Northern Mariana Islands Legalizes Cannabis, Makes History

CNMI flagOn September 21, 2018, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) became the first U.S. territory to legalize adult use cannabis through legislative action rather than a public ballot vote. Considering this group of small islands in the Pacific has a Republican-controlled congress and governor, Medicine Man Technologies was surprised to see such sweeping and progressive reform.

Governor Ralph Torres, signed the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 into law after the Senate passed it 6-0-2 and the House approved it 18-1-1. He stated, “Today, our people made history. We took a stand to legalize marijuana in the CNMI for recreational, medical, and commercial use.”

The governor’s sign-off comes just months after he raised concerns about how legalization would affect public safety, requesting a look at crime rates in states where cannabis had been legalized. Fortunately, available data for such states actually shows a decrease in violent crime which likely placated his fears.

What’s Included in the New CNMI Law

Now, a 5-person Cannabis Commission must be established to act as the regulatory agency for cannabis and hemp. It’s main duty in the first 180 days will be establishing and implementing new rules, as well as licensing six types of cannabis businesses: production, processing, testing facilities, wholesale, retail and lounges. While it will take time to establish the CNMI market, let’s take a look at a few highlights.

Adults 21 Years of Age and Older:
  • May possess and transport up to 1 ounce of cannabis, 16 ounces of infused products in solid form or 72 ounces in liquid form, and 5 grams of extracts.
  • Except for medical cannabis, may not possess or use in a government building or on federal property, on any school or college property (except for research), or at an establishment that is allowed to serve alcohol.
  • Registering with the Homegrown Marijuana Registry for adults, patients and caregivers will be required. However, if it’s not created with 120 days of the Cannabis Commission’s organizational meeting, adults may start growing (6 mature, 12 immature plants) and register once available.
  • Medical marijuana will require a physician’s recommendation and one qualifying condition such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and many more.
  • Consuming cannabis in public or in the presence of anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited and may garner a first-time fine of $250 and $1,000 for further violations.
  • Consuming while driving (including boats and other modes of transport), underage possession, importing/exporting, and excess possession are subject to various fines and/or imprisonment.
For Cannabis-Related Businesses:
  • Applicants for licenses must have continued residency in the CNMI for 10+ years unless they were away due to educational training or military service.
  • May not be located within 500 feet of a church, school building, hospital, clinic or youth center.
  • Only producers and micro-producers (25 plants or less) may possess and sell mature plants.
  • An individual may apply for and hold multiple licenses – however, you may only hold one micro-producer and one testing license at any given time.
  • All applications must be submitted with a $250 processing fee. Licenses for micro-producers are $250. For all other businesses, it was originally $4,500 but Gov. Torres vetoed this provision and requested that it be set higher.
  • There will be a 10% ad valorem tax on cannabis grown in the commonwealth. Taxes and fees for producers, and an excise tax for retailers will be enacted at a later date.

Once the Cannabis Commission convenes for its organizational meeting, there will be a 180-day timeline to begin implementing the new program in the CNMI. Fortunately, the detailed rules already outlined in the approved bill provide a great head start, and Medicine Man Technologies is confident that residents will soon have access to the medicines they need, as well as be able to freely enjoy adult-use cannabis.

If you wish 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.

Country of Georgia Legalizes Cannabis Consumption

cannabis in GeorgiaConsumption of cannabis in Georgia, former member of the now-dissolved Soviet Union, was officially legalized in July after a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court. This follows a 2017 decriminalization decision that abolished harsh punishments for cannabis use. At Medicine Man Technologies, we agree that it’s a step in the right direction though broader reform needs to be implemented.

The case was led by plaintiffs and activists, Vakhtang Megrelishvili and Zurab Japaridze, party leader for Girchi or the New Political Center which leans libertarian. They argued that cannabis consumption was an individual freedom and that the consumer is accountable for any effects on their health. More importantly, they contended that consumption did not threaten society at large, thus making it unconstitutional to impose any type of penalty for personal use.

The court agreed, and while the ruling did not legalize cultivation or sales, the consumption of cannabis in Georgia will no longer be subject to administrative penalties such as fines.

