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Canadian City Allows an ‘Unlicensed’ Dispensary to Legally Operate

Weeks after being raided by British Columbia’s provincial police, one of the province’s oldest cannabis dispensaries won a special exemption from the Victoria city government, allowing it to remain open without the license mandated by Canada’s Cannabis Act. It remains to be seen if the decision will be honored by provincial and national authorities.

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has been supplying thousands of local patients with medical cannabis for over 20 years, and bills itself as Canada’s “oldest compassion club.” Since 1996, it has openly purveyed cannabis products from its storefront on Johnson Street in downtown Victoria, BC’s capital near the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

But it is one of many dispensaries in Canada that were operating in a legal “gray area” before passage of the Cannabis Act in 2018, and have since been subject to a crackdown. It’s been something of a perverse irony that “legalization” in Canada has meant raids and closure for many dispensaries — even in areas where there aren’t enough licensed ones to meet local demand. This southwest corner of British Columbia is definitely one of those areas.

The VCBC was raided on the morning of Nov. 14 by the provincial police force known as the Community Safety Unit, for being out of compliance with BC’s Cannabis Control & Licensing Act. The police seized a range of inventory. No arrests were made, and the store was able to re-open — but was now clearly under threat.

On Jan. 8, in response to the raid, the VCBC and its supporters held a protest outside the offices of BC Finance Minister Carole James, who oversees implementation and enforcement of the cannabis regulations in the province.

“We want to convince the government that it’s in their best interest to grant us a temporary exemption so that we can continue our work and work with the government towards becoming fully compliant with the law,” VCBC founder Ted Smith told CTV News at the protest. 

“At this point, the provincial government hasn’t responded other than their official rhetoric that we’re not in compliance with the law and that’s why we’re being shut down,” Smith said. “But their responses on paper have been things like, ‘our patients are not aware of the safety of the products because they’re not as tested as Health Canada’s products.’”

Smith said that the dispensary was not getting complaints from patients about irregular products.

However, while provincial bureaucracy remained unyielding, the local municipal authorities were swayed. At a meeting the very next morning, Victoria city councilors voted unanimously to support the exemption.

As the local cannabis news site Mugglehead reports, the resolution commits Mayor Lisa Helps to pen a letter requesting that the provincial government allow the VCBC to continue providing “responsible access and a safe, welcoming community space for medical cannabis users.”

Medical Marijuana Pioneers Left in the Cold

As the Victoria Times-Colonist reports, the VCBC is the oldest of many dispensaries that have survived precariously in the legal “gray area” of Canada’s medical marijuana industry. The club was among those that waged legal battles with the federal government over access to medical marijuana — financed in part by sales of $25 “Cannabonds,” redeemable with a quarter-ounce of high-grade bud after a favorable decision.

The VCBC’s legal efforts were responsible for a landmark 2015 decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that cannabis extracts such as oils and edibles may be used as medicine.  

Other such legacy dispensaries in the area are also getting raided. On Dec. 18, the Hammond Compassion Society in the Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge was raided by police. Municipal authorities were quick to wash their hands of the matter.

“What they’re doing is taking away the supply to everyone in Maple Ridge,” town councilor Gordy Robson complained to the Maple Ridge News, explicitly referring to provincial authorities.

The Grass Roots Medicinal Cannabis dispensary in Squamish was likewise raided by the police in November. It was forced to close, and provincial authorities have launched forfeiture proceedings against it. Another Squamish dispensary, 99 North, was shut down in a raid as well — despite the fact that it had a pending license application.


Comfort Coming to Kootenays?

Ironically, all this is happening as John Horgan, who leads British Columbia’s legislature, is talking a big game about province’s old-school cannabis economy.

“I remember being in Amsterdam and seeing all of the BC bud awards that were being given out at the time when the product was illegal, and it’s ironic we seem to be having more Ontario product being distributed in BC through the legal market,” Horgan said at a press conference last month. “We in BC have a legendary product and that’s not making its way to the legal market.”

Horgan said that the legislature was “going to continue to work as best we can to ensure that the consuming public gets a quality, safe product, and that we reap the benefits that we can of having a long tradition of cultivating cannabis here in BC.”

And indeed, in November, the BC government provided $675,000 to help illicit cannabis growers in the Kootenays — the mountainous southeastern region of the province — enter the legal market. The idea is to help the region’s estimated 2,500 growers become registered craft cultivators.

But Ted Smith, perhaps not surprisingly, is skeptical of such efforts, charging that BC’s regulatory regime has allowed large-scale licensed producers to dominate the market.  

“They’re destroying the whole concept of BC bud with what they’ve done,” Smith told the Victoria News after Horgan’s press conference. “If they were interested in helping they would not only have done a lot more to make sure that small growers could easily get licenses, but they would also be having coffee shops and places where people could come and smoke the product.”

TELL US, do you think more places should allow gray market dispensaries to operate?

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The Feds Request Info on Cannabis & Migraines

The federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is putting out a call for research on marijuana’s impact on migraines.

The request comes as part of a wider call from the AHRQ seeking scientific information submissions from the public for review on treatments for Acute Episodic Migraines. The review is currently in progress and being conducted by the AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC) Program. The agency said any scientific materials, published or not, that could inform the review are welcome.

A big part of what the AHRQ is trying to do is compare the effectiveness of opioid therapy versus an array of non-opioid pharmacologic therapies. In addition to marijuana, they’ll look at more traditional pharmaceutical options for migraine relief like acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, triptans, muscle relaxants and anti-nausea medications, among others. So needless to say, cannabis sounds the most user-friendly of the bunch for sure.

The AHRQ will also be comparing non-pharmacologic therapy options, like exercise or acupuncture, and their impacts on migraines.

