Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Medical Pot Bill

The recently passed bill, called the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 (B24-0113), was sponsored by Chairman Phil Mendelson of the Washington, D.C. Council in February 2021. The Washington, D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass on Dec. 20, 2022, followed by Bowser signing the bill on Jan. 30, just two days before a response was due on Feb. 1.

The bill expands the capital’s medical cannabis program in many ways, including lifting the cap on dispensaries, creating new license types, and codifies emergency measures passed in 2021 and 2022.

Originally the amendment proposed implementing an increased cap on dispensaries, but was later revised to include no maximum number (although the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board is given the power to establish a cap one year from the passage of the bill in January 2024).

It also authorizes the creation of more cannabis license types, including cannabis delivery services, online sales, educational programs, and areas dedicated to cannabis consumption. “At least half” of all licenses given to currently unlicensed businesses will be given to social equity applicants (defined as those who are D.C. residents with low income, have spent time in prison for cannabis-related charges, or are related to someone who was affected by the War on Drugs).

Medical cannabis was legalized in Washington D.C. in 2010, and an attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis was passed by voters in 2014 through Initiative 71. While it allows possess of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation, it also allows adults to gift up to one ounce of weed to another adult, which created the loophole of gifting (or a way to get around cannabis sale restrictions by selling merch or apparel with a gift of cannabis for free). The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 seeks to target those unlicensed businesses, giving them a path to obtain a legal license.

The act also codifies emergency measures that were implemented for cannabis. This includes the emergency measure that provides support for Washington, D.C. patients with expired cards and help struggling dispensaries as well, which was passed in November 2021. In July 2022, Bowser signed a bill allowing adults to self-certify themselves as medical cannabis patients.

Overall, enforcement action related to these changes won’t be implemented until 315 days have passed since the signing of the bill, which would be later this year in December. It also needs congressional review before officially taking effect.

Also recently in Washington, D.C., Mendelson the Second Chance Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0063) is under congressional review. This would implement automatic expungement through “automatic sealing for non-dangerous, non-convictions as well as shorten the waiting periods before a person is eligible to seal their record. It would also expand the eligibility of who can seal their record.” All expungements would need to be processed before Jan. 1, 2025. If congress doesn’t make a move against the bill, its projected law date is set for March 16, 2023.

Mendelson also recently introduced another bill (B25-0052) on Jan. 19, which aims to legalize adult-use cannabis sales. The proposal includes a “Reparations for Victims of the War on Cannabis Fund,” which would offer anywhere between $5,000 to $80,000 to pay those who were negatively affected by cannabis criminalization. It also includes a “Cannabis Equity and Opportunity Fund,” which would gather up 40% of revenue to go toward loans or grants for applicants affected by criminalization. Additionally, the bill details a plan to reinvest cannabis tax revenue into community services such as mental health treatments and youth development.

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Higher Profile: Anthony Winston III, Engineer

The first time engineer Anthony Winston III, PE, consulted on an indoor agricultural farm in California, he was told it was a “tomato” operation.

“I took a look at the building on Google Maps, because it just didn’t sound right – and when I noted the equipment on the roof I knew something was off,” he explained. “When I got there and realized they were a fully licensed and legal cannabis operation under the newly regulated market in California, I told them they could have told me the truth and I wouldn’t have minded.”

The experience gave him a new perspective on just what it was like working within the cannabis industry. Even though the plant is legal in the state, Federal laws stand, with licensed farmers and manufacturers in the space afraid to let an engineer know what they were doing upfront – fearful he’d say no.

Aside from the secrecy of it all, Winston realized the very building housing this major operation, requiring a serious electrical installation and all that implies, was in disrepair in a sketchy neighborhood, at best. This legal, licensed company couldn’t find a better location or building due to the very nature of the business and the stigma involved.

“The first time I was handed a stack of cash as payment for work I realized just what a travesty it is,” he added. “Imagine trying to do business like that – with large sums of money. It’s just not right.”

Courtesy Anthony Winston III

Discrimination: Black, Brown & Green

Discrimination is nothing new to Winston, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. It’s a part of the city that’s historically gotten a bad rap for crime, with the Black population targeted.

During former South Side resident and first Black President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, Chicago was wrongly named the top city for murders. The political smear was corrected, however, as the city ranked tenth on the list at the time. Crime data pulled from the FBI, city police officials, and the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019, put St. Louis, Missouri in the number one slot of 65 cities, with Chicago at 28.

In actuality, the region south of the city is diversified, with upper, middle, and lower class neighborhoods.

The misinformation on crime and the fear that ensues on this and other cities boasting higher populations of people of color can be readily traced back to political propaganda. Eerily similar to the way cannabis has been politicized and demonized.

In fact, the plant has been used systematically to discriminate against Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and even women, over the decades. Look no further than the 1936 propagandist film, Reefer Madness, and see that just one puff of “the marihuana” turns women into whores.

Winston, who considers himself a lifelong student of Black history, said while he understands the pain of discrimination within many groups of minorities, he can’t compare his own experience.

“I try not to compare struggles,” he shared. “My struggle as a Black man is different than that of, say, an LGBTQ+ person. You can’t equate it. You can equate the absolute absurdity of someone trying to get plant medicine and assistance, without having to buy expensive pharmaceuticals. In that respect, both are absurd. No one wants or should be treated unfairly – especially when it equates to the safety and well-being of their own bodies.”

winston
Courtesy Anthony Winston III

Engineered for the Plant

Winston was educated at Arizona State University, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis in Power Transmission and Distribution. He later earned his Professional Engineering (PE) certification.

His company, Winston Engineering Inc., established in 2015, is the only Black-owned MEP and civil engineering firm in California, operating in multiple states and Canada. 

“After working on that first warehouse in Los Angeles, everything snowballed. Because of the discrimination in the cannabis industry, when they find a professional willing to work, introductions by word-of-mouth are common. We were working on another warehouse in Long Beach and a neighbor stopped in that was doing extractions, so we worked on his facility. He was the first license holder in Long Beach for extractions.”

