Tag: cannabis community

U.S. House Spending Bills Includes Cannabis Banking and Other Reforms

The fight to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level is a slow grind, seemingly with one step forward preceded by another step or so back, but progress continues. The latest sign of cannabis law reform advancing are the initial drafts of U.S. House spending bills that include some much-needed provisions for the cannabis community. As usual, Marijuana Moment is on top of the reporting:

As Congress prepares large-scale legislation to fund federal agencies for the next year, marijuana reform seems to be making progress. House versions of spending bills unveiled this week include provisions to protect medical legalization laws from federal interference, ease marijuana businesses’ access to basic banking services, expand cannabis research, oversee the country’s fledgling hemp and CBD industries and finally grant Washington, D.C. the ability to legalize recreational sales.

***

Among the most notable inclusions in the new spending bills for Fiscal Year 2021 is a provision that would remove some roadblocks to banking and financial services for state-legal cannabis businesses. Cannabis firms have been pushing lawmakers to allow such access for years. The House has passed standalone banking legislation, later inserted into a recent coronavirus bill and approved again, but so far the matter has stalled in the Senate and is yet to become law.

The new spending rider suggests House lawmakers aren’t giving up. As introduced, the spending bill introduced Tuesday to fund fiscal and general government matters restricts Department of Treasury funds from being used “to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds” that is legal under state or tribal law.

It has grown tiresome to continue having debates around the need for sensible solutions to our nation’s cannabis policies, but no one ever said that political revolutions are easy. Decades upon decades of Reefer Madness propaganda and the entrenched powerful interests that have benefited from prohibition aren’t going away easily, but we are chipping away with common sense and the truth. Stay tuned as bills weave their way through Congress and be sure to contact your legislators and urge your like-minded friends and family members to do the same.

Study Finds Cannabis Community Exercises More, Smashing Stereotype

Everyone in the cannabis community has dealt with stoner stereotypes of all kinds, from being stupid to being lazy. Time and time again, we shatter those stereotypes, whether it’s with geniuses like Carl Sagan or world-class athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. The “lazy stoner” stereotype was just dismantled again, this time with a new study, as Marijuana Moment reported:

“Compared to older adult nonusers,” says the study, out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, “older adult cannabis users had lower [body mass index] at the beginning of an exercise intervention study, engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention.”

In other words, not only were adults over 60 who used marijuana generally in better shape than their peers who abstained from cannabis, they were also more responsive to an assigned four-month “exercise intervention trial”—essentially a regimen of physical activity prescribed by a clinician.

“These findings suggest that it may be easier for older adults who endorse using cannabis to increase and maintain their exercise behavior, potentially because cannabis users have lower body weight than their non-using peers,” wrote the study’s authors, a team at CU’s Department of Neuroscience and Psychology. “At minimum, the evidence suggests that cannabis use does not hinder older adults’ ability to engage in physical activity, to participate in a supervised exercise program, or to increase their fitness as a result of physical activity.”

Of course, the activity level of Oregonians (known for a higher than average rate of cannabis use) should have dispelled this myth long ago. As The Oregonian reported back on January 16, 2020, that a study revealed how Beaver State residents were among the most active in the nation:

Oregon is known for an outdoorsy brand of fitness, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests this reputation goes beyond an affinity for the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

The study, released Wednesday, defines physical inactivity as not participating in activities such as running, walking for exercise, or gardening for a period of at least one month.

In Oregon, just 15-20% of residents polled ranked as physically inactive. That means that along with Washington, Utah, Colorado and the District of Columbia, Oregon ranks as one of the most active states in the country.

This summer, be sure to experience a ton of natural beauty across the great state of Oregon, from border to border. Of course, no summer is complete without a trek to Eastern Oregon, so be sure to stop in Kind Leaf and acquire some amazing cannabis products from the craft cannabis boutique with the best selection around. Enjoy yourselves and keep shattering those stereotypes, step by step.

Brave Navy Veteran Fights for Medical Cannabis Patients Rights to Housing

Our veterans and their families sacrifice so much for our nation that it is heartbreaking to hear of anytime that they aren’t treated fairly. Unfortunately, Mary Cease, a Navy veteran, is facing housing discrimination because of her medical cannabis use because she was honest about her use of medical cannabis, legal under state law. Fortunately, this Navy veteran is a warrior who is fighting for her rights in an effort that will hopefully lead to protections for all medical cannabis patients. USA Today reports on how Ms. Cease “has been denied federally subsidized housing because she admitted on her application to using a portion of her Social Security payments to pay for cannabis”:

On Feb. 13, a panel of three Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judges met at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and heard an appeal by Harrisburg-based attorneys on behalf of Mary. She sat in the room and watched.

