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August 7, 2018

Catching Up with Uruguay, the First Country to Legalize Cannabis

UruguayWhile Canada’s decision to fully legalize cannabis has grabbed headlines recently, our neighbor to the north is actually the second country to make such a progressive move.

The honor of being first goes to Uruguay.  

Located along the eastern coast of South America, just next door to Argentina, this unassuming country officially legalized cannabis in the final days of 2013. It was signed into law by President José Mujica, a supporter whose administration submitted the original proposal. And just last summer, cannabis finally became available to purchase at registered pharmacies across the country.

The team here at Medicine Man Technologies has watched closely over the last year to see what type of impact cannabis would have on the country and its 3.44 million citizens, including over 22,000 registered purchasers. Overall, we’re impressed and encouraged but agree that there’s room for improvements.  

What Legalized Cannabis Looks Like in Uruguay

Currently, registered adult citizens may purchase up to 40 grams (almost 1.5 ounces) per month. These quantities are tracked via thumb scan which is required at the point of sale. To undercut drug traffickers, cannabis prices are set at $1.30 per gram – less than half of what it costs on the black market.

In addition to purchasing cannabis at local pharmacies, Uruguay’s regulatory body, the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA), has also green-lighted the following options:

  • Home Growing – Adults who have registered with the government can grow up to 6 plants per household. These plants should not produce more than 480 grams each year.
  • Cannabis Clubs – Registered clubs must include 15-45 members and may grow up to 99 plants, all kept in the same space. They’re responsible for adhering to quantity maximums (480 grams per member annually), and all surplus cannabis must be handed over to the authorities.

As for consumption, the law closely parallels tobacco use. If you’re over 18, you can smoke at home or in public, but not in enclosed spaces such as a café, restaurant or any place of work (yours and others).

Currently, non-residents cannot legally purchase cannabis in Uruguay. A local can share or give cannabis to a tourist, but sales are strictly forbidden.

To supply the country’s pharmacies, the government is completely in charge of production and has only licensed two cultivators. This has led to demand far outpacing the supply.

Going Forward, WOLA Suggests Improvements

One organization that has been watching events unfold in Uruguay is the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Focused on research, advocacy and protecting human rights in the Americas, WOLA published a report that included ideas to improve the current program. Here are a few highlights:

  • Banking & Finance – One of the most common challenges for any cannabis-based business is the lack of banking options and being forced to operate as cash-only. With Canada also making the move to legalize cannabis, Uruguay should look to banking with their financial institutions. Large Canadian banks may also provide stability and protection from U.S. financial regulators.
  • Legal Enforcement – To protect the rights of citizens and/or prevent unwarranted seizures or prosecution, law enforcement personnel should be properly trained on the most current laws.
  • Supply & Distribution – Without enough cannabis to go around, 4 out of just 16 pharmacies in Uruguay have already ceased sales. Expanding beyond just two cultivators will help to ensure that supply meets demand and pharmacies begin to profit from a legal cannabis program. The government may also want to explore more options to give citizens access to product, such as private or government-run dispensaries.
  • Medical Cannabis – The government should fund research and education for doctors and other medical professionals regarding the efficacy of cannabis to treat various illnesses. In the future, a dedicated medical cannabis program should be established to offer patients treatments such as topicals, sprays, edibles and strains specifically cultivated for their medicinal properties.
  • Non-Resident Sales – With tourism an integral component of the country’s economy (10.6% of the GDP), giving visitors the ability to purchase legal cannabis may help to further reduce black market activity. The government may consider lower quantity maximums to prevent illegal sales of excess product and higher purchase prices to secure more tax revenue for the country.
The Bottom Line in Uruguay

While there is the need for a few changes, Medicine Man Technologies has seen this small country make huge strides in the last year. In fact, according to a local news outlet, drug-related crime dropped by 20% since cannabis was legalized and could be reduced further by opening sales to tourists. We’ll be keeping an eye on developments as Uruguay continues to be a role model for the world.

If you want to start a legal enterprise anywhere across the globe or here in the U.S., please contact MMT for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

August 1, 2018

Overcoming Challenges to Medical Cannabis in Oklahoma

FYI: Medicine Man Technologies is collaborating with the Oklahoma Cannabis Society to provide Crash Course Seminars to the public (members and non-members) on Friday August 24th and Saturday August 25th. For details and registration, please get in touch with Johnathan Mashtare at OCS. He can be reached by email or phone: (405) 695-1256. Online registration coming soon!

