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Thursday, July 2, 2015

July National News - by Rachel Bunting

Putting Weeds Back in Nature
DURANGO, COLORADO: Marijuana lovers that love nature can now infuse those two loves into one with Colorado’s new cannabis resort. For $395 a night guests can enjoy a cannabis, nature filled vacation at “CannaCamp: A Bud+Breakfast Mountain Resort”. The camp is located on a 170-acre resort filled with pot-friendly trails, cannabis yoga and pairing dinners, a THC fusion cooking class, and 4:20 community hour (a marijuana version of happy hour). While the resort will not sell the product, they will have a concierge who can direct guests to area dispensaries and travelers are welcome to bring their own. Patrons may use marijuana all over the resort except in the cabins, but this is mainly for safety reasons, and visitors may smoke on their porches. CEO of the camp, Joel Schneider, wants to bring “an element of luxury to that adventurous, exploratory vibe of childhood summer camp.” The camp opens July 1st and began taking reservations in June.


At Least we are All Touching the Same Page
WASHINGTON, DC: In a move that’s the first of its kind, an anti-marijuana organization is unveiling proposals that call for the government to ease the restrictions on scientific research in regards to cannabis. The proposal was brought forth by Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group co-founded by Congressmen Patrick Kennedy. The group would like to see more pot research in the hands of “legitimate scientists, not pot profiteers.” The plan calls for the government to allow multiple research sites instead of just the one at the University of Mississippi. They also want the Department of Human Services to eliminate a review process which looks over the proposed research and determines whether the testing will be beneficial. Finally they would like the DEA to allow CBD to be distributed more broadly for research.


Colorado Will Protect Your Weed ...but Not Your Job
COLORADO: The Colorado Supreme Court made a landmark decision last month when it ruled against Brandon Coats, a medical marijuana patient and former employee of Dish Network. Coats, a quadriplegic, was fired in 2010 by Dish Network for using his medication while at his home and off-duty. The argument between Coats’ attorney and an attorney for Dish Network centered on the “lawful activities statute” in the state, and what exactly constitutes “lawful” use of marijuana. Dish Network’s attorney questioned how such use can be considered lawful when federal laws do not coincide with Colorado state laws.

     Colorado has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use. Michael Evans, Coats’ attorney, informed the court his client had never been accused or suspected of being under the influence at work. The company knew Coats was a medical marijuana patient but fired him after THC was detected in a mouth swab test, though as his attorney points out, “the mere presence of THC is not enough to prove impairment.” However the Colorado Supreme Court agreed with Dish stating, “Under... Colorado’s ‘lawful activities statute,’ the term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute.”

     While Coats is disappointed in the decision he sees the silver lining in the clarity that has now been provided. Before this ruling the law was unclear on whether employees could be fired for using the drug while at home and off-duty, it only stated that employers were not required to “accommodate the medial use of marijuana in any workplace.” Coats is also hopeful that his case has brought the issue of medical marijuana and employment to light, and may change in the future.


Smile, You’re on Camera!
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA: Police in California may soon be facing a lawsuit after raiding Sky High Holistic last month. The officers busted into the unlicensed business with guns drawn and tried to disable the security cameras. However they were unaware the owners had placed hidden security cameras for this exact situation. Santa Ana had a voter approved lottery system for distributing 20 permits to dispensaries, but Sky High was one of those not granted the permit. An activist, Marla James, was present at the raid and said they had expected it. They didn’t have a business license and raids had been happening all over the city. She says the officers busted the door in and ordered everyone to get down and everyone in the store was very respectful and cooperative, but she was unable to “get down” as she is in a wheelchair and only has one leg.

     Everyone was taken outside, while the officers went back in and began going through everything. But as soon as they thought they had disconnected the cameras they took their time with the raid. They played some darts, smelled the products, and, it appears in the footage, even took the time to ingest some of the medibles. Officers were caught on camera making fun of James’ leg with one stating, “Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?” while a female officer replied, “I was about to kick her in her f—ing nub.” The Police Department will be conducting its own internal investigation according to Cmdr. Chris Revere. Revere does point out that the video released to the media was heavily edited, he is currently requesting to view the unedited version of the video for the investigation.

     The owner of Sky High expected to be raided as they were running the operation without the proper license, but they are criticizing police for how they, and their patients, were treated. Matthew Pappas, a long beach lawyer, is planning to file a lawsuit on behalf of James. James was hurt by the officer’s remarks and stated, “It’s very disappointing to see professionals acting like children, not doing their job and being mean-spirited when I expected to be protected and served, especially as a disabled person. It saddens me. I’m not putting this on all police because I believe most are good, and I can trust them, but these are bad apples, and bad apples should be weeded out or retrained.”


Prototype Tests Begin for THC Breathalyzer
WASHINGTON: Researchers at Washington State University began running tests last month of their prototype that would test breath for THC. Law enforcement officers are extremely interested getting a quick reliable method to test drivers who fail the voluntary sobriety test. Currently in Washington when an officer suspects a person of driving under the influence of marijuana they must obtain a search warrant from a judge for a blood test or call in a specially trained drug recognition expert. Both of these methods could take over an hour. Police would like to be able to administer a roadside test to determine if a follow up blood test is even needed. The number of people driving while high has increased in current years, and in Washington, people are considered to be legally impaired if they have a THC concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter or higher in their blood within two hours of driving.

      The prototype uses ion mobility spectrometry technology. This is the same technology used to test for explosives at airports and narcotics at border crossings. The experiments at WSU involve participants testing their breath before smoking a joint, then again midway through their “experience”. Herbert Hill, a chemistry professor at WSU, says they have a long way to go before having a dependable test for THC and the current experiment is only looking at smoking, and does not take edibles or oils into account. He also makes sure to ease taxpayers’ minds by assuring them no public money is used to purchases the marijuana and no testing is done on the WSU campus.

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