Italy looks to expand medical cannabis to ‘all pharmacies’

Italy signaled its intention to loosen the military’s grip on the cultivation of medical marijuana, significantly ramp up production and make MMJ “available in all pharmacies” across the country.

The move also could increase opportunities for international MMJ companies participating in the nation’s medical cannabis industry.

Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo made the announcement in a Facebook post after touring the Military Pharmaceutical Chemical Plant, which is the only licensed cultivator in the country.

Italian law already allows the health ministry to grant cultivation licenses to private companies, but this was the first sign of political willingness to boost production through licensing public-private partnerships.

“The Italian authorities appear to realize that the government alone is not in a position to satisfy the quickly growing demand for medical cannabis in the country,” said Pavel Pachta, a consultant with International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute.

“This is an important change in the government policy, and it seems to be the first step towards the establishment of a commercial medical cannabis industry in Italy.”

Doctors in Italy have been able to prescribe marijuana since 2007.

However, the country has suffered a medical cannabis shortage for years, stemming from having just one domestic producer and awards of a limited number of import licenses.

A government report provided to Marijuana Business Daily pegs near-term demand at 2,000 kilograms (4,409 pounds), as the country is seeing an increase in cannabis prescriptions; military production tops out at about 250 kilograms (551 pounds) per year.

If the government follows through with the plan to explore public-private partnerships, interest from international companies will be high.

“It is very positive from Italian patients’ perspective that the government will seek to broaden both the range of products available and reduce the cost incurred,” said Stephen Murphy, managing director of UK-based Prohibition Partners. “It opens the door but major question marks about how wide.”

Earlier this year two Canada-based companies turned to acquisitions and supply agreements to enter the Italian market.

Toronto-based Nuuvera – now a subsidiary of Aphria – acquired one of only seven companies in Italy with a license to import medical cannabis.

The German subsidiary of Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis, Pedanios, won an exclusive tender to supply 100 kilograms of medical marijuana to the Italian government.

Spectrum Cannabis, the European subsidiary of Canopy Growth (TSE: WEED), was also a finalist for the contract.

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The pluses and minuses of allowing medical marijuana at school

Every day at noon, Karina Garcia drives to her son’s South San Francisco high school to give him a dose of cannabis oil to prevent potentially life-threatening seizures.

But she can’t do it on campus. She has to take Jojo, a 19-year-old with severe epilepsy, off school grounds to squirt the drug into his mouth, then bring him back for his special education classes.

It doesn’t matter that Jojo has a doctor’s note to take the drug, nor that the medication is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes in California. Marijuana use is strictly forbidden on school sites because it violates federal law.

“To go into the classroom every day and have to grab your child, walk down the block, give them a dose and return them, it’s so disruptive,” said Garcia, 38, who explained that prescription drugs didn’t stop Jojo’s seizures and left him in a zombie-like state. Jojo can’t administer the drug himself because he has developmental disabilities and uses a wheelchair, she said.

A growing number of parents and school districts across the country face similar problems as more people turn to medical marijuana to treat their sick children, often after pharmaceutical remedies have failed.

Now California is considering a law that would allow parents to administer medical marijuana to their kids at school, setting up a potential showdown with the federal government.

Of the 31 states (and Washington, D.C.) that have legalized medical marijuana, just five have enacted laws or regulations that allow students to use it on school grounds, in part because doing so could risk their federal funding. So far, the federal government has not penalized any state.

New Jersey and Colorado laws permit parents to give their child a non-smokable medicinal pot product at school. Washington and Florida allow school districts to decide for themselves whether to allow the drug on campuses. And Maine expanded state regulations to permit medical marijuana use at school, according to the Education Commission of the States.

California’s legislation would let school boards decide whether to allow medical cannabis at schools if a child has a doctor’s note. The drug cannot be prescribed because, with limited exceptions, it is illegal under federal law — classified as one that has “no accepted medical use.”