For all the treatment options, they’ll be looking for results and info related to things like starting pain, how the person is able to function during treatment, how satisfied the patients are with the pain relief and how their general quality of life is with the treatment. They’ll also look at potential to abuse treatment and overdoses. We imagine cannabis will score well against other treatments in this category, but we can’t imagine anyone has ever overdosed from acupuncture either.

Looking at how effective cannabis is as a treatment for migraines is certainly not a new idea. In 1998, the International Association for the Study of Pain accepted a paper from the long-time cannabis researcher and neurologist Ethan Russo on the subject.

“Cannabis, or marijuana, has been used for centuries for both symptomatic and prophylactic treatment of migraine,” Russo wrote. “It was highly esteemed as a headache remedy by the most prominent physicians of the age between 1874 and 1942, remaining part of the Western pharmacopeia for this indication even into the mid-twentieth century.”

Russo noted that anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis is still an effective treatment for migraines, and said that he “believes that controlled clinical trials of cannabis in acute migraine treatment are warranted.”

Russo went on to note it’s hard for physicians to simply wrap their heads around how prominent cannabis was as medicine before prohibition. Russo said that research from before 1974 examined five case studies of patients who voluntarily experimented with the substance to treat painful conditions. Three of the people taking part had chronic headaches and found relief by smoking cannabis “that was comparable, or superior to ergotamine tartrate and aspirin.”

In recent times, there is still plenty riding on the quest to understand why people with migraines get relief from cannabis, so much so here we are talking about the federal government trying to figure it out.

Last month, we noted why migraines are such a big deal — not only for women who are two to three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men, but for all people suffering. Research published by Washington State University in November showed that in the 20,000 cannabis use sessions they tracked where people were trying to get relief for a headache, they were successful 90% of the time. Sounds like it’s worth a shot before diving down the rabbit hole of Big Pharma.

TELL US, do you use cannabis to treat any of your medical problems?

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MLK & Marijuana: How the Civil Rights Leader’s Work Informs the Push for Legal Pot

Martin Luther King Jr. might have turned 91 years old this month if he had not been felled by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968. It is, of course, impossible to know what the United States would look like today if he had lived — or what he would think about the political dilemmas of our own time.

Yet there are certain obvious parallels between his time and ours. The country is again bitterly divided along political lines. And many activists and scholars argue that the racist power structure that King fought has re-congealed — this time in the guise of the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration. His legacy therefore holds lessons for those now fighting for cannabis legalization.

Cycles of Repression and Revolution  

Foremost among those scholars is Michelle Alexander, author of the 2010 bestseller The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander takes a long view of the struggle for racial justice in the United States and paints a grim picture. She illustrates how many of the gains that King won in his life being reversed after his death — this time in a new “race-neutral” guise that only serves to mask continued institutionalized racism.  

Alexander notes that in 1972, there were under 350,000 people in prisons and jails nationwide. Today there are 2 million. In fact, the U.S. has the most people behind bars of any nation on Earth, in both per capita and absolute terms. This is certainly an irony for the country that touts itself as the “land of the free.” 

Among those 2 million people in prison are 40,000 who remain incarcerated in state or federal prisons on cannabis-related convictions — about half of them for marijuana offenses alone. When those waiting to see a judge in local jails are added in, the figure may approach 100,000 on any given day. And the racial disparity could not be more obvious. A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, crunched the national data. It found that black people are more than three times as likely as whites to be arrested for cannabis — despite consuming the plant at essentially similar rates.  

And this is not the first time the country has seen significant and hard-won racial progress being in large part (at least) reversed, with the same power structure re-establishing itself in new guise. Slavery was abolished in the aftermath of the Civil War. But, as Alexander quotes historian and early civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois, from his 1935 book Black Reconstruction in America, “The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, then moved back again toward slavery.”

In the South under occupation by Union troops after the Civil War, black people for the first time voted, served on juries and held elected office — until the backlash came. In 1877, the federal troops were withdrawn. In subsequent years, without federal interference, Ku Klux Klan terror enforced legal apartheid in the southern states — the system known as Jim Crow. Blacks were often reduced to a state of near-slavery through share-cropping and were barred from the vote by systematic disenfranchisement.  

It wasn’t until nearly a century after the Civil War that this system would be challenged. In his book Why We Can’t Wait, an account of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign to desegregate Alabama’s biggest city, King wrote of “America’s third revolution — the Negro Revolution.” 

By King’s reckoning, the country’s first revolution had been the one we actually call “the Revolution” — the War of Independence, although it left the slave-owning aristocracy of the South thoroughly in place. The second was arguably far more revolutionary — the Civil War, in which the slave system was broken. King’s Civil Rights Movement was avowedly nonviolent, but it was still a revolution — the overturning of a power structure by physical as well as moral opposition.

Despite the violent backlash, both from the police and Ku Klux Klan terrorists, the campaign ultimately swayed the nation, resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other landmark legislation that finally ended legal apartheid in America.

But the year of King’s assassination saw the country’s national political establishment embracing the backlash — exactly as in 1877. In the 1968 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Richard Nixon first adopted the rhetoric of a “war on drugs” (although he would actually coin that phrase three years later, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed). And, in just barely coded terms, Nixon was promoting the rhetoric of racism.

In her book, Alexander quotes Nixon’s special counsel John Ehrlichman explicitly summing up the campaign strategy in his 1982 memoir, Witness To Power: The Nixon Years: “We’ll go after the racists.” Ehrlichman unabashedly wrote how throughout the 1968 race, “subliminal appeal to the anti-black voter was always present in Nixon’s statements and speeches.” 

Alexander did not mention, however, another quote attributed to Ehrlichman in which he just as explicitly made the connection between this subliminal racism and the anti-drug drumbeat. Journalist Dan Baum in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s recalls a quote he says he got from a 1994 interview with Ehrlichman: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people… by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

And the backlash was just beginning.

