Death Count From Synthetic Cannabis Consumption Keeps Rising


Despite efforts from law enforcement, the death count from synthetic cannabis consumption keeps rising in Illinois. The latest victim to fall prey to the dangerous chemical cocktail was a young woman who died on March 28. Although officials have not yet determined the 22-year-old’s cause of death, her autopsy revealed the tell-tale signs of poisoning found in several similar cases of severe reactions to synthetic cannabis use across the state.

Chemicals Used In Synthetic Cannabinoids Linked To Severe Internal Bleeding

Going back to early March, Illinois’ Department of Public Health has received more than 89 reports of hospitalizations due to severe bleeding.

After recognizing a pattern in the cases of severe bleeding, state health officials began linking them to synthetic cannabis use.

Typically branded as “Spice” or “K2,” synthetic cannabinoids are lab-made analogs to the cannabinoids marijuana plants naturally produce, such as THC. But the less-than-perfect copies often produce unpredictable and sometimes lethal consequences.

Synthetic cannabinoids are more “potent” than natural plant cannabinoids and can, therefore, more powerfully affect the brain. Highs from the synthetic drug can be much more intense, longer-lasting, and debilitating.


Oftentimes, however, the adverse reactions to synthetic cannabis use stem just as much from the chemicals used to make the faux cannabinoids. And that seems to be the case for the 22-year-old woman whose recent death health officials have linked to her use of synthetic cannabis.

Specifically, the woman’s autopsy indicated the presence of the lethal anti-coagulant brodifacoum. Simply put, brodifacoum is a poison and widely used in pesticides and to kill rats and other rodents.

When ingested, brodifacoum causes severe internal bleeding. Its effects can last from weeks to months and are often fatal.

“Symptoms may range from unexplained bruising, bleeding from the nose or gums, blood in the urine or stools, coughing up or vomiting blood, to bleeding in the brain,” said toxicologist Dr. Jenny Lu.


Even if symptoms do not manifest, brodifacoum massively impairs blood’s ability to clot, increasing the risk of dangerous bleeding. Dr. Lu encourages anyone who has used synthetic cannabis to seek immediate medical attention, even without signs of bleeding.

Third Death Linked To Synthetic Cannabinoid Use In Illinois

Brodifacoum is a highly lethal rat poison. And it seems to be the common denominator linking the recent rash of severe bleeding cases in Illinois. Patients who admit to using synthetic cannabis are testing positive for the poison.

No official cause of death has been declared for the 22-year-old woman who died on March 28 from excessive internal bleeding. But state health officials are finding more evidence that chemicals used in “Spice” are the culprit.

For their part, Illinois law enforcement agencies have begun cracking down on stores selling “Spice” or “K2” products.

Chicago police have already shut down a handful of convenience stores suspected of selling synthetic cannabis. But officials have not yet linked those stores to the products causing the bleeding.

The Final Hit: Death Count From Synthetic Cannabis Consumption Keeps Rising

As the death count from synthetic cannabis consumption keeps rising, state health officials in Illinois are searching for answers. The March 28 death of a young woman at Advocate Christ Medical Center represents the third synthetic cannabis-related death since severe bleeding cases began spiking in early March.

But the problem with “Spice” is its easy availability. It’s a problem that’s only compounded by the perception that “Spice” is a legal alternative to natural plant cannabis. Cannabis use is illegal in Illinois except as a medicine. By identifying the common ingredient in the synthetic drug that’s causing the bleeding, however, state health officials are one step closer to a solution.

How Many Dispensaries Are In Each State?


How many dispensaries are in each state? With 29 states that all have some form of legalized marijuana, the number of dispensaries in the country is rapidly increasing to serve existing and emerging markets. States like California have recently implemented their recreational marijuana laws. As a result, many old dispensaries have shut their doors and new ones have surfaced as companies await their license to sell. We used data from state governments with legalized marijuana to see how many dispensaries are in each state.

Recreational Marijuana State Dispensaries


With many states adopting recreational marijuana laws, the number of dispensaries countrywide is rapidly changing.


Dispensaries: 261

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana but not the first to go recreational. In 2016, California’s Proposition 64 passed, legalizing the sale of cannabis to adults. There are currently no businesses with full licenses to sell in California. However, temporary licenses are being awarded so retail cannabis is being distributed. According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, there are currently 261 active temporary retail licenses to sell cannabis for adult use.



