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Legal pot and car crashes: Yes, there’s a link

Does driving while high have any impact on auto accident rates? Legalized recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington correlates to about a 3 percent increase in auto collision claim frequencies compared to states without such legislation, according to a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) study. It’s the first one the group has conducted since the drug went on sale legally.
mj-collisionsSOURCE: HIGHWAY LOSS DATA INSTITUTE

 

“More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes,” the study said.

The HLDI is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research organization that usually focuses on figuring out which cars are safest. The group is funded by auto insurance companies, which have a vested interest in not having to pay claims and — of course — hold a bias against impaired driving of any kind.

According to the HLDI, past researchers haven’t been able to “definitively connect marijuana use with real-world crashes,” and even a federal study failed to find such a link. “Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use have also been inconclusive,” said the HLDI.

Instead, the group focused on three states — Colorado, where legal marijuana retail sales started in 2014, as well as Oregon and Washington, where sales began in 2015 — and compared them to the collision claims in neighboring states such as Nevada and Utah, parts of which now allow only medical marijuana. It also factored in statistics regarding the three states where recreational use is now legal from before it became available to the general public.

Colorado saw the largest estimated increase in claim frequency — 14 percent more than its bordering states, while Washington state was 6 percent greater and Oregon had a 4 percent increase. Allowing for the total control group, “the combined effect for the three states was a smaller, but still significant at 3 percent,” said HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

The group used collision claims because they are the most frequent kind insurers receive. Drivers file these claims for damage to their vehicle in a crash with an object or with another vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault, the HLDI said.

The HLDI said it’s preparing for more of these studies and has already begun a “large-scale case-control study” in Oregon to find out if usage could be causing automotive injuries.

But the auto insurance industry’s position on legalized marijuana is already crystal clear. “Worries that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates aren’t misplaced,” said David Zuby, chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “The HLDI’s findings on the early experience in Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause.”

  • Ed Leefeldt

    Ed Leefeldt is an award-winning investigative and business journalist who has worked for Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, and contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.

As Colorado Gets Ready To Allow Pot Clubs, Indoor Smoking Still An Issue

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A blinking “open” sign hangs on the outside of an old building in a dark industrial zone just outside the Denver city limits. When the front door opens, smoke billows out.

Inside is one of the state’s few pot clubs, called iBake. Recently, members celebrated the anniversary of its opening.

Glassy-eyed patrons bounce off each other in the small space.

People can smoke pot in here because the club is private; you have to be a member. And it’s outside city limits, away from city police.

It’s not the easiest way to make money, but Steve Nelson Jr. started iBake to fill a need.

“It’s recreation, so it’s to have fun, it’s to relax, it’s to lounge,” he says. “You don’t necessarily want to do that just by yourself.”

But that’s exactly how many tourists, like Alberto Aviles, end up using it. Aviles was visiting from New York. He had no problem finding a place to buy pot at one of Denver’s 150 stores, but aside from iBake, he couldn’t find anywhere to use it.

“Even in the hotels, like the Ramada Inn, they gave me a problem, you know, tried to kick me out just off the smell,” he says.

Hotel owners aren’t the only ones happy to see that city and state lawmakers are close to permitting a mix of private and public communal places to use pot. It’s something akin to what you’d find in Amsterdam.

Vicki Marble, a Republican state senator, says that’s better than cops handing out tickets to tourists using pot in parks and on sidewalks.

“We do not want people coming on vacation and leaving on probation,” she says.

Colorado Republicans have brushed off concerns from the Trump administration about the spread of recreational marijuana, throwing their weight behind a bipartisan bill at the state legislature that would officially allow private marijuana clubs.

“It’s not ideal for consumers, but it is a step in the right direction,” says Kayvan Khalatbari, a marijuana businessman and advocate for public pot consumption.

Seven other states have legal recreational pot, but among those seven, only Nevada is close to licensing public pot use.

