American Legion adopts resolution for medical marijuana - Michael King

American Legion adopts resolution supporting medical marijuana

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RENO, Nev. – The American Legion adopted a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal, adding to the group’s efforts to get cannabis in the hands of veterans it could help.

The resolution, passed at the group’s national convention in Reno, Nevada, was authored by American Legion member Rob Ryan of Blue Ash, Ohio. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio has the fourth highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation, behind West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky. It’s also one of the 29 states that permit some form of cannabis use. Ryan said he’s heard from veterans “over and over and over again” who use marijuana as an alternative to addictive opioids.

“Our state congressmen, when the American Legion says something, they listen. Hopefully, this will have the same impact at the federal level,” Ryan said. “People should not be afraid to go to their doctors and talk honestly.”

Ryan shepherded the resolution through his local American Legion post, and then took it to the county, district and state level before it was discussed in Reno this week. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist studying marijuana’s effects on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, called it a “game changer.”

The American Legion represents 2 million veterans nationwide. As President Donald Trump spoke Wednesday at the convention, he described the group as a “very powerful organization.”

The American Legion first acted in support of medical marijuana last summer, when it decided to put its weight behind an effort to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs to allow for more research. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and Ecstasy, and are designated as having no medical use.

The group has also requested meetings with Trump with the intention to ask him to change his administration’s policy on cannabis.

In May, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he was open to new evidence showing marijuana could be used to treat veterans. But VA policy implemented in 2011 prohibits its health care providers from sharing their opinions with veterans about marijuana or recommending it for medical use.

Attempts in recent years to lift that prohibition have failed in Congress.

Last year, the “Veterans Equal Access” measure passed the House as part of a VA appropriations bill, with a vote of 233-189. It also passed the Senate on a vote of 89-9, but it was stripped out of the final legislation during negotiations to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions.

This July, the House Rules Committee blocked the amendment from going to the House floor for debate. However, the Senate could include the measure in its VA appropriations legislation. Senators are expected to discuss the federal budget when they return in September from a monthlong recess.

“Year after year, we’ve never been able to pass the Veterans Equal Access amendment,” Sisley said Thursday. “With the full weight of the American Legion behind this next round of legislation, I know we can finally get this approved.”

During the convention on Wednesday, five American Legion members from Alabama and two from New Mexico went with Sisley to Nevada Botanical Science – a cannabis cultivation site located in an industrial park just north of Reno.

They toured three grow rooms — each holding hundreds of marijuana plants at various stages of development — and a lab where marijuana is concentrated into a substance that can be used in vaporizer pens. The veterans watched a staff member take a typical “dose” from a vaporizer pen.

Army veteran Donna Stacey, the state commander for the Alabama American Legion, said she wanted to know more because of the resolution. As a leader for her state, Stacey is expected to talk with her congressmen about the American Legion’s priorities, including medical marijuana.

Recreational use of marijuana became legal in Nevada on July 1. Alabama doesn’t permit any form of marijuana use.

“It’s hard to talk about something when you’re really clueless, when all you’re doing is reading about it,” Stacey said. “When we go to Congress and say, ‘We want you to support us to see if this has any value in treating our veterans,’ now we can say we’ve been to a facility where they’re doing some controlled growing. And it gives some added value.”

Sisley approached more than 100 veterans at the convention hall in Reno, asking that they go along on the tour. Almost all of them said no. Some veterans admitted it was because of the stigma associated with marijuana.

Stacey’s husband, Wayne — who is also an Army veteran and American Legion member — went along on the tour.

“We like to be informed. We work with veterans every day, and the more we know about what is out there, the better equipped we are to help them,” Wayne Stacey said. “The more people who are exposed and become more knowledgeable and informed, you can see some changes.”

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Cannabinoids: Dermatological Skin Care and Anti-aging - Michael King

Cannabinoids: the Next Generation of Dermatological Skin Care and Anti-aging

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The studies of the effects of THC and CBD continue to shed light on its many beneficial health properties, and one such industry to start dipping its toes into cannabis is beauty, dermatology and skin care.

The medical marijuana business in the United States is worth some $2 billion annually, whereas the skin care segment in the beauty industry is worth $11 billion in the U.S. alone (globally it’s a $120 billion industry). Could we say that this might be yet another incredible opportunity to do business and help people with cannabis? Let’s weigh it out…

When it comes to skin care, many people do not realize that marijuana is a viable ingredient. The two most popular types of cannabis you will see in skin care is hemp seed oil and CBD. Hemp skin care products have been available commercially for some time now, but it’s typically marketed for the body as cleansers or moisturizers. With strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties, Cannabidiol is the ingredient that is going to make the difference in skin care with important health benefits.

