Author: anthonyj1977

Legalization Works: OLCC Issues Cannabis Product Recall

The cannabis regulators at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) announced a product recall of Winberry Farms Sweet Leaf Blend Pre-rolls following a failed pesticide test. While this announcement may be seized upon by Reefer Madness prohibitionists to scare people about cannabis, the recall actually shows that legalization works and is a much better and safer policy than prohibition. Prohibitionists have been demonizing cannabis since they learned about cannabis, so they aren’t going to stop now. However, forcing people into an illegal, unregulated market makes our communities more dangerous.

Without legalization and regulations, consumers don’t know if their cannabis products are tainted with potentially harmful substances. While cannabis, even when unregulated, has proven to be much safer than more addictive drugs, there are certainly health concerns that need to be addressed, especially for those with compromised immune systems. If you run into anyone that claims that product recalls show that  cannabis is dangerous and that we shouldn’t end prohibition from coast to coast, you can explain to them that such recalls show that legalization is working and that transparency on an open market is much safer than pushing people into an illicit, unregulated market without any testing regulations.

Here’s the full OLCC’s product recall notice:

January 16, 2020

OLCC Issues Marijuana Product Recall

Winberry Farms Sweet Leaf Blend Pre-rolls Failed Pesticide Test

 

Portland, OR — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is issuing an immediate health and safety advisory due to the identification of potentially unsafe pesticide residue on plant material used in a packaged retail marijuana product.  The product in question was cultivated by licensed marijuana producer Ard Ri and packaged for sale to retailers by licensed wholesaler DYME Distribution.

The affected marijuana flower failed its pesticide test, because it exceeded the acceptable level, known as the “action limit”, for the insecticide Imidacloprid*.  The flower was incorporated into pre-rolled joints marketed under the Winberry Farms Sweet Leaf Blend; the strain name is Trap Star.

Winberry Farms Recall

The impacted product (see above images) has a Unique Identification (UID) number of 1A4010300022859000015892.

The OLCC has locked down the product in the Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) to prevent further distribution or sale to consumers.  The product was sold through nine OLCC licensed marijuana retailers around Oregon.  DYME distributed approximately 700 units of the contaminated pre-rolls; retailers have pulled the remaining 328 packages from their shelves.

The impacted Winberry Farms Sweet Leaf Products were sold from December 17, 2019 through January 8, 2020 at the following licensed retailers:

  • Spark, 5103 NE Fremont Street, Portland
  • Ancient Remedies, 2350 State Street, Salem
  • Puff Oregon, 47700 NW Sunset Highway, Manning
  • Rogue River Herbal PMC, 510 East Main, Suite C, Rogue River
  • The Joint, 3270 Market Street NE, Salem
  • Stoney Only Clackamas, 10289 SE Highway 212, Clackamas
  • Tsunami Marijuana LLC, 36412 Highway 26, Seaside
  • Track Town Collective, 3675 Franklin Blvd., Eugene
  • Green Room, 2521 NW 9th Street, Corvallis

Initial test results for the source marijuana flower produced by Ard Ri was entered into CTS by PREE Laboratories in Corvallis on December 4, 2019; the test results indicated that both test samples failed.  PREE re-analyzed one of the samples, as allowed under marijuana testing rules, on December 11, 2019 and the sample passed.  However marijuana testing rules then require a second lab to re-sample and re-test the original product.  That verification test never took place.

Because of PREE Laboratories’ incorrect entry of test results into CTS the tracking system designated the marijuana flower as having passed its pesticide test.  Subsequently DYME Distribution packaged and distributed the contaminated marijuana as pre-rolled joints.

The OLCC detected the discrepancy January 6, 2020 when conducting a monthly audit on products that have failed pesticide tests at the point of origin – in this case the marijuana flower.  When the OLCC initiates an administrative hold of a product it automatically puts a hold on any product produced from the original flower.

OLCC is investigating both the contamination test failure, and the licensees’ use of CTS.