“More lawmakers are acknowledging this is an issue their constituents care about … [and] are trying to address this inherent conflict” between federal and state law, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a national marijuana advocacy group.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), who wrote the California bill, named it Jojo’s Act after Garcia’s son, who suffers from the severe seizure disorder known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The oil Jojo takes contains the chemical cannabidiol, or CBD, and a trace amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, both extracted from the marijuana plant.

It’s unclear how many kids use medical marijuana, which is most commonly given to children with autism, seizures or cancer, said Dr. Frank Lucido, a Berkeley doctor who has treated more than 200 kids who suffer from seizures or severe autism.

Some school officials in California say the mere possibility of sanctions is enough to oppose opening up schools to medical pot. At risk are federal funds, including money for school breakfasts and lunches for low-income students, that are contingent on schools being drug-free zones, according to the Association of California School Administrators.

The California bill, SB 1127, has cleared the state Senate and is pending in the Assembly. It would require that parents or legal guardians administer the medical marijuana, which couldn’t be ingested via smoking or vaping. Nor could it be kept on school grounds; parents would still have to bring the drug to school every day. Traditional prescription drugs, by contrast, are often stored at a school nurse’s office and given by a school employee.

The school administrators’ association argues that staffers would be put in an impossible position if the bill became law.

“We’re asking school administrators and other employees to comply with state and federal laws for everything, except this one time we’re going to turn a blind eye,” Laura Preston, legislative advocate for the school administrators, told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this year.

A different school group, however, is asking lawmakers to back the measure as a way to ensure more kids stay in school.

“As more students have started using it to address their medical issues, it becomes a larger issue for schools,” said Erika Hoffman, legislative advocate for the California School Board Association. “We see this as a step in trying to provide an accessible education for a child who unfortunately has severe medical issues.”

Neurologists and pediatricians say success stories from parents offer patients hope, but they warn that much more research is needed to prove the benefits of medical marijuana.

The Food and Drug Administration in June approved the first prescription drug that contains marijuana compounds after studies showed a reduction in the frequency of seizures. The medicine, called Epidiolex, contains cannabidiol, or CBD, and is intended to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

But Epidiolex is not expected to replace other cannabis products, which are not approved by the FDA. Jojo, for instance, continues to use another formulation of cannabis oil, his mother said.

Lucido, the Berkeley doctor, says his patients often need different combinations of CBD and THC for the treatment to be effective. Children with seizures may require multiple doses of CBD oil a day at regular intervals, he said, and allowing children to take it at school could result in better outcomes.

Medical cannabis, he added, doesn’t make kids intoxicated or sleepy as can many prescription anti-seizure drugs, allowing kids to be more alert in class. In many cases, the marijuana product that kids receive, such as CBD oil, isn’t the kind that gives users of recreational marijuana, which contains significant amounts of THC, a euphoric high.

Critics warn that children might be harmed by drugs that haven’t passed federal health and safety standards. For example, researchers at the University of California-Davis found potentially lethal bacteria and mold on samples of marijuana from 20 Northern California dispensaries two years ago.

“Our concern is the exposure to children of potentially contaminated products,” said Sue Rusche, president of the Atlanta-based National Families in Action, an anti-drug group that says any drug given as medicine ought to be approved by the federal government. “We don’t think they ought to be available to the public.”

Hill, the state senator who introduced California’s bill, said the decision should be left up to state residents.

“The people of California have made it very clear what they want,” he said. “We’re looking at the appropriate balance of that.”

For Garcia, all she wants is the freedom for herself and other parents to come out of the shadows and treat their kids no matter where they are — especially at school.

“When I first started giving him cannabis, I was scared to tell anybody,” Garcia said of Jojo, who as a special needs student can stay in high school until he is 22. “I kept it on the hush-hush. But then, he started improving, and I realized I had to tell people. And my story is not unique.”

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Twelve places where you can consume marijuana legally in Denver

Coloradans approved legalizing recreational cannabis over five years ago, but we’re still trying to figure out this whole social-consumption thing. Denver’s Cannabis Consumption Establishment licensing program has only issued one license so far, and although a bill that would have allowed dispensary tasting rooms passed through the Colorado General Assembly, it was ultimately vetoed by Governor John Hickenlooper.

