May 2019

Here’s What To Know About Whether Starbucks Will Ever Release CBD Drinks

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Will Starbucks Ever Come Out With CBD Drinks? It Might Take A While

Over the past year, hemp and CBD-infused drinks and food have quickly exploded in popularity. With Coca-Cola and other companies rumored to begin testing beverages that contain cannabidiol, which is a non-psychoactive cannabis ingredient, you might be wondering: Will Starbucks ever come out with CBD drinks? Here’s why it might take a while.

If you’re unfamiliar with CBD oil, it’s important to note that CBD, unlike the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant THC, will not make you high upon consumption, according to the World Health Organization. Instead, the hemp-derived substance — which has been legal at a federal level since the Agriculture Improvement Act was passed back in December 2018 — is commonly used to treat symptoms of pain, seizure syndromes, and anxiety, although research about its efficacy and long-term effects is still in its early stages.

Considering the recent uptick in CBD-infused products, which include everything from marshmallows to lotions to gummy bears, customers might be wondering if a CBD-infused coffee could be in Starbucks’ future plans. While the combination might not seem like the most natural mash-up upon first thought — after all, CBD has gained a reputation as a relaxing substance and is sometimes used as a sleep aid while people intake caffeine for a boost in energy. But that’s not the reason you might not see it at your local Starbucks anytime soon. In an email, a Starbucks rep tells Elite Daily, “While we’re always watching trends in the food and beverage space, right now, CBD is not on our road map.”


Don’t think the initially odd-sounding combo of caffeine and CBD is what’s holding the chain back. In fact, the two substances actually seem to work pretty well together when combined, according to some people who’ve tried it. For example, when Elite Daily writer Amanda Fama tried CBD-infused ground coffee by Pure Hemp CBD back in January, she said she felt the fueling effects of the caffeine minus any of the jitters and other negative effects she normally associated with coffee. “Instead of feeling hyped up (like I usually do after having coffee), I felt calm, cool, collected, and ready to start my day,” she wrote.

While her experience sounds promising, companies are only just starting to experiment with adding the substance to food and drinks, and the jury is still out on any potential health risks and benefits of CBD. In addition, the lines on the legality of adding the substance to food and drinks are blurred, as the FDA previously stated it’s “unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.” New York, California, and Michigan are some of the states that have started cracking down on the use of CBD oil in food and drink.

Still, certain restaurants and coffee breweries, like the Chicago-based Protein Bar & Kitchen as well as Espresso Bay in downtown Traverse City, Michigan have offered customers the option to add a few droplets of CBD to your coffees or latte, with prices ranging from $2.99 to $4.

However, while the use of CBD oil in foods and beverages might be slowly becoming more mainstream, it’s still controversial and I wouldn’t look for it on the menu anytime in the near future at your local Starbucks.

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Given that CBD isn’t currently on the chain’s “roadmap,” you’re better off looking elsewhere or planning to DIY a CBD-infused coffee if you so choose.

Still, considering Starbucks’ forays into both ‘Gram-worthy and inventive offerings for spring and summer, something tells me that you won’t miss it with the retailer’s lineup of creative sips to choose from when patio season rolls around.

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From casinos to cannabis: the Native Americans embracing the pot revolution

The long read: Gambling transformed reservations 40 years ago, but often only enriched a few. Could the legal marijuana business prove more broadly beneficial?

In February 2015, amid the cedar masks, canoe paddles and totem poles at the Tulalip Resort Casino north of Seattle, the talk was all about pot. Indian country had been abuzz about cannabis since the previous autumn, when the Justice Department had released a memorandum which seemed to open the way for tribal cannabis as a manifestation of tribal sovereignty. (I grew up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, and I use the word Indian to refer to indigenous people within the US. I also use indigenous, Native and American Indian. These terms have come in and out of favour over the years, and different tribes, and different people, have different preferences.)

The gathering at Tulalip was technically a legal education conference, so a slew of lawyers in thousand-dollar suits were there, of course, but so were private-equity entrepreneurs, tribal officials and tribal potheads. One of the last a gangly twenty- or thirtysomething wearing Chuck Taylors, a very ripped T-shirt and a headband that held back his lank hair slouched low in his chair and didnt speak a word all day. His companions spoke a bit more, but with the sleepy demeanour of people who have just purchased a dime bag and smoked it all. They didnt talk business as much as they talked relationships: We have a relationship with pot. Its a medicine from Mother Earth. Like, cannabis is tribal. Its consistent with our relationship with Mother Earth.

Wandering among them were tribal small-business owners, people who ran gravel companies or sold smoked fish or espresso along the freeway. They had forked over $500 for lunch and a name tag to explore what marijuana legalisation might mean for their community or maybe to explore where the pay dirt lay at the intersection of legalisation and tribal sovereignty.

The lawyers and policy people gave talks about state laws; the history of marijuana legalisation in California, Colorado and Washington; and the social, cultural and political ramifications of legalisation. Tribal leaders spoke about the ways in which tribal growing could be a whole new revenue stream, if not a new tribal industry. Behind these discussions were coded questions, old and new: How best to provide for a people in the absence of industry and opportunity? How to use tribal sovereignty to the best possible effect? Did tribes really want to invest in another lifestyle economy like tobacco shops, casinos and tourism? No one knew what to make of the potheads.

The received notion reinforced at every turn in editorials and investigative pieces and popular culture is that reservations are where Indians go to suffer and die. They are seen by many Indians as well as non-Indians not as expressions of tribal survival, however twisted or flawed, but as little more than prisons, expressions of the perversion of American democratic ideals into greed a greed rapacious enough to take Indian land and decimate Indian populations, but not quite harsh enough to annihilate us outright.

But reservations are not stagnant places. Despite their staggering rates of unemployment, they are home not only to traditional ways of living but to new tribal business as well. Pot as a tribal industry has a parent: the casino. Arguably, the casinos arrival in Indian country had as defining an effect on the social and economic lives of Indians in the past 50 years as the mass migration of Indians to American cities. Many Indians refer to the time before tribal gaming as BC Before Casino.

By 1987, gaming enterprises were under way across the country, with the biggest concentration of casinos in California and Oklahoma. The courts were still deliberating the questions of rights v regulation, but Indians having waited in so many ways for so many years to have their sovereignty affirmed were not. The increase in funding for tribal programmes throughout the 70s, the emphasis on improving access to education, support for the poor, funding for healthcare all of this positioned Indians to move, and move fast. By the mid-80s, elected tribal leaders had gained 40 years of experience in Indian Rights Association governments, and 40 years of experience in dealing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and state and federal governments.

