Delaware Cannabis News

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A bill to reform the state’s medical marijuana program appeared headed to Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday.

The second major piece of cannabis legislation to pass both houses of the Legislature in as many days would expand the number of people who can qualify for a medical marijuana card, increase the number of state-licensed dispensaries and allow registered caregivers to see more patients, hire more workers and run storefront operations without the threat of legal reprisal. LePage has 10 days to act on the bill once it lands on his desk, although its supporters expect him to veto it.

The status of the bill and whether it needs additional enactment votes was unclear early Thursday, as lawmakers worked late into the night debating whether to extend the session. Enactment votes are procedural actions taken before a bill can advance to the governor.

The Senate voted 25-10 in favor of the bill on Wednesday. The proposal was approved by the House with ease on Friday, without debate or even a roll call.

“Years back, when I first encountered the idea of medical marijuana, I thought it was a joke … just some clever excuse used to try to get to adult-use marijuana, but I was wrong,” said Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, co-chair of the legislative committee that spent months crafting the bill. “My fiancée is a medical cannabis patient. … She suffered with intractable pain for much of her life. I have personally seen how access to this medicine has helped her.”

SHARP CRITICISM FROM GOVERNOR

This legislative reform has been more than two years in the making, delayed while lawmakers waited to see what would happen to the recreational marijuana bill. After waiting for 18 months, the committee decided it had to push through an omnibus bill that would address

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Image courtesy of GW Pharmaceuticals

Image courtesy of GW Pharmaceuticals

A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration voted thirteen to zero that the agency should approve a marijuana-based drug to treat rare forms of epilepsy.

The FDA is not bound by the votes of its expert advisory panels, but it usually follows them. It is due to make a final decision on whether to approve the medicine by June 27.

The drug, Epidiolex, was developed by London’s GW Pharmaceuticals and is a pharmaceutical-grade form of cannabidiol, or CBD, an oil found in marijuana plants. GW grows the plant in greenhouses and purifies out the CBD. GW shares, which spiked on Tuesday when the documents the FDA panel would discuss became public, were down 0.6% in afternoon trading. They are up 63% over the past two years.

“It was really a no-brainer for me,” said committee member and pharmacist Richard Hoffman after casting his vote in favor of the drug Thursday. Other panelists said safety concerns on the drug were “negligible” but would require monitoring, and that the efficacy data was robust. The FDA is reviewing Epidiolix on an expedited timeline, and the medicine was granted orphan drug status.

Epidiolex focuses on treating patients over the age of 2 with one of two particularly rare and serious forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Both syndromes have onset in early childhood and are characterized by multiple seizure types that are difficult to control under existing drugs on the market. There are currently 6 drugs approved to treat patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome specifically, and there none approved for Dravet syndrome. About 30,000 people in the U.S. are estimated to have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, according to the LGS Foundation.

GW Pharma presented data Thursday from three consecutive clinical

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As marijuana goes mainstream, people are rethinking the term, claiming we should ditch “marijuana” because it’s racist, and instead, say “cannabis.” Individuals should say what they like, but this rule is too simplistic for such a complex drug. We should develop more, not fewer, words for what we need to say.

It makes sense that some want to avoid the “m-word.” Marijuana has always had a unique place in American history and politics, according to scholar Emily Dufton, author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana Activism in America. No other drug has inspired this kind of debate and been tied to issues from war to racism to criminal justice. (Dufton herself is an “equal-opportunity user” of words, who says part of the fun of writing about this drug is the ability to use so many different terms.)

But the word “marijuana” is not racist. It was once a means of rebellion, says Santiago Ivan Guerra, a professor of Southwest Studies at Colorado College. When Europeans first arrived in present-day Mexico, they ordered the indigenous residents to convert to Christianity and stop growing their own psychoactive drugs (morning glory, peyote, and psilocybin). Instead, the indigenous Mexicans were told to grow hemp for rope.

That’s when the residents discovered that this hemp plant could be psychoactive. To hide that they were using it, they started to code the language, says Guerra. Many plants in Mexico have some version of “mary” in the name to please the Spanish who pushed Christianity. And so the plant became “marihuana.”

By the 1930s, American government officials like Harry Anslinger were using “marijuana” as a pejorative to make the drug sound exotic and link it to poor Mexicans — even though plenty of white people smoked as well. (Anslinger was

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a recreational marijuana legalization measure backed by a group of Ohio marijuana advocates, his office announced Thursday afternoon.

The “Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment” to the Ohio Constitution would allow people age 21 and older to possess, produce, transport, use, sell and share cannabis.