Cannabidiol is proven to reduce inflammation of the skin, and inflammation is the number one cause of premature aging from the inside out. While some inflammation is healthy and necessary to protect the body against infection and repair it when injured, chronic inflammation causes more harm than good. Chronically inflamed skin can lead to rosacea, some types of acne and premature aging including fine lines, wrinkles, and psoriasis. Cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that naturally helps improve irritating skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.

CBD topicals may also remedy the effects of aging and repair genetic damage at the cellular level because it is jam-packed with even more antioxidants than vitamins E, C and A. Further validating the therapeutic relevance of cannabinoid treatment, cannabis topicals containing both THC and CBD have been proven to decrease melanoma cell survival. While at first glance joining marijuana and skin care may seem like a stretch, cannabinoid infused topicals can actually do the skin and body a world of good.

Could cannabidiol someday be touted as the new super beauty ingredient? Will it become a huge breakthrough in skin care harnessed in topical lotions, creams, oils, and tinctures? The powerful, natural healing components of cannabis oil trend toward yes.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Marijuana Dispensary Openings Decline in Opioid Abuse - Michael King

Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Declining Rates Of Painkiller Abuse

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Athens, GA: Cannabis dispensaries are associated with reduced levels of opioid-related treatment admissions and overall drug mortality, according to a study published online on

A University of Georgia economics professor assessed the relationship between the opening of medical cannabis dispensaries and drug treatment admissions.

Marijuana Dispensary openings are associated with “a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations,” the study reported. This correlation was strongest among non-Hispanic white males in their thirties.

Marijuana Dispensary openings also resulted in fewer drug-related mortalities per 100,000 people.

The author concludes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

The paper’s findings are similar to prior studies reporting that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “The effect of medical marijuana dispensaries on adverse opioid outcomes,” appears online.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way - Michael King

Why the Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way

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Earlier this month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. To some, this bill may look like another liberal attempt to push for widespread legalization of marijuana across the country. But for those of us who work in this industry and understand the complexities and inequities of current marijuana policies, the bill is a bold step forward in transforming the industry as we know it.

I recommend that anyone who questions why marijuana should no longer be illegal under federal law, take the time to watch Sen. Booker’s three-minute video explaining his legislation. It will shine a light on how marijuana policies have negatively impacted targeted communities, specifically low-income communities of color. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to undo some of the damage that Booker aptly describes as, “the unjust application of the law and economic bias.” For example, the bill would expunge convictions for those with marijuana use and/or possession charges at the federal level which, in turn, will allow for greater access to education and economic opportunities.

As CEO of a company which works in the legal marijuana industry, it is a priority for me that this industry gives everyone a fair and equal playing field. On a daily basis, I meet and speak with entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in becoming a part of the marijuana industry because of its huge growth potential and opportunity.

However, with opportunity come risks, and in this industry we take financial, legal and professional risks. That said, there is a large segment of the population that is not at the table for these types of discussions because they were previously targeted during the war on drugs and now cannot fully participate in the state legal boom of this business.

For them, the risks are still too high under marijuana’s current federal classification as a Schedule I drug. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to change this by taking steps to fix the system so that marijuana is not just legal, but that the industry as a whole can move forward in a direction that we can be proud of.

Additionally, this legislation is important because it would also address a number of challenges marijuana businesses face such as lack of access to ordinary banking services. It would also move towards regulating the marijuana market as a whole and by regulating legal access, it would discourage and replace illicit drug activity.

I applaud Booker for introducing thoughtful legislation that would legalize the industry in the “right” way and that truly has the ability to move the ball forward on some of the historically negative aspects of this industry. Now is the time for the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana should be legal and removed from the list of controlled substances.

A recent CBS News poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and use in states that have legalized it, and 61 percent of Americans want marijuana legal across the country. Additionally, in the first six months of this new Congress, over a dozen bi-partisan bills have been introduced aimed at moving marijuana policies and regulations forward. Like Booker’s legislation, these bills acknowledge that updated marijuana laws and policies will bring a plethora of economic and social benefits to our country through increased job opportunities and tax revenues.

Congress must acknowledge the position of the majority of the American public and respond accordingly. I call on lawmakers to support the Marijuana Justice Act and will be doing my part to raise this bill as a priority in the technology, transportation, policy and marijuana business communities eaze is a part of.