Winston’s company employs 10, providing mechanical (HVAC), electrical, plumbing (MEP), and civil engineering for a wide variety of cannabis related buildings, including cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, retail, and distribution.

winston
Courtesy Anthony Winston III

Helping Himself, Helping Grandma

When California legalized, Winston tried an edible for the first time.

“I’ve always been an athlete, and still have knee pain from playing basketball. Instead of reaching for a painkiller, I take edibles, and it’s been amazing for taking care of the pain. I’m lucky, I’m healthy and only use an inhaler for exercise-induced asthma.”

Helping himself with the plant was one thing, but helping Grandma was everything.

“My grandmother has a lot of medical conditions, and at one point she was taking well over a dozen medications that left her in an almost sleepy, zombie state,” he shared. “I convinced her to try cannabis, and gave her a five milligram gummy to start with. So far, she’s cut her medications down by half and she’s back to being herself again.”

Aside from his cannabis use as medicine, he’s also changed his diet over the years to vegetarian, leaning to vegan, after his daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, including dairy.

In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), it was found that increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet for just two weeks, raises endorphins and creates dopamine in the brain, successfully treating depression.

We in the cannabis caregiving space know that adding superfoods or super plants, like cannabis, also raises endorphins and creates dopamine, while addressing all our biological systems, creating homeostasis or a place where illness cannot dwell.

“I do my best to stay as natural as possible, and I love the cannabis plant and all its possibilities,” he added.

Courtesy Anthony Winston III

Social Equity in Real Time

“When dispensaries start looking like Apple stores, it’s time to let Black and Brown people out of jail.” – Anthony Winston III

Social equity in the cannabis space means bridging the gap between the once illicit market, into the regulated market, for those who might have been marginalized within the failed War on Drugs.

In other words, if you were part of the cog in the wheel of meeting supply and demand of the world’s most beloved and illicit plant, chances are you might not have the wherewithal to come into compliance in a legal market, with all that implies.

“What the end result of helping people in the social equity space should be is setting people up to start-up and run a business, simply put,” he said. “What that looks like in real time is, we volunteer our time with various social equity groups around the country, teaching them about avoiding pitfalls when designing a facility.”

How they find people to mentor varies. Quite often Winston meets social equity organizers at various cannabis conferences.

“I’ll talk to them about everything I know about starting up and business, engineering, and everything else in between,” he said.

One big inspiration came when he heard Tracy Ryan, founder of CannaKids and mother of Sophie Ryan who has been using cannabis oil in tandem with traditional therapies to treat a brain tumor since she was nine months old.

“When I first [started] working in the cannabis industry, I thought of it as a money making opportunity,” he admitted. “Then, I heard Tracy Ryan speak and met her daughter, Sophie, and that really pulled at my heartstrings. When you begin to hear the stories of cannabis patents dealing with real illness, it changes everything.”

Winston said he’s seen the impacts of the War on Drugs firsthand, with numerous family members locked up over the years.

“Recently, a cousin was released from prison after spending the better part of his twenties in jail,” he said. “He missed out on the years … where he might have developed his own business. This is a common tale within the Drug War.”

The feeling is that those in the industry with the ability to lead in this way, have an obligation to help those coming up. It doesn’t just mean writing a check or adding a logo in support to your website. The victims of the failed War on Drugs, and the inequities that ensue with people of color, add another layer to the wrongs that need to be righted now.

For more information on Winston Engineering Inc visit: https://winstoneng.com/

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Deputy Fends of Five Armed Robbers at Dispensary in St. Vincent

The cannabis industry in the Caribbean mirrors the danger of the U.S. cash-only industry and the lure for criminals given the large amounts of cannabis and cash. In the town of Vermont (not to be confused with the U.S. state) on the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in the Caribbean, five would-be armed robbers were thwarted on Friday, Jan. 27 by a deputy guard at a dispensary. Due to quick thinking and a fast response, the perpetrators were caught mid-robbery while they were still at the site. 

Green Lava Labs is a medical cannabis company and dispensary in the Queensbury area of Vermont. As one of the first Class-C license holders in the country, a great deal of cannabis and a steady cash flow made it a prime target.

St. Vincent Times reports that five men, one brandishing a gun and another brandishing a “cutlass,” allegedly entered the dispensary at 2:00 am at night forcefully and injured at least one person. The five assailants allegedly attempted to break into the dispensary’s storage area. But a deputy from an armed security agency was quickly dispatched, returning fire and forcing the robbers to flee before they could make off with the loot.

“Our armed security operative engaged the bandits directly, firing several shots, causing the bandits to flee, without being able to break into the building and storage rooms,” Sheriff PSS Inc stated.

A deputy was dispatched to the premises promptly within 15 minutes, while the suspects were still on-site, officials said.

“Operations Control was contacted and our Executive Director Mr. Jason Greene and Operations Commander Mr. Cox responded immediately to provide additional support. The police [were] contacted and responded promptly within 15 minutes,” the release reads.

A caretaker who was on the premises was injured during the incident. 

“The live-in caretaker on the estate was injured during the incident and taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital by Sheriff PSS Inc for medical attention,” the report continued.

“Sheriff takes this opportunity to remind the nation that we are serious about asset protection as SVG’s only tactical security agency. We stand ready to serve citizens and the business community as the #1 source for reliable, competent and efficient Asset Protection Agents and Security solutions.”

Government officials at SVG issued the first licenses to cultivate medical cannabis in 2019. 

Green Lava Labs Leader in the Caribbean

Green Lava Labs was launched in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 15, 2019. Green Lava was among the first companies to be granted a Class-C Medical Marijuana Cultivation license in the country. The license allows them to extract, import, export, dispense, and cultivate up to 25 acres of cannabis.

Green Lava has the capacity of over 8,000 pounds of cannabis per year and future plans to reach the full capacity of its allowed 25 acres that should allow the company to produce over 35,000 pounds of cannabis per year.

The company’s grand opening was significant enough to attract Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves; Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar; a Senior Official of the Medical Cannabis Authority; and officials to attend.

The company offers flower, pre-rolls, CBD-infused products, and more.

The company also has other locations including one in Jamaica.

