Our Current Blog Articles
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.
November 1, 2017
The Ups and Downs of Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico
The ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico highlight the need for continued improvement across the entire industry. In January, Medicine Man Technologies was thrilled to see dispensaries open their doors in Puerto Rico. Since then, the medical marijuana program has created job opportunities and tax revenue, but its progress has been hindered by issues such as a complex patient application process, ongoing changes and of course, millions of dollars in damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September.
The History of Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico
In 2015, then Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana and gave Puerto Rico’s Health Department authority over developing a new program. Since that point, two different “Regulations” were passed to control the use, cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico, each adjusting how the industry would be regulated.
The latest iteration, signed in July of this year by Governor Ricardo Rossello, provides more clarity while allowing previous regulations (No. 8766) to remain in place until an improved framework can be agreed upon. According to the new Medical Cannabis Act, “the preceding administration acted recklessly by
introducing medical cannabis in Puerto Rico and legalizing such an industry…which consisted of merely
two and a half pages — without prescribing the rules to implement it effectively and responsibly.”
The Medical Cannabis Act keeps recreational marijuana, home cultivation and smoking for medical use illegal. However, patients may use pills, oral drops, oral inhalers, topicals, suppositories, patches, edibles and vaporizing cannabis flower or concentrate. Qualifying conditions include:
- Cancer and Chemotherapy for Cancer
- HIV / AIDS
- ALS and MS
- Crohn’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Arthritis, including Rheumatoid
- Anxiety Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Hepatitis C
The Act also loosens current regulations on non-residents to potentially boost tourism, expands its focus on medical marijuana research and clarifies tax matters. One issue that it doesn’t address, but may be changed by a Regulatory Board of Medical Cannabis, is the cumbersome application process for medical marijuana ID cards and a requirement for patients to choose and purchase from just one dispensary.
Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico Hit Hard by Hurricane Maria
When discussing the ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico, one of the most significant downs is Hurricane Maria which made a direct hit as a nearly Category 5 storm on September 20th.
Once the potential answer to the island’s $74 billion debt, medical marijuana in Puerto Rico is struggling even more after Hurricane Maria. At Medicine Man Technologies, it was disheartening to see the initial devastation, grow facilities with massive structural damage, as well as crops and equipment destroyed. Now, two months later, the industry is still trying to secure the electricity and potable water needed to fully resume operations.
Compounding the struggle are issues that Puerto Rico shares with other cultivators in California where fires wiped out numerous cannabis farms in the Napa area. First and foremost, the inability to qualify for disaster assistance due to marijuana still being illegal at the federal level. Second, a lack of insurance for grow facilities, crops, equipment and other expenses. Even emergency bank loans are out of reach for a cash-only industry, which means many businesses affected by these natural disasters are a total loss.
The only upside is that these recent events have spurred a dialogue surrounding the issues cannabis companies face. After paying big dollars for licensing, investing in their infrastructure and complying with higher tax regulations, it only makes sense that they should be seen as legitimate businesses able to qualify for insurance coverage and other protections.
Moving Forward in Puerto Rico and Beyond
While the ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico continue, Medicine Man Technologies hopes that businesses on the island will be able to recover and the coming changes to the local industry will provide the support they need to thrive. We also look forward to seeing the discussions surrounding disaster relief and insurance lead to real change that’s been long overdue.
Of course, if you are looking to open or invest in a legal marijuana enterprise, please get in touch with our team of experts for a consultation. Let us guide you through each step and help you succeed.
October 9, 2017
Tasmania Launched a New Medical Cannabis Program
The Australian state of Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program on September 1, 2017, and it’s unlike many others of its kind. At Medicine Man Technologies, we typically see medical marijuana programs include a long list of qualifying conditions, new infrastructure requirements, as well as a litany of regulations for cultivation, distribution, licensing and sales. Tasmania’s program is far less formal, and so far, a lack of foundation seems to be hindering the ability of patients to get the medicine they need.
According to a report by ABC Australia, the Tasmanian Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme is being stalled by widespread confusion and too much paperwork. During the first month of the program, just three applications have been submitted to the Health Department with none approved at this time, and there is no further information available as to when any decisions will be made.
So, what exactly is the holdup? Once you look into how this new program works, the issues are more than apparent. While a more experimental approach can certainly be appreciated, Tasmania’s absence of infrastructure may ultimately hurt the patients for whom the scheme was created.
