Dr. Reefer Las Vegas Marijuana Doctors

Legal Marijuana is Saving Lives in Colorado

Colorado — Marijuana legalization in Colorado led to a “reversal” of opiate overdose deaths in that state, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health. “After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” write authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar.

The authors stress that their results are preliminary, given that their study encompasses only two years of data after the state’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014.

While numerous studies have shown an association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths, this report is one of the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths.

Marijuana is often highly effective at treating the same types of chronic pain that patients are often prescribed opiates for. Given the choice between marijuana and opiates, many patients appear to be opting for the former.

From a public health standpoint, this is a positive development, considering that relative to opiates, marijuana carries essentially zero risk of fatal overdose.

Now, the study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that similar findings hold true for recreational marijuana legalization. The authors examined trends in monthly opiate overdose fatalities in Colorado before and after the state’s recreational marijuana market opened in 2014. They attempted to isolate the effect of recreational, rather than medical, marijuana by comparing Colorado to Nevada, which allowed medical but not recreational marijuana during that period.

They also attempted to correct for a change in Colorado’s prescription-drug-monitoring program that happened during the study period. That change required all opioid prescribers to register with, but not necessarily use, the program in 2014.

Overall, after controlling for both medical marijuana and the prescription-drug-monitoring change, the study found that after Colorado implemented its recreational marijuana law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.

The authors say policymakers will want to keep a close eye on the numbers in the coming years to see whether the trend continues. They’d also like to see whether their results are replicated in other states that recently approved recreational marijuana, such as Washington and Oregon.

They note, also, that while legal marijuana may reduce opioid deaths it could also be increasing fatalities elsewhere — on Colorado’s roads, for instance.

Still, the study adds more evidence to the body of research suggesting that increasing marijuana availability could help reduce the toll of America’s opiate epidemic, which claims tens of thousands of lives each year.

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

 

About Dr. Reefer:

Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.
Go to http://www.drreefer.net for more info!

 

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MMJ Patients Report Reduction in Use of Drugs

Illinois — Some medical marijuana patients in Illinois say the drug has allowed them to reduce or eliminate their use of other prescription medication, a new study reports.

The study by DePaul and Rush universities was small, with 30 participants, and involved only those who volunteered to respond to the topic, so researchers conceded the results might be biased in favor of marijuana. But it’s believed to be the first peer-reviewed, published research of medical marijuana patients in Illinois.

And it provides direct anecdotal evidence of what has been suggested by previous studies, that marijuana may contribute to reduced use of opioid drugs, lead author Douglas Bruce said.

“One of the most compelling things to come out of this is that people are taking control of their own health, and most providers would agree that’s a good thing,” said Bruce, assistant professor of health sciences at DePaul. “But the lack of provider knowledge around what cannabis does and doesn’t do, the difference in products and ingestion methods and dosing, is all kind of a Wild West.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared opioid abuse an epidemic. Overdoses from prescription opioids like methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 15,000 people in 2015, and President Donald Trump called it a “national emergency.”

And the study results come as the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, a trade group of growers and sellers, is starting a push for legislation allowing marijuana for any condition for which a doctor would give opioid drugs.

“This study confirms exactly what we know from patients,” said alliance Chairman Ross Morreale. He also founded Ataraxia, which runs a cultivation center and a dispensary. “A patient could use both (marijuana and prescription drugs) and see what works — that’s between the doctor and the patient.”

But Kevin Sabet, a former White House adviser on drug policy who now runs Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes broad legalization of medical marijuana, said the study “reeks of problems.”

“One of the worst I’ve seen in a while,” he said via email. “It was an uncontrolled observation of 30 people who were mixing pot with other drugs.”

Since marijuana contains numerous compounds, some of which have medicinal properties, Sabet said they should be isolated, tested and approved individually through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, like any other legal drug.

Bruce, the study’s lead author, responded that Sabet has his own bias against marijuana.

“There’s power in people telling their stories in a way you can’t get in a survey,” Bruce said. “It’s important to do qualitative research to understand how people are using cannabis, then figure out how to measure it.”

Illinois is one of 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, despite a federal prohibition on the drug.

About 25,000 people have been certified as having at least one of about 40 serious medical conditions that qualify them to receive medical cannabis in Illinois. Patients bought about $8 million worth of marijuana in August, the most recent month reported by the state.