Jim Patterson is the CEO of eaze, a cannabis technology that connects people to doctors and dispensaries for on-demand consultations and deliveries.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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“Active” Mormons Support Medical Marijuana - Michael King

Majority of Utah’s “Active” Mormons Support Medical Marijuana

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Apparently, Jon Huntsman Sr. is not alone in his devout beliefs or his support of medical marijuana. According to a new poll, a majority of Utah’s “active” members of the Mormon church are joining Huntsman in his support of the medicinal herb.

Organized by and tallied by Dan Jones & Associates, the survey was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, 2017, and queried 608 registered voters.

The results from the poll showed 63 percent of Utah’s “active” members of the Mormon church support medical marijuana.

Even a majority of voters who consider themselves “very conservative” support the legalization of medical marijuana in Utah.

Historically resistant to all things cannabis, leaders of the Mormon faith have systematically fought any attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Utah over the past several years. On course for a philosophical showdown in 2018, the church has opposed an initiative to legalize medical marijuana that is now gathering signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

Utah Medical Marijuana Support by the Numbers

*Utah Republican Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 61-35%
*Utah Democrats Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 93-7%
*Utah Independents Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 87-13%
*“Very Active” Mormons Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 63%
*“Somewhat Active” Mormons Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 80-20%
*“Very Conservative” Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 51-42%
*“Somewhat Conservative” Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 71-25%
*“Moderates” Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 84-14%
*“Somewhat Liberal” Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 92-8%
*“Very Liberal” Support for 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative: 97-2%

Rejecting the overtly “cautious approach” advised by Utah’s Mormon leaders, the overwhelming majority of Utahns support the 2018 marijuana initiative.

As summarized by the Utah Patients Coalition, the 2018 initiative would create a system of medical marijuana dispensaries similar to pharmacies but dedicated to the distribution of marijuana’s medicinal cannabinoids in a smokeless form. If passed, the petition would maintain prohibitions against home cultivation (until 2021), and prohibit any public smoking or driving under the influence of medical marijuana. After Jan. 1, 2021, Utah’s patients living more than 100 miles from a dispensary would be allowed to cultivate cannabis, provided certain conditions are met.

In the below YouTube video, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a devout Mormon, introduced new legislation that seeks to improve and streamline the process for conducting scientific research on marijuana.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Assurances From Cannabis Control Commission - Michael King

Marijuana Legalization Advocates Seek Assurances From Cannabis Control Commission Members Who Voted Against Question 4

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Advocates are also calling on Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) chairman to request sufficient funding from governor and Legislature

BOSTON — The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the group behind the marijuana legalization measure passed by voters last November, said today that the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) members who opposed Question 4 should make clear that their personal positions will not impact their board responsibilities or cause further delays in implementing the law.

The group also called for the CCC Chairman, Steven Hoffman, to request that the governor and the Legislature provide adequate funding to get the legal sales system up and running on the current schedule.

“A strong majority of Massachusetts voters passed Question 4 last November. Since then, we’ve seen a six-month delay, a deeply flawed legislative rewrite process, blown deadlines, and now a five-person regulatory board stacked with four legalization opponents. These developments in no way instill confidence that the implementation of legal marijuana sales will be any better than the state’s dreadful medical marijuana rollout,” said Jim Borghesani, Massachusetts spokesman for MPP and former communications director for the Yes on 4 Campaign.

Borghesani called for the four anti-legalization commissioners to publicly commit to adhering to the current timeline for implementation, which would allow retail sales to adults to begin on July 1, 2018.

“We want assurances, and we think the voters deserve assurances. There is too much at stake to simply sit back and hope for the best. We want to see solid commitments to advancing the will of the voters,” Borghesani said.

Matthew Schweich, Director of State Campaigns for MPP and former campaign director for the Yes on 4 Campaign, called upon CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman to request from the governor and the Legislature the level of funding necessary to implement the law without any further delays.

“Supporters of legalization, which include a majority of Massachusetts voters, have cause for concern. By a significant margin, the individuals responsible for implementing this public policy opposed its creation less than a year ago. If the Cannabis Control Commission is truly committed to upholding the will of the people without any further delays, then Chairman Hoffman will publicly request the funding necessary to allow legal sales of marijuana to begin on July 1, 2018,” said Schweich.

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg earlier this year proposed a first-year CCC budget of $10 million. However, the current budget includes just $1.2 million for the CCC.

“The legalization policy will soon be generating millions of dollars in tax revenue for the Commonwealth, but that can only happen if the Legislature provides the funds to establish the program and regulations, and that will only happen if the Cannabis Control Commission is committed to meeting its deadlines,” Schweich said.

