America’s Weed Rush

“America’s Weed Rush,” an investigation of marijuana legalization in America, is the 2015 project of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a national multimedia investigative reporting project produced by the nation’s top journalism students and graduates.

This year, 27 journalism students from 19 universities traveled through half the country to report on the politics, regulation and science behind the nation’s marijuana movement. From Nevada to Maine, California to Connecticut, reporters interviewed politicians, parents, patients, dispensary owners, farmers, police and advocacy groups on all sides of the debate…

Phoenix Police Department Commander Brent Vermeer said via email that he didn’t have empirical data to show the impact of medical marijuana on law enforcement, but “it unequivocally has not impacted the cartels’ sales practices for marijuana.”

He wrote in an email that the department has investigated homicides related to marijuana, and burglars recently stole $500,000 worth of marijuana from one dispensary. “Within two days, their front office was robbed at gunpoint of several thousands of dollars,” he wrote.

“Violence follows drugs, regardless of whether they are legal or not,” he added…

Come now, that’s not true, or else it wouldn’t be safe to walk into a Walgreens or CVS. Most dispensaries are forced by federal laws to operate cash businesses, which increases the possibility of a robbery.

State medical boards have filed multiple complaints against naturopathic physicians since medical marijuana became legalized. Runbeck said several naturopathic doctors originally reprimanded by the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board did not understand how to correctly use the state’s controlled substances database, which allows physicians to see if patients have prescriptions to other controlled substances. Doctors must access the system before writing certifications for medical marijuana…

Phoenix medical marijuana dispensaries Encanto Green Cross and Nature’s AZ Medicines list their cheapest ounces of marijuana at $280, while medium-quality black market marijuana goes for under $210 per ounce in Arizona, according to Price of Weed, a crowdsourced marijuana price index…

Saving $70 or more a month is a lot of money — it’s the cost of my electric bill this month, although I’m sure many patients pay a lot more for their electricity. And $280 an ounce is a fairly good price — but $210 is a lot more fair and affordable. Now compare $280 to the current price per ounce at Sacred Garden in New Mexico, at $364. And in Washington state: “Medical growers estimated the cheapest medical marijuana is selling for between $125 and $140 an ounce, while the cheapest ounces available at Uncle Ike’s and Ocean Greens — two of Seattle’s most popular retail stores — are around $190.”

The Marijuana Policy Project initiative allows city governments to forbid retail marijuana stores from opening within their borders, but cities could not bar stores opened by prior dispensary owners. It also creates a marijuana board to regulate both medical and recreational licensing, with three of the board’s seven members coming from members of the marijuana industry.

“They’re protecting their industry, the medical marijuana dispensaries, from newcomers entering the business,” Leibsohn said. “(Marijuana lawyer Tom Dean and I) don’t agree on much, but he put it well: If the MPP’s initiative passes, a handful of people will get very, very wealthy.”

This investigative report covers a number of states, including Montana. I haven’t read very much about Montana’s medical cannabis program, but this report covers the issues pretty well. And I have to say, it’s a very sad state of affairs in Montana…


When are prices going to drop?

Likewise, Shortes said that the deal will allow Sacred Garden to lower prices for patients…

And we’ll be watching to see if that happens.


March 2014:  $13/gram

August 2015: $13/gram ($364/ounce)

Hey, Sacred Garden, when are you going to lower prices for patients?

Consolidating and cashing in on medical marijuana

Marijuana legalization is likely far off in New Mexico, but you wouldn’t know it from the way some businesses are acting…

Colorado, here I come.

Consolidation isn’t limited to out-of-state companies looking for a stake in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. Reynold Greenleaf & Associates, an Albuquerque-based business formed last year, currently manages both Medzen Services and R. Greenleaf Organics…

When McCurdy became a patient, he had what he called a rough experience with marijuana from Compassionate Distributors in Ruidoso, the only medical marijuana producer in the area. He soon wrote a formal complaint about the quality of Compassionate Distributors’ marijuana.

“When it began to burn the cannabis started to pop, crackle and tasted harsh and like chemicals,” McCurdy wrote. “I knew then that the medicine was not flushed properly.”

Despite the fact that McCurdy’s letter wasn’t completely critical—he also wrote praises of one of the nonprofit’s clerks for being “always so friendly and just a pleasure to purchase from”—Compassionate Distributors stopped letting him buy marijuana.

“We will be removing you from our list of patients,” Mandy Denson, an attorney for Compassionate Distributors, wrote back to McCurdy. “While we appreciate the feedback, we run a very small operation. When it becomes clear that a patient relationship will only cause stress and negativity for those who work here, especially when unfounded, we exercise our right to refuse service policy.” …

Likewise, Shortes said that the deal will allow Sacred Garden to lower prices for patients…

And we’ll be watching to see if that happens.

As a part of the deal, Nutritional High will create a company called Zephyr to take over management of Sacred Garden. Shortes, according to an official announcement released last month, will be employed by Zephyr and make $180,000 a year…

Under comments:

Christopher Hsu · University of New Mexico
Just an FYI Tim Scott is pretty much in Willie Fords back pocket.

My review on Sacred Garden:

My post on Mandy Denson: