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Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Votes to Legalize Marijuana

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5,871 miles of open Pacific Ocean waters separate the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from the coast of California. But the 15-island chain that makes up the United States’ westernmost territory is poised to do something no U.S. state has ever done.

On Wednesday, 18 of CNMI’s 20 legislators voted to approve a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use. The bill would also legalize medical cannabis and industrial hemp. And if CNMI Governor Ralph Torres enacts the bill, the territory will make legalization history—twice.

CNMI Would Be First U.S. Jurisdiction to Go From Total Prohibition to Full Legalization

This isn’t the first time CNMI lawmakers attempted to legalize cannabis. As recently as May, the CNMI Senate approved a piece of legislation nearly identical to the House-approved bill. Procedural issues, however, stymied the bill’s progress.

After another false start in the Senate, the House opted to file its own bill. It took less than a week for the full chamber to vote to approve the proposal.

 

That act alone makes CNMI unique among the 9 U.S. states that have legalized adult-use marijuana. Vermont comes closest, having legalized marijuana through a legislative process rather than a ballot initiative. But unlike CNMI’s proposed legislation, Vermont’s law doesn’t establish a retail market. The Mariana Islands’ legislation would.

There’s a second way CNMI would make legalization history if the bill becomes law. Every U.S. state that has legalized adult-use marijuana did so only after establishing a medical cannabis program. But in CNMI, there is no medical marijuana. The territory would be the first U.S. jurisdiction to go from total prohibition to full legalization.

What’s Next for Legal Cannabis in U.S. Territories?

Despite the tremendous distance between the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the continental United States, the territory has been closely watching legal cannabis unfold there. Indeed, the overwhelming support for the proposal in the House is due to lawmakers’ recognizing the significant benefits of legal weed.

 

The full text of the legislation, SB 20-62, cites how states with regulated markets for marijuana “have observed real and significant benefits to public health, safety and quality of life for all residents,” and goes on to list medical benefits like treatments for pain, epilepsy and PTSD, social benefits like a reduction in overdose deaths and lowered crime and economic benefits like tax revenue and job growth.

But the bill still has a couple more hurdles to clear before it becomes law. The CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 is currently on its way back to the Senate for approval. After that, it will head to the desk of Gov. Ralph Torres, a Republican who has expressed concerns about legalization.

In response to House passage of the bill, Torres stressed the importance of taking “a look at both sides of the coin.” Torres wondered about the crime statistics in states with legal weed and other public safety issues.

 

Whether those reservations would ultimately lead Gov. Torres to veto the legislative effort and oppose the will of CNMI residents, however, remains to be seen. Public hearings about the act had higher attendance than any hearings senators could remember. Initially, legislators had designed the bill as a voter referendum before adopting it in the Senate.

CEO of US marijuana company MedMen says Oregon, Colorado are 'horrible markets' to be in

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  • CNBC's Jim Cramer sits down with Adam Bierman, the co-founder and CEO of the marijuana dispensary operator whose stores have been dubbed the "Apple Stores of weed."
  • Bierman explains why Oregon, Washington and Colorado are not considered ideal markets for weed retail.

Marijuana dispensary operator MedMen sees major hurdles in operating in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, where pot is medically and recreationally legal, co-founder and CEO Adam Bierman told CNBC on Monday.

Bierman, whose company functions in California, Nevada, New York and Florida, called the first three fully legal U.S. weed markets "horrible markets to be in" in an interview with "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.

"[It's] good for business that those are tiny markets that, in the grand scheme of things, maybe matter not that much," the CEO said.

"What's really important to understand is every market since those markets came online [has] been supply constrained, so limited licenses and, most importantly, especially for the MedMen's case, the most arduous retail zoning restrictions known to man," Bierman continued.

While MedMen is licensed to operate in the United States, where some of its retail locations have been affectionately dubbed the "Apple Store of weed," the company is publicly traded in Canada on the Canadian Securities Exchange and the OTCQB Venture Market.

In early June, the Canadian Senate voted to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide. The move would make Canada the first and only country in the G-7 to fully legalize marijuana.

But Bierman won't stop at Canada.

"From the beginning, we've been the 'Why not?' people," he told Cramer. "Why can't you build a billion-dollar business in this industry? Why not? Why can't you take the biggest U.S. weed company and make it public and available for people to own all over the world? Now, there's a lot of roadblocks in that kind of an attitude and we can't list here in the U.S., so we have to list in Canada and, unfortunately, that's the only place to go. Now, fortunately, it is a place to go and they've been great partners."

According to MedMen, some of the company's California stores bring in over $20 million a year in revenue. When the company reaches $1 billion in revenues, Bierman said he'll "look at what's next."

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Part of MedMen's mission is to make marijuana mainstream, as illustrated by its latest marketing campaign, "Forget Stoner." The visual ads attempt to buck the "stoner" stereotype with photos of professionals and others who say they use marijuana.

It could even help stem the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States by offering individuals an alternative solution to prescription pills, Bierman said.

"The concept of a stoner or a stoner image is something that's yesteryear," the CEO said. "This is about Chardonnay moms. This is about working dads. This is about marijuana substituting and replacing, you know, other things that people are already utilizing that, in some instances, are detrimental to their health."

Marijuana Sales: Strong in Nevada, Disappointing in California

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© ThinkstockLegal sales of marijuana for recreational use began last July in Nevada and in January in California. Although California sells a lot more legal weed than Nevada, California sales are much lower than projected while Nevada's are much higher.

First the good news. From July 2017 through March 2018 (the first nine months of Nevada's fiscal year), combined taxable sales of marijuana totaled $386 million, of which nearly $305 million represents sales for recreational use. Sales in March posted a record total of just over $41 million. Through March, the state has collected almost $49 million in taxes, about 97% of its estimated full-year take of $50.32 million.

 

The less-good news about recreational pot sales comes from California, where the latest projections based on sales to date estimate sales will be about half the original estimates.

According cannabis industry analyst firm New Frontier Data, sales in California this year will total $1.9 billion, exactly half the original estimate of $3.8 billion. Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, CEO of New Frontier, told the Los Angeles Times that strict rules on growers, distributors, and retailers combined with low governmental authorization in California cities are to blame.

Only about 30% of California's 540 cities have have so far permitted commercial cannabis activity. The effect has been to send consumers to the black market where they pay no taxes and illegal sellers easily undercut legal prices.

In February the Los Angeles Police Department shut down 8 illegal pot stores but the deputy chief told the Los Angeles times that another 200 to 300 illegal stores were still operating in the city.

Marijuana tax collections in California totaled $33.6 million in the first quarter of 2018, virtually guaranteeing that the state would not reach its estimated 6-month total of $175 million in tax collections.

California's estimated legal and illegal marijuana market totals around $7.8 billion. About $2.3 billion comes from sales of medical marijuana. If the legal market is only taking about $1.9 billion of the total, the rest ($3.6 billion) is going to the illegal market.

And that illegal market is only for sales inside the state. California also exports (illegally, of course) tons of marijuana. State residents consumed about 2.5 million pounds of marijuana (most of it illegally) in 2016 and produced about 13.5 million pounds. Those 11 million pounds are sold, illegally, to out-of-state buyers.

Seattle Municipal Court Asked To Vacate Hundreds of Marijuana Charges

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Following a new trend in decriminalization, the Seattle municipal court has been asked to vacate hundreds of marijuana charges from up to thirty years ago. Philadelphia made a similar move when District Attorney Larry Krasner announced that his office dropped 51 marijuana charges. Both decisions may have been inspired by San Francisco’s District Attorney who was the first to dismiss thousands of marijuana convictions.

Why Are Cities Dropping Marijuana Charges?

San Francisco was motivated to undo the wrongdoings of the past. That’s when they lifted thousands of marijuana charges dating back to 1975. It would have been hypocritical to allow recreational cannabis to be sold in stores while people continue to suffer from mere possession.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes believes dismissing marijuana possession cases will best serve the “interests of equity and justice” in his city. When he became City Attorney he vowed to stop all prosecution of marijuana possession cases.

“As we see marijuana sold in retail storefronts today, people who simply had a joint in their pocket a decade ago still have a red mark on their record,” Holmes told The Stranger.

One of the main motivating factors in San Francisco was the racial disparity in convictions. Holmes also cited the adverse impact marijuana arrests have had on people of color.

