next Canadian Cannabis IPOs

A medical cannabis producer, The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings, is planning to go public in the second half of 2017, said Berger. The company cultivates medical marijuana under Health Canada from a 100-acre farm in Ancaster, Ontario and has already completed two oversubscribed financing rounds with over 2,500 investors, “which is a testament to the company’s leadership and success,” he said.

One factor investors need to consider is the track record of the management team and The Green Organic Dutchman has “one of the best in the industry,” Berger said. “The management team has a proven track record and they were the team that brought together OrganiGram (OGRMF) and Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), two successful Canadian licensed medical cannabis producers. Although the team’s role with those companies was different, they learned invaluable lessons which have also been implemented in this company.”

Compared to its competitors, the company has differentiated itself by growing organic cannabis and is levered to a market that is experiencing a 10% on a month-over-month basis on sales.

“The Organic Dutchman is part of a rapidly growing market, generates a strong balance sheet and consists of several strategic partners,” he said.

High Street Capital Partners, a New York-based real estate company that owns and operates cannabis cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 14 states across the U.S., could go public by the summer.

Although High Street is levered to the U.S. market, the company plans to list in Canada due to better regulatory environment. The company is an attractive opportunity since it has over 60% of the market share in Maine, 11 dispensaries in Illinois, one of the largest dispensaries in the Boston area and other attractive and profitable locations, said Berger.

Based in Ontario, CannTrust, a federally regulated licensed medical cannabis producer, is also planning to go public on the TSX this year. The company is an “attractive” opportunity, because it brings more than 40 years of pharmacy and healthcare experience to the cannabis industry. The company offers various proprietary products, operates out of a 40,000-square foot state-of-the-art hydroponic facility and its lab conducts testing and research on their products.

Risks in Cannabis Stocks

The risk of investing in IPOs for retail traders can be high, especially if they are not familiar with the industry since it is a nascent sector.

“For traders like myself IPOs are only interesting to me if they’re in an emerging market or if as a private company they have solved a problem or created a revenue generating efficiency,” said Spatafora. “IPOs do help fund innovation occasionally on a global sense, but they also pull liquidity from sectors and break hearts such as Snapchat.”

The most recent Canadian company to go public was medical producer Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), which went public on the TSX Venture Exchange in December 2016.

“This offering was nothing short of success,” said Berger. “Retail accredited investors purchased shares at $0.75 and $1.15 before the IPO. Once the shares commenced trading, Emblem was trading above the $3 level.”

Although the cannabis market is burgeoning, some newcomers could wind up not being profitable for several years. Choosing the winners is not always an exact science. Investors should be wary and conduct due diligence since popular stocks are not always profitable.

“Cannabis is an emerging market and as an investment it is a once in three generation opportunity that is barely through its first inning,” Spatafora said. “Just like dot com investors needed to pick their spots to invest in, people should not make just any marijuana investment.”

Investing in an early stage company is often riskier, said Berger.

“While the cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the world, leaning to an influx in the number of cannabis companies going public, we have seen several highly anticipated IPOs not live up to expectations and burn through its working capital before being able to deliver on its promises,” he said. “Investors need to look into the company’s balance sheet and determine if it has enough capital to execute on its plan and to make sure its deploying capital to the right places and not on management’s salaries.”

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DOJ’s Mysterious Marijuana Subcommittee

Submitted by Marijuana News on Wed, 06/07/2017 – 08:45

Few details have emerged about a potentially influential review.

Led by an outspoken legalization opponent, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is reviewing federal marijuana policy, with significant changes possible soon. Almost nothing about the review process is publicly known and key players in the policy debate have not been contacted.

The outcome of the review could devastate a multibillion-dollar industry and countermand the will of voters in eight states if the Obama administration’s permissive stance on non-medical sales is reversed.

What is known: The review is being conducted by a subcommittee of a larger crime-reduction task force that will issue recommendations by July 27. The subcommittee was announced in April alongside other subcommittees reviewing charging and sentencing.

The task force is co-chaired by Steve Cook, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tennessee who like Sessions advocates harsh criminal penalties and a traditional view of drug prohibition. The other co-chair is Robyn Thiemann, a longtime department official who works as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy.

The marijuana subcommittee is led by Michael Murray, counsel to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, U.S. News has learned.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 2009, Murray ricocheted between law firms and public-sector jobs. He served less than a year as an assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia in 2013 before clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, according to his LinkedIn page. He worked at the Jones Day law firm before joining the Trump Justice Department.