Massachusetts’ track record on medical marijuana — with only 12 dispensaries open five years after voters approved the medical measure — justifies concerns about the adult-use rollout, Borghesani added.

“We heard time and time again that state officials wanted to ‘get this right,’ which is precisely what they said about medical marijuana. We need to be assured that this rollout is not going to be a repeat of the medical marijuana debacle,” said Borghesani.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Colorado Cannabis Legalization Increased Property Values - Michael King

Colorado Cannabis Legalization Increased Denver’s Property Values, Study Finds

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It’s no secret that the advent of Colorado cannabis legalization increased demand for industrial real estate, but how has it affected housing prices?

According to a new study, “Contact High: The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices,” the property values for houses within .1 miles of a retail cannabis dispensary in Denver have increased by more than 8% since recreational cannabis sales began in 2014.

By using publicly available data from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s list of retail licenses and the City of Denver’s property information, researchers at the Wisconsin School of Business were able to study how property values were affected by retail conversions, i.e., medical cannabis dispensaries converting to recreational cannabis sales.

“The presence of retail marijuana establishments clearly had a short-term positive impact on nearby properties in Denver,” said Moussa Diop, Wisconsin School of Business assistant professor of real estate & urban land economics and co-author of the study.

For those houses within .1 miles of a retail conversion, the average increase in property value was $27,000 for a single-family home.

According to Diop, “This suggests that in addition to the sales and business taxes generated from the retail marijuana industry, municipalities may experience an increase in property taxes. It’s an important piece of the puzzle as more and more voters and policy-makers look for evidence about the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana, as the issue is taken up by state legislatures across the country.”

It’s important to note that the study also compared property values of houses within .1 miles of a retail conversion to houses within .1 miles of a medical cannabis dispensary that hasn’t converted to recreational sales.

“Those properties located near a retail conversion do experience a larger price increase – relative to those near a non-converter – after conversion. This provides evidence that it is the actual conversion to retail that is increasing neighboring property values,” researchers explained in the study.

As this study highlights, Colorado cannabis legalization may make the case for medical-only states to reexamine the potential secondary benefits of legalizing a recreational market.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle

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This article marks our continued chronicles of the Emerald Triangle through the lens veteran residents and growers Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitanya. For more on the history of the marijuana mecca, revisit their last article here.

As the shadows grow long and the breeze has that cool refreshing hint of autumn, all the farmers around the Emerald Triangle in Northern California begin to think one thing: “harvest.” It’s time to get out the tubs, trim trays, scissors, black-out cloth, or your other favorite accoutrements for the season. It’s kind of like getting out the ornaments to trim the tree really, just for the festival of Cannabis instead of Christmas.

The other clue that harvest is coming is at the grocery store. About ten years ago, the tiny Mendocino County town of Laytonville — with a population of roughly 1,300 people, though it easily doubles at harvest time with the influx of “trimmigrants” — won an award from the giant Reynolds corporation for selling more of their “Oven Bags” than anywhere in the country. Also known as “turkey bags,” these clear plastic bags are the best at sealing in the strong odors of cannabis. Hence, they have been used for years by all the farmers and middlemen in the biz.

As harvest approaches, there are more shelves in shops selling turkey bags, scissors, and gloves than there are back-to-school items. Building supply stores are stocked with tubs of every size, dehumidifiers and fans, as well as the ubiquitous scissors and latex-like gloves for trimming. You’ll find those items at pretty much every store in Mendocino, from the gas station to the liquor store. Chances are they’re right next to the lighters.

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

For decades, small pot farmers tucked away in the Emerald Triangle had a fairly routine schedule. Every farm pretty much had a solid crew of close family and friends to help cut the crop, bring it in, dry it, and trim the flowers. When it was a good year, they may have brought in auxiliary trimmers from around the world.

In popular trimmer destinations such as Garberville, Willits, or Laytonville, farmers would jump in their trusty pick-up trucks, drive to town and meet up with some young folks from just about anywhere you can imagine. Tibet, Japan, Europe, Central America, South Africa, Israel — we’ve met them all. They’d hop in the truck and be driven out some dusty dirt road, in the old days as often or not blindfolded. Cannabis is a magnet, but it also has its secrets and its quotient of paranoia.