The most common conditions for which cannabis was certified were fibromyalgia and cancer, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported. Those were followed by post traumatic stress disorder, which was just added to the list of qualifying conditions last year.

In the DePaul-Rush study, the average age of participants was 45 and typically used marijuana to treat pain, seizures or inflammation.

The patients, who were anonymous, reported concerns about side effects, addiction and tolerance with prescription drugs, and said they believed marijuana managed certain symptoms better and was faster-acting and longer-lasting.

The researchers concluded that more patient study is needed to determine what doses relieve symptoms and to assess patients’ medical conditions.

One medical cannabis patient who did not participate in the study but said she used marijuana to get off prescription drugs was Shea Evans, 26, of Chicago, who works for Modern Cannabis dispensary in Chicago.

Evans said she was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia in 2011, was prescribed a fleet of 18 drugs, including opioids and sleeping pills, and within a year developed a dangerous dependency on painkillers such as Percocet.

“Medical cannabis is the reason I’m opiate free now,” Evans said. “It really gave me my life back and makes my pain manageable, without inebriating me or forming another dependence.”

Study participants quoted in the report struck a common theme in their deep dissatisfaction with many of their prescription medications. One 58-year-old man called the side effects of his seizure medicine “frightening to say the least. I would not like the way I felt taking it.”

One patient said she used to take 180 Vicodin a month. Another took ibuprofen by the hundreds over time. A woman with HIV and cancer said marijuana was helping her after years of trying to get off the anti-inflammatory Prednisone.

And a 33-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis said marijuana helped relieve “unbearable” pain to let her sleep, in contrast to her prescription medicine, which made her feel like a “zombie.”

Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)

About Dr. Reefer:

Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.
Go to http://www.drreefer.net for more info!
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Marijuana Is Burning in the California Wildfires

California — Fatal fires that have consumed nearly 200,000 acres in Northern California, devastating the region’s vineyards particularly in Napa and Sonoma Counties, are also taking a toll on a fledgling industry just months before its debut: recreational marijuana.

Many of the region’s farms, including those that harvest cannabis, have been scorched, including those in Sonoma County and in Mendocino County, the center of California’s marijuana industry. Mendocino is one of three California counties that comprise Emerald Triangle, where much of the United States’ marijuana is produced.

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, said Thursday that at least seven farms had been destroyed, and that he expected the number to “increase significantly” as people returned to their homes. Tens of thousands of cannabis growers live in Northern California.

The owners of the seven farms include small-scale growers who put their life savings into their farms over the past year, he said. None of them have insurance, he said.

“They leveraged themselves entirely,” Mr. Allen said. “It’s going to hit some families really hard.”

Since marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government, the industry works entirely in cash, said Josh Drayton, a spokesman for the California Cannabis Industry Association. That makes reliable insurance difficult to acquire and banking impossible to use.

Even the crops that were not in the direct line of fire could lose value or become unusable because of smoke damage, soot and ash. Growers will have to sort out whether the damage is merely aesthetic or whether it could include contaminants that would present a health risk to consumers, Mr. Allen said. Smoke tends to stick to the plants, which is bad news for a product that depends largely on flavor and scent for its value.

“If it’s supposed to smell like lemon and it smells like wildfire, that’s going to be a significant detractor,” he said.

Mr. Drayton said October is the end of growing season in Northern California, making it a disastrous time for the fires to hit.

“A lot of these crops have not been harvested at all, so that means a total loss on those farms,” he said.

Photos of scorched land have started appearing on Instagram, including one from Sonoma Cannabis Company. “We have all been touched by this tragedy. One of our Team members lost their home, their crop and everything in the fire,” the caption read.

The state has long been the country’s illicit hub of growing marijuana, and its market alone is estimated to be worth about $7 billion, according to Arcview, a company that conducts cannabis research.

California voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana, allowing adults 21 or older to possess limited amounts for personal use and have up to six plants in private residences. The law is set to take effect in January 2018, and officials expect legalization to bring about $1 billion in tax revenue. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996.

California has been at odds with the Trump administration on the state’s marijuana industry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has equated marijuana use with heroin, has asked Senate leaders to roll back protections for the medical marijuana industry. And in February, the White House said it would consider enforcing federal law against recreational marijuana businesses.