Consumers who have these recalled products should dispose of the products or return them to the retailer where they were purchased.  Consumers can follow these instructions found on the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program website to destroy marijuana on their own.

There have been no reports of illness. The possible health impact of consuming marijuana products with unapproved pesticide residues is unknown. Short and long-term health impacts may exist depending on the specific product, duration, frequency, level of exposure, and route of exposure. Consumers with concerns about their personal health should contact their physician with related questions. Consumers with questions or concerns about recalled product or pesticide residues in marijuana products are encouraged to contact the product retailer and/or the Oregon Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture maintains a guide list for Pesticides and Cannabis that be found here.

*The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for establishing pesticide and solvent action levels for marijuana testing.

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Cannabis Taking a Bite Out of Beer Sales

Personally, I have nothing against the alcohol industry, but I do get miffed sometimes to see alcohol celebrated in our culture while cannabis is still publicly shunned and suffers through stigmatization, even in states where it’s legal. From a public policy perspective, it is clear that cannabis is the safer choice for adults as the societal costs of alcohol are much greater and taxes remain extremely low, not remotely covering the public health and safety costs increased by imbibing. We are now getting data that cannabis is taking a bite out of beer sales, as reported by Marijuana Business Daily:

The volume of beer sold in Canada declined 3% in the first 11 months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, according to new data from provincial alcohol boards and brewers.

The figure underscores how recreational cannabis has captured some of the beer market – and validates concerns among Canadian brewers who long feared the impact of adult-use marijuana on their sales.

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In a note to investors, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said the 3% drop in beer sales is far worse than the trends seen between 2014 and 2018, when beer sales volume declined an average 0.3% annually.

There are a lot of reasons why the cannabis community can be proud. We have put in a lot of work to end unnecessary arrests and build an industry from the ground up. We are creating jobs and revenue for our local communities and have helped decrease the use of more dangerous substances like alcohol and opioids.

We have started to see alcohol companies start making the transition to investing in the cannabis industry as they see the writing on the wall and the CEOs in charge will certainly follow the money. While these big companies may help mainstream cannabis and prove to be allies to implement much-needed federal reforms, let’s all do our best to support craft cannabis boutiques that have been on the right side of history for a long time.

 

Congress Holds More Cannabis Bill Hearings

While federal reforms are taking entirely too long, it is still newsworthy and important that the United States Congress is holding hearings on important legislation. Each step at the federal level brings us closer to real change and today marked another important milestone for the cannabis community and industry.

As usual, Marijuana Moment was on top of another historic cannabis hearing:

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held the meeting to discuss six cannabis reform proposals, including two that would federally legalize marijuana. Most of the hearing involved lawmakers pressing witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the obstacles to marijuana studies that those officials claim are needed before pursuing broader policy reform.

Conversation was more limited when it came to legalization bills such as Judiciary Chairman Jerrod Nadler’s (D-NY) Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was approved by his panel last year. That said, formerly anti-reform Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) did lead a powerful discussion about the failures of prohibition and the need to deschedule cannabis.

Kennedy announced that panel leadership has agreed to hold a second hearing featuring the voices of people negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition, which he said “has failed.”

Portland Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer issued a press release praising the hearing:

Congressman Earl Blumenauer Applauds Energy and Commerce Committee for Holding Cannabis Policy Hearing

Washington, DC – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today released a statement applauding the Energy and Commerce Committee for holding its first cannabis related hearing.

“After years of working to advance cannabis reform in Congress, this critical hearing is an important milestone where another major congressional committee focused time and attention on our movement. I’m pleased Chairman Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chair Eshoo made this hearing a priority. It was important to hear a number of senior members of Congress affirming the change that is taking place at the state level and affirming the contradictions that are created by the federal government being out of step and out of touch.

