sunlight over Yosemite in the State of California where marijuana is legal.

California’s Legal Marijuana: One More Reason to Love the Golden State

As if the stunning light, mountains, rolling ocean waves and wine weren’t reasons enough to love California, now they give us legal marijuana. As you might have heard, the state ended marijuana prohibition on January 1, 2018.

light through the trees in California near the Thomas Aquinas College. California's legal marijuana grows in communities north of this area, which is close to Ojai.

What’s the big deal? There are other states (and districts) where adults can buy cannabis for any reason. They include Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. And it appears that Vermont, New Jersey and Rhode Island are also on the cusp of adult-use legalization, too, with elected officials leading efforts in those states.

In Michigan, our home state, citizens and cannabis advocates are awaiting approval of petition signatures that will bring a vote on adult-use in 2018. News on petition approval is expected at any time. Our border neighbor to the north, Canada is in: cannabis will be available for purchase by adults in mid-summer.

Back to the question above: why is California remarkable?

California Scales Up the Impact of Legal Marijuana

Not only is California a large state geographically, there are a lot of people who live there, 39.5 million, to be specific. The entire country of Canada has 35.1 million. In comparison, Michigan has 9.8 million residents. The legal western states quite simply don’t have the density of population of California. Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Nevada combined have 15 million residents.

The Golden State also boats the sixth largest economy in the world. The contribution of California’s legal marijuana industry will make to the economy is astounding: projections are it will be an industry worth over $5.1 billion this year alone. It is estimated that the existing black market is valued at $13.5 billion.

The state is levying a 15 percent tax on marijuana, collected by provisioning businesses. Cities and towns with those facilities can add their own taxes, too.

drawing of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, a proponent of legal marijuanaIt’s not just California dreamers, hippies and Deadheads that made marijuana legalization happen. Both Pew and Gallup research firms have published opinion research that indicates Americans are much more in favor of legalization than not. Gallup’s most recent survey had favorability at 64 percent. In Michigan, polling by EPIC-MRA in February 2017 showed the 57 percent of Michiganders favored marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Legalization in Michigan isn’t a Sure Thing.

The most recent successful vote in California, Prop. 64 was the second attempt at legalization. A legalization ballot proposal was defeated there in 2010, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Michigan will face some of the same opponents in the November election: pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations, law enforcement and the alcohol industry have all historically funded anti-cannabis efforts. But, we think public opinion (and a good voter turnout) will be in our favor.

As Goes California, so Goes the Nation.

We asked Jeff Hank, the board chair of MILegalize what this means for Michigan.

the mountains and ocean along the pacific coast highway in California where marijuana is legal“With the largest U.S. state now legal, Americans will see cannabis more normalized, and visitors to the Golden State returning home will wonder why they are second-class citizens when it comes to personal liberty and cannabis policy common sense,” Hank said.

“When crafting the MILegalize proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol, we studied every state including California for best practices. We took what already worked in Michigan and included concepts like the ‘micro-business’ which California also has in a different form, and we included modern regulations to prevent diversion to minors. Big money can dominate the cannabis market, to the exclusion of legacy farmers and shopkeepers. California hasn’t done a very good job managing this. Michigan has the opportunity to end the civil rights crisis of cannabis prohibition, and also ensure upward mobility and market access for caregivers and entrepreneurs. This is critical to eliminate the black market and benefit the general public,” he said.

State by state ballot-driven legalization isn’t the best way to end American cannabis prohibition. But until the federal government comes to terms with its failed drug policies and declassifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, we’ll live with a patchwork of varied state regulations.

We saw how important this is recently when Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. His action, which threatens legal state marijuana businesses with DEA action, also threatens the legalization movement in states that are trying to end prohibition.

Certainly, those businesses that are making money from cannabis in California and other legal states are coming into Michigan, we’ve seen their presence already in our medical marketplace.

Might it be business, rather than citizens that pushes federal legalization forward? We hope it is a coalition of both and that the change comes soon.

a green cannabis plant

The Cole Memo and Jeff Sessions for Dummies

Ok, first off. You’re not a dummy. But the announcement that Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Cole Memo is confusing, especially since more Americans accept the idea of legal cannabis and the country is moving toward ending prohibition. His action raised the ire of cannabis advocates, citizens in adult-use legal states, elected officials and people in medical marijuana states.

