Illinois MMJ News

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States with legal pot have collected more than $1.6 billion since the newest sin taxes went into effect in 2014, with the money paying for everything from public schools to mental health services to programs that deter convicts from re-offending.

But that revenue could see explosive growth now that President Trump has signaled a more agreeable stance toward legal-weed states, striking a deal with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner this month to respect Colorado’s marijuana operations. Trump also agreed to back a legislative fix for the “states’ rights issue,” Gardner said.

The agreement comes at a time when taxes related to California weed sales, which became fully legal early this year, are poised to quickly surpass all other states.

In an exclusive analysis for the USA TODAY Network, Beau Whitney, a senior economist with Washington, D.C.-based cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, forecasts collections in California could exceed $2.1 billion through 2020, based on a 15 percent state excise tax.

For perspective, it takes about $1 billion a year to run the city of Sacramento. The New Frontier analysis doesn’t count a mishmash of city, county or cultivation taxes.

Even so, analysts with credit-rating firm Fitch Ratings warn effective tax rates as high as 45 percent in California are likely to push pot sales back onto the black market and cut legal tax revenue.

Analysts say mainstay revenue such as income, property and sales taxes still dwarf marijuana taxes in local and state government budgets.

However, “every dollar is important,” said Stephen Walsh, a director with the U.S. Public Finance group at Fitch. “It’s very difficult for governments to raise taxes.”

Cannabis taxes represent a welcome infusion of all-new money, he said.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have decided to legalize recreational marijuana. Cannabis consumers are willing to trade high tax rates — from 20% in Oregon to as much as 45 percent in California — for the freedom to partake in the small network of states.

Were the federal government to OK sales throughout the nation, New Frontier analysts forecast that through 2025, weed could bring in about $100 billion in fresh

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A Chicago man who died after ingesting synthetic marijuana bled to death from an ingredient in rat poison, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Michael Velasquez, 22, lived in the Clearing neighborhood on the Southwest Side, but died in an Oak Lawn hotel March 28, the Cook County medical examiner’s office reported.

Officials previously confirmed that tests detected the deadly anticoagulant brodifacoum in the man’s body, suggesting it was from fake weed, but now they have concluded that it caused nontraumatic retroperitoneal hematoma, or bleeding in the abdomen, with synthetic cannabinoid use as a contributing factor.

Velasquez is one of four people in Illinois whose deaths health officials have blamed on synthetic cannabis.

The other victims were a woman in her 30s from central Illinois, and two men, one in his 20s and another in his 40s, from central Illinois.

Health officials reported that 155 people in Illinois have gotten sick from synthetic cannabinoids believed to be laced with rat poison. Most victims are from the Chicago and Peoria areas.

Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all, but man-made chemicals sold on the premise that they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC.

In recent weeks, victims have begun showing up in hospital emergency rooms after coughing up blood, bleeding in the urine, nose or gums, or having internal bleeding, officials said.

They typically were poisoned from products such as spice or K2 that commonly are sold at convenient stores around the state, officials said. Authorities have charged several people with illegally selling the substance.

Patients are treated with intravenous transfusions of vitamin K to restore their blood’s clotting ability, followed by vitamin K pills. On Monday, officials announced a donation of nearly 800,000 vitamin K tablets to treat victims.

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Twitter @RobertMcCoppin

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Public health officials have reported that a fourth person in Illinois dies after using synthetic cannabis. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the latest death on Tuesday, April 24. The deceased person was a woman from central Illinois in her 30s.

Three others in Illinois have also died after using spice, one of many street names for synthetic cannabis. Two men in their 20s, one in the Chicago area and the other in Central Illinois, and a Central Illinois man in his 40s have all died in the last month.

Since March 7 of this year, the IDPH has received reports of more than 150 cases of serious health problems in people after using synthetic cannabis. Other cases have also been reported as far away as Maryland.

Patients suffered uncontrolled bleeding from the eyes, ears, and mouths. Other symptoms include internal bleeding and unexplained bruising.

Despite the many reported cases, the IDPH is still seeing more, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the agency.

“We continue to see new cases of individuals experiencing severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids,” said Dr. Shah. “Like so many other drugs, synthetic cannabinoids are addictive and people are not able to give them up.”

“Alternatively, they think that it won’t happen to them because they know their dealer or trust wherever they purchased the drugs” he added. “If you know someone who uses synthetic cannabinoids, tell them these are deadly products and try to help them get treatment.”