Dispensaries: 61

Nevada had their first medical marijuana dispensaries opened in 2015. Residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016. The laws went into effect on January 1st of 2017. Now, weed can be legally acquired at any of the 61 dispensaries listed on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 93

In 2014, Alaska voted to tax and regulate the legal production, sale and use of marijuana. A license search on the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development website yields 93 results for Oregon dispensaries.


Dispensaries: 560+

According to the Oregon government website, the number of approved licenses to marijuana retailers went from 213 in July 2016 to 560 by the end of January.

Washington – 103 retail stores

Dispensaries: 103 retail

Washington has had recreational marijuana for quite some time now so there are now many dispensaries in the state. According to Washington’s Department of Health website, there are currently 103 retail cannabis stores but many more “medically endorsed stores.” This means they have medical marijuana consultants on staff.


Dispensaries: 520


Colorado has by far, the largest number of dispensaries in any state. The Colorado Department of Revenue has a list of all the licensed recreational and medical marijuana dispensing centers. There are 520 recreational facilities with 505 medical ones as well.


Dispensaries: 19

On November 8th, 2016 Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast to legalize cannabis. As of December 31, 2017, Massachusetts has 19 registered marijuana dispensaries around the state.

Medical Marijuana State Dispensaries


California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, about half of the nation’s states have legalized medical marijuana. In states with strict laws, medical marijuana is limited to patients with truly debilitating conditions. Other states that allow a wider range of patients to register as medical marijuana patients and they have more dispensaries as a result.


Dispensaries: 8

8 total Medical Use of Marijuana Program Dispensaries

Maine joined Massachusetts in legalizing recreational marijuana on the East Coast. However, retailers currently have no way to get the required licenses. As a result, the only dispensaries in the state are only accessible to medical marijuana patients. There is currently 8 listed medical use of marijuana program dispensaries on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 100+

Arizona is one of the first states with a drive-thru dispensary. Unfortunately, they are one of the few states that keep their list of dispensaries confidentialto anyone other than registered medical marijuana patients that cannot grow their own marijuana in the state.

However, the number of dispensaries allowed in the state is somewhere between 120 and 126. The number of dispensary agents is public. There are 4,731 individuals that can distribute marijuana on behalf of a dispensary.

New Mexico

Dispensaries: 68

New Mexico’s medical marijuana law was signed in 2007. Since it’s been more than a decade, there are now many dispensaries for the state’s patients to choose from. The state has 12 manufacturers that distribute from their own dispensaries. Recent data shows a total of 68 dispensaries in New Mexico.


Dispensaries: 50+

Medical marijuana laws in Montana were signed in 2004. Only patients with severely debilitating or terminal conditions qualify for medical marijuana in the state. Despite this, the number of dispensaries in the state has gradually increased over the year. According to the Montana Department of Health, they cannot give information out about dispensaries. However, there are over fifty listed online.

North Dakota

Dispensaries: 0

The North Dakota medical marijuana law was only signed in 2016. The program is not yet operational and there are no current dispensaries. The program was supposed to go into effect on April 18, 2017. The earliest effective date for medical marijuana rules would be on April 1, 2018.


Dispensaries: 8

The Minnesota medical marijuana law was signed in 2014 and it is currently operational. Several state-licensed dispensaries have opened. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Health has eight locations listed on their website.


Dispensaries: 100+

Michigan is currently in the process of accepting medical marijuana business license applications but there are over 42,000 caregivers registered to supply cannabis. There are currently well over one hundred dispensaries listed online but they will close soon if they don’t receive a license when they’re distributed later this year.


Dispensaries: 53

Illinois is one of the states with a long list of qualifying conditions but they have a decent number of dispensaries. The medical marijuana laws in Illinois were signed in 2013. Since then, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation list 53 licensed dispensaries across the state.


Dispensaries: 0

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has yet to release the list of licensed dispensaries despite the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. There is a delay because the law only came into effect in 2016 and the program is still a work in progress. So far the Department of Finance and Administration has released a list of all the names and proposed locations of applicants.


Dispensaries: 0

The Louisiana medical marijuana program has yet to start. Worst of all, the number of doctors that are approved to issue a “physician recommendation form” can be counted on one hand. If all goes according to plan, the program will begin operating this summer.


Dispensaries: 27

Florida has medical marijuana laws but they are restrictive like the laws in other states like New York. Medical marijuana treatment center is the term for a dispensary in Florida. These centers are responsible for cultivating and processing the cannabis. Additionally, they sell to qualified medical marijuana patients. There are 27 dispensaries total listed on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 0

The Ohio medical marijuana laws were signed in 2016 but the program hasn’t started yet. The State Board of Pharmacy may award up to 60 dispensary licenses. So far, the board has received hundreds of applicants. There is no one to sell medical marijuana in the state yet. Unfortunately, patients will have to wait while the program starts handing out licenses to sell.