The topics discussed today are all relevant to bringing our cannabis policy into the 21st century, including my bill to clear the barriers to cannabis research. The hearing also included our top priority, the MORE Act, legislation to decriminalize cannabis federally and address the consequences of the failed war on drugs. It’s past time for Congress to catch up to the American people. We need action, and today was an encouraging and important step forward in our blueprint for cannabis reform in this Congress”

Step by step, we are moving closer to legalizing banking access, reforming our tax code, and ending the failed war on the cannabis community. It is not only notable that important congressional hearings are being held, but also that we are swaying former prohibitionists like Joe Kennedy to get on the right side of history. While there is a lot more work to be done, it’s nice to see our elected officials starting to give cannabis law reform the attention and priority that it deserves.

Tell Children the Truth About Cannabis

When I found out that my parents lied to me about Santa Claus, my immediate thought was, “What else have they been lying to me about?” I had a similar reaction with cannabis because I had been taught by the local DARE program in school that I would immediately be addicted to heroin and other drugs. After realizing that I had been lied to about cannabis I wondered, “What other drugs did they lie to me about?”

While DARE officers may have inadvertently sparked my interest in drug policy reform, we are doing children, and our society, a great disservice by lying about cannabis. The fear mongering scare tactics that have been around since Reefer Madness days are just counterproductive and could push minors into using more addictive and deadly drugs after they realize that they have been lied to and the adults that shared those lies will lose credibility.

The Drug Policy Alliance on What You Should Really Tell Your Children About Marijuana:

When it comes to drug education, scare tactics and fearmongering are deeply counterproductive. The most infamous and commonly used drug education curriculum that relied on these approaches, D.A.R.E., has consistently been proven to be ineffective. Recent research about ideal forms of health education, including drug education, emphasizes the importance of skills-building as a fundamental approach.

DPA’s Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens curriculum is the culmination of almost 20 years of work in youth drug issues by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The Safety First curriculum empowers ninth and tenth grade students to make healthier decisions about alcohol and other drugs. It gives them personal and social strategies to manage the risks, benefits, and harms of alcohol and other drug use, as well as information about the impact of drug policies on their own health and the health of their communities. Most importantly, it spends a good deal of time building the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate information about alcohol and other drugs. Safety First teaches young people to look at information critically and come to their own conclusions based on research. The aim is to give young people the tools to analyze sources such as Berenson’s book, and discover his inaccuracies and exaggerations on their own.

Personally, I believe that government agencies and nonprofits working to keep drugs out of the hands of children should bring in people from the cannabis community and industry to assist in messaging. Those of us that fight for legalization and have studied cannabis policy for years have a vested interest in keeping (non-medical) cannabis out of the hands of minors as much as anyone. Tell kids the truth about brain development and how some things are best left for adults, but don’t endanger children’s lives and your credibility with debunked myths. The truth is the way.

We Need a Medical Cannabis Patients Bill of Rights

It is easy to see that our nation is moving towards a more sane cannabis policy, but it is still moving too slowly for millions of people. Yes, cannabis is legal for all adults in several states and a majority now allow medical, these laws primarily only protect law-abiding citizens from criminal punishment. Too many folks are still experiencing discrimination in the workplace or face the possibility of losing custody of the children because laws ending criminal penalties aren’t fully protecting those that utilize cannabis. Most importantly, we need to protect patients that use cannabis medicinally.

A medical cannabis patients bill of rights has been filed in Florida, and every state needs to adopt similar legislation, albeit we need even more protections. The Orlando Weekly reports:

The purpose of the legislation is to protect employees and job applicants from punishment for using medical marijuana, unless their job includes safety-sensitive job duties.

“We must do our part to ensure that their use of safe and effective medicine will not impede their right to work,” Berman stated in a press release regarding the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act.

The measures would require the employer to provide written notice within five days of a positive test result to give employees and job applicants a chance to explain their results. According to Berman, employers would still be able to enforce a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace, as the legislation allows for termination of employees whose performance and safety are affected by the drug.