They had become expert at playing with soft power, and were prepared to make the most of the opportunity for gaming. Within a year of the tribes winning the right to open casinos in California, gaming was bringing in $100m a year. The door to economic development at least in the realm of gambling seemed to have been flung wide open.

But not so fast: the states, a powerful lobby in their own right, were determined to have a stake in Indian gambling, or at least some measure of control. The federal government felt the same way. So in 1988, Congress passed and Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Igra), which codified the process by which tribes administered gambling.

After the act was passed, Indian gaming boomed. Revenues grew from $100m in 1988 to more than $26bn in 2009 more than Vegas and Atlantic City took in combined. Despite the influx of money in general, however, gaming changed little for most Indians. This is America, after all. Like all American avenues to wealth, casinos privilege the few and leave out the majority. But, at Tulalip, signs of a possible third way have emerged.

It might seem surprising to suggest that, in order to find America, you need to look at Indian communities and reservations. But its true. The questions posed by Americas founding documents and early history What is the reach of the federal government? What should it be? How to balance the rights of the individual against those of the collective? What is, at the end of the day, the proper role of the federal government in our social structures and lives? How to balance the demands of community and modernity? How to preserve, protect and foster the middle class? are answered by looking at Indians, at our communities and our history.

Two months after the pot summit, I sat across from Eddy Pablo in a Minneapolis casino. He had come armed with notes and handouts about marijuana legalisation, medical uses of marijuana, and tribal dispositions about legalisation and capitalisation at Tulalip. Eddy is about 5ft 10in, with an absurdly strong build, dark skin, small eyes and spiky black hair in a neat crew cut. Hes 31, with three children, and he is on the make.

Ive lived here my whole life. Both my parents are from here. Im thankful for it. He is soft-spoken but gives off a sense that nothing bothers him. Yet there is plainly a kind of seething, sliding, waiting energy underneath his social self. My high school in Marysville was a subtle racist high school. Not so much the kids. But the teachers had no expectations for us. All of us Indian kids were underperforming. If you have low expectations, then thats all the kid will strive for. I wanted to go to college but my sophomore English grade was crappy. They put me in a special reading class.

This was followed by depression and tutoring. He made it to community college but it didnt stick. He ran afoul of the law and landed in jail. After he got out, he got hooked on diving for geoduck (freshwater clams). You dont get to dive very much. Maybe eight days a year. But a boat can make 13k in three hours. Eddy becomes more animated when he talks about being on the water.

The next day he picks me up to go digging for clams on Cama Beach Point. His car is packed with five-gallon buckets, shovels, rakes and his son, Cruz, tucked in the backseat. As we drive, he points out the landmarks. The Tulalip Reservation 22,000 acres of Indian land sits between Interstate 5 and Puget Sound just north of Seattle. It is indescribably beautiful.

Thats where I grew up, he says, pointing at a nondescript house facing a silty bay that was, until relatively recently, thick with salmon. Cedar, until recently, grew down to the shore.

Unlike most tribes, people here are doing all right, economically speaking. In fact, they are doing very well. The median household income at Tulalip is a comfortable $68,000 per year, well above the national average. Tribal members do get a per-capita payment from gaming revenues, though according to Eddy its not more than $15,500 a year.

The tribe, as a collective, as a business, is doing better as well. Every tribal building is new. The tribal office where Eddy picked up our permit is a soaring architectural treasure. Theres also the youth centre, the museum, the cultural centre all of them cedar-clad. Where once the tribes wealth could be measured in fish, it can now be measured in income and infrastructure.

A casino resort on the Tulalip Indian Reservation north of Seattle, Washington. Photograph: Richard Uhlhorn/Alamy

As for Eddy, without a college degree and with three kids to support, he hustles. He sees marijuana as something that can be added to the mix. We should get in the business, he says. Not just opening dispensaries. Or growing. Our sovereignty can give us a leg up. We should grow, process and dispense. We could control the whole chain. I wonder out loud if the tribe really wants to hitch itself to another lifestyle economy like cigarettes and gambling.

Look, says Eddy. Heroin is here. Once they changed the chemical makeup of prescription drugs [like OxyContin], everyone turned back to heroin. People die from that. No one dies from pot. And the tribe wants it. The people want it. We did a survey and 78% (of tribal members) voted yes for bringing our (tribal) code in line with the state. Fifty-three per cent wanted to open it up only to medical marijuana and 25% wanted that and recreational use to be legal. It could be our niche.

By now weve reached the beach. We have only an hour, two at most, while the tide is out, to dig and sort. Soon the water will come back in and cover the clam beds, and they will be lost to us. So much of life at Tulalip has the same kind of rhythm small windows in which one can make a lot of money, slow spells when none is to be made, and then another hard push. Its not the kind of labour that breeds confidence or even certainty: no clocking in, working, clocking out, and pulling in a wage and benefits. So how, I ask, does he make ends meet? Whats his job?

He gets his per-cap from the tribe. He crabs a few days. He dives a few days. He goes after geoduck and sea cucumber and salmon. And in the same manner he runs his fireworks stand at Boom City in the summer.

Youve got to see it, he says. You wouldnt believe it. A fireworks bazaar. Bigger than anything. And theres a place to light them off. Its like world war three. He seems to think this is a good thing. And in a way I suppose it is, just like his whole operation: a patchwork of opportunities that are exploited aggressively and together add up to a living. A good one.

We have a story, says Eddy as we drive away. Cruz is asleep in his car seat. When all else fails, we were instructed to dig. The clams are always there. Theres food waiting there.

In addition to opening new avenues to wealth and creating a wealth gap in Indian country casinos have had another major effect: theyve thrown into stark relief the vexing question of who gets to be Indian at all.

Americas first blood-quantum law was passed in Virginia in 1705, in order to determine who had a high enough degree of Indian blood to be classified an Indian and whose rights could be restricted as a result. Blood quantum was simply a measure of how much Indian blood (full blood, half, quarter, eighth) a person had. It was often wildly inaccurate, culturally incongruous and socially divisive. It is still used to determine who can be an enrolled member of some federally recognised tribes, and it is just as divisive now as it was then.

Youd think, after all these years, wed finally manage to kick the concept. But recently, casino-rich Indian tribes in California, Michigan, Oregon and other states have been using it themselves to disenroll those whose tribal bloodlines, they say, are not pure enough to share in the profits.

As of 2017, more than 50 tribes across the country have banished or disenrolled at least 8,000 tribal members in the past two decades. Many different rationales have been used to justify it, but its telling that 73% of the tribes actively kicking out tribal members have gaming operations.

