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Teen odds of using marijuana dip with recreational use laws

CHICAGO (AP) — New research suggests legalizing recreational marijuana for U.S. adults in some states may have slightly reduced teens’ odds of using pot.

One reason may be that it’s harder and costlier for teens to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries than from dealers, said lead author Mark Anderson, a health economist at Montana State University.

The researchers analyzed national youth health and behavior surveys from 1993 through 2017 that included questions about marijuana use. Responses from 1.4 million high school students were included.

Thirty-three states have passed medical marijuana laws and 11 have legalized recreational use — generally for ages 21 and up, many during the study years. The researchers looked at overall changes nationwide, but not at individual states.

There was no change linked with medical marijuana legislation but odds of teen use declined almost 10% after recreational marijuana laws were enacted.

The study was published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Previous research has found no effect on teen use from medical marijuana laws, and conflicting results from recreational marijuana laws. The new results echo a study showing a decline in teen use after sales of recreational pot began in 2014 in Washington state.

The results “should help to quell some concerns that use among teens will actually go up. This is an important piece when weighing the costs and benefits of legalization,” Anderson said.

But Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis at the nonprofit Center on Addiction, questioned the new findings. The center is a drug use prevention and treatment advocacy group.

“It sort of defies logic to argue that more liberal recreational marijuana laws somehow help to dissuade young people from using the drug,” Richter said.

Other studies have found that, in states where use is legal, fewer teens think it is risky or harmful than the national average, she said. And teens in those states still have access to marijuana.

“There is plenty of research showing that the black market for marijuana is alive and well in states that have legalized recreational use,” Richter said.

About 20% of U.S. high school students use marijuana, unchanged since 2015 after an earlier decline, according to the 2017 version of the surveys used in the study. Rates ranged from 13% of 9th graders to 26% of high school seniors, according to the survey data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Repeated marijuana use during adolescence may lead to long-lasting changes in brain function,” authors of the new study wrote. In the short-term, it can cause impaired memory and attention problems lasting weeks. Frequent use starting in the early teens may lower IQ scores; some kids may be more vulnerable to pots’ effects because of genetics or other factors.

Pot-laced poop getting Aspen dogs high

Dogs in the Roaring Fork Valley have found another way to get stoned other than the boring break-in of edibles at home: They are eating human feces tainted with marijuana.

Dr. Scott Dolginow, who owns Valley Emergency Pet Care in Basalt, said he is seeing anywhere between three and 10 dogs a week that come in with marijuana toxicity.

His working theory is that these dogs are eating human feces that have enough THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in it to carry over for a second high. And they are finding these piles of pot-laced poop on trails and in campgrounds.

“Seventy to 80% of people say they have no idea where their dogs got it, but they say they were out on a trail or camping,” he said. “I can’t believe that the owners are lying.”

Just ask Rebecca Cole, the owner of Marty, a 2-year-old cattle dog mix that got into something on the No Problem Joe Trail and ruined a Sunday evening this past spring.

After spending part of the day on the trails east of Aspen, Cole noticed Marty acting strangely — staggering, throwing up, peeing on the floor and just generally out of it.

“He was crashed out; I had to carry him to the vet,” she said. “I literally walked in the door and they said he was high. … I couldn’t believe it because I don’t have anything in my house.”

Cole said she saw Marty with a chunk of something in his mouth on the trail but didn’t think anything of it.

“Most dogs will eat human feces given the opportunity,” Dolginow said.

Dolginow, who also owns a vet clinic in Moab near a lot of camping areas, said there are too many instances of dogs coming in with THC toxicity symptoms after being outside to not think human feces is the source.

“It’s unlikely that many people toss an edible or a roach on the side of the trail,” he said. “It also makes sense from the level of toxicity we see.”

The phenomenon is occurring in places like San Francisco where there is a high population of homeless people who defecate in parks.

Oftentimes there’s not much vets can do and owners have to just let their dogs ride it out until they come down.

In more severe cases dogs are either sedated or are treated with IV fluids, Dolginow said.

He added that when he is hiking Hunter Creek he notices human feces just off the trail on a regular basis.

Pryce Hadley, ranger supervisor for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said he has not seen evidence of human waste on open space.

