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July 9, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Canada Will be Legal on October 17

Recreational Cannabis in CanadaCongratulations to Canada for passing Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which received royal assent on June 21 after being passed in the country’s Senate by a vote of 52 to 29 (with two abstentions). According to Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, adult-use recreational cannabis in Canada will officially become legal on October 17, 2018. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re thrilled to see such sweeping reform.

How did Canada achieve this milestone? Many attribute the progress to Trudeau and the Liberal Party’s platform during the 2015 election promising to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.”

After Trudeau’s victory, the Canadian government formed the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation to research and develop its recommendations for legalizing recreational cannabis. The group consulted with the public, as well as government leaders across the country’s provinces and territories.

Based on their findings and initial groundwork, Bill C-45 was introduced to Parliament in April 2017 and sponsored by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Along with the obvious goal of legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in Canada, the bill aims to deter the criminal black market and to keep cannabis out of the hands of children.

During the back and forth between legislators, numerous changes were made to the bill. Ultimately, out of 40 amendments proposed by the Senate, 13 were rejected by federal Liberals. This pushback stopped outright bans on home cultivation and the ability of cannabis producers to brand their merchandise.

Upon the passing of the Cannabis Act, Wilson-Raybould stated, “I am proud of the work accomplished by our Government, Parliamentarians, and all Canadians who contributed to this important shift in our country’s approach to cannabis.”

What Does the New Cannabis Act Allow?

Though dependent on limitations implemented by territory and province, the new law allows adults to:

  • Buy cannabis from authorized dispensaries, including fresh, dried, oils, seeds and plants;
  • Publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or the non-dried equivalent;
  • Share (not sell) up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis with other adults;
  • Cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants (per household) no taller than 1 meter in height;
  • Consume cannabis in authorized locations, determined by territory and province; and
  • Prepare various cannabis products, such as edibles, in their homes provided that no dangerous organic solvents are used in the process.

All cannabis provided to provinces and territories will come from federally licensed producers. Now that the Royal Assent has been granted, purchasing may begin so that distributors and retailers can prepare to open in October. No sales will be legal until the official date.

In addition, recreational cannabis in Canada must remain within its borders. It is currently illegal and will remain illegal to take cannabis out of the country, as well as bring it back from other countries.

Provinces and Recreational Cannabis in Canada

While cannabis will be federally legalized, territories and provinces will also have the power to enact certain restrictions and laws. Here are a few highlights:

 Ontario:

Adults age 19-years or older will be able to buy cannabis from government-operated storefronts or websites. You’ll be able to cultivate up to 4 plants and consume on private property (residences) only – however, landlords will be able to restrict use.

Quebec:

Like Ontario, cannabis purchases must be made via government-run websites and retail locations. The minimum legal age here will be 18, and smoking will be allowed in the same areas as tobacco, except for university and CEGEP (vocational college) campuses.

Growing at home will not be permitted. Whether this will be enforceable remains to be seen. According to Wilson-Raybould, because homegrown cannabis will be legal at the federal level, citizens will be able to challenge the province’s ban in court.

Recreational Cannabis in CanadaAlberta:

Here, the legal age will be 18 and Canadians will be able to buy cannabis in both retail stores and online from government-run sites. You’ll be able to grow your own, but landlords can restrict it. Smoking will be prohibited in cars, near children and where tobacco is not allowed.

British Columbia:

The minimum age in this province will be 19. You’ll be able to buy at stores or websites operated by either the government or private companies. You can grow up to 4 plants, but they must be hidden from public view. Smoking will have the same restrictions as Alberta.

New Laws for Youths and Impaired Driving

The Cannabis Act also creates new criminal offenses designed to protect Canadian youths from using cannabis. New and significant penalties will be imposed for selling or providing cannabis to youths, as well as involving them in the distribution, sale, import/export or production of cannabis.

Many of the advertising restrictions currently used for tobacco products will also apply, and selling, packaging or labeling cannabis products to appeal to youths will be prohibited.