“It’s not only something that obviously Colorado’s dealing with, but every single state that’s legalizing recreational cannabis, this will be a conundrum that gets recreated,” he says.

One conundrum is around smoking. Colorado, like many states, doesn’t allow indoor smoking in public places.

But Khalatbari says half of Colorado’s pot sales are for the type of marijuana you have to smoke. Many people prefer that.

“I don’t like edibles,” Khalatbari says. “I don’t like the way they make me feel. I don’t feel that vaporization gives me the sensation that I’m looking for”

Rachel O’Bryan has long fought against the expansion of pot. “Yes, I’m happy to be the bad guy who rains on the parade,” she says.

She says no filtration system can remove all the second-hand smoke from a room. And Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he’d veto the state’s pot club bill if it allows indoor smoking. Think outdoor patios and rooftop bars.

But O’Bryan’s concerns go beyond that. She’s worried that some proposals would allow any type of business — like a yoga studio or a laundromat — to permit marijuana use.

“You know, the encouragement of anything, whether it’s alcohol or marijuana while you’re going about your daily business of, you know, doing laundry — is that a good direction for society to take?” she asked. “And my guess is not.”

She laments that again, Colorado is at the forefront of a big social experiment. She wonders what the effect will be on drugged driving or addiction.

No one knows for sure.

Ben Markus is a general assignment reporter with NPR member station Colorado Public Radio. You can follow him @CPRMarkus.

Oregon Sets Massive Precedent — Refuses to Enforce THC Blood Limit for Driving

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Photo Credit: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
The state is leading the way by insisting that science and evidence prevail when it comes to marijuana and DUID.

There’s a lot to be said for states that have legalized recreational and/or medical cannabis, but even Colorado and Washington have one problem – arbitrary blood-THC limits which imply a driver is impaired.

These numbers, such as Washington’s 5ng/ml, have no scientific basis for assessing the level of impairment. Despite this, six states with legal weed have per se limits for tetrahydrocannabinol; being over that number automatically makes you guilty of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).

Oregon, however, is bucking the trend. In its DUI Legislative Report, the state’s Liquor Control Commission said it is recommending against a per se THC limit. By relying on the actual state of science, this welcome exercise in rationality should set an example for other states setting up their own regulatory framework.

Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission was tasked in 2015 with “regulating the recreational marijuana market in Oregon, with studying the question of THC-related intoxicated driving.”

According to the report:

Due to restrictions on cannabis research and limited data, it is difficult to make definitive statements about the risk of THC-intoxicated driving. The body of evidence that does exist indicates that while attitudes towards driving after marijuana use are considerably more relaxed than in the case of alcohol, the risk of crashes while driving under the influence of THC is lower than drunk driving. Little evidence exists to compel a significant change in status quo policy or institute a per se intoxication standard for THC.

widely-reported study by the American Automobile Association in 2016 found no scientific basis for blood-THC limits and called on the six states using such laws to abandon them. Chemical tests for THC have not been shown to correlate to things like brake and gas pedal coordination, distance perception and general attention.

The only thing we know about blood-THC and driving is that it is not comparable to the tests for alcohol impairment. There is no THC breathalyzer test, and urine tests cannot detect it. Some blood tests can distinguish between THC and its longer-lasting metabolites, but these levels can vary widely depending on how often the person uses cannabis. Test results will also vary based on whether one smoked or ate the cannabis.

One person can feel impaired at 5ng/ml while another can function with no detectable impairment. In fact, many people charged with DUID based on arbitrary blood-THC limits have convinced juries they were not impaired when they were pulled over.

Even so, driving studies show driving while on cannabis is far less dangerous than driving on alcohol, including one finding virtually no driving impairment from cannabis. Other studies have found that speed is typically reduced while driving on cannabis, and people deliberately compensate for any impairment, although multitasking was somewhat affected.

In no way does this mean anyone can just toke up and get behind the wheel. Cannabis is psychoactive, and people unaccustomed to cannabis – especially teenagers – should certainly refrain from driving.