“Obviously we encourage people to follow the ‘leave no trace’ principles in the backcountry and use established facilities in the front country,” he said.

Cole would appreciate that, too.

“It was scary,” she said. “I want people to pick up their poop.”

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Florida, now the fastest growing US medical cannabis market, to get its first dispensary

Columbia Care Inc. (“Columbia Care” or the “Company”) (NEO: CCHW, OTC: COLXF), one of the largest fully-integrated operators in the global medical cannabis industry with licenses in 15 jurisdictions across the US and the EU, today announced its expansion into the highly-regulated and limited license State of Florida, the fastest growing medical cannabis market in the US, with the grand opening of its Gainesville dispensary, the Company’s first dispensary in Florida. Located in the largest city in the North Central Florida region that hosts over 3.8 million visitors annually, the Gainesville dispensary provides convenient access to Columbia Care’s portfolio of patent-pending, pharmaceutical-quality cannabis-based medicines to Florida Department of Health-issued resident and temporary resident medical marijuana card holders.

The Gainesville location is the first of 20 dispensaries Columbia Care expects to have open or under development throughout the state by the end of 2019. Leveraging its expertise in organically building vertically integrated operations in other states, Columbia Care is also building a +40,000 square foot state-of-the-art cultivation and manufacturing facility in Lakeland and expects to complete construction by October. Lakeland will be the Company’s second GMP certified cultivation and manufacturing facility in Florida and will supplement the activities of is first hybrid indoor-outdoor complex in Arcadia, which is undergoing a significant expansion through the addition of 180,000 square feet of greenhouse space. Based on its unique site selection and optimization model, Columbia Care has planned dispensary openings in key locations throughout the state including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Jacksonville, Longwood, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota and West Palm Beach.

Each Florida dispensary opening expands Columbia Care’s core access and service model by optimizing the hub-and-spoke distribution network that has underpinned the success of Columbia Care’s proprietary home delivery service, “CC@Home,” currently available to qualifying patients in the state. The Company will also be launching its previously announced CNC Card in Florida. The CNC Card, the nation’s first legal credit card for cannabis purchases, will provide patients throughout the state of Florida with the same ease of purchasing and access available for other consumer or medical products, further enhancing the convenient, patient-focused experience that patients have come to expect from Columbia Care.

Florida’s medical cannabis market was approximately $200 million in 2018 and according to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, has become the largest medical cannabis market in the US. With a current active patient count of over 237,000, representing just over 1.1% of the total state population, this rapid expansion rate includes more than 136,000 patients that enrolled in the program in the last year. New Frontier Data expects the Florida medical cannabis market to approach $1.6 billion by 2020.

“Since acquiring our Florida license in 2018, Columbia Care has been quietly assembling its portfolio of dispensaries and building the requisite infrastructure to support the pace of growth that has made the State such a strategic market. We are entering Florida by leveraging our expertise, differentiated products and services and intend to capture a significant portion of the market. Our launch of dispensary operations on July 16 brings the proprietary products, innovation and patient experience that Columbia Care consistently provides in our other markets,” said Nicholas Vita, chief executive officer of Columbia Care. “Florida is experiencing rapid growth in both providers and patients, increasing 134% in the past twelve months alone. We have seen in other markets how the standard of care we bring through our data-driven insights, proprietary product formulations, GMP manufacturing quality and service-centric dispensary model has reset consumer expectations by offering a highly valued, differentiated patient experience. As we execute on our growth plan throughout the state, we are confident that patients will view Columbia Care as one of the foremost providers of precision-dosed, pharmaceutical-quality cannabis products. We are grateful to our partners and stakeholders and are eager to watch our outstanding team as they aim to disrupt the status quo.”

Consistent with Columbia Care’s mission and vision, the 4,080 square foot Gainesville dispensary is designed to provide an exceptional patient experience, with an open floor plan, a welcoming atmosphere and outstanding staff. The dispensary is located minutes away from the award-winning University of Florida Health Shands hospital and home to the University of Florida campus, which is one of the leading research institutions in the US and one of the largest venues for sports and entertainment in Florida. Columbia Care will offer its consistent, reliable and precisely formulated pharmaceutical-quality tinctures, capsules and vaporization devices and cartridges and intends to make its patent-pending TheraCeed™, ClaraCeed™ and EleCeed™ brands in several additional formats, including hard pressed tablets and topicals, available by year end.

