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  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel August 25, 2015

    A new scientific review of burn injuries in Colorado confirms what many of us have been saying for some time – that the popularity of dabbing (i.e., the use of hash oil) brings with it some real dangers and some potential political dangers.

    I have previously written about my own preference for flowers, rather than concentrates or edibles, but that is largely the result of my age. I began smoking marijuana 50 years ago, when I was a freshman at Georgetown Law School, and back then one was lucky if you could establish a reliable source for good marijuana, and these more esoteric versions of marijuana were largely unheard of. Occasionally the dealer would have a little hash (allegedly imported from Lebanon or some other distant country, although one never really knew), but it was usually terribly expensive and treated more as something to be saved for a special occasion, like champagne. Most of the time it was difficult enough just to find good pot.

    But it is clear that the culture has evolved over the decades, and many of those wanting to enjoy the marijuana experience today prefer something other than flowers. In the states that have legalized marijuana, many seem to prefer edibles or concentrates. Whether that trend will continue is uncertain, but so long as a significant segment of the consuming public wants to obtain edibles or concentrates, we should focus on ways to permit that without endangering the public.

    Edibles

    Regarding edibles, as our initial experience in Colorado has demonstrated, the key components to using edibles safely are:

    Proper labeling, to avoid accidental ingestion
    Proper dosage per unit, to avoid inadvertent overdosing (which is never fatal, but can be terribly unpleasant).
    Better educational outreach to novice users, so they understand the lag time between ingesting the marijuana before the full psychoactive effects are felt.
    So the initial concern over a few mishaps involving edibles in Colorado seems to have abated. Informed consumers should experience no problems enjoying the marijuana experience from infused edibles.

    Concentrates

    With concentrates, the most serious issue is the risk of explosions by those who attempt to extract the THC using butane. Novice consumers need to be made aware of the increased strength of marijuana in this form, and concentrates, like edibles, must be kept safely away from children.

    Hash oil is a potent marijuana concentrate that can be as strong as 90 percent THC, and is easily manufactured (the process is readily available on the Internet) using butane as a solvent. But the process is also highly volatile and can result in dangerous explosions that all too often cause serious, and sometimes deadly, burn injuries. The similarities with the rash of meth explosions a few years ago is difficult to avoid.

    New Study Released from Colorado

    A new study just published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, analyzed the incidents of burn injuries from butane hash oil extraction in Colorado from January 1, 2008 through August 31, 2014, comparing the two years prior to the legalization of medical use in the state; the period of medical use only in Colorado; and the first eight months of 2014, the first year of full legalization.

    According to this study, there were no such incidents during the two years prior to the adoption of medical use; 19 cases during the medical use only phase lasting from October 2009 through December 2013; and 12 cases during the first eight months of 2014. So the total number of these explosions was small.

    Those involved in these butane extraction explosions were largely white (72 percent), male (90 percent); and young (median age of 26). And the medium length of their hospital stay was 10 days.

    The study’s authors concluded: “Hydrocarbon burns associated with hash oil production have increased since the liberalization of marijuana policy in Colorado. A combination of public health messaging, standardization of manufacturing processes, and worker safety regulations are needed to decrease the risks associated with BHO (butane hash oil) production.”

    Potential Political Backlash

    Another risk associated with these burn incidents is the possibility that the non-smoking public may be influenced to oppose further legalization proposals, because of the dangers presented by these explosions. Although the actual numbers of explosions are relatively low, each of them are scary, and most become major news stories, at least on the local and state level, thereby frightening large numbers of citizens, many of whom base their support for legalization on the premise that prohibition causes far more harm than the use of marijuana itself.

    These incidents of butane burn injuries may well cause some of our supporters to re-evaluate their prior support. And there is no reason for us to incur this political baggage; we have an alternative production method that is safe.

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    This is a risk that could be avoided by using a CO2 extraction method, instead of butane, to produce concentrates, and as a culture we need to get the word out that it’s time to bring an end to the use of butane extraction altogether. It’s dangerous to produce concentrates with butane, at least by amateurs, and it may well present a health risk to the consumer.

    The CO2 extraction method is safe and non-volatile, avoiding any danger of an explosion. And consumers are further protected because bacteria, mildews and molds are destroyed, and there is no butane residue in concentrates made this way.

    It’s a win-win solution, but we need to better inform those who produce and use concentrates. If consumers begin to demand CO2-extracted concentrates, and reject products made with butane, the industry will quickly fall into line.

    It’s time we insisted on the responsible production and use of concentrates. Otherwise we may find ourselves facing significant limitations, or even total bans, imposed on the production and availability of these products. Let’s resolve this problem ourselves, so the authorities need not deal with it.

    _________________________________________________________________

    This blog was initially published on Marijuana.com.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate August 13, 2015

    ballot_box_leafThe Ohio Secretary of State’s office yesterday confirmed that a statewide ballot proposal seeking to permit the personal use and commercial production and retail sale of cannabis will appear on the November ballot. Proponents of the measure, Responsible Ohio, gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment.