Here we go!

What is the Cole Memo?

It’s a document written by a James Cole, deputy attorney general in 2013 when times were good and Barack Obama was president. Without going into the weeds of legalese, it tells U.S. attorneys where to focus their marijuana efforts.

These efforts include preventing:

  •   the distribution of marijuana to minors
  •   marijuana revenue from funding criminal enterprises, gangs or cartels
  •   marijuana from moving across state lines 
  •   use of state-legal marijuana sales as a cover for illegal activity
  •   violence and use of firearms in growing or distributing marijuana
  •   drugged driving
  •   growing marijuana on public lands
  •   marijuana possession or use on federal property

It recognized that states have implemented laws to regulate marijuana and that those laws, for the most part, support what the federal government wants to see.

The memo tells federal staff to allow the states to police themselves. So over the last five years, all of the legal states wrote and followed their own laws regarding cannabis growing and sales. It gave the federal government the ability to focus on real criminal issues. This memo was important because of two things: it recognized the role of states in self-regulation and it acknowledged, tacitly, that the federal government had other priorities than chasing down cannabis businesses and it wasn’t going to spend funds on marijuana cases.

What did Sessions do With the Cole Memo and why?

Sessions rescinded the memo and is implementing a new policy. This one directs federal prosecutors to return to marijuana enforcement policy, overriding the laws in legal states. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country,” wrote Sessions.

photo of the Hollywood sign in CaliforniaWhat this action does is give U.S. Attorneys the ability to prosecute adult-use marijuana businesses. Many of which just opened earlier this week in California.

We’ve known since before Sessions became the Attorney General that he hates cannabis, he has said that good people don’t smoke marijuana. He has always been a threat to the cannabis industry and now we’re seeing his wrath. The heart of the issue is the memo isn’t law and what we need now is legislation ending cannabis prohibition.

What Does This Mean for Michigan?

For now, we’re ok.

The bright spot in all of this, it is the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. It is a 2014 amendment to the federal government budget package three jars full of cannabis flowerthat’s up for renewal later this month. The powerful amendment, which has bipartisan support, protects states with medical marijuana programs. It prevents the federal government from using resources to prosecute people and businesses that are complying with the law in medical marijuana states.

What’s devastating about the Cole Memo action is that our effort to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan could be upended as we move toward adult-use on the ballot in 2018.  

What Can You Do?

Call your Congressperson and tell them how important it is to uphold the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. Here’s a script to follow and quick way to find your representative.

It’s time for all of us to step up our advocacy efforts and get involved (support with time or a donation) with NORML, Marijuana Policy Project and MILegalize.

Voice your support of cannabis and work against prohibition now.

photo of 2017 made by a sparkler

Looking at 2017’s Most Notable Marijuana News Events

It’s hard to say if this was a monumental year in marijuana news, but 2017 felt pretty good to us. There was a lot going on across the U.S. and in Michigan.

Here are our top ten most memorable news events in marijuana for the year.

10) California wildfires destroyed a significant amount of cannabis in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. While all wildfires are heartbreaking and painful for individuals, families and communities, this year’s fire in California was especially tough on cannabis growers. Fires that broke out just before harvest time destroyed or damaged an estimated 34 cannabis farms and tragically the crop is uninsured due to federal regulations. 

9) California, Nevada and Canada begin to implement adult-use legalization.  After voting in November 2016 to end cannabis prohibition, both California and Nevada started working toward creating their legal environments. We love the “get it done” spirit in Nevada—it managed to open dispensaries less than eight months after the vote. Its larger sister state, California will end cannabis prohibition on January 1, 2018. Canadians from Nunavut to Saskatchewan will have access to cannabis starting in the coming summer, thanks to some hard work by the government in 2017.

8) Cheers to 360,000+ Michigan citizens who signed petitions for adult-use cannabis legalization. Volunteers and paid solicitors from MILegalize and the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured 100,000 more signatures than required and validation of signatures is underway through the Board of Canvassers. We hope it will clear the board and go to voters in 2018. We expect the vote to be positive.

7) Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general of the U.S. This is a dark mark on cannabis. The AG is a long-time hater of cannabis and will do what he can to ensure prohibition doesn’t end. The upside of this story is we have a dysfunctional Congress, he has a volatile boss and there are 29 states with some sort of marijuana laws on the books, which is going to make DEA intervention difficult. Public opinion is changing, too. A recent Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of Americans favor cannabis legalization.