Arnetra Shettleworth, Columbia Care Florida’s market director, added, “We’re incredibly excited about Columbia Care’s official entry into the Florida market and our strategy for growth in the state over the next year. Our knowledgeable team is committed to providing a best-in-class experience and to educating our patients on the most effective medicines to address their needs. As a leader in our existing markets, we are confident that we can significantly impact the lives of patients across Florida. I look forward to utilizing my retail and healthcare operations background to help Columbia Care lead this market, define consumer and patient expectations and forge ahead with our mission to improve lives through product innovation, research and patient experience.”

The grand opening of the Gainesville dispensary, located at 318 NW 13 th St., is scheduled to take place on July 16th. Hours of operation will be 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Sunday. More information about the dispensary, including a menu of available products and grand opening events, can be found online at https://col-care.com/florida/.

Rollout of medical marijuana has been spotty in other states

Almost three years after voters passed a medical marijuana amendment in Arkansas, the state was able to finally open its first dispensary this month.

Although regulators approved the first medical marijuana dispensary, the drug’s distribution is still uncertain, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Medical marijuana may have become available, but enough is unlikely to be produced anytime soon to supply the 11,000 residents or so who are able to purchase it.

Only three of five licensed growers have started cultivating plants, and just one has harvested them. Legal and bureaucratic setbacks have also delayed the program, according to the Democrat-Gazette. The process of evaluating dispensary applications took longer than expected, and the cultivation permit process has been challenged in court.

“We didn’t have our cultivation facilities graded independently; they were graded by this commission themselves, and it was a mess,” said David Couch, the lawyer who drafted Arkansas’ medical marijuana amendment.

In Missouri, the regulations for its own medical marijuana rollout were finalized last week.

The Department of Health & Senior Services has been tasked with overseeing the regulation and operation of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Patient and business applications are now available, DHSS will accept patient applications starting July 4, and business applications starting Aug. 3. The department will score applications until Dec. 31, before licenses are distributed in 2020.

The initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes passed in November, making Missouri the 33rd state to join the club. Being late to the game, Missouri could benefit from the experience of its neighbors when implementing its own medical marijuana law.

Arkansas approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016.

The reason Arkansas was so late in opening dispensaries, according to Couch, is because there was no mechanism to speed up the application process. Dispensaries that were finally approved are taking longer than anticipated to be operable.

“They mucked this up bad,” Couch said about the commission responsible for setting up the program. Though he says Arkansas is close to having medical marijuana available, he laments that there should have been a “hammer” in the amendment that could’ve gotten medical marijuana out in Arkansas sooner.

“Whatever system you guys have to award the actual licenses and stuff, it just needs to be open and transparent and independent of politicians,” he said about lessons Missouri could learn from the process. “That’s what really screwed this thing up in Arkansas.”

In Illinois, the medical marijuana law has morphed several times since it was passed as a pilot program by the General Assembly in 2013.

Originally, medical marijuana was restricted to those 18 years or older, but this was later changed to allow children under the age of 18 to use medical marijuana as long as they have the consent of their parents.

Additional illnesses had to be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, according to Conny Moody, a representative of the Illinois Department of Health. Additions included post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illnesses and other debilitating conditions.

The pilot program was set to expire in 2018, effectively making it illegal, but in 2016 it was extended to 2020.

In other changes, Illinois eliminated the need to fingerprint patients, which allows convicted felons to participate, and the state allowed caregivers to administer cannabis oil to students on school grounds.

Currently, Illinois has introduced a program to reduce reliance on opioids by using medical marijuana as an alternative, Moody said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health states that the program“allows access to medical cannabis for individuals who have or could receive a prescription for opioids as certified by a physician licensed in Illinois.”

Missouri has 10 debilitating conditions listed on its draft rules, though it allows a licensed physician to identify other chronic, debilitating or medical conditions that could qualify.