Whats fascinating to me is that the whole question of culture didnt become part of the conversation about who is and who isnt Indian at all until the period AC After Casinos. True, being Indian (as something one did in addition to being something one simply was) began back with the Red Power movement and was amplified by the American Indian Movement (AIM), which, at the start, was primarily concerned with Indians economic independence and freedom from police brutality. But in those early discussions and actions, being Indian was more a matter of politics and emotional affinity than a matter of culture. Even the religions claimed by AIM were antagonistic and political: AIMsters danced the Sun Dance as a way of saying Were not you more than as a positive assertion of religious identity. But after casinos began injecting millions and then hundreds of millions and then billions of dollars into Indian economies, culture really came to the fore of discussions of Indianness.

By the end of the 1990s, there was enough cushion for enough Indians and enough money to begin pondering, in earnest, what being Indian meant. They had enough space in their lives to want to connect to their tribes in ways that were value-positive, that didnt see being Indian as a matter of being a full-blood or being enrolled or being simply dark, as had been the case when I was growing up. Rather, being Indian became a matter of knowing your language, attending ceremony, harvesting game and wild rice or pion or salmon. Being Indian was still to some degree a matter of blood, but it was also in the process of becoming about much more.

The struggles of Indian people across the country are bound up in what it means to be Indian. But to be Indian is not to be poor or to struggle. To believe in sovereignty, to let it inform and define not only ones political and legal existence but also ones community, to move through the world imbued with the dignity of that reality, is to resolve one of the major contradictions of modern Indian life: it is to find a way to be Indian and modern simultaneously.

The cannabis industry has started modestly at Tulalip. It is unclear what it will bring or where it will end. Some, like Eddy, think pot shouldnt necessarily be a tribal enterprise, but rather something tribal individuals can participate in, another small-business opportunity that can help make up an income. But how the tribe will exploit the cannabis market collectively is an open question, dependent not only on the unique politics at Tulalip but also on the way tribes do business in general.

Les Parks, the former tribal vice-chairman of the Tulalip and current treasurer, has been at the forefront in trying to get the tribe into the business. While vice-chairman, he put together the pot summit. But after the summit and a subsequent election, Les stepped down, having shot his bolt on the whole issue, according to him, and having failed to overrule those who opposed the idea. As on most other reservations, tribal enterprise at Tulalip is controlled by a small group of people who have grown up together in a very small community. A small village council can control millions on millions of dollars, and so big decisions are often, at their core, made for very personal reasons.

Im met by Les, in bolo tie, boots and a very large, very new pickup truck. Les is proud of his community, and he has obviously given the tour of the reservation many times. But when I ask how much the casino makes, or the fisheries, or anything else, he is evasive. Oh, we do OK. Every year we send $62m in taxes to Olympia. That should give you an idea.

A cannabis dispensary on the Tualip reservation. Photograph: Genna Martin

Its understandable that a wildly successful tribe like the Tulalip dont want to say how much theyre pulling in. The federal government has treaty obligations to the Tulalip to provide for housing and services, among other things obligations that, when all is going well, the government is only too happy to let slide. So the fiscal rhetoric of reservations, if not the social rhetoric, is always one of want and need.

Les veers down a long, narrow road that ends near a creek feeding into the sound. This is where his familys original allotment was. My great-great-grandfather must have been important because this was a good place to live, right next to the creek. It would have been full of salmon. But Les has suffered like so many Indians have suffered: he lost his mother to a drunk driver, his father wasnt around very much. The house he grew up in, long gone rotted or burned or pulled down was of rough-cut lumber and tar paper. He had a lot of brothers and sisters. There wasnt much to go around.

Many of the people I talked to had similar stories fathers and brothers lost to the sea, heavy drinking, absentee parents, poor living conditions. Here as elsewhere, survival was the principal challenge for Indians for well over a century. And from Less story, like others, its clear that a tolerance for conflict, pain and uncertainty a kind of wild and unpredictable daily drama has been necessary to that survival. What, then, allows growth? What are the ingredients necessary for a community not only to make money, but to grow real wealth?

My sister-in-law got Parkinsons disease. It was horrible to watch. Pot helped her. It helped her pain a lot. But Les doesnt want the tribe to sell pot. Or to only sell it. I want us to use our sovereignty to fast-track clinical trials for the uses of marijuana extracts. We could do it faster and better than any of the pharmaceutical companies out there. Were already talking to Bastyr University. Thats where I want us to go. There are a lot of uses for extracts and there is no pharmaceutical company in North America that is looking in that direction. We could be the first. He looks off over the sound. Theres even some research that suggests cannabis extracts can be used to cure type 2 diabetes. Think about that. Think about an Indian company, a tribal pharmaceutical company, that could cure the greatest threat to our health.

Fifteen per cent of American Indians have diabetes, and in some communities in the south-west, the rate is as high as 22%. And diabetes is only part of the problem. Along with high dropout, unemployment and poverty rates, Indians have a mortality rate from accidental death that is twice the national average. Life, for many of us, is not merely bleak: its short, poor, painful, unhealthy and tumultuous.

Just as Les moved from poverty to relative comfort in about 30 years, so too has the tribe. According to the Tribal Employment Rights Organization (Tero), there are 62 registered small businesses owned and operated by Indians on the Tulalip Reservation right now, but since businesses register annually, that swells to more than 160 when theres a big project on the books. And that figure doesnt seem to include fishermen (there were by my count more than 20 boats in the fleet) or the 139 tribally owned and operated fireworks stands at Boom City, or tribal businesses in areas that are, technically at least, off the reservation. When I add all that up, I figure at least a few hundred Indians are in on the hustle no different, in their way, from the many who sell crafts on Etsy, auction game on eBay, plough driveways and make T-shirts on the side. There is, despite historical oppression and in contrast to the received stereotypes about Indians, an active and thriving entrepreneurial class at Tulalip.

The tribe has opened a dispensary, but hasnt given up on Less bigger vision. Even if we cant do it, it should be done, he says. I cant help agreeing. Why shouldnt the tribe, surrounded as it is by Boeing and Microsoft and Amazon, wed tribal enterprise and wealth to technological enterprise and wealth? A pharmaceutical company could be the way to bring Tulalips economy out from under the lifestyle economies that have marked, till now, tribal enterprise.

Tribal power is an interesting thing. With a structure like Tulalips, power rests in the hands of a very few, and the absence of term limits makes it very easy to keep doing the same thing but very, very hard to do anything new.