Business is once again booming in SVG’s medical cannabis industry, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves reported earlier this year. This follows a slow, discouraging period due to COVID pandemic restrictions and devastation caused by the La Soufriere volcano eruption.

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Ohio Bill Would Relax Penalties for Drivers with THC in System

A lawmaker in Ohio has introduced a bill that would help marijuana users in the state avoid a costly impaired driving charge. 

News 5 Cleveland reports that the legislation, introduced by a Republican state senator, “would change the standards of the Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI) law,” and “help update Ohio laws due to the prevalence of medical marijuana licenses.”

The station said that the bill would help drivers avoid “facing charges for driving with THC in their system as long as they can prove they weren’t impaired.”

“Under the current statute for an OVI, it’s testing whether or not it’s in your system. Now that we have legalized it for medical purposes, I think we need to update the statute to where we’re looking at whether or not somebody is impaired,” GOP state Sen. Nathan Manning told News 5 Cleveland

“Marijuana in general is a lot different than alcohol, alcohol is lot more black and white,” he added.

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill legalizing medical cannabis in 2016, and sales began in the Buckeye State three years later. 

According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, there are more than 330,000 registered medical cannabis patients in the state. The state announced last year that its medical cannabis program had generated nearly $725 million in sales since 2019.

Ohio patients with the following qualifying conditions are eligible for medical cannabis treatment under the state’s law: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, Spasticity, spinal cord disease or injury, terminal illness, Tourette syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis.

Advocates say the medical cannabis law, and the ubiquity of the treatment statewide, has created a dilemma for law enforcement and patients alike.

“In an OVI, we are charged with being medicated on stuff you bought legally from a dispensary or smoke shop,” Ally Reaves with Midwest CannaWomen told News 5 Cleveland. “That’s not fair.”

The bill introduced by Manning “would allow drivers to have up to 25 nanograms of THC per milliliter in their urine instead of the current 10,” and “would raise the concentration from two to five nanograms of THC per milliliter” for blood, according to the station.

Shifting those standards is crucial, given how long THC can remain in a person’s system. 

“Our policemen and women that are enforcing these traffic laws are doing a great job and very often are not charging anybody unless they are showing signs of impairment, whether that’s through their field sobriety tests or their own observations,” Manning told News 5 Cleveland. “But there are situations where somebody is arrested and has consumed marijuana in the previous few days and technically would be above that ‘per se’ level, even though there’s no impairment whatsoever.”

“The consensus of the scientific community is clear that there is no acceptable limit of marijuana that automatically makes a person impaired,” Manning added. “Impairment must be considered on a case-by-case basis considering all of the available evidence.”

As the number of enrolled medical cannabis patients has grown in Ohio, so too is the number of places where they can legally obtain the product. 

A state medical cannabis regulator said last year that Ohio was aiming to double the number of dispensary licenses in the state by adding more than 70 to the existing 58.

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Argentina Launches New Agency To Boost Cannabis Industry

Argentina officially launched a new government agency on Wednesday as part of an effort to bolster the country’s medical marijuana and hemp industry. 

Reuters reports that the agency, known as the Regulatory Agency for the Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Industry, or ARICCAME, represents “the first working group of a new national agency to regularize and promote the country’s nascent cannabis industry, which ministers hope will create new jobs and exports generating fresh income for the South American nation.” 

“This opens the door for Argentina to start a new path in terms of industrial exports, on the basis of huge global demand,” said Argentina’s economy minister Sergio Massa at an event marking the launch of the new agency.

According to Reuters, “Massa said that the agency would from Thursday begin regularizing programs and coordinating with various provinces and [the] industrial sector, adding Argentina already counted on demand for projects linked to the agro-industrial sector.”

On the official website for ARICCAME, the agency outlines its mission and objectives.

“We are the Agency that regulates the import, export, cultivation, industrial production, manufacture, commercialization and acquisition, by any title, of seeds of the cannabis plant, cannabis and its derivative products for medicinal or industrial purposes,” the website reads, via an English translation. 

The website lists the following “general objectives” for the agency: “Establish through the respective regulations, the regulatory framework for the entire production chain and national marketing and/or export of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, seeds and derivatives for use in favor of health and industrial hemp; Promote a new agro-industrial productive sector for the commercial manufacture of medicines, phytotherapeutics, food and cosmetics for human use, medicines and food for veterinary use, as well as the different products made possible by industrial hemp; Generate the framework for the adaptation to the regulatory regime, of the cultivation and production of cannabis derivatives for use in existing health, guaranteeing the traceability and quality of the products in order to safeguard the right to health of the users of medical cannabis; Reintroduce hemp in Argentina and all its derivatives: food, construction materials, textile fiber, cellulose and bioplastics with low environmental impact; [and] Promote scientific research and sectoral technological progress, promoting favorable conditions for these existing industries in our country.”

ARICCAME’s specific objectives include: “Establish clear rules that provide legal certainty to the sector and encourage federal participation; Articulate through agreements and conventions with other State entities with intervention in the matter: INASE, SENASA, INTA, INTI, AFIP, INAES, BCRA, UIF, National Universities, etc; Determine the system of licenses and administrative authorizations for the productive chain; Generate quality standards that safeguard the right to health of users and consumers of cannabis/hemp products; [and] Control non-compliance with the regulatory regime.”

Argentine policymakers legalized cannabis oil for medical use in 2017. Three years later, the country legalized home cannabis cultivation for medical marijuana patients. 

The launch of the new agency is part of a border effort by the Argentine government to continue to reform the medical cannabis program, something that the South American country identified as a priority last year

According to Reuters, the newly launched agency will be helmed by Francisco Echarren, who “said the industry could generate thousands of new jobs, as well as create technological developments and new products for export.”

“We have a huge challenge ahead of us,” Echarren said, as quoted by Reuters, “not only getting a new industry on its feet, but giving millions of Argentines access to products that improve quality of life.”

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Georgia Medical Cannabis Program Finally Taking Shape

The long-delayed medical cannabis program may finally be coming together in Georgia, with state regulators reportedly expected to vote on rules over the production and sale of the product.

