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Monday, December 7, 2015

National News for December 2015 - by Rachel Bunting

Alaska to Allow Smoking at Pot Shops
JUNEAU: While marijuana use was made legal, for people 21 and older, in Alaska in November of last year, it is still illegal to buy as no businesses have been licensed to dispense it. According to the Associated Press, the board is already ironing out the kinks in its laws, before accepting business applications in February, by changing the definition of “in public”. The initiative passed last year did ban public consumption but did not define the term “public”. In a 3-2 vote by the Marijuana Control Board “in public” was changed to allow for pot consumption in some of the shops that will be licensed to sell it. Chairman of the board Bruce Schulte, who proposed the amendment, believes there will be a demand for facilities that are permitted to have on-site consumption. Earlier this year regulators defined “in public” as a place where the public or a substantial group of people have access, but many felt this definition was too restrictive as it could ban consumption at weddings or office parties. The director of the board anticipates more changes in the future detailing types of marijuana that will be allowed to be consumed in the stores.

Fake Marijuana Comes With Real Dangers
SAN DIEGO: Spice, aka synthetic marijuana, is essentially plant material sprayed with a mixture of chemicals which can induce a synthetic euphoric high when smoked. It is a dangerous substance as the chemicals sprayed on the material are constantly being changed to avoid new laws and users have no idea what they are consuming. However, because it is likened to actual marijuana many young people believe it is as safe as the real thing. Many unfortunate people are learning that isn’t the case with over 16 people in San Diego becoming ill from the drug on Saturday alone.

     Of those 16 people, 10 had to be taken to the hospital with 3 in critical condition. Their symptoms ranged from nausea and mood swings, to rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing. While none of these cases appear to be life threatening, many still wonder why a plant that could produce euphoric feelings with none of the hospitalizing side-effects as its synthetic counterpart is still not legalized for public consumption.

Newport Beach Doesn’t Waste Any Time
NEWPORT BEACH: California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in October. The Act will establish a statewide licensing system as well as a consistent set of industry criteria regulated by the state. It allows cities to create their own rules regarding the system but warns “unless cities take immediate action to enact rules or bans for medical marijuana in their jurisdictions, the state will become the sole authority for licensing and regulation.”

     Newport Beach is making sure the state won’t take over in its area by passing an ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers as well as any delivery of medical cannabis. Currently marijuana is only legalized in California for medical reasons but that, as in many other states, could be changing next fall. Eighteen marijuana legalization proposals have been submitted to the attorney general’s office for approval where nine of them have been given the okay to begin collecting signatures.

North Carolina’s Cherokee Might Legalize
CHEROKEE: Leaders on the Cherokee Indian Reservation passed a motion which will allow studies to be conducted to indicate how marijuana could be used on the reservation, if at all. They will look into if it could be used for medical purposes with a prescription or if it should be for sale in dispensaries. Since Cherokee is technically an independent state, and as of last year reservations were given the same options to legalize marijuana as states are given, it does not follow the laws of North Carolina.

     A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Joey Owle, told News Channel 9, “We’re talking about a plant…it has a variety of uses and we shouldn’t be neglecting that. We as Cherokee people always used plants for medicine, so that’s where we’re playing into, is our culture.”

     Derrick Palmer, Sheriff of Cherokee County, acknowledges that his office has no jurisdiction on tribal property but says, marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina “and we’re going to try to enforce that on highways and other places off of tribal property, [if it is legalized on the reservation] logistically it’s just going to be a nightmare for us.” Palmer also believes that marijuana won’t necessarily lead to other drugs but it does introduce kids to drugs in general. Many agree with the sheriff, but others feel it could give the reservation a much needed economic boost. A rough poll of tribal members showed that 73% support the idea of legalizing marijuana within the community. Owle says the study should be finished with a proposal ready for the council in March.

Anchorage Woman Helping Eradicate Synthetic Spice Epidemic
ANCHORAGE: An Alaska woman is on a mission to help her community rid itself of synthetic marijuana, or spice. Spice use in Anchorage has skyrocketed and has been the cause of over 30 hospitalizations. Nicole Crites is working to fight the drug by offering users a healthier alternative – marijuana. She began her program in late October and has already destroyed a quarter pound of synthetic pot.

     Her program involves users to call her, at which point she goes to those in need with toilet bowl cleaner and trash bags, she has them immerse their spice in the toilet bowl cleaner and throw it away. After they have destroyed their own spice, Crites thanks them by giving them double the weight destroyed in marijuana, capping at an ounce.

     Crites told The Northern Light (TNL), “Your community is what you build of it and nobody wants this in their community and nobody wants their kids around it. If you have the option of putting yourself or your child in a room full of 10 people that are stoners that smoke weed, or 10 people that just smoked Spice. Which room would you pick? I think there are really obvious dangers.” She believes getting helping people be informed about spice and its dangers is the most important thing. According to TNL, “at this point, Crites has not received a second call from anyone she’s helped.”

Pesticide Problem New rules in Oregon will require marijuana sold in dispensaries or pot shops to be tested for almost 60 pesticides. These new rules, however, will not go into effect until spring of next year and currently the law only requires testing labs to check for four types of chemicals. Mowgli Holmes, a scientist who owns the marijuana genetic research company Phylos Bioscience, believes current pesticide regulations need to be tightened until the new rules take effect. He feels testing should be required to look for ten to twelve of the most commonly used pesticides and is being encouraged to submit his changes to the state for review.

     Concerns over pesticide-laced marijuana have been growing as more products have been hitting the shelves without proper testing or with inaccurate lab results. Many feel that the tighter restrictions on the testing facilities will mean nothing if the labs are not being checked by the state as many producers with tainted products will take their goods to different labs until they get the results they want; thus polluting the shelves with their chemically infused bud. Until something is done, patients as well as recreational consumers are playing Russian roulette with whether or not their pot is pure.

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