As for drug-impaired driving, Bill C-46, the Impaired Driving Act, was passed at the same time as recreational cannabis in Canada. This parallel legislation includes harsh punishments for both drug and alcohol-related driving offenses. According to the new law, Canadians having 2-5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood within two hours of driving would be subject to a $1,000 fine. For 5 or more nanograms, hybrid offenses (drugs and alcohol), and repeat offenders, a maximum of 10 years in jail is not out of the question.

Most alarmingly, C-46 gives police the power to demand and perform mandatory alcohol screening on drivers without reasonable grounds to suspect impairment. They can simply pull you over at any time.

Final Thoughts

Legalized recreational cannabis in Canada will go into effect on October 17, ending nearly 100-years of prohibition and making Canada the first of the G7 countries to enact this type of federal-level policy. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re excited for such a huge victory and hope that the United States and other nations will soon follow. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

July 2, 2018

Cultivating Cannabis: Root Mass Equals Fruit Mass

cultivating cannabisIt only makes sense that if you're cultivating cannabis, creating a thick and healthy root mass helps produce high yields.

Now, how to actually develop and maintain substantial root mass is the real challenge. In fact, there are many factors to consider, all of which are important to developing a healthy root zone for your plants to thrive.

First, think of the roots of your plant as if they’re the vital organs in your body. They need oxygen and a balance of certain nutrients to function. If the roots are not cared for properly, they don’t work properly, and your plant will likely suffer or die.

Today, Medicine Man Technologies breaks down what you need to know about cultivating cannabis and creating a healthy root mass for a successful harvest.

The Healthy Root Mass Equation

Cultivating cannabis is both an art and a science.

You can’t just set containers out under a grow light, water your plants every couple of days and expect a robust harvest.

The equation for superior fruit mass is more complex, requiring you to keep a close eye on your plants to avoid issues like root stress, which can weaken a plant’s immune system and natural defenses. This increases the odds of potential problems in your grow room that will lead to reduced yields.

Start with the Right Container Size

In relationship to plant size, container size plays a significant role in root health.

When your pot is oversized for a young or small plant, it increases the risk of overwatering, deprives the roots of oxygen and increases the possibility of problems like disease and pests.

On the other hand, a small container with a large plant will result in your plant becoming root bound. This will cause your plants to have problems with water retention and nutrient uptake, which in turn will starve your plant.

Feed Your Plant the Right Nutrients

The main minerals associated with root growth and development are phosphorus and potassium. They promote the creation of new roots and strengthen existing ones as they mature.

Of course, oxygen is also required for cellular respiration and for roots to survive. Without proper amounts of oxygen, the roots will suffocate and weaken, potentially creating other problems. Low oxygen at roots will reduce yields, quality, and can even result in your cannabis plant dying.

Proper pH is another essential part of the equation when cultivating cannabis. With the correct pH balance, it will be easier for a plant’s roots to absorb the nutrients you provide.

On the flipside, an improper pH balance can lead to the build-up of mineral salts in your medium, creating inefficient nutrient absorption and affecting plant metabolism. For cannabis plants, the recommended pH range is 5.5-6.5 for hydroponic applications and 6.0-7.0 for soil.

Adding beneficial bacteria, such as mycorrhizae, to your medium can boost root development, reduce transplant shock and allow roots to absorb nutrients at a quicker and more efficient way. This fungus establishes a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, helping to break down elements into a form plants can more easily use. It will also increase salt tolerance when feeding with an inorganic, salt-based fertilizer.

Keep in mind that germinated cannabis seeds and clones are fragile and susceptible to over-fertilization, especially during their early stages of life.

Too many minerals will typically result in damage to the roots called root burn, which drastically slows or stops root development. You will want to focus more on aeration which can be increased through soil amendments to create better drainage.

Water Properly when Cultivating Cannabis

cultivating cannabisFor novice growers, overwatering is a common problem. And it’s not just about the amount of water a plant is given – but the frequency and the ability for the plant’s roots to uptake the nutrients.

During the vegetative phase and the early stage of flowering, your plant is developing roots. As the medium starts to dry, the plant will search for water. This triggers root growth, which is essential for healthy plants.