About the Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme
When Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program, it was a step forward. Its intent is to enable patients to seek a prescription for unregistered medical cannabis after other medicines and treatments were unsuccessful. Prescriptions in pill form, oral drops, topicals and mouth sprays would be filled by a Tasmanian Health Service hospital pharmacy. Smoking and growing medical marijuana are not allowed.
Now, putting this into practice becomes more complicated.
A patient must first consult with their general practitioner (GP) and be referred to a relevant medical specialist who will then determine whether or not medical cannabis would be an appropriate treatment for the condition and patient. Next comes hours of paperwork which is then submitted to the Health Department for review. Finally, each application is evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis.
If and when the specialist is given the green light to prescribe, one interesting benefit of the program is that the patient will only pay the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (available to all Australian residents) co-payment of $40. All other costs for the program will be subsidized by the Tasmanian government.
Beyond the process to seek and fulfill a prescription for medical cannabis are a number of other issues that many feel the program will need to overcome to ensure its success. They include:
- Qualifying Conditions – There is no specific list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. While a lack of restrictions might seem like a benefit, it leaves a lot to be determined by GPs, specialists and the Health Department. Two patients suffering from the exact same debilitating condition may have completely different outcomes.
- Lack of Knowledge – According to the government flowchart for practitioners, specialists are required to consider their expertise and qualifications to recommend medical cannabis. They must also review evidence of the potential effectiveness in context with a patient’s condition, and perform a risk/benefit analysis in regard to safety, quality and efficacy.
With doctors facing such a tall order, it’s no wonder that in the ABC article, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who was denied by her specialist had this to say, “My neurologist refuses to prescribe, he says there's not enough research, not enough evidence, he's not at all willing.”
- Long Waits for Patients – As the program rolls out in the coming month, there is concern that case-by-case application reviews will create a massive bottleneck and force patients to wait an undetermined amount of time to receive the medication they need.
Now that Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program, the Medicine Man Technologies team is interested in seeing whether or not this new approach to a medical marijuana program actually has the ability to flourish. While we hope that Australian patients will receive the care they deserve, it remains to be seen whether or not this less formal program will actually be able to meet their needs.
October 1, 2017
Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines Will Advance
In a stark juxtaposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s notorious anti-drug stance, a medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hopeful that HB 180 will overcome future hurdles and be passed. Known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, the bill would give patients with specific, debilitating conditions access to medical cannabis and expand the country’s research into its medicinal benefits.
As for Duterte, he appears to be on board and has stated, “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient in modern medicine right now. There are medicines right now being developed or already in the market that (contains) marijuana as a component.”
While the outcome of the medical marijuana bill in the Philippines still remains uncertain, our team at Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye on its developments. What’s so startling to us is that Duterte has waged a violent “war on drugs” in his country, including cannabis and other “hard drugs". His vastly different views on medical marijuana are certainly unexpected.
President Rodrigo Duterte's War on Drugs
Prior to being elected just in May of last year, Duterte spoke to a massive crowd about his stance against drugs. In his speech, he declared, “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I'll kill you.”
He won the presidential election with just under 40% of the vote.
After taking office in June of 2016, Duterte followed through on this campaign promise immediately. To date, the president’s war on drugs has led to the killing of around 7,000 Filipinos with other estimates somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 citizens. Deaths are attributed to the Philippine National Police and vigilante killings instigated and incited by Duterte and his senior officials.
Even if the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act passes, recreational marijuana use will continue to be illegal. Punishment for just a few grams includes massive fines, as well as decades and even life in prison. And while the death penalty for drug offenses was abolished in 2006, the country’s House of Representatives has now passed a bill to revive its use for certain drug-related offenses.
Details of the Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines
Despite the country’s violent recent history, HB 180 survived over a year of scrutiny and debate in the House. If passed, the new legislation would require the Philippines Department of Health to establish, license and manage a system of Medical Cannabis Compassion Centres. Regulations for distribution and sales will be developed by the country’s Drug Enforcement Agency.
Patients will need to be issued an identification card by a certified physician with whom they have a “bona fide” relationship. The doctor must also be educated on both the benefits and effects of medical marijuana use. Minors will also have access with the consent of a custodial parent or legal guardian who has been fully informed of the benefits and risks of medicinal marijuana.