However, the court did recognize that there may be situations where consumption does pose a risk to others, and those acts will be subject to punishment. Their ruling stated, “…the Constitutional Court highlights the imposition of responsibility of marijuana consumption when it creates a threat to third parties. For instance, the Court will justify responsibility when marijuana is consumed in educational institutions, public places, such as on public transport, and in the presence of children.”

Cultivating and Exporting Cannabis in Georgia? Not So Fast.

Despite the ruling, support for additional progress has stalled despite Georgia’s Finance Minister, Ivane Machavariani, stating that if the country were to cultivate and export cannabis for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, it could generate profits of over 1B Georgian Lari (GEL) or over $383 million (USD) in just two or three years.

The country’s current ruling party, Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, actually drafted legislation to capitalize on the opportunity, and it was presented to Georgia’s parliament by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on September. The goal was to create a regulated licensing program with typical rules regarding location, cultivation amounts, processing and all other necessary activities to support an export market.

The bill was widely criticized for the hypocritical nature of cultivation for export and government profit but not for legal buying and selling now that personal use has been legalized. “[The government] wants to produce it while punishing others for [using] it? This is absurd,” said Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia Party.

Zurab Japaridze, one of the plaintiffs from July’s Constitutional Court case, also reacted, “The use of marijuana is legal and there should be legal ways for obtaining legal substances. Marijuana production should become a usual business; it may be regulated but not monopolized.”

Adding more fuel to the controversy, the influential Georgian Orthodox Church also protested moving forward with further legalization of cannabis in Georgia. Current Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, had said, “We must not regard profit alone. Why do we need such an economy if we lose our children?” He then urged government officials to rethink their plans and proceed with extreme caution.

In response, Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, postponed further discussion by lawmakers. Instead, the focus will be on informing citizens about further legalization and consulting with the Patriarchate to gain their support moving forward. He stated, “The society is not properly informed; there are false information being spread, there are speculations, so we need to pay particular attention to informing the public and decide [on the legislation] together with them.”

Like many other countries, it seems that legalizing cannabis in Georgia is just the beginning of a much bigger fight to bring true reform. Medicine Man Technologies hopes to see their government move ahead, with or without the support of the Church, to establish both a thriving export market and a system to provide citizens with full legal access to cannabis.

If you wish 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.

Illinois Expands Medical Cannabis with Opioid Alternative Pilot Program

Illinois Opioid Alternative Pilot ProgramOn August 28, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Illinois Senate Bill 336 into law, establishing the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program. This legislation enables doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for patients with conditions that would typically qualify for opioids such as Vicodin, Oxycontin or Percocet.

Here’s why Medicine Man Technologies sees the passing of SB 336 as significant progress.

In 2016, around 2.1 million people in America had an opioid addiction and 42,249 died from overdosing. And according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these overdoses recently became the most common cause of accidental death in the United States, eclipsing both vehicular accidents and shooting deaths.

While Illinois established a medical cannabis program in 2014, its list of 40 debilitating conditions does not cover every ailment that might qualify for an opioid prescription. SB 336 closes that gap.

Governor Rauner had this to say, “We’ve got to do everything we can to stop this vicious epidemic. We are creating an alternative to opioid addiction…It’s clear that medical marijuana treats pain effectively, and is less addictive and disruptive than opioids.”

Highlights of the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program

To launch the program by December 1, 2018, emergency authority to develop a foundation and operate the program has been granted to multiple departments within the state of Illinois: Public Health, Human Services, Agriculture, as well as Financial and Professional Regulation.

For now, the key requirement is a “bona fide” relationship between patient and physician, established via a hospital, healthcare facility or the doctor’s own office. The doctor must also be responsible for the patient’s ongoing care, including ongoing assessments and treatment. Another provision prohibits any business from charging a patient fees in exchange for completing an eligibility application.

Once a prescription has been issued, a patient can have it filled at a medical cannabis dispensary under a “provisional registration” status. Each patient then has 90 days to submit a medical cannabis application for processing by the state. Upon approval, they may acquire up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis every 14 days. This status also extends beyond patients typically prescribed opioids to include those suffering from a qualifying, debilitating condition.