    Ohio now has the opportunity to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. as states that have passed laws allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults.

    If enacted, the measure would initially establish 10 state-licensed commercial growing sites. (State regulators will have the opportunity to grant additional licenses if these initial production sites do not adequately meet demand.) Commercially produced cannabis will be sold at over 1,000 proposed retail dispensaries.

    A minimum of five regional marijuana testing facilities will be established to regularly check the chemical compounds found in the product for adequate labeling for consumers and regulators.

    Additionally, residents over the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase a $50 license to grow their own marijuana plants with a limit of 4 plants per household and/or 8 ounces of useable product at a time. The amendment also establishes a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary system to provide access to those patients with a recommendation from a physician. Medical marijuana will not be taxed and will be provided on a needs-based fee system. Commercial marijuana production will be taxed at 5% when purchased for personal use and 15% at the wholesale and manufacturing level.

    You can read the full text of the amendment here.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator July 24, 2015

    SpliffinAnother one of our great NORML Business Network Partners is Spliffin!

    Spliffin manufacturers solvent-free concentrates and vaporizers. Spliffin products are engineered for discretion, convenience, and dependability. They provide consumers with a safe and clean alternative to smoking. Spliffin uses only locally grown California varieties of cannabis that are free of pesticides and herbicides. Spliffin concentrates are produced through a state-of-the-art manufacturing process that extracts and condenses marijuana’s psychoactive and medicinally active elements into a concentrated form.

    Beyond quality, sophistication, and exceptional craftsmanship, Spliffin is building community and cultivating a lifestyle movement. Spliffin is also a founding member of the NORML Business Network and a financial supporter of NORML’s legalization efforts!

    Check out Spliffin.com for amazing vape products and to help support the NORML Business Network!

    DISCLOSURE: This post is provided as a service of the NORML Business Network,  which works to create mutually beneficial partnerships with marijuana-related businesses that seek to use their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility. Spliffin is a proud member of the NORML Business Network. To learn more about our Network partners, or to become a member, please visit here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate July 23, 2015

    Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 today in favor of an aUS_capitolmendment to allow state-compliant marijuana businesses to engage in relationships with financial institutions.

    Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon and Patty Murray (D) of Washington, the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

    Presently, most major financial institutions refuse to provide services to state-compliant operators in the marijuana industry out of fear of federal repercussions. Their refusal to do so presents an unnecessary risk to both those who operate in the legal marijuana industry and to those consumers who patronize it.

    No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Further, forcing state-licensed businesses to operate on a ‘cash-only’ basis increases the risks for crime and fraud.

    It is time for Congress to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Today’s Senate Committee vote marks the first step taken by Congress to address these federal policy deficiencies.

    Although stand-alone legislation, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, is pending in both the House and the Senate, it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill. This means that the Merkley/Murray amendment is like to be reformer’s best opportunity this Congress to impose substantial banking reform.

    Keep following NORML’s blog and Take Action Center for legislative updates as this and other relevant reform measures progress. To take action in support of the Merkley/Murray amendment, click here here.

    The following Senators voted in favor of the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
    Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
    Christopher Coons (D-DE)
    Dick Durbin (D-IL)
    Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    Steve Daines (R-MT)
    Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
    Patty Murray (D-WA)
    Brian Schatz (D-HI)
    Jon Tester (D-MT)
    Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Tom Udall (D-NM)

    And these Senators voted against the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    Roy Blunt (R-MO)
    John Boozman (R-AK)
    Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    Susan Collins (R-ME)
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    John Hoeven (R-ND)
    Mark Kirk (R-IL)
    James Lankford (R-OK)
    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Jerry Moran (R-KS)
    Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator July 21, 2015

    The Associated Press recently highlighted public and industry 420 Food Safety Logoconcerns regarding the use of herbicides and pesticides in the commercial cannabis operations.

    Understandably, many commercial growers, producers, and wholesalers have numerous questions about good agricultural practices, food safety, and quality management systems.

    420 Food Safety, a NORML Business Network Partner, assists cannabis businesses with those important questions!

    420 Food Safety’s President and CEO is a certified Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) auditor through the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with extensive experience in food safety and quality management. 420 Food Safety helps companies make food safety and quality systems work from seed to sale.

    420 Food Safety offers:

    • Consulting in safety and quality management from seed to sale
    • Training on safety and quality management systems
    • Help with HACCP MJ Planning and practice
    • Help with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Planning

    Right now, 420 Food Safety is promoting their “Food Safety Helpdesk”.  For just $50, an organization can get 30 minutes of top-grade consulting on quality and safety management systems for their business!

    To learn more about 420 Food Safety and their great services, visit their website! 420FoodSafety.com

    DISCLOSURE: This post is provided as a service of the NORML Business Network, which works to create mutually beneficial partnerships with marijuana-related businesses that seek to use their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility. 420 Food Safety is a proud member of the NORML Business Network. To learn more about our Network partners, or to become a member, please visit here.

     

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