The Risks of Running a Medical Marijuana Business
The medical marijuana business is not an easy one to get into and to stay in, even though 17 states and Washington D.C. now have MMJ programs.
Attacks come from all angles; from state legislators who don’t like medical marijuana to groups that say MMJ attracts a bad crowd to the massive federal crackdown that utilizes several federal agencies like the DEA and the IRS.
Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, says that there are over 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in California, more than 500 in Colorado, and "an untold number" of businesses that benefit from the industry, including packagers, software businesses and accountants.
Many of these business owners, Smith said, are "driven by a sense of compassion and desire to help people in need. They could be doing other things that are far less risky frankly and more lucrative, but they choose to help patients."
Dale Sky Jones, the executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, an Oakland, California-based school offering training for the cannabis industry, said getting into the medical marijuana business requires "guts or insanity." In April 2012, the university experienced the ultimate risk for medical marijuana businesses: a DEA raid. "A school teaching about a plant that has never killed anyone was raided by over 100 federal law enforcement officers," Jones said of the event.
"Regardless of individual state laws, as far as marijuana facilities, growing and distributing marijuana is illegal under federal law," said Michael Rothermund, a DEA spokesman. "If you're in a business and selling marijuana, you run the risk of being raided or investigated federally."
But Jones believes the raids are part of a bigger message. "They have specifically gone after the oldest and the best," Jones said. "There are a lot of illegal growers running around -- why are you cutting down reputable groups? Because we're the easy targets. If you go after the most respected players, not only are you undercutting the financial practices of the industry, you're also striking fear in the hearts of people who want to do it well. There's a psychological war in addition to a multi-front attack."
While the DEA raids tend to get the most spotlight, many more marijuana businesses have been shut down quietly. According to Smith, the federal government -- mostly through asset forfeiture threats to landlords -- closed over 400 medical marijuana facilities in California and 57 in Colorado in the last year.
And the risks don’t look like they will be lessening anytime soon.
Massachusetts Voters Firmly Support Medical Marijuana Legalization
The poll from Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,115 likely MA voters and found that 58% supported the medical marijuana measure, while only 27% oppose it.
Specifically, the poll question was: "Question 3 would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. If the election was today, would you vote yes or no on Question 3?"
A 31 –point spread is a pretty formidable gap, no matter what the issue is.
These new results show increasing support for the measure; according to earlier PPP polls, in June, 57% of respondents were in favor and 33% opposed; in March, 53 percent favored the measure and 35 percent were opposed.
If the measure is passed by voters, it would protect patients and healthcare providers from punishment for medical use of marijuana. Cannabis would be available to patients suffering from a list of qualifying conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis, as long as they have a written recommendation from a doctor. The marijuana would be available at nonprofit dispensaries registered with and overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the law would allow up to 35 such dispensaries in the state, with at least one in each county and no more than five in any one county. The DPH could also allow individuals to register to grow pot for personal medical use if they show a hardship that prevents them from accessing a dispensary.
Unless something goes haywire, it looks like MA will join the list of states with legal protections for medical marijuana patients.
Arkansas Next Stop for Medical Marijuana Backers
Delicious Medicated Snickerdoodles
Medical Marijuana Advocates See Momentum on Their Side
States like Maine are a good example. Still under the federal radar, they are able to evolve their medical marijuana programs to meet patient needs. Advocates gathered in Maine this weekend to celebrate medical marijuana and the momentum in the movement.
"It's such a big change in just the past few years even, seeing the wide mix of people openly talking about this and not being afraid of a plant, the communication; more and more people are growing and seeing the actual therapeutic benefits," said Hillary Lister, an advocate for medical marijuana use through Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade association.
Jill Stein, who is a Green Party Independent presidential candidate, was one of the speakers at CannaFest, and she sees stereotypes of cannabis as a substance that could harm someone. Endorsing outright legalization, Stein said these stereotypes aren't based on facts.
"As a medical doctor and a public health advocate, marijuana, cannabis is a substance which is dangerous because it's illegal. It's not illegal because it's dangerous," Stein said.
Lister said she senses a growing awareness of the healing effects of cannabis for certain patients.
"I think more and more people are having bad experiences with all the overprescribed pharmaceuticals. There's a lot of people who were really opposed to cannabis even a year or so ago who are finding it really does help," she said.
In the end the federal government can only do so much to combat medical marijuana. Most people support it and realize that everyone should have the choice of cannabis as a medicine as opposed to some dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical.
Former Medical Marijuana Caregiver Dies in Custody
68-year-old Richard Flor, a Vietnam veteran who was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this year on drug related charges stemming from medical marijuana raids In Montana, has died during a transfer to federal custody. The transfer was precipitated by Richard’s worsening health.
Richard was finally being transferred after months of delays during which his health deteriorated. He had been diagnosed with dementia and depression, and he had recently suffered two heart attacks.
Montana Cannabis Industry Association President Chris Lindsey was quoted as saying, “It’s sad that Richard was in prison at all for being a caregiver, especially when such a large number of people think marijuana should be available as an option for sick patients. In affect he got a life sentence which is tragic and really kind of hard to imagine. My heart goes out to his family and I can only hope that our government will end the war on marijuana and come up with a better solution than throwing people like Richard into prison.”
So federal prohibition laws kill another person in a long line of death in misery going back decades; how long must this madness continue? How many people need to die for no reason?
How many must die to keep the profits flowing for Big Pharma?
The scariest thing about it all is that there are many powerful people who sleep perfectly well at night while millions suffer. It is chilling to say the least. These people cannot be allowed to keep their power. They have to be replaced by people with souls who actually care about what happens to their fellow human beings.
It is up to all of you to register and vote against those who don’t fight for your interests.
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