But that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck. A handful of bright and bold Denver-area businesses have figured out ways to allow social cannabis consumption without running afoul of the law. Most of them are private lounges and event spaces, but all of them are down with the cause. Here are twelve places where you can legally consume cannabis in and around Denver (if you’re at least 21), not including your own home.

The Coffee Joint

The Coffee Joint might be in history books one day as Denver’s first licensed cannabis-consumption business. The coffee shop and lounge, which opened for social pot use in mid-March, allows electronic vaping of flower and concentrates as well as edibles consumption, as long as you bring your own cannabis (BYOC). Although you can’t smoke here, you can use your own vapes and dab rigs for the Coffee Joint’s e-nails, and the $5 entrance fee is waived if you’ve purchased products from the dispensary next door, 1136 Yuma. It might not be the full-out freedom you were hoping for, but it’s a start — and it’s legal.

iBake Denver

The Coffee Joint might be the first licensed place where you can get high, but it wasn’t the first pot lounge in Denver. And neither was iBake Denver, but it was pretty damn close — and unlike other now-closed cannabis lounges, iBake Denver is still cooking. Because it’s a private lounge, iBake allows its members to smoke without worry of violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, and it regularly participates as a jumping-off point or chill space during big cannabis events in the surrounding area. You can become a member at iBake after signing up on arrival and paying a $10 monthly membership fee. BYOC.

Tetra 9 hosts various events Thursday through Sunday, but it's open all week.

Tetra 9 hosts various events Thursday through Sunday, but it’s open all week.

Tetra 9 Private Lounge and Garden

Tetra 9 took many in Denver’s cannabis scene by surprise when it opened its doors without much notice in February. Like iBake, the pot club operates under the private-membership model, allowing you to sign up online for a daily membership for $10 ($25 after 9 p.m.), and weekend passes for $50. It’s quite a bit more expensive than other pot clubs, but Tetra 9 is right in the heart of RiNo (instead of on the fringes of Denver, like its counterparts), and it regularly hosts live music, food trucks and 420-friendly classes over the weekend. BYOC.

The International Church of Cannabis 

Despite its name, the International Church of Cannabis allows cannabis consumption onsite only once per week during its Friday congregations. The evening ceremonies celebrate Elevationism, the practicing faith at the church, with members receiving invites every week after signing up online. On top of cannabis use (BYOC), the congregations feature educational talks, live entertainment and potluck dinners.

Spectra Art Space

Spectra Art Space doesn’t advertise itself as a cannabis club, and it’s not. The South Broadway art gallery is better known for giving shine to local artists, chefs and musicians than hosting 420-friendly parties, but that doesn’t mean Spectra isn’t cool, man. The gallery regularly allows cannabis consumption in its private backyard during events, many of which showcase local glassblowers and are supplemented with gourmet munchies from eateries like Voodoo Doughnut. BYOC.

Spectra 9 Art Space has embraced cannabis culture like few Denver art galleries have.
Spectra 9 Art Space has embraced cannabis culture like few Denver art galleries have.

Cultivated Synergy

Cultivated Synergy is a private event space, not a private club, so you can’t just show up and hope to get in. However, Cultivated Synergy has fully embraced cannabis parties, throwing pot-infused events for the industry and its fans just about every weekend. When it’s not serving as a co-working space during the day, Cultivated Synergy hosts dab-filled shindigs for such organizations as The Grow-Off and Yeti Farms, as well as invite-only parties for the people, like its 4/20 Wook Show this year. BYOC.

Urban Sanctuary

Urban Sanctuary isn’t a lounge; like Cultivated Synergy; it’s a private event space that holds pot-infused shindigs from time to time. However, Urban Sanctuary’s events are more about healing the body and mind with the help of cannabis instead of throwing parties that focus on it. Certain (but not all) yoga and meditation classes at Urban Sanctuary allow pot use during the sessions, but make sure it’s cool before showing up with a joint tucked behind your ear.