Capitol Beat News Service reports that the “Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on rules governing all aspects of the program from growing the leaf crop in greenhouses under close supervision to manufacturing low-THC cannabis oil to treat patients suffering from a variety of diseases to selling the product at a network of dispensaries across the state.”

The Medical Cannabis Commission held a meeting last week at Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, where officials heard from representatives from medical cannabis companies who “urged Georgia regulators to quickly approve rules for production and distribution of the drug to registered patients while skeptics of the drug asked for stronger protections against illegal use,” Georgia public radio station WUGA reported.

The anticipated action this week by the Medical Cannabis Commission means that qualifying patients in Georgia may soon have access to the treatment years after it was made legal. 

State lawmakers in 2015 passed the Haleigh’s Hope Act, which legalized the prescription of cannabis oil containing no more than 5% THC for patients with the following qualifying conditions (as listed on the Georgia Medical Cannabis Commission’s official website): “Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage; Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries; Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage; Crohn’s disease; Mitochondrial disease; Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage; Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage; Tourette’s syndrome, when such syndrome is diagnosed as severe; Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism; Epidermolysis bullosa; Alzheimer’s disease, when such disease is severe or end stage; AIDS when such syndrome is severe or end stage; Peripheral neuropathy, when symptoms are severe or end stage; Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient; Intractable pain; [and] Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing of a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age.” 

The law was given teeth in 2019, when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that created the Medical Cannabis Commission and established a regulatory framework for the program.

Since then, the number of registered patients who are eligible to receive the cannabis oil has grown to more than 25,000, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

But none of those patients are able to legally purchase the oil in Georgia. 

Should the Medical Cannabis Commission approve the regulations that are up for a vote this week, “two companies awarded licenses to produce low THC oil could begin selling it to patients as soon as this spring,” according to WUGA.

Capitol Beat News Service reports that the Medical Cannabis Commission is “requesting a $125,000 increase on top of its current $908,000 fiscal 2023 budget to move the program forward,” an amount that “includes licensing the five dispensaries the original 2019 law authorized for each production licensee in addition to a sixth dispensary each will be permitted to open now that the registry of Georgia patients eligible to receive the oil has climbed above 25,000.”

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South Dakota Senate Authorizes Lawmakers To Set Medical Pot Conditions

Lawmakers in South Dakota on Thursday took a step toward making significant changes to the state’s medical cannabis program.

The Republican-controlled state Senate approved a bill that would broaden the list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana prescription, while also transferring the power to set those conditions from the South Dakota Department of Health to the state legislature.

The bill passed by a vote of 20-15, according to local news station KELO, and the legislation now moves to the state House of Representatives, where Republicans also maintain a sizable majority. 

Under South Dakota’s medical cannabis law, a patient with one of the following “debilitating conditions” may use medical cannabis once he or she obtains approval from the Department of Health: A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms. 

The legislation that was approved by the state Senate on Thursday would broaden the list of debilitating conditions to also include the following: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or positive status for human immunodeficiency virus; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Multiple sclerosis; Cancer or its treatment, if associated with Crohn’s disease; Epilepsy and seizures; Glaucoma; or Post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The bill also removes language in the law that gives the Department of Health the authority to determine which debilitating conditions will be covered. 

The measure was endorsed by a special legislative committee charged with providing oversight to the state’s medical cannabis law, which was approved by voters in 2020. 

The chair of that committee, Republican state Sen. Erin Tobin, “said taking away the department’s authority to set conditions and putting it with lawmakers instead gave her more confidence to prescribe medical marijuana for a patient,” KELO reported

KELO reported that Tobin noted that “the department doesn’t have a medical professional on its staff to decide on conditions.”

“This is something the Department of Health needs,” Tobin said, as quoted by KELO.

Legislators who objected to the proposal argued that the measure that was approved by South Dakota voters in 2020 explicitly gave the authority to the Department of Health.

South Dakota’s medical cannabis law officially took effect in the summer of 2021, but the state’s first licensed dispensary did not open until last year

Some Republican lawmakers in the state have been wary of the new medical cannabis law, contending that it could be a gateway to recreational pot use. 

Voters in the state rejected an initiated measure in November that would have legalized recreational marijuana in South Dakota, a disappointing outcome for advocates who believed they had triumphed two years prior. 

In 2020, voters there approved both the medical cannabis measure and an amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana. 

The amendment drew an immediate legal challenge from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and the state Supreme Court ultimately struck it down in November of 2021

Noem celebrated the ruling.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” Noem said at the time. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”

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From the Archives: How To Talk to Your Kids About Pot (2004)

By David Katz

Doris sputtered to her husband, coughing out a huge bluish cloud of Hawaiian X Super Skunk #1 spiked with a touch of Master Kush, which drifted toward what they thought was their locked bedroom door and swirled about the head of their “I can’t sleep” six-year-old. Arthur, an inquisitive, intelligent and, to be honest, somewhat pushy offspring, stared at his parents in disbelief from the foot of the bed, his attention fixed on the gigantic spliff that Mommy was passing to Daddy to “help them sleep.” Unfortunately, Arthur had just attended his first Drug Awareness Day at school, and he had a lot of questions. Luckily, Arthur’s parents had yet to commence the Vulcan Mind Meld, sparing young Arthur many years of future therapy.

“But you said you don’t smoke cigarettes. You said they were bad.”

“That’s right, Arthur, they are bad,” explained Dad. “But this isn’t a cigarette—really.” Doris blanched. “Steve, you’re confusing him.” Arthur’s cute brown eyes narrowed as he gave his parents that intense look he reserved for little league, girls and liars. “I know what it is. It’s a joint! They told us about that at school.”

“Who told you it was a joint?”

“Jack the policeman. He came to our class and showed us a cigarette just like that one!” said Arthur, pointing at the funny-looking “cigarette” with two pointy ends and a big bulge in the middle. “You lied!” he yelled, pointing at his father. Steve looked in desperation at his wife. “Come here, honey,” Doris said softly, as Arthur climbed onto the bed. “Mom and Dad need to talk to you about something.”