 

“It’s long past time we remedy the drug policies of yesteryear, and this one small step to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color. I’m hopeful the court will choose to clear these charges.”

In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner told reporters dropping marijuana possession charges would free police resources to “solve homicides.”

Washington residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis way back in 2012. According to the Washington Department of Health, there are over one hundred licensed cannabis retailers. There are also “medically endorsed stores.” So far cities in California, Pennsylvania and Washington have chosen to expunge the records of those who were punished for cannabis possession.

Dropping hundreds of marijuana possession charges is a start but there is still plenty of damage to be undone in the rest of the country. Despite the rhetoric of Jeff Sessions, the gears of legalization and decriminalization continue to turn.

 

In fact, the city of Baton Rouge also loosened their penalties for marijuana charges to prevent more communities of color being destroyed. The city of Albuquerque also met to discuss marijuana legislation.

Marijuana News: A Senate Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana At The Federal Level Is On Its Way

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ut plainly, the cannabis industry is budding worldwide. Cannabis research firm ArcView Group has estimated that North American legal marijuana sales could explode from $9.7 billion in 2017 (which represented 33% sales growth from 2016) to more than $47 billion by 2027. Meanwhile, Cowen Group recently raised its global legal cannabis sales forecast from $50 billion by 2026 to $75 billion by 2030.

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool. 

At the heart of these lofty sales estimates is a major shift in consumer opinion toward pot. What had once been considered a taboo topic is no more. Five national polls over the trailing one-year period -- CBS News, Gallup, Fox News, Pew Research Center, and the independent Quinnipiac University -- found support ranging from 59% to 64% for nationwide legalization. Furthermore, support for medical marijuana in the aforementioned Quinnipiac University poll from August hit an overwhelming 94%. 

Despite Changing Opinions On Cannabis, The U.S. Is Stuck In The Mud

Yet in the United States, the cannabis industry remains stuck in neutral. Despite the fact that 29 states have broad medical marijuana laws and nine states have OK'd the use of recreational weed, the federal government has entrenched its stance on cannabis being a Schedule I drug. This places weed on par with drugs like LSD and heroin, suggests it's highly prone to abuse, and means it has no recognized medical benefits.

In addition to being wholly illegal at the federal level, marijuana's Schedule I status can wreak havoc on businesses operating in the pot industry, as well as patients hoping to receive medical cannabis or cannabis-derived medicines.

For instance, marijuana companies often have little to no access to basic banking services, which constrains their ability to expand and hire. Also, the three-decade-old tax rule known as 280E disallows businesses that sell a federally illegal substance from taking normal corporate income-tax deductions. This means that profitable pot companies could pay an effective tax rate of as high as 90%! And, as noted, patients can suffer given the lengthy amount of red tape surrounding medical cannabis trials and research.

The industry is also challenged by Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the Justice Department. Sessions is perhaps the most ardent opponent of cannabis in Washington, and he's tried on more than one occasion to upend state-level expansion. In May 2017, Sessions (unsuccessfully) requested that a few of his congressional colleagues repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which is responsible for protecting medical marijuana businesses from federal prosecution.

However, Sessions was successful in rescinding the Cole memo in January. The Cole memo provided a loose set of guidelines that states would follow in order to keep the federal government at bay. These guidelines included keeping grown cannabis within legal states and ensuring that adolescents didn't have access to marijuana. Its rescinding opened the door for state-level prosecutors to use their discretion in bringing charges against individuals or businesses that violate the Controlled Substances Act.

This Influential Congressional Leader Is Set To Introduce A Decriminalization Bill

But big changes could be on the way. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced a little over a week ago his intention to introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level -- i.e., remove it from the controlled substances list.

In an interview with Vice News Tonight, Schumer had this to say:

The time has come to decriminalize marijuana. My thinking -- as well as the general population's views -- on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there's no better time than the present to get this done. It's simply the right thing to do. 

