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There Are Still Several Hundred Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Los Angeles

When Jay Smoker and I started this blog in 2010, there werelos-angeles-medical-marijuana-300x300

‘more medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles than Starbucks locations.’ For some reason back then, the media loved to measure the number of dispensaries in an area against the number of Starbucks locations. I guess it puts it into perspective for Starbucks consumers or something. Anyhow, since 2010, there has been a crusade against medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

Hundreds have been closed, but for everyone that is closed, it seems that another is opened, or the ‘closed’ dispensary just moves to a new location.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has launched a crusade on illegal dispensaries, announcing this month that his office has shuttered more than 500 cannabis businesses in roughly two years.

“It’s 514 now,” Rob Wilcox, Feuer’s director of community outreach and engagement, said on Monday. “It’s tremendous progress … you’ll see less and less of them week by week.”

Feuer’s agency estimates there’s only “a few hundred” left that the city needs to shut down until only the 135 allowed by law remain operating under the requirements of Proposition D, the regulatory ballot measure city voters approved two years ago.

But those in the city’s MMJ industry tell a different story.

“He said he closed 500 dispensaries, but he doesn’t say a word about the 600 that opened after that,” said Yamileth Bolanos, who runs PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, which qualifies to stay open under the 2013 law.

At this point closing dispensaries in Los Angeles is largely a game of whack-a-mole. There’s simply no way that the City of Los Angeles can shutdown these medical marijuana dispensaries for good. Los Angeles has a lot of medical marijuana patients, and limiting the number of safe access points to 135 is unreasonable. I know that Proposition D passed, but it seems to be largely symbolic at this point.

Recent Entries

Judge Overturns Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Dispensary Denial

The medical marijuana dispensary licensing process has drawn a lotgavel-marijuana-300 of criticism. Allegations of favoritism started almost immediately. That is common in states where there is a high barrier to entry to open a medical marijuana dispensary, and there are a limited number of licenses to go around. Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts was originally granted three licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, but those licenses were later revoked after bad publicity about the approval process started to come out. A judge in Massachusetts recently overturned the State’s decision to deny the licenses after the fact.

The ruling came after the company, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, sued the state, alleging that officials improperlydenied the business licenses last June for three dispensaries it planned to open, according to The Boston Globe.

Former congressman William Delahunt used to head the company, and his involvement sparked allegations that the state engaged in favoritism.

The company initially won three provisional licenses and was told by the state that it scored the highest of 100 applicants. But health department officials – under fire for how they handled the licensing process – came back five months later and yanked the initial approval.

Originally, the dispensaries had been set up to deliver 50% of their revenues to a management firm run by Delahunt and his business partners. The arrangement drew criticism after it was made public, and the number was lowered to 25%. Delahunt resigned in September.

Winning a medical marijuana dispensary license is important to large companies that are trying to enter the marijuana industry. Whenever a license is denied, especially when it was approved originally, lawsuits are sure to follow. We are seeing a similar situation unfold in Illinois, where it seems like lawsuits are popping up almost every week. When licenses are limited, and populations are large, there is a lot at stake, and companies will fight to the end to get in on a piece of the action.

Distribution Of Sugars Within Marijuana Plants

To grow some high quality marijuana, the plant needs to make a lot of sugars first.

It’s very important that these sugars go to the right place, because buds and young leaves use these sugars to grow.

The full grown leaves produce these sugars so they are also very important. But how are sugars produced and can you increase the production by trimming away leaves?

In general I advise to keep leaves in place till the plant discards them of by itself. I’m talking of course about the large fan leaves.

Trimming young leaves and young side shoots can however lead to better distribution of sugars (=higher yield), but only if your plant retains its larger fully grown fan leaves.

The production of sugars

A plant catches sun rays on its leaves and converts this energy along with CO2 and water into sugars. This process is called photosynthesis. The evaporation gives the plant the chance to take up water and nutrients through its root system and transport them throughout the plant.

Sugars in particular are very important building blocks for the plant. The sugars are carefully divided to specific parts of the plant.