Medical Cannabis in Oklahoma

Nearly 57% of Sooner State residents voted in favor of legalizing medical cannabis in Oklahoma, passing State Question 788 on June 26, 2018.

According to the new law, licensed patients are able to possess up to 3 ounces on their person, 8 ounces at their residences, along with one ounce of concentrate and 72 ounces of edibles and other finished cannabis products. Oklahomans can also have up to 6 mature and 6 seedling plants for home growing purposes. License applications for all adults (18 years and older) require a signature from a board-certified doctor and must receive approval by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Minors are allowed to participate in the program provided their parent or guardian serves as their caregiver.

While the new law went into effect on July 26, government officials have continued to impede the will of the voting public.

As Medicine Man Technologies reported previously, the first challenge was Senate Bill 1120, introduced by Senator Ervin Yen prior to the public vote. The bill advocated for a stringent prescription process and limited the qualifying medical conditions. Initially, it removed PTSD and depression, though Yen planned to remove chronic pain which he deemed to be “too easily abused by patients.”

The current status for SB 1120 is limbo. It was passed by the state’s Senate on March 15 by a vote of 26 to 11 and approved by the House Judiciary Committee on April 11. Luckily, this year’s legislative session ended prior to a final vote – thus, SB 1120 is dead for now.

Unfortunately, this bit of legislation wasn’t the last challenge to medical cannabis in Oklahoma.

Passing and Rescinding “Emergency Rules”

Once SQ 788 was passed, Oklahoma’s Department of Health immediately began drafting emergency regulations. This move was supported by Governor Mary Fallin who made the following statement:

“I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state…I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”

On July 10, Governor Fallin signed-off on divisive rules, including banning the sale of smokable forms of cannabis, limiting THC potency, requiring that a licensed pharmacist be on staff at all dispensaries and requiring “all women of childbearing age” to take a pregnancy test before a doctor could recommend a medical cannabis license.  

In response, the Oklahoma ACLU and the state’s Attorney General, Mike Hunter, stepped in to challenge the new rules, citing overreach by the Board of Health. Supporters of medical cannabis in Oklahoma also criticized them as inconsistent with the bill’s language and original intent.

Changes to the emergency regulations were quickly submitted and approved on August 1, rescinding many of the controversial rules passed on July 10. Along with reversing the amendments mentioned above. Further updates include:

  • Removes background checks for principal officers of commercial applicants
  • Doctors will no longer be required to be registered with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDD)
  • Patients will receive a 2-year license, and an annual assessment of a medical need for cannabis will no longer be required
  • Commercial applicants are no longer required to state their hours of operation and dispensary hours are no longer limited to 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
  • Allows licensed dispensaries to sell marijuana seedlings and mature plants for home cultivation
  • Still prohibits commercial entities from manufacturing or selling medical cannabis products that are intentionally attractive to children

While approved by the Board of Health, Governor Fallin will still need to approve the latest version.

What’s Next for Commercial Entities

While SQ 788 stated that license applications would be available 30 days after passage, those interested in dispensary, grower or processor businesses must now wait until August 25 to apply. If you’d like a jumpstart, a checklist of requirements is available here.

Medicine Man Technologies is collaborating with the Oklahoma Cannabis Society to provide Crash Course Seminars to the public (members and non-members) on Friday August 24th and Saturday August 25th. For details and registration, please get in touch with Johnathan Mashtare at OCS. He can be reached by email or phone: (405) 695-1256. Online registration coming soon.

Hopefully, this is the last hurdle for medical cannabis in Oklahoma and the program will be able to roll out with no further controversy, changes, revisiting SB 1120, or delays for patients in need.

July 9, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Canada Will be Legal on October 17

Recreational Cannabis in CanadaCongratulations to Canada for passing Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which received royal assent on June 21 after being passed in the country’s Senate by a vote of 52 to 29 (with two abstentions). According to Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, adult-use recreational cannabis in Canada will officially become legal on October 17, 2018. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re thrilled to see such sweeping reform.

