Our Current Blog Articles
January 8, 2018
Does the New Zealand Medical Marijuana Bill Fall Short?
At Medicine Man Technologies, we applaud any legislation advancing marijuana legalization. But, does the recent New Zealand medical marijuana bill fall short? In late December of 2017, federal lawmakers introduced the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act. While the proposed bill is certainly a step forward, there are a number of areas that have been criticized.
If passed, New Zealand will build a framework for domestic cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical marijuana via pharmacies. This includes establishing an advisory board that would develop and implement rules for product quality and patient safety. Medical practitioners will also be better educated on prescribing cannabis to patients in need. As for those suffering from terminal illnesses, it will no longer be illegal if the patient, “procures, possesses, consumes, smokes, or otherwise uses any plant or plant material of the genus Cannabis, any cannabis preparation, or any cannabis fruit or seed.”
Limitations of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act
While this might sound good and even parallel the legal medical marijuana efforts in other countries, including the United States, there are points of contention. And this has many people wondering if the New Zealand medical marijuana bill goes far enough to address the medical needs of every citizen.
The most glaring of its shortcomings, the medical marijuana bill would only protect those patients with a terminal illness. Similar programs around the world typically apply to a wide variety of ailments, from Alzheimer’s to PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy. New Zealanders living with these conditions will be forced to continue using unreliable black-market suppliers or covertly growing cannabis at home, putting themselves at risk for legal prosecution.
Timing is another issue that will need to be addressed. Currently, the government has been upfront in regard to just how long it will take to develop the required infrastructure. They’re indicating that a fully operational scheme will take up to 2 years to develop. Even then, medical cannabis products will need to be imported until New Zealand’s cultivators are able to produce their own crops. Not only does this present price concerns down the road, but leaves currently terminal patients in the lurch.
To combat the timing issue, the government plans to provide a legal grace period for medical marijuana possession. According to the country’s Health Minister, David Clark, “There will be people who can’t wait. As an interim measure, the legislation will create a legal defense for possession and use of illicit cannabis for people who are expected by their doctors to be in their last year of life. This does not make it legal for the terminally ill to use cannabis, but it means that they will not be criminalized for doing so.”
The Fight for Bill Improvements is Far from Over
Many see the New Zealand medical marijuana bill as a big step in the right direction, despite its current limitations. With no further debate occurring since its introduction or timeline for a vote, advocates and proponents feel there is still a possibility that lawmakers may expand the language to include patients living with other medical issues that could be alleviated through the use of cannabis.
In related news, legalization of recreational cannabis may also be on the horizon. After a special general meeting and agreement between the country’s Green and Labour parties, New Zealand plans to hold a public referendum in the next three years, possibly sooner. Legalization even has the support of Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, who just took office in October of 2017.
It’s possible that with so much activity surrounding both medical and recreational cannabis, a national conversation could lead to more broad-reaching laws as things unfold in the coming years. You can rely on our team at Medicine Man Technologies to provide updates on the progress of New Zealand medical marijuana as the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act moves forward.
To learn more about starting your own enterprise anywhere in the world or here in the United States, please get in touch. We offer private consulting as well as educational seminars throughout the year.
January 1, 2018
Paraguay Legalized Medical Marijuana
In December of 2017, Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, joining 6 other Latin American nations in providing patients with access to medication for a variety of ailments. At Medicine Man Technologies, we see this as a significant victory that comes after the country took its first steps by authorizing the import of cannabis oil. The bill is expected to be signed and made official by President Horatio Cartes after its passage in Congress and with support from the country’s Health Ministry.
Currently, Paraguay’s drug traffickers are known as one of the largest producers and exporters of illegal, black market marijuana to neighboring Argentina and more notoriously, Brazil. The government hopes that this new law will disrupt the trade, making legal and state-regulated grows for medicinal purposes more attractive to cultivators. Also, now that Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, patients will have safe, legal access to treatment instead of buying from the black market.
What We Know About the Bill So Far
Paraguay previously decriminalized possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a 1988 law, N° 1.340, Art. 30 which stated, “Whoever possesses substances detailed in this Law, prescribed by a doctor, or whoever possessed them exclusively for personal consumption, will be exempted from punishment.” However, marijuana will still need to be removed from the country’s list of dangerous drugs before the bill is finalized as law.
At that point, the country will move forward in establishing the foundation and framework of its new program which includes importing both plants and seeds to be cultivated locally. One government agency that will play a primary role is the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD), which will oversee all cultivation and production. Imports will be controlled by the National Plant and Seed Quality and Health Service (SENAVE) with a focus on selecting the ideal seeds for medical marijuana crops.
The new law also establishes a National Mandatory Registry of Users of Products Derived from Cannabis, which requires that all medical marijuana patients register with the Health Ministry.
With a list of qualifying conditions not developed yet, it’s possible that a research group, established by the new law, will provide a list in the future. Known as the National Program for the Study and Medical and Scientific Research of the Medicinal Use of the Cannabis Plant and Its Derivatives (PROINCUMEC), this group will further investigate the benefits of the medicinal and scientific use of cannabis.
