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April 13, 2018

Medical Cannabis in South Korea Moves Forward

Medical Cannabis in South Korea There is suddenly hope for patients and the parents of children suffering from medical conditions that could be treated with medical cannabis in South Korea. Despite decades of prohibition, archaic opinions and any talk of drug use in South Korea being extremely taboo, a new bill seeks to legalize cannabis for medicinal applications.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we see this as a rather huge development for a typically conservative country and will be watching closely as the bill progresses.

What the Bill Would Entail for South Korea

What we know so far is that Representative Shin Chang-hyun, member of the ruling Democratic Party, introduced a bill in February to legalize medical cannabis in South Korea. Doing so would require making changes to the country’s long-standing and broad-reaching Act on the Control of Narcotics.

Listed under the reason for the bill’s proposal, the following statement was included by Shin, “The current law strictly prohibits the sale of cannabis. Recently, there was a case in which the mother bought a cannabis oil on the overseas fasting line for the treatment of a son with a brain tumor (4 years old) and was arrested and sentenced in court.” (translated from source)

Cases like this have popped up more frequently, and The Korea Times reported that the Korea Customs Service stopped 80 people from trying to smuggle in cannabis products for medical use in 2016. During the previous year, there were only six instances.

This certainly indicates that people are seeing the validity of cannabis as a treatment option. And with patients and parents of patients willing to accept risks such as prison sentences of up to 5 years or fines of 50 million won, or $48,000, it’s certainly beyond time for the country’s lawmakers to allow change.

Of course, it will be one step at a time.

Likely because of the controversial nature of the bill, it only recommends moving medical cannabis to a section of the current law that provides exceptions for certain drugs and opiates that can be used for medicinal purposes. Beyond that, there would be no changes such as developing and implementing a more robust system as seen with other similar legislation here in the U.S. and globally.

In fact, patients seeking medical cannabis in South Korea would first need to have it prescribed by their doctor. Requests would then need to be approved on an individual basis by the commissioner of the Korea Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The bill also does not allow domestic cultivation which means the South Korean market would be reliant on imports from Canada and Australia, as well as rather recent entries to the medicinal cannabis export market, Colombia and even Lesotho, Africa. While Shin’s bill seems simple, there will certainly be issues to address in order to best serve the needs of patients.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we hope that South Korea will continue to shed the stigma and embrace the benefits of cannabis by watching and learning how the world is making it a viable commodity. Until then, we will watch and wait as the bill heads to lawmakers of the Legislative Welfare Committee for further debate. According to news reports from South Korea, this will be the real test and the outcome should be announced later in April. Keep an eye on the news!

If you want to start your own legal enterprise here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world, simply get in touch for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

April 1, 2018

Supply and Demand for Medical Cannabis in Pennsylvania

Medical Cannabis in PennsylvaniaOn February 15, legal access to medical cannabis in Pennsylvania became a reality. And currently, nine dispensaries have opened their doors to patients. While the first weeks of the new program went well enough, demand quickly outpaced supply. It’s an issue Medicine Man Technologies sees often.

For the initial launch, Cresco Yeltrah was the only cultivator out of 12 licensed companies producing and supplying cannabis. Standard Farms has since come online, and Terrapin should follow shortly.

Meanwhile, one dispensary expected 60 patients during their first month and instead saw a hundred on their first day. As for the two dispensaries located closest to Philadelphia, Keystone Canna Remedies and TerraVida Holistic Center, they both reported shortages. TerraVida nearly went through its full inventory during week one and Keystone actually had to close down temporarily.

Unless more cultivation facilities can begin supplying cannabis soon, the problem will only get worse.

While only a handful of dispensaries have opened, the state allows for 50 permits and up to 3 locations per dispensary – that’s potentially 150 total. Also, there are now over 19,000 people on the state’s Patients and Caregivers Registry and only 7,000 card-holding patients. As more and more receive their physician certification, the demand for medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is expected to skyrocket.

The Original Act 16 and Looking Ahead to Phase 2

So, how did Pennsylvania get to this point? In April of 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed medical cannabis into law after bills went back and forth between the state Senate and House. It went into effect in May.

While smoking is not an available treatment, pills, oils, topicals, vaporization/nebulization, tinctures and liquids are available to patients with “serious medical conditions.” These include cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, glaucoma and many more.

Like other programs, patients and caregivers must first register and be certified to receive an ID card. Doctors who wish to prescribe medical cannabis in Pennsylvania must also register with the state and attend a mandatory training session before being able to certify patients.