In addition to workplace issues, medical cannabis patients need protections for housing, child custody, and medical decisions. We have made great strides in ending the persecution, prosecution, and stigmatization of the cannabis community recently, but we still have a lot of work to do as fighting for liberty and equality doesn’t stop when states legalize the use of cannabis.

Feature photo credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

What Will New Cannabis Cannabinoids Unlock?

The discovery of two new cannabinoids sent some shockwaves through the medical and cannabis communities as the new scientific developments offered more questions than answers. I guess that it shouldn’t have been surprising that two new cannabinoids were discovered, but it is still a remarkable event demonstrating both the untapped potential of the plant and the need for more quality studies.

Some internet research reveals a lot about cannabis, but also many mysteries. For instance, the exact number of cannabinoids seems to be a number that’s in dispute. Vice, reporting on the recent cannabinoid discovery, states that there are 60 cannabinoids while Wikipedia, which I assumed is NEVER wrong, says that there are 113. The Italian researchers that isolated the two new cannabinoids report that there are 150 cannabinoids in their research paper.

These two new cannabinoids, THCP, similar to THC, and CBDP, similar to CBD, could provide new insight into the plant, but what they exactly do isn’t known just yet. THCP, for instance, could be many times more potent than THC, or might not produce the same euphoric results in humans as Live Science reported:

This compound boasts not five, not six, but seven carbon rings in its alkyl side chain. When applied to a makeshift receptor concocted in a lab dish, the compound tended to bind the substance 30 times more reliably than THC did.

The researchers then gave THCP to lab mice and found that the animals behaved as if they were on THC, meaning their movement slowed, their temperature decreased and their reactions to painful stimuli diminished. And the animals reached this state at relatively low doses of the newfound compound; it would take about twice as much THC to induce the same effects.

Although potent in the lab, THCP may or may not induce dramatic effects in humans, Vice reported. First of all, the compound appears to be present in plants in only small amounts, at least in the low-THC cannabis variety used by the researchers. Even assuming THCP can be grown in larger quantities, we still don’t know whether the compound would induce a high similar to that caused by its psychoactive cousin. And while THC offers some medicinal effects, including pain and nausea relief, no one knows if THCP has these qualities, Vice reported.

This new scientific discovery has me very excited, not just for what these two new cannabinoids may do, but also rekindling a new sense of wonder about the cannabis plant. It’s easy to get cynical and jaded and upset with laws and regulations that stifle the potential of cannabis, so it’s great to see positive steps forward in science as each step forward will lead to new doors opening. Entering into a new year and decade (please don’t “Well actually…” me that the ’20s aren’t a new decade) a lot of things are uncertain, but I think that it is safe to say that cannabis is going to be a big part of our future.

 

Small Oregon Counties Are Generating Big Cannabis Sales Numbers

When people across the nation think about Oregon and cannabis, there’s a good chance that they think of cannabis-friendly Portland, or maybe farms with plants the size of trees in Southern Oregon. However, when you look at the sales numbers across the state, you can see that cannabis is popular all across the Beaver State, and per capita, the smaller counties are bringing in big numbers themselves. Of course, Multnomah, which houses

Portland and is by far the most populous country in the state, has big sales and still impressively ranked seventh per capita in sales per person last year. But it’s smaller counties that are demonstrating the biggest sales per resident as well as growth from the previous year.

As the Portland Business Journal reports, Baker County, boosted by sales from people crossing over the Idaho-Oregon border, reigned supreme per capita, but another county looks poised to take the top spot in 2020:

Baker County was Oregon’s pot-purchasing leader in 2019 on a per capita basis as sales in the state continued to climb, but a neighboring county appears set to take the top spot in 2020.

Sales in Baker County totaled more than $30.1 million in 2019. With a population of 16,820, that worked out to $1,794 per resident, according to a Business Journal analysis based on data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

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But that all changed last year when recreational pot came to Ontario, in Malheur County, right on the state line.

The first Ontario shop opened in July, and by the end of the year there were three. Sales totaled more than $20.2 million in 2019, including $14.1 million in the last three months of the year.