6) Colorado marked its 5th year of adult use legalization and the sky didn’t fall. In speaking with the CBC, the head of Colorado’s Department of photo of a colorado map and notebookPublic Health Dr. Larry Wolk said this: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization. I think a lot of people think when you legalize you are going from zero to some high use number, but they forget that even when marijuana is not legal, one in four adults and one in five kids are probably using on a somewhat regular basis. What we’ve found since legalization is that those numbers haven’t really changed.”

5) The American Legion came out for cannabis. The venerable veterans organization is requesting further research regarding PTSD and traumatic brain injury and cannabis. Many veterans find cannabis to be a successful alternative to psychotropic drugs. Officials at the national American Legion are asking the federal government to allow Veterans Administration (VA) physicians to speak freely about medical marijuana to their patients. Presently, physicians are prohibited from talking about the plant as an option. The Legion with more than 14,000 posts nationwide has great potential to change public policy.

4) Northern Michigan University announced a marijuana major. Students wildcat logo for Northern Michigan Universitywill be able to major in medicinal plant chemistry at NMU, which offers America’s only bachelor’s degree in cannabis program. CH420 isn’t a slacker program though, it requires 120 credits of chemistry, biology, soils, genetics accounting and financial management classes. Its grads are bound to be in high demand. Way to go Wildcats!

3) Marijuana as a gateway out of opioid addiction. Opioid overdoses killed more 64,000 Americans in 2016 and that number is expected to increase this year. More and more research is leading the medical profession to look at marijuana as a gateway out of addiction to powerful painkillers. While more research needs to be done, marijuana shows promise in doing less harm and more good for patients with chronic pain. And you can’t overdose on marijuana.

2) Licensing for medical marijuana began in Michigan this year. It was a rough and tumble year in Lansing as LARA, the state’s regulating entity rolled out its rules on issuing licenses for people who want to grow, process, rotunda of the Michigan Capital Building in Lansing test, transport or provision medical marijuana. Dispensaries were threatened with closure by a state board, politicians stepped up to keep them open, liquid capital rates were set, municipalities opted in or out, and application materials were created. The licensing portal opened on December 15 and now we wait to see who will be first to show off their piece of legal paperwork.

1) Projections for cannabis job growth will exceed manufacturing by 2022. It’s an understatement to say that marijuana is a growth industry in that there are already 100,000 to 150,000 marijuana workers and about 90,000 people work in plant touching businesses. Cannabis and its ancillary businesses have created 43,000 full-time jobs in California, 23,000 in Colorado and 22,000 Washington.  Michigan is the second largest medical marijuana state (next to California) and should have similar numbers for jobs when licenses are issued in this spring.

We look forward to the promise of a new year and all that it brings to cannabis-friendly people everywhere!

photo of a bowl with medical cannabis flowers and three well-rolled joints

What’s on Your Cannabis Christmas Wish List? Here’s Ours.

 

Dear Santa,

Here’s our cannabis Christmas wish list for this year.  We know it looks long. But seriously, we’re not bogarting—we’re asking for these things for the good of the world and all of humanity.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