Allowing the medium to dry will help prevent root rot, one of the most common problems faced when growing cannabis indoors, however, avoid under-watering. During the mid- to late-flowering phase, under-watering can damage the plant, as well as reduce your yield and quality.

Then again, overwatering weakens a plant’s natural defenses and drastically increases the potential for pathogens or pests, such as fungus gnats and root aphids, to attack your roots. In time, you’ll learn how to find the balance between too much or too little water – it just takes practice.

Finally, let’s talk about water temperature when cultivating cannabis. While often overlooked, it can affect water’s ability to retain oxygen molecules. Temperatures above 75° drastically reduce the ability of water to retain oxygen. This creates an anaerobic condition that will very quickly degrade plant health and affect yields.

Using water that’s too cold can shock the plant, causing wilting and slowed or halted growth. The ideal temperature of your nutrient mix is 68°- 70°.

Ready to Cultivate Fruit Mass?

While cultivating cannabis might seem a bit daunting at first, focusing on root health is a great place to start. And by using the criteria we’ve outlined here, you’ll be well on your way. Remember to keep your grow area clean by removing sick or weak plants that can spread pests or other pathogens.

Finally, LOVE your plants! It will help you achieve the high-yield harvests that you desire. Good luck and happy growing!

June 4, 2018

Maine Overrides Governor’s Veto on Adult Use Cannabis

Adult Use CannabisIn May, Maine’s Legislature utilized a two-thirds vote to override Governor Paul LePage’s second veto of a bill to regulate the state’s adult use cannabis market. The House voted in favor of an override 109-39, and the Senate’s tally was 28-6, more than enough to seal the deal.

The team here at Medicine Man Technologies applauds this move to uphold the will of the voters who approved Question 1 in 2016 and made Maine the fourth state to legalize recreational cannabis. Even the tight 50.3% to 49.7% vote was ultimately confirmed by a required recount.

As of January 2017, adults over the age of 21 are able to possess up to 2.5 ounces and use it in private, non-public spaces. Growing in your home or a non-visible area was also allowed, with a limit of 6 mature plants per adult. Question 1 also included social clubs and retail dispensaries as points of purchase. The sales tax rate was set at 10% with 98% of that revenue going to a general fund.

The Ups and Downs of Adult Use Cannabis in 2017

The start of the year saw the quick passing of a bill that gave lawmakers until February 2018 to hash out laws for the new cannabis market. This framework became LD 1650 which encompassed rules for licensing and regulating legal enterprises for cultivation, processing/production, and retail facilities. It also included language delaying cannabis use in social clubs until 2019.

With the House voting 81-50 and the Senate voting 22-9, LD 1650 was finally sent to Gov. LePage for approval in October of 2017. Unfortunately, he vetoed the bill.  

In response, David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Maine political director and campaign manager for the 2016 Question 1 campaign, stated, “Gov. LePage has made a mistake by vetoing this legislation. Instead of a regulated and controlled system of marijuana cultivation and sales, Maine will continue to support the unregulated market. In 2014, the governor said he would implement a legalization law if approved by voters, but he has failed to uphold that commitment.”

At the time, LD 1650 also didn’t have the required two-thirds majority to overrule the veto. So, a special committee was assembled to revisit the bill and make more adjustments. The revised version, LD 1719, will now go into effect thanks to the veto override. Here are key the changes to the original referendum:

  • Adults who grow at home can only have 3 plants instead of the original 6
  • Halts the establishment of social clubs for adult use cannabis
  • Eliminates delivery businesses, internet sales and retail drive-thru windows
  • Number of commercial grow licenses will no longer be capped
  • Maine residents with 4 current years of in-state living will be given licensing priority
  • Individual municipalities may enact a moratorium on adult use retail facilities
  • Doubles sales tax to 20% and sets aside 6% of those revenues for law enforcement
  • Retail licenses will not likely be available until spring of 2019

Meanwhile, Adult Use Cannabis is Still Legal in Maine

Adult Use Cannabis in MaineWhile advocates collectively groaned at the thought of waiting until 2019 for retail dispensaries to open, there are still ways for adults over the age of 21 to enjoy cannabis.