Doris and Steve are wrestling with an increasingly common dilemma among parents who smoke pot: just what to tell their young and pre-teen kids about the mighty herb. The nation’s airwaves and cable markets are saturated with carefully crafted, government-sponsored “public service ads” designed to scare, shame, intimidate and coerce kids into not smoking pot. There’s the cheery Investigator, which glamorizes parents who give their kids the third degree, grilling them mercilessly for information about their activities and friends just like, well, cops. In Pick Up, a stoner forgets to pick up his kid brother. Another one, Pool, shows a toddler pushing a raft into a swimming pool, presumably to follow the raft in, while a casual, low-key voiceover intones: “Just tell your parents you weren’t watching her, because you were getting stoned.”

No wonder intelligent parents who want to have a toke or two after a hard day have been looking at various methods of raising kids and having their reefer, too.

Let’s start with something we can all agree on: Kids should not smoke pot. Just as you don’t start the day by handing your six-year-old a tumbler of Jack Daniels and firing up his Camel, parents should not be in the business of getting kids stoned—just ask former Hollywood child-tokers and subsequent rehab-grads Robert Downey Jr. and Drew Barrymore, both of whom were exposed to grass at a tender age by their swinging-’60s parents and the crowds they ran in.

Parents should follow NORML’s (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) guide-lines for responsible marijuana use:

“NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.”

Nonetheless, in the real world, 20 million Americans say they have toked the bone during the past year, and despite findings that reefer reduces sperm count, millions of these proud and unashamed potheads are now raising, or have raised, kids who aren’t one-eyed freaks, Charlie Mansonites or pinheads, thereby refuting the myth that pot causes genetic mutations (at least not the visible kinds, which in America, the land of fleeting images, are the only ones that count). Of course, herb—like alcohol, nicotine and mercury-laden tuna—is another substance that has no place in a woman’s body during pregnancy. However, once the pregnancy is over and the child has finished breast-feeding, many parents return to smoking pot, for all the good reasons: responsible recreation and relaxation.

The New York Times recently reported that in a poll conducted by RoperASW, as many as one in 10 American parents of children under 18—about six million people—said they had smoked herb in the past 12 months. One in 20 parents, or about three million people, said they had smoked in the preceding month. The number of Americans who lit up in the last 15 minutes was unavailable, but considering the reluctance of those still holding jobs, or respected members of highly paid role-model professions—i.e., doctors, lawyers, teachers, talkradio jocks, governors—to admit to being anything other than a pharmaceutical junkie in Ashcroft’s America, one suspects that the number of regular tokers is a lot higher than reported. Life in prison in three-strike states like Texas is less than appealing; then again, it’s not Malaysia, where, if you get caught sucking on a joint, a swift trial is soon followed by death.

But short of that, getting nabbed blowing a doob in front of the children can have grave consequences, chief among them losing your kids.

Frank and Sara are the parents of Jake, a 10-month-old baby who was properly strapped in the back in his car seat when his parents were pulled over by cops in Oregon.

“First of all,” Frank told High Times, “the cop just said, ‘Give me the pot, or we’ll search the car.’ So my wife handed him the baggie! I was flabbergasted.” The cops separated the couple. “There was Good Cop and Psycho Cop. First Psycho Cop wanted to know if there was anyone higher than me. How could there be,” laughed Frank, “since I’d been drinking Scotch, too!” An incorrigible wise-ass, Frank’s flippant comeback—“Pablo Escobar?”—didn’t go over well, either. “Sara was only stoned, but her license had expired, which gave another new wrinkle to the situation. Then I got the Good Cop, while Nut Cop went to work on my wife.”

“It freaked me out,” recalled Sara. “The first thing he said is that they can take our son away for this. Then the cop gave me his card and said I had three days to rat out whoever sold us the pot. But we talked to the ACLU, who told us they were full of shit.”

“We never smoke in the car anymore, ” Frank added ruefully. “We shouldn’t have been smoking and driving in the first place.”

Both the US and Canadian governments use draconian drug laws to hassle groups and individuals who refuse to toe the antipot line, claiming that marijuana use—not to mention political activism—creates unfit parents. Divorced parents have used the marijuana laws to smite their mates, especially in nasty custody battles. Debra Cannistrad, a medical-cannabis user living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, was threatened by an ex-spouse for custody of her 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, two days after holding a vigil for a jailed cannabis researcher. Fortunately for Debra, the father—a deadbeat dad—outpoints Debra for parental malfeasance, but nonetheless, the use of a joint as a loaded gun is an indication of the emergence of a snitch society, a la the late Soviet Union.

Other situations are even more bizarre. A couple in Washington State lost their daughter immediately after birth when hospital workers, without their knowledge or consent, tested both the mother and her newborn girl for cannabis. When both tested positive, doctors blamed minor medical problems with the baby on her mother’s cannabis use and accused her of endangering the child’s life. The baby was isolated and the mother not allowed to breast-feed her. The child was returned to the couple in a week, but they were first made to sign a contract with 13 conditions, including urine-testing, mental-health evaluations and agreeing to allow state inspectors to enter their home anytime they damned well pleased. So much for the Fourth Amendment. Once again, this woman obviously should not have been toking up during any stage of her pregnancy—but does that justify the extreme measures the hospital took?

As kids get older, the dilemma for parents who smoke pot gets even more problematic.

Even in a city as sophisticated and progressive as New York, there is a wide divergence in attitudes and styles among the city’s parents regarding their kids and pot, which one suspects mirrors the nation’s attitude as well.

Tahisa, an urban planner, and her husband are raising a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl in New York’s most fashionably transgressive neighborhood, the East Village. She’s a pioneer, having lived in the EV more than 20 years, arriving long before the neighborhood’s recent resurgence and ultra-gentrification. Many of the tenement apartments, abandoned and trashed in the 1980s, now go for $2,500 a month, and uptown hipsters who once came to Avenue B for cocaine and heroin today travel downtown for gourmet coffee shops, expensive punk jewelry and haute cuisine. It’s now a prime residential neighborhood, attracting middle-class parents with children; its playgrounds and community gardens are packed with kids.

