Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Ads Help Sagging Media Profits

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, January, 18th 2011 by THCFinder

Medical marijuana advertising is taking off, propping up the fortunes of ailing media companies that have seen income from other business sectors plummet in the recession.

Advertisements offering free edibles for new patients and products such as “super silver haze” are helping to keep the San Francisco Bay GuardianSF Weekly and East Bay Express in business. Similar ads have even started cropping up — tentatively — in more staid publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ads for pot are growing so fast in part because they face fewer regulations and restrictions than marketing materials for cigarettes and alcohol. The only real regulation is one requiring the ads to warn customers that they need a doctor’s recommendation.

“Marijuana advertising is a small percentage of our total advertising — we wish that we had more,” said Mina Bajraktarevic, advertising sales manager at the Bay Guardian, whose back page has become a wall of green with medical marijuana advertising.


“We’ve been involved in this for years,” said Bruce Brugmann, publisher of the Bay Guardian. “We haven’t heard    any complaints.”

Not all media companies are comfortable with pot ads, and some have equivocated about whether to accept them. Some advertisers were waiting to see the outcome of the vote Nov. 2 on Proposition 19, the state pot legalization bill, before agreeing to take money from the burgeoning industry.

Ten years ago most medical cannabis clubs were intentionally low-key and relied only on word of mouth. Being illegal, they were inconsistently tolerated by the authorities.

Now, with rapidly liberalized enforcement policies, the most successful medical cannabis businesses are the ones that get their brand name out to the public. Dozens of the businesses are racing to capture the pot-smoking community’s mindshare, and are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into local media this year to do so.

“We probably spend around $2,500 to $3,000 a month on advertising,” said Kevin Reed, president of the Green Cross, a medical cannabis dispensary on Market Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. “We’re in a world where you’re competing with all these fly-by-night businesses who don’t have to follow the rules — they’re not regulated.” Until recently, more than half a dozen dispensaries had failed to register their businesses with the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

One of the pioneers of pot advertising was KUSF Radio. Four years ago, the station, run by the University of San Francisco, had a Green Cross-underwritten public-service announcement that ran on 90.3 FM.

But sometimes it’s hard for pot clubs to buy ads; several have lined up ad agreements only to have them retroactively rejected.

In May, Facebook canceled the Green Cross’ existing advertisements on the site. MediCann, a group of clinics specializing in medical marijuana evaluations, also had its Facebook ads snuffed.

In August, the Green Cross paid in full for a slot on a huge electronic billboard on Interstate 280 at the Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City — only to see it taken down a day later.

The circumstances surrounding that reversal were not quite clear. SF Weekly ran a blog post suggesting the ad was taken down because its content was objectionable. But a spokeswoman for the mall, Cherie Napier, said that the real reason was that the billboard was only permitted to run ads for products or services sold at the mall. The marijuana ad, she said in an e-mail, “would have been a violation and could have resulted in a $10,000 fine from the state.”

Aside from the weeklies, the medical pot business supports a whole genre of “cannabis friendly” magazines, such as West Coast Leaf and Kush.

“We don’t do general newspapers or anything like that,” said Adrian Moore, director of operations at 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond.

Bigger news outlets don’t appear ready to take advertisements for marijuana, at least not yet.

To what extent can marijuana be advertised? Kris Hermes, executive director of the Oakland-basedAmericans for Safe Access, called advertising for the drug a First Amendment issue.

“Our rough position is that we’re in favor of patients finding out how to access medical marijuana,” Hermes said. “We encourage local governments to figure out ways of allowing advertisements that aren’t counterproductive to [get to] the members of the community.”



Access to medical marijuana delayed

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, January, 18th 2011 by THCFinder

D.C. residents seeking medical marijuana are unable to obtain a prescription in the city, despite the legalization of the drug last summer.

Difficulties in regulating the drug have caused delays in dispensaries being set up, D.C. Department of Health spokeswoman Mahlori Isaacs said.

"Due to legal litigation, it is unclear when medicinal marijuana will make it to Washington, D.C. depositories," Isaacs said.

Medical marijuana became legal in the District July 27, 2010, after Congress' allotted 30-day review period expired. If Congress does not touch a bill passed by the D.C. Council in that 30-day period, it automatically becomes law.

The D.C. health department is responsible for establishing the regulations needed to ensure the legal distribution of the controversial drug. Proposed rules for the cultivation and distribution of the drug are expected to take effect once they are published in the D.C. Register. Though this is expected to happen soon, there is no official date set at this time.

GW Hospital spokeswoman Heather Oldham said the hospital is unable to comment on whether or not it will be allowed to distribute medicinal marijuana.

Oldham said the hospital's lawyers are still attempting to figure out what changes the hospital would need to make in order to accommodate the law.

D.C. hospitals will be able to distribute the drug if they submit a dispensary registration application and are approved by the D.C. Board of Health, similar to any other dispensary, Issacs said. She added that hospitals will probably not qualify as cultivation centers due to difficulties in ensuring the security of the facility.

GW Hospital physicians will be able to recommend marijuana treatment for patients who qualify.

A medical marijuana certification provider, according to proposed rules, must certify businesses or individuals who want to distribute medicinal marijuana. To be certified, distributors must submit an application detailing facility's staffing, security, cultivation and product safety plan.

As of now, no dispensaries have been qualified by the DOH, Issacs said.

Only individuals with a recommendation from a Department of Health-registered physician will be able to use medical marijuana in D.C. Anyone who wants to obtain the drug for medicinal purposes must also provide a social security number and proof of residency in the District to be approved by the DOH.