Residents of Maine can either grow their own plants or rely on friends with green thumbs to share their harvest or homemade edibles. The law allows people to possess and transport up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to give it to another adult as long as no money or other items of value are exchanged.

And in another bit of good news, one very unique provision of the original 2016 law went into effect on February 1st. Maine is now the first state to protect employees and job applicants (over the age of 21) from discrimination based on their cannabis use outside of the workplace. The state’s labor board has even removed it from the list of substances employers can have applicants or employees tested for.

While a simple, straightforward rollout of a medical or adult use cannabis program is always the goal, Medicine Man Technologies has seen far too often how complicated it can be to launch a new enterprise. Hopefully, things will move ahead more smoothly in Maine. We’ll keep you updated.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

June 1, 2018

Door Open to Legalizing Medical Cannabis in Thailand

medical cannabis in ThailandAfter decades of draconian laws and brutal punishments, a bill allowing the limited consumption of medical cannabis in Thailand has been approved by its cabinet. While this won’t help patients right away, it does open the door to medical research into its therapeutic efficacy. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re excited to see progress of any kind in a country notorious for a lack of tolerance.

The bill will now be in the hands of Thailand’s Parliament, also called the National Legislative Assembly, for further consideration and hopefully, approval.

A Brief History of Cannabis in Thailand

Cannabis was once very common in Thailand and used in many ways, from being the main ingredient in a traditional soup to providing medicinal relief for ailments such as migraines, cholera, malaria, digestion issues, dysentery, asthma, parasites and pain after giving birth. Topical treatments and oils for massage were also customary throughout the country. Even hemp was widely used for clothing.

When the United States got involved in the Vietnam War during the 1960s, the local market really took off. American soldiers encountered “Thai Sticks”, a native form of cannabis (dipped in opium), which they began mailing and packing to bring back home. It didn’t take very long for patients and enthusiasts around the world to seek out these sticks, making cannabis one of the prime exports out of Thailand.

In 1971, President Nixon officially declared a “war on drugs” and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established in 1973. They went after Colombian drug lords trafficking cocaine and eventually turned their attention to Thailand.

Likely feeling the pressure, Thailand passed a Narcotics Act in 1979 which severely punished anyone who produced, exported or imported cannabis. Punishment was harsh, up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of 1.5 million Thai baht ($40,000 USD). Visitors who were caught for possession even faced the death penalty – though it was primarily a threat tactic used by the police for bribery.

By the 1980s, Thailand had become one of America’s biggest allies in the war on drugs. However, zero tolerance policies led to massive busts and incarceration rates. It also gave rise to the rampant use of methamphetamine. Because meth labs are portable and producers are able to manufacture the drug in relative secrecy, it became the drug of choice while the government and law enforcement officials were focused on destroying a once thriving cannabis market.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Thailand’s Justice Minister, Paiboon Koomchaya, finally acknowledged that the so-called war on drugs had been lost, and it was time for both citizens and the government to approach the country’s drug epidemic as a public health matter requiring new, more sensible policies.

Medical Cannabis in Thailand Faces Long Road

medical cannabis in ThailandIf the bill is approved by Thailand’s Senate and House, the country’s existing Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) will begin to approve and set up legal operations to support medical research efforts.

At this point, researchers from the country’s Rangsit and Mahidol universities have already presented the ONCB with plans to research the medicinal properties of cannabis in treating cancer and providing pain management for various conditions. In addition, Rangsit has developed an oral cannabis spray that alleviates pain in cancer and multiple sclerosis patients. They’re pushing for patient use to be legalized so that the spray can be brought to market.

Another venture, to be carried out by the Thai Cannabis Corporation, includes cultivating 5,000 hectares (over 12,000 acres) of medical cannabis in Thailand over the next five years. It will be overseen by The Royal Project Foundation and all research will be conducted by Maejo University. The project will focus on sustainable and low-cost ways to grow and produce cannabis oils and extracts. Compliance with Thai law will require growing strains with high cannabidiol (CBD) and minimal tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to reduce psychoactive effects.

