medical marijuana

Nevada gambling regulators ponder pot

budWith the advent of recreational marijuana in Nevada, at least one of the state’s gambling regulators wants weed to be included in “responsible gaming” policy.

According to a report by CDC Gaming Report’s Aaron Stanley, Nevada Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson expressed concern about adding the impacts of marijuana to those of alcohol or problem gambling in the state’s regulations governing responsible gaming.

“We have existing regulations that talk about impairment from alcohol and gambling, but the statutes and regulations are silent on… what happens when the persons might be impaired from marijuana intoxication and continue to gamble,” Johnson, who has served on the NGCB since 2012, said, after explaining that an operator had been recently fined for allowing a patron to continue to gamble while visibly intoxicated from alcohol.

Johnson spoke yesterday at a University of Nevada-Las Vegas event hosted by the American Gaming Association.

Florida, which legalized medical marijuana last year, doesn’t have any gambling regs on the books specifically dealing with pot, either.

Nevada regulators concerns may be heightened by what could be the nation’s first marijuana mega-store opening soon near downtown Las Vegas.

Click here for more on that.

Will the big boxing of kush be a trend?

IMG_2721Could it be a sign of what’s to come in Florida?

A pot mega-store is slated to open on tribal land near downtown Las Vegas next month, according to a report yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun.

The 15,800-square-foot Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace — about the size of a Walmart Express — will open next month.

The tribe aims to capitalize on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada, approved by voters in November.

With 13 checkout lanes, the pot shop will be the largest in the nation, according to tribal leaders.

“We’re pretty sure this is bigger than anyone here will have ever seen,” Las Vegas Paiute Chairman Benny Tso said. “We want to raise the bar on the cannabis industry, and we want the industry to come with us.”

The outlet is intended to be a marketplace, where customers already know what they want, rather than a dispensary, Tso said in the report.

It’s unlikely Florida — where only medical, not recreational, marijuana is legal — will see any big-box pot stores any time soon.

And we don’t know yet if the state’s tribes intend to start marijuana operations on tribal lands.

What keeps John Morgan (who’s not Mother Theresa) up at night?

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It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan — who bankrolled the medical marijuana constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November — admits he’s no saint.

“I am not Mother Theresa. I’m not Pope Francis. I’m John Morgan … I describe myself as a compassionate capitalist,” Morgan told reporters gathered outside the Leon County Courthouse Thursday morning.

Morgan’s confession came in response to a question about criticism that, since getting the marijuana initiative into the state constitution, he’s expressed interest in getting in on the state’s green rush.

Morgan — in the Capitol city Thursday to hold a press conference after filing a lawsuit challenging a new law that bans patients from smoking marijuana — has boatloads of business interests, including theme parks and hotels, throughout the country.

“I wake up every day, and my 100 percent effort is to make money, and lots of it. And I’m never going to apologize for it,” he said. “If people want to criticize me for making money, we’ll they’re going to able to criticize me until the day I die.”

While Morgan’s money-making tendencies are to be expected, what troubles the Orlando lawyer — whose visage is plastered all over buses and bill boards throughout Florida — might not be.

When asked about an effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to collect voter information data from states, Morgan — who is mulling a run for governor — seemed unaware of the issue.

“It’s a ping-pong ball for me with this administration. I spend most of my time worried about North Korea, to tell you the truth. What keeps me up at night is that crazy little dude in North Korea playing Russian roulette with us. I’m not that interested (in the voting issue),” Morgan said.

Morgan said he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll run for governor next year, but, as he has in the past, said he isn’t likely to show his cards for a while.

“Some days hot, some days cold,” he said, when asked where he stands on a gubernatorial run. “I’m going to think about it … Remember when you wanted to ask somebody out on a date? You kind of knew whether they were going to say yes or no before you asked them out. So, if I feel that way, maybe I will. I see no advantage to me announcing today, or anytime close to today. All of the people that have announced are doing things I would hate to be doing, having coffee klatsches and bullshitting people and telling everybody what they want to hear, no matter what their position is, in the klatsch, and raising money. I have an advantage, which I have name ID, for better or for worse … So I don’t have the need to do it.”

Morgan, a Democrat, likened his situation in what could be a crowded gubernatorial field to his position as a racehorse owner.