In addition, all medical cannabis patients will have easier access thanks to the passing of SB 336. The application process no longer requires fingerprinting or a background check, a divisive prerequisite that barred many potential patients, some with unrelated drug convictions, from accessing the program.

Potential Outcomes and Current Study Results

At Medicine Man Technologies, it’s our hope that the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program will add to the growing evidence that medical cannabis can help to ease the current opioid crisis in America. If so, the state’s legislature is expected to prolong or remove the program’s sunset date of July 1, 2020.

Numerous studies have already been conducted, including one that was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Here, researchers examined Medicare Part D patients and found that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year if the state offered some type of medical cannabis program. For programs that provided dispensaries, versus only home growing, the decrease was 3.742 million daily doses per year.

Another report by the RAND Corporation found that states where medical cannabis was allowed and dispensaries were operational, there were lower levels of opioid-related deaths. According to Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-author of the study and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, “Our findings are consistent with previous studies showing an association between the legalization of medical marijuana and lower deaths from overdoses of opioids.”

While it remains to be seen how SB 336 will affect opioid issues in Illinois, giving patients and doctors the power to treat more conditions with medical cannabis is certainly a big step in the right direction.

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.

Cloning Cannabis: Purchasing vs. Creating

Cloning CannabisWhen cultivating cannabis, preserving the genetics of a high-yield, a high-quality strain not only makes sense but can save you time, even money. Cloned plants tend to grow a bit faster, flower earlier and can even produce a solid harvest earlier than cannabis plants grown from seeds.

Now, there are two methods for sourcing clones. You can either purchase clones from another licensed facility or take cuttings from you own best-performing plants.

Method #1: Purchasing Clones

In our experience with cloning cannabis, this is the less desirable of the two options. You just can’t be 100% sure that the cannabis clones you’re buying are the true genetic wonders that any seller claims. Lineage, phenotype and the plant’s sex are also variables not completely in your control. Unfortunately, the world of cannabis cultivation and cloning is not immune to scammers.

Another issue is not knowing the full history of the cloned plant, including the environmental conditions that the source plant experienced, pesticides that may have been applied, diseases it was exposed to, or stress that it endured during the cloning process. All of these factors can create problems during a clone’s life, from mutations and auto-flowering to decreased yields and diminished potency.

Finally, purchasing clones can have a devastating effect on other plants, even your facility. All it takes is introducing a foreign clone that’s riddled with pests or pathogens. Molds and mildews may be also present on clones and quickly spread. Even if you quarantine your clones, systemic pathogens and other problems may simply re-surface as the plants mature.

If you don’t have a plant that you wish to clone or just want to roll the dice, be sure to choose a reliable, established facility with a long history and solid reputation. Look for good reviews from multiple customers that have recently purchased and had success cloning cannabis from that location.

You should also find out what type of cultivation method the seller employs. We’ve actually identified a potential instability that may occur when using clones sourced from a facility using different cultivation methodology than the one deployed at your own facility. For example, a clone from a traditional hydroponic growing method that’s deployed to a soil growing medium can potentially take longer to re-stabilize the genetic.

In fact, while recently consulting for a client in Nevada, we observed the formation of seeds on two strains during the flowering phase. These were new genetics the facility’s master grower had brought in as clones. He had hydroponically grown these strains for a decade as female plants. However, when the clones were brought into his facility and exposed to a new growing method, the genetic de-stabilized with the side effect being the production of seeds and the female clone transforming into a hermaphrodite.

Method #2: Creating Clones

Cloning your own cannabis plants is the method we recommend, period. It’s the safest, most cost-effective, most controlled option that’s the least likely to cause problems for your facility.

Even the most tightly-run facility is susceptible to a number of failure points. That’s just part of cultivation. Sourcing clones from your own plants eliminate many unknowns and enable you to achieve a more predictable outcome.

Of course, how to source clones from your plants is less cut and dry. There are many different styles, beliefs, and approaches. Here are just a few things to consider.