“I smoked when my kids were small, so they always saw us smoking, and all our friends smoke. So we never had to tell them that we smoke; they saw us smoke,” said Tahisa. When their kids started school, they started getting the standard anti-drug diatribes. Tahisa told them it was propaganda. “We told them pot was really good, that birds eat it, and that tobacco is much worse for you. Our biggest concerns were tobacco and glue-sniffing.”

Part of Tahisa’s agenda was to demystify pot. “We didn’t want to make pot seem so deviant that our kids would be attracted to it. We didn’t want to sneak around. If we were going to do this, we shouldn’t have to hide it. If they saw it as just a normal thing, we thought they would probably decide not to do it.”

Amy, a close friend of Tahisa’s, is medical researcher, and with her husband Ron, a media consultant, they have taken a similar tack with their 12-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. “Pot is so much a part of our lifestyle, the kids take it for granted.” Amy, her husband and their friends have smoked weed for more than 30 years and have no intention of stopping. “When our kids have friends over—especially ones who we don’t know—we go into the bathroom, or up on the roof, to get high. And we certainly don’t buy pot with them around, say if a dealer comes to our home. But after all, this is the East Village.”

At a certain age, when Amy felt her kids were ready, she told them that she and Ron weren’t smoking cigarettes. “Then we went on to say that what we do is okay, but it’s against the law,” said Amy, “and we could go to jail for it if certain people found out.”

You don’t want to see Mommy and Daddy in an orange jumpsuit in chains behind bars, do you? That’s pretty effective. Amy and Ron also explained that not every law is good or just and that what they were doing wasn’t wrong; that some drugs, like medicines, are good, and other drugs, like heroin, cocaine, nicotine, PCP, glue, Ecstasy and acid, are very, very bad. “When they started school,” said Amy, “we told them never to mention that we smoke anything at all. And it’s surprising how well they understand.”

This medical tack is similar to the one used in a forthcoming 2005 children’s book, Just a Plant (justaplant.com) by Ricardo Cortes, an educator and Webmaster of the art-and-culture website magicpropagandamill.com. The book tells the story of a little girl who discovers her parents smoking marijuana. Cortes then follows the efforts of the family to rationally explain to their daughter just what pot is and what it does.

“She goes to a farm, and the farmer talks to her about how it grows, how it has seeds and how it’s used for a lot of different things,” says Cortes. “People use corn for eating, people use marijuana for making canvas, paper, etc. Then there’s a medicinal aspect: How does it affect the body? In the story, she goes to a doctor to find out about it. He tells her patients use it as a medicine; there are many plants used as medicine. The doctor also explains that because it’s a medicine, it’s not something for children.”

Cortes takes care in the book to explain that there are things adults can do that kids can’t: driving a car, having a glass of wine, drinking coffee. Then he deals skillfully with the illegality of pot. “At that point in the story, the child is like, I learned everything there is to know about pot, and it sounds beautiful.’ But if you just stop there, that’s dangerous, because now the little girl goes to school and says, ‘Yeah, my mom smokes pot!”’

In the story, the girl then stumbles upon some kids smoking a joint and tells them she knows what they’re smoking. Then the cops roll up for the last lesson of the story: It’s illegal. Cortes brings in the history of Prohibition and tries to portray the cops as good guys, to an extent, by stressing that there are laws they don’t like enforcing. “The cop says that this is how our country works,” Cortes explains, “and if you want to change a law, there are certain ways to go about it.”

But as Tahisa found, as children get older, social institutions intervene to make changes in a parent’s pot policy. “We stopped smoking for awhile because we could see our kids were being pressured at school. They gave a citywide questionnaire to the kids. We kept our son home from school that day because he told us about it, and it was really like: Rat out your parents and rat out your friends. We didn’t want to put him on the spot by making him have to lie, so we stopped smoking.”

But old habits die hard for parents who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. “My husband still doesn’t smoke pot, but I started again. Because, in the words of Louis Armstrong, it relaxes me,” Tahisa said with a smile.

Other parents take an entirely opposite approach to herb and kids; one of hide and deny. Dennis and his wife Dee are raising twin girls, now 13 years old. Both girls are very bright and go to top-tier public schools on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

“I don’t tell them. That’s it,” Dennis laughed, then became serious. “There’re two ways to deal with it. One is how I deal with it when I want to get stoned, which is to go into the bathroom, open the window and lock the door. That kind of works, although one time we were out on Fire Island and I had smoked a joint in the bathroom, and my daughter goes in right afterwards and says, ‘Dad, that incense you burned really stinks!’ She was 11 or 12—they don’t know anything.”

Dennis fears that his daughter will be at a rock concert and somebody will be smoking a joint near her, and, says Dennis, “Her friends will say, ‘Oh, it’s pot!’ And she’s going to say, ‘Oh, no it’s not, it’s incense!’ And she’s going to look like an idiot and figure out that I lied.” Dennis has also gone to extremes to conceal his THC jones by concocting marijuana butter. “The feeling was that smoking is bad for you, so I’ll try a different way of doing this. I thought that if I could get this down, I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom to smoke. I’d go to the refrigerator!” Dennis cooked up a butter recipe he found in High Times, but the project backfired. “We ate the butter, went to a party, had a great time, got really, really stoned—like we were tripping—and then we went out to dinner by ourselves. And we were both super-paranoid, terrified, and we stayed stoned for the next two days.”

The problem with the hide-and-deny method is, what do you tell your children when they inevitably ask? Do you tell them the truth? “They hear in school that marijuana sucks,” says Dennis. “We were on a long drive, and one of my daughters asked my wife if she ever smoked pot. And I’m thinking, ‘What is she going to say? It’s never come out that direct.’ And she said no. Then I’m thinking, ‘What am I gonna say? Yeah?’ Then my daughter said, ‘Dad, and you?’ And I said no, and she said, ‘Good.’ I think it’s a scary thing to be asked, because of what they see on TV and what it means, like breaking the law. They’re brainwashed. And I don’t want them smoking pot, you know? When they’re in college, they can smoke pot. I don’t think they should be smoking pot in junior high school or high school—even if I did!”

