Our Current Blog Articles
March 9, 2018
Recreational Cannabis in Illinois Inches Toward Legalization
With 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
With 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?
Despite 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 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.
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.