The Oregon Commission’s report also supports the premise that cannabis users are more responsible drivers than alcohol use.

The rate of drivers tested by Drug Recognition Experts who are positive for THC intoxication rose between 2013 and 2014, but did not increase following legalization. Fatal accidents data is highly variable year-to-year, making trend analysis difficult. But in Oregon in 2015 there were only three more traffic fatalities involving a driver testing positive for THC compared to 2004. Moreover, the rate of THC-related fatal accidents is also considerably lower than such accidents involving alcohol intoxication. Finally, while overall traffic fatalities and alcohol-related fatalities spiked in 2015, THC-related fatalities did not.

As a spokesman for AAA noted when their study was published, the increased risk from driving on cannabis is about the same as driving with a “noisy child in the back of the car,” and only half as dangerous as talking on a hands-free cellphone (legal in all states).While thankfully avoiding an arbitrary blood-THC limit recommendation, the Oregon Commission still felt compelled to offer advice on cannabis and driving. It recommended increasing the use of “Drug Recognition Experts” who administer lengthy sobriety tests specific to cannabis, as well as implementing a voluntary oral swab test to collect data.

Is Home Cultivation Finally Coming to Washington State?

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A new bill in the Washington state Legislature would add a long-awaited provision to the state’s cannabis law to allow adults 21 and over to grow their own supply of cannabis at home.

The new legislation, HB 1092 introduced last week by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), would allow adults to grow cannabis plants at home for personal use—a move that would align Washington with the rest of adult-use states.

As it stands, Washington is the only state that allows retail sales of adult-use cannabis but still bars home cultivation. Currently only registered medical patients with a state-issued permit can legally grow at home.

If the bill is enacted, adults 21 and over would be able to grow up to six plants on their private property. Yields would be limited to no more than 24 ounces, or a pound and a half of useable cannabis. Homes with more than one adult resident could legally house up to 12 plants, for up to 48 ounces, or three pounds.

A big question that remains is how consumers would go about getting cannabis seeds in the first place. The purchase and sale of seeds is still illegal under state and federal law, despite the fact Washington has legalized cannabis itself. Under the current proposed bill, there is no mention of where consumers would be able to purchase cannabis seeds were the bill to become law.

Daniel Shortt, a Seattle-based cannabis lawyer at the firm Harris Bricken, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he believes the new bill will have to answer how home growers can acquire seeds.

“The way the entire marijuana market is set up, producers and processors can sell to retailers, who can sell to the public. Would that mean that now, to get these seeds, potential home growers are getting seeds from the retail store?” said Shortt. “If those seeds are being sold, that’s really the only place where the government could actually get revenue from taxes.”

In 2016 alone, Washington lawmakers introduced 44 bills that deal with cannabis in some fashion. The list includes bills that relax residency requirements for licensed marijuana business owners as well as legislation around medical marijuana patients and their employers.

The recently introduced House Bill 1060 has garnered bipartisan support. The measure would allow medicinal marijuana to be administered on school grounds to children who need cannabis to function normally, such as those who suffer from daily seizures.

A full list of cannabis bills that have been introduced in the state is available online.

Oregon reports big jump in marijuana business applications, licenses

In another sign that cannabis could be bigger business than previously forecast, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says it received 1,907 recreational marijuana license applications in 2016 — far outstripping a projected 800 to 1,200, the agency said.

Seven hundred sixty-two of those applications were approved as of the end of last week, a big jump from 500 licenses in early December. In that time, the number of licensed retailers went from 99 to 260.

Processors, who have struggled with strict testing and labeling requirements, have been slower to get licensed, but the number in that category was up significantly as well, from 18 to 51.

“Our staff has worked nonstop and with determination to get this industry licensed,” OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks said in a statement. “Working after hours, working weekends, traveling long distances, this team has been flexible in getting this industry licensed, without compromising the trust placed in us to protect the public.”