If this sounds somewhat familiar, it's because former House Speaker John Boehner, who once described himself as "unalterably opposed" to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, announced his change of heart just days before Schumer made his own announcement about proposing a decriminalization bill. Said Boehner in a statement to CNBC on why he was joining a cannabis company's board of advisors:

Like that of millions of other Americans, [my thinking on cannabis] has evolved as I've learned more about the issue. I decided to get involved because of the struggles of our country's veterans and the opioid epidemic, after learning how descheduling the drug can potentially help with both crises. Descheduling will reduce the conflict between federal policy and state programs. 

However, Schumer's proposal wouldn't completely wipe out the ability of the federal government to enforce certain controls. Federal regulators would still be able to penalize instances of drug trafficking between legalized states and states that have not chosen to OK the use of legal weed. In addition, the federal government would retain authority over marijuana advertising so as to ensure that children aren't targeted. Ultimately, though, states would have the final say on whether or not cannabis is legal and how it's regulated.

Is Decriminalization A Real Possibility?

Of course, the $64,000 question is this: Does Schumer's decriminalization bill have a chance of passage in the Senate and/or House?

Based on the current make-up of Congress, I'd suggest it wouldn't pass. In Gallup's October 2017 survey, 51% of respondents who identified as Republican favored legalization, albeit this "majority" was still within the margin of error for the poll. Though this represented the first time in history a majority of the GOP was in support of legalization, Republicans still have a decidedly more negative view of weed relative to Democrats and Independents. With numerous big-ticket issues expected to be on the table in Congress this year, including healthcare reform and an infrastructure bill, the chance of a decriminalization bill gaining majority support seems unlikely. 

But things could change after the midterm elections in November. If Republicans lose their majority in the House and/or Senate, it may be possible to garner enough support to reschedule or decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Should the U.S. alter its stance on cannabis through decriminalization, it's probable that Canadian growers would rush in to stake their claims. For example,  Aphria (NASDAQOTH:APHQF) , which is expected to be a top-three grower by annual production in Canada (approximately 230,000 kilograms a year), announced its intention to sell off its passive U.S. assets in the wake of Sessions' repeal of the Cole memo. Aphria made good on this promise in February when it announced a divestiture of more than 26.7 million shares of medical cannabis company Liberty Health Sciences. If the U.S. reverses its anti-cannabis stance, Aphria would likely reenter the U.S. market, along with most of its peers. 

More importantly, decriminalizing marijuana in what could arguably be described as the most lucrative weed market in the world would likely remove any concerns about a marijuana glut in Canada. With some estimates suggesting that supply in Canada could outweigh domestic demand by over 1 million kilograms of dried cannabis, the ability to export to legalized countries will be paramount to supporting the margins of Canadian growers.

Personally, I don't believe this is an issue that'll be resolved anytime soon. Chances are that we're going to need to wait until a few months after the midterm elections before we get any clarity on whether a decriminalization bill has any chance of passage in the U.S.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

New Orleans is About To Get Its First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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The Big Easy is about to pass a major milestone in the ongoing expansion of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. Thanks to a come from behind victory from the second-generation owner of a father-son pharmacy that’s been in business since the sixties, New Orleans is about to get its first medical marijuana dispensary.

Louisiana Awards Dispensary Permit To New Orleans Pharmacist With Roots In The Community

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Pharmacy Board awarded Ruston Henry, pharmacist and owner of H&W Drug Store, with a permit to operate one of the state’s first ten medical marijuana dispensaries.

Founded in 1961, H&W Drug Store has changed hands and changed locations a couple of times over the years. But the pharmacy has always been a fixture of New Orleans’ 9th Ward, serving the community for over half a century.

Ruston, the son of Sterling J. Henry, took over the family business from his father in 1999. And in a last-ditch effort to win the permit, he appealed to that sense of tradition.

Henry’s testimony certainly worked. Because going into the advisory panel’s discussion, a subcommittee of the Pharmacy Board had ranked H&W Drug Store fourth out of five applicants for Region 1. Region 1 includes New Orleansand neighboring cities.

The board ultimately rejected the subcommittee’s first recommendation, The Rx Greenhouse, because of a poor choice of location that raised concerns among some members. The Rx Greenhouse, which operates another dispensary in Maryland, planned to set up shop in an existing building near an indoor playground area.

Seizing the opportunity, Henry made sure to convey to the board his pharmacy’s long-standing roots in the community. The board voted unanimously, at 9-0, to award the permit to H&W.