That brainwashing is orchestrated straight from the top, at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). ONDCP reports directly to the president, and it serves as a kind of amorphous umbrella organization for all of the precisely calibrated “campaigns” that “target” parents and young people with misleading and disingenuous public-service advertisements. ONDCP coordinates overall drug policy, along with the efforts of other government/business coalitions such as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, to keep America scared of marijuana with recent media campaigns like Parents: The Anti-Drug and My Anti-Drug, specifically directed at kids. ONDCP’s Ad Gallery features such gems as Wallet, in which a young teen takes us down to the basement to meet his wasted, long-haired, glassy-eyed older brother, who looks more like a dope addict than a pothead, and who “never did anything at all.”

From the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the creators of Parents: The Anti-Drug (theantidrug.com), comes Slam, a truly vicious commercial teeming with violence and anger, in which a father and his teenage daughter yell and scream with vein-popping animus (“I hate you!”), slamming the door repeatedly in each other’s faces, after Dad covertly searches his daughter’s room and finds—horror of horrors—a bag of pot! Once again, so much for the Fourth Amendment, at least if you’re under 18. By the way, the daughter in the spot looks well over the age of consent. The commercial condones this kind of despotic, foaming-at-the-mouth behavior with an ambiguous admonition to parents at the end: “Afraid of a few slammed doors? Get over it. Because to help your kid with their problem, first you have to get over yours.” Let’s look at this statement: At first it seems to imply that the parents should get rid of their explosive anger, but actually it justifies this oppressive approach. The problem parents have to get over is their reluctance to get violent and hysterical. Obviously compromise, conflict resolution and reasoned argument are for sissies.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign also sponsors My Anti-Drug (freevibe.com), which brings us, in Spanish, Dummies, featuring the famed crash-test dummies (which used to promote seat belts) toking it up and getting into a devastating accident in a lab dedicated to making accidents happen. You don’t have to speak Spanish to figure out La Causa. Ads also come in Cambodian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Dummies mines the same vein of malleable truth and outright mendacity as the spot with the poor Hispanic kid mourning the loss of a friend in a traffic accident and blaming it on pot. What the ad fails to mention is that accidents involving pot usually also involve alcohol. Liquor is metabolized by the body in hours, leaving pot—which can stay in the fatty tissues for months—to take the blame.

And, of course, the ad that has generated the most controversy is the 2002 Super Bowl Sunday spot that equated blowing a J with supporting international terrorism. (“Where do terrorists get their money? If you buy drugs, it might come from you.”) Presumably Osama bin Laden gets a cut from every nickel-bag sold in America. Quaffing down a sixpack is way cool, because it’s legal. Filling up your SUV with expensive gasoline from those good friends of the Bush family (and our valiant ally in the war on terrorism), the House of Saud, is also no problemo—save when the dough goes to support Muslim madrassas throughout the world where children learn that Jews are pigs and monkeys, the United States is the Great Satan, and the lust for death is far more powerful than the lust for life. Think of it as No Terrorist Left Behind.

It’s swell for Budweiser to spend 50 G’s a second to keep people drinking beer—that’s free enterprise. It is quite another thing for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to spend over $1.6 million each for two 30-second ads during the Super Bowl, the biggest media market in the United States, to blast government propaganda down the throats of 130 million people. Since 1997, over a five-year period, approximately $1 billion has been allocated to paid media—your tax dollars at work, on behalf of ad agencies and TV networks. And most studies have shown that these scare tactics increase, rather then lessen, a kid’s curiosity about illegal substances. The moronic This Is Your Brain on Drugs campaign, which likened the Stoner’s cerebrum to an egg in a frying pan, became one of the most parodied and ridiculed advertisements of its day.

Maybe it’s time to allow parents who smoke pot to raise their children their own way, exercising responsibility and good judgment, and with the guidance, honesty and intuition that only a parent can bring to their children’s lives. Take the billions being squandered on frightening our kids and freaking out their parents, and turn it over to libraries, colleges and our sorely underfunded public schools—or return it to the taxpayers as a rebate, so the citizens of America can finally afford some decent herb.

High Times Magazine, July/August 2004

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: How To Talk to Your Kids About Pot (2004) appeared first on High Times.

Ohio Lawmakers File Medical Cannabis Revamp Bill

Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill to revamp the state’s medical marijuana laws that would create a new state agency to oversee the program and allow more patients to use cannabis medicinally. The measure, Senate Bill 9, was introduced by state Senators Steve Huffman and Kirk Schuring on January 11 and on Tuesday was referred to a legislative committee for consideration. The bill is similar to another proposal from the last legislative session, Senate Bill 261, that failed to gain approval in the Ohio House of Representatives after passing in the Senate in December 2021. 

Both pieces of legislation attempt to update Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2016. Under the new bill, a new state agency, the Division of Marijuana Control, would be created as part of the Ohio Department of Commerce to regulate the state’s medical marijuana program. The legislation also creates a 13-member commission responsible for oversight of the new agency and the medical program. Under current law, the state’s medical marijuana program is overseen by the Ohio Department of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. 

“What we’ve found is that many of the growers want to expand and grow more,” Huffman said in a statement quoted by local media. “There’s more growers, there’s more demand. They put an application into the Department of Commerce, and it sits there for 18 months, two years. Hopefully this takes the bureaucracy out of this and streamlines things and make it a better-functioning industry.”

Ohio Bill Adds New Qualifying Conditions

Senate Bill 9 would also add autism spectrum disorder, arthritis, migraines, chronic muscle spasms and opioid use disorder to the state’s list of medical conditions that qualify a patient to use cannabis medicinally. Currently, the list of qualifying conditions includes more than two dozen serious medical conditions including cancer, chronic pain, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and terminal illnesses.

The measure also allows medical marijuana use by patients who have other debilitating medical conditions that can be treated with medicinal cannabis, as determined by their physician. The earlier bill had a similar provision, allowing patients to use medical cannabis if a doctor decides that “the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana.”