Boom City is exactly how it sounds. For two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, the largest fireworks bazaar west of the Mississippi rises from the gravel on a vacant lot near the casino. Plywood shanties are trucked to the site and arranged in neat rows. The awnings are opened and the sale begins. Each of the 139 stands is stuffed with fireworks. All of the stands are Native-owned, and the action is administered by a board of directors, which in turn is administered by the tribe. All of the stands are painted brightly, and many bear equally colourful names: Up in Smoke, One Night Stand, Boom Boom Long Time, Porno for Pyro, Titty Titty Bang Bang. Others bespeak proud ownership: Mikeys, Eddys, Juniors.

Its slow when I arrive at Eddys stand, but even so there is a lot of money changing hands. Fireworks like gaming and, to a lesser extent, tobacco are regulated by the state. And as sovereign nations, Indian tribes in states such as Washington, where fireworks are illegal, enjoy a monopoly on their sale. I find Eddy deep in his stand, trying to avoid the sun.

The weathers keeping people away. Too hot. He also tells me business is slow because someone was caught earlier that day selling illegal fireworks nearby, and the incident has made customers skittish. By Friday the cars will be backed up to the highway, Eddy assures me. If youre the last man standing with a full load of fireworks on the last day, you can sell it all.

The wholesalers set up shop on the outskirts of Boom City and circle around taking orders for the vendors. There are two espresso stands and a few food stands. Someone has lined the back of their pickup with a tarp and filled it with water, and five kids cavort and splash in it. Other kids, as young as four or five, walk through the stands chirping Iced tea! Pop! Gatorade! in a miniature mimic of the men and women selling fireworks who have perfected the banter of bazaar merchants the world over.

In the afternoon, the sound of fireworks many and large can be heard nearby. Theres a field on the edge of Boom City set aside for setting them off. Just as fireworks can be sold on the rez but not in the state, so too can they be exploded on the rez. And Boom City is happy to provide the space. Its a free-for-all. Rockets, mortars, roman candles, spinners. They all go off at once and continuously. A haze settles over the lot like the haze over a battlefield. Periodically, the security guards call a halt to the explosions, but only to make room for even larger ones: tribal members and this seems to be a uniquely cultural thing will light off upward of $1,000 worth of fireworks as a memorial for someone in their family who has passed on. They are remembered with an exploding wall of sound.

Ideas arent quietly laid to rest here either. Having explored the possibility of teaming up with the Lummi nation to start a pharmaceutical company, and having met with resistance there as well, Les Parks has recently taken the project back. Political power waxes and wanes, and as the dynamics on the council shifted, Les, visionary and dogged, has brought the idea of a pharmaceutical company back to Tulalip. This time he has more support.

I wander back to Eddys, dazed by the fireworks and by everything else Ive seen at Tulalip. What I have seen here isnt just what a tribe could be (though there was that, too) but what America might be. If only. Tulalip is a conglomeration of separate tribes that came together (by choice, circumstance and under pressure) to form a nation. It has suffered its own internal divisions and traumas. It has endured natural and civic disasters, gone through recession and poverty and joblessness. But it has found a way to provide free healthcare for all its citizens, free education for those who want it, free (excellent) childcare for working parents, a safe and comfortable retirement option for its elders, and a robust safety net woven from per-capita payments that, while barely enough to support a single person and not enough to fully support a family, are enough to encourage its citizens to venture into enterprises small and large. The nation provides for its most vulnerable citizens the young and the old. And it provides enough security for the people in between lifes beginnings and ends so that they can really see what they might become.

This is an edited extract from The Heartbeat at Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer, published by Corsair on 28 March

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adminFrom casinos to cannabis: the Native Americans embracing the pot revolution
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Joh Boehners Blatant Weed Hypocrisy on Display at SXSW

AUSTIN, TexasJohn Boehners bizarre transformation into weed enthusiast/businessman reached its apex on Friday when the former Republican House Speaker spoke at South by Southwest.

CNBC Fast Money regular Tim Seymour moderated the early afternoon conversation between Boehner and Kevin Murphy, the founder and CEO of Acreage Holdings, a Canadian-based marijuana investment firm.

Boehner spent his entire tenure as the most powerful lawmaker in the country being unalterably opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana but now runs his own lobbying group that advocates changing federal law to acknowledge states' rights to regulate and manage cannabis policy.

If hes aware of the irony, hes not letting on.

The talk opened with jokes about Boehner and Murphys matching blue blazers, followed by some vague promises from the latter to use his firms funds to push for social justice and programs for veterans.

Asked about how his conservative record jibes with his newfound stance on marijuana, Boehner said, Id really never thought much about it, but as he began to meet more people who used the drug, he started entertaining the idea of getting involved in the booming industry. He said it was an interaction with a wounded veteran who was helped by medical marijuana that started to sway him in that direction.

Yes, it was quite a shock to a lot of people, Boehner said, including his former colleagues in the House. They all tease me about it, but it doesnt matter. He predicted exponential growth in the marijuana industry, which may explain his change of heart more than anything else.

Ive never used the product, Boehner, who is known for smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine, said. Not to say Ill never use it, but I havent used it yet. He said that if he was convinced that marijuana was better than Advil PM as a sleep aid, he would try it for that.

He said hes shocked at how many people are concerned about how Washington is treating marijuana on a federal level. The fact that 33 states have legalized marijuana, he added, shows that the American people are for it.

Washington has just been in the way, he said. And they need to get the hell out of the way.

Yes, it was quite a shock to a lot of people. They all tease me about it, but it doesnt matter.
John Boehner on his new stance on marijuana

In both 2005 and 2007, Boehner voted against amendments that would have prevented the Department of Justice from going after individuals for using or providing medical marijuana. As recently as 2014, he had the chance to vote for an amendment that prohibits states from penalizing banks for working with marijuana businesses and he declined to cast a vote.

Youd be shocked at how hard it is to change the law, Boehner said later, bemoaning the tyranny of the status quo without acknowledging the House Speakers unique ability to bring legislation to the floor.

How are we supposed to believe someone whose voting record has been racist, homophobic and misogynistic? a woman in the audience shouted at one point. Instead of addressing those issues specifically, Boehner touted his own record on criminal justice reform without giving specifics.

I dont think we ought to have people in jails and prisons who are not a risk to society, Boehner said. And I dont see these people as a risk to society.

One of Boehners earliest votes in Congress was against a 1993 bill that provided funding for alternative punishments for young people convicted of non-violent crimes.

Asked if he believes marijuana legalization could have passed while he was speaker just a few years ago, Boehner emphatically said no, again citing how much public opinion has changed in that short period. Even as he admitted that traditionally Republicans have been more opposed to marijuana than Democrats have, he did not seem to take any responsibility for impeding progress on the issue.

Towards the end of the session, Kevin Murphy heralded Boehners courage to change [his] mind, comparing the national shift on the issue to same-sex marriagesomething else Boehner opposed when he was in office. Were not going to rewrite history, he said, but we are going to basically create a future where people can receive compassion and care through cannabis, end of story.