How did Canada achieve this milestone? Many attribute the progress to Trudeau and the Liberal Party’s platform during the 2015 election promising to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.”

After Trudeau’s victory, the Canadian government formed the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation to research and develop its recommendations for legalizing recreational cannabis. The group consulted with the public, as well as government leaders across the country’s provinces and territories.

Based on their findings and initial groundwork, Bill C-45 was introduced to Parliament in April 2017 and sponsored by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Along with the obvious goal of legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in Canada, the bill aims to deter the criminal black market and to keep cannabis out of the hands of children.

During the back and forth between legislators, numerous changes were made to the bill. Ultimately, out of 40 amendments proposed by the Senate, 13 were rejected by federal Liberals. This pushback stopped outright bans on home cultivation and the ability of cannabis producers to brand their merchandise.

Upon the passing of the Cannabis Act, Wilson-Raybould stated, “I am proud of the work accomplished by our Government, Parliamentarians, and all Canadians who contributed to this important shift in our country’s approach to cannabis.”

What Does the New Cannabis Act Allow?

Though dependent on limitations implemented by territory and province, the new law allows adults to:

  • Buy cannabis from authorized dispensaries, including fresh, dried, oils, seeds and plants;
  • Publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or the non-dried equivalent;
  • Share (not sell) up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis with other adults;
  • Cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants (per household) no taller than 1 meter in height;
  • Consume cannabis in authorized locations, determined by territory and province; and
  • Prepare various cannabis products, such as edibles, in their homes provided that no dangerous organic solvents are used in the process.

All cannabis provided to provinces and territories will come from federally licensed producers. Now that the Royal Assent has been granted, purchasing may begin so that distributors and retailers can prepare to open in October. No sales will be legal until the official date.

In addition, recreational cannabis in Canada must remain within its borders. It is currently illegal and will remain illegal to take cannabis out of the country, as well as bring it back from other countries.

Provinces and Recreational Cannabis in Canada

While cannabis will be federally legalized, territories and provinces will also have the power to enact certain restrictions and laws. Here are a few highlights:

 Ontario:

Adults age 19-years or older will be able to buy cannabis from government-operated storefronts or websites. You’ll be able to cultivate up to 4 plants and consume on private property (residences) only – however, landlords will be able to restrict use.

Quebec:

Like Ontario, cannabis purchases must be made via government-run websites and retail locations. The minimum legal age here will be 18, and smoking will be allowed in the same areas as tobacco, except for university and CEGEP (vocational college) campuses.

Growing at home will not be permitted. Whether this will be enforceable remains to be seen. According to Wilson-Raybould, because homegrown cannabis will be legal at the federal level, citizens will be able to challenge the province’s ban in court.

Recreational Cannabis in CanadaAlberta:

Here, the legal age will be 18 and Canadians will be able to buy cannabis in both retail stores and online from government-run sites. You’ll be able to grow your own, but landlords can restrict it. Smoking will be prohibited in cars, near children and where tobacco is not allowed.

British Columbia:

The minimum age in this province will be 19. You’ll be able to buy at stores or websites operated by either the government or private companies. You can grow up to 4 plants, but they must be hidden from public view. Smoking will have the same restrictions as Alberta.

New Laws for Youths and Impaired Driving

The Cannabis Act also creates new criminal offenses designed to protect Canadian youths from using cannabis. New and significant penalties will be imposed for selling or providing cannabis to youths, as well as involving them in the distribution, sale, import/export or production of cannabis.

Many of the advertising restrictions currently used for tobacco products will also apply, and selling, packaging or labeling cannabis products to appeal to youths will be prohibited.

As for drug-impaired driving, Bill C-46, the Impaired Driving Act, was passed at the same time as recreational cannabis in Canada. This parallel legislation includes harsh punishments for both drug and alcohol-related driving offenses. According to the new law, Canadians having 2-5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood within two hours of driving would be subject to a $1,000 fine. For 5 or more nanograms, hybrid offenses (drugs and alcohol), and repeat offenders, a maximum of 10 years in jail is not out of the question.

Most alarmingly, C-46 gives police the power to demand and perform mandatory alcohol screening on drivers without reasonable grounds to suspect impairment. They can simply pull you over at any time.