About Dr. Reefer:

Located in Henderson Nevada, we are a trusted, discrete and highly trained medical office of the most notable and well-respected licensed and board-certified Cannabis Physicians who specialize in providing only the most safe and affordable access to patients seeking a medical marijuana evaluation, certification and card within the state of Nevada. Our staff is here to attend to each and every patient’s questions, and we also help assist patients with every step of acquiring their Nevada medical marijuana card. If anyone is currently suffering from a chronic or debilitating condition or disease and feel they can benefit greatly from the use of medical marijuana as an alternative medicine, then we welcome them to personally be evaluated by a Las Vegas Marijuana Physician who understands the medicinal value of medical cannabis.

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Go to http://www.drreefer.net for more info!

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MMJ Shield Against a Crackdown is Under Assault

Washington, D.C. — The 85 words almost seemed an afterthought when Congress hurriedly crammed them into a massive budget bill late in the Obama administration, as if lawmakers wanted to acknowledge America’s outlook on marijuana had changed, but not make a big deal of it.

Almost three years later, a multibillion-dollar industry and the freedom of millions to openly partake in its products without fear of federal prosecution hinge on that obscure budget clause. But now, Congress may throw it overboard amid pressure from an attorney general who views marijuana as a dangerous menace.

What has become known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment constitutes a single paragraph of federal law. It prohibits the Justice Department from spending even a cent to prosecute medical marijuana users and sellers operating legally under state laws. Since its passage, it has largely shut down efforts by federal prosecutors or drug enforcement officials to interfere with otherwise legal sales of marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have passed legalization measures.

The prospect that the ban on prosecutions could expire has spread anxiety across the marijuana industry.

In California, the freedom of an attorney facing jail time for advising a marijuana operation hangs in the balance. In Washington, a pro-marijuana GOP congressman ponders whether to use the White House access he has gained to enlist President Trump’s help preserving the pot amendment.

Pot sellers and patients wonder if federal raids are next.

“It is shocking to think that this is at risk,” said Sarah Trumble, deputy director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a centrist think tank that advocates easing federal restrictions on cannabis.

“This would give the attorney general a blank check to go after medical marijuana. Without it, he might try, but it would be really hard for him.”

The first big sign of trouble for pro-marijuana advocates came in September, when the House balked at preserving the amendment. GOP leaders refused to allow a vote on it in a committee chaired by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who is no relation to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, but is as fiercely anti-marijuana.

The Senate has already reaffirmed its support for the provision in an affront to its former colleague, the Sessions who runs the Justice Department. But both houses must agree for the measure to remain in effect.

The hedging in the House followed an aggressive lobbying campaign by the attorney general, who complained in writing to lawmakers that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was hampering law enforcement and endangering the public.

“The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives,” Sessions wrote.

The uncertain fate of the pot provision has created tension among Republicans, dozens of whom have cast votes to prevent the federal government from a crackdown on medical marijuana. Many would like to do so again.

The most vocal is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, the amendment’s namesake, who along with former Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from the Central Coast, got the ban into federal statute in 2014 after trying for a decade.

That victory wasn’t long ago, but came during a very different time. The Obama administration had just pledged to let states go their own way on medical and recreational pot. The measure reflected a Congress subtly backing off its war on marijuana and nudging the Justice Department to do likewise.

After it passed, Rohrabacher began calling judges to insist they dismiss cases.

“I told one of them, ‘If you have in your courtroom a federal prosecutor who is now trying to convict someone for possession of medical marijuana, there is only one criminal in your courtroom, and that is the prosecutor,’” he said.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last year put the Department of Justice on notice that as long as the prosecution ban is in place, marijuana charges filed against defendants operating legally under state law won’t fly, at least in California and the eight other western states under the appeals court’s jurisdiction, all but one of which have legalized marijuana in whole or in part.

Sessions warned in his letter to Congress that the ruling threatened to immunize drug runners and gangs.

Rohrabacher finds such claims absurd. The attorney general, he said, is out of step with the president, who has expressed support for medical marijuana. Rohrabacher insists Trump would step in to protect medical pot if someone could get him to focus on what is going on.

The congressman, who is a strong Trump supporter, is potentially a good candidate to do that. But like so many other things around pot politics – and the Trump administration — the dynamics are complicated, and strange.