“I’m doing it because it’s not just for me,” Mary said. “It’s for thousands of other people facing the same problem. I’m setting the precedent.”

Her lawyers argue that under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act discrimination for using the medicine is prohibited, and the only class of people prohibited from residing in federally subsidized housing is sex offenders.

It’s a shame that any patient must feel that they have to hide their medicinal use of cannabis. It is a tragedy for patients battling severe and debilitating medical conditions to face losing their housing over a safe and effective medicine recommended by their doctor. Hopefully, Mary Cease wins her case and help not only herself, but medical patients across her state and the nation. Her case, win or lose, is definitely another step in our fight for freedom as the cannabis community continues to work step by step for true freedom and equality.

Florida Senate Bill Attempts to Cap Medical Cannabis THC Percentage

Yesterday I blogged about a bill introduced in Arizona that would cap the THC of medical cannabis at 2%, warning that such a move would likely spread to other states. Well, today it’s being reported that a Florida Senate bill will cap medical cannabis at 10% for patients under 21 if passed by the Sunshine State’s legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Not as ridiculous as the proposed 2% limit introduced in Arizona, the 10% limit is still an unnecessary barrier placed between patients and their physicians, as advocates told the Miami Herald:

Barry Gordon, a Venice-based medical marijuana doctor, said the amendment targets the “most vulnerable” population, and that physicians will find the concept to be “absurd.” Gordon treats about 30 pediatric patients, and says they all have varying needs when it comes to THC levels. But that is a decision a doctor makes with a patient or parent, and Tallahassee need not be involved, he said.

“Every doctor that practices medical cannabis responsibly discusses brain development with the parent,” said Gordon, who operates the largest cannabis clinic in the state “This gets in the way of the doctor-patient relationship.”

***

John Morgan, an Orlando personal injury attorney who bankrolled the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, alleged the cap is “an attempt to help the pharmaceutical industry.”

“Are they banning Oxycontin levels to people to 21 and under? Are they banning Percocet or Xanax?” he said. “The opioid epidemic was created on the backs of our children.”

Further illustrating how these THC caps are a nationwide threat to the cannabis community the Herald reported on attempts to limit THC in Colorado, Alaska, and Washington State. Everyone concerned about patients rights needs to spread the word and urge friends and family in Florida to contact their legislators to oppose these harmful and unnecessary THC limits.

Reefer Madness Group Calls Cannabis Consumers’ Blood “Tainted”

Reefer Madness rhetoric has caused so much hurt and trauma over the past century, finding ways to demonize the cannabis community. Racism has been utilized over the decades, leading to people of color disproportionately feeling the brunt of the Drug War, but virtually no one is immune to Reefer Madness nonsense as unscientific fear mongering regarding cannabis making people go crazy has been a common trope over the years. In the year 2020, you wouldn’t think that prohibitionists wouldn’t fine yet another offensive way to demean the cannabis community, but Parents Opposed to Pot has found one, declaring that the blood of those that utilize cannabis is “tainted.”

KMTV triggered this latest nonsense by reporting that Nevada Made Marijuana in Henderson was bringing a mobile blood donation vehicle to its store:

The cannabis business said it hopes to not only give back to the community through the blood drive but to also raise awareness to the fact that cannabis users can donate life-saving blood.

***

The dispensary quotes the Red Cross with the following: “The American Red Cross does not test for THC, and legal or illegal use of marijuana is not a cause for blood donation deferral.”

Nevada Made Marijuana also says it hopes to break this stigma while being able to guide qualified cannabis-using donors to Nevada’s blood banks and donor services.

Maybe I shouldn’t be giving Parents Opposed to Pot, which declares itself a “nationwide group to educate about the dangers of marijuana expansion” any publicity, but I just felt that calling cannabis users’ blood “tainted” deserved exposure as anything that could unnecessarily reduce blood donations is rather dangerous. While it is frustrating to have to combat such Reefer Madness, I got a feeling that ludicrous rhetoric like this only helps our cause for legalization as it clearly demonstrates that our opponents are basing their beliefs on unfounded fears.