  • Deciding on a strain is a crucial first step when cloning cannabis. Choose a marketable, in-demand genetic for your sales strategy. This will help your product sell quickly and at a premium price. This is extremely important for over-saturated markets with an unlimited amount of cultivation licenses awarded.
  • Depending on the facility’s environmental conditions, another important consideration to be made is the different tolerance levels a specific genetic possesses. For example, drought tolerance, sensitivity to heat and/or cold, tolerance to humidity swings, etc.
  • Be mindful of the timeline for the genetic’s flowering cycle if you’re cloning cannabis from a plant that has recently been introduced to your facility by germinating your own seeds.
  • The phenotype is another game-changing way to customize your genetics to produce higher yields, higher quality, and greater potency with a higher terpene production. This means cloning cannabis from a plant that is the most desirable to you and your business. It could be tall or short, bushy or lean, etc.
  • A clone is an exact copy of the plant you are cutting the clone from. This will provide some piece of mind in regards to eliminating potential hurdles like having male plants in your indoor garden. Just be sure to find the strongest, healthiest plants to cut clones from. For cuttings from a previous clone, we recommend doing so at six to eight weeks.
  • We prefer taking cuttings from a plant that is in a vigorous growth pattern, hence we steer our clients away from older, slow-growing mother plants. Instead, we cut clones from plants that are in a late vegetative stage, right before flowering.
  • We recommend cutting clones from the lower half of the source plant as there are more naturally occurring rooting hormones in this area. It is also very important to follow your cloning procedures and parameters as closely as possible when it comes to the lighting, temperature, humidity, etc. Remember that a stress-free environment for your source plants and your clones is a crucial component to a successful cultivation facility.

Don’t Forget to Label & Organize When Cloning Cannabis

Once all of your cannabis clones are settled into their new homes, be sure to focus your energy on one of the most important yet often overlooked parts of the cloning process, systematic and proper labeling. If just one label is incorrect, you could have a problem that grows exponentially and spirals out of control in just a week or two.

Bottom line, mislabeling clones is one of the worst enemies of a cultivation facility. Here’s why.

Instead of helping to preserve or upgrade your best-selling strains, you may end up eliminating your best genetic, even reproduce an inferior genetic that you intended to eliminate. Labeling plants and backtracking data from their mother plants will help you decide which phenotypes you’d like to keep and which to eliminate. And it’s a great way to continually improve stock.

When it comes to choosing between purchasing or creating your own, the answer is cut and dry for us – cloning cannabis from your own top producers. However, purchasing and successfully growing clones is not impossible. It just takes a bit more homework and keen observation skills to address issues before they get out of hand. Good luck and happy cloning!

Catching Up with Uruguay, the First Country to Legalize Cannabis

UruguayWhile Canada’s decision to fully legalize cannabis has grabbed headlines recently, our neighbor to the north is actually the second country to make such a progressive move.

The honor of being first goes to Uruguay.

Located along the eastern coast of South America, just next door to Argentina, this unassuming country officially legalized cannabis in the final days of 2013. It was signed into law by President José Mujica, a supporter whose administration submitted the original proposal. And just last summer, cannabis finally became available to purchase at registered pharmacies across the country.

The team here at Medicine Man Technologies has watched closely over the last year to see what type of impact cannabis would have on the country and its 3.44 million citizens, including over 22,000 registered purchasers. Overall, we’re impressed and encouraged but agree that there’s room for improvements.

What Legalized Cannabis Looks Like in Uruguay

Currently, registered adult citizens may purchase up to 40 grams (almost 1.5 ounces) per month. These quantities are tracked via thumb scan which is required at the point of sale. To undercut drug traffickers, cannabis prices are set at $1.30 per gram – less than half of what it costs on the black market.

In addition to purchasing cannabis at local pharmacies, Uruguay’s regulatory body, the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA), has also green-lighted the following options:

  • Home Growing – Adults who have registered with the government can grow up to 6 plants per household. These plants should not produce more than 480 grams each year.
  • Cannabis Clubs – Registered clubs must include 15-45 members and may grow up to 99 plants, all kept in the same space. They’re responsible for adhering to quantity maximums (480 grams per member annually), and all surplus cannabis must be handed over to the authorities.