Birth of the New Jim Crow 

The new order would be consolidated over the next decade. In 1973, the same year the federal Drug Enforcement Administration was created, New York state’s Rockefeller Laws imposed the nation’s first mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. In 1977, New York decriminalized cannabis, overturning the harsh Rockefeller Laws where personal quantities of marijuana were concerned — but the draconian provisions for cocaine and heroin remained intact.

With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the “drug war” rhetoric was revived with a vengeance, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 imposed mandatory minimum sentences nationwide. Ten years later, an ACLU report would find that the law “devastated African American and low-income communities.” 

The 1986 law also instated the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine — with the prior, that was flooding black communities, landing the far longer sentences. This was also reflected in public perceptions and media portrayals. In the early ’80s, powder cocaine was a status symbol for white yuppies. When crack hit the streets from New York to Los Angeles, it was immediately stigmatized by association with the criminal (read: black) underclass.

This period also saw the rapid militarization of police forces, and the War on Drugs, in Alexander’s words, went “from being a political slogan to an actual war.” The 1981 Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act started to erode the firewall that had existed between the armed forces and police since the end of Reconstruction.

The DEA joined with local police forces to instate Operation Pipeline, a program of traffic stops and vehicle searches that was protested by the ACLU as based on systematic “racial profiling.” 

This was enabled by a series of bad Supreme Court decisions — Terry vs Ohio in 1968, Florida vs. Bostick in 1991, Ohio vs. Robinette in 1996 — that dramatically eroded the Fourth Amendment. Alexander writes that these decisions enabled “consent searches” — in which the motorist (or pedestrian, or home resident) verbally consents to the search, but actually does so under police intimidation.

All-white juries were more likely to convict black people, of course — and prosecutors were still able to strike non-whites from serving as jurors despite the 1986 Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentuckywhich barred discrimination on the basis of race in jury selection. As Alexander writes, “the only thing that has changed is that prosecutors must come up with a race-neutral excuse for the strikes.” 

In a vicious cycle, mass incarceration itself served to entrench the system of mass incarceration. Convicted felons are excluded from juries in many states, and only Maine and Vermont allow prison inmates to vote (as most Western European countries do).

Nor did this system turn around when the Democrats returned to the White House. The Bill Clinton years saw a 60% drop in federal spending on public housing, and a 170% boost in prison spending up to $19 billion. Prison construction would finally begin leveling off in the 2000s, but the actual prison population broke new records in 2008, “with no end in sight.”

Alexander writes: “Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in race-neutral terms, an adaptation to the needs and demands of the current political climate. The New Jim Crow was born.” 

And this was utterly out of proportion to any real threat posed by illegal drugs. In the 1980s, there were some 22,000 drunk driving deaths per year, among 100,000 alcohol-related deaths. In Alexander’s words: “The number of deaths related to all illegal drugs combined was tiny compared to the number of deaths caused by drunk driving.”

Among the numberless stories of police terror in the name of drug enforcement, one recounted by Alexander is that of Alberta Spruill — a 57-year-old Harlem woman who died of a heart attack in May 2003 after police officers broke down her door and threw a concussion grenade into her apartment. No drugs or any contraband were found in the apartment. The cops were acting on a bad tip from snitches snared on a marijuana rap. 

A Fourth Revolution? 

Thanks in large part to growing public consciousness, there certainly appears to have been some progress in the fight against the War on Drugs over the past decade. In 2009, following a hard-fought activist campaign, the Rockefeller Laws were finally overturned in New York. Eleven states have now legalized cannabis, and nearly all have at least some kind of provision for medical use of cannabis — significantly lifting the pressure on one federally controlled substance.

But even amid the progress, there are clear and frustrating signs that a mere change in the law isn’t enough. From New York City (where cannabis arrests have been de-emphasized by policy) to Colorado (where cannabis is now legal), overall arrests for pot are significantly reduced — but the stark racial disparity persists in those arrests that continue under various loopholes.

Michelle Alexander concludes with a litany of necessary legal reforms and then states that, ultimately, they are insufficient: “Mandatory drug sentencing laws must be rescinded. Marijuana ought to be legalized (and perhaps other drugs as well)… The list could go on, of course, but the point has been made. The central question for racial justice advocates is this: are we serious about ending the system of control, or not?” 

She quotes from Martin Luther King’s book of collected speeches, A Testament of Hope“White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, the entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change in the status quo.”

There are many other quotes from the great civil rights leader that shed equal light on the current impasse, in which the limitations of mere legal progress are becoming clear. In his April 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, King justified his civil disobedience in these words: “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.”

This recalls both the relative impunity for white coke-snorters in the ’80s as black communities were militarized in the name of drug enforcement — and the white entrepreneurs now disproportionately getting rich off legal cannabis, while black users remain disproportionately criminalized.  

In Why We Can’t Wait, King wrote of how the country needed a “Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged” — anticipating the current demands for drug war reparations, wedding legal cannabis to addressing the harms caused by prohibition and the related matrix of social injustice.

The notion that cannabis legalization is necessary but not sufficient recalls King’s 1967 report to the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the main coordinating body of the civil rights campaign. 

In the “Report to SCLC Staff,” he noted how the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March culminated in passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year — a critical victory. Yet, he wrote: “We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement… But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”

If cannabis legalization is to truly undo the social harms of prohibition, its advocates may be in for a similar reckoning in the coming period.

TELL US, what are you doing to fight the War on Drugs?

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5 Busted Myths of Today’s California Cannabis Consumer

For
decades, growers from Northern California’s Emerald Triangle — the area encompassing Mendocino,
Humboldt and Trinity counties — have been the epicenter of America’s cannabis
scene.

The Golden State had the first legal medical marijuana market with the passing of Prop 215 in 1996. Proposition 64, the Adult Use Act, legalized growing, selling and using cannabis recreationally in November 2016.