As for people wanting to grow medical cannabis in Thailand for patient use, the ONCB’s secretary general Sirinya Sitdhichai tempered expectations saying, “Three years from now, we may consider granting people such permission.” As for recreational, he was far more straightforward, “While we will allow the growing of marijuana and its use for medical purposes, we will control such activities. We will not allow marijuana use for entertainment purposes.”

Though progress may appear glacially slow, it’s still a drastic change for a country infamous for ruthlessly punishing anyone caught with illegal substances. Medicine Man Technologies will be watching closely as the bill progresses and research begins. We hope to see a new era of cannabis acceptance in Thailand.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

May 8, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Massachusetts to Launch in July

Recreational Cannabis in MassachusettsIn our last update on recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, Medicine Man Technologies provided a look at changes state lawmakers made to Question 4, the voter-approved ballot measure that legalized adult-use cannabis during the November 2016 election.

A compromise bill, known as HB 3818, included tax hikes and the option for municipalities to ban sales. It was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 28, 2017.

In addition, the scheduled date to start taking license applications for cannabis enterprises was pushed out to April 1st of this year with the earliest date for legal sales to commence targeted for July 1, 2018.

So, where is Massachusetts today?

Cannabis Licensing Rolls Out in Phases

With sales of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts set to begin in less than two months from now, the state is cutting it far too close for licensing to be granted and product to be grown, prepared and stocked. This will create a severe short-supply issue similar to what was seen in California, Nevada and other states.

Steven Hoffman, Cannabis Control Commission Chairman, is hopeful that the state’s current Registered Medical Dispensaries (RMD) will sell to retailers since these are the only enterprises that are cultivating legally at this point.

However, dispensaries are not required to sell, and the decision will be solely in their hands.

At this point, the Cannabis Control Commission has been flooded with applications from its first two phases and that trend is set to continue:

  • On April 2nd, priority was given to existing medical dispensaries wanting to expand into adult use, as well as “economic empowerment applicants.” These included businesses owned by, that employ or benefit communities affected by unfairly high cannabis-related crime arrests.
  • On May 1st, Massachusetts began taking applications from individuals and cannabis enterprises seeking licenses for cultivation, microbusiness, craft cooperatives, transport, independent testing labs and lab agents.
  • On June 1st, phase three will open licensing to applicants for cannabis product manufacturers and retail.

According to Hoffman, “I think the supply issues are going to – and I hate this bad pun – but we’re going to grow out of them. People are going to get cultivation licenses. It's going to take however many months it takes to grow plants. We're going to get that resolved."

Another Round of Changes is Made

In creating the infrastructure needed to regulate a system for recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission and Cannabis Advisory Board also made more changes:

  • For now, delivery services and on-site, public cannabis use (such as cafes) will not be allowed. A set of regulations to manage these ventures should be rolled out in the coming year.
  • Originally unlimited, regulators will restrict licensed growers to 100,000 square feet of canopy to help ensure that excess cannabis isn’t diverted to the black market.
  • To ensure that medical cannabis patients do not face a medication shortage, dispensaries must earmark 35% of their inventory for these patients.
  • At the point of sale, all cannabis products must be sold with a label utilizing an approved design that includes the wording, “contains THC” and “not safe for kids.”
  • For individuals and enterprises looking to enter the market, Massachusetts will ban anyone with a felony conviction for drug trafficking – other than for cannabis.

Final Hurdle Needs to be Overcome

While July 1st will be a big day for cannabis in Massachusetts, residents will not be able to buy it in every municipality. As we mentioned, HB 3818 gave each area the ability to ban cannabis businesses, including cultivators and retailers.

According to the Attorney General’s office, 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities currently have a ban in place. Most of these were established to give local lawmakers time to pass their own regulations and will expire in time for cannabis businesses to commence operations.

However, there are 59 bans with no set end date which means they could become “dry municipalities” and force residents to travel for purchases.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we look forward to seeing recreational cannabis in Massachusetts finally launch this July. While the road ahead presents supply and demand challenges, legalization has been a well-deserved win for its supporters and the entire state.

It’s our hope that the municipalities with bans will see the many benefits and enable the industry to grow and thrive in their communities.

If you want to start a legal enterprise in Massachusetts or anywhere across the globe, please get in touch with us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

 

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