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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

National news for December 2017 - by Dolan Frick


LAS VEGAS - Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world.  And with your jolt of caffeine, you can also get a little buzz. As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, the cannabis industry is looking for new ways to cash in.

You can't find these coffee pods at the grocery store.
Brew Budz makes k-cups filled with coffee, cocoa, and teas infused with cannabis oil out of a factory in Las Vegas.

"People are very ritualistic about their cannabis consumption, they can bring them together in a very discreet easy form to consume cannabis."

Recreational and medicinal marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. That's led to a billion dollar market, including edibles. A variety of companies are now offering cannabis coffee or tea that fits right into your keurig or traditional coffee maker.

In Orange County, California, Gangja Grindz makes cannabis-laced coffee filters, k-cups and cold coffee and tea drinks.

CEO Chris Haze says the business has grown 600 percent in the last year.

"When you put the product into things they are familiar with, you remove the smell, you remove the visual representation of cannabis, it takes a lot of fear out of using a cannabis product."

"It gives me some focus when I go to sleep. It really helps settle my mind and relax my body."

But enjoying a cup isn't cheap.
Brew Budz's k-cups cost seven dollars a piece.

The federal government still says marijuana is illegal. These products are only available in some states where cannabis
is legal.


SAN JOSE, California -- Two churches in San Jose that offer its members marijuana are being scrutinized by the city. Authorities say the churches are fronts for illegal dispensaries.
Inside Coachella Valley Church you'll find pews, an altar and pictures of Jesus. But you'll also find lighting up is encouraged.
We asked volunteer Sebastian Grey if it was a dispensary. He replied, "We're a church."
Coachella Valley treats cannabis as a sacrament and says it is used here for religious purposes.

"It's just a $10 donation to be part of the church and then you're a lifetime member... you're able to show your ID, we'll get you checked in, and you can go in the back, purchase products," said Grey.

Inside, there's a lobby with a receptionist who is checking people in. They must be at least 18 years old. After paying a donation, they are ushered into a chapel with pews where a video of a sermon is playing. We were not allowed into the room where marijuana products were being offered.

We spoke to a woman visiting from Colorado who just signed up to be a member. She bought two bottles of cannabis labeled as "sativa." We asked how much they cost. She told us it cost $100 for a quarter of sativa.

City officials have been investigating Coachella Valley Church as well as Oklevueha Native American Church, also known as ONAC. No one would talk to us there, but it also offers cannabis. City officials say it's illegal to sell or distribute cannabis without proper permits.

"Whatever their followers want to smoke, that's not the issue. It's the distribution and sale coming from the dispensary. The church issue just doesn't fly," said Rick Doyle, the city attorney for San Jose.

The city only allows 16 marijuana dispensaries to operate. Each pays 10 percent of its gross sales. Since neither church is permitted, it's not paying taxes to the city.

Doyle said a judge just signed an injunction to stop operating within the next 10 days. He said the city also plans on doing the same with the Coachella
Valley church.


LARKSPUR, Colo. -- Alexis Bortell is hardly the first child whose family moved to Colorado for access to medical marijuana.
But the 12-year-old is the first Colorado kid to sue U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions over the nation's official marijuana policy.

"As the seizures got worse, we had to move to Colorado to get cannabis because it's illegal in

Shortly after moving to Larkspur, Bortell's family began using a strain of cannabis oil called Haleigh's Hope. A drop of liquid THC in the morning and at night has kept her seizure-free for 2 1/2 years.

"I'd say it's a lot better than brain surgery," Bortell said. But Bortell said the federal prohibition on marijuana prevents her from returning to Texas. "I would like to be able to visit my grandparents without risking being taken to a foster home," Bortell said on why

How could you possibly look at someone who's benefiting from this as a medicine and threaten to take it away?" Bortell said. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Alexis' New York attorney Michael Hiller argues it should be legal nationwide. "As it pertains to cannabis, the (Controlled Substances Act) is irrational and thus unconstitutional," said Heller, who added the U.S. government "made a representation that cannabis has medical application for the treatments of Parkinson's Disease, HIV-induced dementia and Alzheimer's disease and yet at the same time the United States government maintains that there is absolutely no medical benefit for the use of cannabis. That is of course absurd."

"Whenever you sue the government, the deck is really stacked against you," Foster said. But he added the federal government might have a hard time arguing medical marijuana has no known medical benefits.

"We now live in an era where 62 percent of Americans live in a state where the medical use of cannabis is legal at the state level," he said. Alexis Bortell said she hopes her lawsuit will normalize medical marijuana but also legalize it.
"We'll be able to be treated like what you call 'normal' families," she said. Bortell is joined in the lawsuit by another child, a military veteran, a marijuana advocacy group and former Broncos player Marvin Washington, who played on the 1998 Super Bowl-winning team.
The federal government has already lost its first motion to have the case dismissed.

she's joined a lawsuit that seeks to legalize medical marijuana on the federal level.
Texas," Bortell, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as a young child, told KDVR. The sixth-grader said traditional medicine wasn't helping her seizures and doctors in her home state were recommending invasive brain surgery. But a pediatrician did mention an out-of-state option – medical marijuana.


Marijuana Policy Project’s announcement that Rob Kampia will be moving from executive director into a more supporting role with the organization is another sign that 2017 likely will be the year a new generation of cannabis legalization activists take the baton from those who began the modern movement.

Earlier this year, Ethan Nadelmann announced his retirement as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“This is certainly going to be seen as the year where the guard changed,” said Kris Krane, managing partner of Boston-based 4Front Ventures. “If you had to look at who were the two most influential people in the movement over the last 20 years, it’s probably Rob and Ethan.”

While Krane said he wasn’t surprised to hear Kampia is relinquishing his leadership position at MPP, he also wasn’t expecting it.

But, Krane added, it’s worth noting the changing dynamics between the burgeoning cannabis industry and the activist-driven legalization movement.

“Twenty-two years ago, we hadn’t won anything. We didn’t even have any medical marijuana laws on the books, and now we have a massive industry,” Krane said.

Kampia was much more willing “to play give-and-take” with business interests than was Nadelmann, Krane noted, and that was one of the things that made him such an effective fundraiser for legalization campaigns.

“At this point, to give these organizations an opportunity to bring in folks who can view these questions with a fresh set of eyes is, I think, not necessarily a bad thing,” Krane said.

What the changing of the guard means for the future of the legalization movement, however, very much remains to be seen.

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