Murray could not be reached for comment and Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior declined to comment on the “deliberative processes within the department“ when asked to discuss Murray’s role.

The department declined to identify other members of the subcommittee, the scope of its policy review or name outside groups that are being consulted.

The lack of information provided and the seemingly secretive nature of the review has proponents of a more lenient marijuana policy concerned.

“It’s difficult to ascertain any clear information about the subcommittee and how they’re working,” says Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade group representing marijuana businesses.

West says the group is focused on building relationships with members of Congress and points to overwhelming public support for respecting state marijuana laws — 73 percent, according to an April survey by Quinnipiac University.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a large advocacy group that has led many of the successful state legalization campaigns, also says it is not in touch with the subcommittee.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a leading marijuana reform advocate, requested to meet with Sessions about the issue but was refused, says Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubbs.

“Without knowing much about the approach the subcommittee is taking, it’s hard to say whether we’d expect them to reach out,” West says. “So far, [Sessions’] comments have not indicated a lot of willingness to work together toward common ground.”

It’s unclear if agencies under the Justice Department’s umbrella, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, are contributing to the subcommittee.

DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg told U.S. News on Tuesday that he is not personally involved in the review, and that he didn’t know if any of his subordinates are. A DEA spokesman was not immediately able to provide additional information.


Vermont would join eight states and the nation's capital in allowing recreational pot use. State cannabis laws vary significantly and many are in the process of implementation.

Eight states have laws authorizing regulated recreational marijuana sales. More than half allow medical marijuana. (STEVEN NELSON FOR USN&WR)


Marijuana possession for any reason outside limited research remains a federal crime. Most state medical programs are protected from federal enforcement by a congressional spending restriction. Recreational programs are protected only by the 2013 Cole Memothat allowed states to regulate sales so long as certain enforcement triggers aren’t tripped, such as diversion to other states, distribution to minors, public health consequences and involvement of criminal groups.

State-legal cannabis businesses hit $6.7 billion in estimated sales last year. Cannabis companies are believed to employ more than 100,000 workers and they collect hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal taxes.

Listening to diverse points of view on marijuana policy is significant because the effects of regulated sales are debated, and data can be spliced to support a point of view.

For example, multiple federal and statesurveys indicate that teen use of marijuana has not increased since 2012, when the states legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older. But use rates have fluctuated for years, so comparing current use to a particularly low-use year further in the past can offer a different impression about trends.

Diversion to other states is also debated. A law enforcement task force called Rocky Mountain HIDTA claimed that intercepts of marijuana mail out of Colorado increased following legalization, sourcing the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. But a USPIS spokesperson told U.S. News state-specific records did not exist. Though state-specific records are not available, national parcel intercepts did increase in 2016 after two years of declines. Two states sued Colorado unsuccessfully claiming spillover.

Mexican drug cartels, meanwhile, have been caught smuggling significantly lessmarijuana across the southern border. And it’s unclear if local increases in drugged driving arrests and marijuana hospital admissions are primarily the result of legalization policies or improved awareness and reporting.

In April, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Sessions told him the Cole Memo was “not too far from good policy.” But the attorney general has repeatedly made clear his personal objection to marijuana use and legalization.

In March Sessions scoffed at marijuana’s medical potential and evidence showing legal access associated with less opioid abuse. The prepared copy of a March speech called marijuana use a “life-wrecking dependency” that’s “only slightly less awful” than heroin addiction. In May Sessions said there was “too much legalization talk and not enough prevention talk.” Last year, he famously declared that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

President Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that he does not personally support marijuana legalization, but favors state autonomy. Recent national polls show roughly 60 percent of Americans believe marijuana use should be legal.

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Cannabis and the Constitution: A Brief History of Cannabis in the U.S.

Lisa Rough

The Constitution of the United States is arguably the most important document in the history of this country, aside from possibly the Declaration of Independence. It forms the backbone of America’s most basic rights, liberties, and laws upon which democracy is founded.

In its original form, the Constitution contained no mention of drugs or alcohol. In order to enact alcohol prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment was introduced and ratified in 1919, specifically stating that the production, transport, and sale of alcohol was illegal. The prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, until the Twenty-first Amendment was introduced to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment in its entirety and re-legalize alcohol.