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Medical Cannabis Worker Protection Bill Introduced in Hawaii

Last week news broke that a bill to protect the employment rights of medical cannabis patients was introduced in California, and a similar bill has been proposed in Hawaii. As we’ve seen with political elections of all types, winning begets winning, and advancements in one state will influence the actions of other states.

While it is great that we are ending criminal punishments for both adult-use and medical cannabis patients across the nation, there are still many ways that the cannabis community remains treated as second-class citizens, and employment rights are certainly one of the issues that still need to be addressed. The Boston Globe reported on the Hawaiian medical employment protection bill:

“Medical cannabis patients face significant stigma due to longstanding misperceptions regarding cannabis and its uses, fueled by a longstanding, costly ‘war on drugs’ that is disproportionately waged against those impacted by social detriments of health,” officials with the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii said in a written testimony.

The legislation specifies that employers would be allowed to use a fit-for-duty test as a tool for medical cannabis users in potentially dangerous jobs.

It excludes law enforcement and corrections officers, firefighters, water safety officers, emergency medical workers, and any health care worker who might administer drugs to patients. Also excluded would be any employees who work with children, seniors or other vulnerable populations, employees who operate heavy equipment, and most truck employees or drivers.

It’s great to see state after state considering to pass  common sense legislation to prevent workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients. It is a shame that people are losing job opportunities or even denying themselves a safe and effective medicine because they need to make a living. Step by step, let’s keep moving towards true equality for the cannabis community.

Featured photo credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Medical Cannabis Worker Protection Bill Filed in California

The cannabis community has come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to passing medical patient protections and reducing criminal penalties. We’ve also implemented sales programs that have created thousands of jobs and generated millions upon millions of new revenue dollars.

There is still a lot of work left to accomplish, one being the need to protect cannabis users from discrimination for utilizing cannabis on their own free time, in ways that doesn’t disrupt their job performance in any way. A California legislator has taken the first step towards protecting worker rights for the cannabis community by introducing a bill that prohibits workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) is taking a first step at addressing the issue. He introduced legislation Friday that would require employers in both the public and private sectors to accommodate workers and job applicants who use marijuana for medical purposes, which was legalized in California in 1996.

“To be discriminated against by your employer because of the type of medicine you use is both inhumane and wrong,” Bonta said. “Medical cannabis, as recommended by a doctor, should be given a similar reasonable accommodation as all prescription drugs.”

Bonta’s bill would not apply to “safety-sensitive” workers required by federal law to be drug free, including airline pilots, police officers and truck drivers, nor would it cover employers with federal contractors who are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.

According to the LA Times, Bonta pointed out that 16 other states, including Arizona, New York and Illinois, have already adopted worker protections similar to his proposal. After passing protections for medical cannabis patients, legal states, including my home state of Oregon, need to implement policies protecting all workers from losing their jobs over cannabis, when utilizing the substance doesn’t hinder their workplace performance whatsoever. Step by step, let’s keep improving our states’ laws and policies, until we are all truly equal and free.

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Oregon Creates More Cannabis Jobs While California Suffers Losses

Legalizing and regulating cannabis has many economic and societal benefits as bringing cannabis out of the illegal market creates jobs, generates revenue and decreases harmful arrests, prosecutions, and jailings. It isn’t all happy unicorns and rainbows for the burgeoning industry however as overregulation and over taxation still hinder hard-working entrepreneurs’ ability to fully unleash the potential of the market, especially the federal 280e tax code that prevents the deduction of normal business expenses. The dastardly 280e tax code hits retailers the hardest, especially small businesses, so please support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf as much as you can.

Cannabis commerce has been implemented in several ways and it is difficult to get all of the details correct, especially while cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Some states have limited licenses while others, namely Oregon, initially set up system with relatively low barriers to entry, to bring in as many people into the regulated market as possible.

Opening up the cannabis industry to as many licensees as possible has been great for consumers, bringing prices down, but the competition has made making profits difficult. Oregon regulators eventually started limiting cultivating licenses, but with so many actors already in the market, the Beaver State still has low cannabis prices.

While Oregon certainly hasn’t gotten everything right, I think that it is safe to say that the state has done a better job than California. Oregon’s Southern Neighbor, unfortunately has been too slow to issue licenses and taxes definitely too damn high. As Jefferson Public Radio reports, the two states’ different methods have led to job markets going in the opposite direction as the Oregon cannabis industry continues to grow while California’s cannabis jobs actually decreased:

Although recreational marijuana has been legal in Oregon for about six years, the industry continues to see job growth. Meanwhile, California’s marijuana job numbers decreased in 2019.