Oregonians voted for legalization in November 2014, and the state began transitioning toward a regulated recreational market in October 2015 with “early start” rules, which allowed dispensaries to extend sales to adults who didn’t have medical cards.

That got recreational sales off to a fast start: In December, the Department of Revenue reported that tax payments totaled $54.5 million from Jan. 1 through Nov 30., $13.8 million more than the Legislative Revenue Office had projected.

But early sales ended with the arrival of 2017; all businesses operating in the recreational space now must be licensed by the OLCC.

The big increase in recreational retailers has coincided with a decline in dispensaries.

As of last week, since Oct. 1, 121 dispensaries had either surrendered their registration or withdrawn their application to go retail, and the number of dispensaries had shrunk from a peak of 425 to 307.

Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, co-vice chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization, told the Business Journal’s Elizabeth Hayes that he expected the number to ultimately dwindle to around 30.

In its statistics update, the OLCC also reported that it had approved 9,041 Marijuana Worker Permits out of 10,700 applications received.

Pete Danko

Some Oregon Marijuana Dispensaries Devastated by Recreational Sales Deadline

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By Keith Mansur     Oregon Cannabis Connection

There is definitely no wait at Stash Cannabis Company in Beaverton, Oregon, the past couple of days. Since the deadline for Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries passed on December 31, stores that have been waiting for their licenses from Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) are seeing a lot fewer customers.

It’s so bad that they had only two sales on January 4, for $125.00, and barely over $100 the previous day. The typical sales at Stash Cannabis Company, before they were forced to go back to medical-only sales, was about $4000 a day.

The problem has been devastating for dispensaries that are stuck in limbo between receiving their OLCC licenses and the deadline to end early sales that passed on December 31. These dispensaries, which had been allowed to sell to the recreational market since October 2015, are now out in the cold.“At that pace we will be at $3000 for the whole month,” explained Chris Mathews, owner of Stash Cannabis Company. “We’re turning away 75 or 80 people a day, at least.”

Mathews paid for his application on December 13, after waiting since August on a letter from his landlord showing he had legal occupancy of the building—an application requirement even though he had an operating medical dispensary under the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) system licensed by the city of Beaverton as a medical marijuana dispensary. He has still not gotten an appointment for an inspection walk-through, the last step before licensing. In fact, he may have fallen further back in line, according to his most recent conversation with OLCC.

Mathews emailed OLCC for the status of his application on December 21. They responded, telling him he was 10th in line. Anxious about the looming deadline, he emailed again December 27, and found he was still 10thin line. Finally, he checked on January 4 and found he was now further back in line,  suspiciously moved to 15th!

“It’s frustrating,” Mathews told Oregon Cannabis Connection (OCC). “I have met all the requirements, I took the Metrc training, and I’m just waiting for an inspection.”

He has been given no timeline, either. “They told me to call back next week and they will tell me where I am at then.

Washington and black market benefit

Martin Nickerson simply closed his McMinnville, Oregon, dispensary doors at Ocean Grown Cannabis Company. He knew it was a pointless endeavor to try and operate when the vast majority of his customer base was forced to shop elsewhere—which he knows means Washington state. Originally from Washington, Nickerson understands the market there and has even been told by his customers that’s where they are willing to go.

“We’ve shut down until we get our OLCC license,” Nickerson told OCC.
The county was holding up his Land Use Statement, or LUCS, which is a required part of the application. They received the LUCS January 4, the day we spoke with him. The OLCC now has a completed application and he is awaiting inspection.“The dispensary was being hit so hard on loss of product. We were watching customers go right to the black market or they are going right across the border to Washington,” Nickerson explained. “If you go across the border to Washington … they’ve got 50 different kinds of concentrates from $18.00 to $24.00 a gram. I have had customers tell me if it’s that much cheaper and there’s that much selection and accessibility to product, it’s worth the drive.”

“I want to see them helping us and not hurting us. If we could just work together and talk,” Nickerson said. “I appreciate the work they put in and all the time and effort that has gone into legalizing marijuana in Oregon, but they should be asking the cannabis community ‘what should we do here?’, you know?”