Comparatively, Illinois lists 41 conditions and Arkansas has 19 with the ability to add more. Illinois has a laundry list of qualifying conditions, while Arkansas allows for any condition that is approved by the Department of Health.

Other issues worrying Missourians, such as keeping the money from medical marijuana in the state, have already been addressed in states like Arkansas, as well as Missouri.

Couch said the Arkansas amendment ensures that 60 percent of the ownership of any medical marijuana entity has to belong to Arkansas residents. Similarly, Missouri also has a provision ensuring that 51 percent of ownership remains in the hands of Missourians.

Another important consideration is supply and demand when it comes to medical marijuana. Often, as in Arkansas right now, the demand is expected to exceed the initial supply.

According to Paul Armentano, a member of NORML, shortages are often caused when “only a limited number of operators are initially licensed in a staggered manner, or in jurisdictions where the total number of operators are arbitrarily capped.” Initial demand is often greater than the available supply, and regulatory fees can lead to inflated prices.

When deciding how many cultivation facilities were needed, Couch said Arkansas anticipated around 70,000 patients for medical marijuana based on a population of 3 million people, half that of Missouri. They allowed for a maximum of eight cultivation facilities and 40 dispensaries. The dispensaries are also able to grow their own plants and buy and trade among themselves based on a limited number of plants, according to Couch.

He said he looked at New Mexico’s medicinal marijuana program when it came to deciding how many facilities they would need.

In contrast, Missouri’s amendment will allow for a maximum of 60 cultivation facilities and 192 dispensaries, according to current draft rules for medical marijuana in Missouri, though according to a study by University of Missouri, the state may have overestimated the number of patients who would be eligible for medical marijuana.

The original amendment assumed that there would be 100,000 qualifying patients by 2022, but the study by MU says it may be as low as 26,000.

Good hemp seed or ‘garbage’? Growers say standards needed

AURORA, Ore. (AP) — A unit of wheat is a called a bushel, and a standard weight of potatoes is called a century. But hemp as a fully legal U.S. agricultural commodity is so new that a unit of hemp seed doesn’t yet have a universal name or an agreed-upon quantity.

That’s one example of the startling lack of uniformity — and accountability — in an industry that’s sprung up almost overnight since the U.S. late last year removed hemp from the controlled substances list.

A global hemp research lab announced Thursday in Oregon, coupled with a nascent national review board for hemp varieties and a handful of seed certification programs nationwide, are the first stabs at addressing those concerns — and at creating accountability by standardizing U.S. hemp for a global market.

“If you look at a lot of financial markets, they’re all saying, ‘People are investing in this, and we have no idea what to divide it by,” said Jay Noller, head of Oregon State University’s new Global Hemp Innovation Center. “We have hemp fiber. What is it? What’s the standard length?”

Oregon State’s research hub will be the United States’ largest and will offer a certification for hemp seed that guarantees farmers the seed they’re buying is legitimate and legal. That’s a critical need when individual hemp seeds are currently selling for between $1.20 and $1.40 per seed — and an acre of crop takes up to 2,000 seeds, Noller said.

Licensed hemp acreage in Oregon, which has an ideal climate for growing the crop, has increased six-fold since last year, earning Oregon the No. 3 spot for hemp cultivation after Montana and Colorado, according to Vote Hemp, which advocates for and tracks the industry in the U.S.

Four other states — North Dakota, Colorado, Tennessee and North Carolina — also have hemp seed certification programs. Other U.S. universities, such as Cornell in Ithaca, New York, have hemp research programs, but Oregon State’s will be the largest, built on years of hemp research done in test fields in China, Bosnia and Serbia and now at 10 research stations sprinkled across the state. On Thursday, Oregon State researchers began to sow their third crop in a field in Aurora.

The new center dovetails with a greater movement to create a national infrastructure around hemp as the market explodes. Globally, the supply of hemp is less than 10% of the demand, and that’s driving states like Oregon to rush to stake a claim in the international marketplace, Noller said.

Across the U.S., the number of licensed acres of hemp jumped 204% from 2017 to 2018, according to Vote Hemp. And the market for a hemp-derived extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, is expected to grow from $618 million in 2018 to $22 billion in 2022 as its popularity as a health aide skyrockets.