That line got applause from the room. But it was clearly hard for some, both in the crowd and watching online, to forgive him for his past.

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Coca-Cola heir arrested in Caribbean with $1.3M in cannabis, 5,000 plants aboard private jet: reports

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Janelle Mone set to provide music for ‘Lady and the Tramp’

Image: Vanessa Carvalho / Getty Images

A family trip to Disney World came to a halt when a great-grandmother was arrested for carrying CBD oil, which her doctor recommended to ease her arthritis. 

Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested on Apr. 15 and charged with felony possession of hashish. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Burkhalter was stopped at a bag check just outside of Magic Kingdom that morning, and Disney security found her 1-ounce bottle of peppermint-flavored CBD tincture. In photos obtained by Orlando’s Fox 35, the bottle is labeled as 1000 mg of CBD and 0 mg of THC. 

“I have really bad arthritis in my legs, in my arms and in my shoulder,” Burkhalter told Fox 35. “I use it for the pain because it helps.”

According to the arrest report, the security guard who spotted the CBD oil notified a nearby police officer, who tested the tincture. He said the tincture tested positive for THC and arrested Burkhalter. Although she was carrying the letter of recommendation for CBD oil from her doctor, CBD is illegal in the state of Florida. She spent 12 hours in jail and was released on a $2,000 bail. The charges were later dropped. 

There are a handful of gray areas at play here.

One, the December 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp nationwide, classifying it as an agricultural commodity instead of a federally controlled substance. Hemp products, like the CBD oil added to burgers and sold by the bottle in the wellness section of grocery stores like Whole Foods, must contain less than 0.3 percent THC to be legally sold. (THC is the main psychoactive compound in weed that makes you feel high. CBD doesn’t.) 

But like the Miami Herald notes, hemp is still a no-no in Florida. Retailers sell CBD products, but a spokesman for the state’s Agriculture Commissioner stated that while the office hasn’t sent out any cease and desist letters, “the sale of CBD products is not currently legal in Florida until hemp legislation is passed.”

The police report, as seen in Fox 35’s video, shows the police officer used a presumptive test on Burkhalter’s CBD tincture. Presumptive tests can’t specify a substance, but indicate the possibility of its presence. In this case, the test turned red, which indicated that THC might have been present. While presumptive tests are cheaper and yield faster results, they can be inaccurate and give false positives. The FDA recommends using confirmatory testing, which is more costly and takes longer but can “obtain a confirmed analytical result” by identifying specific substances. 

This also isn’t the first time that a marijuana test detected THC in supposedly “pure” CBD oil. THC-free CBD, or CBD isolate, can be made in a lab, but there’s little to no regulation when it comes to what CBD manufacturers put in their products or how they label them. An investigation by WTHR in Indiana, a state where it’s legal to buy, sell, and possess CBD products, found that a patient taking hemp-derived CBD oil tested positive for marijuana during his employer’s drug test. The station sent a sample of the oil he took in lieu of multiple migraine medications to a lab, which certified that the oil had 0.018 percent THC — well below the legal limit. And in Georgia, where medical marijuana patients can register to legally use “low THC oil” to treat a variety of ailments, a woman taking CBD oil for anxiety failed a drug screening for a new job. She told WSB-TV that the ingredient label on the oil showed no THC, but a disclaimer on the company’s website stated that full-spectrum oil could test positive on drug screenings. It’s unclear how a full-spectrum product would have no THC as that is made from the whole hemp plant, meaning that there will be some traces of THC.

In a statement to Fox News, the Sheriff’s Office said their handling of Burkhalter was “a lawful arrest.”

“Possession of CBD oil is currently a felony under Florida State Statute and Deputies are responsible for enforcing Florida law,” the statement continued. “Although CBD oil is illegal without a prescription, our top drug enforcement priority and focus at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is to get deadly drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, off the streets of our community.”

For Burkhalter, though, the family trip to Disney World was ruined. 

“We had planned on this trip for over two years and we saved up for it and we were real excited,” she told Fox 35. “I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t feel like I’d done nothing wrong.”

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Kamala Harris’ evolution on marijuana

(CNN)During a recent radio interview, Sen. Kamala Harris admitted to smoking weed in the past.

Harris’ views on marijuana have changed over the years. She expressed opposition in 2010, then voiced support for medical marijuana legalization five years later. Now she’s expanding her support to recreational use as well. The senator’s evolution on pot pairs closely with the changes in public opinion on the issue.
In her new book released last month, Harris wrote that marijuana should be legalized and nonviolent marijuana-related offenses should be cleared from people’s records. “We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it,” Harris writes. “And we need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”
    She goes on in the book to discuss the need for a breathalyzer equivalent to determine levels of marijuana use and her other concerns regarding marijuana use.

    What’s her record say?

    In 2015, Harris called for “end the federal ban on medical marijuana” during the Democratic State Convention, stopping short of complete legalization. A year before, a local news clip from KCRA shows Harris, then attorney general of California, laughing when asked what she thought of her opponent’s support for recreational legalization of pot.
    Earlier, as the district attorney of San Francisco, Harris was opposed to 2010 legislation that would have legalized pot in California, according to the Los Angeles Times. Harris believed “that drug selling harms communities,” her campaign manager at the time told Capitol Weekly, reiterating her support for medical marijuana legalization but not recreational.
      Part of this evolution of opinion on pot legalization may have something to do with Harris’ job change. As California’s attorney general, her position wasn’t to provide opinions on the law but to enforce it. Harris’ record as AG, especially when it comes to criminal justice, has been a controversial touchstone in her campaign so far, and she’s been criticized for defending California’s death penalty against challenges in federal courts.
      Perhaps it’s a story of gradual realization of the need for legalization, or maybe it’s just a story of one politician adapting to public opinion. Either way, Harris is on the books (literally) as a pro-pot 2020 candidate.

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      WHO Proposes Downgrading Cannabis Under International Law For First Time

      The World Health Organization (WHO) is proposing downgrading cannabis under international law for the first time, in light of growing evidence of its legitimate medicinal benefits.

      Currently classified by the WHO (US classification is slightly different) as schedule IV – the same class as heroin – which is the most strictly controlled category, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has proposed to reschedule cannabis, and other cannabis-related products as a schedule I classification. What’s more, they’ve proposed removing non-THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) cannabis products, such as CBD oil, from international drug controls completely.

      In November last year, the WHO’s ECDD met to carry out the first full review of cannabis and cannabis-related substances since it was first listed under the International Drug Control Conventions as schedule IV in 1961.