Studio420 follows the private club model. That model has been tested over the years by various government agencies, and the lounge continues to outlast local persecution. This Englewood pot haven doubles as a glassware and tobacco shop, so membership is only $4.20 per day and $10 per month. The club also operates the 420 Tour Bus, a mobile cannabis lounge available for events and private use. BYOC

Summit Recreational Retreat

Summit Recreational Retreat presents itself as more of an upscale option for social cannabis consumption events and parties. The place accommodates around 35 people for parties, company retreats and any other tasteful event looking to add the flair of cannabis. The 1,400-square-foot home in Parker features a kitchenette, two consumption lounges with fireplaces, a Volcano Vaporizer bar, e-nails and dab rigs, smoking utensils, an indoor hot tub for seven people and a 55-inch flat-screen TV. Summit also offers overnight stays and cannabis massages for visitors, but it’s not cheap; contact the company for rates. BYOC.

The Loopr can regularly be spotted rolling around downtown Denver.
The Loopr can regularly be spotted rolling around downtown Denver. 

The Loopr

The Loopr provides a savvy solution to Colorado’s consumption laws, taking advantage of a law that allows pot consumption in limos and buses, just as alcohol is allowed. The “mobile cannabis lounge” is a massive bus that drives around pre-determined routes in Denver on the weekends, picking up members at designated pickup/dropoff spots who have signed up on the Loopr app. Although the Loopr isn’t easy on the wallet ($29 for a three-hour pass, $42 for a full day and $80 for three days), it offers affordable weekly bud crawls, taking riders on a journey through several Denver dispensaries for just $35. BYOC.

My 420 Tours

Although My 420 Tours does have a physical location to meet at (3881 Steele Street), all of the consumption is done elsewhere. Like the Loopr, My 420 Tours has buses that take guests around town while they toke up — but instead of following a route throughout the night, My 420 Tours will take you to growing facilities, edibles- and hash-making classes, restaurants, dispensaries, head shops, cannabis consumption lounges and plenty of other places, depending on what package you sign up for. BYOC.

Club 64

Club 64 keeps its location and information close to the chest, only sharing its Denver address once you sign up. The private cannabis club requires that membership be paid over the phone for $20 on the Square app, or you’ll have to pay double at the door. To add perks, Club 64 shares with members a list of secret 420-friendly bars and clubs, and it brings in a local cannabis celebrity or entertainer once a month to blaze up and chat with members. BYOC.

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Veterans Canada Has No Plans to Lift Cap on Medical Marijuana Reimbursement

Veterans Affairs Canada plans to hold the line for now on its policy for medical marijuana after a move that capped reimbursements reversed years of rapid spending growth in the program.

“At the present time, there are no plans to change the maximum daily reimbursement limit of the three grams per day, or to amend the criteria for the exceptional approval for reimbursement of the more than three grams per day,” said Sandra Williamson, the department’s senior director for health care programs.

An internal departmental briefing note from February indicated that a review could be in the works, and referenced a directive from Treasury Board to report on the impacts of the new reimbursement policy.

“Due to the greater than expected use of the exceptional approval process, the lack of appropriate supporting documentation, and the large increases in grams being requested, a review of the policy, including the exceptional approval process, is being considered,” Deputy Minister Walt Natynczyk wrote.

CBC News obtained the briefing material through access to information.

The briefing note indicated that the cap responded directly to recommendations by the auditor general “to focus on the health and well-being of veterans, as well as cost containment.”

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Pot-loving dogs: why cannabis extract is the new trend for our pets

Advocates say CBD, a cannabis extract, can be used as medical marijuana for ill or anxious dogs

High summer is hell for my goldendoodle, Monty. At the park, grass seeds and burrs catch in his woolly mop of black fur. The pollen and dust set off his skin allergies.

The heat – more severe every year in the Pacific north-west – cuts fetch time in half. Worst of all, in our hometown of Portland, July is the month of fireworks. Monty is usually affable and calm. But in the weeks around the 4th, and even sometimes into early August, he’s regularly sent skittering down the stairs to the garage by the pop of a rocket or the sizzle of a fountain of sparks. Sometimes he’ll stay down there in the dark for hours, resisting treats – even bacon.