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

The first international prohibition of drugs came in the form of the International Opium Convention, an international drug treaty commissioned in response to the rising opium trade. The International Opium Convention was signed on January 23, 1912 and went into force globally in 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. The initial objective of the treaty was not prohibition or criminalization of drugs, but rather restricting exports of opium, coca, and cannabis.

In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to deem cannabis, along with alcohol, morphine, and opium, as “addictive and/or dangerous.” The law required drug labels to list any of these ingredients, and was primarily a “truth in labeling” law, although it was credited with paving the way for the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Curiously, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other such drugs continued to be available legally without a prescription, so long as they were properly labeled.

Then, along came Harry Anslinger.

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The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

As head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger took note of the rising use of cannabis in the 1930’s. In 1935, he urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt the Uniform State Narcotic Act, using the Hearst newspaper chain to promote the campaign. The Uniform State Act defined “habit forming drugs” as coca leaves, opium, “cannabis indica,” or “cannabis sativa,” and although only nine states adopted the regulations, it was drafted without any scientific study or evidentiary basis for the marijuana section.

Anslinger continued on a nationwide campaign against cannabis, declaring that marijuana causes temporary insanity. He produced films and advertisements that featured young people smoking cannabis, committing crimes, and killing themselves or others. This is exemplified in the infamous propaganda film, Reefer Madness.

The U.S. government official also made no compunctions about who, exactly, the campaign was aimed against. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” Anslinger said. “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” He also offered a charming portrait of the average cannabis consumer, to his knowledge. “Most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

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It’s Time to Treat Medical Cannabis Like Medicine

In 1937, Anslinger drafted the Marijuana Tax Act, which did not criminalize the possession or use of cannabis; rather, it imposed a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone commercially dealing in cannabis or hemp.

Dr. William Woodward, legislative counsel to the American Medical Association, vehemently opposed the bill, noting that much of the “evidence” presented originated from Anslinger himself, and that the use of the word “marijuana,” which was largely unknown at the time, prevented physicians from realizing they would lose cannabis as medicine. “Marijuana is not the correct term,” argued Woodward. “Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”

Anslinger may not have actually created the law to prohibit cannabis, but he is certainly responsible for changing the public perception of cannabis from an innocuous substance available in many tinctures and medicines at the pharmacy to a dangerous, addictive, stigmatized drug, a perception that persists today.


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How Mexican ‘Herbolarias’ Transformed Hemp into Psychoactive Marijuana

In 1969, Richard Nixon drafted the Controlled Substances Act, the legislation that criminalized the use and possession of cannabis, and ruled that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no established medicinal value. The term “controlled substance” was defined to exclude alcohol and tobacco, an important exemption, as these are two of the most widely used drugs (with some of the most addictive properties).

The United States Constitution was drafted in order to spread power among many groups, by a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person has too much power. Thus, the Controlled Substances Act could be changed by the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, or by petition from any interested party.

Since 1970, there have been numerous petitions to reschedule cannabis. The first petition was filed by NORML in 1972 and was not given a hearing until 1986, and another attempt in 1981 from Representative Stewart McKinney was also shot down. Since then, it has been a recurrent theme of petition and denial through the years.

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge

During a hearing on the subject in 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that, “In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Whether or not the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether the prohibition of cannabis is truly for the safety of the country, or simply for the peace of mind of a few select opponents still entrenched in the past.

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The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

Anna Wilcox

The word “marijuana” plays a controversial role in cannabis culture. Many well-known organizations such as Oakland’s Harborside Heath Center have publicly denounced “the M word” in favor of our favorite plant’s Latinate name, cannabis. Even Salon Magazine, a major press outlet outside of the cannabis industry, published an article titled “Is the word ‘Marijuana’ racist?” last year.

As mainstream culture becomes a little more herb-friendly, the terminology used by the industry is coming to center stage. But, why exactly does the term “marijuana” cause so much debate? Even worse, why has the word gained publicity as a racist term?

To save you from reading those lengthy history books or some boring academic articles, we’ve created this brief timeline to give you the low-down on “marijuana”’s rise to popularity in the United States. Here’s what you need to know:

The Mexican Revolution

1840-1900:

Prior to 1910, “marijuana” didn’t exist as a word in American culture. Rather, “cannabis” was used, most often in reference to medicines and remedies for common household ailments. In the early 1900s, what have now become pharmaceutical giants—Bristol-Meyer’s Squib and Eli Lilly—used to include cannabis and cannabis extracts in their medicines.