      The WHO schedule categories, first implemented to categorize the potential health risks and benefits of specific substances, range from schedule I – substances with addictive properties and risk of abuse, to schedule IV, the most harmful of the schedule I substances, with the addition of having extremely limited medical or therapeutic value. Cannabis currently come under both.

      The WHO is proposing to the United Nations that cannabis be deleted from schedule IV, and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is currently listed separately as scientists had not identified THC as the psychoactive component of cannabis in 1961, be downgraded to schedule I in light of mounting evidence of the potential for medicinal and therapeutic value.

      “The Committee recognized the public health harms presented by these substances, as well as their potential for therapeutic and scientific use,” the WHO stated. “As a result, the Committee recommended a more rational system of international control surrounding cannabis and cannabis-related substances that would prevent drug-related harms whilst ensuring that cannabis-derived pharmaceutical preparations are available for medical use.”

      They have also recommended that extracts and tinctures derived from cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t contain a psychoactive component, be removed completely from the scheduling, and thus not be restricted under international law.

      The review is long overdue in the face of scientific research into the health benefits of the drug, which weren’t available back in 1961. However, as research continues, attitudes have been changing towards cannabis and it is now legal for medical use in 30 countries around the world, including Canada, some parts of the US, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Argentina, and Australia, with many more under review.

      Studies have linked the medical use of cannabis with helping manage chronic pain, epilepsy, depression, and psychosis, and though it isn’t a cure-all for cancer, it has been linked to helping patients deal with nausea caused by chemotherapy, amongst others. The new classification would allow for further scientific and medical research into the benefits of THC and CBD.

      “These recommendations are of monumental importance as they may lead to the overcoming of barriers to research, enhance access of patients to cannabis-based medicine, and allow free commerce of cannabis products internationally,” Ethan Russo of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute told Newsweek.

      The UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs will vote on the recommendation in March.


      [H/T: The BMJ]

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      5 things to know for December 26: Migrant death, tsunami, Wall Street, Thailand, snow


      We’ve made it past Christmas, so you know what that means: Time for endless end-of-year lists! Let’s kick things off with the five most-heartwarming moments in politics (even in 2018). Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

      1. Migrant death

        US Customs and Border Protection says it’s making changes after an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy in its custody died on Christmas Eve. The boy, ID’d by a congressman as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died at a New Mexico hospital, after the medical staff said he was suffering from a cold. The official cause of death is unknown. The CBP says it will start conducting secondary medical checks of all children in its care, with a special focus on kids under 10. The boy is the second migrant child this month to die while in CBP custody. A 7-year-old girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died on December 8. Many wondered if better medical care could have saved her. Meanwhile, officials in El Paso, Texas, are trying to accommodate hundreds of migrants dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in the city’s downtown with no apparent plan to house or feed them.

        2. Indonesian tsunami

        The death toll in last weekend’s tsunami continues to rise. At least 430 people were killed in the disaster, when landslides from a volcanic eruption created a wave that slammed, without warning, into parts of western Indonesia. About 1,500 were injured and 22,000 were left homeless. And dozens of people are still missing. Indonesia’s Red Cross is sending in emergency aid. The stories coming out of this tragedy are truly heartbreaking. One man, a lead singer of a pop band, described losing his wife and bandmates as the wave hit. Indonesia has a history of deadly tsunamis, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which struck 14 years ago today. That disaster killed more than 220,000 people in a number of countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.

          Tsunami death toll continues to rise

        3. Financial markets

        Markets in Asia and Europe were up and down earlier this morning, which means it’ll probably be another rocky day on Wall Street. The Dow had its worst Christmas Eve ever, dropping more than 650 points after the Trump administration put out mixed signals about the economy. Now comes word that President Trump is frustrated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and a source told CNN that Mnuchin’s job could be in “serious jeopardy.” But Trump spoke up for him on Christmas Day, calling Mnuchin a “very smart person.” Instead the President blamed all the recent market volatility on the Federal Reserve.

          Mnuchin fails to calm volatile markets

        4. Thailand and marijuana

        Thailand is the first country in Southeast Asia to OK the use of medical marijuana. The country’s parliament approved the use of medical cannabis earlier this week, although recreational use of the drug will still be illegal. The region is notorious for its hardline approach to drugs and strict penalties for drug-related crimes. One lawmaker called passage of the medical pot measure a “New Year gift to Thais.” It will become official when it’s published in the Royal Gazette, Thailand’s public journal.

        5. Weather 

        If you and your Christmas presents are headed back home today, be careful out on the roads. It’ll be downright nasty out there in some places. Huge swaths of the central US will be hit with snow, strong winds and heavy rain today. More than 4 million people are under winter weather alerts. There are also wind advisories for parts of Southern California. And Southerners, you aren’t off the hook either. There’s a slight risk of severe storms today that could bring wind, hail and isolated tornadoes this afternoon and evening.

          How to survive winter weather in your car


        First fruits
        Today marks the first day of Kwanzaa. Not sure if you can participate? No worries. Check out the non-black person’s guide to the celebration.
        Won the battle, but lost the war?
        The Lakers were thrilled to have crushed the Warriors in the NBA’s Christmas Day game, but they lost Lebron James to injury in the process. Ouch.
        Right back to you
        If you donated money in that alleged scam fundraiser for a homeless man, don’t fret. GoFundMe says it’s refunding the cash.

          GoFundMe couple, homeless man facing charges

        Walk on by
        Ever hit that pedestrian button at a crosswalk, but it seemed liked nothing happened? That’s probably because the world is full of buttons that don’t work.


        That’s how much staffing at the office that oversees federal food stamps programs will be cut, thanks to the partial government shutdown


        Dancing delivery
        First he put down the packages. Then he put on a little show. (Click to view)

          ONE MORE THING

          Did you buy a shiny, new smartphone for a loved one for Christmas? Make it more useful for them than just taking selfies or playing TikToc videos. Sign them up for 5 Things!

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          Who’s running for president in 2020? Growing field of candidates join race for Democratic nod

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          Louisiana is trying to keep medical marijuana medical. It’s harder than it sounds

          Baton Rouge (CNN Business)Ramsey Castleberry, 8, is what is known in autism circles as a “runner.”