How Canada Plans to Roll Out its Recreational Pot Industry

With Canada planning to legalize marijuana on October 17 this year, its market will operate on a very different model than that used by the nine states that have legal laws in the United States already. There are several notable differences, and it will not resemble California weed delivery in any way. Some of these discrepancies include age limits, banking access, and government involvement, to name a few.

It will even be legal for Canadians to order weed online and receive it in the mail, an action that the United States still considers illegal. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would legalize recreational pot this year, celebrations were widespread. However, the country’s territories, provinces and cities are still figuring out how to roll out and regulate the industry.

This is what we know so far:

Government Will Run Pot Shops

Although provinces and territories can decide on their own how they want to regulate distribution, and they are considering a few different methods, it seems that many stores will be under complete control of the government. Ontario’s Liquor Control Board will run all 150 shops planned for that province, a public ownership model foreign to the U.S., except for North Bonneville’s single city-owned store.

British Columbia has plans to incorporate a mix of both private- and publically-owned shops. In Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, there will be only private stores. In remote regions, where it might be economically unfeasible to have stand-alone pot shops, such as in the Northwest Territories, currently operating liquor stores will start selling cannabis.

Age Limit Will Be 18

Most U.S. states that allow recreational use set their minimum age requirement at 21-years old. In Canada, the federal government will allow anyone 18-years or older to use marijuana, but most provinces are considering adding a year onto that, setting the minimum age requirement in most areas at 19-years old.

Home Growing Will Differ Between Provinces

As with the United States, or at least those states with liberal marijuana laws, rules for cultivating weed will be up to the individual provinces and territories to decide for themselves. Most plan to allow legal adults to cultivate up to four plants in the privacy of their homes, but others, such as Quebec, intend to prohibit home growing entirely.

Prices and Taxes Will Be Cheaper

Whether private entities run pot shops or the government does, all will have to get their stock exclusively from growers licensed by the federal government. Canadian officials also plan to set a minimum price for weed. The country’s finance ministers want to set it at around $10 a gram, but to displace illegal trade even further, Yukon’s pot authorities want to set it lower, at just $8.

The federal government intends taxing legal weed at either one-tenth of the price of the product or at $1 per gram, whichever is higher, as well as imposing both provincial and federal tax on all sales. Still, this is unlikely to be more than the exorbitant taxes states in the U.S. are demanding. Pot companies pay 37 percent tax to Washington State, plus local and state taxes on sales.

In California, licensed weed businesses are paying nearly half of their profits in taxes, leading folks to blame the near 50 percent total tax rates on driving prices up and sending customers back to the illegal, underground market. However, Canada’s government plans to give at least 75 percent of the tax monies it collects back to its territories and provinces.

Banking Will Not Be Illegal

Pot businesses will have something their counterparts in the United States do not have, and that is access to banking services. Since, under U.S. law, marijuana is still a federally illegal substance, most banks are hesitant to service the weed industry, even in states where it is legal. Last spring, according to data from the U.S. Treasury Department, only 411 weed companies had bank accounts nationwide.

However, none of them has access to full banking services, whether at banks or credit unions. This makes it extremely difficult for any marijuana businesses in the United States to qualify for loans. Although major banks in Canada were initially hesitant to offer banking services, the smaller, independent institutions have no issue with it and the big banks are now joining the fray.

Some Products Will Roll Out Slowly

There is frustration among some consumers that stores will not stock all pot products when sales go into effect on October 17, at least not initially. There certainly will be no edibles on the shelves for at least another year, since the government says that it needs the time to create regulations for an edible market.

Package Labeling Will Be Very Strict

Health Canada is mandating huge labels to warn consumers on packages that are otherwise completely plain. It is also regulating font colors, styles and sizes very strictly. The goal is to be as unappealing as possible to minors and to dissuade them from using weed. However, it leaves companies with very little options to create branding or logos.

The issue is that, without opportunities to differentiate themselves with branding or logos, craft growers and small businesses will be unable to compete with giant marijuana companies, who are already attempting to monopolize the industry by entering into exclusive supply agreements with provinces and territories. Although the law permits micro-producers, they have almost no chance to be competitive.