“We are trying to beat the black market and I am right here with the state to help them every step of the way but, boy, I hope they start to listen a little bit,” explained Nickerson.

Tax losses are huge already

The 420 Club in the City of Roseburg, Oregon, was the first licensed marijuana dispensary located in Douglas County, a county that still bans cannabis businesses due to a commission-imposed ban ordinance. The attempted repeal attempt failed in November 2016. Roseburg, however, has allowed dispensaries since 420 Club opened on November 6, 2014, and recreational sales eventually were allowed, too. One of the selling points for recreational cannabis to the city of Roseburg and an main argument for lifting the ban in the county was the tax benefits.

Four dispensaries were operating in Roseburg and 420 Club alone was contributing $18,000 in tax to the Oregon Department of Revenue every month, but that changed in October with the shortage of concentrates and edibles, and in some cases flower, for a few weeks.

“For the last two months we have collected $10,000 per month in taxes, but in the previous year we were collecting about $18,000 a month,” explained Hoyt. “As soon as the state started messing with the testing [on October 1, 2016], our sales dropped 40%.”

“However, now we aren’t collecting any taxes because of not being issued our license yet,” he told us. “We’re obviously not collecting anything for the state in taxes.”

They started their application process at the beginning of December and have faced delays similar to what other dispensaries have encountered. They submitted their application somewhat late because they had very low inventory and nothing available due to the testing backlog and timing of that with harvest. The same timing happened all across the state as dispensaries struggled to stock their shelves before the switch to OLCC retail sales.

“They did all the testing changes at harvest time, and that’s something you just don’t do because everybody and their brother has herb to be tested,” Hoyt pointed out. “That was just the wrong time to do what they did.”

It’s a widespread problem

“This was a completely avoidable disaster,” explained Casey Houlihan of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association. “Several agencies dropped the ball and are now pointing fingers at one another, while our industry grinds to a halt. Scores of shops are scaling back employee hours, forced to turn away would-be customers because they are stuck waiting for a rubber stamp.”

The association has been working to help  cannabis businesses in Oregon negotiate policy issues. Their membership includes about 120 businesses and 65 dispensaries. They have provided guidance and input to legislators and administrators over the past few years in an attempt to prevent onerous rules and stifling regulations from being placed on the industry. They continue to address problems and suggest solutions to rulemakers and legislators.

“This was not the legislature’s intent when they passed ‘early sales’ [SB 460] in 2015,” Houlihan said. “The Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association is doing everything we can to develop and organize for a solution to the current crisis, and we are working with policymakers to help make that happen.”

The number of licensed cannabis OLCC retailers (dispensaries) in Oregon as of December 30, 2016, was 216, according to the OLCC website information atwww.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana. Of those only 178 have active licenses. 314 medical marijuana dispensaries remain on the OHA list, which is can be found athttp://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/. on their website. Rob Patridge, OLCC Chairman, told OCC that as of January 4, 257 applications have been approved.

Is there a solution?

The deadline was put in place by statute, so  legislative action would be required to change it. But the problem is immediate and serious, so waiting for the legislature to take care of this is no solution at all. Unfortunately, it appears that is a major roadblock.
“OLCC remains committed to expediting late filing applications and has been taking steps throughout the year to facilitate a quick transition, including working directly with applicants to complete their applications. Applicants can speed up the process by inventorying their products and completing their Inventory Transfer Requests. The December 31 deadline cannot be changed without legislative action since it is in statute. The deadline has been in place for 17 months, starting on July 27, 2015, when SB 450 became effective. The OLCC has been accepting applications for a year and retailers that applied and were ready have been approved through the OLCC’s expedited process. As of yesterday, 257 retail licenses have been approved and staff expects more to be approved shortly as applications are completed.”Patridge explained:

We also reached out to Rep. Ann Lininger, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Marijuana, but received no response.