All but 5 of Oregon’s counties (c’mon Crook, Gilliam, Morrow, Sherman and Wheeler!) are wisely taking advantage of cannabis sales to generate jobs and create revenue for their local communities. Umatilla County, housing Pendleton’s Kind Leaf, saw over $11 million in sales. With 81,160 residents, that comes out to $144 per resident, ranking 19th among Oregon’s 36th counties. When it comes to growth over 2018, Umatilla tied Marion with a 24.1% increase over the previous year.

Cannabis legalization is clearly hear to stay and Oregonian adults should take advantage of the tested cannabis flower and products available across our great state. Even better, seek out small businesses like Kind Leaf to really boost the local economy with companies that care about their communities.

Scientists Discover Two New Cannabis Cannabinoids

There are many reasons why I love working in cannabis advocacy field, starting with keeping people from arrests, helping patients, and assisting small businesses create jobs and generate revenue. One aspect of cannabis that has brought me a lot of joy is the fact that you are continually learning new things about cannabis, even after studying the issue for a couple of decades or more. In fact, we are continually learning more and a potentially huge scientific development was just announced when researchers reported that they have discovered two brand new cannabinoids, as IFLScience reported:

At the turn of the new year, a team of Italian scientists announced the discovery of two new cannabinoids found in marijuana. Although exactly what the compounds do and how they affect the human body largely remain a mystery, the researchers say their findings add to our understanding of the “controversial plant” and highlights just how much remains to be discovered.

Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) has roughly the same structure as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main compound in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive properties – but is reportedly 30 times more potent than the well-known compound. In a pharmacological test, THCP “induced hypomotility, analgesia, catalepsy and decreased rectal temperature,” suggesting it has a THC-like effect on the body. However, it is not yet clear whether THCP is psychoactive or if it produces the same “stoned” effects as THC, although it appears to be more active than THC at lower doses administered to mice.

The researchers also isolated and identified cannabidiphorol (CBDP), which is linked to CBD (an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, and “antagonist of THC negative effects”).

From the study, published at www.nature.com:

Up to now, almost 150 phytocannabinoids have been detected in cannabis plant7,41,42, though most of them have neither been isolated nor characterized. The well-known CBD and Δ9-THC have been extensively characterized and proved to possess interesting pharmacological profiles43,44,45,46,47, thus the attention towards the biological activity of their known homologs like CBDV and Δ9-THCV has recently grown as evidenced by the increasing number of publications per year appearing on Scopus. Other homologs like those belonging to the orcinoid series are scarcely investigated likely due to their very low amount in the plant that makes their isolation very challenging. In recent years, the agricultural genetics research has made great progresses on the selection of rare strains that produce high amounts of CBDV, CBG and Δ9-THCV48,49,50, thus it would not be surprising to see in the near future cannabis varieties rich in other minor phytocannabinoids. This genetic selection would enable the production of extracts rich in a specific phytocannabinoid with a characteristic pharmacological profile. For this reason, it is important to carry out a comprehensive chemical profiling of a medicinal cannabis variety and a thorough investigation of the pharmacological activity of minor and less known phytocannabinoids.

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Ongoing studies are devoted to the investigation of the pharmacological activity of CBDP and to expand that of Δ9-THCP. It is known that CBD binds with poor affinity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors55. Therefore, the evaluation of the cannabimimetic activity of CBDP does not appear to be a high priority, although science can hold great surprises. Our current work is rather focused on testing its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-epileptic activity, which are typical of CBD46.

It is exciting to know that scientists continue to unlock mysteries of the cannabis plant. We can only hope, and I certainly expect, that increased knowledge about the truth about cannabis will end the failed and harmful war on cannabis that has been waged against the cannabis community for far too long. Thank you, scientists, keep on discovering and we’ll keep on sharing the truth person by person, until we are equal and free.