The (nice) Women of Canna Communication

Here’s what we want:
  • America to be more like Canada when it comes to marijuana. Imagine, a whole country (other than Uruguay at present) that doesn’t prohibit cannabis.
  • Just like Martha, Snoop and Anthony Bourdain, everyone should be able to be able to roll a good joint. It’s a skill anyone can master with a image of cannabis flowers and three jointslittle practice. 
  • People to stop calling cannabis a gateway drug. There’s no science to this myth, and truly, cannabis helps people get off of opioids.
  • Michigan citizens to come out in force in November 2018 and vote to end cannabis prohibition in our great state. We’ve been a medical marijuana state for nearly a decade, adult-use legalization is the natural next step.
  • The cannabis industry to stop objectifying women. Stop with the bikinis and boobs. Please. It doesn’t increase the seriousness of our cause.
  • Michigan to expand its criteria for medical marijuana qualification and include autism and PTSD. There’s research showing these conditions deserve inclusion.
  • All our clients to be successful in their endeavor to apply for a medical marijuana facility license.
  • More Michigan municipalities to be open to having marijuana businesses. Patients shouldn’t have to travel across the state for their medicine. There should be a provisioning center in every Michigan county.
  • All cities in Michigan decriminalize marijuana possession. There are far too many people in prison for marijuana charges, and more often than not, they’re people of color.
  • People to regard marijuana entrepreneurs as they do craft brewers. It wasn’t that long ago alcohol was prohibited and now it’s celebrated colorful beer bottle caps on a display boardand brewers are vital to economic growth in some communities.
  • Small cannabis businesses to find a place in Michigan’s new medical marijuana licensing structure, so caregivers can continue to do what they do best.
  • Jeff Sessions to get with the science about marijuana and the people who use it. We are good people.
  • All the puns about marijuana to stop, or at least be limited to one per conversation.
  • Cannabis to be removed from Schedule I classification. This classification dates to the 1970s and the Nixon administration and was created to disrupt the lives of people of color and anti-war protestors.
  • Everyone who uses marijuana or supports people who do, to speak up about the power of the plant and how it has helped improve their health and happiness.

PS: Thanks to everyone who has supported Canna Communication in 2017. We look forward to a great 2018 with you.

image of canadian prime minister justin trudeau

Cannabis Growth, Canada and Some Good News Sites to Check Out

It’s an understatement to say that cannabis is going to be an economic game-changer. Recently ArcView Group, which does cannabis research and polling revealed that this year, cannabis sales in North America are expected to reach $10 billion, that’s a 33 percent increase over 2016. Legalization in Canada is a significant part of this projected increase.

Cannabis news is popping up everywhere and mainstream media is covering it regularly.

Think back to other growth industries—automotive, tech, pharma, banking, manufacturing and oil—each of them were heavily covered by the media during their boom periods. While the media has shrunk and local reporters are covering multiple beats, there are reliable resources for cannabis news. We believe it is important for people to carefully source the news they read and share.

We’ve had enough fake news and alternative facts for a lifetime.

So, Canada—the WHOLE country not just a province or two—is going to have adult-use legalized cannabis starting in July 2018. It’s been big news in Canada and not without its challenges and controversies. It’s amazing to an ad from the Winnipeg newspaper about its marijuana websiteconsider how fast this has happened in Canada, really just three years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made good on his campaign promise. To that end, just last week, the Winnipeg Free Press created a new website for Manitobans (that’s the province where Winnipeg is located) to educate them about the industry and the effect of legalization on the entire country. The site, The Leaf News, is providing, “original cannabis journalism for Canadians.” This new website started us thinking about sources for reliable cannabis news.

These are a few of Our Favorite News Sites

A site worthy of following is The Cannabist. The child of the Denver Post, it covers state and national cannabis news with in-depth reporting on health, politics, business and crime.  It also offers two podcasts as well and interesting pop culture items, like how to make cannabutter, a marijuana glossary, parenting tips and recipes. The site has been around for about since about 2013 and it is content-rich.

Leafly, the dispensary index, and crowd-sourced strain review site has a growing news section, too.  Among the news topics covered you’ll find science, tech, health, politics, food, travel, sex, and Canada. Editing and writing for Leafly is Bruce Barcott, the author of Weed the People and former writer for The New York Times magazine and National Geographic.  Leafly has an interesting video channel, too.

The granddaddy of marijuana news sources is High Times. It’s been around since 1974 and still produces a print magazine as well as a robust website.  It covers business, politics, strains, pop culture and has a lot of fun to read 10 articles—like 10 Best Strains to Improve Your Workout, 10 Horror Movies to Watch When You’re Stoned and the like. It has lots of aggregated and original reporting.

Also noteworthy is Ganjapreneur. It is focused on news for people who are working in, or interested in working in cannabis and does some good reporting on cannabis growth and news from across the US. This U.S. map is helpful if you’re looking for the cannabis legalization status and news for each state.

One of the most robust aggregating sites is 420intel that touts itself as a global news source. We can’t vouch for all of the sources of news—though at the very end of the story—they do reveal the original source. That’s helpful for discerning news junkies.