During this time, Americans (particularly elite Americans) were going through a hashish trend. Glamorized by literary celebrities such as Alexander Dumas, experimenting with cannabis products became a fad among those wealthy enough to afford imported goods.

1910:

Between the years of 1910 and 1920, over 890,000 Mexicans legally immigrated into the United States seeking refuge from the wreckage of civil war. Though cannabis had been a part of U.S. history since the country’s beginnings, the idea of smoking the plant recreationally was not as common as other forms of consumption. The idea of smoking cannabis entered mainstream American consciousness after the arrival of immigrants who brought the smoking habit with them.

1913:

The first bill criminalizing the cultivation of “locoweed” was passed in California. The bill was a major push from the Board of Pharmacy as a way to regulate opiates and psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and seemingly did not stem from the “reefer madness” or racialized understanding of “marijuana” that paved the way to full-on prohibition in the 1930s.

The Aftermath

1930s:

The Great Depression had just hit the United States, and Americans were searching for someone to blame. Due to the influx of immigrants (particularly in the South) and the rise of suggestive jazz music, many white Americans began to treat cannabis (and, arguably, the Blacks and Mexican immigrants who consumed it) as a foreign substance used to corrupt the minds and bodies of low-class individuals.

In the time just before the federal criminalization of the plant, 29 states independently banned the herb that came to be known as “marijuana.”

Harry Anslinger:

It would not be an overstatement to say that Harry Anslinger was one of the primary individuals responsible for creating the stigma surrounding cannabis. Hired as the first director of the recently created Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, Anslinger launched a vigilant campaign against cannabis that would hold steady for the three decades he remained in office.

A very outspoken man, Anslinger used the recent development of the movie theater to spread messages that racialized the plant for white audiences. In one documented incident, Anslinger testified before Congress, explaining:

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”

In another statement, Anslinger articulated: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

In retrospect, Anslinger’s efforts with the Bureau of Narcotics were the reason “marijuana” became a word known by Americans all over the country. When making public appearances and crafting propaganda films such as Reefer Madness, Anslinger specifically used the term “marijuana” when campaigning against the plant, adding to the development of the herb’s new “foreign” identity.

Cannabis was no longer the plant substance found in medicines and consumed unanimously by American’s all over the country.

1937:

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was the culmination of Anslinger’s work and the first step to all-out prohibition. The bill federally criminalized the cannabis plant in every U.S. state. In order to discourage the production of cannabis use, the Tax Act of 1937 placed a one dollar tax on anyone who sold or cultivated the cannabis plant.

On top of the tax itself, the bill mandated that all individuals comply with certain enforcement provisions. Violation of the provisions would result in imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Though the word “marijuana” is the most common name for cannabis in the United States today, its history is deeply steeped in race, politics, and a complicated cultural revolution. Some argue that using the word ignores a history of oppression against Mexican immigrants and African Americans, while others insist that the term has now lost its prejudiced bite. Regardless of whether or not you decide to use the word yourself, it’s impossible to deny the magnitude and racial implications of its introduction to the American lexicon.

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Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

fresh toast logo

Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.

It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.

The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.

Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.

By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.

Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.

It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.

GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.

Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.

Be careful what you ask for.

More Mike Adams.

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Oakland-Based Startup Develops Marijuana ‘Breathalyzer’ to Sell to Police Departments

pot leaf

When the governor of Vermont vetoed a marijuana legalization bill this week, he said he was especially worried about stoned driving. He wants to hear more about an “impairment testing mechanism” to detect it.

The problem is that no such mechanism exists. There is no Breathalyzer for pot.

Urine and hair tests can detect whether a person has used marijuana or other drugs within the last few days or weeks, but they can’t tell when a person is stoned at any one moment.

A couple of startups are racing to change that.

Oakland-based Hound Labs and Cannabix Technologies of Vancouver, British Columbia, are developing small handheld devices with tubes that people can blow into, just like the roadside tests that detect drunken drivers.

Hound Labs announced on Tuesday that it has raised $8.1 million from the venture capital company Benchmark, which funded Uber and Tinder, and has started clinical trials in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco.

The Hound device is designed to detect both marijuana and alcohol in human breath. Dr. Michael Lynn, the CEO, said his company is planning to sell it by the end of the year.