Louisiana Will Approve At Least Nine Medical Marijuana Dispensaries This Week

State health officials have divided Louisiana into nine designated healthcare regions. According to the state’s medical marijuana law, each region will initially get one dispensary. The Pharmacy Board plans to issue additional permits on an as-needed basis.

On Tuesday, the board approved permits for dispensaries in Regions 1 through 4. Located in Region 1, New Orleans is about to get its first medical marijuana dispensary, along with cities in the other three regions. The board will award permits to pharmacies in Regions 5-9 on Wednesday.

But restrictions built into the medical marijuana program will shape the kinds of products dispensaries can sell.

 

Louisiana law prohibits the sale of cannabis in any kind of smokable form. However, medical cannabis patients in Louisiana will be able to access the drug in pill, oil, spray and topical forms.

As in other states, patients will need a recommendation from a physician registered with the state’s medical marijuana program. Qualifying conditions include chronic, severe, debilitating diseases, like cancer, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Louisiana will also face restrictions governing the source of cannabis products they can sell.

The raw, medical-grade cannabis can only come from agricultural centers at Southern University and Louisiana State University. And vendors under contract with those universities are the only ones that can process and manufacture non-smokable medical cannabis products.

The Final Hit: New Orleans is About To Get Its First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Sales should begin a couple of months after the Pharmacy Board approves the initial round dispensaries for operation.

According to the current timeline, that means patients in New Orleans could access legal medical cannabis products as early as June.

Legal Marijuana Sales Could Surpass Soda Sales by 2030

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Experts are predicting a huge increase in marijuana sales. According to Cowen & Co, a research company, U.S. marijuana sales will rise to $75 billion in the next twelve years. As soda’s popularity wanes, legal marijuana sales could surpass soda sales by 2030.

Weed Is More Popular Than Ever. Soda Isn’t.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 9 states, and more are expected to follow suit this year. In addition to these states that allow recreational marijuana use, medical marijuana accessibility is on the rise. According to Bloomberg, over 1/5 of Americans can smoke the herb whenever they want.

More Americans and Canadians than ever are taking advantage of legalization. In 2016, Americans and Canadians combined spend $53.3 billion on weed. This makes Cowen & Co’s initial report that the marijuana market will make $50 billion annually by 2026 alone seem low.

The soft drink market is experiencing the opposite trend. North American soda consumption fell to a 31-year low in 2017. Euromonitor International calculated that the soft drink market went from $78.3 billion in 2016 to $76.4 billion in 2017.

Data analysts expect the trend towards weed, which has numerous health benefits, and away from sugary soft drinks to continue.

 

Predicted Weed Sales in 2030

This means big profits for legal recreational weed. Noting the sharp increase in weed consumption, Cowen & Co amended its initial prediction of $50 billion per year. Analyst Vivien Azer tells Bloomberg, “New forecasts suggest that the market is already that size.”

The firm now predicts that the weed market will earn $75 billion by 2030. This is closely behind the soft drink market in 2017, which made $76.4 billion. Furthermore, experts expect the profits reaped by soft drink companies to diminish while the weed industry grows.

Will Weed Impact Alcohol Sales?

Legal marijuana sales could surpass soda sales by 2030 not because weed is replacing soda, but because people are considering healthier options. Comparatively, marijuana legalization could have a direct impact on alcohol sales.

Two studies suggest that marijuana reduces, rather than increases, alcohol consumption as was previously believed. Published in 2017, Helping Settle the Marijuana and Alcohol Debate: Evidence from Scanner Data looks at the correlation between the two. This study found that legalizing marijuana reduced alcohol sales by 13.8 to 16.2 percent. the study concludes, “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes.”

A second study only recorded data from states where medical marijuana is legal. Researchers still discovered that legal medical marijuana decreased alcohol sales. Georgia State University economics professor Alberto Chong explains, “The drop in [alcohol] sales is so huge—it’s like 13 percent—that there has to be some leakage.”

Liquor companies are well aware of the negative impact recreational marijuana can have on liquor sales. California’s Proposition 19, failed to pass in 2010 due to the efforts of the liquor lobby. Wikileaks divulged that Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America contributed to political forces against legalization.