Thousands of cannabis businesses have emerged since, all trying to establish themselves in an already saturated and highly regulated market. The industry has seen unparalleled innovation and investment across categories like product development and technology, causing a so-called “Green Rush.” It has been predicted that by 2024, the California cannabis market will comprise 25% of the entire market for cannabis in the U.S.

However,
due to the immaturity of the market, little data is available to help support
the industry. In order to help shape product development and strategic
decision-making, companies need to ask fundamental questions, like who buys the
product and what do they use it for?

To
help fill these knowledge gaps, NorCal Cannabis Company undertook a first-of-its-kind
study of California’s cannabis consumers. Using an online panel, the survey
questioned 1529 people and represents of all California cannabis consumers 21
years and older.

The result is Five Myths of Today’s California Cannabis Consumer.

Jeffrey
Graham is the VP of Business Intelligence at NorCal Cannabis Company. He helps
the company make smarter business decisions using data. According to Graham,
they decided to carry out this research because “there were many fundamental
questions about the California cannabis consumer that were unanswered, so we
decided to conduct research on our own.”

According
to Graham, the most surprising thing he discovered during the research process
was that many of the preconceptions about cannabis aren’t true. So they decided
to group their findings into five myths:

Myth
1
: Recreational users
get high for fun, while medical users are focused on their health.

The
reality is, most cannabis consumers use cannabis for both recreational and
medical reasons.

Myth
2
: Women are an
emerging market segment of new cannabis consumers.

In
fact, women already use cannabis as much as men.

Myth
3
: A handful of brands
are dominating the California cannabis market.

The
truth is that no brand has achieved a significant foothold in the market.

Myth
4
: All Californians
have access to legal cannabis.

Unfortunately,
in reality, they don’t.

Myth
5
: Consumers are
migrating from dispensaries to delivery.

In reality, consumers want an omnichannel experience to maximize their experiences.

“What
concerns us is the lack of availability that exists for regulated cannabis for
so many people,” says Graham on the finding. “The research shows how cannabis
gives relief for so many people for things like pain, insomnia and depression.
California voters approved the legalization of cannabis, but people still do
not have legal access throughout most of the state.”

Graham
believes that the study is important because it shows that cannabis helps with
“a variety of fundamental and important ways” and it isn’t a simple case of
‘recreational’ and ‘medicinal’

“I
would like people to understand that many of the assumptions they have about
cannabis consumers, cannabis usage, and cannabis availability may be wrong,”
says Graham.

To read the NorCal Cannabis Company’s report in full, visit norcalcann.com.

TELL
US
, do you smoke Californian
cannabis?

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America’s Airline Traffic Is Now Full of Weed

Whether O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is “the world’s busiest” terminal for airline traffic depends on how you gauge such superlatives. If it’s by number of passengers, the busiest airport is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta; if it’s by the sheer number of airplanes taking off and landing, the United Airlines hub in Chicago remains “busier” than anywhere else on the globe.

Either way, as of Jan. 1, O’Hare is the busiest airport in the world to be newly located in a state where recreational cannabis is legal. And indeed, with recreational cannabis sales beginning in Illinois earlier this month, six out of the 10 busiest airports in the United States are now situated in states where passengers can legally load up at the nearest dispensary on their way to or from the airport — which means that airline traffic in the U.S. is even more loaded with weed than it was before, and there’s not much of anything anyone can do about it.

You may hear that boarding an aircraft while carrying cannabis is illegal in the United States. That is true — federal law governs the friendly skies over all 50 states, and federal law, quite famously, thinks cannabis is a highly addictive substance with no medical value — but practically speaking, it’s never been safer to fly with weed. (Legal disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice and nobody should do anything we suggest, ever.) Complicating matters somewhat are the special legal jurisdictions that exist at airports — in both Las Vegas and in Denver, the airports have declared that state law does not apply and that cannabis is still illegal — but both the demand and the effort to enforce such laws are slim to none.

There are those who would have you believe that boarding a flight bearing cannabis in 2020 means blundering into a confounding arena, a maze of contradictions. This is not the case. The legal landscape is absurdly simple: Cannabis is legal if the local jurisdiction says it’s legal. The federal Transportation Security Administration has gone as far as to publicly announce that they are not there to check for drugs. But if agents do find cannabis, their only course of action is to alert the local authorities. Unless you are some kind of special breed of a damn fool and try to waltz through Customs with weed, all the local authorities will be able to do is enforce local law. (Under no circumstances should anyone who is not a U.S. citizen be so foolish; risks for non-citizens entering the U.S. with cannabis include seizures, fines, deportation, and a lifetime ban on entering the country.)

It’s true that in Las Vegas, for example, possession of an ounce or more of weed is a felony. But, as an airport spokeswoman allowed to Forbes last year, Vegas “is a leisure market and a destination market. We understand that people come here to have a good time, so our law enforcement and our community as a whole value that.” This attitude is prevalent, and this is how you explain O’Hare’s recent decision to kindly and politely ask the public to please enforce themselves, and throw away whatever weed they have on them before boarding their flight.

Truthfully, nobody — not even the hardest-headed drug-warrior cop — cares that much about a small amount of weed (except insofar as that weed is an expedient excuse to justify a stop, or further policing). No, cops care about big loads of weed, or, better yet, enormous stacks of cash that may (or may not, who cares) be used to buy big loads of weed. As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, cannabis “trafficking” arrests at Los Angeles International Airport, No. 2 on the busiest airports list and thus the busiest in the US where weed is legal, spiked 166% to 101 busts in 2018. One typical bust, the newspaper wrote, was an East Coast-bound passenger with 70 pounds of cannabis in vacuum-sealed packages stashed in his checked baggage.

Keep in mind that in all of 2018, there were only 503 reports of cannabis found in bags at LAX — and that year, the airport saw 87.5 million passengers trudge through its gates. Stashing weed in luggage “is normal procedure… and I would say 29 out of 30 times they make it through without a problem,” defense attorney Bill Kroger Jr. told the Times. The deduction here is obvious: legalization has made airports, and American passenger airlines, de-facto weed delivery systems.