          “Every day you have to open up your cabinet and see something called ‘amphetamines’ and give them to your child,” says their mother, Katelyn Castleberry, looking at a shelf full of pill bottles. “The shock never wears off.”
          Castleberry wants to do everything she can to help her boys have normal childhoods. But there’s one promising remedy she hasn’t been able to try: marijuana.
          Unlike in most states, it’s technically legal for use as a therapy for autistic children in Louisiana. It’s just not available yet, and because of the thicket of rules the state legislature imposed to keep marijuana as medical as possible, Castleberry worries it never will be.
          As state after state across America has moved to legalize marijuana for recreational as well as medical use — or medical use with such liberal rules that almost anyone qualifies — conservative Louisiana set out to make sure it’s used only for the conditions spelled out in its laws, and for research in a tightly controlled setting.
          Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have some kind of medical marijuana access law, though not all of them have set up programs to implement them yet. If Louisiana succeeds, it could light the way for other conservative states that want marijuana’s therapeutic benefits — especially as a relatively non-addictive alternative to the opioids that have wreaked such havoc in communities across the country — but don’t want adults getting high just for fun.
          In an effort to keep tight control over the marijuana industry, Louisiana has limited production to just two state universities, which makes the supply chain highly vulnerable to disruptions. Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says that in itself sets the program up for failure.
          “Louisiana seems to be an example of how to over regulate the product,” Armentano says. “The program is not in the best interests of many of the patients it’s designed to serve.”
          Washington isn’t helping matters. The Department of Justice in January rescinded an Obama-era policy that had eased the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where use had been deemed legal. Once again, federal prosecutors can decide how to go after people for the possession, sale or cultivation of marijuana. With cannabis still considered a Schedule 1 substance, the federal government also rarely funds research on it, the Food and Drug Administration won’t approve most drugs derived from it, and hospitals fear losing federal dollars if they even let it in the door.
            Other potential pitfalls for the program include limitations on the forms and potency the medication can take to a lack of clarity on whether physicians who recommend the drug will be punished for doing so. Because of testing and inspection delays, the first vials of tetrahydrocannabinol solution, or THC, that are approved for medical use won’t be on shelves until late January, and even then will be limited to the highest-need patients until more supply is available.
            Every once in a while, Castleberry thinks about moving to one of the seven states where parents can currently get medical marijuana for their autistic children. Instead, she’s been devoting her spare time to advocating for broadening access to the drug in Louisiana. But it’s a wrenching choice.
            “Do I stay in the place I love with my family and make where I live a better place?” she asks. “Or do I go to a place that will allow my sons to live?”

            A long slog toward making medicine

            Technically, some Louisiana patients have been legally entitled to marijuana for decades.
            The state first allowed cannabis back in 1978 for use by glaucoma and cancer patients. In 1991, they added spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. But the health department never set a system for production and distribution, mired in deep misgivings about a drug that meanwhile had sent thousands to prison.
            That finally changed with the Alison Neustrom Act of 2015, named after a 42-year-old pancreatic cancer patient who made legalization her dying wish.
            At the time, other states were designing their rules such that a diagnosis for back pain or trouble sleeping could get you virtually any type of cannabis in any amount from a shop down the street. Fred Mills, the Republican pharmacist who designed the new law, initially favored a more free-market system. But he soon learned that he’d have to go the other direction.
              “I could tell that the law enforcement community was so against the bill that I had to make it a lot more conservative,” says Mills. “It was worth it to at least see the program develop.”
              To do that, Louisiana came up with something unique: It granted a total monopoly over marijuana production to two public universities, Louisiana State University and Southern University, an historically black college in Baton Rouge. Both of them contracted with private companies to build and operate grow facilities, in partnership with academic researchers who would study the plants.
              In theory, that puts Louisiana — and the two companies with exclusive licenses — in an excellent position to develop a repository of proprietary therapeutic compounds that could prove lucrative if the drug were ever legalized on a national level.
              “Everyone from the United States is going to come to us to get these genetics,” says John Davis, president of the Louisiana division of GB Sciences, the Las Vegas-based company that won LSU’s contract.
              LSU is already very good at working with plants. Its agriculture department has for decades done research on cash crops like rice and sweet potatoes, and reaped financial rewards from licensing patents they obtained for different strains.
              That income is especially important after a decade of state budget cuts slashed funding for higher education in half. So when the prospect of doing the same thing for marijuana came up at the legislature, LSU jumped at the chance.
              “That’s where we see the benefit to the university long-term,” says Ashley Mullens, LSU’s coordinator for the marijuana program. “That’s why we decided to take this chance.”
                Agricultural research on rice, however, is a lot different from weed. For one thing, federal rules require all marijuana for research to come from a facility at the University of Mississippi, which since 1968 has had a sole-source contract with federal drug regulators to produce it. But researchers have long complained that it’s low-quality and doesn’t represent the varieties now available commercially.
                That’s why Louisiana’s program carries such promise — but also risk. They’re working around the prohibition, resting on assurances from federal prosecutors that state-sanctioned marijuana programs are not on their list of priorities. “We’re committed to operating under regulations established by state statutes,” says Hampton Grunewald, LSU AgCenter’s associate vice president for government relations.
                Because of elaborate security requirements imposed by regulators, the grow facility in an industrial park in South Baton Rouge looks like a cross between a biopharmaceutical lab and a prison.
                Along with the usual glass-walled rooms and whiteboards of a scientific research facility, there’s also a wall of televisions with feeds covering every inch of the building, a room in between the front door and the entrance that will catch any intruder, key card access to every room, and security guards on site 24/7.
                The plants themselves are grown on long tables in individually climate-controlled rooms, in a special nutrient mixture, irrigated with water that’s been fed through a reverse osmosis system to remove any impurities. Any visitors will wear full-body Tyvek suits In order to keep them sterile and free of contaminants. The goal: Make them as uniform as possible, to create compounds that are exactly the same every time.
                “Our approach has been to capture different varieties of cannabis and grow them in a way that any time you go to a pharmacy, it’s identical,” says Andrea Small-Howard, GB Sciences’ chief science officer. “It’s like you go to a pharmacy and pick up Advil or Tylenol or Aleve.”
                But that costs money. Lots of money.
                GB Sciences, which is a public companywith shares that are traded over the counter, made big promises: Investing $6.5 million in a grow facility, providing at least half a million dollars in research funding annually, and cutting the university in on 10% of its gross revenues, which with an estimated market of 60,000 to 100,000 eligible patients, could be substantial. Proceeds from any intellectual property that comes out of the partnership will be split 50-50.
                  GB Sciences’ own future depends on that bet paying off. Although the company has been producing cannabis products for the recreational market in Nevada to generate revenue, it posted a net loss of $23 million in fiscal year 2018, and has been saying publicly that a successful patent could make it into a multi-billion dollar business.
                  Winning the LSU contract was a big boost to GB Sciences’ credibility, and it gives them something few if any U.S.-based cannabis companies have at this point: The ability to do research in partnership with a university on marijuana grown in-house, rather than on the stuff that comes from Ole Miss.
                  But unless and until those patents are granted, the medicine GB Sciences produces in Louisiana will have to start paying for itself — and the prolonged rollout has created huge pressures on the company to keep it affordable, especially since insurance doesn’t cover marijuana products and patients will have to pay out of pocket. Davis declined to provide pricing information, saying that it is a “very sensitive issue in this biopharmaceutical industry,” and promised that the cost would be on par with other states.
                  But that’s only wholesale. The nine licensed pharmacy operators also have to recoup millions of dollars spent going through the arduous application process and building whole new buildings to house their marijuana operations. They have almost as much mandated security as the grow facilities, including a safe for cash that must be bolted to the ground.
                  “The pharmacy will have no choice but to double the price,” says Randy Mire, a pharmacist who won the license for the Baton Rouge area.
                  To make matters worse, the one institution that’s supposed to provide a check on GB Sciences’ pricing power — Southern University — has lagged far behind schedule.
                  The school awarded its contract to a brand-new company called Advanced Biomedics, funded by a local racehorse trainer named Carol Castille who promised to invest between $6 million and $10 million in the new facility. But a legal dispute between him and an investor delayed the start of the program by months, and the company never actually hired the experienced team of researchers they had originally advertised.
                  In November, another company bought out Advanced Biomedics, meaning that the program will essentially start from scratch.
                  All of this has patients and their advocates worried that the supply of marijuana could be interrupted if GB Sciences has manufacturing problems or goes bankrupt, and in any case might be prohibitively expensive for all but the very wealthy, while the poor are forced out on to the vibrant but unregulated black market.
                  “If there is only one producer, how much availability will we have for patients?” asks Kevin Caldwell, president of CommonsenseNOLA, a group that advocates for marijuana legalization. “And at what cost?”