The legislature would have to create laws treating marijuana impairment similar to those of alcohol, and Ohio residents would have first dibs on marijuana business licenses. The amendment would leave in place Ohio’s nascent medical marijuana program.

Unlike Ohio’s failed 2015 legalization measure, the new amendment is not backed by wealthy investors, nor does it promise business licenses to campaign backers.

DeWine’s job at this early stage in the ballot issue process is to certify that the summary included on petitions accurately describes the proposed amendment.

DeWine said in a letter rejecting the group’s petition that there were at least three instances where the amendment summary didn’t match the full text:

The summary says the General Assembly has the authority to regulate marijuana commerce, but that doesn’t accurately match the amendment. The summary doesn’t mention that marijuana businesses are only lawful in precincts where a majority votes for the amendment. The summary doesn’t reference the requirement that lawmakers “enact and enable laws, rules, and regulations” within 240 days after the amendment takes effect.

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine, a GOP candidate for governor, stated in his letter. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”

What’s the next step?

The group backing the petition is called Ohio Families for Change, which wants to end marijuana prohibition in

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The research program stalled and it wasn’t until 2008 that New Mexico rolled out its medical cannabis program.

“Why are we shooting for being the last to legalize cannabis for adult use?” Apodaca said in a statement.

The push for legalization comes as New Mexico’s medical marijuana program has grown exponentially in just the last two years. Producers licensed under the program reported record sales of more than $86 million in 2017 and the number of patients enrolled now tops 50,000.

“We know the medical benefits of it. And we also know the opportunities of legalization for adult use,” Apodaca said, suggesting expansion of the long-standing medical marijuana program along with legalization could result in an estimated $200 million of additional tax revenues for the state.

The state’s largest producer, Ultra Health, announced that it has acquired farmland in southern New Mexico and has plans for what the industry says could be the largest cultivation facility in North America.

The property spans nearly one-third of a square mile (81 hectares) in Otero County. It will include 20 acres (8 hectares) of indoor cultivation, 80 acres (32 hectares) of outdoor cannabis fields and another 100 acres (40 hectares) of outdoor hemp fields.

Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriguez said the company is preparing for a future in which New Mexico stands to benefit from expanded medical use and possibly recreational use.

Apodaca’s plan calls for lifting the current limits on the number of plants producers can grow and reducing costly licensing fees.

Other Democratic candidates have been more cautious.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would work with state lawmakers to move toward legalizing marijuana to ensure there are adequate health, safety and enforcement measures in place.

She called for a “thorough analysis” of recreational pot programs in other

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CLOSE

Local officials are beginning to decide if they want medical marijuana businesses in their communities before the state starts giving out licenses next year. Wochit

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Medical marijuana being grown in Warren.(Photo: William Archie, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo

LANSING — On the eve of 4/20 — the date most associated with marijuana legalization efforts — the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board gave preliminary approval to nine applications, denied two and postponed action on another potential business.

And yet, 16 months after the Michigan Legislature passed bills to regulate and tax the medical marijuana industry and four months after the state started accepting applications for licenses, not a single business has been awarded a license to begin operating in what has been estimated will be at least a $700 million business in the state.

The slow pace comes as dispensaries already serving customers face a June 15 deadline to either get a license or be shut down.

“There was a lot to be done after the law was passed. We had to get an IT system set up, build an organization and hire employees,” said Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. “I think we made tremendous progress and I’m pleased with where we stand considering the time frames we’ve had to deal with.”

The licensing board at least made some progress Thursday, approving pre-qualification for four dispensaries, including three that also were pre-qualified as a grow operation, one testing facility, one secure transporter and two processing facilities.

A pre-qualification means that the applicants have gone through the background checks done by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan State Police, but they still have to get approval from the community where

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Jimbo’s Natural Food Grocers announced Thursday that it will sell marijuana-enhanced juices at its stores in San Diego County, and will “boost” smoothies and juices and coffee with compound at the request of customers.

The drinks will contain CBD, a non-pyschoactive compound found in cannabis. Many people, including some doctors, believe that CBD has medicinal properties, particularly when it comes to inflammation and pain.

However, the broader medical community has not substantiated those claims through research, largely because the federal government makes it difficult and, in some cases, impossible, for scientists to study the marijuana.

The government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug, which means that it has “high abuse potential, no medical use, and severe safety concerns.” Heroin is also a Schedule I drug.

The National Academy of Sciences issued a 500-page report in January 2016 about the potential health benefits and drawbacks of marijuana. The report found that, in many cases, there is insufficient peer-reviewed evidence to prove whether marijuana helps or harms people.