Rohrabacher said he doesn’t want to “mess up … something really important to the president” that he’s working on by throwing marijuana into the mix.

Rohrabacher wants to broker a deal between the Trump administration and Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of Wikileaks. According to Rohrabacher, Assange told him he has “absolute proof” that emails stolen from Democratic operatives during last year’s campaign did not come from the Russians.

“That is proof he will provide if we can work something out so Assange leaves the Ecuadorian embassy” in London, where he has taken refuge for more than five years, Rohrabacher said. Assange’s evidence would “disprove the accusation that our president stole the last election in cooperation with Russia,” he asserts.

Much of the rest of Washington is skeptical, and White House officials have kept Rohrabacher away from Trump.

Meantime, the dalliance with Assange isn’t keeping lawmakers from working with Rohrabacher on pot. His most prominent partner is his otherwise political opposite, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a liberal Democrat from Portland, Ore., who is co-sponsoring the latest version of the Rohrabacher amendment.

“There are dozens of Republicans who realize this is a really bad political move,” Blumenauer said, referring to Sessions’ effort to block the amendment.

Marijuana got more votes than Trump. There are millions of Republicans and independents who voted for it. There are 20 million people a month who use it.”

Both Blumenauer and Rohrabacher said they know how many lawmakers have reconsidered their support for the prosecution ban amid lobbying by Sessions.

“None of them,” said Rohrabacher.

That’s all cold comfort to Troy Dayton, co-founder of ArcView, a San Francisco group that connects deep-pocketed investors with promising cannabis startups. The prosecution ban has been a boon to business. The stalling in the House, Dayton said, was another wake-up call to the marijuana industry that anything can happen at any time.

“It was revolutionary when it passed,” Dayton said of the ban. People were skeptical at first, he said, asking whether it would really halt prosecutions. “For the most part, it has,” he said.

The impact if it were to vanish?

“Chilling.”

Perhaps even more so for Nathan Hoffman, a lawyer facing prison time and disbarment for his role advising a large marijuana growing and sales operation that was busted in 2011. The recent court rulings give Hoffman’s attorney, Ronald Richards, hope that Hoffman’s law license and freedom can be saved.

“In a brief I field last night, I said why are they in a rush to disbar my client and convict him when these prosecutions are becoming archaic?” said Richards.

But if the ban goes up in smoke, that argument likely goes along with it.

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L.A. To Be a Hot Market for Marijuana Sales

Washington, D.C. — Compared with a year ago, times may seem tough for those banking on the legalization of marijuana.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has raised “serious questions” about legalization, appears less friendly to the cannabis industry than his predecessor. Even after the District of Columbia permitted recreational use of the drug in 2015, arrests in the city for public use of marijuana are on the rise.

Yet a panel of speakers who gathered Wednesday at Howard University said entrepreneurs — particularly women and minorities — should not fear what those in the marijuana industry call “the cannabis space.”

“It’s a good business — we’re at the start, it’s brand new,” said Lisa Scott, a former chef who runs Bud Appetit, an edibles company based in the District. “So many minorities are locked up — white people are getting filthy rich from it.”

The panel, “Minority Leaders in Cannabis,” came together through Women Grow, a national for-profit group founded in Denver in 2014 “as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale,” according to its website.

Chanda Macias, head of the group’s D.C. chapter and owner of a dispensary in Dupont Circle, said cultivating diversity in the marijuana business is vital.

“We are the leaders — the minority leaders — in cannabis, and we make cannabis look good,” Macias said at the event.

The hurdles to people of color seeking to produce and sell marijuana products are significant, those on the panel said. The war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities, and criminal histories can complicate applications for dispensary licenses.

Meanwhile, communities destroyed by the crack epidemic are not always eager to welcome a pot business to the block — even though those communities could benefit economically and physically from marijuana products, advocates said.

“Prohibition is built on a racist formula,” said Rachel Knox, a member of a family of doctors in Portland, Ore., whose practice focuses on cannabis. “The health-care disparity between blacks and whites is large.”

After the election of Donald Trump, some in the industry worry about the specter of federal action against the marijuana industry. The drug, a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance, has a “high potential for abuse” and “no medically accepted use” in the eyes of the federal government.