And while raw, flower and hash forms will unfortunately not be legal, qualified patients will have access to edibles, tinctures and capsules. Currently, patients with the following conditions will qualify:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
- HIV and AIDS
- Admitted into hospice care
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rheumatoid arthritis and chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorders
Other conditions may later be added later by the Department of Health if recommended by a panel of doctors assembled specifically to make a determination.
While this medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance to the next level, it remains to be seen if legislators can secure its passing. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hoping that patients will finally get the medicine they need without having to risk their lives using an illegal black market. As the drama continues to unfold, we’ll be sure to give you further updates.
September 8, 2017
Compromise Bill Affecting Recreational Marijuana in Massachusetts
A compromise bill affecting recreational marijuana in Massachusetts was signed by Governor Charlie Baker in July. While Medicine Man Technologies was excited to see the state pass Question 4 with 56% of the vote during the November 2016 election, a legislative conference committee has now enacted significant changes to the original ballot measure.
In December of last year, recreational marijuana in Massachusetts became legal for adults to possess, use and grow. As predicted at the time, shaping the state’s legal cannabis market became bogged down in bureaucracy, delaying the development of infrastructure and policies. Because of this, the scheduled date to accept license application has been pushed out six months to April 1, 2018 with the earliest date for legal sales to commence targeted for July 1st. And that’s just the start.
Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy changes included in HB 3818 and what that means for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts going forward.
Sales May Not Be Available Everywhere
The new compromise bill sets up a system that allows communities to opt-out, more specifically the 91 municipalities that voted against Question 4. Until December 31, 2019, the decision to ban or limit recreational marijuana businesses in these areas is solely up to the city council or board of selectmen.
For those communities where Question 4 passed, a ban would be far more complicated, requiring the development of an ordinance or bylaw that would first have to be passed by the city council or board of selectmen. Then, with the mayor’s approval, it would go to the voters via regular or special election. As of January 2020, this will be the standard process for any cities or towns that seek to implement a ban.
Excise Taxes on Marijuana Sales Go Up
When the original ballot measure for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts passed last November, voters approved the following tax structure: 6.25% state tax, plus a 3.75% marijuana excise tax, and an optional local tax of up to 2% for a total of 12% maximum.
While legislators originally wanted to more than double that total amount, the compromise landed on the figure of 20%. The marijuana excise tax is now 10.75% and the local option is capped at 3%. While this number is not what voters approved, it’s not the highest in the nation.
Market Regulatory Structure Expands
Control of both medical and recreational marijuana in Massachusetts will be consolidated under the same regulatory authority, the Cannabis Control Commission and Cannabis Advisory Board. The CCC, which has direct regulatory control (including licensing) will expand from 3 members to 5, while the advisory board, which will provide input and recommendations, will now consist of 25 members.
So far, the CAB includes a wide range of members, including John Carmichael, the police chief from the town of Walpole and a staunch opponent of cannabis use, as well as Kim Napoli, a labor lawyer and co-founder of a Boston hemp products store. It also includes state business leaders, entrepreneurs and an adolescent substance abuse professional.
As for the Cannabis Control Commission, there has been quite a bit of controversy since 4 out of the 5 appointed members voted against Question 4. Leading the group is chairman, Steven Hoffman, a former business executive who voted “no” on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. When questioned by the media, Hoffman clarified that he’s not opposed to legalization and that his vote reflected concerns regarding the short implementation timeline the ballot measure proposed.
Ahead of the CCC implementing new regulations, the compromise bill already states the following:
- Licensees can have no more than 3 marijuana retailer licenses, 3 medical marijuana treatment center licenses, 3 marijuana product manufacturer licenses, or 3 marijuana cultivator
- Penalties for adults 18-21 possessing under two ounces (formerly one) will be reclassified as civil offenses, and criminal offenses for home cultivation by those under 21 have been eliminated.
- Individuals with prior convictions for marijuana possession can have those records sealed.
We’ll see in the coming months if the CCC adheres to the new timeline and the market for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts finally gets off the ground.
While the election was a big step forward and the bureaucracy a step back, our team at Medicine Man Technologies is hopeful that adult use marijuana is finally on track for Massachusetts. If you are looking to enter the state’s market, our consultants can help you clear any further hurdles and establish a highly successful enterprise when July 2018 finally arrives.