Worth a shout out, too, is Michigan’s own Detroit Metro Times. The alternative weekly has been covering marijuana in Michigan with more than a passing interest for a few years. It’s Higher Ground column covers a variety of cannabis issues and is worth checking out, just pop Higher Ground in the search box.

thankful graphic because we are thankful for cannabis legalization in Michigan

This Thanksgiving: Ten Things to be Thankful For if You’re Into Cannabis

 

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends! As you think about all the things in your life that you’re thankful for, here are ten cannabis-related nuggets to add to your list.

  1.     If you live in Michigan, join us in giving thanks that the MI Legalize petition drive was successful. It will still be a few months, maybe more, to see if Michigan’s adult-use marijuana legalization measure makes it to the ballot in 2018. When polled at the beginning of 2017, a majority of Michigan voters were in favor of ending prohibition.
  2.     More broadly across the country, in 2016 the Gallup polling organization, which has been asking Americans about marijuana legalization since 1969, reported its highest favorability number ever—60 percent of Americans are interested in seeing marijuana legalized. It compares these views to same-sex marriage before legalization.
  3.     Citizens of California and Nevada approved recreational adult-use marijuana legalization during the 2017 election.  If the saying is true, “as California goes, so goes the nation” then the rest of the U.S. isn’t far behind.  At present 29 states and Washington DC have marijuana-use laws on the books and more are following the lead of the Golden State.
  4.     Justin Trudeau made recreational adult-use marijuana legal in Canada. About a year and a half after he took office, the Canadian a plate of poutinePrime Minister made good on a campaign promise to legalize cannabis. The law takes effect in July 2018. We expect to see poutine sales to soar, too!
  5. It’s hard to believe that Colorado has had adult-use legalization for five years now, and it seems like everything is pretty much ok. Use of marijuana by young people didn’t increase, arrests are down (unless you are a person of color), traffic fatalities didn’t increase nor did violent crime, opioid use declined, and communities used marijuana tax revenue to improve schools and build healthier communities.
  6.     The American Legion is pushing the federal government to remove marijuana from a Schedule I drug. They’re seeing great progress in helping veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries with medical cannabis. They’re advocating for more research and allowing VA physicians to discuss the plant with their patients.
  7.     Keeping close attention to public opinion in the state and nationally, five Michigan gubernatorial candidates are pro-cannabis.  At a recent candidate forum, four Democrats and one Republican voiced support for legalization. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said, “This has become a civil rights issue,” referring to statistics showing criminal enforcement has had a greater negative impact on low-income people and communities of color. “We have an opportunity here in Michigan to rethink marijuana,” he added.
  8.     Michigan medical marijuana patients were threatened and then protected from dispensary closures. In a crazy move, two members of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Board suggested the closure of all operating dispensaries in September. The dispensaries were operating in Michigan’s gray area of the law until new licenses could be handed out in December. This move would have left thousands of patients without medicine. Thanks to a bi-partisan group of state legislators and public pressure the board members backed off and dispensaries have (mostly) remained open.
  9.     Orrin Hatch, an 83-year old Mormon Republican Senator came out for medical marijuana with a dozen or so puns. All joking aside, he introduced a bill that would remove restrictions on marijuana research. He was moved to do so because of a friend who suffers from severe seizures.
  10. Forward-looking women are taking significant leadership roles in cannabis. Women make up roughly 36 percent of the leaders in the cannabis industry, including 63 percent of top management positions, according to Marijuana Business Daily. When compared to the rest of American businesses, this is significant.  Women hold just 5 percent of the CEO positions and 25 percent of the leadership roles. Because the industry is so young, traditional barriers to entry don’t exist.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and don’t forget all the great cannabis-infused recipes available! Here’s a few from our friends at Leafly.

 

7 Facts About Michigan and Marijuana You Need to Know

  1. Michigan has been a medical marijuana state for almost a decade. The proposal to give Michigan citizens the right to buy and use medical marijuana came to the ballot on November 4, 2008, the same
    Cartoon of the state of Michigan wearing a winter hat.
    If you seek a pleasant peninsula look about you.

    year that President Barack Obama was first elected. It was an overwhelming victory for marijuana in the state with 63 percent of voters filling in the yes bubble, and 37 percent voting no. There were more people who wanted medical marijuana than voted for Obama, who scored 57 percent of the votes.