Final Thoughts

Legalized recreational cannabis in Canada will go into effect on October 17, ending nearly 100-years of prohibition and making Canada the first of the G7 countries to enact this type of federal-level policy. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re excited for such a huge victory and hope that the United States and other nations will soon follow. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

July 2, 2018

Cultivating Cannabis: Root Mass Equals Fruit Mass

cultivating cannabisIt only makes sense that if you're cultivating cannabis, creating a thick and healthy root mass helps produce high yields.

Now, how to actually develop and maintain substantial root mass is the real challenge. In fact, there are many factors to consider, all of which are important to developing a healthy root zone for your plants to thrive.

First, think of the roots of your plant as if they’re the vital organs in your body. They need oxygen and a balance of certain nutrients to function. If the roots are not cared for properly, they don’t work properly, and your plant will likely suffer or die.

Today, Medicine Man Technologies breaks down what you need to know about cultivating cannabis and creating a healthy root mass for a successful harvest.

The Healthy Root Mass Equation

Cultivating cannabis is both an art and a science.

You can’t just set containers out under a grow light, water your plants every couple of days and expect a robust harvest.

The equation for superior fruit mass is more complex, requiring you to keep a close eye on your plants to avoid issues like root stress, which can weaken a plant’s immune system and natural defenses. This increases the odds of potential problems in your grow room that will lead to reduced yields.

Start with the Right Container Size

In relationship to plant size, container size plays a significant role in root health.

When your pot is oversized for a young or small plant, it increases the risk of overwatering, deprives the roots of oxygen and increases the possibility of problems like disease and pests.

On the other hand, a small container with a large plant will result in your plant becoming root bound. This will cause your plants to have problems with water retention and nutrient uptake, which in turn will starve your plant.

Feed Your Plant the Right Nutrients

The main minerals associated with root growth and development are phosphorus and potassium. They promote the creation of new roots and strengthen existing ones as they mature.

Of course, oxygen is also required for cellular respiration and for roots to survive. Without proper amounts of oxygen, the roots will suffocate and weaken, potentially creating other problems. Low oxygen at roots will reduce yields, quality, and can even result in your cannabis plant dying.

Proper pH is another essential part of the equation when cultivating cannabis. With the correct pH balance, it will be easier for a plant’s roots to absorb the nutrients you provide.

On the flipside, an improper pH balance can lead to the build-up of mineral salts in your medium, creating inefficient nutrient absorption and affecting plant metabolism. For cannabis plants, the recommended pH range is 5.5-6.5 for hydroponic applications and 6.0-7.0 for soil.

Adding beneficial bacteria, such as mycorrhizae, to your medium can boost root development, reduce transplant shock and allow roots to absorb nutrients at a quicker and more efficient way. This fungus establishes a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, helping to break down elements into a form plants can more easily use. It will also increase salt tolerance when feeding with an inorganic, salt-based fertilizer.

Keep in mind that germinated cannabis seeds and clones are fragile and susceptible to over-fertilization, especially during their early stages of life.

Too many minerals will typically result in damage to the roots called root burn, which drastically slows or stops root development. You will want to focus more on aeration which can be increased through soil amendments to create better drainage.

Water Properly when Cultivating Cannabis

cultivating cannabisFor novice growers, overwatering is a common problem. And it’s not just about the amount of water a plant is given – but the frequency and the ability for the plant’s roots to uptake the nutrients.

During the vegetative phase and the early stage of flowering, your plant is developing roots. As the medium starts to dry, the plant will search for water. This triggers root growth, which is essential for healthy plants.

Allowing the medium to dry will help prevent root rot, one of the most common problems faced when growing cannabis indoors, however, avoid under-watering. During the mid- to late-flowering phase, under-watering can damage the plant, as well as reduce your yield and quality.

Then again, overwatering weakens a plant’s natural defenses and drastically increases the potential for pathogens or pests, such as fungus gnats and root aphids, to attack your roots. In time, you’ll learn how to find the balance between too much or too little water – it just takes practice.

Finally, let’s talk about water temperature when cultivating cannabis. While often overlooked, it can affect water’s ability to retain oxygen molecules. Temperatures above 75° drastically reduce the ability of water to retain oxygen. This creates an anaerobic condition that will very quickly degrade plant health and affect yields.

