marijuana

Marijuana patient database hits 100,000 mark on 4/20 day. Coincidence?

purple bud.JPGAccording to Sigmund Freud, accidents don’t exist.

So how to explain the state’s medical marijuana patient database hitting the magical 100,000 mark on 4/20, better known as “weed day” among acolytes of the Grateful Dead, Phish and whoever else pot aficionados are listening to these days. (We could give you the soundtrack to our cloudy college days, but we’ll spare you.)

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, Florida patients may have as much to mourn as to celebrate.

The state’s pot czar, Christian Bax, and his troupe have yet to finalize rules regulating the state’s rapidly growing pot industry.

But, worse yet, major marijuana-related lawsuits — including one initiated by Amendment 2 big daddy John Morgan — have a long way to go before they’re settled.

Morgan’s suit, which features marijuana patient-icon Cathy Jordan as a plaintiff, challenges a state law passed last year that bans patients like Jordan from smoking cannabis. Vaping makes Jordan, who has ALS, gag, and her doctors have recommended smoking as the best route of administration.

Meanwhile, Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner — who revolutionized the “gentleman’s club” industry in Florida — won a victory from Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers, who gave the 77-year-old lung cancer survivor permission to grow his own weed for juicing purposes.

Redner’s doc says that eight ounces of whole plant juice daily — which would take about three pounds of raw plant material, or about 40 plants in varying stages of growth — is the best way for his patient to keep his cancer in remission.

The state quickly appealed Gievers’s decision, and it’s unknown whether the appellate court will let him move forward while the case is under appeal.

The legal challenges are only a few of the issues facing the pot industry. Medical marijuana purveyors are having a hard time finding retail locales to ply their wares, and some in the industry are complaining there aren’t enough doctors to handling a quickly growing patient base.

But, hey, it’s 4/20 day, so, sit back, crank up whatever, and chill.

Purses and pot in Jax

budJacksonville shoppers with pot issues can pop into a new law office after browsing the racks at Steinmart.
Denver-based Vicente Sederberg LLC, which bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading marijuana law firms,” is opening a office in the Riverside shopping center, according to a press release issued Thursday.
The expansion of Vicente Sederberg — which, according to the release, “guided” one of the state’s five original medical marijuana licensees — in Florida marks a growing pot-focused legal community in what some experts predict will be one of the nation’s largest markets.
From the press release:
“The marijuana policy and business landscapes are evolving quickly in the U.S. and especially in Florida,” said founding partner Brian Vicente. “The expansion of the state’s tightly regulated medical cannabis program is not only fueling demand and supply, but also innovation. Vicente Sederberg has been at the forefront of these developing markets for nearly a decade, advising businesses, guiding policymakers, and building a viable and responsible industry.

“Our new Jacksonville office will allow us to expand our service offerings to our existing Florida clients and develop relationships with the many entrepreneurs and investors seeking opportunities in the state’s burgeoning medical cannabis and hemp industries.”

The Jacksonville office will be headed by Sally Kent Peebles, according to the release.
The opening of the Jax branch comes amid myriad marijuana-related lawsuits, and the announcement followed Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers’ decision yesterday to allow Joe Redner to grow his own pot so he can juice it to prevent his lung cancer from recurring.
Put this on your calendar: The law firm is sponsoring the “National Cannabis Industry Association’s Quarterly Cannabis Caucus” in Tampa on Tuesday, and will also participate in North East Florida NORML’s 420 on the Beach event in Jacksonville Beach on April 20.

And now for something completely different: Montel, weed and Viagra

28659_433429866872_3805903_nMontel Williams — an outspoken proponent of medical weed — is suing an Arizona ex-con who the TV host alleges has used his name to scam people into buying “purported” low-THC marijuana products.

“The complaint alleges that at least three companies linked to Timothy K. Isaac of Scottsdale, Arizona have intentionally and ‘blatantly’ been using Williams’ reputation as a celebrity and CBD proponent following my April Forbes article, as well as comments he made therein and elsewhere, to sell ‘purported CBD oils’ through numerous websites as part of multiple ‘unscrupulous businesses [and] online scams that are deceiving customers,'” wrote Janet Burns, a freelancer who wrote the April Forbes article touting Williams’ years-long effort to legalize medical marijuana.

The lawsuit was filed in Miami federal court on Oct. 27.
One of the defendants in the case appears to be the head of a labyrinthine network who “previously faced legal action over online sales of illegal Chinese ‘Viagra,'” according to Burns.
Here’s more from her blog post:

“…The complaint alleges that at least three companies linked to Timothy K. Isaac of Scottsdale, Arizona have intentionally and “blatantly” been using Williams’ reputation as a celebrity and CBD proponent following my April Forbes article, as well as comments he made therein and elsewhere, to sell “purported CBD oils” through numerous websites as part of multiple “unscrupulous businesses [and] online scams that are deceiving customers.”

According to the suit, defendants including Advanceable Technology, LLC, Beauty Strong, LLC (formerly Hathor Secrets and Secrets of Isis, LLCs), Snowflake Marketing, LLC, and Isaac, to whom the companies are seemingly registered, have been “knowingly and willfully capitalizing on Plaintiffs’ valuable reputation and intellectual property to lure consumers into ordering their Infringing Products on the false premise that they have been tested, created, or recommended by Williams” despite repeated requests to cease and decist.

Through a range of news article- and blog-style pages across different websites, and including posts designed to mimic my Forbes contributor site as it appears with the original article, the responsible parties seemingly used and re-used my written content and selected photos of Williams, content from other sources, and likely lots of original material to promote subscriptions for a long list of products said to contain high quality CBD.