The U.S. National Review Board for Hemp Varieties will start taking applications in the fall from growers who want to claim credit for specific genetic varieties of hemp. Once growers have secured a unique designation from the board, they can apply for a plant patent with the U.S. government so no other grower can produce that type of hemp.

A meeting in Harbin, China, in early July will bring members of the global hemp industry together to start to hash out critical details such as what to call a unit of hemp seed or the standard length of hemp fiber, Noller said. Other countries, such as China, have been growing hemp for years, but the industry lacks a universal standard countries can apply to trade, he said.

“This is the first time in U.S. history where we have a new crop that’s suddenly gone from prohibited to no longer prohibited,” Noller said. “We have never had something like this.”

Hemp growers like Trey Willison applauded the move toward greater transparency in a booming market.

Some novice farmers are falling prey to seed sellers who secretly, or even unwittingly, market seed that grows into “hot” cannabis plants, with THC levels too high to market legally as hemp, he said.

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants but have different THC levels. Marijuana, illegal under federal law, refers to plants with more than a trace of THC. Hemp has almost no THC — 0.3% or less under U.S. government standards.

States with hemp programs test for THC in the crops, but do so after the plants are grown and close to harvest. Crops that test over the THC limit for hemp must be destroyed — and farmers with bad seed might not know until it’s too late, Willison said.

In one case last year, an Oregon seed seller marketed seeds on Craigslist as having a 3-to-1 CBD to THC ratio — but unbeknownst to farmers, the THC levels were still too high to be legal, he said. Several farms in Wisconsin, where agricultural hemp was just getting underway, bought the seeds and then went under when the resulting plants tested “hot,” Willison said.

The seeds “look identical, and you can’t tell them apart until four months into the year, when you know something’s wrong,” he said. “A bunch of farms failed, and it originated in Oregon.”

Other sellers are marking up the cost of what he called “garbage seed” as much as 1,000 times, said Willison, who started Unique Botanicals in Springfield, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Portland, after leaving his marijuana-growing business due to a glut of weed in the Oregon market.

“A lot of people say, ‘Is your seed certified?’ and there’s no such thing as certified seed right now. There’s no test, there’s no oversight. … There’s no proof of where the seed is coming from right now,” he said.

“They’re trying. It’s at the very beginning, for sure, but they are trying to do something about this mess.”

Marijuana: Know before you grow

Colorado voters highly approved of legalizing marijuana for people 21 years of age or older, and since then pot shops have flourished in communities throughout the state.

Colorado residents may also grow up to six plants themselves with as many as three plants flowering at one time, so long as they remain in an enclosed, locked space. However, no more than 12 plants can be grown per residence regardless of the number of occupants.

When local budtender Jesse Rayne got into the marijuana industry it was to combine his love of cannabis with his love of chemistry. According to Rayne, one feminized cannabis seed has the ability to produce up to one pound of actual bud.

Do not plant male seeds, as they will produce pollen, not bud.

“If you acquire your seeds from a dispensary, which some dispensaries do offer, they are typically about 10 dollars per seed, usually sold in packs of six to 10,” Rayne said.

Although not required, the entire growing process typically begins with a step called germination.

“Germinating a seed is basically popping it in a paper towel that is a little bit damp, which tells the seed that it is no longer time for it to hibernate,” Rayne said.

Rayne explained how a cannabis seed could remain dormant without moisture for an indefinite amount of time.

During the germinating phase, Rayne recommended checking on your seed in the moist paper towel daily for three days.

“There will be a small split on the very tip of the seed where the point is, and it will actually have a very tiny white tendril of a sprout coming out of it, and that is called a taproot,” Rayne said.

From here growers should place their seed in a clean, neutral pH soil to allow the taproot to find nutrients and subsequently develop a pod flower that resembles a bean sprout.

“It’s just two fat, little leaves, and as soon as those two fat, little leaves get old enough the real cannabis plant will start growing out of the middle of them, and those two leaves will fall off and die,” Rayne said of the seedling stage, which typically lasts seven to 12 days. “At the end of 12 days you will see a tiny set of new leaves starting to form in the very center, and as those get taller over the next three weeks … in a home grow that is where they will get designated as vegetative.”