West Virginia

Dispensaries: 0

West Virginia signed their marijuana laws in 2016. As a result, the program is not yet operational. Therefore, there are no operating dispensaries in the state as of now. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Program will release the application for dispensaries in the first quarter of 2018.


Dispensaries: 6

Six dispensaries received approval to start selling medical marijuana products once they are available. The only dispensary to have a grand opening is in Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, they have no product. Therefore, patients won’t be able to make purchases until mid-February or later.


Dispensaries: 0

A judge temporarily halted the medical marijuana industry in Maryland on the request of a company that alleged state regulators ignored racial diversity when deciding who could grow legal cannabis. A trial in June will determine whether state regulators acted outside of the law when awarding the first fifteen preliminary licenses to grow. So, there will still be some time before Maryland sees its first operational medical marijuana dispensary.


Dispensaries: 2

Delaware currently only has two dispensaries owned by the same company. First State Compassion is currently the only provider of medical marijuana in Delaware and more are on the way.

New Jersey

Dispensaries: 5

New Jersey adopted their medical marijuana program rules in 2011. Since then, only a few dispensaries have opened up their doors in the state. In fact, the state currently has five operational medical marijuana dispensaries with more on the way.

New York

Dispensaries: 19

New York has one of the stricter medical marijuana programs for patients with debilitating conditions. In fact, there is no actual smokable cannabis available at dispensaries. However, other cannabis products are available at New York’s 19 registered medical marijuana dispensaries. More are opening soon which will more than double the number of dispensaries in the state.


Dispensaries: 4

Vermont has had medical marijuana laws since 2004. Despite the early start date, few dispensaries have opened in the state. More than a decade later, there are only four operational dispensaries located in Montpelier, Brandon, Burlington and Brattleboro.

New Hampshire

Dispensaries: 4

The Therapeutic Cannabis Program passed through the state legislature in 2013 but things have moved slowly since then. In fact, only a few dispensaries have opened up. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services lists 4 dispensaries or “alternative treatment centers.”


Dispensaries: 9

Medical marijuana laws in Connecticut came about in 2012 and not too many dispensaries have opened up since then. According to Connecticut’s official state website, there are 9 total medical marijuana dispensary facilities in the state. That will change soon because the state is looking for more medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rhode Island

Dispensaries: 3

Rhode Island medical marijuana patients can purchase their medicine at compassion centers around the state but there aren’t many. As expected with a small state the Rhode Island Department of Health website lists compassion centers in only Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth.

Washington D.C.

Dispensaries: 8

Washington D.C. has legalized recreational marijuana but there are currently only medical marijuana dispensers. There are eight medical dispensaries in the state total but most of them in the North East region.

Final Hit: How Many Dispensaries Are In Each State?

Since marijuana laws in several states have changed in recent years, the online listings of marijuana dispensaries in certain states are unreliable according to research.

“The online listings appear to be inaccurate. We only found 815 out of the listed 2,174 dispensaries were active. This is 37 percent of the listings,” Erick Eschker, co-director of the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research stated.

The number of how many dispensaries are in each state will change because a few states are currently working on implementing their programs. Once they are operational, the number of dispensaries nationwide will continue to increase.

Congress Just Extended Federal Medical Marijuana Protections


Congress just extended the federal medical marijuana protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, or the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. It happened early Friday morning when President Donald Trump signed a huge budget deal that brought a short federal shutdown to an end. But these temporary protections still face some uncertainty in the coming months. The latest spending plan only runs until the end of March. At that time, the medical marijuana community could become more volatile at the hands of the Department of Justice.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment Keeps Going


The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents Attorney General Sessions from spending tax dollars to prosecute medical marijuana businesses and patients, has been a part of the federal budget for the past few years. In fact, this is the eighth time the rider has been renewed since 2015.

This temporary rider is the only document on the books that protects medical marijuana states. Without it, the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would have free rein to investigate, raid and prosecute all connections to statewide medical marijuana programs.

Congress Riding Same Budget Since 2015

This does not mean Congress has been giving medical marijuana serious consideration during budget talks. It has not. Since Rohrabacher-Farr has been a part of the federal budget for the past three years, it has been gliding on the coattails of the renewal process. Basically, since Congress has not approved a new budget since 2015, the federal medical marijuana protections keep living.