 

Final Hit: Legal Marijuana Sales Could Surpass Soda Sales by 2030

It’s hard to imagine the scale or the effects that legal marijuana will have in the near future. With federal legalization, marijuana sales could eclipse soft drink sales and take a chunk out of the alcohol industry’s profits. But for the time being, it looks like marijuana will be making $75 billion annually in twelve years.

Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

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What seems on its surface like an early win for cannabis advocates in Michigan may, in fact, be an attempt to rig the state’s upcoming general election. The question of legalizing recreational marijuana will appear on the November ballot, and voters are expected to turn out to register their support. But the prospect of higher voter turnout has some GOP lawmakers in Lansing worried. Concerned better turnout could impact other races, they’ve begun discussing ways to take legalization off the ballot. But broad support for the issue leaves them with just one move. And that’s why Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot.

In A Bid To Suppress Voter Turnout, GOP Lawmakers Want To Legalize Weed Early

Historically, higher voter turnouts tend to favor more liberal or progressive candidates. In other words, more voters typically means more Democrats in office.

No wonder Republican-controlled state legislatures have made voter-suppression tactics a staple of their political strategy. And their efforts have accelerated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Voter-suppression tactics include things like closing polling locations, issuing strict ID laws, voter purging and disenfranchisement. Gerrymandering, or the redrawing of election districts to favor particular candidates, is another way of distorting democratic representation.

And in these areas, Michigan is one of the worst. In December 2016, Michigan’s Republican-led House passed some of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws in the face of strong objections from Democrats and civil society groups. ID requirements tend to make it harder for minority, elderly, and student voters—groups that tend to vote Democrat—to cast their ballots.

 

And in April 2017, The Center for Michigan found that gerrymandering in the state is among the nation’s worst. The report shows how districts dramatically and disproportionately favor Republicans.

Put plainly, Michigan Republicans have a documented history of using extreme voter-suppression tactics. And one could argue these have already had a major impact on U.S. democracy. Donald Trump won Michigan by just 10,704 votes.

GOP Lawmakers In Lansing Fear Putting Legal Weed On The Ballot Could Flip The House

The fewer voters the better, as far as GOP lawmakers in Michigan are concerned. But nothing tends to rock the vote quite like a vote on legal recreational marijuana.

All the recent polls show overwhelming support for legal recreational in Michigan. So much so, in fact, that if the vote were to happen today, the measure would pass overwhelmingly.

But polls show another interesting thing about the issue of legal weed in Michigan. Namely, that it could drive voter turnout enough to impact other races.

 

And in an unpredictable election year many feel could be a wave election flipping state assemblies for the Democrats, some Republicans are viewing the pot voter boost as a legitimate concern.

A few GOP lawmakers in Lansing have already begun discussing whether they should attempt to legalize weed through a legislative process ahead of the state’s general election in November.

In other words, Michigan may legalize recreational marijuana before November ballot in an attempt to keep voters who would otherwise come out to support the ballot, home

Experts expect races will be tight this November. So even a two to three percent boost in voter turnout could make the difference in many districts and cause Republicans to lose the House.

The Final Hit: Michigan May Legalize Recreational Marijuana Before November Ballot

So far, the question of whether to legislatively pass recreational cannabis has been a behind-closed-doors topic among Republican lawmakers. “I don’t think it’s reached critical mass at this point,” said political consultant Dennis Darnoi.

Indeed, deep divisions persist among the caucus over the issue of recreational weed. But concerns over losing the House might be enough to overcome them. Michigan Republicans have previously tried to move a legalization bill through the legislature with no success.

What is BHO?

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BHO stands for butane hash oil. It is a potent form of cannabis concentrates that comes in various consistencies including buddershatter, wax and more. The name comes from the fact that butane is the solvent used to extract the oils from cannabis.

There are dangers involved with using butane to extract, including a risk of explosion. Not to mention, any pesticides, mold or other contaminants that were in the processed weed will end up concentrated in the extract. This means there are risks to both extractors and consumers.

To ensure your safety, the task of making BHO is best left to experts with the proper materials and equipment. There are a lot of errors that can be made during the extraction process that will lead to contaminants in the extract even if the flower used was clean. So if you are a consumer, you’ll want to make sure your butane hash oil is coming from a reliable source.