The actual yield depends mostly on the amount of sugars the large fan leaves can produce and the amount of sugars that are eventually transported to the buds. You can roughly say that two thirds of the sugars go to the buds, which is a lot. Young foliage that’s still developing also requires these sugars.

Noticeable is that every plant has a fixed ratio when it comes to dividing the sugars. These ratios, sadly, are hardly influenced by nutrients, temperature, light or CO2.

We are only interested in the buds, so it would be nice to be able to influence the distribution a little bit.

Distribution of sugars through sink strength

The principal behind the distribution of sugars is the so called sink strength. All the plants organs function like individual sinks which the sugars flow towards. However the suction of the sinks are not equal in strength. The buds have the most suction, especially when they are half way in their development.

Young, new foliage also needs a  lot of sugars while matured leaves create more sugars than it needs. These old mature leaves provide the buds and young foliage with sugars and for that reason they are very important.

Within the plant there is a lot of competition for the sugars. All parts of the plant are pulling on the available sugars. Pulling harder means more sugars. So organs with larger sink strength always get more than the ones with lower sink strength. Example: a main bud with sink strength of 3 will get 3 times as much sugar than a leaf with sink strength of 1. These ratio’s always stay the same, whether there are a lot of sugars or hardly any available.

Trimming plants for a better distribution

With the above mentioned principals in mind we can now start to trim the plant for a better distribution of the sugars.

By removing young foliage before they start to use up energy, more sugars will automatically go to the buds. Pay close attention when removing. Make sure the plant keeps enough foliage and fan leaves to make sugars. The foliage needs to be dense enough so no light can pass through to the pots, so we don’t waist energy.

Personally I would not trim fan leaves. The top fan leaves catch the most light and automatically have more chloroplasts, so they can produce more sugars. But the bottom foliage also catches a little light and contributes to the sugar production. Why remove a fan leave when the sugar production is higher if you leave it be.

In the event that a fan leave is that much overshadowed by the top leaves and it’s actually using up more sugars than it is producing (becoming a sink, once again). The plant will then sacrifice suck dry and disregard this leave and it will fall off by itself. The plant has its own solution for such matters so why not just leave it to the plant.

U.S. House Voting On Whether To Allow VA Doctors To Discuss Medical Marijuana

As early as this afternoon the U.S. House could vote on an WashingtonDCmedicalmarijuana3001amendment that would allow doctors that work for the Veterans Administration to discuss medical marijuana and recommend its use in states where it is legal. The bipartisan amendment is being offered by Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Farr (D-CA), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA) and Gallego (D-AZ).

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it’s medically necessary,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “They have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors.”

A similar amendment narrowly failed on the House floor last year, 195 to 222. The House subsequently went on to vote five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies. One of the amendments, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in Fiscal Year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by President Obama. Advocates of the veterans amendment believe it has a very good chance of passing this year.

Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, illnesses typically suffered by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program. This not only hurts veterans — it treats them differently than non-veterans who see doctors outside of the VA.

A legislative version of the Blumenauer/Heck amendment, the Veterans Equal Access Act, was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Blumenauer. Its language was also included in groundbreaking Senate medical marijuana legislation introduced in March. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced it.

“The politics around marijuana have shifted in recent years,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Voters want reform and policymakers on both sides of the aisle are increasingly delivering it.”

Oregon SB 844 Will Force Medical Marijuana Patients Into Black Market

Oregon Senate Bill 844, and specifically the Dash-6 Amendments, medical-marijuana-montana-ir-124-sb-423are the biggest attempted attack on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program since the candidacy of Dwight Holton. A vote on the bill was expected today, but I received a text earlier today from someone very close to the situation who says that the vote has been delayed until at least Monday. Either way, it’s vital that activists and supporters keep up the pressure, and keep contacting their elected officials to let them know just how horrible this bill is.