The reasons for delays are numerous and many have been forced by local regulations, inattentive landlords, rules changes and myriad reasons other than procrastination. If they have already paid the application fee and are already a licensed dispensary under the OHA, is there no way to allow them to continue to operate?

Let’s hope a solution can be revealed sooner rather than later.

© 2016 Oregon Cannabis Connection.

Portland is Behind on Issuing Cannabis Business Licenses

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With only a few weeks to go until the Oregon Health Authority officially turns the new commercial cannabis industry over to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission there is not much time left for businesses to obtain all their needed licenses. In the city of Portland there have been delays in the permit process for several cannabis businesses – who were worried that they would be shut down come January 1st when those licenses become required. Luckily, the Portland City Council has taken action to ensure that businesses awaiting licenses will not have action taken against them at start of the new year.

“There was some concern in the media about lots of businesses being found out of compliance and shut down January 1,” Commissioner Amanda Fritz said. “As long as there are good faith efforts that they’re in the process that is not going to happen. We appreciate most businesses are working their way through the process”

In hopes of speeding up the process some, the council also agreed that retail dispensaries will be able to obtain their licenses from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement – even if they are still in the process of obtaining all the permits they need. As long as they get the permits and have been successful in working through the complicated process, then they will be eligible to get their license ahead of schedule. This will not however, be an option for growers or processors – likely due to the fact that there are much more in depth inspections required for such businesses.

“We want to be very clear that the city and the Cannabis Policy Program will not be taking enforcement measures against any legally operating marijuana business that is currently waiting in line for its recreational license to be issued,” Fritz said at the top of the Council meeting.

Along with the measure that aims to help push along the licensing of retail cannabusinesses, the city council also approved a measure that will allow for a new license – for marijuana couriers. Such a license wouldn’t allow businesses to have a retail storefront – but it would allow them to have a headquarters, receive orders between 8am and 8pm, and make deliveries of cannabis up until 9pm. This is a first of its kind license – headquarters would have to remain 1,000 feet away from schools like any other cannabis business, but they would be able to deliver to homes that are closer.

It’s exciting to see the city coming to the end of a long initial process that has created what will likely be a thriving industry – and bringing new opportunities, such as the new licenses for marijuana couriers. Both of these measures will be voted on a second time next week before they are officially passed, but both seem to be extremely well supported and it is unlikely there will be any issue.

Can’t pay for your medical marijuana? A new fund might help.

potThe Washington CannaBusiness Association said on Tuesday that the new charitable effort will expand patient access to medical marijuana. Steve Bloom Staff file, 2016

 

Oregon Cannabis Industry Facing Regulatory Uncertainty

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New Challengs Face Oregon Cannabis Industry.

By Cynthia Salarizadeh

The Oregon Cannabis Industry is facing both double regulations, and regulatory Uncertainty. While seed-to-sale regulations are becoming the accepted norm in all states which have decriminalized cannabis, the situation in Oregon presents new challenges for industry dispensaries and growers.

That’s because Oregon is regulated by two separate agencies that have control over seed-to-sale and the traceability and packaging of cannabis: the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) that oversees recreational sales and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) that overseas medicinal products.

The reason for the two oversight agencies has to do with timing: recreation was approved first October 2015 when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved a set of extensive regulations designed to create a viable, profitable and accountable recreational marijuana industry. The first licensed recreational dispensaries are expected to open in December 2016, while, medicinal products were approved by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in November 1998.

To accommodate both medical and recreational dispensaries, Oregon regulators had to make some innovative changes that allowed licensed medical marijuana stores to continue to sell recreational marijuana products, but only until Dec. 31, 2015. Then, on Jan. 1, 2017, medical stores will no longer be able to conduct recreational sales since the new recreational dispensaries will be open for business.