Every day the colas or branches on the cannabis plants get bigger and heavier. The little hairs on the flowers are still greenish/white, but will soon turn a burnt sienna, signaling their ripeness and their vulnerability. Back in the old days, harvest was a time of palpable fear. A whole year’s work and investment could be lost to mold or mildew, or to marijuana rustlers cutting tops or whole plants in the middle of the night, or by the Task Force dropping in on cables dangling from helicopters before using your own chainsaw to ruin your crops.

Now, late September and early October, is the time for the conscientious farmer of the Emerald Triangle to keep a close eye on the girls in the garden as their flowers ripen. Insects and pathogens are always a threat. Growers need an eagle eye or maybe “Mold-dar” to detect the first hint of mold or mildew on a plant. Wilted brown leaves should be removed so the they don’t hold moisture. Branches need to be propped up, as they grow heavy with luscious buds. The farmer’s work never stops. It’s a tense time. It ain’t over ’til the buds are bucked and in the bag.

Meanwhile, at home on the farm, everyone is hustling to prepare their spaces for drying and curing. The first thing many of us do is to check the Farmer’s Almanac, which has been pretty right-on lately. This year some rainy periods are predicted, including possible heavy showers, so dehumidifiers are essential. Last year, the surprise rain that broke the previous four years of drought left many people literally high and not dry, so “de-hues” have been a popular item in stores this year and last.

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

The next big question comes as the trichomes sparkle and change from clear to amber. Every farmer must make the decision of when to cut. Are the girls ready? When are they perfectly ripe? There is only a three-to-four day window. Everyone has their own way of deciding, from using magnifying scopes to psychic kinesiology.

Again, every farm has their own style of harvesting, drying, and processing its cannabis. Some change their style every year, as new ideas spread across the county through word of mouth suggestions. There always seems to be a new way to do it, to add it one’s tried-and true-technique just to see what happens. Some farmers are loyal to their ways, and rarely veer from their classic process. Still, others recognize that it all depends on the flowers themselves: the plants will tell you how they want to be treated.

On top of the stress of properly harvesting your cannabis, the weight of all the rules and regulations is beginning to become real with legalization looming. Commercially permitted buildings will be required for all processing, drying, and processing, including handicap bathrooms. Hairnets and sterilized rooms and equipment are a necessity already. It is very clear that the new rules for cannabis cultivation and processing exceed any other sort of agricultural crop in California. Considering we were all basically outlaws just a few years ago, this new regimen is overwhelming.

Hence, this harvest season is unique for the farmers of the Emerald Triangle. While the normal gloves and scissors and trim trays are being gathered, so are the permits and licenses, lawyers and accountants to cover our butts and our buds. Farmers who are in the process of applying now for their permits must be aware of all the new hoops and how to jump through them. Just knowing how to grow great cannabis is not enough any longer.

For more on Nikki and Swami’s intrepid storytelling and grand insight into all things cannabis, visit their website here.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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New Jersey’s Cannabis Industry Is Growing - Michael King

New Jersey’s Cannabis Industry Is Growing: Where Does It Grow from Here?

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On September 14, 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law Assembly Bill No. 457, expanding the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (NJCUMMA) by adding post-traumatic stress disorder to the discrete list of statutorily defined illnesses qualifying for treatment with medicinal marijuana.

In addition, as of July 5, 2016, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) began accepting petitions requesting approval of additional medical conditions qualifying for medicinal marijuana treatment. To date, at least 45 separate petitions have been submitted to the DOH for consideration for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, neuropathic pain and arthritis, among many others.

Assuming that New Jersey follows the lead of other states and eventually expands the qualifying illness categories, this could dramatically increase the number of qualified applicants for medicinal marijuana registration, on top of the already likely substantial increase due to the approval of PTSD. This is a necessary step forward in the state because New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana program services a far lower proportion of the population than many other states which have already approved medicinal marijuana.

With over 9,000 patients within the state already registered to obtain medical marijuana, and more and more registering every year, it is abundantly clear that the current five (soon to be six) Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) will be insufficient to meet the growing demand. Although statistics for 2016 are not currently available, in 2015 alone the five currently active ATCs—two of which did not commence operations until near the end of 2015—serviced 6,675 customers, processed 34,449 transaction and produced over 1,229 pounds of medicinal marijuana.

With approximately 3,000 more medical marijuana patient ID cards issued through September 2016, it is clear that demand for medicinal marijuana could soon outstrip the current ATC’s output.