Using water that’s too cold can shock the plant, causing wilting and slowed or halted growth. The ideal temperature of your nutrient mix is 68°- 70°.

Ready to Cultivate Fruit Mass?

While cultivating cannabis might seem a bit daunting at first, focusing on root health is a great place to start. And by using the criteria we’ve outlined here, you’ll be well on your way. Remember to keep your grow area clean by removing sick or weak plants that can spread pests or other pathogens.

Finally, LOVE your plants! It will help you achieve the high-yield harvests that you desire. Good luck and happy growing!

June 4, 2018

Maine Overrides Governor’s Veto on Adult Use Cannabis

Adult Use CannabisIn May, Maine’s Legislature utilized a two-thirds vote to override Governor Paul LePage’s second veto of a bill to regulate the state’s adult use cannabis market. The House voted in favor of an override 109-39, and the Senate’s tally was 28-6, more than enough to seal the deal.

The team here at Medicine Man Technologies applauds this move to uphold the will of the voters who approved Question 1 in 2016 and made Maine the fourth state to legalize recreational cannabis. Even the tight 50.3% to 49.7% vote was ultimately confirmed by a required recount.

As of January 2017, adults over the age of 21 are able to possess up to 2.5 ounces and use it in private, non-public spaces. Growing in your home or a non-visible area was also allowed, with a limit of 6 mature plants per adult. Question 1 also included social clubs and retail dispensaries as points of purchase. The sales tax rate was set at 10% with 98% of that revenue going to a general fund.

The Ups and Downs of Adult Use Cannabis in 2017

The start of the year saw the quick passing of a bill that gave lawmakers until February 2018 to hash out laws for the new cannabis market. This framework became LD 1650 which encompassed rules for licensing and regulating legal enterprises for cultivation, processing/production, and retail facilities. It also included language delaying cannabis use in social clubs until 2019.

With the House voting 81-50 and the Senate voting 22-9, LD 1650 was finally sent to Gov. LePage for approval in October of 2017. Unfortunately, he vetoed the bill.  

In response, David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Maine political director and campaign manager for the 2016 Question 1 campaign, stated, “Gov. LePage has made a mistake by vetoing this legislation. Instead of a regulated and controlled system of marijuana cultivation and sales, Maine will continue to support the unregulated market. In 2014, the governor said he would implement a legalization law if approved by voters, but he has failed to uphold that commitment.”

At the time, LD 1650 also didn’t have the required two-thirds majority to overrule the veto. So, a special committee was assembled to revisit the bill and make more adjustments. The revised version, LD 1719, will now go into effect thanks to the veto override. Here are key the changes to the original referendum:

  • Adults who grow at home can only have 3 plants instead of the original 6
  • Halts the establishment of social clubs for adult use cannabis
  • Eliminates delivery businesses, internet sales and retail drive-thru windows
  • Number of commercial grow licenses will no longer be capped
  • Maine residents with 4 current years of in-state living will be given licensing priority
  • Individual municipalities may enact a moratorium on adult use retail facilities
  • Doubles sales tax to 20% and sets aside 6% of those revenues for law enforcement
  • Retail licenses will not likely be available until spring of 2019

Meanwhile, Adult Use Cannabis is Still Legal in Maine

Adult Use Cannabis in MaineWhile advocates collectively groaned at the thought of waiting until 2019 for retail dispensaries to open, there are still ways for adults over the age of 21 to enjoy cannabis.

Residents of Maine can either grow their own plants or rely on friends with green thumbs to share their harvest or homemade edibles. The law allows people to possess and transport up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to give it to another adult as long as no money or other items of value are exchanged.

And in another bit of good news, one very unique provision of the original 2016 law went into effect on February 1st. Maine is now the first state to protect employees and job applicants (over the age of 21) from discrimination based on their cannabis use outside of the workplace. The state’s labor board has even removed it from the list of substances employers can have applicants or employees tested for.

While a simple, straightforward rollout of a medical or adult use cannabis program is always the goal, Medicine Man Technologies has seen far too often how complicated it can be to launch a new enterprise. Hopefully, things will move ahead more smoothly in Maine. We’ll keep you updated.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

 

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