So far, O’Hare hasn’t made itself a special exemption zone for legalization, and Chicago police have said publicly they won’t arrest anyone who’s following state law. (That’s nice of them!) You can almost certainly pack the legal limit and fly with confidence — knowing there are at least a few other people on your same flight doing the exact same thing, if not pushing things to the 50-pound carry-on limit.

TELL US, have you ever flown with cannabis?

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Maximize Dry January with Daytrip CBD Beverages

Do you feel like you overindulged over the holiday season?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. After all the festivities of the Christmas and
New Year’s period, some people decide to commit to a month of sobriety,
otherwise known as ‘Dry January.’

Researchers at the University of Sussex have been studying Dry January since 2014. They have discovered that participants
can expect to have better health – and a healthier bank balance.

But fear not! Dry January doesn’t mean forgoing all things
deliciously effervescent. In fact, why not use this opportunity to embark on a
new facet of your wellness journey by swapping out sugary sodas with sugar-free
CBD beverages.

Daytrip craft natural, premium 100% water-soluble CBD drinks
that absorb quickly into the body to maximize the cannabinoid’s
bioavailability. CBD is an
oil-based product, so when the technology doesn’t create a fully water-soluble
CBD, the end product can’t effectively absorb into the body.

For this reason, Daytrip is different from other CBD drink
options. The company has developed proprietary Foliole Nexus Technology,
leveraging high-frequency energy to minimize the hemp-derived CBD’s particle
size, enabling the cannabinoid to provide a near-instant effect and deliver
consistent results.

Then, they infuse CBD into sparkling water and a botanical terpene profile to create four delicious flavors — cherry, coconut pineapple, lemon lime and tangerine — that can be used to create CBD cocktails that promote a happy effervescent feeling.

The Daytripper

  • 3/4 cup lemon lime Daytrip CBD sparkling water
  • Ginger – muddled
  • ¼ cup peach nectar
  • 1 lemon wedge

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with lemon and a ginger shaving.

The Daytripper

The Bubbly Brunch

  • 1/2 cup Tangerine Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 TBSP elderflower syrup
  • 1 lime wedge squeezed into glass

Combine all ingredients in a glass.

The Fiesta

  • 2 oz Cherry Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1.5 oz tequila 
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with cherries and orange slices.

The Fiesta

Endless Summer

  • ½ can Coconut Pineapple Daytrip CBD Sparkling
    Water
  • 1 shot clear rum
  • 2 slices of fresh pineapple Ice

Muddle one slice of pineapple and pour in Daytrip Coconut
Pineapple, rum and ice. Garnish with the second pineapple slice

Firmly rooted in California culture, Daytrip embraces all
that the Golden State represents; getting away from the grind and sharing good
vibes.

Whether you’re at the beach, on the slopes, or simply in your own back yard, Daytrip wants to help you maximize your enjoyment. Use code DRYJAN to save 20% off your purchase.

Daytrip CBD beverages are also available at the Cannabis Now retail store in Los Angeles.

TELL US, are you participating in Dry January?

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Maximize Dry January with Daytrip CBD Beverages

Do you feel like you overindulged over the holiday season?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. After all the festivities of the Christmas and
New Year’s period, some people decide to commit to a month of sobriety,
otherwise known as ‘Dry January.’

Researchers at the University of Sussex have been studying Dry January since 2014. They have discovered that participants
can expect to have better health – and a healthier bank balance.

But fear not! Dry January doesn’t mean forgoing all things
deliciously effervescent. In fact, why not use this opportunity to embark on a
new facet of your wellness journey by swapping out sugary sodas with sugar-free
CBD beverages.

Daytrip craft natural, premium 100% water-soluble CBD drinks
that absorb quickly into the body to maximize the cannabinoid’s
bioavailability. CBD is an
oil-based product, so when the technology doesn’t create a fully water-soluble
CBD, the end product can’t effectively absorb into the body.

For this reason, Daytrip is different from other CBD drink
options. The company has developed proprietary Foliole Nexus Technology,
leveraging high-frequency energy to minimize the hemp-derived CBD’s particle
size, enabling the cannabinoid to provide a near-instant effect and deliver
consistent results.

Then, they infuse CBD into sparkling water and a botanical terpene profile to create four delicious flavors — cherry, coconut pineapple, lemon lime and tangerine — that can be used to create CBD cocktails that promote a happy effervescent feeling.

The Daytripper

  • 3/4 cup lemon lime Daytrip CBD sparkling water
  • Ginger – muddled
  • ¼ cup peach nectar
  • 1 lemon wedge

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with lemon and a ginger shaving.

The Daytripper

The Bubbly Brunch

  • 1/2 cup Tangerine Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 TBSP elderflower syrup
  • 1 lime wedge squeezed into glass

Combine all ingredients in a glass.

The Fiesta

  • 2 oz Cherry Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
  • 1.5 oz tequila 
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with cherries and orange slices.

The Fiesta

Endless Summer

  • ½ can Coconut Pineapple Daytrip CBD Sparkling
    Water
  • 1 shot clear rum
  • 2 slices of fresh pineapple Ice

Muddle one slice of pineapple and pour in Daytrip Coconut
Pineapple, rum and ice. Garnish with the second pineapple slice

Firmly rooted in California culture, Daytrip embraces all
that the Golden State represents; getting away from the grind and sharing good
vibes.

Whether you’re at the beach, on the slopes, or simply in your own back yard, Daytrip wants to help you maximize your enjoyment. Use code DRYJAN to save 20% off your purchase.

Daytrip CBD beverages are also available at the Cannabis Now retail store in Los Angeles.

TELL US, are you participating in Dry January?

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Climate Change Puts Spotlight on the Drought Resistance of Marijuana

Zambia just became the latest country to legalize cannabis cultivation, but there’s a catch: the southern African country is struggling with an unusual weather event that’s making farming difficult.