The goal of PROINCUMEC will be to, “to promote medical and scientific research into the medicinal, therapeutic and/or palliative use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives for the treatment of diseases and conditions in humans…” It’s been reported that citizens who volunteer to take part in their research studies will have access to free CBD oil and other medical marijuana derivatives.
What’s Next for Legal Medical Marijuana
While it’s encouraging that Paraguay is joining numerous other countries and states in this endeavor to provide safe, legal access to medicine for patients in need, there is still a lot to be done. Thus far, it has the support of Roberto Cabanas, VP of Paraguay’s medicinal cannabis organization. His daughter suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, and his family pays around $300 per month for imported cannabis oil – around 1,690,785₲ (Paraguayan Guarani).
Now that Paraguay legalized medical marijuana, Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye on developments as the country moves forward with building the infrastructure needed to support a legal marijuana program for its citizens.
Planning on launching a legal marijuana enterprise anywhere in the world or here in the United States? Get in touch with us. We offer private consulting as well as educational seminars throughout the year.
December 8, 2017
Progressive Marijuana Laws in Colombia
When you think of Colombia, a bastion of progressive marijuana laws may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Medicine Man Technologies has seen this country make a number of moves that may help to further de-stigmatize marijuana around the world. So, let’s clear a few things up and take a look at the latest round of updates from this South American nation.
You may be surprised to hear that back in 1986, Colombia enacted a law that classified marijuana as medicinal and legalized the manufacture, sale, export, medical and scientific use of the plant. And, in 2012 – two years before Colorado officially legalized recreational marijuana, Colombia decriminalized the private use of marijuana, allowing you to possess up to 20 grams of flower and grow up to 20 plants with no legal consequences. And despite recreational sales still being outlawed, home grows are far easier thanks to Colombia’s extended hours of sunlight and tropical climate.
While the original medical marijuana laws went into effect without official infrastructure or rules, the Colombian government passed a revised law in 2015 that will further regulate consumption, cultivation, marketing, purchase and sale, as well as create the ability to import and export product internationally. The decree became official once signed by Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos. In a statement to the media at the time, Santos said the new regulations, “represent a major step that put Colombia at the vanguard and forefront of the fight against illnesses.”
Colombia joins just two other countries, Canada and Israel, in the legal medical marijuana trade. This presents a huge opportunity for growers and Colombia’s economy.
About the 2015 Medical Marijuana Law
Since the decree, several government agencies, including the National Narcotics Council and Ministry of Health and Social Protection, have been working on structuring Colombia’s legal medical marijuana industry. Their goal is to provide legal protection for companies that cultivate, produce, sell and export medicinal products, as well as enable the designated government agencies to oversee all commercial operations for safety and compliance with established regulations.
Currently, the market will only focus on marijuana extracts for medicinal purposes, mostly topicals and oils. While there is no official list of qualifying medical conditions at this point, patient prescriptions are regularly given on a compassionate basis. As for strength, the new rules allow the sale of THC products in both high and low potencies with no CBD limitations.
For those enterprises looking to enter the market, permits and licensing for cultivation and production will be issued by the National Narcotics Council and Ministry of Health and Social Protection. The health agency will also provide the required permits to export products to countries where it’s legal.
Along with a basic framework for the industry, Colombia will also implement further research into the medicinal properties of marijuana and set up prevention and other social programs to protect children and pregnant/nursing mothers from use or being involved in production and transport. Like many other countries, use of any medical or home-grown marijuana is prohibited in public and work environments.
As you can see, Colombia certainly has a history of progressive marijuana laws and continues to make big strides in creating a sustainable and healthy medical cannabis industry. The team at Medicine Man Technologies will be sure to provide further updates. And if you wish to start an enterprise in Colombia or here in the United States, please get in touch with us for guidance every step of the way. We offer both private consulting as well as host a number of seminars throughout the year.
December 1, 2017
Medicine Man Technologies Client, Grow Ohio, Awarded Level 1 Cultivator License
Medicine Man Technologies congratulates client, Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals LLC, for winning one of twelve, large-scale grow licenses and achieving the second highest application score in the state. Carrie Roberts, our Client Services Director assigned to the project, stated, "Of all the teams I have had the opportunity to work with, this application team was one of the strongest as they were well prepared, methodical, and disciplined in their approach to the creation of an award-winning application."
As we reported previously, Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, signed H.B. 523 into law on June 8, 2016, establishing the state’s new medical marijuana law. The House added its approval on May 10, followed by the Senate on May 25, and the new law went into effect on September 8, 2016. Since that point, the state’s Department of Commerce has been working on developing infrastructure and regulations such as granting 12 large-scale (Level I) and 12 small-scale (Level II) grow licenses to meet anticipated demand.
Now, out of 185 applications received by the department, just 24 total cultivation licenses have been granted to cultivators such as Grow Ohio. The race is now on to break ground on grow facilities, set up a full operation and produce their first crop of medical marijuana by September of 2018 when statewide sales are projected to begin. It’s a lot to take on, but Grow Ohio along with our talented Carrie Roberts, is up for the challenge. Roberts had this to say, “I look forward to assisting this remarkable group in the deployment of their state-of-the-art cultivation facility."