As for consumption, the law closely parallels tobacco use. If you’re over 18, you can smoke at home or in public, but not in enclosed spaces such as a café, restaurant or any place of work (yours and others).

Currently, non-residents cannot legally purchase cannabis in Uruguay. A local can share or give cannabis to a tourist, but sales are strictly forbidden.

To supply the country’s pharmacies, the government is completely in charge of production and has only licensed two cultivators. This has led to demand far outpacing the supply.

Going Forward, WOLA Suggests Improvements

One organization that has been watching events unfold in Uruguay is the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Focused on research, advocacy and protecting human rights in the Americas, WOLA published a report that included ideas to improve the current program. Here are a few highlights:

  • Banking & Finance – One of the most common challenges for any cannabis-based business is the lack of banking options and being forced to operate as cash-only. With Canada also making the move to legalize cannabis, Uruguay should look to banking with their financial institutions. Large Canadian banks may also provide stability and protection from U.S. financial regulators.
  • Legal Enforcement – To protect the rights of citizens and/or prevent unwarranted seizures or prosecution, law enforcement personnel should be properly trained on the most current laws.
  • Supply & Distribution – Without enough cannabis to go around, 4 out of just 16 pharmacies in Uruguay have already ceased sales. Expanding beyond just two cultivators will help to ensure that supply meets demand and pharmacies begin to profit from a legal cannabis program. The government may also want to explore more options to give citizens access to product, such as private or government-run dispensaries.
  • Medical Cannabis – The government should fund research and education for doctors and other medical professionals regarding the efficacy of cannabis to treat various illnesses. In the future, a dedicated medical cannabis program should be established to offer patients treatments such as topicals, sprays, edibles and strains specifically cultivated for their medicinal properties.
  • Non-Resident Sales – With tourism an integral component of the country’s economy (10.6% of the GDP), giving visitors the ability to purchase legal cannabis may help to further reduce black market activity. The government may consider lower quantity maximums to prevent illegal sales of excess product and higher purchase prices to secure more tax revenue for the country.
The Bottom Line in Uruguay

While there is the need for a few changes, Medicine Man Technologies has seen this small country make huge strides in the last year. In fact, according to a local news outlet, drug-related crime dropped by 20% since cannabis was legalized and could be reduced further by opening sales to tourists. We’ll be keeping an eye on developments as Uruguay continues to be a role model for the world.

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


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Forbes Magazine (August 27, 2016) Act 16 legalized Medical Marijuana in PA! How Long Till Patients Have Access?

Forbes Magazine (August 27, 2016) Four Cannabis Entrepreneurs Share Their Strangest Moments

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The Denver Post (July 28, 2016) Marijuana industry ditches burnout image for “suit and tie” approach to DNC

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Inc. ( April 20, 2016) – The Marijuana Business Is Really the Real Estate Business

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US News and World Reports (March 17, 2016) How to Invest in Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana Business Daily (January 5, 2016) A Look Ahead: Marijuana Retail, Cultivation & Industry Trends to Watch in 2016

Westword (September 14, 2015 )Taking Stock of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry – Westword Magazine article about Medicine Man Technologies becoming a publicly traded company

CFN Media Group CFN Interview with Andy Williams – CEO of Medicine Man

CNN (January 24, 2015) Colorado’s Booming Marijuana Industry – Medicine Man was featured in this recent CNN story about our Grow Technology.

The Denver Post (January 19, 2014): Family-owned pot shop in Denver seeks to become national player

The Denver Post (June 15, 2014): Reluctance of banks leaves pot shops looking for secure practices

TIME Magazine: Pot’s Money Problem

Playboy: Chronic Insecurity

Denver Business Journal: Colorado’s dispensaries will be its first recreational marijuana sellers as well

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Natural Products Insider: Recreational Marijuana: How One Denver Dispensary Is Soaring to New Highs A Look at Medicine Man, One of Colorado’s Largest Marijuana Dispensaries

Fox 31 Denver: Colorado pot pioneers will soon rake in the green

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