South Dakota to Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Year

Since 1996, presidential election years have been big years for cannabis law reform measures on the ballot and 2020 is shaping up to be another monumental one for the cannabis community. A somewhat unlikely state may just make the leap to full legalization as advocates in South Dakota have put in the hard work of gathering signatures to qualify an amendment for the November ballot. Each state that passes a medical or recreational measure brings us one step closer to ending prohibition federally, and bonus points go to activists that have success in conservative locales like the Mount Rushmore State. Marijuana Moment reported:

The proposed constitutional amendment, which was submitted by a former federal prosecutor in September, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Individuals would also be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants.

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Under the broader recreational legalization proposal, the South Dakota Department of Revenue would be responsible for issuing licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities and retailers. And sales on cannabis products would be taxed at 15 percent, with revenue earmarked to cover the program’s implementation, public education and the state general fund.

Additionally, the measure requires the legislature to pass bills providing access to medical cannabis for patients and allowing for the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. If the separate medical marijuana legalization initiative is approved, however, that specific provision wouldn’t be necessary.

Gathering thousands of signatures is no easy task, especially during the winter, so my gratitude goes out to everyone that braves the elements to help legalize freedom, jobs, and revenue around our great nation, especially in states that aren’t your typical hotbed of support. However, the times are a-changin’ with medical provisions passing in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah as these victories give me hope that sensible cannabis policies will soon be the law of the land in red states like South Dakota and Idaho. State by state, freedom is on the march, bringing the cannabis community closer and closer to equality from coast to coast.

It’s Time for Cannabis Careers to Get the Respect that They Deserve

The media loves loves love reporting on the big sales and tax revenue numbers that legal cannabis businesses generate. They don’t do as good of a job demonstrating the full economic benefit that regulated cannabis commerce has brought to states across the nation, and outlets often can’t resist having some time of punny headline about “Smoking Sales Expectations” or “The Green Rush” and our society of large certainly doesn’t give the proper amount of respect to the cannabis community and the hardworking folks operating small businesses.

Most people have zero clue the amount of work that goes into making a living in the industry or that the lack of banking access and other regulatory headaches hinder the livelihood of workers throughout the industry, not just dispensaries, cultivators, and processors. Hopefully, that will change over time as people become more educated and cannabis moves more mainstream.

Writing for Green Entrepreneur, Grup Flor’s Gavin Kogan, makes some excellent points:

“Cannabis professional” not an oxymoron. There’s perhaps no other industry in modern history that is so multi-faceted, requiring some level of knowledge or expertise across so many different disciplines. After all, we are creating an entire industry from one end of the supply chain to the other, entirely from scratch. From the agricultural issues of cultivation to the engineering aspects of manufacturing to the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding local consumer shops, cannabis requires the business acumen so common in more traditional industries

According to ArcView Market Research, the cannabis industry will employ well over 400,000 people in the US by 2021. By conservative estimates, there are already 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States now, of which 64,000 were added just in 2018. As more states legalize cannabis, employment needs and opportunities will grow exponentially.

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As parents, educators and business owners, let’s legitimize cannabis as a serious career path for those eager to learn and join such a dynamic industry. It’s time to put the stigma of the product behind us and appreciate the impact cannabis is, and will, have on our economy.

Slowly but surely, we are debunking so many myths about cannabis and people that utilize the plant, but that slow progress can be so frustrating. I often wonder if those working in the beer, wine, and liquor industries suffered similar stigmatization after federal alcohol prohibition was repealed or if changing the law across the land helped legitimize their career paths.

Recently, I attended a hearing of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the agency that regulates both alcohol and cannabis in the Beaver State. It is easy to see that cannabis is still considered second fiddle to alcohol, even though cannabis generates more tax revenue than beer and wine for the state by far. I was envious of the respect that OLCC Commissioners gave representatives of liquor distributors and small wineries and left motivated to help ensure that the cannabis community and industry achieves the respect and recognition that we deserve. Step by step, we’re gonna get there.