Only D.C. residents will be able to obtain the drug here, so students who are not permanent residents of the District won't be able to purchase marijuana from D.C. dispensaries, even if they have permission to obtain the drug in states that already allow the use of medicinal marijuana.



Will NJ medical pot law go up in smoke?

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, January, 17th 2011 by THCFinder

TRENTON -- The terminally ill's lack of access to medical marijuana is one of the worries of a state senator who is trying to force Gov. Chris Christie's administration to change proposed regulations of the drug.


Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Middlesex, said the Republican governor's proposed rules have several flaws, including barring dispensaries from making home deliveries, even for terminally ill patients -- those defined in the regulations as having less than 12 months to live.

""Terminally ill patients are penalized,'' Scutari said.

Also, the levels of the drugs active ingredient are capped ""arbitrarily'' and a rule requiring doctors who register with the program to complete training in addiction medicine is ""unnecessary,'' Scutari said.

Scutari has scheduled a hearing Thursday with the Democrat-controlled Senate health committee that could lead to a rewrite of Christie’s rules.


Hanging in the balance is the delivery of medical marijuana to those who suffer from chronic or terminal illnesses, which the law, signed in January, is supposed to provide.

Some key Democrats said they fear the rewrite process could significantly delay the launch of the program, which would deny people who could use medical marijuana much-needed relief.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, says Christie has already made adequate changes, with the governor upping the number of facilities to grow and distribute the marijuana to six, as the law calls for. The changes would make it easier for patients to get access to doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.

Gusciora said the amendments ""encompass parts of the compromise I had reached with the governor. They're not perfect but it's a starting point. I believe half a loaf is better than no loaf.''

""Scutari has the right to do what he's doing, but to start the regulations again from scratch will just delay seeing the program get started, '' Gusciora added.

But Scutari said this is likely the only time significant changes can be made, adding ""We only have one shot with this. We have to get it right.''

New Jersey got the ball rolling to become the 14th state offering medical marijuana when then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation in January 2010, one day before Christie took office.

The law is formally known as the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Scutari and Gusciora were leading advocates.

Christie has insisted on strict rules, saying he wants to avoid creating a ""de facto legalization of marijuana" in New Jersey.

Christie had said there are flaws with laws in some other jurisdictions, leading to situations where there is ""a head shop in every town and quack doctors writing prescriptions for people with headaches to get marijuana.''



Changes to Medical Marijuana Regulations

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Sun, January, 16th 2011 by THCFinder

Some state lawmakers are proposing changes to medical marijuana regulations in Colorado. House bill 11-1043 was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives in early January. The bill would make numerous changes to the current law, including changing residency requirements for dispensary owners, and protecting medical marijuana patients in the case that their medical records are released. Tom McMenamim with Levity Wellness says of the proposed changes, "a great deal of them are very good”. But he says over the past few months, additional proposals pertaining to surveillance are beginning to add up to a hefty price tag, "it would cost us many thousands of dollars for us to do it the way they want us to do it".




McMenamim agrees, regardless, in this ever-changing industry, the strong businesses will survive and the proposals will do the industry well in the eyes of the doubting public, “the struggle is to make this business legitimate, and, the more things that we can do so that people see this is not just a flash in the pan, it’s a business that’s going to be around, and more and more people are going to want to utilize this product". Richard Perkins with A Wellness Centers agrees, "there’s always going to be some adjustments, like any industry that’s this new, but for the most part I think everything’s going well pretty far, Its just going to take some time to polish some things out”. He says many of the proposed changes would be good for the industry, and like McMenamim, says, "I mean a lot of it legitimizes the industry and allows us to take it out of the back alley so to speak and put it more on the forefront of the community and let everyone know what its about and what we can do to offer what services we can offer to help them”.


Michigan medical marijuana news: regulations and raids

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Sat, January, 15th 2011 by THCFinder

KALAMAZOO — Portage and Allegan County's Otsego Township this week joined the growing list of Michigan communities that have enacted six-month moratoriums on medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Many local boards are adopting moratoriums while they sort out what type of local regulations to enact.

In Marshall, the city council last week extended its six-month moratorium for another six months.

Meanwhile, in Oakland County, officers raided another medical marijuana dispensary this week, saying it was selling to non-patients.

And in Jackson, a woman was evicted from her federally subsidized apartment for using medical marijuana.


Colorados Bill Would Ease States Medical-Pot Law

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Sat, January, 15th 2011 by THCFinder


Several news organizations have coverage on the introduction of HB11-1043.

The Denver Post: Colorado’s medical-marijuana laws could be relaxed to make it easier for felons to own dispensaries and exempt long-standing pot shops from buffer rules around schools. A bill unveiled this week at the state Capitol makes a number of changes to Colorado’s medical- marijuana laws that are friendly to the cannabis industry.

Colorado Springs Independent: When the Department of Revenue’s Matt Cook recently spoke to a room full of Colorado county commissioners for the group’s winter conference session, he promised that a clean-up bill was on its way from the upcoming legislature. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you already know House Bill 1284 — meet House Bill 1043. Co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Massey and Sen. Pat Steadman, the bill seeks to make a number of adjustments to previously passed legislation.

Westword: This week, the department of health’s medical marijuana advisory committee struck draft language that would have doomed mobile MMJ clinics — but it left intact limits against doctors with conditions or restrictions on their licenses. However, HB 1043, a new bill on view below, could change the game again.




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