                  Who will prescribe it?

                  Even if you get the marijuana supply flowing, someone has to prescribe it. And in Louisiana, that’s proving to be another bottleneck.
                  Other states have shielded physicians by allowing them to essentially write blank prescriptions saying that the patient has a qualifying condition under state law, leaving the dosage up to the pharmacist or the patient, and no physicians have yet been prosecuted for doing so. But Louisiana wanted to keep that control over dosing in the hands of the physicians, which leaves them potentially more vulnerable to legal scrutiny.
                  To make matters even more perilous for the half of the state’s doctors who work for hospitals, most of their employers have not taken a stand on whether it’s ok to prescribe marijuana, for use inside or outside the hospital. Ochsner Health System, for example, said only that the issue was “extremely complex.”
                  “In the interest of our patients and providers, Ochsner Health System is carefully considering all of the factors and continues to monitor discussions as more information becomes available,” it said in a statement.
                  Physicians have to do an online course to get certified to prescribe marijuana, and to date, only 68 physicians in the entire state have done so. The state’s medical community hasn’t exactly been encouraging: The Louisiana State Medical Society didn’t support the 2015 legislation, citing a “lack of science-based evidence that shows it’s an effective treatment option, or safe, for patients.”
                  There is substantial evidence on certain conditions like chronic pain, spasticity and multiple sclerosis, according to a comprehensive 2017 overview by the National Academies. The pace of research has accelerated in recent years, a review published in the journal Population Health Management found, with an increase in research on children and the elderly over the past five years.
                  John Vanchiere, a Shreveport physician who is the president of the state’s chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, remains skeptical of the entire project. He advocated for a requirement that doctors writing marijuana recommendations for autistic children consult with a pediatric sub-specialist, creating an additional barrier to access that regulators are still working to fully define.
                  “Why would a physician wade into those waters with what the legislature believes will be helpful to children, based on compelling stories?” Vanchiere says. “I’d be surprised if many general pediatricians decide to take this on.”
                  To get around the hospital problem, some physicians are forming their own marijuana-specific practices. Kathryn Thomas had built a chain of opioid addiction treatment clinics, which she sold in 2017. When the marijuana option opened up in Louisiana, she decided to open a new type of treatment clinic for people seeking therapeutic marijuana.
                  Thomas then found five mostly young doctors employed at other hospitals who wanted to start the practice as a side job, and plans to contract with others. She already has a well-appointed office in Shreveport, with plans to expand to New Orleans as soon as product is available, and 3,000 people who have pre-registered on her website. Many of these people wouldn’t be comfortable asking their primary care physicians for marijuana, she says.
                  “At least when you’re coming here, we hope to decrease the stigma, and provide compassionate, respectful care,” Thomas says.
                  Another group that depends on physicians stepping up to write recommendations: The nine pharmacists who’ll be dispensing all of the state’s marijuana. They’re not allowed to advertise the product, even so much as creating a Facebook group or a website, so they’ll need doctor referrals.
                  Doug Boudreaux is a third-generation pharmacist in Shreveport who decided to pursue a license because of the hospice patients with pain and nausea that no medication has managed to fix. “Imagine throwing up so much that you throw up fecal matter,” he says.
                  After spending $200,000 on the application process, he poured another $800,000 into a new pharmacy right across the street from Shreveport’s major hospital cluster. He thinks he can break even within a few years, as long as the number of doctors licensed to recommend marijuana keeps rising.
                  “It’s a slow process for them,” Boudreaux says. “But it is going up.”

                  How much control is too much?

                  Every state that decides to legalize marijuana in any form is making things up as they go along. So in some ways, Louisiana isn’t unusual.
                  But currently, without the normal support system around other medicines — big pharmaceutical companies and federal funding to develop drugs, hospitals to administer them, and insurance companies to pay for them — the economics of going an exclusively medical route aren’t great.
                  That’s partly why so many states end up legalizing marijuana for recreational use as well. Once that happens, most of the money flows into products that might have some therapeutic effect, but aren’t up to the standards of treating specific diseases. In states like California and Colorado, for example, medical and recreational products aren’t that different.
                  “I think Louisiana has a chance to do something I would really appreciate,” says Jacob Irving, a pro-marijuana activist who suffers from spastic quadriplegia. “Which is to have a robust medical system that is so different from a recreational system that the two industries would be able to survive if the state ever does go down that route.”

                  Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

                  All of this could change, of course, if Congress were to legalize medical marijuana on a national level — a possibility that became slightly less remote with the new Democratic majority in the House and the recent departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had taken a hardline stance toward the drug.
                  Andrew Freedman ran Colorado’s marijuana program until last year, and now consults with governments setting up their own systems. He thinks Louisiana’s approach could work, but it would help if the federal government opened up the market for investment in marijuana research, both public and private.
                  “I do think that they can be a leader of making medical marijuana medical,” he says. “The truth is, without massive resources behind it, we can’t get the medical research anyway.”

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