This last Thanksgiving I went on a family road trip to visit relatives in Southern California. Relatives also traveled to Southern California from Nevada. It was a fun time on many levels, including from a marijuana perspective. My relatives from both California and Nevada were very excited about their recent election victories, and were full of questions about what to expect since I live in a state (Oregon) that had voted to legalize two years earlier.
For almost 50 years now I’ve suffered from a debilitating, often crippling and painful condition called Still’s Disease, a form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which strikes children. I contracted the disease at 12 years of age. When I search for an image for the condition I imagine “a hard winter of the bones”.
Fifty years of experience with almost every kind of arthritis drug – steroids, gold, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), immunosuppressants, chemotherapy and most recently monoclonal antibodies, as well as many varieties of painkiller ranging from paracetamol to DF118 – has taught me that there are no free lunches. All drugs have side-effects, and some of them are pretty dramatic. One trendy item, for example, gave me a perforated bowel and three weeks on morphine and antibiotics in a London hospital. It almost killed me. Steroids cost me my hips – a side-effect known as steroid necrosis – at 27 years of age. I have more allergies to medication than I like to think about. One of them, Diclofenac, an arthritis drug used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, causes my throat to close – a potentially fatal response.
As marijuana shops sprout in states that have legalized the drug, they face a critical stumbling block — lack of access to the kind of routine banking services other businesses take for granted.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading an effort to make sure vendors working with legal marijuana businesses, from chemists who test marijuana for harmful substances to firms that provide security, don’t have their banking services taken away.
It’s part of a wider effort by Warren and others to bring the burgeoning $7 billion marijuana industry in from a fiscal limbo she said forces many shops to rely solely on cash, making them tempting targets for criminals.
After voters in Warren’s home state approved a November ballot question to legalize the recreational use of pot, she joined nine other senators in sending a letter to a key federal regulator, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, calling on it to issue additional guidance to help banks provide services to marijuana shop vendors.
Twenty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.
Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said there are benefits to letting marijuana-based businesses move away from a cash-only model.
All three stores – Pakalolo Supply Co., Frozen Budz, and GoodSinse – have shut their doors as they wait for more cannabis to hit the wholesale market.
“We left Fairbanks dry,” said Destiny Neade, Frozen Budz co-owner.
Across Alaska, a shortage of commercial cannabis has caused stores to close temporarily or open only in short spurts as product becomes available and is quickly bought up.
In Fairbanks, Frozen Budz has been closed for about a month, and will likely stay shut until the end of January, Neade said.
GoodSinse opened on Dec. 11 and closed Dec. 30 after the store ran out of product, co-owner Daniel Peters said Tuesday. And Pakalolo is waiting until its own harvest is ready, likely mid-January, co-owner Keenan Hollister said.
The issue is simple supply and demand, Hollister said — like the state of Washington, which also faced shortages during the start of its recreational industry.
There hasn’t been enough cannabis harvest to cover the state’s retailers, Hollister said. Eleven are operating across Alaska.
Medical marijuana could finally become a reality next year in Maryland, one of the states slowest to make the drug available for purchase after legalizing sales.
In 2016, regulators awarded long-awaited licenses to grow, process and sell cannabis while grappling with fallout from those shut out of the potentially lucrative industry. Now selected businesses are racing to set up facilities and pass final inspections so the first seeds can be planted and flowers can hit the shelves by the end of 2017, four years after lawmakers legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“For many of us who have been along this journey for a long time, that we have seen licenses issued is a light at the end of the tunnel for patient access,” said Darrell Carrington, a medical marijuana lobbyist who leads the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association.
But ongoing litigation from three companies denied growing licenses, and looming legislation to address the lack of minority-owned marijuana firms, could delay the program.
The Arthritis Society recently announced that it will be conducting more research on marijuana’s ability to help treat fibromyalgia. Below is a press release about it. Hopefully the research leads to breakthroughs that help as many people as possible:
The Arthritis Society has announced the winner of its latest research grant for the study of medical cannabis and arthritis. McGill University’s Dr. Mark Ware, who has garnered a worldwide reputation as a leader in pain research, will lead a trial examining the use of oral cannabinoids for fibromyalgia – a disease that inflicts chronic pain on some 520,000 Canadians, most of them women.
The study was selected from among several proposals submitted by Canadian researchers to receive the three-year grant, following an extensive peer review process by an impartial volunteer panel of cross-disciplinary medical and scientific experts as well as arthritis health consumers.
Cannabis is big business, fueled in part by legalization across the country. And it’s a big business that has made small business owners who grow weed increasingly queasy, going so far as to oppose this past fall’s Prop 64 on the grounds that it would potentially wipe out the mom-and-pop dealers that have made pot their livelihood.
Today some industry leaders are doing what they can to keep that from happening. While Monsanto says that it is not working on a GMO marijuana strain there’s a reason a rumor that it was went viral — the marijuana industry is at a turning point to what direction it will grow.