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The marijuana wars are entering a new phase. The first phase, over whether or not to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, is over. The partisans of legalization have won the battle for public opinion. Soon, I suspect, marijuana legalization will be entrenched in federal law. At this point, to fight against legalization is to fight against the inevitable. The only question now is what form America’s legal marijuana markets will take. Will they be dominated by for-profit business enterprises with a vested interest in promoting binge consumption? Or will they be designed to minimize the very real harms caused by cannabis dependence, even if that means minting fewer marijuana millionaires? I fear that the burgeoning cannabis industry will win out—but their victory is not yet assured.

Why am I so convinced that legalization is a fait accompli? In short, the industry’s opponents have proven spectacularly incompetent. In January, the Justice Department issued new guidance on its marijuana enforcement efforts, reversing an Obama-era policy that, in essence, gave state governments wide berth to regulate marijuana policy as they saw fit. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long opposed marijuana legalization, so this move was not entirely surprising. What Sessions failed to reckon with, however, is that the legalization of medical marijuana in several U.S. states, and the subsequent legalization of marijuana’s recreational use in a handful of others, had already created facts on the ground. He wasn’t just targeting a handful of scofflaws. Rather, he had in his sights a large and growing universe of growers and distributors, who had the sympathetic ear of state and local officials. Nor had the attorney general evinced the slightest concern about the role the criminalization of marijuana had played in alienating millions of Americans from the criminal-justice system, a grave threat to its legitimacy.

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An experimental drug derived from cannabis to treat epilepsy is on the brink of becoming the first of its kind to win US government approval.

On Thursday, a panel of outside experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously in favor of the drug’s safety and effectiveness. Their recommendation will play a key role in the FDA’s approval decision for the drug, which is made by GW Pharmaceuticals.

If the FDA gives final approval — a decision is expected in June — the new drug would be sold under the name Epidiolex as a syrup. It would be the first drug whose active ingredient is cannabidiol, the compound in marijuana thought to be responsible for many of its therapeutic effects.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, doesn’t contain THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, and is not linked with euphoria or the drug’s characteristic high. CBD appears to help reduce seizures, at least in two of the hardest-to-treat forms of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. That’s according to two large clinical trials the FDA considered Tuesday ahead of the vote.

GW Pharma’s long road to FDA approval

Courtesy GW Pharma

In the absence of a research-backed drug, some desperate parents of children with epilepsy have turned to CBD oils and other CBD-based products at dispensaries — but most of those are not heavily regulated.

Laura Lubbers, the chief scientific officer of a nonprofit called Cure that funds epilepsy research, told Business Insider her group saw GW’s drug as a “long-awaited” treatment. That’s especially true for patients who haven’t responded to other drugs.

“What’s different with this drug is that this is a well-studied and well-controlled product,” Lubbers said.

Because GW Pharmaceuticals was able to show that its product addresses a critical need, it was able to apply for a

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The unofficial marijuana holiday of April 20 – known to cannabis enthusiasts as 4/20 – annually brings a big boost in sales for retailers across the industry – and pressure to live up to customer expectations, both for great deals and good times.

“It’s almost like Black Friday, where people are waiting at the door at the very beginning of the morning to take advantage of some of these sales,” said Rachael Brower, the purchasing manager at Cannabis City, the first recreational marijuana shop in Seattle.

“I always call it ‘Cannabis Christmas.’”

According to information from Seattle-based Headset, which provides retail point-of-sale data for the cannabis industry, marijuana products of all types in Washington state’s adult-use market received a sales bump on 4/20 in 2017, though some categories benefited more than others.

Headset also found that most discounts offered by Washington state retailers have declined since 2015, with the average retailer offering 38% off products in 2015 but only 16% off in 2017.

Infused beverages lead the pack in terms of increased sales percentages in Washington state, with 4/20 sales rising nearly three times higher than the average day in 2017.

Concentrates, pre-rolled joints and edibles experienced sales increases of over 150% on 4/20 last year.

Sales of flower and vape pens in Washington state also got a boost, though on a percentage basis, the gains were less dramatic.

“The chart (above) tells a general story,” said Maryam Mirnateghi, the owner of Fusion Collective, another Seattle marijuana retailer.

“4/20 is more about partying with cannabis and the types of products that play well to that context. That’s why you see an increase in beverages, concentrates and pre-roll sales.”

Brower said the percentage increase also doesn’t necessarily reflect which items are the top sellers on 4/20, which she said are

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