“I’m going to have the advantage of letting the race take off, come all the way around, and I don’t have to make a decision until the horses are all coming down the stretch. Wouldn’t you love to bet that way? You could make a lot of money. … So that’s how I’m looking at all of this,” he said.

Morgan also said he’s gearing up for a 2020 ballot initiative to raise Florida’s minimum wage, but he hasn’t settled yet on what the amount should be.

The proposal is now being drafted, Morgan said Thursday.

“The one thing that I know for a fact is, whether you’re a Bernie Sanders voter or a Donald Trump voter, what people were really mad about was that they get up every day, they do all the right things. They work their asses off. And when they come home, they’re worse off than when they left the door,” Morgan said.

“What’s going on in America, really, is we have slave labor — some people tell me, don’t use that word — in terms of undocumented workers. Thirteen to 14 million people are really living in slave labor. They are paid under the table. They have to buy food from the canteen. Sometimes they owe more to the agriculture people than they made all week. Then we come back to sub-slave labor, where people are working for $7 or $8 an hour, paying taxes, and there’s nothing left over. … So my response to this is rising tides lift all boats,” he said.

Morgan joked (we think) that he could use his chops getting the medical marijuana initiative passed to launch a cottage industry.

“I learned a lot of lessons in this process. I may spend the rest of my life doing ballot initiatives. Just, every two years, pick off somebody else’s problem,” he said.

The opposite of buzzkill? More pot workers than dental hygenists

There are more pot workers than dental hygienists or bakers, nationwide, according to Marijuana Business Daily, a marijuana-industry publication.

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Cannabis-related businesses now employ more people than there are dental hygienists and bakers in the United States and will soon surpass the number of telemarketers and pharmacists,” according to the industry mag’s Eli McVey.

The marijuana industry — which could generate up to $20 billion, according to some predictions — is set to explode in Florida, which is gearing up for implementation of the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana for an estimated 400,000-500,000 patients within the next year.

With 29 states — including Florida — having legalized medical marijuana, the industry is now turning efforts to a push for recreational use, now permitted in seven states and the District of Columbia.

On airport marijuana ban, thoughts on traveling with insulin

IMG_2721Patients won’t be able to bring their pot treatment with them when traveling through the Orlando International Airport.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Board approved the marijuana ban yesterday.

Click here to watch WFTV‘s report on the ban.

This got me thinking about the problems I encountered traveling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Airport authorities were extremely nervous about liquids, even in small amounts.

I’ve been an insulin-dependent, Type I diabetic for more than … well, for a long time.

Type-I diabetic, for those who don’t know, means I need insulin to stay alive.

But that didn’t matter to some of the airport folks.

I once was prohibited from traveling with my insulin (which comes in vials or pens clearly marked as medicine).

I scrapped my trip, rather than risk going without my life-saving meds.

After that, I traveled with a notarized letter from my doctor attesting to the fact that these medications were critical.

One of the problems, I learned over the years, was that airport authorities in and out of the state treated my insulin in disparate ways.

Sometimes, they ignored it.

Other times, I was subjected to a super-duper special search after the slim needle on a syringe or insulin pen caught the attention of a security tech, who feared the metal object on her X-ray screen indicated the presence of a bomb. (I’ll save the story about the time my daughter’s teddy bear — with a music box — resulted in an airport bomb squad and dog-sniffing search for another day.)

And on a few occasions, I was forced to explain my medical condition and my treatment while a long line of stocking-footed, impatient travelers piled up behind me.

According to yesterday’s report by the television station, Orlando airport law enforcement officials say they’re not going to go out of their way to sniff out pot travelers.

Further complicating the issue, while Florida law bars patients from smoking “whole flower” — dudes, we call it “bud” — the sale of whole flower for use in vaporizers isn’t prohibited.

After reporting on MMJ for years, I know that marijuana is viewed, like insulin, as a life-saving treatment for some patients. I was inches away from a man who had an epileptic seizure while he awaited his turn to testify before a Senate committee earlier this year. His wife pleaded with attendees for marijuana-based CBD oil, while awaiting emergency personnel. The man, Michael Bowen, serves on the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.

But, unlike the medicine I’ve been taking for oh-so-long, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, posing a legitimate problem for law enforcement officials at airports and, most certainly, other transportation hubs.