Portland NORML issued a press release earlier today that I’ve pasted below. Again, it’s my understanding that the vote will not occur today, but that is just via text, so take it for what you will, and keep that in mind when you read the press release below, which was issued while I was at work, but I couldn’t get it posted until now because I’m on my lunch break:

The Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is rallying supporters of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) to make their voices heard about the proposed Dash-­6 Amendments to SB 844, which they argue threatens the continued viability of the OMMP and are expected to come up for a vote during tonight’s Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 work session.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, there are 5,584 patients who are served by grow sites that cover more than two patients and 2,025 of those patients are served by grow sites that cover more than four patients. Under the Dash-­6 Amendments, a grow site in a residential zone could serve only two patients and one outside of a residential zone could serve only four patients.

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Michigan Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization By A Slim Margin

By the slimmest of majorities, Michigan voters support legalizing safer-michigan-marijuana-300x300marijuana and distributing it like alcohol sales in the state, according to a poll released by the Marketing Resource Group on April 24.

51% of respondents told interviewers they somewhat support or strongly support the concept during the MRG poll, conducted in April with 600 Michigan residents with a history of voting.

The numbers may not accurately reflect the view of Michigan citizens. By screening out voters without an established history of voting the methodology excludes some of legalization’s most strident supporters- the under 29 voting group (69% YES).

Treating marijuana like alcohol is not universally supported among advocates of marijuana legalization, nor is that model looked upon as a good program to imitate.

Other states have had a difficult time pushing the regulate-marijuana-like-wine concept. California voters rejected that proposal at the ballot box. In Washington State, involvement by the state Liquor Control Board has led to a dismantling of the medical marijuana program. The question creates a negative response even among those who would likely vote in favor of a legalization scheme, if offered.

Voters in the city of Detroit have expressed dissatisfaction with the liquor distribution system in their communities. During a recent community group meeting in Detroit’s 2nd District, advocates sided with prohibitionists when the idea of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate with the same rules as the alcohol industry. “Bars on top of liquor stores, that’s what we got,” one activists told me. “We gotta do better than that with medical marijuana.”

Poll results indicate an uncharacteristic dip in marijuana support within the state’s largest city. Detroiters were more negative (44% YES) when responding to the MRG question than any other region of Michigan except the Upper Peninsula. By contrast, their other Wayne County community residents responded with the highest degree of support of any region included in the survey (59% YES).

What this clearly indicates is a multi-tiered system of state-regulated marijuana stores created under the authority of a Lansing-based Board like the Liquor Control Commission is not what the people want. Legalization programs imitating the state’s liquor distribution system have been suggested or directly offered by diverse voices including Rep. Klint Kesto, the Michigan Cannabis Development Association and the Michigan Resource Group.

Those proposals seem to be D.O.A. with Michigan citizens. Other legalization programs, such as legislation offered by Rep. Jeff Irwin and a ballot proposal from the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative (MILegalize), could anticipate that their support is higher than the survey results indicate.

One local expert thinks this is just the beginning. “51% is just a start,” said David Rudoi, attorney from Royal Oak. “Once the public sees how comprehensive the MILegalize proposal is, I believe the support will go higher.”

Ten Ways Marijuana Testing Can Go Wrong

10 Ways Cannabis Testing Can Go Wrongmarijuana-lab-laboratory-testing
Written by Jason Wilson, Laboratory Technologist for Kenevir Research

There is a lot of skepticism in the cannabis community toward laboratories. The purpose of this article is to show how cannabis testing can go wrong, in order to help educate and empower people so they can recognize suspect results or methods and find a lab that produces results they can trust.

1) Residue Buildup in Analytical Instruments aka “ghost peaks”
One way that an instrument can produce bogus results is through residue buildup in the machine. When repeated analyses are performed, residues build up in the machine, eventually leading to highly exaggerated results. This is why regular tuning and maintenance of laboratory instruments is absolutely necessary for ensuring quality control.

2) Incompetence
Just because a machine produces a number and someone reports it, that does not ensure the validity of the result. The general rule of thumb is that any analytical laboratory should be managed by someone with a PhD and published in peer reviewed research journals. Most natural products laboratories also require that the person be actively pursuing further research and publishing papers regularly. You should feel comfortable asking your lab to provide information about the credentials of the lab’s staff.

3) Improper Cleaning of Tools and supplies
It is very important that all surfaces, tools, and gloves are cleaned and sterilized between the preparations of each sample. If this does not happen, there becomes cross contamination between samples and the results become invalid.