Zambia is experiencing its worst drought in a century. As world leaders gathered in Madrid for the UN Climate Summit last month, southern Africa was already experiencing some of the harshest impacts of global warming — with some 45 million people in need of food aid amid crop failures. However, in December, Zambia became the fifth nation in Africa to permit cannabis cultivation, and so cannabis farmers there will now have to grapple with the drought.

The leader of Zambia’s Green Party, Peter Sinkamba, applauded the decision. He was quoted by pan-African news site Sahara Reporters saying the move could earn Zambia up to $36 billion annually. “Depending on how properly this is done, this could just change the face of Zambia’s economy,” Sinkamba said.

The conflict between cannabis and climate is a story that is all too likely to become commonplace in the face of climate change. It raises the question about how drought resistant cannabis actually is — and if there are methods of cultivating cannabis with less water that truly work.

How Drought-Resistant Is Cannabis Really? 

An interesting irony is that, because of cannabis prohibition, even the DEA believes that the cannabis plant can survive without much water.

“Marijuana is a very drought-tolerant plant. It’s a weed, and they grow anywhere,” DEA agent Bill Weinman told Denver’s Rocky Mountain News during a dry spell in 2002. “Drought has little effect on pot crops. Plants prove hearty, surpassing yields of state’s other crops.”

This attitude has been mirrored in the hemp industry, which farms a plant that is functionally the same as high-THC varieties of cannabis — except for the fact that they don’t have THC. In the lead up to the passage of the Farm Bill in December 2018, which legalized hemp (defined as the cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC), many advocates touted the low-water needs of the plant. Advocates boasted that a hemp field can be grown to harvest on about half as much water as needed by an equivalent plot of corn.

“It uses more water at the very beginning of its growth,” Geoff Whaling, chairman of the National Hemp Association, told the Pacific Standard in May 2018. “But once it kind of passes its early development stage — about three weeks — it becomes one of the most drought-tolerant crops on the planet.”

But there’s a trade-off. While it appears that the cannabis plant can survive without much water supply, limiting water intake too much appears to limit harvests.

In a May 2018 report, Hemp Industry Daily reported on the findings of a Colorado State University study, which found that irrigated hemp produced nearly three times more seed than non-irrigated hemp.

Brian Campbell, a doctoral student in soil and crop sciences, grew two test plots at a northern Colorado site — one irrigated consistently, the other receiving only some eight inches of rainfall throughout the growing season. The irrigated plot produced an average of 1,100 pounds of seed per acre, while the non-irrigated one produced about 400 pounds per acre. Campbell’s research led him to conclude that hemp’s water use is actually high compared to other crops.

“There are a lot of myths about this crop, and one of them is that it doesn’t need much water,” Campbell told Hemp Industry Daily. “It’s not that the plant won’t grow,” he elaborated. “But it’s a no-brainer — you should irrigate your hemp plants if you want them to do well in Colorado.”

Dry-Farming Cannabis

However, marijuana growers have also found a way to grow cannabis without additional water through a technique called “dry farming” — that is, cultivation without irrigation. Dry farming is increasingly practiced in Mediterranean climates, with wet winters and dry summers. Farmers work to trap moisture in the soil that continues to supply the plant on its own, rather than needing additional water from irrigation. (In climes that get rain year-round, irrigation is not an issue — though mold might be.)

Mediterranean climates include California, and dry-farming of cannabis is catching on in the Emerald Triangle as a part of the general trend toward sun-grown and organic product. For example, the cultivators at Sunboldt Grown, which began dry-farming a year earlier on its lands in Holmes Flat, Humboldt County, told Cannabis Now in 2018 that they’ve seen success growing cannabis with the innovative method.

“Dry farming is not for the faint of heart,” admitted Sunboldt Grown’s Sunshine Johnston, recalling her fears as she saw her plants suffering under the hot summer sun. But she resisted the temptation to water them, and the results were very satisfactory — high-resin yields with up to 30% THC.  

“I think what I learned last year is that plants actually prefer less water and no fertilizer,” she said. “They really prefer to be on their own.” 

Also, cultivators of both hemp (cannabis without THC) and marijuana (cannabis with THC) have long maintained that some strains are more drought-resistant than others. The website of Barcelona-based Royal Queen Seeds particularly names the indica-sativa hybrid known as “Critical,” popular across the Mediterranean, as sought among outdoor growers for being “very tolerant of high temperatures and dry weather conditions.” 

Diversion of water for illicit cannabis cultivation has long been a strain on Northern California’s watersheds, threatening the survival of salmon and other local wildlife. This is also now an issue for the legal cannabis sector, and if California has another drought like it did in the 2010s, legal cannabis growers will have to adapt.

In the coming years, it will certainly be a challenge for cultivators worldwide to figure out new ways to grow cannabis with less water. 

TELL US, have you ever tried dry farming cannabis?

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NFL Says Players Can’t Use CBD Because Science Is Whack

Professional football players have been asking their bosses for the freedom to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal. But the powers that be, while they are allegedly discussing the possibility, at least here and there, have so far refused this modest request. They just aren’t sure whether medical marijuana has a place on the football field. That’s when player advocates began jabbering about the potential therapeutic uses associated with the use of cannabidiol (CBD). Some former players like two-time Denver Broncos Super Bowl champion Terrell Davis told the press that CBD “worked for me” to help ease joint and migraine pain. He then encouraged the NFL to take a closer look in an effort to give players more pain relieving options than pills.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association said, “What the hell, we’ll give this non-intoxicating substance some consideration.” And why not? CBD has been mostly legal nationwide for more than a year, ever since the federal government re-legalized industrial hemp production in 2018. It is conceivably one of the most popular non-FDA approved supplements on the American market right now, so why not see what’s what. Well, they finally met on the issue, and the outcome proved somewhat embarrassing for those players pushing CBD as a legitimate pain reliever.