  2. Marijuana is decriminalized in some Michigan cities, but not all. While the regulations vary, there are quite a few cities in Michigan that don’t punish people for having small amounts of marijuana. They include Ann Arbor, which decriminalized way back in 1972. Other cities with decriminalization include: Berkley, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, East Lansing, Saginaw and Ypsilanti. Pleasant Ridge has an ordinance that makes marijuana possession a low priority for police.
  3. Ann Arbor’s Hash Bash is one of the oldest events in the country that
    Man dressed like Jesus at Hash Bash, giving away Michigan marijuana
    It’s a good day when Jesus gives you a joint at Hash Bash.

    celebrates cannabis freedom. The first event was held on April 1, 1972 and it’s been held almost every year since on the first Saturday of April at high noon on the University of Michigan diag. At Hash Bash you’ll find music, speeches and a group fire-up with about 10,000 other cannabis fans.

  4. If you want to be in the cannabis business in Michigan (as in applying for a license later this year) you’ll need to have lived in Michigan for at least two years and be of good moral character, actually, poor moral character will be held against you. If you have a grade school good citizenship award, find it now.
  5. Michigan pretty much has an average possession weight for its medical marijuana patients (2.5 ounces) when compared to other states. Hats off to Oregon for upping the average with its 24-ounce limit! As Michigan moves closer to an adult-use ballot measure and when it passes (November of 2018) people will be able to buy 2.5 ounces, too. Consistency is a good thing.
  6. Michigan has 218,566 card-carrying medical marijuana patients and 38,057 caregivers, aka growers. Proportionally the up north county of Montmorency (near the tip of the mitten and east of I-75 has the highest number of cardholders, with 45.1 of every 1,000 residents having a card to buy or possess cannabis plants. Just to the east and south a bit, Kalkaska County has 44.7 cardholders per 1,000 people. Ottawa County, they’re pretty healthy or a bit buttoned up when it comes to cannabis, with 11.8 patient cards per 1,000 people.
  7. In Michigan, our government spells marihuana with an h, as in marihuana not marijuana. This is an older spelling, which dates back to the 1930s and has a complicated and somewhat racist history from after Spanish-American War and resentment toward Mexicans and Mexican immigrants. Anti-Mexican propaganda and cannabis prohibition went hand-in-hand using the word marihuana instead of cannabis, which seemed more sinister. For Michigan, it’s simply consistent with the public health code, which uses an old-timey h instead of a j.

What’s Your Responsibility to the Cannabis Community?

Working in cannabis comes with responsibility to the cannabis community. For decades, people working with plants or just having flower on their person have been the target of law enforcement harassment; have been jailed and had assets and property seized. With this dark narrative, comes a responsibility for everyone working in the industry now to be a good citizen of cannabis.

Here’s how to improve your citizenship.

Know Your Cannabis History

Bob Marley wrote in his song, Buffalo Soldier: If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from. If you want to learn a little about marijuana’s colorful past, Wikipedia has well-cited page devoted to history. The historical section of the Pro Con website is comprehensive and easy to Weed the People book coverread. Two recently published books, “Weed the People” and “Cannabis Manifesto,” were written by a respected journalist and a noted activist and provide history and cultural context. The books also discuss the social justice issues around the criminalization of cannabis in communities of color. We’ve written our own short modern cannabis history here, too.

 

What Are The Marijuana Laws in Your State?

No matter where you live or travel, be smart about the laws regarding marijuana possession. Whether you live in a marijuana-hostile state, like Wyoming or are lucky enough to be in a cannabis-friendly place like Colorado or in one of 29 states where marijuana is medicinal or been decriminalized–know the law and your rights. There are cities, too, like Grand Rapids, Michigan where decriminalization has taken place within a state where non-medical marijuana is still a crime.

Carry a Card

If you live in a medical-only state, you need to have a card. Whether you visit your own physician or make an appointment with one who specialized in A Michigan Medical Marijuana cardMMJ determinations, this is an important step in cannabis citizenship. Having a card also helps provide the government with a accurate data regarding marijuana use; the more people with cards, the more power we have as a group. While we’re all for puff-puff-pass and trying other people’s personal favorites, you don’t do the business, the culture, or the community any favors by purchasing, re-selling or giving away medicine.

Oh, and it’s illegal, too.