Mail Order Delivery Will Be Available to Consumers

Although in California weed delivery is very popular, drivers must deliver products themselves. Ordering pot by post is illegal in the United States. However, Canada has been doing it since 2013 already, shipping medical weed via mail to legitimate patients with no hassles at all. However, consumers will have to provide proof of age to get it, as packages will not go into mailboxes or lie on doorsteps.


Author Bio

Dorothy Watson writes extensively for Pot Valet, a leading cannabis delivery service in California. She dedicates her time to advocating for full legalization worldwide and educating people about the many health benefits that marijuana has to offer.

Legalization of Recreational Pot Gaining Momentum in the United States

It is clear: Americans want legal weed, whether it be for medical reasons, recreational use, or both. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with the remaining states quickly following suite. Legalization of recreational pot is spreading slower, but spreading it is nonetheless. Many states are holding referendums with adult-use marijuana on the ballot.

Six out of every 10 Americans, or 61 percent to be exact, now support the legalization of recreational weed. According to the Pew Research Center, this is double what it was back in 2000. It is also nearly five percent higher than it was just a year ago. The survey, conducted in October last year, shows voter support for weed increasing at an unignorably steady rate across the United States.

Current Weed-Friendly States

Marijuana is now legal recreationally in nine states and Washington D.C. Some are enjoying skyrocketing economic benefits, including more tax money for infrastructure and other government-funded programs. Employment is higher, tourism booming. Although there are challenges, such as meeting demand and competing with the black market, these states all allow recreational pot in some way:


Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis. Tourists flock to the state to enjoy the many pot-friendly activities on offer, such as tours, classes, events, and more. Colorado is doing well. Crime rates are down, employment is high, and people there are healthier and happier.


Washington State soon followed Colorado’s example. Although pot is legal across the state, including in Washington D.C., only state-licensed outlets can sell it. There are restrictions in place, which mimic its liquor laws, but if you comply with them, then you will be a happy stoner indeed.


Anyone 21-years and older can light up legally in Alaska. The state legalized recreational use in 2015 and its first weed shop opened the next year. Alaska is enjoying a roaring pot tourism trade. Over two million people visited the state lastyear and spent nearly $2 billion on weed-related products and activities.


Although recreational weed is legal in California, since New Year’s Day this year, you cannot find it everywhere. Some cities, particularly in the Central Valley area, such as Bakersfield and Fresno, put a ban on sales. Despite this, the state allows legal adults to buy, use and grow limited quantities of pot.


Maine is more liberal with its weed use regulations than other states are. Mainers can possess as much as 2.5 ounces of cannabis; more than double what others allow. However, you cannot get it anywhere in the state. Governor Paul LePage just recently vetoed a bill that would permit recreational sales.


Massachusetts residents can grow as many as 12 cannabis plants at home and carry an ounce of pot on them. Lawmakers postponed its legal market, however, from January this year to July. The state is still busy getting its recreational marijuana industry in order.


Since Nevada launched its recreational market in July 2017, it has $20 million more in its coffers. The state does not permit anyone to grow their own, however, unless they live 25 miles from a retail outlet. You can still buy pot and use it, while supplies last anyway. Stores quickly run out of stock to sell.


Oregon legalized recreational weed in 2015. Since then, it has paid $85 million in cannabis taxes to fund public health initiatives, schools, local government, and police departments. You can carry an ounce of weed there and grow up to four plants at home. You can even gift edibles, if privately ingested.


Vermont is the first state to legalize weed through its legislature, instead of through a ballot initiative. You can carry an ounce there and have two plants growing at home. However, the state’s lawsdo not establish a legal market for either the production or sale of marijuana.