That’s according to a new report by Leafly, a Seattle-based cannabis publication and phone app, which recorded a 20 percent increase in marijuana industry jobs in Oregon last year.

Leafly uses state data and market sizes to estimate the number of full-time equivalent jobs in the legal marijuana industry — including farmers, trimmers, and botanists, as well as administrative staff. It doesn’t include workers who primarily work with hemp or CBD products.

Oregon, with 18,200 industry jobs, experienced a 20% increase while California, with 39,800 jobs, suffered 8,000 job losses. Leafly’s report pointed to local California regulations, especially with 2/3 of localities banning retail businesses as the culprit. Also, compared to Oregon’s maximum 20% tax rate, California’s cannabis taxes, which can range between 45% to 80% depending on your product and locality, is just too damn high.

84326171_2461421620840367_7464794323138117632_n

Cannabis Couples, Get Your Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts at Kind Leaf

If you’re like me, you are a last-minute shopper for gifts of all kinds, and Valentine’s Day is no different. We are only getting busier and busier these days and just because us last-minute wait to purchase our gifts, it doesn’t mean that we care any less than those that plan ahead. In fact, if your significant other(s) or loved ones are members of the cannabis community, you can really show them how much you care by stopping into Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique. If a road trip to Pendleton’s flagship dispensary isn’t in the cards, then there are certainly many other fine cannabis retail outlets in the Beaver State, but I urge you to find another locally-owned small business to support.

When you support Kind Leaf, you know that you are supporting a mom-and-pop shop that gives back to the local community, from supporting Pendleton’s growth and local economy by sponsoring neighborhood events and causes to giving Christmas gifts to the children of families that can use a helping hand thru their amazing Kind Tree program. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies and it is extremely beneficial to our cities, counties, and the great state of Oregon when you make purchases from stores that keep that money in state. We don’t benefit nearly as much when our hard-earned dollars are being sent to banks across state lines, and especially out of the country.

Kind Leaf has around 170 strains to choose select from. These strains are cultivated at the top farms in Oregon and unlike other West Coast states, you actually get to smell the flowers when making your decision. There are many specials going on at Kind Leaf and Oregon medical patients always get a discount, on top of being tax exempt. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Valentines Day Sales Kind Leaf

United States Government Collects Billions from Cannabis Businesses, Time to Treat them Fairly

The cannabis community and industry has made some great achievements in recent years, thanks to a ton of hard work by advocates and entrepreneurs. While those of us in the trenches can take pride in ending harmful arrests and helping generate revenue for our communities, it can be a bit frustrating when so many people think that political change is inevitable and that making a living in the cannabis industry is easy.

The truth of the matter is that we have improved our cannabis laws thanks to decades of hard work and sacrifices by a lot of people, many of whom haven’t lived to see the fruits of their labor. People that don’t know folks directly involved in the cannabis industry, are often under the impression that retailers, processors, and growers are just raking in big bucks; they have no idea the amount of work it takes to just stay afloat, let alone make a decent profit. Cannabis industry entrepreneurs are shattering the “lazy stoner” stereotypes by putting in long hours and sacrificing so much to forge their own American Dream.

Unfortunately, hard working business people are trying to earn a living with one hand tied behind their backs as they are often prevented from having access to ordinary banking services and they are taxed at an exorbitant rate thanks to the 280e IRS tax code as Quartz reported:

Although marijuana is illegal under federal law, cannabis businesses in the United States still pay federal taxes on gross income. They are not allowed any deductions or credits for business expenses, by law, which can mean an effective federal tax rate as high as 90%.

The US government collected an estimated $4.7 billion in taxes from cannabis companies in 2017 on nearly $13 billion in revenue. Unlike most American businesses, which pay electronically or by check, most of these marijuana firms are unbanked and were forced to pay their federal taxes in cash, something the IRS is still trying to get a handle on.

Change will eventually come, thanks to many people putting in a ton of work, but reforms really can’t come fast enough. A banking bill has a chance to pass Congress this year, but it’ll take the cannabis community and their supporters to step up and demand change. You can help by contacting your United States Senators. If you are an Idaho voter, please let Senator Mike Crapo know how much you support legalizing normal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. People’s livelihoods literally depend upon it.