“We tested on so many people now that we’re quite confident,” he told CNNMoney.

He said his company’s device will cost $600 to $800 and will be sold to police departments — and employers, too. In the eight states where recreational pot is legal, companies might not care whether their workers smoked weed the night before, but would definitely care if they are driving trucks or school buses while stoned.

Lynn, an emergency room doctor, said the device uses chemistry to pick up THC molecules in the breath, which are detectable for about two hours.

In Canada, which is moving to legalize recreational marijuana next year, Cannabix Technologies is working on a similar device to detect THC molecules.

Kal Malhi, the company president, hopes to start selling it in about a year and half, for $1,000 to $1,500. Testing began in March.

“We know it works,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a forensic toxicologist and science adviser to the company.

Unlike an alcohol Breathalyzer, which estimates the amount of alcohol in the blood to determine a degree of drunkenness, both pot devices simply give a yes or no on the presence of THC.

Police don’t have a roadside drug testing tool like this. Goldberger said police in other countries sometimes use saliva swabs that can detect drugs, but those haven’t caught on in the United States.

Bob Griffiths, a retired officer and the director of police standards and training for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said saliva testing technology “has not proven reliable.” This is why it was never adopted in Alaska, where recreational marijuana sales became legal in October.

Griffiths said Alaska police currently conduct field sobriety tests that he described as “fairly rudimentary,” and that the marijuana Breathalyzer “shows promise.” But it still has to be tested by the police, and approved by the courts for use as evidence.

He said the technology is important because it could detect drug impairment in drivers who are not drunk.

“I’ve arrested people who had zero-zero alcohol but they could barely stand up,” he said. “I would say that recreational marijuana, whether legal or not, has always been a problem with impairment with drivers in Alaska.”

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Medical marijuana patient wins employment discrimination suit in Rhode Island

 

This April 15, 2017 file photo shows marijuana plants on display at a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

 

By Andrew Blake – The Washington Times – Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rhode Island fabrics company violated the state’s medical marijuana law when it refused to hire a card-carrying patient who couldn’t pass a drug test, a state Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Christine Callaghan sued Darlington Fabrics Corp. for compensatory and punitive damages in 2014 after the company said her medical marijuana usage precluded it from offering her a paid internship position while she pursued a master’s degree at the University of Rhode Island. Ms. Callaghan promised not to bring weed into the workplace or arrive for work stoned, but Darlington said her failure to pass a pre-employment drug test prohibited her hiring, according to court filings.

In a 32-page ruling Tuesday, Associate Justice Richard A. Licht said Darlington broke the state’s Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act by rejecting Ms. Callaghan because she legally uses pot to treat migraine headaches in accodance with state law.

“Employment is neither a right nor a privilege in the legal sense,” Judge Licht ruled, but protection under the law is, he added.

While employers aren’t required to accommodate the medical use of cannabis in the workplace under Hawkins-Slater, the ruling noted, the law specifies that “no school, employer or landlord may refuse to reenroll, employ or lease to or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.”

Darlington had argued that it rejected Ms. Callaghan not because her status as a medical marijuana cardholder but her inability to pass a drug test. The judge called his claim “incredulous” in Tuesday’s ruling and took aim at its interpretation of the state’s medical marijuana law.

“This argument is not convincing,” he wrote, adding: “…it is absurd to think that the General Assembly wished to extend less protection to those suffering with debilitating conditions and who are the focus of the [act].”

“The recreational user could cease smoking long enough to pass the drug test and get hired… allowing him or her to smoke recreationally to his or her heart’s content,” he continued. “The medical user, however, would not be able to cease for long enough to pass the drug test, even though his or her use is necessary…”

More than 17,000 Rhode Islanders are currently members of the state’s medical marijuana program, the Providence Journal reported. While most of those individuals are patients who use marijuana to treat covered medical conditions, that number also includes people categorized as official “caregivers,” the newspaper reported.

“This decision sends a strong message that people with disabilities simply cannot be denied equal employment opportunities because of the medication they take,” Carly Beauvais Iafrate, a volunteer American Civil Liberties Union attorney and Ms. Callaghan’s legal counsel, said in a statement after Tuesday’s ruling.

Darlington plans to appeal the ruling before the state Supreme Court, defense attorney Meghan Siket told the Journal. Neither the company nor its lawyer was immediately available to comment Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Medical marijuana laws are currently on the books in 29 states and Washington, D.C., including Rhode Island, notwithstanding the federal government’s prohibition on pot.