Soon-To-Be Weed-Friendly States, Hopefully

Some other states are considering whether to legalize or not, while some are just waiting for their legal laws to come into effect. Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin are states experts think will legalize weed fully soon. Thirteen states already decriminalized marijuana, so you will not go to jail if police catch you with it, only pay a fine of between $100 and $500. These states are:


  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island


Despite the federal government stubbornly refusing to legalize marijuana in any capacity, it will not be able to stave off public pressure for too much longer. More and more states are legalizing weed, ultimately rendering federal law irrelevant. However, even though pot is legal already in some states, it is important to remember that they still have regulatory laws. Do not break them when visiting!


Author Bio

Dorothy Watson writes for Pot Valet, an innovative online weed delivery service in California. As such, she spends her time researching the benefits of marijuana and letting the world know about them. She also advocates for legalization to spread across the entire world.

The Rise of ‘Weed Tech’: Cannabis Tech Sector Flourishes in Lead Up to Legalization

A growing number of Canadian tech entrepreneurs are betting big on the future of cannabis in the lead up to legalization later this year. These “weed tech,” or “canna tech,” companies, as they are sometimes called, are hoping to cash in on the new legal market by creating specialized software and hardware to serve the cannabis industry and consumers.

Investor interest, so far, has focused mostly on companies cultivating cannabis. But the ancillary market, which includes industry-specific technology as well as other offshoots, such as consumption devices and security, is predicted to be sizable. A Deloitte study predicts Canada’s upcoming legal recreational market could be worth as much as $8.7-billion a year, and with ancillary operations thrown in, the number jumps to $22.6-billion.

“We’re like the plumbing of the cannabis industry,” said John Prentice, founder and chief executive of Ample Organics Inc., a seed-to-sale software company that helps producers with compliance requirements and inventory tracking. “If you’re going into a licensed facility and [are] trying to figure out how many plants are in a grow room, what they’re being manufactured into and who’s buying the product, our software is the system that tracks that.”

For investors, the appeal of weed tech is simple: They can try to reap the rewards of the market without taking on all the legal and financial risks that can come with direct involvement in the production and sale of cannabis products, which are still illegal federally in the United States. Plus, some investors may feel more comfortable investing in ancillary businesses, given the lingering stigma that can still be associated with cannabis.

The increased interest is benefiting companies such as Toronto’s Ample Organics. Founded in 2014, the software firm closed a Series A round of financing in early July, raising $7-million from investors including Green Acre Capital and Osmington Inc. (which is controlled by David Thomson, whose family holding company owns The Globe and Mail).

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Dry Leaf Medical Marijuana Coming to State Dispensaries

PENNSYLVANIA — Some medical marijuana patients will soon have a more cost-effective option available.

Dispensaries can start selling dry leaf marijuana on Wednesday, August 1.

Patients could only buy oil or pills before.

It goes on sale at dispensaries in Scranton and Williamsport on Wednesday.

It goes on sale in Edwardsville and State College can start selling it next week.

For more information from the Department of Health and the full list of dispensaries, click here.

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Medical marijuana offers relief

Ron Boyles of Tyrone uses a wide range of substances derived from marijuana to combat many of his health issues. He is the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

In 1999, Ron Boyles injured his back, had surgery and was “thrown into” pain management, mostly relying on opioid medications.

“I spent the next 10 months in the doctor’s office two to three times a week,” he said. “I lost most of my adult life to my health and medications.”

In addition to opioid painkillers, antidepressants, heart medication and blood thinners became part of Boyles’ daily routine.

“I really thought if I got off the opiates, that would be it. I would be fine,” he said.

Then, in 2015, he heard about a possible alternative to treat his underlying pain — marijuana, an illegal drug in Pennsylvania that had found legitimacy elsewhere as medicine.

“And I did it the first time,” Boyles said, not shying away from the fact that he purchased the drug illegally. “It helped me immediately.”

The effects were great, he said, but Boyles admitted he was conflicted.

“I realized I didn’t want to be a criminal,” he said.

So he made a trip to Colorado — a trip he said lasted multiple months.

In Colorado, marijuana had already been approved as a legal medicine.

And since April 2016, the same is true in Pennsylvania, where residents suffering from a list of specified illnesses can be certified to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries.