According to Rayne the vegetative state should last, at a minimum, for four weeks. During the vegetative state plants need 18-24 hours of light a day.

After those four weeks of almost around-the-clock light, growers typically expose their plants to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness daily, which subsequently activates the flowering cycle of the plant.

“This then produces the fruit part of the cannabis, which is the buds that we smoke,” Rayne said. “After about six or seven weeks and your buds are looking the right size … that is when you cut the plant down right at its base. Right at the soil, chop it.”

At this point, growers separate the nuggets away from the stalk and suspend them either upside down, or lay them on a rack in a dry, arid room.

Known as the curing phase, growers should allow their bud to cure for a minimum of one month. Some growers allow up to a year for their bud to cure.

Following the curing stage, smoke up.

Pro golfer says you can’t spell PGA without CBD these days

Scott McCarron has discovered a fountain of youth that has him rocketing up the record book of the PGA Tour Champions (formerly the Senior PGA Tour) — tying the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with 10 career wins on the tour for golfers older than 50.

The secret to success for the only Gen X golfer on the senior circuit with double-digit wins, including a senior major in 2017? Cannabidiol, or CBD, and specifically the products of Colorado-based Functional Remedies.

“There’s no question,” McCarron said when asked if hemp oil has sparked his senior surge. “There’s kind of a of correlation for me starting the CBD a year and a half ago and just the way I feel now. I don’t feel as run down and as sore when I’m playing.”

A former regular PGA Tour pro, McCarron, 53, won three times on that circuit and recorded top-10 finishes in three of the four majors, including the Masters. He once ranked as high as 20th in the world. But injuries cost him playing time, and McCarron tried a wide variety of anti-inflammatories to recover and various sleep aids to combat sore, restless nights.

Nothing really seemed to work. Now he credits hemp-oil products — in the form of an eyedropper on his tongue or a 20-milligram capsule before bed and a topical roll-on for a sore wrist or elbow — with transforming his game late in life.

“I feel like I can play longer, I can practice longer, play week in and week out and not have that soreness that you might have to take a week off because your body needs recovery,” McCarron said. “Because (the CBD is) helping my sleep, it’s helping my body recover faster and better every night so that I feel good and then I can go ahead and play and perform at a high level.”

CBD catching on

Seemingly everyone is getting in on McCarron’s secret on the PGA Tour Champions.

“I think we’ve got nearly 50 guys on the Champions Tour using CBD oil and using Functional Remedies,” McCarron said. “And you’re starting to see a lot of guys on the regular tour. I just heard that Phil Mickelson is chewing a CBD gum all the time while he’s playing for his aches and pains. He’s got that rheumatoid arthritis and obviously (CBD is) helping him.”

Bubba Watson recently announced he uses CBD products, which have been removed from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency. CBD oil has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

“Interesting thing about PGA, is that PGA Tour Champions doesn’t drug test, so most players don’t need to worry about it,” said Leland Radovanovic of Powerplant Global Strategies, a national consulting firm focused on the legal cannabis industry. “The PGA Tour does, but recently raised their nanogram limit for THC to 150 nanogram. I believe it was around 15 nanograms before. They follow (World Anti-Doping Agency’s) rules.”

Relief worth the gamble

McCarron says he’s heard more players on the regular tour are willing to roll the dice — not just on CBD but also on THC.

“THC is banned, but the levels are so high you would literally have to smoke pot going into drug testing to have a positive test,” McCarron said. “(The PGA) obviously has drug testing as stringent as the Olympics, so guys were hesitant at first (on CBD oil), but they’ve got 10 or 12 guys that are taking it. The tour just wants to make sure that whatever is in it will not give any positive drug tests. So as of right now, everything seems to be going fantastic with that.”

Leland points out that Superior, Colorado-based Functional Remedies for the first time sponsored the Rapiscan Systems Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event in southern Mississippi in late March.

Functional Remedies Chief Science Office Tim Gordon, who grew up in rural Ohio and moved to Colorado in 1996, has been studying and cultivating hemp for more than 30 years. He says he became more than just passionate about cannabis — making it his entire career focus — when he witnessed its transformative healing powers with a friend suffering the effects of chemotherapy.