How Is It Extracted?

Plant material is loaded into a tube and it is soaked in butane as a solvent to separate the oils out. However, there are more than one ways to make butane hash oil.

Open Blasting

 

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The original method of making BHO, which commercial extractors have stepped away from, is called open blasting.

Open blasting is an outdated technique that is considered both dangerous and wasteful. The danger comes from the fact that there is nothing to contain the flammable solvent. As a result, any ignition near where you are open blasting will result in a fiery explosion.

Closed-loop

 

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There are advantages of closed-loop systems other than having no openings for flammable gas to leak out of. All solvents are filled into a pressurized tank then attached to the extraction tube where all the plant materials are held. It’s worth noting that even though a closed-loop system is safer than open blasting, safety checks, precautions and measures must be taken to ensure nothing goes wrong. Seemingly small issues like a blown gasket can cause much larger issues.

 

The next advantage is the fact that solvents can be reused. Residual solvents collect in the recovery tank where they can be stored and recycled.

How To Consume It

Consider this a warning, if you are not a heavy cannabis consumer and you have no experience with cannabis concentrates, start slow. They call consuming extracts “doing a dab” for a reason. You only need a “dab” or a small amount to feel the potency.

The most common way to consume BHO is with the assistance of a torch flamedab rig and nail. Most modern concentrate users prefer low temp dabbing with the addition of a carb cap. E-nails are a great way to enjoy the advantages of low-temperature dabbing without the need for a torch or butane. An e-nail usually consists of two parts: the controller where you can adjust the temperature and the heating element that wraps around a nail.

When BHO first gained popularity, titanium nails were used to drop super hot dabs, seconds after the nail is torched. Since then, dabbing has evolved to more effectively vaporize cannabis oils with minimal compromise to the flavor.

Low Temp Dabbing

 

Low-temperature dabs involve getting your nail about as hot as can be and waiting for it to cool before dropping the extract in.

Depending on your specific nail and the amount of time you spent heating, you can wait anywhere from about 20 seconds to over a minute. It all depends on how much heat the nail can retain. Once the nail is cool enough to vaporize the oil without completely burning the terpenes and cannabinoids away instantly, it’s safe to drop the dab.

Add the carb cap once the extracts have melted onto the nail. If it was harsh and burnt tasting, with stickiness to your lips or teeth, you went in too hot. If it was smoother and more flavorful than a high-temperature dab, you did it right and there should be some leftover oil to Q-tip up. You have to constantly clean your nails if you want to keep the flavors prominent and maximize vaporization.

Quartz Insert

 

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The next step in the evolution of low temp dabbing is the quartz insert. Quartz inserts take things a step further by forcing the concentrates to rapidly go from a low-temperature to a higher one. This allows you to experience cannabinoids and terpenes at a temperature that you previously couldn’t with a nail and cap alone.

Quartz inserts come in different shapes and sizes. The ones we are talking about are in the shape of cups that fit into any of the best quartz bangers on the market.

To taste as much of your terpenes as possible while maintaining a constant level of vaporization, we recommend trying the insert drop technique. Pre-fill the insert with your concentrate and set it aside.

Next, heat up the banger for about a minute all around. Depending on your bangers heat retention and the size of your dab, you can drop the insert in 5 to 30 seconds after you cut the torch flame. Bigger dabs should be dropped sooner. Wait a little longer on fresh nails with thick quartz.

Different Consistencies Of BHO

There are over a dozen different kinds of cannabis concentrates. Even if you use butane every time, the consistency of the material will vary. This is due to the material and techniques utilized during the extraction process. Many look like wax while others have a glassier appearance.

Oil

 

Oil is what we call the loosest consistency of butane hash oil. It’s sticky and only a bit thicker than a liquid. Oils that are slightly thicker than normal are called saps. Oils and saps are difficult to handle compared to other consistencies. As a result, they have become one of the least popular forms of BHO on the market.

Budder

 

Budder is a consistency that can be attained by introducing agitation during the extraction process. The name comes from the fact that it is similar in consistency to butter. It looks a little wet and it can be easily scooped and spread. There’s no real advantage to having a budder over a crumble or shatter. It all depends on preference. Wax pen users might prefer budder, crumble or shatter over a sappier oil.