Currently, the state’s Department of Health has issued permits for 25 growers/processors.

At this point, the shortage is being attributed to the state approving patients and having dispensaries open their doors before crops and product were ready for the influx. While this will likely stabilize as more growers come online, Phase 2 kicked off on April 3.

Part of this includes the state’s Department of Health opening the market and accepting applications for 13 more grower/processor licenses and 23 more dispensary permits. With no residency requirements for interested parties, this opens a huge opportunity in the country’s fifth-largest state.

Phase 2 will also allow for a research component that’s completely unique to Pennsylvania. Accredited hospitals and medical schools will be able to apply for an official permit in order to conduct research on medical cannabis. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, which has been conducting research and education on cannabis and hemp since 2016, plans to take the state up on the offer.

Other schools interested in the opportunity include Penn Medicine, Drexel University, as well as the Pittsburgh School of Medicine which announced its intention to jump into research, “We believe that the research will be of great importance in determining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases.”

While medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is off to a somewhat rocky start, Medicine Man Technologies hopes that Phase 2 should help ease the situation. It’s now up to the state and local governments to execute the program standards according to the regulations and provide patients with easier access to cannabis. We’ll keep you updated.

Are you and your team looking to win a permit to Grow/Process or Dispense medical marijuana in PA? With award-winning technical documentation, robust operating plans and SOPs, professional schematic facility designs, our team of industry experts will help guide your team to success. Contact us today.

March 9, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Illinois Inches Toward Legalization

Recreational Cannabis in Illinois Inches Toward LegalizationWith the passing of SB 2275 by the Senate, Medicine Man Technologies is excited to see recreational cannabis in Illinois take steps toward realization. The bill will now be handed to the state’s House of Representatives for further deliberation, and if approved, would put an advisory referendum on the November ballot, posing the following question to voters:

“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

While the outcome would not be binding, it will give lawmakers a better idea of whether or not their constituents want to see recreational cannabis in Illinois made legal. A decisive favorable vote could be the impetus needed for lawmakers to end prohibition as early as 2019. The state’s legislature has already decriminalized cannabis with a 2016 law that treats possessing up to 10 grams (for personal use) as a citation with fines of $100 to $200. Previously, it was a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Cunningham, stated “The debate over marijuana legalization is continuing to lead many states to consider various ideas and changes to current laws. Asking the people of Illinois how they feel about the subject can help determine which path we take as legislators.”

What’s Next? It’s All About the Elections

While SB 2275 will appear on the ballot in November if it passes in the House, a similarly worded referendum is already on the ballot for this month’s primaries in Cook County. As the most populous county, which includes Chicago and nearly half of the state’s residents, a clear “yes” vote for legalizing recreational cannabis in Illinois could prove influential for lawmakers. The question being posed:

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Of course, even if voters overwhelmingly support ending cannabis prohibition, the state’s legislature may include all new faces when it comes time to deliberate and implement a program. In fact, during the 2018 midterms, all 118 seats in the state’s House of Representatives will be up for grabs. Voters will also decide on every executive office, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and more.  

The most pivotal of races will be for governor as Republican incumbent, Gov. Bruce Rauner, seeks a second term. If re-elected, any law seeking to legalize recreational cannabis will likely be vetoed. In a statement to the media, Gov. Rauner said, "Recreational marijuana, just for personal use, I think is a huge experiment…Colorado has legalized it. California just legalized it. And what I've recommended is, 'Let's not legalize it in Illinois now. Let's watch what's happening in these other states and learn.'"

Southern Illinois University’s Simon Poll™

So, how likely is a second term for Gov. Rauner and what’s the alternative? According to the recently released Simon Poll, Illinois may cut the Republican’s tenure short. While the governor holds a 51% to 31% lead over his only Republican challenger, Jeanne Ives, a state representative against legalization, the real challenge will come from a crowded Democrat race.

Currently, there are 6 Democrats vying for governor. Poll leaders include J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire and venture capitalist whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain. Pritzker, who was active in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign bid, has stated that he is in favor of legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis in Illinois, as well as commuting sentences for people in prison for marijuana-related crimes.

Trailing Pritzker by 10 points is State Senator and cannabis supporter, Daniel Biss, who sees himself as a grassroots alternative to Pritzker and other big money candidates. After Attorney General, Jeff Sessions reversed the Cole Memo, Obama’s policy of not interfering with states that have legalized cannabis, Biss tweeted, “Hey Jeff Sessions, stop trying to drag us back into the 1980's – the War on Drugs was a failed and backwards policy. It's time to stop clinging to antiquated thinking and allow states to legalize marijuana.”