4) Mishandling of sample material
If a laboratory technician does not wear gloves, and hair nets if the technician has long hair, to prepare cannabis samples, not only does the sample become contaminated, but the oils on the skin will pick up the oils off of the cannabis sample, including the cannabinoids and terpenes, making the subsequent result invalid.

5) Improper sample Homogenization
Samples have to be homogenized before exposing them to solvents and performing extractions. This helps to ensure a full and proper extraction.

6) Inaccurate Formulations/Invalid Methods
It is vital that a laboratory use valid methods when performing any sort of chemical analysis in order to satisfy quality assurance standards. This can require many hours spent pouring over peer-reviewed research literature to find the best methods for the lab’s particular circumstances.

Another issue is inaccurate formulation. Sample preparations require precisely calculated volumetrics as well as very pure solvents to ensure good extractions

7) Improper Instrument Settings/Lack of regular servicing
An analytical instrument must be calibrated and customized to fit the type of analysis to be performed. Analytical instruments can detect compounds at varying “resolutions.” An instrument must be set so that the data resolution is maximized to ensure quality results. The instrument must also undergo regular servicing and maintenance to ensure result reliability.

8) No reference standards or Quality Control
For quality assurance it is absolutely essential that laboratories use quality assurance practices, including quality control samples and reference standards to calibrate analysis results. A cannabinoid reference standard is a specially formulated sample that has a known amount of cannabinoids present. When tests are run, the results can be compared and calibrated with the results of the reference standard to determine an accurate result.

For pesticide analysis quality control, a sample is spiked with a known amount of pesticide. When the sample is analyzed, the result for that pesticide should correlate with the amount known to be in the sample. This helps assure quality assurance and repeatability. Labs should maintain auditable records of calibration certificates, maintenance schedules, etc.

9) Ignoring Conversion Factors
High Pressure (or High Performance) Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is being used more and more for cannabis potency testing. This is primarily because a liquid chromatograph can report the presence of the carboxylic acid forms of cannabinoids: THCa, CBDa, CBCa, and so on. When calculating the total potential decarboxylated THC content in a sample, it is tempting but inaccurate to simply add the THCa and THC numbers together, although this has become a common practice in cannabis testing with HPLC. There is actually a “decarboxylation conversion factor” that must be applied to the THCa content before a more accurate THC content can be calculated. Otherwise an exaggerated result will be reported.

You can check on a lab’s certificate of analysis for this by noting the total THC percentage and checking to see if it is the simple sum of THCa and THC. If that sum is the same as their total THC result, then they are not including the decarboxylation conversion factor.

10) unquantifiable results
There is also the issue of using methods that produce unquantifiable results. You might find a laboratory that uses Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) to measure potency. It is difficult to obtain precise results from TLC. This method is great for looking at cannabinoid ratios and estimating cannabinoid content, but not for getting precise values. To determine true quantitative values, more sophisticated instrumentation must be used, such as gas or liquid chromatography or mass spectrometry.

Along with the issue of unquantifiable results, a value of zero should almost never be present in laboratory results. Instead of reporting zero, a scientist usually reports a value of “not detectable” or something similar. If you see a result of zero, ask the laboratory how they determined a value of zero rather than undetectable.
To further understand where cannabis testing can go wrong, it is prudent to comment on the current pricing of laboratory services for the cannabis industry. The current cannabis market in Oregon is demanding testing prices as low as $75 to $100. In any other industry – whether it be hops, apples, or green tea – the same sorts of testing would range anywhere between $250 to $400 or more, even though the analyses are the same. It is important to understand this, because this discrepancy certainly has consequences. This pressure for low pricing causes some labs to cut corners, compromise quality control, and in some cases actually report falsified results just to compete to offer the lowest pricing and gain market share in this rapidly changing and growing industry.

The lack of regulatory oversight for cannabis laboratories in Oregon makes it very difficult for a consumer to distinguish labs of integrity from fraudulent laboratories. It is in everyone’s best interest to ask questions and demand high standards and quality assurance from laboratories serving the cannabis industry.