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Shop owner pleads guilty in marijuana pipe case

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Daniel Borunda , El Paso Times Published 6:30 p.m. MT May 16, 2017

An El Paso woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge for selling marijuana pipes to undercover officers at her smoke shop in Sunland Park, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico said.

Brenda Riveroll, 36, pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Cruces to a charge of selling drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to five years’ probation as part of a plea deal, prosecutors said in a news release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Riveroll was the owner and only employee of The Smoke Shop on Palomas Court, which sold bongs, glass and metal pipes, scales and grinders for marijuana.

On May 12, 2016, the shop was raided by law enforcement a few weeks after Riveroll had sold the pipes to the undercover officers. On April 3, Riveroll was arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after she was indicted.

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Companies need workers — but people keep getting high

By Danielle Paquette May 17 at 1:50 PM

Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert — but prospective hires keep failing drug screens.

“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver.

The state’s unemployment rate is already low — 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates. 

“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”

Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends. An analysis of about 10 million workplace drug screens from across the country in 2016 found positive results from urine samples increased from 4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2016.

The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012.

Although state laws have relaxed over the past four years, employers haven’t eased up on testing for pot, even where it’s legal.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada moved last year to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washingtona. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, permit medical marijuana.

Under federal law, however, weed remains illegal — and employers in the United States can refuse to hire anyone who uses it, even if they have a prescription, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

In the oral fluid testing category, which picks up on recent drug use, and is typically used to test workers on the job, positive drug tests for marijuana surged about 75 percent in the United States over the past four years — from 5.1 percent in 2013 to 8.9 percent in 2016, according to Quest. The data show smaller increases in urine and hair testing (a 4.2 percent increase over the past year).

Colorado and Washington, which became the first two states to legalize weed in 2012, showed the largest growth in positive tests. Urine screens that detected pot rose 11 percent in Colorado and 9 percent in Washington, the first time either state outpaced the national average since residents could lawfully light up a joint.

Quest noted that employers are also increasingly encountering job applicants who take other illicit substances. Tests that turned up cocaine increased 12 percent in 2016, hitting a seven-year high of 0.28 percent, up from 0.25 percent in 2015. Positive test results for amphetamine jumped 8 percent.

The culture change in pro-marijuana states hasn’t broadly altered the way employers screen applicants, said Sample, the scientist. “Ninety-nine percent of drug panels we perform in Colorado and Washington,” he said, “still test for marijuana.”

Companies such as McLane, where employees operate heavy machinery, keep testing for marijuana out of concern for everyone’s safety, said Stephens, the human resources manager.  The firm conducts follicle tests, which can catch traces of weed for up to three months after someone smokes.

She said the company saw “a big spike” is failed tests after pot became legal.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s legal marijuana business is booming. By 2016, Colorado had 440 marijuana retail stores and 531 medical dispensaries, one report showed last year — double the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks stores in the state.

Curtis Graves, the information resource manager at the Mountain States Employers Council, a business group in Colorado, said a small number of his members have dropped THC testing from drug screens, but others don’t have that option,

Truck and school bus drivers, for example, are required by law to prove they don’t have marijuana in their system before taking a job. Same goes for pilots, subway engineers and security guards. The Department of Transportation does not recognize medical marijuana as a “valid medical explanation” for failing a drug test.  

“Some employers are extremely worried about filling jobs,” Graves said. “Work that is considered ‘safety sensitive’ typically requires that test, and that’s not changing.”

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Federal Appeals Court Sidesteps Major Marijuana Ruling

The Associated Press / May 17, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has sidestepped making a ruling on whether U.S. prison officials can hold people who were convicted of marijuana offences that were legal under state medical marijuana laws.

In a decision Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused instead on a narrower issue.

The court was considering a legal challenge by prisoner Matthew Davies, who was convicted of federal marijuana charges. Davies said he ran medical marijuana dispensaries that complied with California law.

He argued that the Bureau of Prisons could not hold him because of a federal regulation that restricted interference by U.S. officials in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

The 9th Circuit avoided the issue, ruling instead that Davies’ plea agreement did not allow his legal challenge. Davies’ attorney, Cody Harris, said he is analyzing the ruling.

Leafly News has obtained the court’s full ruling and uploaded it to Scribd:

LINK

 

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"Overgrowing the Government"

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