As part of these new regulations, the OLCC created a comprehensive tracking system that covers the entire cycle of cannabis planting, cultivation, processing and ultimate sale to individuals as part of its seed-to-sale tracking system. This covered every aspect of the industry from laboratories, processors, wholesalers, and retailers. The system became effective in January 2016 to coincide with the acceptance of the first state licenses for licensed dispensaries to sell to cannabis recreation users.

Under Oregon law, medical grow sites started their registration process on March 1, 2016. This process mandated that licensed dispensaries produce monthly reports to the OHA on what is cultivated, possessed and distributed to patients and dispensaries.

In practice, this means that effective in June 2016, dispensaries had to adhere to the Administrative rules (found at Oregon Administrative Rules 333-008-0000), which include the following:

On a monthly basis, and no later than by the 10th day of every month, “a person designated to produce marijuana by a patient must submit the following information to the Authority”:

  • The number of mature marijuana plants and immature marijuana plants, the amount of marijuana leaves and flowers being dried, and the amount of usable marijuana, in the person’s possession;
  • The number of mature marijuana plants and immature marijuana plants, and the amount of usable marijuana transferred to each patient for whom the person produces marijuana, or that patient’s designated primary caregiver during the previous month;
  • The amount of usable marijuana transferred to each marijuana processing site during the previous month;
  • The number of immature marijuana plants, and the amount of usable marijuana transferred to each medical marijuana dispensary during the previous month.

All of this information must then be submitted electronically and “a person designated to produce marijuana by a patient must keep a record of the information for two years after the date on which the person submits the information to the Authority.

Integrated Software Makes Compliance Easier

Depending on the type of dispensary operation (medical or recreation), Oregon cannabis operations are working in a constantly changing regulatory environment.

For example, according to CJ Stechschultes of Growing ReLeaf medical dispensary in Beaverton, Oregon, even though the OLCC has no jurisdiction over its operations, the company has applied for its OLCC license. While Stechschultes said the business is “currently up-to-date with the latest required rules which, luckily, overlap with OHA’s,” seed-to-sale regs are not affecting them for another three months. “However, we are currently taking the necessary steps to be prepared for this in the future by getting familiar with the Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) Metric. Furthermore, we have been working with BioTrackTHC as our POS system, which is known for its tracking abilities.” Stechschultes said “this is a volatile time concerning rules and regulations.”

Another Oregon dispensary, which chose not to use its name, said the regulatory bodies in Oregon that either currently or plan to govern marijuana on a state level (both the OLCC and the OHA) “cannot keep up with their own deadlines and regulations. Specifically with the OHA, they are grossly overworked and understaffed and are not empowered in the proper way to enforce the regulations in a productive or efficient manner. This is a point we have been frustrated with in the past due to competitors knowingly operating outside of these regs and not having any kind of retribution, while we follow all regs and suffer retribution from our customers because of it.”

The Benefit of Good Tracking Software

Companies such as Biotrack THC, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., have developed the software that lets state governments monitor the entire process of legal cannabis production and sales, including its testing, transportation, destruction and sales.

This means states can follow a dispensary’s inventory and the taxable sales in real time and makes for more accurate revenue collections, while making legal cannabis growers and dispensaries accountable for their inventories.

According to Alen Nguyen of MainStem, the Biotrack software helps the OLCC by providing an inventory control system that tracks cannabis cultivation and movement and the cultivation site and accounts for all legal products, while keeping black market products outside of the regulated system. This oversight also applies to packaging. All Oregon cannabis products, including everything manufactured by MainsStem, come in a child resistant package, he said.

This benefits the public since it assures safety standards are met and allows authorities to track any bad product back to its original source. “All Growers really need to take traceability into account within their growing process,” Nguyen said.

Using a very similar system that the company developed first to track pharmaceuticals, the Biotrack software system allows the state of Oregon, for instance, to track each gram of legal cannabis throughout the plant’s entire grow, processing and sales cycle. According to Moe Afaneh, COO of Biotrack THC, the company has successfully integrated its tracking software with recreational and medicinal dispensaries and is working with its several hundred customers in Oregon to make the seamless transition to the two separate regulatory systems.

