July 2014 – Cannabis News Across the Globe
by John Schroyer
FRENCH WINERY USES HEMP AS BUILDING MATERIAL
The Chateau Maris in Languedoc, France, might be the first of its kind. It’s an otherwise traditional French winery, but its cellar is constructed completely from hemp.
The 9,000-square foot cellar’s building material is just one factor that went into making the entire chateau a net-zero energy operation, complete with a green roof and solar panels. Hemp’s breathability was a perfect match for the winery, since it keeps the inner temperature between 54 degrees and 63 degrees at almost all times, in spite of the weather.
TENNESSEE OPENS DOOR FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP
One of the most recent states to breach the topic of farming industrial hemp is Tennessee (along with its neighbor, Kentucky), but in The Volunteer State, hemp farmers may have to wade through a lot of red tape in order to sow a single seed.
Under rules proposed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, would-be farmers would have to pony up a $500 license fee. Their crops would be subject to random THC testing. Growers will also have to give the state GPS coordinates for their hemp fields.
Any farmer willing to deal with all the regulations will be able to apply for a license later this year, and begin cultivating hemp in 2015.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA TIGHTLY REGULATED
The Sunshine State Legislature has joined the growing number of states that permit a form of medical marijuana, but Florida’s restrictions are some of the tightest in the nation.
Under the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act,” smoking marijuana is still illegal, whether it’s for medical reasons or otherwise. The only medical form that’s legal is a cannabidiol extract, an oil that can be used to treat a handful of ailments such as epilepsy, and was made famous by the Charlotte’s Web strain from Colorado. Other patients who will be able to obtain the oil legally include those with cancer and muscle spasm-inducing diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
FLORIDA MILLIONAIRE FUNDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PUSH
Though the Florida Legislature passed a narrow bill permitting medical marijuana for epileptics and cancer patients, cannabis proponents aren’t satisfied. They are pushing ahead with a ballot measure for November that would broaden the medical spectrum of medical conditions that qualify patients for legal marijuana.
But opponents of the measure, also known as Amendment 2, are always quick to note that a lone millionaire is behind most of the funding for the ballot measure campaign.
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a prominent Democrat, has given the Amendment 2 campaign more than $4 million to try and expand qualifying conditions to include any “conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” That means Florida’s cannabis community would start to look more like Colorado’s marijuana scene.
WASHINGTON STATE BOLSTERING CAMPAIGN AGAINST STONED DRIVING
In advance of adult-use marijuana sales beginning this month in Washington, state traffic officials ramped up an anti-DUI campaign targeted at those who smoke marijuana. They want to get the word out that stoned driving will still be punished severely.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission launched an ad campaign with the slogan “Drive high, get a DUI” with 30-second TV spots that feature people who are high and attempting normal tasks. The obvious implication is if you smoke a joint, you’re too stoned to get behind the wheel.
Extra state troopers are out on the highways looking to crack down on stoned drivers. In Washington, a DUI will cost an offender at least one day in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
MARIJUANA BREATHALYZER INVENTED
Cops may soon have a new tool with which to nail drivers who have been toking up. An ex-Canadian Mountie reportedly has helped invent the first-ever marijuana breathalyzer.
Kal Malhi, a former member of the Canadian Mounted Police, told a Vancouver TV station that he and radiologist Dr. Raj Attariwala came up with the “Cannabix Breathalyzer” because law enforcement officials don’t have any other reliable way to tell whether a driver may be stoned.
Though the patent on the device is still pending, according to some reports Malhi and Attariwala are planning on showing their new invention to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Authority.
SMARTPHONE APP ALLOWS MMJ HOME DELIVERY
If you’ve ever heard that saying, “There’s an app for that,” this one takes it to a new level. If you live in Washington state, you have a medical marijuana card, and you want to get marijuana delivered to your home, there’s an app for that.
The new app, called “Canary,” is the brainchild of University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakhaira. It allows users to order any amount from a gram up to an ounce at a time. Users can even order snacks to go along with their cannabis.
“The uncertainties are not in the technology; the technology has already been done before. The uncertainties are in the legality on the business side,” Tullis told Time Magazine.
The pair are already interviewing drivers from Uber and Lyft as potential hires.
FEDS SEIZE MORE HEMP SEEDS BOUND FOR LEGAL FARM
Federal agents made headlines in May when they seized a shipment of hemp seeds legally bound for cultivation in Kentucky. Though those seeds were ultimately released by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a similar occurrence has taken place at the Canadian border over a shipment headed for Colorado.
Colorado hemp activist Tom McClain purchased 350 pounds of hemp seeds in Canada after the Colorado Legislature passed rules for hemp cultivation. But when he tried to drive back through North Dakota, his seeds were confiscated by border agents.
“They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn’t bring them in,” McClain told The Associated Press.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs Enforcement told The AP that the seeds were being evaluated because hemp and marijuana seeds can look very similar.
The Kentucky case ended when the state Department of Agriculture sued the DEA, and it gave up the seeds.
COLORADO CANNABIS FINANCIAL CO-OPS LIKELY A WORTHLESS TOKEN GESTURE
A first-of-its-kind law in Colorado to create credit co-ops for cannabis dispensaries is likely nothing more than a token gesture. It won’t do much to relieve dispensaries’ need to do most of their business with cash, according to several industry players.
The problem is the Federal Reserve System, which would have to give the thumbs up to Colorado House Bill 1398. The bill was aimed at giving dispensaries access to bank accounts and credit lines, since many banks refuse to do business with cannabis companies for fear of federal prosecution, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Dispensaries are at a greater risk of being targeted by criminals, since they’re forced to deal in cash, while traditional businesses can use electronic transfers, checking accounts, and so on to protect their finances.
But the Fed hasn’t given any indication that it will sign off on the electronic transfer services necessary for HB 1398 to work, according to the Craig Daily Press. In other words, nice try, Colorado lawmakers, but no deal.
FDA CONSIDERS LOOSENING FEDERAL MARIJUANA RESTRICTIONS
Marijuana could be moved from a federally classified Schedule 1 drug to a lower tier, a step toward possible decriminalization by federal regulators.
The Food and Drug Administration, at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is taking a look at whether or not to recommend the downgrade, according to an FDA spokesman at a recent congressional hearing.
But the spokesman wouldn’t give many details, saying he wasn’t sure when the analysis might be finished, or if the agency may recommend that the DEA change marijuana’s classification.
ADULT-USE MARIJUANA SALES BEGIN IN FORT COLLINS
Fort Collins became the latest Colorado town to start selling adult-use marijuana in mid-June, when the doors at Organic Alternatives swung open and let in dozens of waiting customers.
Though there are roughly a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins, Organic Alternatives was the first to begin retail selling under a state-obtained license. There are two other adult-use stores in the region.
Another Fort Collins-area recreational marijuana merchant, Flower Power Botanicals, will likely open a few months down the road.
KENTUCKY CANNABIS ACTIVISTS HOPE TO BUILD ON HEMP MOMENTUM
Republicans all over the state of Kentucky have been embracing industrial hemp as a potential cash crop for their state, and cannabis activists in the southern state are hoping to channel that enthusiasm into legalizing medical marijuana.
State legislators held their second hearing of the year in June on the topic, and will hold at least two more this summer. During the most recent hearing, Democrats spoke up in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, but old party divisions surfaced when the Republican chairwoman got upset over marijuana supporters demonizing former U.S. President Richard Nixon and his role in criminalizing marijuana.
“If Kentucky moves in that direction of medical marijuana, it would be extremely limited in who can prescribe it and who can dispense it,” the chairwoman told The Associated Press.
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