Our plan is to provide a comprehensive approach for Grow Ohio, including deployment and training in Medicine Man Technologies’ exclusive, Three-A-Light® Professional Grade methodologies to ensure the safest and most efficient indoor cultivation operation possible.
What’s in a Score? The Ohio License Rubric
Like many states where medical and/or recreational marijuana have been legalized, Ohio’s application process for potential cultivators is no walk in the park. Grow Ohio’s impressive, second-ranked score of 173.44 points out of a possible 200, was just 6 points shy of being the top score. Let’s take a closer look at a few highlights that go into the state’s method of scoring applicants.
Along with a Level I application fee of $20,000, here are the basics of applying to cultivate:
- Business Plan: Prove prior business experience, show property is not restricted for marijuana cultivation, as well as a provide a detailed business model and organizational details.
- Operations Plan: Applicant must show experience in agriculture/cultivation techniques and products, provide implementation plans for cultivation, production and safety, plus outline all employee staffing, training and compliance methods.
- Quality Assurance: Provide all policies and procedures for safe and consistent production of medical marijuana, including: use of pesticides/fertilizers, packaging/labeling, waste disposal, inventory control, recall procedures and compliance.
- Security Plan: Present all policies required to keep the facility and employees safe (from theft or loss), including record keeping and transportation. Proposed method to include a facility design and map showing restricted access areas, surveillance technology, emergency procedures, as well as exterior security around the structure.
- Financial Plan: Applicant must demonstrate financial responsibility by identifying all those involved with the enterprise, as well as cost breakdowns for buildout and operations, tax records for previous businesses, and proof of $500k in liquid assets.
While this is a rather simplified list, it’s easy to imagine just how difficult it was for applicants to achieve high scores with the state. And it certainly shows Grow Ohio’s immense dedication to providing patients with the medical marijuana they need and deserve. Medicine Man Technologies was honored to be part of this first achievement, and we look forward to the next phase with their team.
To learn more about how Medicine Man Technologies can assist with your legal marijuana enterprise, please get in touch to schedule your own, private consultation.
November 13, 2017
Medical Marijuana Bill in Peru Has Been Approved
Medicine Man Technologies is pleased to report that a medical marijuana bill in Peru has been approved, and implementation should take place by the end of 2017. After being introduced over the summer and subjected to a quite a bit of debate, the bill to legalize cultivation, sale and patient use was overwhelmingly passed by the Peruvian Congress. The final vote included 67 favorable votes and just 5 dissenting votes, indicating a strong backing from all political parties.
Legislative Bill 1393 must now be approved by Peru’s President, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who actually proposed medical marijuana legalization after a highly publicized and protested police raid on a group known as Buscando Esperanza. The organization was a group of mothers who began cultivating and producing cannabis oils in a makeshift laboratory to alleviate various symptoms of their children’s illnesses such as epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis, seizures and more.
Once approved by President Kuczynski, Peru will join Chile, Argentina, Columbia in providing legalized medical marijuana. Another Latin American country, Uruguay, legalized the cultivation and sale of cannabis back in 2013.
What’s Next for the Medical Marijuana Bill in Peru
With its passing on October 19th, the bill will now be implemented by the Peruvian government. The current strategy is for the creation of a confidential patient registry to be managed by the Ministry of Health. Doctors will also be able to provide information on illnesses and dosage recommendations.
During the provided 60 days, further infrastructure will also be developed. Currently, licensing for the cultivation and production of medical marijuana will be overseen by a regulatory committee made up of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), and a panel of cannabis experts. For research purposes, government permits will also be required. No details have been released regarding medical marijuana sales at this point.
While a list of illnesses to be covered by the medical marijuana bill in Peru has not been released, it will likely cover many of the common ailments seen in similar legislation: epilepsy and seizure disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, terminal illnesses and chronic pain.
Cultivation, Importing and Affordability Concerns
While the impetus for legalizing medical marijuana was the mother’s group, Buscando Esperanza, the bill as it stands only includes imports along with highly controlled, local cultivation and production. This means that the group, and others like it, will not be allowed to continue producing cannabis oils, which could mean higher prices that put vital medication out of reach for some patients.
Ana Alvarez, founder of Buscando Esperanza, contends that her patient organization can produce oils efficiently and at a price that makes it accessible to all those who need it. She also points to the group’s ability to produce the needed strains for specific ailments. Alvarez hopes the Peruvian government will revisit the matter as infrastructure is developed in the coming weeks and allow for self-cultivation.
Now that a medical marijuana bill in Peru has been approved, Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye out as their regulatory system takes shape. We hope that all patients who are in need will have safe, affordable access to the medication they require, and we look forward to seeing marijuana reform continue its momentum beyond the borders of the United States.
No matter where you are in the world, the team at Medicine Man Technologies is available to assist all individuals and enterprises looking to enter the market. We offer private consultations, assist with legal cannabis cultivation, offer operations training and much more.