Since then, Gordon has seen how regular consumption of CBD oil can help everyone from weekend warriors to professional golfers to ultramarathoners.

“I want to [change] mindsets here to understand cannabis just needs to be used almost like a vitamin — kind of preventative medicine in a way,” Gordon said. “Not just at the point of injury or treatment, but leading up to your everyday activity … supplying your body the cannabinoids that you need to be able to recover faster.”

Beyond golf, Gordon says CDB products are gaining acceptance across the spectrum of sports.

“Scott’s one of nearly 50 folks on the [senior] pro tour who are enjoying the benefits of Functional Remedies products,” Gordon said. “Besides all of those, we’re reaching folks in various pro sports -— anything from cycling to pro weightlifting. Everyone’s seeing the benefits, and it’s driving the demand for education and the demand for change.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis late last month signed a suite of new Colorado cannabis laws, including two bills (SB220 and SB240) aimed at aligning the state with the 2018 Federal Farm Bill and allowing for better state regulation of Colorado’s booming hemp industry.

Colorado cannabis sales tax revenue tops $1 billion since legalization

EAGLE — Local and state marijuana tax revenue is up, with statewide taxes topping $1 billion total in the five years since Colorado voters legalized marijuana.

Pot sales have sent $240,000 in tax revenue so far this year to Eagle County’s coffers, a small piece of Eagle County’s $145 million annual budget, according to county financials.

And while state and local officials say they’re happy to have the money, marijuana sales tax revenue also doesn’t make much of a dent in the state’s $30.5 billion 2019-2020 budget.

Marijuana sales run in the same business cycles as all other retail sales. The county’s marijuana tax revenue was down in 2018, and is running 30% ahead of budget projections for the first half of 2019.

The difference?

“We had snow. Visitor numbers were up,” Eagle County Finance Director Jill Klosterman said.

The county’s top revenue is still property taxes, fees and sales taxes, Klosterman said.

Mental health and more

Eagle County’s marijuana tax money is earmarked for behavioral health programs. In 2017 Eagle County voters approved the state’s first retail sales and excise taxes on marijuana products, and earmarked the money specifically to fund behavioral health programs.

Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana sales in 2014.

Colorado collected $48 million total in April and May in marijuana sales taxes, $24 million in each month, according to the state’s department of revenue. That makes April and May the two highest-grossing tax revenue months.

Since voters legalized pot, Colorado has seen more than $6.5 billion in total sales through the end of May, according to the state’s monthly report.

Cannabis sales contribute to the state’s general reserve fund, as well as education and health care, including mental health services, and youth drug-prevention programs.

“Today, more adults know the laws around retail marijuana, more parents are planning to talk to their children about the risks of marijuana
use, and most young women know the danger of marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” Tista Ghosh, Colorado Department of Public
Health and Environment’s Chief Medical Officer, said in a press release.

Colorado has 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses and 41,076 individuals who are licensed to work in the industry. Of those, eight marijuana businesses are in Eagle County.

“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going toward preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a press release.

Colorado is no longer alone in the marijuana market. More than 30 states have approved medical marijuana, and Illinois became the 11th state to approve recreational cannabis.

“Colorado will continue to be known for its regulatory leadership,” Jim Burack, Director of Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division said in a statement.

Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue exceeds $1 billion; where does the money go?

Chart by Colorado Department of Revenue
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Marijuana sales tax collection since recreational sales began in 2014 in May surpassed $1 billion, Colorado officials said Wednesday.

That’s a major milestone for a burgeoning industry, which has sold more than $6.5 billion in that time period.

Colorado now has almost 3,000 licensed marijuana businesses and more than 40,000 people who are licensed to work in the industry.

“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction,” Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s most pot-friendly politician, said in a written statement.

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Marijuana health claims lure patients as science catches up

SEATTLE (AP) — Marijuana has been shown to help ease pain and a few other health problems, yet two-thirds of U.S. states have decided pot should be legal to treat many other conditions with little scientific backing.

At least 1.4 million Americans are using marijuana for their health, according to an Associated Press analysis of states that track medical marijuana patients.