Similar riders have been proposed in the past, but none have ever been given the time of day.


Sessions Pressures Congress to Eliminate Federal Medical Marijuana Protections


It is distinctly possible that the medical marijuana debate will come to a head next month. The current protections are only good until March 23. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment must find its way inside a much larger budget to maintain. If it will survive the next round of negotiations is anyone’s guess. The protections are at risk for elimination. Attorney General Sessions has been pressuring both the House and Senate to ensure this happens.

It was just last year that Sessions sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to abandon support for Rohrabacher-Farr.

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and a potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote last June. “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Final Hit: Congress Just Extended Federal Medical Marijuana Protections

Congressional leadership will need to approve the language for inclusion in the new appropriations for the rider to stay intact. Although the Senate has shown some support, the House of Representative has been less than enthusiastic. As NORML political director Justin Strekal pointed out in his analysis, “The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled, should Congress ever set a FY18 budget, of which is already over a third of the way behind us.”

Indiana Has Finally Legalized Industrial Hemp


Indiana has finally legalized industrial hemp, which means that farmers could soon have the freedom to grow this cash crop. Lawmakers have been pushing for years to bring this versatile plant to the Hoosier State. But some worry it is a step in the wrong direction.

Law enforcement and other state officials have voiced concerns that fields of hemp might become problematic. They believe it might create opportunities for black market players to grow weed under legal cover. Maybe even become so confident that they take it a step further and grow organic weed.

There is also the concern that permitting farmers to grow marijuana’s low-THC cousin might be a pathway to full-blown legalization. Nevertheless, the Indiana Legislature has taken steps to legalized industrial hemp.

Indiana House Votes to Legalize Industrial Hemp

Earlier this week, the Indiana House voted unanimously in favor of a measure allowing Indiana farmers to cultivate industrial hemp. The proposal, which was brought to the table by Republican Representative Jim Lucas, would give farmers the opportunity to grow hemp in the same fields as corn and other crops.

The goal is to provide the agriculture sector with a new economic opportunity—create jobs for Indiana families.


There seems to be a lot of support in the 2018 session for an upgrade to last year’s CBD oil law. Lawmakers from both parties are now pushing for a more comprehensive reform.

But the idea of allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp is not exactly the move that some lawmakers had intended. Still, supporters of the Lucas’ “jobs bill” hope to convince the naysayers that this is the right move for the state economy.

Not only would industrial hemp production lead to economic growth, but it could also open up a venue for patients to get local CBD products. Yet, federal law is still a concern.

Some lawmakers are still worried that the Justice Department and its head goon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are going to impose a crackdown. So they want to err on the side of caution.


“Everything I’ve seen says industrial hemp is probably a harmless crop,” Senate leader David Long told the Indianapolis Star. “I have no problem with that, I’m just not sure the federal government issue isn’t still holding us back.”

Federal Farm Bill and Hemp Legalization


In 2014, the federal government passed a bill that gives states permission to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. Many states, including Indiana, took advantage of this opportunity.

There were some problems, at the beginning, with respect to getting seeds without hassles by the DEA. Kentucky, which has one of the strongest industrial hemp programs in the country, made national headlines with its seed debacle.

But in Indiana, industrial hemp is a relatively quiet scene. As for now, Purdue University is the only location allowed to grow the crop. Still, no one is positive whether the “research” adheres to federal law.

“There’s been no research that I’ve seen directly,” professor Janna Beckerman, a hemp researcher at Purdue, told the Star. “It’s sort of a big wink: ‘Oh yea we’re doing research.'”


But if Indiana was to get on the same page as Kentucky, big opportunities would come-a-knocking. Some of the latest data shows that Kentucky farmers produced 3,200 acres of industrial hemp in 74 counties last year.

And the new industry has created hundreds of new jobs. The state was recently approved to grow 12,000 acres of the product in 2018.

Final Hit: Indiana Has Finally Legalized Industrial Hemp

Regardless of the obvious benefits, many conservatives in the Indiana Senate are expected to carefully approach the industrial hemp bill. This chamber is responsible for the majority of the snags with last year’s CBD proposal.

Many lawmakers still do not understand that industrial hemp does not have intoxicating prosperities. That it is impossible to get high by smoking this stuff.

They fail to comprehend that if marijuana is beer, hemp is O’Doul’s. But the two plants look similar, and that is enough for some lawmakers to turn their backs.