The Buzz by Adam Kain
BALTIMORE (Sept. 17)
Researchers at the National Institute of Drug Policy announced that Cannabis is traceable in breath samples, bringing a DUI breathalyzer one step closer to reality. The researchers concluded: “Breath may offer an alternative matrix for testing for recent driving under the influence of cannabis, but is limited to a short detection window (between 0.5 hours and 2 hours).” Among chronic smokers, all breath samples were positive for THC at less than an hour; 76.9 percent at an hour and a half; 53.8 percent at 2.38 hours, and only 1 sample was positive at 4.2 hours after smoking. Among occasional smokers, 90.9 percent of breath samples were THC-positive at 0.95 hours, and 63.6 percent at 1.49 hours.
SWITZERLAND (Oct. 3)
Switzerland decriminalized possession of small amounts of Cannabis, making it a misdemeanor that will not go on one’s criminal record. While Cannabis production and sales are still not legal, authorities will not prosecute residents caught with 10 grams or less. The Swiss government hopes the move will bring unity to legal practices which until now varied wildly from one local system to another. It is also expected to save money, eliminating an average of 30-thousand cases for smoking Cannabis that appear before the courts each year. The revision does not apply to anyone under 18, against whom legal proceedings can still be brought alongside judge-imposed fines. Along with decriminalization, dealers selling to young people will be more strictly punished under the new revisions and children with problematic Cannabis use should be able to get expert help more easily.
ROMANIA (Oct. 15)
Authorized medical patients in Romania may now use Cannabis derivatives under new provisions in two of the country’s narcotic laws, though medicinal and recreational use of Cannabis itself remains prohibited. Manufacturers will be able to apply to the National Agency for Medicines for approval to market drugs that contain Cannabis by-products like resins or plant fragments. Romania is the tenth country in the European Union to legalize medicinal use of Cannabis.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 20)
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority alerted investors about the possibility of Marijuana Stock Scams, as the Cannabis industry has been growing and attracting the attention of scammers. FINRA, an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect American investors, warned that pitches to invest in potentially fraudulent Cannabis-related companies may arrive in a variety of ways including faxes, email or text-message invitations to webinars, infomercials, tweets or blog posts. FINRA warned investors to be wary of aggressive offers from people or companies they didn’t know and to research companies before investing.
URUGUAY (Oct. 20)
Uruguay will sell legal Cannabis for $1 a gram to combat drug trafficking, according to the country’s drug tsar. President José Mujica’s efforts to explore alternatives in the war on drugs will make it the first country in the world to license and enforce rules for the production, distribution and sale of Cannabis to adults. Cannabis sales, meant to combat crime and not make money, should start in the second half of 2014 at a price of about $1 a gram, drug chief Julio Calzada told Uruguay’s El País. Local residents would be able to buy up to 40g a month, but sales to tourists are restricted. Smoking Cannabis has long been legal in Uruguay but growing, carrying, buying or selling it has been punishable by prison terms.
BOULDER, Colo. (Oct. 22)
Boulder County commissioners approved a license measure making medical Cannabis facilities in the county’s unincorporated areas eligible to seek county licenses to grow, manufacture, test, store and sell Cannabis and Cannabis products for recreational use. The measure said that only establishments with current county medical licenses may apply for recreational licenses until Jan. 1, 2015, and any other businesses wishing to establish themselves must wait for that date to apply for county recreational Cannabis licenses. Included were several regulations intended to prevent or discourage underage purchases, including prohibiting anyone under 21 from being inside a store and visible posting of notices stating that it’s illegal to transfer or sell Cannabis to anyone under 21.
PORTLAND, Ore. (Oct. 23)
The Oregon Court of Appeals overturned a decision to suppress evidence from the raid of an indoor medical Cannabis grow site in Beaverton, Ore. in 2010. A trial court judge ruled earlier that police had no probable cause to search the house of three people charged with possession, delivery and manufacture of Cannabis since the person who was registered at the address possessed a medical Cannabis card. The Appeals Court ruling said the officers’ training, along with the observation of a purported drug deal and a spike in power usage at the house gave reason to believe there was more Cannabis being grown than allowed for medicinal purposes. The case was sent back to the trial court.
SPOKANE, Wash. (Oct. 23)
Spokane County commissioners voted to restrict retail Cannabis sales to light industrial and regional commercial areas to keep the businesses away from neighborhood zones or smaller commercial areas. The same zoning would be used to regulate processing facility locations. Licenses for growing operations will be allowed in agricultural, light industrial, mineral and regional commercial zones. Under rules adopted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, Spokane County is allowed up to 18 retail licenses, with eight of those in the city of Spokane, seven in the unincorporated county and three in Spokane Valley. Shops cannot be within one-thousand feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center, child-care center, park, transit center, library or arcade. There are no limits on the number of licenses for growing or processing facilities, but growing facilities will be limited to a total of 2- million square feet, statewide. Growing and production facilities must each have their own separate licenses. Producers or processors cannot hold retail licenses.