“I can’t say I feel comfortable,” Macias said. “As the industry continues to change, less minorities participate because of their fears.”

But according to Marvin Washington, a cannabis investor and former New York Jets defensive lineman, minorities have a historic chance to turn a bad break into a good one.

“We have the opportunity to do this right and make sure the people that suffered when cannabis was in the black market . . . have the opportunity to participate in the upswing,” he said.

Washington, a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the Justice Department that seeks marijuana legalization, also discounted the possibility that Sessions would somehow re-criminalize marijuana across the nation after legalization in the District and elsewhere.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” he said. “I’m not sure how you get it back in.”

As the issue winds its way through the courts, Gia Morón, Women Grow’s communications director, said it’s important for a new industry to address diversity early — and avoid the battles that Silicon Valley is fighting over minority representation.

“We are calling it out early,” Morón said. “We’re starting out saying, ‘You’re going to do better.’ . . . I hope in five years we’re not talking about diversity.”

Justin Wm. Moyer is a reporter for The Washington Post.

 

Las Vegas Get A Medical Marijuana Card

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You Have The Right to Grow Marijuana at Home!

If you have a valid medical marijuana card, you are permitted to grow your 12 plants!

How much marijuana can you grow if you have a Nevada Medical Marijuana Card?

You and your designated primary caregiver may posses a total of Twelve (12) Mature plants after Dr. Reefer and the State have approved you. Mature marijuana plants are those that are blooming, where its flowers or buds may be seen without visual aid. (NRS 453A.200)

You DO NOT have to shop at the Local Dispensaries and pay the High taxes. The Dispensary prices are pretty High, “Grow Your Own” and start saving today!

Nevada approves the use of medical marijuana for AIDS, cachexia, cancer, glaucoma, post traumatic stress disorder, muscle spasms, seizures, nausea, and pain.

If you have a valid medical marijuana card, you are permitted to grow your 12 plants if:

· You have a valid medical marijuana card or your designated caregiver and the dispensaries in your county close or are unable to supply the quantity or strain of marijuana necessary for the medical use to treat your specific medical condition;

· Because your illness or lack of transportation and you hold a valid medical marijuana card and you and your caregiver are unable to reasonably travel to a medical marijuana dispensary.

Keep in mind that some of these exceptions may have to be proven in court if you are arrested, cited or charges have been filed against you, which can be costly and risky. Furthermore, Nevada law on marijuana is constantly changing so you should always ensure you are compliant.

If you don’t have a medical card in Nevada, you run the risk of getting in trouble- especially if the cops think you are selling it.  Nevada has mandatory minimum jail time for selling and growing marijuana, so if you are able to be licensed as a patient or caregiver, it is definitely worth the effort.

Growing marijuana without a medical license in this state is risky. Those that grow marijuana in Nevada could face a year or more in prison if they grow without a Nevada Medical Marijuana Card. Possessing anything over 2 ounces isn’t considered personal use, growing more then 12 plants may get you mistaken for a drug dealer. Patients who have been approved by a Las Vegas Marijuana Doctor should keep small and discrete home grow operations. .

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Prices of recreational marijuana in Nevada projected by local dispensaries. Recreational Marijuana is taxed from 33-38%, depending on local regulations, with all state and local taxes included. Patients found to be in possession of greater than the statutorily permitted amount of medicinal marijuana may still be subject to prosecution under certain state and federal laws.

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L.A. Approves Marijuana Rules

Calif. — Los Angeles may become one of America’s hottest marijuana markets soon, after city lawmakers approved new rules on Monday to regulate and legitimize the cannabis industry ahead of January’s full legalization of recreational use in the state of California.
The regulations, which were first drafted in March, spell out requirements for growers, manufacturers and sellers of marijuana, who would need a state license to operate and be required to follow rules about their operating hours, record-keeping and security measures.

A council committee passed the legislation, which will be taken up by the full council.

The regulations also mean, however, that current dispensaries, which can operate with medical licenses, would be shut down as they wait for their licenses under the new legislation. But City Council President Herb Wesson said he would consider a provisional license system that would prevent the loss of revenue for these businesses.

He also the city and the pot industry agree on many issues, like regulating hours and taxes for the dispensaries, but will leave the thornier parts, including licensing and public smoking laws, for later.