The NFL says it’s still not going to let players use CBD because the science behind it doesn’t jibe with the “hype.”

Earlier this week, a special panel for the NFL gathered to talk about whether CBD should be eliminated from its list of banned substances. More specifically, they were conducting a fact-finding review to see if the CBD compound could be used as an alternative to opioids. Why? Because that’s the spiel the higher-ups have been fed since day one concerning medical marijuana and CBD. All the suits have been hearing is how the product would give players a safer way to combat the bashes and bruises that they incur on the field. It might even save some lives, they said.

But when the Pain Management Committee for the NFLPA took a look at the science behind this popular cannabis derivative, they didn’t find much evidence that suggested it would benefit players trying to tame pain. They respectfully denied it’s abilities. “CBD is a promising compound, but the level of its use in the United States outpaces the level of research at this point,” the panel wrote. “Most of the hype about CBD is based upon results from animal studies.”

Perhaps knowing that their decision might cause an advocacy fart storm asserting the call was due to the NFL being in cahoots with the pharmaceutical trade, the committee attempted to explain that the type of data they need to advise players that any drug or supplement is acceptable to use for its medicinal benefits just wasn’t there. Right now, the committee wrote in a statement, the main setback with CBD is it hasn’t been given a proper assessment in the treatment of pain.

“Clinical trials in large numbers of people are usually needed before millions of Americans use a medication for serious medical problems,” the panel said. “There are two small clinical studies that suggest that CBD may be effective for treating a kind of pain called neuropathic pain that involves a burning feeling usually in a person’s feet.”

The committee is concerned that if it puts its stamp of approval on CBD that players may get themselves into jams when treating pain conditions. Some of the CBD products sold on the market are labeled inaccurately and possibly contain dangerous, foreign substances that can make people sick, some studies have shown. So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any hemp-derived CBD products for medicinal use. The best the agency has to offer is the approval of a cannabis-based epilepsy drug known as Epidiolex. But that can only be doled out with a prescription and only for a two specific types of epilepsy. The drug hasn’t been given approval for any other health conditions. So, due to the unregulated nature of this beast, CBD is considered unpredictable in the United States. Due to the status of CBD products in the current market, it would be irresponsible for the NFL to support these products as a reliable substitute for drugs that are backed by science. But, also keep in mind that cannabis continues to be categorized as a Schedule I substance in the U.S., meaning scientific tests on human subjects are nearly impossible.    

Unfortunately, the NFL’s snubbing of CBD doesn’t give the cannabis advocacy community much hope that marijuana will be met with serious consideration and removed from the banned substances list. The NFL and the NFLPA agreed last year to examine cannabis as a potential alternative to opioids. Many expected the announcement would result in a new bargaining agreement with updated policies surrounding the use of marijuana. After all, it’s a move that is becoming more prevalent in professional sports. Major League Baseball has ended its ban on cannabis as a whole. And the National Hockey League isn’t militant toward players who test positive for it.

Still, the NFL is apparently going to need more than just statewide legalization efforts to side with weed. Because if it’s not willing to get on board with CBD, a legal substance in the U.S., it certainly isn’t going to open up to an herb that is still considered a dangerous drug in the eyes of the federal government. As for now, NFL players will continue to deal with pain as they always have – lots of prescription painkillers. Or they’ll use medical marijuana anyway and risk the consequences.   

TELL US, do you think NFL players could benefit from CBD?

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Cannabis Use in Hospitals Is Still Prohibited, Despite State Medical Pot Programs

Every day, patients around America use cannabis to treat everything from glaucoma to chronic pain to nausea from chemotherapy treatments. Yet even in places like California, which pioneered legal medical marijuana in 1996 and passed adult-use cannabis in 2016, hospital policy has not caught up with the law and cannabis remains officially barred from hospital premises across the country. The reason why should sound familiar: federal prohibition.

Hospitals in the United States are subject to federal regulations, and could stand to lose funding and the ability to serve patients if they break the federal law, even with something like a state-legal medication.

This conflict between state and federal law on cannabis use in hospitals has very real consequences. One woman, Jessica Assaf, wrote on Healthcare in America in January 2018 about the experience of watching her partner’s father die of colon cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

“After two years of failed chemotherapy and radiation, this prominent New York City lawyer weighed 130 pounds and could no longer talk nor move,” she wrote. “Though this patient had a medical recommendation for cannabis use in New York and vaporized THC and CBD daily to manage his pain, he could not use his medicine while he was stuck in the hospital. Instead, he was administered fentanyl.”

The medical marijuana movement, in fact, has a history of pushing for cannabis use in hospitals. The legendary activist known as Brownie Mary brought the issue into the international spotlight after she was arrested for bringing pot brownies to people dying of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco’s hospitals in the 1980s. Forty years later, it might be legal for millions to purchase medical marijuana — but using it in hospitals remains as prohibited as ever.

California Pioneering the Fight for Cannabis Use in Hospitals

The first sign of progress in allowing cannabis use in hospitals came in September 2016, just north of San Francisco. In a 2-0 vote, with three members abstaining, the board of California’s Marin Healthcare District voted in favor of  a resolution to study allowing patient cannabis use at Marin General Hospital, in the town of Greenbrae. A series of public forums were to be held to discuss the proposal.

However, in the three years since, the study has not been conducted and has effectively stalled.

The resolution was originally introduced by retired emergency room physician Dr. Larry Bedard, who had served on the California Medical Association cannabis task force that led to the association recommending legalization in 2011.

“We ought to be on the cutting edge for our patients, allowing them to openly and appropriately use medicinal cannabis,” Bedard told San Francisco’s KPIX at the time of the Marin resolution.