The concern over insufficient ATCs is exacerbated by the high cost of medicinal marijuana in New Jersey compared to many other states. Fortunately, the cost of medicinal marijuana recently has decreased as a result of new competition from two new ATC facilities. Reasonably, the decision to issue additional licenses to promote competition will further reduce the cost of medical marijuana, benefitting those low-income individuals in need of appropriate medical treatment (to date, nearly half of all medical marijuana program participants qualify for low-income registration).

Rigorous Application Process

The DOH was authorized to accept applications for a minimum of six ATCs, with two each to operate in north, central and south New Jersey. Notably, the first six permits for ATCs were awarded to non-profit entities, with permits following the first six to be issued to non-profit or for-profit entities.

Soon after passage, the DOH quickly determined that only six ATCs, the statutory minimum, would initially be authorized pending an examination into the operations of the initial six ATCs. The NJCUMMA permits ATCs to operate as both cultivation facilities and dispensaries under one permit. Moreover, upon the presentation of further proofs and completed applications, ATCs may also house manufacturing facilities for products such as syrups and lozenges.

However, with all this in mind, it does not appear that any new ATC facilities will be approved imminently, at least until all six initial ATCs are up and running.

Applications for permitting are a two-step process. First, those seeking an ATC permit must submit an application seeking authority to apply for a permit to operate. Upon the granting of the application, the prospective ATC must then complete the application for actual permitting. Notably, applications for authority to apply for a permit only may be submitted following solicitation from the DOH for such applications.

Although the DOH is not currently soliciting applications for authority to apply for a permits, those seeking to open ATCs under the inevitable next wave of applications would do well to position themselves now to have a compelling permitting application in order to increase their chances under what is sure to be a competitive and selective application process.

To date, the Department of Health has identified the following criteria which would be evaluated in any initial application:

  • Mandatory organization information, which should include all corporate formation documents, articles of incorporation, charter, bylaws, certificates of good standing and any and all other governing documentation, such as operating agreements;
  • Documented involvement of a New Jersey acute general hospital in the ATC’s organization;
  • Demonstrated ability to meet the “overall health needs” of qualifying patients;
  • Demonstrated ability to protect the safety of the public;
  • Community support and participation; and
  • Ability to provide appropriate research data.

Considering the criteria which will be examined by the DOH, it is critical that prospective applicants enter the process with (i) a well-established corporate structure populated by individuals capable of passing a criminal background check with fingerprinting, (ii) the appropriate medical partnerships, (iii) a detailed business plan which adequately addresses all phases of production from cultivation to dispensing, with an emphasis on establishing appropriate security procedures meeting DOH guidelines and (iv) representations that the municipality where the operations are located will be amendable to housing an ATC facility.

It is also critical for all prospective applicants to ensure they possess the necessary capital reserves, keeping in mind that the fee for ATC permit authority applications alone is $20,000 ($18,000 of which is only payable if the application is granted), with the expectation that an appropriate build out in advance of commencing operations will be a capital intensive endeavor.

Once an ATC’s initial application for authority to apply for a permit is approved, the applicant will then need to undergo the rigorous permitting process, which investigates the financial and personal backgrounds of principals associated with the ATC. Although the DOH is tasked with regulating the medical marijuana industry, the DOH has partnered with the Department of Law and Public Safety (DLPS) to conduct the necessary criminal and financial background checks—including providing “legal expertise” regarding the principals’ backgrounds and the proposed ATC business structures.

In order to navigate the current permitting procedures in place in New Jersey, applicants for ATCs must provide a bevy of information to the DOH, including:

  • All corporate formation documents;
  • Criminal background check for all “applicants” which include any owner, director, officer or employee of the ATC;
  • Fingerprinting for all applicants;
  • The name, addresses and dates of birth for all employees, principal officers, directors, owners and board members of the ATC;
  • A list of all persons or business entities who either (1) have direct or indirect authority over the management or policies of the ATC or (2) have five percent or greater ownership interest in the ATC, whether direct or indirect, and whether that interest is in the profits, land or building of the ATC and the identity of any principals of a business entity with such an interest;
  • A list of all creditors with a security or ownership interest in the premises;
  • The by-laws of the ATC and a list of the members of the ATC’s medical advisory board;
  • Evidence of compliance with inspection and auditing for the ATC;
  • The physical address of the proposed ATC;
  • Written verification of approval from the appropriate governing body of the municipality where the ATC will be located; and
  • Evidence of compliance with all municipal zoning laws and associated regulations.

If a successful applicant is able to meet the above criteria to the satisfaction of the DOH, then they will receive the final permit allowing for operations to commence within the state.