Whole articles or photos and blurbs purporting endorsement from Bill Gates, Dr. Dre, Whoopi Goldberg, Morgan Freeman, Lady Gaga, and others were also used.”

Here’s links to her blog post, the original Forbes article, and a Phoenix New Times story about the lawsuit.

State pot czar: No idea when new marijuana operators will be chosen

budOffice of Medical Marijuana Use Executive Director Christian Bax got a friendly reception from a House panel yesterday, even though his office missed a legislatively mandated deadline earlier this month.

Bax’s office was supposed to hand out five new medical marijuana licenses by Oct. 3, including one to a black farmer who met certain requirements.

The deadline was a component of a sweeping measure , designed to implement a voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients with debilitating medical conditions, passed by lawmakers during a special session in June.

Bax late last month told legislative leaders his office wouldn’t be able to grant the licenses in time, blaming Hurricane Irma and recent litigation for the delay.

When asked for an update yesterday, Bax couldn’t give the House Health Quality Committee an estimate of when the highly coveted licenses — in what he said could be one of the nation’s “most robust” cannabis markets — will be issued.

“I don’t have a date or date range to give this committee at this time,” Bax said, adding that “the application process has been complicated by the litigation which we are now involved in.”

Bax was referring to a lawsuit filed last month challenging the part of the new law that requires health officials to grant one license to a black farmer who was a member of settled class action lawsuits about federal officials’ lending practices that discriminated against black farmers. Under the law, the black farmer also has to be a member of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.

But the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the statute, alleging that it is so narrowly drawn that only a handful of black farmers could qualify for the license. The association shut down membership after the law passed.

The lawsuit has complicated the process of hiring a vendor to rank applications, Bax said later.

To avoid past problems in the MMJ operator selection process that resulted in lengthy — and expensive — challenges, Bax is outsourcing the scoring of the applications. More than a dozen “subject matter experts” will grade the proposals, using a “blind-testing” method.

Bax issued a request for quotes, but hasn’t selected a vendor yet.

“So, the litigation has complicated the application process. The graders would be intimately involved in that process. As such, the selection of the graders has also been complicated by this recent round of lawsuits, constitutional challenges to the application provision,” Bax told a reporter when asked about the hold up.

“We’re currently reviewing the responses (from potential vendors) that we’ve got. Because it’s a procurement, I’m limited to what I can say about the details of that procurement. The department will be ready with its graders once we have moved forward with accepting the applications,” he said.

Bax couldn’t say when his office would begin accepting applications, something that won’t happen until the vendor is chosen.

Meanwhile, Bax’s office is in negotiations with a vendor to process medical marijuana patient ID cards. The new law also required that the ID cards be privatized.

Patients currently have about a 30-day wait before they get their ID cards, a requirement before they are able to purchase medical marijuana treatments ordered by their doctors.

Some of the delays are caused by incomplete applications for an ID card, Bax said — patients either forget to sign the forms, don’t attach a $75 check to pay for the ID cards, or provide a picture that can’t be used.

Patients are submitting selfies, photos with pets or pictures “with interesting background furniture,” Bax told the panel yesterday.

And that’s not all.

Like other marijuana-related businesses, his office is butting up against the banking world, because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, regarding payment for the ID cards.

“We have ironically run into our own issues of … banking reticence to be involved in this industry,” Bax said. “The system that most other state agencies (and) offices will use to accept online payment will not touch this money because they think it’s related to marijuana.”

Black farmers group closed membership after new pot law passed

budIn the latest in Florida’s weed wars, an organization representing a handful of the state’s black farmers is admitting it closed its membership after the Legislature passed a law requiring the state to give someone in the group a medical marijuana license.

The new law, passed during a special session in June, called for an overall increase of 10 licenses by Tuesday (health officials said late last week they couldn’t meet the deadline of granting five licenses by Oct. 3).

One of the five licenses is required to go to a black farmer who is a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association (Florida Chapter) and who was part of settled lawsuits, known as the “Pigford” cases, about discrimination by the federal government against black farmers.

Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City, filed a lawsuit against the state last month, challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Smith alleges that the law is so narrowly drawn that only a handful of black farmers could qualify for the license. The lawsuit contends that the measure is what is known as an unconstitutional “special law.”

In the lawsuit, Smith claims he tried to join the black farmers’ association but was told the group isn’t taking new members. He also said that there the organization currently has only only three to five members.

The organization conceded that it closed its rolls after the law was passed, but that it will establish a “trust fund from the proceeds of the profits of the medical marijuana business that the state of Florida has set aside for our organization” to benefit Florida Pigford litigants.

In a press release, the BFAA-FL said the association has been “inundated” with calls and internet requests for information.

“The vast majority of these requests were solely for the purpose of applying for the Pigford Litigants / Claimants medical marijuana license. At the direction of our Board of Directors, and in preparation for applying for the license before the growing/harvesting season, we closed our membership even though membership in BFAA-FL is not solely to meet the requirement for MMTC licensure. We will reopen our membership after the State has issued a medical marijuana license,” the release reads.

Black farmers who aren’t part of the association can still apply for one of the four other licenses, the release points out. Health officials are giving extra points to applicants who can show minority participation in their operations.

“BFAA-FL is excited to help grow more minority participation in the new cannabis industry that has taken America and most of the world by storm. The organization is excited to see the State of Florida embrace minority participation in next round of minority applications. More importantly, BFAA-FL is excited to announce the grant that will be part of helping change the exclusionary process that has plagued the industry,” the release said.

 

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.