Speaking at the board meeting in support of the resolution was Lynnette Shaw, who opened the first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Marin County back in 1997. She told KPIX she had been sneaking pot brownies into Marin General for 20 years, and that most doctors there were perfectly aware of the practice.  

“This is something they know about,” said Shaw. “I think it’s time for Marin General to step up, because this is a revolution for better health… For goodness sake, help the patients! Save lives!”

However, Shaw’s comments apparently didn’t get through. In the three years since the Marin Healthcare District voted to study the issue, little has come of it. Reached for comment in Marin County by Cannabis Now, Bedard says the resolution has seen no progress.

“The hospital administrators basically said ‘C’mon Larry, it’s a Schedule I drug, the Trump administration would take away our Medicare provider number and we’d have to close,” Bedard tells us.

He points out that any hospital that handles Medicare patients — predominantly people with the federal health insurance for those over 65 — must be certified by the federal Department of Health & Human Services. And while there is a small push to get Medicare to cover medical marijuana, there are few prospects for this happening under the current White House administration. 

(Lynnette Shaw PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

An attempted remedy at the state level in California has also failed. Last year, Senate Bill 305, the “Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act,” unanimously passed both chambers of California’s Legislature. It would have prohibited healthcare facilities from interfering with a terminally ill patient’s use of medical cannabis. It was also dubbed “Ryan’s Law,” after Ryan James Bartell, a San Diego native who had died of pancreatic cancer in April 2018. But in October, it was “begrudgingly” vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“This bill would create significant conflicts between federal and state laws that cannot be taken lightly,” Newsom wrote in a veto statement, noting that “health facilities certified to receive payment from the from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services must comply with all federal laws.” 

But his statement also took aim at those federal laws. “It is inconceivable that the federal government continues to regard cannabis as having no medicinal value,” Newsom wrote, adding that this “ludicrous stance puts patients and those who care for them in an unconscionable position.” 

Doctors Weigh In

Clearly, the stakes in this question are high due to the illegality of cannabis at the federal level. While 11 states have legalized adult-use cannabis and 33 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, the feds still hold significant sway over hospital policy. 

First, as already noted, hospitals must be accredited through the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services and “could be found to be in violation, lose federal funding, and face penalties” if they allow even state-legal cannabis use, according to a 2017 article in the peer-reviewed journal Hospital Pharmacy.

Second, clinicians are also prohibited from prescribing or providing cannabis in a hospital because it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Yet, hospitals in more states are asked to create cannabis policies as voters decriminalize cannabis for medical use,” the authors Laura Borgelt and Kari Franson wrote in that same article. “There is no recognized supplier of medicinal cannabis, so hospitals are often asked to allow patients to bring in their own supply for their own use.” 

But in a Kafkaesque twist, hospitals then risk running afoul of a guideline established by the Joint Commission, the national body that sets standards for medical facilities. Joint Commission Standard MM.03.01.05 states: “The hospital informs the prescriber and patient if the medication brought into the hospital by patients, their families, or licensed independent practitioners is not permitted.”

Borgelt and Franson note that some hospitals have considered that “cannabis policies that could adequately address this standard” and allow cannabis on its premises if it informs everyone involved that the cannabis is “not permitted.”

“But several questions remain,” the authors write. “For example, how is the product identified, how does the institution verify its integrity, and how is a federally illegal drug ‘permitted’?”

However, some doctors have taken a more laissez-faire approach to the issue of allowing cannabis in hospitals.

“I think there’s a legal question and an ethical question,” Dr. Benjamin Caplan, founder of the CED Clinic and a representative of the group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, told Patient Safety Monitor Journal in 2019. “In order for doctors to best manage illnesses carefully, and to the best of our abilities, we must know as much as we can [about] what a patient is taking. But it’s very common for patients to sneak cannabis in back rooms or under the radar, which is really unfortunate for everyone. I think the hospital perspective should be embracing what patients find helpful.”

Emphasizing the ethical dimension, Caplan added: “To have cases where patients are having seizures in a hospital and they can’t get the medicine that they want (and find helpful) as an outpatient is a real cultural disconnect for the medical establishment. I think the solution is for people to not sneak around; the solution is for hospitals to open their arms to patients who find a medication helpful.”

Veterans Lack Access to Cannabis in VA Hospitals

The question of whether or not it’s allowed to use cannabis in a hospital is a particular concern for military veterans — many of whom use cannabis to treat PTSD, yet are more directly dependent on the federal government for their healthcare. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has remained largely intransigent on the question of medical cannabis, despite growing pressure.

“Moving to make cannabis available through VA hospitals or other go-to sources of care is difficult,” the VA website notes. “Doctors at VA facilities aren’t just prohibited from prescribing marijuana: The drug is still listed as ‘Schedule I,’ so these health care professionals can’t even speak about it with their patients.”

Needless to say, if the VA won’t allow its doctors to prescribe cannabis, it’s certainly not allowing its patients to use cannabis on the premises of VA hospitals.

The Mayo Clinic & the Potential for Change

The most significant opening for allowing cannabis in hospitals appears to come from the Mayo Clinic, the national network of medical treatment and research facilities. The Mayo Clinic website recognizes that “medical cannabis has possible benefit for several conditions.”

It notes that three states — Arizona, Florida and Minnesota — have adopted some form of the “Right to Try Act,” allowing access to “investigational” treatments, potentially including cannabis, for people with life-threatening conditions who have exhausted approved treatment options.

In one of those states, the Mayo Clinic allows on-premises use: “Minnesota residents with a supply of medical cannabis from the Minnesota Medical Cannabis program may continue use during their Mayo Clinic visit or hospital admission.”

However, the Mayo Clinic is in a unique position as a not-for-profit organization with national renown and standing as a top research institute. While the Mayo Clinic receives a significant amount of federal funding and has a Medicare number, it appears willing to take the risk with the federal government. If other hospitals will follow remains to be seen.

TELL US, do you think patients should be allowed to use cannabis in the hospital?

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