All ATCs are required to keep and maintain an “operations manual” detailing with specificity the procedures for all facets of the business including cultivation, dispensing, record keeping and employee policies and safety procedures, in addition to other applicable requirements of the DOH. Moreover, the successful applicant will then need to conform their ready to operate business to achieve compliance with a slew of regulations detailing the specific ways in which medical marijuana can be cultivated and dispensed by the ATC.

Additionally, once an ATC is in operation, it is subject to extremely strict monitoring procedures by the DOH, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining written documentation of each delivery of marijuana to registered patients, including the date and the amount dispensed;
  • Ensuring adequate 24 hour security for the facility;
  • Providing security for all delivery methods to qualifying patients;
  • Meeting all reporting requirements for the DOH, including furnishing the statistical information concerning: (i) number of registered qualified patients and registered primary caregivers, (ii) the qualifying condition for each patient, (iii) patient demographic data, (iv) program costs (v) and a summary of patient surveys and evaluation of services;
  • Maintaining detailed administrative records covering a variety of facets of the operation;
  • Reporting certain enumerated events to the DOH immediately upon their occurrence;
  • Conducting adequate employee training; and
  • Maintaining specific employee records.

The DOH monitoring procedures are an ongoing and collaborative process permitting the DOH to conduct on-site inspections of ATCs, monitor the ATC locations remotely in real-time via video link and remotely access the ATC inventory management systems. All in all, these provisions mean that New Jersey’s medical marijuana system is an exceptionally highly regulated industry requiring careful and sustained compliance procedures to ensure qualification and continued operations under New Jersey law.

As is apparent, any applicant seeking to enter the cannabis space in New Jersey should be well-prepared to demonstrate to the Department of Health that, not only can they meet all of the permitting criteria, but that their eventual functioning ATC has a plan in place for strict compliance with the exacting operational standards for ATCs. Of course, competent legal counsel will be necessary in order to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Peppers and Cannabis Could Be The Answer To Gut Disorders - Michael King

Study: Chili Peppers and Cannabis Could Be The Answer To Gut Disorders

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Patients with special dietary needs or those with diseases of the gut/pancreas often find themselves frustrated and in tremendous pain. Figuring out how to calm down the immunological response of the gut may make it possible to create a treatment for gastro diseases and disorders, and it turns out part of the solution may be found in both chili peppers and cannabis.

You wouldn’t think chili peppers and cannabis have much in common; but researchers have now found that the chemical that gives chili peppers their heat targets a receptor in the gut that produces a compound called anandamide, which is chemically similar to some of the compounds found in the cannabis plant, and one which our body already produces.

The Hot Pepper Study

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) connects the nervous system to the maintenance of an immune-tolerant environment in the gut, one of the most fundamental properties of the immune system. In other words, your nervous system is not only responsible for sensing exogenous cannabinoids (such as those found in cannabis) and endocannabinoids (found in your body), but it is also one of the main drivers for keeping your gut healthy.

Earlier experiments had proven that immune cells became highly activated when exposed to hot temperatures, causing the immune cells to get to work and do their job. Studies have shown that fevers can help immune cells work better, but why? If physically hot temperatures activate the immune cells, would the chemical that makes chili peppers feel hot do the same?

You barely need to touch a chili pepper to your lips before your brain begins to sense its heat. This is because the pungent molecule in chili peppers, known as capsaicin (CP), binds to a receptor that triggers a nerve to fire off a signal to your brain letting you know that it is hot.

To answer their questions, a group of UConn researchers led by Pramod Srivastava, professor of immunology and medicine at the UConn Health School of Medicine, fed capsaicin (as found in chili pepper) to mice with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, like other gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel disorder, stems from autoimmune inflammation.

Because heat and capsaicin (CP) tend to make immune cells more active, the mice fed CP should have developed more diabetes than the control group. However, the opposite occurred. The CP didn’t ramp up the immune cells in the guts of the mice, but instead chilled them out and the inflammation in their guts lessened. Even more amazing, the CP-fed mice were no longer diabetic; the CP seemed to stimulate their bodies’ natural production of anandamide.

Researchers observed that anandamide (AEA), an endogenous intestinal cannabinoid that controls appetite and energy balance by engagement of the enteric nervous system through cannabinoid receptors actually helped calm down the immune system in the guts of mice. These results give promise that AEA could eventually help in maintaining immunological health in the human gut, but research is limited.

Exogenous cannabinoids such as those found in cannabis exert their influence through cannabinoid receptors. Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) such as AEA function through the same receptors. These results uncover a major conversation between the immune and nervous systems. “This allows you to imagine ways the immune system and the brain might talk to each other. They share a common language,” said Prof Pramod Srivastava — AEA is the one thing they have in common.