Spice Tainted With Rat Poison

Lab results of synthetic cannabis seized in Illinois have shown the presence of the chemical brodifacoum. The deadly substance is often used as an ingredient in rat poison and other pesticides.

As a Vitamin K antagonist, it interferes with the nutrient’s effect on vital bodily processes such as blood

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* Pro-legalization op-ed in The Hill

Despite the progress made on cannabis policies within legislative chambers and ballot boxes across America, the rollout of successful regulated cannabis markets has been stymied in several jurisdictions, and the illegal market has remained strong. The single biggest reason why is legislative fear of creating sufficient retail access to meet market demand. Simply put: if cannabis consumers cannot conveniently access the regulated market, they will continue to purchase from the illegal market, be it the unlicensed dispensary across the street, or the dealer around the corner.

Real cities provide real examples of this. In Denver, where medical cannabis became legal in 2000 and adult use in 2012, city leaders licensed one cannabis retail establishment per 3,091 residents. The illegal market rate quickly fell to 30 percent. But in Seattle — which legalized medical cannabis in 1998 and adult use in 2012, and had a state-imposed cap of just 21 retail licenses and a resulting density of one dispensary per 30,373 residents — the illegal market rate was an astounding 70 percent. Subsequent declines in city’s illegal market rate came about only by doubling the number of licensed retail outlets, but they are still elevated.

Reasonable tax rates, availability of delivery services and social consumption lounges, as well as rational advertising standards that allow licensed businesses to differentiate themselves from illicit operators also play a role in the strength of the legal cannabis market. But bottom line: if the legal market is less accessible to the average consumer than unlicensed businesses, the regulated industry will struggle and likely fail.

State and local officials in California and Massachusetts, which are in the throes of launching their respective adult-use cannabis systems, would benefit from the experiences of other states with adult-use policy frameworks. To date, lawmakers

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Chicago and Joppa, Md., April 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis cultivator and dispensary operator dedicated to providing dignified access to safe and effective cannabis, will welcome patients on April 27 at RISE Joppa, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland’s Harford County.  RISE Joppa is GTI’s tenth dispensary in the nation with a total of 20 GTI dispensaries expected to be operating in five states by the end of 2018.

“We are so honored to be able to bring relief to more patients in Maryland who are suffering and can benefit from medical cannabis,” says GTI’s Maryland Market President Andy Grossman. “Harford County has been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and GTI is hopeful that by offering an alternative treatment for chronic pain and other conditions we can have a positive impact on this issue which is so important to families and the community.”

Harford County saw a nearly 50 percent increase in opioid-related fatalities in 2017 versus 2016. Research shows that when marijuana is available legally, the rate of prescriptions for opioids decreases. Studies also found that overdose fatalities decrease in regions where marijuana is legal, leading advocates to encourage marijuana policy reforms to be considered as part of an overall comprehensive plan to battle the opioid crisis.

Patients with the following conditions qualify for a medical cannabis card in Maryland: cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.  To learn more, visit the Medical Maryland Cannabis Commission site at mmcc.maryland.gov.

“This is a great day for the patients of Maryland and the state’s medical cannabis program,” says GTI Chief Executive Officer Pete Kadens. “Our goal at our RISE dispensaries is to provide the very best care

Read More Here...

Chicago and Joppa, Md., April 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis cultivator and dispensary operator dedicated to providing dignified access to safe and effective cannabis, will welcome patients on April 27 at RISE Joppa, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland’s Harford County. RISE Joppa is GTI’s tenth dispensary in the nation with a total of 20 GTI dispensaries expected to be operating in five states by the end of 2018.

“We are so honored to be able to bring relief to more patients in Maryland who are suffering and can benefit from medical cannabis,” says GTI’s Maryland Market President Andy Grossman. “Harford County has been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and GTI is hopeful that by offering an alternative treatment for chronic pain and other conditions we can have a positive impact on this issue which is so important to families and the community.”

Harford County saw a nearly 50 percent increase in opioid-related fatalities in 2017 versus 2016. Research shows that when marijuana is available legally, the rate of prescriptions for opioids decreases. Studies also found that overdose fatalities decrease in regions where marijuana is legal, leading advocates to encourage marijuana policy reforms to be considered as part of an overall comprehensive plan to battle the opioid crisis.

Patients with the following conditions qualify for a medical cannabis card in Maryland: cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. To learn more, visit the Medical Maryland Cannabis Commission site at mmcc.maryland.gov.

