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Thursday, August 31, 2017

National News for September 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Cannabis and Casinos Don’t Mix
Las Vegas, NV: Though marijuana is now recreationally legal in Nevada, Sin City will have no part of it according to the Nevada Gaming Commission. The commission believes marijuana has no place in the gaming industry and they intend to keep it that way. Last month the first in a series of policy meetings took place and the Gaming Commission claimed the reputation of the gaming industry could be at stake if there is not a clear separation between the two vices. Commission Chairman Tony Alamo spoke at the meeting stating, “On one hand you have the gaming industry and on the other hand you have the marijuana industry ... The two shall not meet.” The group maintains that ‘as long as marijuana consumption and possession is viewed as a felony by federal authorities, it will have no place in Nevada casinos.’ This includes licensees in the gaming industry hosting shows or conferences that promote the use, sale, or cultivation of the plant. Licensees are also expected to not maintain any business relationships, including leasing property, to anyone, including a spouse of someone, involved in the cannabis industry. The meetings in coming months will continue to focus on marijuana policy in the gaming district.

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No Revenue for LA
Los Angeles, CA: Currently Los Angeles has already banned dispensaries from operating in the area, but looking to the new recreational law set to go into effect in January the city is banning even more. The city, also known as the city of industry, is not taking part in the new industry about to be flourishing in the state. Instead they have chosen to not only prohibit dispensaries, but also the sale, growing, or distributing of the cash crop. The new law is reported to bring in nearly one billion dollars a year in tax revenue. Unfortunately none of that will be going to the city that has chosen not to take part. Members of the city council claim that there is not a good enough seed to sale tracking system in place, making the risk of crime in the city too great. They hint that things may change in the future, but they would like to see tighter security measures in place before they hop on the wagon.

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Interference from the Feds
Boston, MA: Last month the Governor’s office received a request from the federal government pertaining to the states medical marijuana patients. Gov. Charlie Baker is concerned with the request coming from the White House’s National Marijuana Initiative. He says that most of the information requested is generic such as gender and age range of patients, but some, including specific patient conditions, could be used to identify specific patients. He told CBS Local, “We just got the request. We won’t do anything that is going to violate anybody’s privacy. I can promise you that.” Massachusetts is only one of the states being asked to turn over marijuana patient information to the federal government, but it is not the only one stating they will refuse to give out any information that will lead to identifying the patient.

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Let Them Toke
Reno, NV: The national convention for the American Legion saw to the approval of a new resolution to urge the federal government to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana as a medical option to suffering vets. The resolution was created by Legion member Rob Ryan from Ohio. Ohio has the fourth highest rate of overdose deaths in the country. Ryan heard from many veterans that chose to use marijuana instead of opioid painkillers for their ailments. This is not the first time the American Legion has acted in support of medical marijuana. Last year the group showed support for removing marijuana from being a Schedule I drug so there could be more opportunities to study the effects. Studies have continuously showed that marijuana could be extremely useful to veterans suffering from PTSD. One psychiatrist studying those effects has called marijuana the “game-changer” for PTSD sufferers. The Veterans Equal Access measure was introduced last year but died before final legislation. Members are more hopeful for the amendment passing this year with the full weight of the American Legion behind it. Currently the American Legion represents 2 million veterans nationwide.

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It’s a Nice Night for a Weed Wedding
Colorado: The booming marijuana trend has opened the doors for many new and unusual businesses. One of the newest, and easily most expensive, markets revolves around weed weddings. One entrepreneur, Bec Koop, found her footing in the largely untapped industry. Koop runs the marijuana-friendly Irie Wedding & Events company and helped found the Cannabis Wedding Expo. The expo allows brides and grooms to meet with marijuana vendors to hammer out the details of the decorations, gifts, and bouquets. Koop’s company offers a variety of services including overall planning, day-of coordination, and cannabis open bars. According to Time, Koop’s “offerings range from the full-service $3,000 O.G. Kush plan, everything from day-of coordination to vendor bookings, to a scaled-back $420 elopement plan in which Irie finds the officiant, books a photographer, and makes a dinner reservation for the couple. A marijuana-knowledgeable wedding coordinator, called a Best Bud, costs between $50 and $100 an hour for day-of-event help.” When Koop first started in 2014, only 10% of venues would consider a cannabis themed wedding, now she says that more than a third of venues would accept the wedding with many of those calling Koop to be on her preferred venues list. Though she only did five weddings her first year, she has been steadily increasing as interest climbs and she is confident this side of the industry is still just taking off.

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Flying Pot
Phoenix, AZ:  Boarder Patrol Agents in Arizona recently came across a large bundle of marijuana just this side of the wall separating the US from Mexico. Reviewing surveillance video, agents could see the 100-pound package being thrown over the wall and into the country. While it is unclear what device the smugglers are using to launch the heavy load of cannabis over the barrier, officials believe it is probably similar to a stolen van found in Mexico last year which was fitted with a 10-foot air cannon. Spokeswoman Stephanie Dixon says it is a growing and dangerous trend. “Not only is it illegal activity but it’s extremely dangerous to the public,” Dixon says. She recounted one instance when a bundle fell through the roof of a dog house and said the effects of something launched hitting a person would be dire because of the weight of the packages. The latest incident happened one week after a visit from President Trump who once again began voicing ‘the need for a wall’ to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico. Many, however, argue that much of the boarder does have a wall, usually between 18 and 23 feet high, which does not stop smugglers from finding ways to fling their product over it. No arrests have been made in connection to the latest package and as far as boarder agents know there is no investigation as to who sent the package from the Mexican side. Despite the new, creative ways dealers are finding to smuggle their goods into the US, the number of marijuana seizures have dropped dramatically in the last few years.

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