In a committee hearing on Senate Bill 9 held on Tuesday, Huffman and Schuring told their colleagues that many medical marijuana patients in Ohio are crossing state lines to obtain cannabis from neighboring states with more liberal marijuana laws. As of Januray 1, ore than half of the more than 320,000 patients who have registered in the history of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, only about 164,000 had an active doctor’s recommendation and patient registration, according to information from state regulators.

“The largest dispenser for Ohioans is in Michigan,” Huffman said in testimony Tuesday. “We need to turn that around, and make it more friendly, so people come here and they have a safe, viable product.”

Senate Bill 261 also would have allowed the state’s licensed medical marijuana cultivators to expand their growing operations. Although the provisions to increase the square footage of allowable cultivation space are not included in the new bill, Huffman said he is open to amending the legislation to add the increased growing area.

“In my discussions with Sen. Schuring, we felt this would be a positive move and positive change for the industry,” Huffman said. “At the same time hopefully members of the House will be comfortable with it.”

Recreational Marijuana Proposal Under Consideration

Ohio lawmakers are also considering a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Frank LaRose reintroduced the proposal, which would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and levy a 10% tax on commercial cannabis products. Activists had hoped the measure would appear on the ballot for the November midterm election, but legal challenges caused delays that led to an agreement with state officials to revisit the issue this year. If the state legislature does not approve the measure within four months, the Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group spearheading the legalization effort, can collect signatures to put the proposal before the voters in the fall.

Despite the adult-use cannabis legalization bill, Huffman, who is a physician, said that he is still interested in improving the state’s medical marijuana program. If recreational marijuana is legalized, he said it would create an environment without “much of a medical marijuana industry.”

“This bill, to me, is not so much about the ballot initiative, but to make the industry as best as we can,” Huffman said.

Trent Woloveck, the chief strategy officer of Jushi, a vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operator that last week opened Beyond Hello Cincinnati, the company’s first medical marijuana dispensary in Ohio, called on state lawmakers to approve Senate Bill 9 in a statement to High Times.

“If passed, SB 9 will make safe, tested medical cannabis products accessible to more Ohioans by expanding qualifying conditions, authorizing additional administration forms and codifying mechanisms to allow responsible, incremental industry growth,” said Woloveck. “Ultimately, the changes proposed in SB 9 will facilitate a stable supply chain, reduce product prices and generally benefit Ohio patients.”

Senate Bill 9 has been referred to the Senate General Government Committee for consideration. At a hearing on Tuesday, the Republican chair of the panel, Senator Michael Rulli, said that the committee would move quickly on the bill.

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Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Sends Medical Pot Regulations to N.C. Assembly

According to the Citizen Times, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Council met on Jan. 12 and successfully voted to introduce the tribe’s medical cannabis regulations to the North Carolina General Assembly. The resolution states that this is done with the intention “to further the agenda effectively and efficiently coordinating in the administration of medical cannabis laws across the jurisdictions of the state of North Carolina and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

EBCI Chief Richard Sneed addressed the Tribal Council at the meeting, which consists of 12 members, about the necessity of keeping in communication with lawmakers in North Carolina. “All this is, is it as a matter of tribal law, before anybody does any work engaging with the state or federal legislature, we have to have permission of the governing legislative body to do so,” Sneed said.

“Any tribal council member—chief or vice chief—who engages in Raleigh or in D.C., we need essentially marching orders to do so. As this next legislative session in Raleigh gets started and we’re down there doing lobbying work, this just grants permission for us to talk to them about medical cannabis, and the subsequent North Carolina law that will probably be on the floor during the next general assembly.”

In August 2021, the EBCI Council voted 8 to 4 to legalize medical cannabis. Over one year later in November 2022, the EBCI announced that they harvested their first medical cannabis crop, and also began accepting job applications for the tribe’s medical cannabis dispensary, which is being operated by Qualla Enterprises LLC and is set to open sometime in 2023.

The EBCI Council voted in December 2022 to give Qualla Enterprises $63 million. According to Qualla Enterprises General Manager Forrest Parker, the tribe will be able to properly regulate its business. “It gives us a lot of confidence that we’re surrounded by people that have done this so many times, that have the experience, that have the understanding,” said Parker. “This tribe, I’m so proud of us for putting us in a position to learn from other people’s mistakes so that when we do this right, that number is precise. It’s not $150 million because we’re trying to cover all these things that we don’t know. We actually feel like we actually know.”

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The EBCI is also funding its own Cannabis Control Board to manage the business, including licensing, audits, annual reports, and more. One control board member, David Wijewickrama, who is also an attorney, shed some light on what to expect in 2023. “There are a lot of moving parts to this project that we’re learning every day,” Wijewickrama said. “The tribe’s given us a lot of resources to ensure this process succeeds.”

As for nearby states with cannabis, only Alabama and Virginia offer medical cannabis programs. Once the EBCI dispensary opens, it will only allow patients who have a tribe medical cannabis card to purchase cannabis. Those patients must also be approved as suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (such as AIDS, anxiety disorders, cancer, or glaucoma), a medical condition that causes wasting syndrome, muscle spasms (such as those caused by multiple sclerosis), and chronic pain, as well as neuropathic conditions or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cardholders will be allowed to purchase one ounce (or about 2,500 milligrams of THC) or less per day, and no more than six ounces (or 10,000 milligrams of THC) per month. This particular limitation will be enacted until at least August 2024. After that time, the board can review and change the rules.

The EBCI is just one of many tribes looking to take part in the medical and/or adult-use cannabis industry. In New York, the Oneida Indian Nation announced last year that it was seeking to launch a seed-to-sale cannabis business in 2023, while the Saint Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk Tribe partnered with actor Jim Belushi to open a dispensary in October 2022. This is followed by the Seneca Nation of Indians, which seeks to open a dispensary in Niagara Falls in February 2023.

Across the country in San Diego, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel currently operates its own dispensary, called Mountain Source Santa Ysabel. The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe owns a dispensary called NuWu Cannabis Marketplace.
The Lower Sioux Indian Community recently announced that it will build a hemp processing facility with the goal of creating a hempcrete test home. “There are 20,000 uses for the plant. I can’t think of a better one for our community members than to give them a home that will last forever,” said Lower Sioux Tribal Council Vice President, Earl Pendleton.

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