Oregon’s rigorous standard requires detailed recordkeeping, but new software is helping Oregon dispensaries adhere to these rules. Biotrack software keeps track of everything from inventory management to point-of-sale transactions to individuals to meet both quality assurance and compliance standards.

According to Dan McMahon, Vice President of Government Solutions for Biotrack THC, regulations in Oregon change rapidly, so dispensaries and growers are always being scrutinized. For instance, unlike other perishable commodities, cannabis loses weight and weight as it sits on the shelf. This means dispensaries have to follow the first-in-first-out (FIFO) inventory system because the product is “perishable to the nth degree,” McMahon said. Declining weights also have to be accounted for in the compliance process, he added.

In addition to weight, every batch of the product also has to be tested for pesticides and all products face tough labelling standards.

About the author:

Cynthia Salarizadeh is the Founder and CEO of Salar Communications Group. Her area of expertise centers on public relations and strategic communications. She entered the cannabis industry to solely focus on improving the perception of cannabis for better market conditions through strategic campaigns that sit at the center of the battle for legalization and economic prosperity. Salarizadeh holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and a focus on Strategic Communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a certificate in Political Journalism with the Fund for American Studies from a program at Georgetown University.

Cannabis Found to Shield the Brain from Alzheimer’s Disease

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Bad news for Alzheimer’s disease: THC (the active chemical compound in marijuana) is officially acknowledged to remove the toxic bundle of amyloid beta protein that onsets the evolution of the disease, ultimately damaging the brain beyond repair.

This late discovery is backed up by previous studies revealing the effective and protective qualities of cannabinoids and THC over patients suffering from this neurodegenerative disease.

Little is known about what exactly causes Alzheimer’ disease, but so far it’s believed to be caused by two types of lesions: neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. The amyloid plaques form dense groups between the neurons, and the neurofibrillary tangles are produced by defective tau proteins that bundle up into a thick, insoluble mass in neurons.

The biological mechanism behind the formation of these lesions is yet a mystery, but recent studies have linked the inflammation in brain tissue to the spread of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” said Antonio Currais, member of Scripps Research Institute.

When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” he concluded.

David Schubert and his colleagues from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, tested the impact of THC over the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said David Schubert.

For those unfamiliar with THC, this compound is responsible for the psychedelic effects and pain relief experienced as a result of smoking or ingesting cannabis buds. It is important to know that cannabis does not offer the state of mind and/or body high if consumed raw, requiring heat to release the THC that gives that unique tingling. Besides all these, most important is THC’s influence over HIV symptoms, chronic pain related to chemotherapy, post-traumatic stress disorder and stroke.

Scientists are so impressed with THC’s therapeutic properties that they initiated a program to breed genetically modified yeast that would yield more THC than any other method of synthesizing the compound.

On the cell surfaces all over our body can be found the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors that extract the THC directly from the bloodstream, after it passes from the lungs. In the brain, the cannabinoid receptors are found in the neurons associated with time perception, coordination, memory, thinking and pleasure, regularly binding with endocannabinoids, known to be a class of lipid molecules created by our organism during physical activities, in order to stimulate cell-to-cell signaling in the brain.

Due to tetrahydrocannabinol’s tendency to bind to lipid molecues, it interferes with brain’s ability to communicate with itself. This means that you may not be able to fully perform complex physical actitivites, but your state of mind could be at its fullest, compensating one for another.

Since THC is great for removing the harmful accumulations of amyloid beta proteins, this could mean something big for most, if not all the symptoms related to aging. So far, THC has proved itself to be very promising in reducing inflammation and plaque build-up, according to newest lab test results.

However, the government is still getting in the way of progress, despite cannabis’s potential has been clearly proved and confirmed, so the good news are that the researchers have found a backdoor in the form of a new drug called J147 that mimics identically the effects of THC, that will allow conducting further research for the sake of humanity and well-being.

The results of the study can be found HERE.