Srivastava and his research colleagues aren’t sure how or why AEA might relay messages between the immune system and the brain, but they have figured out how it heals the gut.

Oral Administration of AEA Mimics Results of Consuming CP

Unlike the rest of our body, the immune system in the gut actively tolerates foreign toxins and substances as opposed to seeking them out and destroying them. Tasked with the responsibility of fueling our body, the stomach cannot afford to discriminate and welcomes these foreign invaders in the form of food. But when our gut’s immune system starts acting more like that of the rest of the body, it gets inflamed and starts attacking itself, resulting in illness.

The UConn study showed that AEA and its receptor, cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), assisted in the regulation of immune tolerance in the gut and pancreas, and contributed to this critical process by promoting the presence of a special kind of immune cell, CX3CR1.

When they looked carefully at what was happening at a molecular level, the researchers saw that CP has a similar effect as AEA; however, it was binding to the vanilloid receptor TRPV1, which is found on specialized cells throughout the gastrointestinal tract. When CP binds to it, TRPV1 causes cells to make AEA, which acts through CB2.

They also discovered that a special kind of immune cell, known as CX3CR1, was activated in the CP-fed mice. CX3CR1 tends to suppress immune responses in the gut and recruits a type of macrophage, a large phagocytic cell found in stationary form in the tissues or as a mobile white blood cell, especially at sites of infection, that reduces inflammation.

But since most of us cannot tolerate eating chili peppers to get the benefits of CP, the researchers sought out other sources that may bind to the same calcium channel as CP. They discovered that oral administration of AEA did just this.

The Incredible Healing Power of Anandamide

Anandamide, also known as N-arachidonoylethanolamine or AEA, was discovered in the 80s. AEA is an endogenous analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). AEA has an effect on both the CB1 receptors (more in the central nervous system) and CB2 receptors (more in the periphery).

The UConn researchers then orally administered AEA to the mice and the results were amazing. The AEA-fed mice experienced incredible healing effects, namely stretching from the esophagus down through the stomach, the same as the CP-fed mice fed. In both cases, it was ultimately the AEA that was healing the gut, which suggests that other cannabinoids like those found in cannabis might have a similar effect in the gut.

Next Step: Human Trials

As with all cannabis-related studies, there are limitations. Although the present study was performed using mice instead of humans, the results suggest interesting possibilities.

AEA is a heavily regulated substance. As a result, researchers hope to work with public health authorities in Colorado to see if legalization has led to any improvement in colitis patients who consume edibles. If it has, such evidence could help make the case for a study that repeats the experiment in human patients to show that anandamide or other cannabinoids such as they found in cannabis could be used as therapeutic drugs to treat certain disorders of the stomach, pancreas, intestines, and colon.


Human cells aren’t exposed to capsaicin directly, so hold off on eating massive amounts of hot peppers or chugging hot sauce as a way to boost your body’s AEA production. Spices typically increase acid secretion in the gut and reduce the strength of the gastritis mucosal barrier. But if you have access to legal cannabis, you may want to experiment to see if ingesting it can help with gut problems.

Citations & References

  1. Acharya, Nandini, Sasi Penukonda, Tatiana Shcheglova, Adam T. Hagymasi, Sreyashi Basu, and Pramod K. Srivastava. “Endocannabinoid system acts as a regulator of immune homeostasis in the gut.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114.19 (2017): 5005-010. Web.
  2. Nevius, E., P. K. Srivastava, and S. Basu. “Oral ingestion of Capsaicin, the pungent component of chili pepper, enhances a discreet population of macrophages and confers protection from autoimmune diabetes.” Mucosal Immunology 5.1 (2011): 76-86. Web.
  3. Basu, S., and P. Srivastava. “Immunological role of neuronal receptor vanilloid receptor 1 expressed on dendritic cells.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102.14 (2005): 5120-125. Web.
  4. Chen, Jie, Angelika Varga, Srikumaran Selvarajah, Agnes Jenes, Beatrix Dienes, Joao Sousa-Valente, Akos Kulik, Gabor Veress, Susan D. Brain, David Baker, Laszlo Urban, Ken Mackie, and Istvan Nagy. “Spatial Distribution of the Cannabinoid Type 1 and Capsaicin Receptors May Contribute to the Complexity of Their Crosstalk.” Scientific Reports 6.1 (2016): n. pag. Web.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

Read More