In the Simon Poll of 1,001 registered voters across Illinois, Gov. Rauner comes up short against either Democrat. Pritzker leads the governor 50 percent to 35 percent. Bliss leads Rauner 48 percent to 34.

While the passing of SB 2275 is yet another step in the slow march to legalize recreational cannabis in Illinois, the race is now in its final stretch and the team at Medicine Man Technologies is hoping for a positive outcome. When the time does come, we’ll be available for individuals and enterprises looking to enter the Illinois marketplace. We’ve assisted legal operations from coast to coast, and we’re here to support you with everything from seminars to private consulting and much more.

March 2, 2018

Lesotho Taking Steps Toward Cannabis Legalization

Lesotho Taking Steps Toward Cannabis LegalizationWith Lesotho taking steps toward cannabis legalization, Medicine Man Technologies has been thrilled to see progress expand to lesser-known corners of the globe like this small country in Africa. According to recent news reports, the country’s government has granted medical cannabis licenses to a South African company, Verve Dynamics, and a Lesotho-based Pharmaceutical Development Company (PDC), which has since been acquired by Corix Bioscience based in California.

This somewhat surprising move makes Lesotho the first African country to explore the revenue potential of allowing legal cannabis businesses to operate within its borders.

Get to Know Lesotho, the Kingdom in the Sky

Completely encircled by South Africa, Lesotho is an entirely mountainous country with a total land mass of just 11,600 square miles. To put that in perspective, Colorado is over 104,000 square miles.

While Lesotho’s 2 million citizens are officially prohibited from selling and possessing cannabis, native tribes have been growing it for medicinal purposes and cultivating hemp for centuries. Today, cannabis enjoys an unspoken, decriminalized status. Growing and exporting cannabis has even become part of the country’s economy with a lack of criminal prosecution enabling Lesotho’s many cannabis farmers to become primary suppliers for black market cannabis in South Africa, even as far as Europe. Of course, such a lenient stance has garnered the disapproval of both South Africa and the United Nations.

Lesotho Taking Steps Toward Cannabis Legalization

While efforts to legalize or regulate cannabis in Lesotho are yet to be made, the news of licenses being issued certainly point to the possibility of reform. For Verve Dynamics, which specializes in researching, developing and manufacturing indigenous plant extractions and nutraceutical ingredients, being one of the first in line for a commercial license will give them the ability to grow, manufacture, supply, and export medical cannabis products from Lesotho.

According to Richard Davies, the managing director of Verve Dynamics, acquiring a license was no easy feat. He had this to say, “We underwent an intensive six-month due diligence, part of which included a site visit to our South African facility by various departments of government including health, trade and industry, tourism and agriculture and the Lesotho police.”

Once Verve successfully completed this rigorous process, the company released this statement, “The Government’s decision to move forward with this historic decision means that Lesotho will play a significant role in developing this industry, both locally and internationally, as well as establishing itself as a pioneer on the African continent with regards to state of the art extraction equipment.”

Previously, Lesotho had awarded a commercial license to a local business, Pharmaceutical Development Company, giving them the ability to cultivate, as well as import and export cannabis in various formats. Now that it’s been acquired by Corix Bioscience, a company known for its research and development of cannabidiol products and treatments, even California has a stake in what happens next in Africa.

In regards to this acquisition, Michael Ogburn, Corix Bioscience CEO, said, "This is a defining moment for our company. It allows us to grow and manufacture cannabis in Lesotho and distribute our products to dozens of other countries. It will allow us to accelerate our growth very quickly.”

So, What’s Next for Cannabis in Lesotho?

Lesotho Taking Steps Toward Cannabis LegalizationDespite the new licenses being granted and Lesotho taking steps toward cannabis legalization, it still remains to be seen whether laws will be developed and implemented to make medicinal or recreational cannabis available to its citizens. At Medicine Man Technologies, we hope that these are just the first steps and that a next phase will be launched to establish an internal and legal cannabis system. For now, it seems that existing farms will remain unaffected and will continue with illicit business as usual.

Bottom line, Lesotho’s pioneering spirit has catapulted them to the forefront of a burgeoning African market. While they may be a small country, they will likely be a big player as the push for legalization continues its global march. We’ll be sure to provide you with updates.