“This is a great day for the patients of Maryland and the state’s medical cannabis program,” says GTI Chief Executive Officer Pete Kadens. “Our goal at our RISE dispensaries is to provide the very best care

Read More Here...

Chicago and Joppa, Md., April 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —
Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis cultivator and dispensary operator dedicated to providing dignified access to safe and effective cannabis, will welcome patients on April 27 at RISE Joppa, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland’s Harford County.  RISE Joppa is GTI’s tenth dispensary in the nation with a total of 20 GTI dispensaries expected to be operating in five states by the end of 2018.“We are so honored to be able to bring relief to more patients in Maryland who are suffering and can benefit from medical cannabis,” says GTI’s Maryland Market President Andy Grossman. “Harford County has been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and GTI is hopeful that by offering an alternative treatment for chronic pain and other conditions we can have a positive impact on this issue which is so important to families and the community.”Harford County saw a nearly 50 percent increase in opioid-related fatalities in 2017 versus 2016. Research shows that when marijuana is available legally, the rate of prescriptions for opioids decreases. Studies also found that overdose fatalities decrease in regions where marijuana is legal, leading advocates to encourage marijuana policy reforms to be considered as part of an overall comprehensive plan to battle the opioid crisis.Patients with the following conditions qualify for a medical cannabis card in Maryland: cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.  To learn more, visit the Medical Maryland Cannabis Commission site at mmcc.maryland.gov.“This is a great day for the patients of Maryland and the state’s medical cannabis program,” says GTI Chief Executive Officer Pete Kadens. “Our goal at our RISE dispensaries is to provide the very best care to our patients while offering

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Although cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been shown to impair memory, reaction time and attention, it is difficult to assess this impairment in a natural setting. Researchers have developed a prototype app called ‘Am I Stoned’ that could help cannabis users understand how the drug is affecting them through a series of phone-based tasks.

Elisa Pabon, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, will present results from initial testing of the app at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting during the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting to be held April 21-25 in San Diego.

“One of our long-term goals is for the app to improve the safety of cannabis use by making individual users more aware of their impairment,” said research team leader Harriet de Wit, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “By gathering data from users in the field, the app will also contribute to the overall scientific knowledge in terms of how cannabis affects users.”

As a step towards developing a mobile phone app that could be used in a natural environment, the researchers examined the usefulness of various tasks in assessing impairment in a controlled laboratory environment. They asked 24 healthy non-daily cannabis users to consume a capsule containing a placebo or 7.5 or 15 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in cannabis that makes people high. The study participants then completed standardized computer-based tasks known to detect impairment as well as app-based tasks on an iPhone, which could be used for briefer assessments outside of the laboratory. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the placebo and who received THC.

The researchers successfully detected impairments from THC using three of the four computer tasks and one of the iPhone tasks. The

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Leslie Renken Journal Star health/lifestyles reporter @leslierenken

PEORIA — A 37-year-old Stark County woman is the state’s fourth fatality in an epidemic of massive bleeding in synthetic cannabis users.

The woman was pronounced brain dead at 9:20 a.m. Sunday at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, according to Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood. Toxicology results likely won’t be available for up to three weeks, Harwood said Tuesday.

Synthetic cannabis users started coming into hospitals around the state with uncontrolled bleeding early in March. The Illinois Department of Public Health determined the victims had used synthetic cannabis laced with brodifacoum, a powerful anticoagulant used in rat poison. The first death was a Chicago-area man in his 20s, the second was a 22-year old Peoria man who died March 29, and the third was Anthony Phillips, a 46-year-old Pekin resident, who died April 9. The medical examiner’s preliminary report said Phillips died of intracranial bleeding.

Three people in Tazewell County have been arrested for allegedly selling synthetic cannabis, including Pekin resident Lonnie K. Smith, 36, who is charged with a drug induced homicide for selling the deadly drug to Phillips. More than 3,500 packets of synthetic cannabis were seized in the arrests.

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 153 cases of massive bleeding had been reported in the state. The Peoria area is the center of the epidemic — Tazewell County reported 48 cases, Peoria County reported 35, Woodford County reported six, and Stark County reported one.

“Like so many other drugs, synthetic cannabinoids are addictive and people are not able to give them up,” said DPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah. “Alternatively, they think that it won’t happen to them because they know their dealer or trust wherever they purchased the drugs. If you know someone who uses synthetic cannabinoids, tell them these

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