The number of medical marijuana cardholders more than tripled in the last five years as more states jumped on the bandwagon. The analysis is based on data from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The total climbs to 2.6 million patients if California, Washington and Maine are included, the AP estimates.

States that expanded the use of medical pot for common ailments such as severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety saw a boost in enrollment, the AP found.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, both considers marijuana an illegal drug and a therapeutic herb worth more study.

A look at the health claims and research on medical marijuana:

THE EVIDENCE

Besides chronic pain, there’s strong evidence marijuana or its ingredients can ease nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and help with symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Several European countries have approved Sativex, a mouth spray containing THC and CBD, for multiple sclerosis symptoms. Last year, U.S. regulators approved Epidiolex, made from CBD, to treat two rare seizure disorders. THC causes marijuana’s mind-altering effect; CBD doesn’t get people high.

British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals is seeking U.S. approval for Sativex. Other companies are pursuing Food and Drug Administration backing for products based on marijuana ingredients.

Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics, which filed for bankruptcy protection Monday as it faced fallout over its marketing of an addictive opioid painkiller, is developing CBD drugs for two types of childhood epilepsy and a rare genetic disorder. Pennsylvania-based Zynerba Pharmaceuticals is working on a CBD skin patch for autism and fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition.

Prescription drugs already on the market use synthetic THC to treat weight loss, nausea and vomiting in patients with AIDS or cancer. And researchers continue to study whether marijuana helps with PTSD, back pain and other problems.

OPIOID ALTERNATIVE?

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Mexico allow medical marijuana for opioid addiction despite little evidence it works.

But marijuana may be helpful in reducing use of opioid painkillers. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, better known for its research on herbs and yoga, has set aside $3 million for studies to determine which of marijuana’s 400-plus chemicals help with pain.

THC was excluded however.

Its mood-altering effects and potential for addiction and abuse make it less useful for pain, said Dr. David Shurtleff, the agency’s deputy director. And THC has been studied more than the lesser-known compounds.

CURE FOR CANCER?

Despite online claims, there’s only weak evidence that marijuana’s ingredients might one day be used to treat cancer. Most studies have been in animals or in the lab. Results have been mixed.

In one study, nine patients with an aggressive form of brain cancer had THC injected into their tumors; any effect on their survival was unclear. Another study found worrying evidence that marijuana might interfere with some cancer drugs, making them less effective.

RESEARCHING AN OUTLAW MEDICINE

The U.S. government grows marijuana for research at a farm in Mississippi and generally bans grant-funded studies of real-world products.

But a mobile lab inside a white Dodge van allows University of Colorado Boulder researchers to study the potent strains of marijuana many patients consume without running afoul of the law.

Study participants use marijuana in their homes, coming to the van for blood draws and other tests before and after using, said Cinnamon Bidwell who has federal grants to study marijuana’s effects on lower back pain and anxiety.

With increased demand for research pot, the Drug Enforcement Administration created an application process for growers, but has not acted on more than two dozen applications.

Such challenges are common for scientists studying an outlaw medicine, said Dr. Igor Grant, who directs the oldest marijuana research center in the U.S. at the University of California, San Diego.

There, scientists are studying marijuana chemicals for children with autism and adults with a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking. Established by state law in 2000, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research once relied solely on California for funding. The center now has support from private foundations, a sign of growing public acceptance of the research.

TRACKING PATIENTS

Minnesota medical marijuana patients must regularly fill out surveys about their symptoms and side effects. That allows researchers to study how people with cancer react to marijuana.

In one study, a third of cancer patients made only one purchase and didn’t come back during a four-month period. They may have died, or decided marijuana was too expensive or didn’t work. Of the rest, most reported improvements in vomiting, pain, disturbed sleep, anxiety and depression with few side effects.

Marijuana can ease many symptoms “all at one time,” but more study is needed, said study co-author Dr. Dylan Zylla of the health care system HealthPartners. He has no financial ties to cannabis companies.

Zylla is studying whether cancer patients can decrease their prescription opioid use while using marijuana.

Marijuana “does seem to help patients,” he said, “but so much is unknown about the risks, side effects and drug interactions.”