Have a Voice

Join and support an advocacy organization like—NORML or the Marijuana Policy Project. They are our voice for marijuana choice on the state and federal level. Meet your local commissioners, state and federal legislative representatives. When action is being taken on cannabis in your community or beyond, it’s important to reach out in person, email or by phone to your elected officials and state your point of view. Reach out to those who oppose and support marijuana issue. Express your appreciation to cannabis-supporting legislators and educate opponents. And always vote.

Stand up For Marijuana

Letting people you know that you are a marijuana patient or a recreational marijuana user is a part of being a good citizen. It’s mentally liberating to come out. You’ll find when you start telling other people that you consume, that you’ll meet more people that do, too. Speaking up also helps you articulate your case for marijuana as medicine or adult-use. Not everyone is able to publicly stand up for cannabis, usually because of employment or family issues. You don’t have to come out on Facebook or be part of a social campaign, but be as honest as possible about your use. It’s helpful for people who don’t partake to stand with friends and patients who do. It helps normalize use and builds up the cannabis community, too

Legalization: Keeping Cannabis Secure and Away from Young People

Legalization Helps.

We’re all for a 21 and older law for people wanting to buy cannabis. There’s been talk about the effect of cannabis consumption on developing brains. Until comprehensive research is done, young people, unless medically advised, should avoid the plant and adults shouldn’t provide it to them.

So, if marijuana were more widely available, would teens access it? Yes and no.

Just Try to Get Marijuana Without a Card

flower on a scaleWhen legalized and regulated, buying cannabis is like buying alcohol and/or cigarettes—the product is strictly secured and available only with a photo ID. In Michigan now, a patient must show a medical card and photo ID to even get through the door of a dispensary. The lobby portion of a dispensary is closed off, visually and physically from the consumer. You can’t get anywhere without valid credentials.

If Kids Want Pot, They’ll Find It

We’d be naive to think that there won’t be teens getting their hands on marijuana if they want it. Just like in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and now–young people who want to use marijuana will find it. But, that’s what’s interesting, it appears that teen use in Colorado, the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana, has seen a decrease in use by young people.

cannabis stickersThere are probably a number of factors at play in the teen use statistic. For one, the black market is decreasing, a projection by Marijuana Policy Project estimated that 90 percent of all cannabis produced in Colorado and Washington will be sold through licensed dealer. Further, teens are using fewer drugs than previous generations and since 1991, teen drug and alcohol use has been declining–and it isn’t due to easier access.

Not completely surprising, Colorado teens have the highest level of cannabis use as compared to teens in other states, 11 percent as compared to the national average of 7.2 percent. It would be interesting to know how many of the surveyed students in Colorado were more likely to respond “yes” to the marijuana-use question because of generally more liberal attitudes toward cannabis there. Maybe in a totally legal state it’s just not that big of an issue.

image of marijuana which is part of any new marijuana business

Legalization 101: Marijuana is Medicine

Across the state of Michigan, petitions are circulating for adult-use marijuana and we know that having a persuasive argument and accurate information about the plant are critical to success. Presenting facts, data and stories are necessary for moving people from “on the fence” to signing–and voting yes–for ending prohibition.

This is the first in a series of posts to help you talk the talk about cannabis.

First and foremost, marijuana is a medicinal plant

Throughout history, cannabis has been used in world cultures as medicine. It is difficult to find extensive modern American research about the efficacy of the plant because of its Schedule 1 status. Even for medical research, it is federally illegal to possess the plant.

But, there has been some recent research work in marijuana-legal states that will help with building the depth of clinical trials. Recently, the American Legion wrote to the President asking him to de-schedule cannabis so it can be further tested for use by veterans.

Different States Endorse different uses

Even popular health sites like WebMD acknowledge that cannabis shows promise for a variety of health ailments. These include slowing the growth of some cancers, relaxing the muscles of Parkinson’s Disease patients, helping people with digestive disorders like Crohn’s Disease and managing chronic pain.

Each of the 29 states that allow medical marijuana have different guidelines for what kinds of conditions the medicine can be prescribed to help. We’ve heard positive anecdotal stories about cannabis and difficult health situations like self-harming autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Multiple Sclerosis. For many cancer patients, the only medicine that gets them through chemotherapy is cannabis.

we support your right to choose

While cannabis is available to citizens in Michigan with a doctor’s recommendation, we think that adults, regardless of reason and without the intervention of a physician, should be able to access marijuana, as they might any over-the-counter medicine or health supplement.