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Monday, August 1, 2016

National News for August 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Colorado Still Has Laws to Follow
     
     Denver: While medical and recreational marijuana use have been legal in Colorado since 2014, there are still laws and regulations in place to control the industry. Four doctors in the state have had their licenses suspended while they are being investigated for breaking one of those laws. Investigators believe the physicians have been recommending excessive plant counts to their patients, totaling over 1,500 patients. Doctors Gentry Dunlop, Robert Maiocco, Debrah Parr, and William Stone are believed to have approved patients to grow or possess at least 75 plants. 

     The Denver Post reported the standard count for medical marijuana is about six plants. State Health Officials want physicians to have justification for the higher doses they are handing out and believe the amount of plants recommended should be reserved for cancer patients. The Medical Board investigating would like the doctors to provide proof that the patients they advised to grow more than 75 had been diagnosed with cancer, as they believe any patient provided that many plants without cancer “falls below generally accepted standards of medical practice and lacks medical necessity.” 


     However, there is no specification in Colorado’s amendment stating plant count is connected with diagnoses. While one doctor claimed the higher dose was to make up for the number of plants a patient may accidently kill off or because some patients develop a tolerance, law enforcement officials worry the high plant counts could be a cover for illegal activity. The doctors will remain on suspension until the resolution of the matter, according to the order. Attorney Robber Corry, representing Dunlop and Maiocco, neither of which have been disciplined by the Medical Board before, told The Denver Post, “This has nothing to do with medicine. This suspension has nothing to do with facts and nothing to do with the law. It’s all about politics.”



Update On Santa Ana Sky High Police Raid
     California: In June 2015, MMM Report published a news story about a trio of police in California that could’ve been facing a lawsuit after raiding Sky High Holistic and were caught on a hidden security camera ingesting some of the medibles and making fun of a patient with an amputated leg. One stated, “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 officers caught on film have now been let go from the department. 

     Matthew Pappas, a lawyer for the dispensary, released a statement about the decision to fire the officers, “Around the country, citizens need to see and hear that police officers who break the law are held accountable. Orange County’s District Attorney took bold action when charges for destruction of property and theft – not just shootings or beatings of citizens – were filed to hold Santa Ana officers accountable for last year’s police raid of the Sky High Holistic marijuana collective in Santa Ana. It is time law enforcement, agencies like Child Protective Services and politicians nationwide, recognize medical cannabis is not going away and that recreational marijuana – far safer than alcohol – should be legal and not the basis for imprisoning Americans or taking children from families.” 

     The officers are still facing charges of petty theft and vandalism and have pled not guilty. The officers maintain that the food they were filmed eating was not infused with marijuana but was the employee’s un-medicated lunch. They are expected in court in August for a pre-trial hearing.



Amount of Marijuana in a Joint Smaller than Expected

     Pennsylvania: A new study conducted by Greg Ridgeway, a professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Beau Kilmer, a director of the RAND Drug Policy and Research Center, uses marijuana purchase data from arrest records to determine the amount of marijuana in a joint. The amount of marijuana in a joint has been debated by many for years with one study claiming a single joint held 0.66 grams of marijuana while the federal government put the weight around 0.43 grams. The new study, however, used 10,000 responses, took into account price differences between areas, adjusted for inflation, and considered the idea of price breaks after buying in bulk. Understanding these variations they applied ‘a mathematical drug pricing model to the data’ and found there is approximately 0.32 grams of marijuana in the typical joint. The researchers acknowledge that their study only considers one demographic of marijuana consumers, but feel nonetheless that it is a step in the right direction to incorporate estimates such as this into drug policies. Weight is only one aspect of marijuana as the THC in the joint can vary and without testing every strain it is hard to pinpoint the average amount of THC being consumed in the typical 0.32 gram joint.









Large Drug Ring Busted in NY

     Manhattan: In an effort to end illegal trafficking in their state, New York officers arrested more than 20 people, all connected to the same operation. The illegal business had been operating for nearly two years and was worth at least $15 million. The group moved nearly 350 pounds of marijuana from California to New York every month from 2014 to late 2015. They were also involved with the sale of prescription pills such as oxycodone and illegal gambling operations. The distributor, Frank Parisi, had more than 10 pounds of marijuana in the apartment above his family owned restaurant. Parisi as well as other ‘crew’ members were arraigned last month in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of trafficking, illegal gambling, and tax fraud charges. The tax fraud charges come from the defendants not claiming their illegal revenue on tax returns. The rest of the members of the group are expected to be arraigned on similar charges. 




Jay Walking in PA

     Philadelphia:  Around two dozen marijuana activists marched from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center (around 3.5 miles) carrying a 51-foot inflatable joint. Mary Beth Degray, one of the few topless activists with marijuana pasties, told CBS News, “We’re here to let the DNC know that we want them to legalize cannabis federally, and we want it descheduled, not rescheduled. It’s a plant, and you don’t have to try it if you don’t want to, but everyone should have the right to have access as a first resort, not a last resort.” Earlier last month the Democratic Party called for the drug to be downgraded in the Controlled Substances Act, removing it from its Schedule I spot, but many advocates don’t feel that is enough. Another activist, Dana Beal, explained their protest, “We want to see people go from a mostly alcohol and tobacco world to mostly marijuana world.”





First Florida Dispensary 
     Tallahassee: The first dispensary in Florida has been granted authorization from the Florida Department of Health to open to the public. Trulieve, the approved dispensary, plans to open its doors the last week of July and will be holding a press conference on July 25th. Trulieve will be able to immediately begin delivering low-THC marijuana to patients and will have higher levels of THC medication available sometime in August. CEO of the business, Kim Rivers, stated, “We are happy to announce that we have passed all inspections — from growing and processing to dispensing — and are the very first medical cannabis provider in the state to receive these formal authorizations. And we are most excited to get this much anticipated medicine to the patients of Florida.”

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