Crumble

 

Crumble is named after the fact that it crumbles like dry cheese when you scoop some. Everytime you scoop from a wad of crumble, tons of tiny bits that are harder to scoop up break off. Crumble easier to handle than oils but less desirable than budder and shatter.

Shatter

 

Shatter is pretty much the only form of cannabis concentrate that can be handled without the assistance of a tool. The name comes from the fact that it shatters like glass. In fact, the real glassy stuff will end up breaking and flying off with a tool. Shatter can come in a looser “pull ‘n snap” consistency which is easier to handle with a tool.

Live Resin

 

Live resin concentrates are almost always made with butane. They differ from other extracts because of the material used. Nugs or trim that was just harvested and cryogenically frozen is used in the extraction process. They can take on different consistencies including THCa crystallinesauce, sugar, shatter and budder.

Final Hit: What Is Butane Hash Oil (BHO)?

Butane hash oil is the most common method of making cannabis extracts. Most of the concentrates on the shelves of dispensaries are made with it. If you’re not comfortable with consuming or working with hydrocarbons, there is a cheap, easy and non-explosive way to make dabs at home called the rosin technique. Extractors can also make hash without putting themselves at risk of physical harm. Combine the rosin technique with hash making techniques to end up with connoisseur-quality products like live rosin.

Legal Medical Marijuana In South Carolina Is Closer Than Ever

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In major medical cannabis news out of South Carolina, a bill that would legalize the drug for seriously ill patients made it out of committee on Thursday and will soon be under consideration in the full Senate. Now that it’s possible for the bill to get a floor vote in both chambers before the end of the current session, legal medical marijuana in South Carolina is closer than ever.

South Carolina’s Compassionate Care Act Clears Committee

On Thursday, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee voted to approve S 212, a bill that would grant qualifying patients access to medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation.

Next up, the bill will face consideration before the full Senate. It will very likely come to a floor vote before the current legislative session’s April 10 deadline.

S 212 would task the Department of Health and Environmental Control with regulating and licensing cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing labs. Additionally, the department would establish a patient and caregiver registry and distribute registration cards to those enrolled.

The Compassionate Care Act, however, prohibits patients from smoking medical cannabis. For patients, the herbaceous form of cannabis is the most cost-effective, but dosing can be more challenging. Healthcare professionals also view smoke inhalation as a health hazard.

 

Law Enforcement Lobbying Hobbles South Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Bill

Other restrictions in S 212 would make South Carolina’s one of the most carefully regulated medical cannabis programs in the country. Those restrictions are the result of lobbying efforts by some in law enforcement.

As a result, legislators introduced several additional safeguards and amendments to address law enforcement concerns. And that has upset many supporters of the bill. They feel lawmakers are caving to pressure from police and ignoring testimony from prominent medical professionals.

Other law enforcement officials, however, have spoken out in favor of S 212. Jeff Moore, former executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said: “it is presumptuous, irresponsible, and arrogant for law enforcement officials to take it upon themselves to determine what medical resources should be available for the citizens of South Carolina who are suffering and in need of relief.”

Indeed, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel has made repeated statements claiming marijuana has no medical value. He also vowed not to support any legislation that went against the federal ban on cannabis.

The bill’s supporters, like Moore, have criticized Keel for “hiding behind dubious federal policy.”

 

Moore’s son, a combat veteran, uses medical cannabis to treat his PTSD. He lives in Michigan, one of the 29 states, along with D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, with legal medical cannabis.

So while medical marijuana in South Carolina is closer than ever before, advocates will likely have to continue to struggle to expand access for ill patients.

State representatives who support the bill have broad public support. According to a September 2016 poll, 78 percent of South Carolina residents approve legalizing medical cannabis.

The Final Hit: Legal Medical Marijuana In South Carolina Is Closer Than Ever

Despite the Compassionate Care Act’s progress, there’s still a chance the bill won’t make it out of the legislature this session.

The Senate is moving forward.

But the House has so far declined to hear its own version of the medical cannabis bill. And that could mean it stalls on S 212. The deadline for S 212 to advance is April 10.