Medical weed has been legal since 1996 in California, but voters finally approved recreational pot 2016, and it’s set to take effect in January. Los Angeles alone expects up to $50 million in tax revenue from recreational sales next year; the city made $21 million in taxing the medical marijuana industry in 2016.

January’s debut of legal pot still has hurdles, including higher prices than the illicit market, thanks to high taxes.

Also, in California, public smoking is banned within 800 feet of such places as bars, parks, beaches and schools. Hotels also ban smoking, even on balconies, making it difficult for tourists to light up.

But the state could take a cue from Colorado, which has a booming pot tourism industry, and has found ways to circumvent the open-space smoking restrictions. These include commissioning luxury buses and private buildings (even “smoke clubs” and cannabis hotels) where tourists can smoke, and take them on tours of dispensaries.

Colorado, where retail sales of marijuana became legal in January 2014, has made $506 million in revenue according to pro-legalization research company VS Strategies. Besides California and Colorado, six other states — Oregon, Washington State, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Alaska — and Washington, D.C. have also legalized recreational weed, part of the growth of the pot business from $2.7 billion in sales in 2014 to the $6.7 billion it made in 2016.

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Don’t Blunt The Marijuana Revolution

Don’t Blunt The Marijuana Revolution
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Washington, D.C. — America is undergoing a somewhat silent revolution concerning the prohibition of marijuana usage. A 2017 poll of 1,122 adults conducted by Marist found that only 14 percent of those surveyed still oppose medicinal marijuana, a number so overwhelming as to allow the suggestion a clear consensus exists among the American people.

On the issue of what is now called “recreational use,” things are not as clear. The same poll found the nation divided “on whether they support or oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, 49 percent to 47 percent.”

A majority of parents, the survey said, oppose recreational use but, among those who have tried it at one time or another or who currently use it today, at 70 and 89 percent support respectively, the pro-legalization movement is gaining ground fast. Attitudes in the hinterlands are clearly changing.

The same can be said of Washington. During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump expressed more than once his belief the nation’s marijuana laws needed to be reformed. California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have, on a bipartisan basis, fought for and won – at least for the moment – a prohibition on the use of taxpayer dollars by federal authorities to prosecute medical marijuana patients or providers who are in compliance with state-based medical marijuana laws.

Another effort by GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California, which would bar federal prosecutions in states that have legalized recreational use, is for the moment stalled but, say those who follow the issue, is likely at some point to pass for no other reason than the ability of politicians to read polls – including the April 2017 Quinnipiac Poll showing 71 percent of those surveyed believed state law should take precedence over federal law where cannabis policy within the states is concerned.

The stumbling block in all this is United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who not only wants to enforce the laws already on the books but has advised the federal prosecutors under his jurisdiction he expects it to be done ruthlessly and with little regard for their discretion concerning what cases are to be brought into court.

Sessions is, clearly enough, behind the times. Nonetheless, he’s still in the position to have things his way – or at least he was until Congress passed and the president signed legislation increasing the federal debt ceiling and for other purposes – because the U.S. Department of Justice has access to funds not appropriated for them by the Congress.

Under a program originally designed to bring large criminal enterprises dealing mostly in cash to heel, the Justice Department has expanded to the point of abuse civil asset forfeiture which, as the American Civil Liberties Union describes it, “allows police to seize – and then keep or sell – any property they allege is involved in a crime” without the person in possession of the property at the time it is seized being convicted of a crime or even arrested.

For the DOJ and for other federal agencies, this has become a revenue generator above and beyond funds appropriated to them by Congress. Cash, cars, even real estate has been taken permanently by the government on the basis of suspicion alone.

The courts may eventually rule civil asset forfeiture as it is currently practiced violates due process but, until they do, it creates a pile of money Sessions can use to have the DOJ pursue medical marijuana users despite what the Rohrabacher/Blumenauer or any other amendment to a piece of legislation may say.

That’s the practical side, which on its own would be enough. There’s also a basic Constitutional principle at stake – as a number of organizations set out in a Sept. 1 letter to the House Rules Committee requesting the Rohrabacher/Blumenauer amendment “be made in order as it has in past years.”