Want to start your own legal enterprise here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world? Simply get in touch for private consulting as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

February 2, 2018

Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma? Not So Fast.

Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma Medicine Man TechnologiesMedical marijuana in Oklahoma could become legal this June when voters in the Sooner State cast their ballots on Question 788. According to a recent poll, 61% of Oklahomans support the bill, giving it a clear path for passing. What happens next is not so clear.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been keeping an eye on how things have been unfolding and see a major hurdle standing in the way of supporters of this legislation and the patients who need access to medical marijuana in Oklahoma. State Senator, Ervin Yen, has introduced Senate Bill 1120, which would restrict certain provisions of the state’s ballot initiative, namely the list of qualifying medical conditions. If this bill passes prior to the June vote, it would undermine the intent of SQ 788 and the will of the people.

States of Nebraska & Oklahoma v. State of Colorado

While the state legislature’s preemptive effort to limit SQ 788 prior to a vote is disappointing, it certainly comes as no big surprise. In December of 2014, Oklahoma and Nebraska filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Colorado’s legalization of adult-use marijuana.

In their lawsuit, these neighboring states claimed that Colorado was violating the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by enacting a law that was in direct conflict with federal law that deems all forms of marijuana as illegal. They further claimed, and without statistics or figures, that legalizing pot here in Colorado was putting a strain on local law enforcement agencies and budgets due to an increase in pot-related arrests in their own states.

In March of 2016 and with a 6-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the proposed lawsuit.

State Question 788 v. Oklahoma Senate Bill 1120

If medical marijuana in Oklahoma is approved by the voters, licensed patients will be able to possess up to 3 ounces on their person and 8 ounces at their residence. They’ll also be able to have up to 6 mature plants and 6 seedling plants in their homes. Applying for a license will require the signature of a board-certified physician and be sent to the Oklahoma State Department of Health for approval.

Borrowing from states that have already built thriving medical marijuana programs, SQ 788 covers a lot of territory in its text, outlining a simple and sensible implementation of dispensary operations, growing, production, and transportation for medical marijuana in Oklahoma. It even covers taxation (7% taken at the point of sale) and sets the enactment date as one month after it’s approved by voters.

Now, while Senator Yen acknowledges the inevitable progress of legalization in Oklahoma and the rest of the world, he feels that SQ 788 is too open-ended. In an interview with KOSU public radio, Yen stated, “As a physician, it would be hard for me to be against medical marijuana, but I believe in all the states that have legalized medical marijuana, it’s not really medical marijuana. I think it’s quite easy for people to get a medical marijuana card…If we’re going to do this in Oklahoma, let’s do it the right way.”

His “right way” is detailed in SB 1120 which requires people to obtain a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor or medical practitioner who is registered with the Department of Health. The patient must suffer from a “serious condition” and also be under the care of the prescribing doctor for treatment of that illness. Most disturbingly, the proposed bill strips post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Oklahoma and makes no mention of Dravet syndrome or other forms of epilepsy. Instead, it lists the following:

  • A severe debilitating or life-threatening condition
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Persistent muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia
  • Nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy
  • Loss of weight or appetite due to cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • Chronic pain when other treatments have failed

In his interview with KOSU, Senator Yen stated that he plans to remove chronic pain from this list and the bill. His reasoning, “I think that’s just too easily abused by patients.”

SB 1120 also adds restrictions to a variety of other provisions in SQ 788. It would reduce the amount of medical marijuana that patients may legally possess to a 30-day supply and cut a patient’s certification period in half, from 2 years to one. It would also impose harsh punishments on any medical practitioner who knowingly prescribes medical marijuana for a purpose other than the approved conditions. Even point of sale would be affected, requiring dispensaries to use plain, tamper-evident and child-resistant packaging with cannabis trade names subject to approval by the Commissioner of Health.

If SQ 788 is approved by voters on June 26th, it will go into effect on July 26, 2018.

If passed, SB 1120 will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

As you can see, even with a clear path to passing, medical marijuana in Oklahoma is still very much up in the air. After seeing Oklahoma come after our laws here in Colorado, the Medicine Man Technologies team is very aware of how conservative the state can lean. It’s our hope that other state legislators will reject SB 1120 and honor the decision made by the citizens they represent.

If you’re looking to launch a legal medical marijuana enterprise in Oklahoma or elsewhere in the world, please get in touch. We offer private consulting as well as educational seminars throughout the year.

 

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