Traveling with insulin within the U.S. has become a lot less problematic for me in the past few years. I don’t even have a letter from my doctor anymore, but an escalation in international terrorist attacks has prompted me to ask her for an updated authorization.

Sen. Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who’s been instrumental in passing the state’s medical marijuana legislation, calls the era in which dozens of states, including Florida, have legalized MMJ “a brand new world.” (Is he aware of the Aldous Huxley reference to hallucinogens?)

Traveling with treatment is just one part of that brave new world, for patients, law enforcement, and elected officials contemplating new policies.

Morgan ready to sue state over smokable pot

budOrlando trial lawyer John Morgan appears prepared to make good on threats to sue the state over implementation of the constitutional amendment, which he bankrolled, that legalized marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

“Great Scott!! I’ll be filing my lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law. Independence Day 🇺🇸 #NoSmokeIsAJoke,” Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) promised on Twitter today.

Morgan’s tweet references a quote from Gov. Rick Scott, who pledged to sign into law a measure (SB 8A), passed by lawmakers during the special session earlier this month, that lays out the framework for the constitutional amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in November.

Morgan has vowed to sue over the issue of whether patients should be able to smoke the marijuana treatment.

Despite Morgan’s threats, the proposal now awaiting Scott’s signature bans smoking of marijuana, but it does allow patients to vape marijuana products.

In a recent interview, Morgan said that’s not good enough.

“(Smoking) clearly was called for in the amendment, and so what they’ve done for me is allowed me to step back up on my soapbox and go get what the people of Florida wanted when they passed this bill with 71 percent,” Morgan, who is mulling a bid for governor next year, told The News Service of Florida  after the Legislature signed off on the proposal on June 9.

John Morgan on weed, caps and “gross” politics

IMG_0610Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan weighed in on the medical marijuana measure approved by lawmakers Friday afternoon, pledging yet again to sue the state over the ban on smoking as a treatment option for patients.

The legislation also caps the number of dispensaries each marijuana operator can run at 25. Vendors can buy dispensary “slots” from each other, making it possible for them to exceed the caps.

Morgan, a major Democratic fundraiser who is mulling a bid for governor next year, shrugged off the caps.

“I don’t think any of the patients care about the caps. When you get right down to it, marijuana’s marijuana. They’re trying to make this like craft beer, with flavors like orange blossom and honey,” Morgan said.

Morgan — who’s eager to plunk some major greenbacks into the green rush — predicted that competition will resolve the cap issue.

“At the end of the day, the way things work in America is that the weak go away and the strong survive,” he said.

The focus on the caps “was all about money and profit and nothing about the patients,” Morgan said, adding that he isn’t concerned about the caps, which are scheduled to sunset in 2020.

While he may not care about caps, Morgan’s on fire about the ban on smoking. He pledged to make good on his threat to sue the state over the issue, saying that voters clearly expected to be able to smoke marijuana as a treatment when they overwhelmingly supported the measure in November.

Asked about a provision in the bill that forces health officials, when choosing new marijuana operators, to give special preference to applicants currently or previously involved in “the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses,” Morgan called it “gross.”

“It’s just pay to play. It’s politics. It’s everybody crowding around the sugar cube trying to get some sugar. It’s kind of gross but then again politics is really gross. If you’re on the receiving end, you’re happy about it. If you’re on the losing end, you’re not,” he said.

Morgan plans to “invest heavily” in the industry he’s largely responsible for introducing to Florida.

“I believe that this is going to be a gigantic industry for a very good purpose and I like the idea now, after shilling it for all these years, I like the idea of being in it. And I’m a capitalist,” Morgan, whose portfolio includes law offices in a number of other states and theme parks.

Finally, Morgan said he’s content to stay on the sidelines while the 2018 governor’s race heats up.

“I believe I’m much better off watching the field run and expand,” he said. “I’m lucky that I don’t have to do what they have to do, which is go out and give speeches in the back room of Denny’s at 7 a.m. in the morning for $25 donations, and then spend that money for name recognition,” said Morgan, whose visage — and name — is featured on billboards and TV ads throughout the state. “I don’t have to do that. I have the luxury to wait until next spring if I want.”