“Under our Constitution states are granted broad police powers because the founders understood that states, not the federal government, would be on the front lines of protecting health, safety, and the general welfare,” the groups, headed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote. “As a nation of diverse populations and opinions, state legislatures and local law enforcement must be free to decide how best to use their limited resources to protect public safety, raise funds, and fight crime within their borders.”

The heart of the matter, for them and for us, is the preservation of a system of government where federal powers are defined, narrowly, by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the powers not given to it explicitly are left to the states. The Congress may have authorized and the executive branch may have approved of the war on drugs, broadly speaking, but this does not mean by fiat that the states much accept its decision in such matters. They have the power to make their own rules, applicable inside their individual borders only, that the federal government should respect – even when a conflict may exist.

This principle may seem esoteric, but is in fact vitally important, especially for advocates of limited government. It carries over into other areas running the gamut from Second Amendment rights to spending and tax policy. Sessions, even if his mind cannot be changed on the matter, owes it to us all to exercise more sensitivity to what the public wants, as expressed by the way they vote on the issue as well as the sentiments expressed in the Marist survey and other polls. The future of our democratic republic may rest on such things.

Peter Roff is a U.S. News & World Report contributing editor for opinion and longtime observer of the Washington scene.

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Legal Marijuana Is Almost Here

Legal Marijuana Is Almost Here
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Laytonville, Calif. — From the sky they look like citrus groves, neat rows of lush emerald-colored plants set amid the hills of Northern California. But as a police reconnaissance helicopter banked for a closer look on a recent afternoon, the pungent smell of marijuana plants filled the cabin, wafting up from 800 feet below.
“That’s all weed,” squawked a deputy with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office over the helicopter intercom. “They’re not in the program.” More than nine months after California voted to legalize recreational marijuana, only a small share of the tens of thousands of cannabis farmers in Northern California have joined the system, according to law enforcement officers and cannabis growers.

Despite the promise of a legal marketplace, many growers are staying in the shadows, casting doubt on the promise of a billion-dollar tax windfall for the state and a smooth switch to a regulated market.

At the same time, environmental damage and crime associated with illegal cannabis businesses remain entrenched in the state despite legalization, law enforcement officials say.

“I know that the numbers don’t look great; there are a lot of folks that aren’t coming in,” said Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, a marijuana advocacy group. “People are losing faith in this process.”

California, which by one estimate produces seven times more marijuana than it consumes, will probably continue to be a major exporter — illegally — to other states. In part, that is because of the huge incentive to stay in the black market: marijuana on the East Coast sells for several times more than in California.

“There are very few areas you can go in the county and not find marijuana — it’s everywhere,” said Bruce Smith, a lieutenant with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office who leads the county’s efforts to shut down illegal marijuana farms. “The vast majority aren’t permitted.”

Mendocino County has received 700 applications for permits to grow marijuana, according to the Mendocino Department of Agriculture. That is a fraction of the thousands of growers in the area.

“You have folks who have been operating for two decades with maybe some local oversight and some with no oversight at all,” said Lori Ajax, the chief of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. “You want to first give people a chance to get into that regulated market. And then it’s going to take some strong enforcement.”

November’s legalization measure, Proposition 64, decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowed individuals to grow six plants at home and set rules for the sale and cultivation of regulated plants, seeking to end what had been two decades of a freewheeling and largely unregulated medical cannabis system. The punishment for growing or possessing large amounts of unregulated marijuana was downgraded to a misdemeanor from a felony.

Based on data from various state and county agencies, Mr. Allen, of the growers association, estimates that about 11 percent of growers — about 3,500 of 32,000 farmers in the Emerald Triangle, which covers Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties — have applied for permits. Most have been deterred by the voluminous paperwork to obtain a permit, the fees and the taxes, he said.

Critics said the framers of the law might have also miscalculated because many growers say there is little upside from getting a permit. If they stay out of the system, they face lighter punishments and avoid paying taxes, fees and the cost of meeting environmental standards.

“You could have 1,000 pounds in your hotel room right now and you might be charged with just a misdemeanor,” Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County, said. In a small number of cases, traffickers can be charged with conspiracy, which is a felony.

David Eyster, the Mendocino district attorney, said the surge in the marijuana business had brought with it violent crime, which did not appear to be going away anytime soon.