And now, Boyles is back, living in Bald Eagle, where he operates as the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, helping to familiarize them with various products and potencies.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing between patients and doctors and news people,” he said of the attention his service is getting.

“I want this to work for people because it does work,” Boyles continued. “I see a time where everybody is going to have this in their medicine cabinet.”

21 specified conditions

For now, only those suffering from a list of 21 specified “serious medical conditions” can be certified by a qualified doctors to purchase the drug.

But before visiting a dispensary, patients must register a profile with the Department of Health, receive physician certification and pay a $50 fee to get a marijuana identification card, according to the state Department of Health.

Those cards, in addition to state ID, must be shown each time a marijuana product is purchased from a certified dispensary.

As of late June, 47,723 patients in Pennsylvania were registered to consume medical marijuana, 25,108 marijuana identification cards were purchased and 70,162 “patient dispensing activities”were recorded, said Nate Wardle, a Department of Health spokesman.

The term “patients” refers to both adults and children.

Most children participating in the state’s medical marijuana program suffer from serious illnesses like debilitating seizures and cancer, said April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health.

For children, medical marijuana is purchased and administered by caregivers — a person 21 or older, who is a parent, legal guardian or spouse of a patient. Caregivers must register with the Department of Health and complete a criminal history background check.

And caregivers can also be designated by adult patients who are homebound.

Use by children is somewhat complicated by their required attendance at schools, places where marijuana use has historically been prohibited, maligned and discouraged.

Schools on hold

But both the state departments of Health and Education support a “Safe Harbor Letter,” which calls for the allowance of a caregiver to administer medical marijuana to a child on school property, as long as it does not cause a distraction for other students.

“It’s a recommended policy,” Hutcheson said.

Under that recommendation, students themselves may not possess medical marijuana on school property, but visiting caregivers can administer the drug in a secure, private location.

That is only after a school principal is provided with a copy of the Safe Harbor Letter and is notified of “each instance in which the parent or caregiver will administer the medical marijuana,”according to the Department of Health.

A principal is then supposed to notify a school nurse about each of those instances.

Within Altoona Area School District, no medical marijuana policy is yet in place, said Paula Foreman, the district’s community relations director.

“I know it’s a topic of review,” she said. “We don’t have anything formal in place as of yet.”

In Hollidaysburg Area School District, the situation is much the same, Superintendent Robert Gildea said, noting no policy has been adopted.

“We’re prepared to follow the advice of the solicitor,” he said.

Officials at Ebensburg’s Central Cambria school district are waiting on the direction of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Superintendent Jason Moore said.

However, the district is in a unique situation because several medical professionals sit on the Central Cambria board, Moore said.

“We sort of defer to them on those medical issues,” he said.

Moore, who also sits on the Greater Johnstown School District Board, said he is unaware of existing medical marijuana policies in Ebensburg or Johnstown.

Pennsylvania School Boards Association officials did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

Similar complications may exist in cases where patients are prohibited from consuming marijuana as a stipulation of parole or probation or in cases when an employer disallows use of the drug, Hutcheson said.

“An employee can’t be fired for using medical marijuana, I know that,” she said.

Hutcheson shared language in existing regulations that backs her remark.

“No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee … solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana,” it reads.

However, employers are not required to offer special accommodations for on-site consumption, and they are permitted to discipline employees whose use of medical marijuana results in “conduct … below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.”

Despite its complicated beginning, Boyles said prospective patients should not be discouraged from pursuing the drug, which he said has vast health benefits.

“My life has completely changed,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.

Conditions that qualify

Serious medical conditions that qualify Pennsylvania residents for medical marijuana use, according to the state Department of Health:

– Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

– Autism

– Cancer, including remission therapy

– Crohn’s disease

– Damage to the nervous tissue

– Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

– Epilepsy

– Glaucoma


– Huntington’s disease

– Inflammatory bowel disease

– Intractable seizures

– Multiple sclerosis

– Neurodegenerative diseases

– Neuropathies

– Opioid use disorder

– Parkinson’s disease

– Post-traumatic stress disorder

– Severe, chronic or intractable pain

– Sickle cell anemia

– Terminal illness

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