Among the cases he is handling are a robbery and slashing death of a grower; the murder of a man at a marijuana farm by a co-worker wielding a baseball bat; an armed heist in a remote area by men who posed as law enforcement officers; and a robbery by two men and a juvenile who were invited to a barbecue and then drew guns on their hosts and fled with nine pounds of marijuana.

“The folks in the big cities, they don’t realize that out in the rural areas where the marijuana is being grown, there are people being robbed, kidnapped and in some cases murdered,” Mr. Eyster said.

California took a different path from Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, where possession of large amounts of unregulated cannabis remains a felony and where the black market is significantly smaller, according to Sean McAllister, a lawyer who specializes in cannabis cases in both states.

“As someone who has lived through the transition in Colorado, when I go to California I am definitely shocked to see that people in the industry seem very ill-prepared for the transition,” Mr. McAllister said.

Police officers in Mendocino County said their priority was to go after people who cause environmental damage or who grow on public lands. So far this year they have raided 74 sites and eradicated more than 90,000 plants. Illegal plots are identified by helicopter and then destroyed by a convoy of well-armed police officers and a plant shredder towed by a pickup.

“I think we can all agree that your average pot smoker shouldn’t be in prison,” said Shannon Barney, a lieutenant in the Mendocino sheriff’s office who helped lead a raid in August that ended in the destruction of more than 800 plants. “But I think everybody can also agree that punishment for a major trafficker needs to be more severe.”

Small-scale growers have planted marijuana in the backwoods of the Emerald Triangle for decades. But in recent years Northern California has seen what has been called a “green rush” of entrepreneurs with a more laser-focused profit motive and often little regard for forests famous for their giant redwood trees.

The cannabis business has attracted investors and growers from across the world, including Bulgarians, Russians, Chinese, Hmong, Jamaicans and Mexicans.

The state’s licensing system does not start until January and most counties are still accepting applications so it is possible that more growers will choose to enter the legal market.

But Mr. Allen of the growers association said there was already ample reason to be concerned. At the current levels of participation, he said, there may not be enough regulated marijuana to serve the legalized market, a highly paradoxical situation in a state that is by far the largest cannabis producer.

Growers in California complain that the legalization process has been opaque and confusing. For the last two decades growers operated under a lightly regulated system of medical cannabis collectives. Legalization now brings a deluge of rules passed by towns, counties and the state.

As his eight-foot-tall plants were being hauled to the shredder, a grower who gave his name as Chris, who declined to give his last name, said he had not made an effort to obtain a permit because he thought he could grow 25 plants and still be legal.

“This has been such a peaceful experience until today,” he said. “They just ripped out my whole garden I’ve been working on since February.”

In a number of crime categories — violent crime, robbery, aggravated assault and murder, among them — the Emerald Triangle is near the top of the list of California most crime-ridden counties.

The violent crime rate in Mendocino County is seven times higher than in Los Angeles County, according to F.B.I. data from 2015, the latest year available. To be sure, crimes are more statistically prominent in Mendocino County because of its small population of about 87,000.

The sustained black market is also a concern for environmentalists, who say marijuana grown illegally in public forests cuts into hillsides, siphons water from creeks and is treated with pesticides that foul the water. At the end of the season, growers often leave behind tons of trash.

“It’s a shame to see the degradation of the land that my industry created,” Eli Scislowicz, the manager of a Nevada cannabis business who worked for many years in California. Environmentally conscious marijuana growers exist, he said. “But there’s a lot of irresponsible actors too, that have poisoned the ground.”

In environmentally conscious California, police officers said they were much more likely to get a jury conviction for pollution or damage to the land than for possession.

“There’s romance with marijuana. People think it’s a harmless herb,” Sheriff Allman said. “But environmental crimes make people angry.”

The potent odor of the plants, which can waft for dozens of yards, is also a major irritant among some residents; complaints about smell are the most common marijuana-related calls received by the police in Mendocino, Lieutenant Smith said.

Growing marijuana is so well entrenched in the Emerald Triangle that police officers here see an uphill battle in the state’s effort to regulate the industry.

“I’ve arrested grandparents, parents and grandchildren in different years for growing marijuana on the same piece of property,” Sheriff Allman said. “You get into a generational thing that’s almost like moonshine. People think, ‘Why do I have to get permits? My parents didn’t have to and my grandparents certainly didn’t have to.’”

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