IN THE PRESS
MASSLIVE: Worcester-based cannabis research corporation studying impacts of coronavirus on medical and adult-use marijuana consumers
MAY 6, 2020
The Cannabis Community Care and Research Network has launched two research studies to examine the impacts the coronavirus pandemic has had on marijuana consumers as well as cannabis businesses.
The Worcester-based public benefit corporation, abbreviated C3RN, provides research and analytic services related to the impact of medical and adult-use recreational cannabis. The corporation is working with UMass Dartmouth to collect anonymous information about the impact of COVID-19 on medical cannabis patients and adult-use consumers in its first study, according to a news release.
Medical Marijuana Sales Spike in Mass. After Recreational Ban
Expanded demand for medical marijuana and streamlined access to the state patient program won’t be enough to offset the closure of recreational stores
by Sam M– May 4, 2020
The spike comes after the state’s adult-use cannabis stores were deemed non-essential by the governor and shut down in March.
David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, told the Globe that he’s “always believed that more than a majority of [recreational] customers are using cannabis for medical needs such as anxiety, pain relief, and sleep disorders,” and that those patients are now seeking access to the state’s official treatment program.
The closure pushed many cannabis users who qualify for a medical card to register as patients, allowing them access to the state’s 59 Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, which are the only cannabis businesses still operating. According to the Boston Globe, more than 7,000 residents have registered with the state program since the end of recreational sales.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has also temporarily authorized curbside-pickup at medical dispensaries, and doctors who prescribe medical marijuana are now allowed to certify new patients remotely, in line with a statewide push to increase access to telehealth services.
The recent changes have streamlined the patient registration process and earned praise from the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, whose president told the Globe that she hopes the Cannabis Control Commission will keep these measures in place after the crisis is over.
Still, some Massachusetts cannabis users argue that while they need the drug for medical reasons, they need to stay out of the state’s database of registered patients. Stephen Mandile, an Army veteran and local politician from Uxbridge, told reporters that he fears losing his federal benefits if his name shows up on a list of marijuana patients.
Mandile signed onto an April lawsuit alongside recreational store owners who took exception to marijuana’s non-essential status, but their case was quashed in April — so Governor Charlie Bakers’ order, which took effect March 23rd, is likely to keep dispensaries closed until the COVID-19 lockdown is over.
Meanwhile, the recreational industry is facing steep losses in the tens of millions or higher, judging by recreational sales figures from the Cannabis Control Commission, which show that dispensaries had already raked in a total of 157 million dollars between January 1st and the COVID-closure.
The closure has resulted in layoffs at some dispensaries, and abrupt anti-climaxes for businesses that just opened — including Boston’s first dispensary, Pure Oasis, which was open for just two weeks before the shutdown.
Pure Oasis was also the first dispensary licensed under the state’s economic empowerment program, which aims to encourage industry participation from communities that have disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition, and whose outlook is dubious until adult-use sales resume.
Dr. Marion McNabb of the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network wrote in a blog post last week that “Bakers halt on adult-use is reversing the gains made for cannabis social and restorative justice in Massachusetts.”
Many of the state’s medical dispensaries, McNabb wrote, “are not in the neighborhoods identified as disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs,” and so are not helping the “low-income communities in Massachusetts who have worked hard to have equal access.”
Yesterday was the end of the training for the first in the nation cannabis social equity training program in Massachusetts. Governor Bakers halt on adult-use is reversing the gains made for those who graduate today to have access in Massachusetts.
April 23, 2020
COVID-19 is a devastating public health emergency, and no time should be spared to save lives right now. COVID-19 is not only having an immense clinical impact, it also having devastating economic consequences for millions including the workforce and small businesses.
The ongoing and robust public health efforts and partnerships to address and control COVID-19 by Governor Baker should be applauded, including launching several innovative partnerships to collectively drive change.
However, it needs to be reminded that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should also be very proud of the first in the nation economic empowerment and social equity program for adult-use cannabis. This is a program developed over the last three years and aims to right the wrongs of the drug war, a war historically targeting communities of color including African-Americans and Latinos, by ensuring low-income communities have priority access to the adult-use industry.
Yesterday the trainees completed their final courses for the MA first in the national social equity training program participants, designed to create a pathway for restorative justice in the new legal cannabis industry. But given Governor Baker's decision, many of these hopeful entrepreneurs trained and setting up for the adult-use industry may not be able to succeed without relief.
Bakers halt on adult-use is reversing the gains made for cannabis social and restorative justice in Massachusetts.
Many adult-use cannabis companies that are in the licensure process are from 29 cities and towns identified as disproportionately impacted by war on drugs in Massachusetts. Now we see another war raged on these same low-income communities in Massachusetts - COVID-19. We are seeing alarming rates of disproportionate access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and increased deaths among African-American and Latinos. Not only is COVID-19 causing serious health and clinical concerns, it is also having a devastating economic impact on these communities.
Denying companies from these communities access to the adult-use industry is further causing inequities and reversing years of work of the Cannabis Control Commission to ensure Massachusetts is a leader righting the wrongs of the drug war. Deeming adult-use cannabis "non-essential" has severely hurt these small businesses from low-income communities in Massachusetts who have worked hard to have equal access. Without any traditional loans for the cannabis industry they are left unable to fulfill their small business visions or join the collective fight with other small businesses and industries against COVID-19 that Massachusetts is leading.
Why is Governor Baker ignoring the first in the nation social equity program when California amid the COVID epidemic took a different approach and this week funded a $30 Million for their social equity fund?
While medical cannabis dispensaries can operate as essential in Massachusetts, many of these are not in the neighborhoods identified as disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Now we are seeing these communities are at increased risk for COVID due to historical health inequities among communities of color. By not allowing these communities who have fought for access in the adult-use industry to give back to their communities is not addressing the public health and economic needs of all in the Commonwealth.
Why did Governor Baker do this when other legal cannabis states have not taken such strict and swift action? The Governors rationale is based on limiting out of state buyers.
While this is a valid concern, the reality is that it is within his authority to restrict sales to MA residents only. Adult-use cannabis companies can follow the exact same guidelines that medical dispensaries are adhering to, including curb-side pick-up, delivery and heightened sanitization procedures in place with the Cannabis Control Commission now. The State should absolutely limit all sales to only Massachusetts residents and adult-use dispensaries can operate under the same strict guidelines as the medical dispensaries.
Blog Post by Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO of C3RN
By Spectrum News Staff Worcester
PUBLISHED 7:15 AM ET Feb. 12, 2020
There is a new cannabis culinary assistant course at Holyoke Community College. Students take part in a lecture and a cooking lab.
Marion McNabb is the CEO of Cannabis Community Care and Research Network. She says the course is very “skills based.” "They are learning how to bake. They made cookies last week, this week they are making ice cream this week and they are learning infusion with hemp based CBD,” said McNabb.
"Something that’s really relevant, something that will lead to career opportunities and something that will meet the needs of business,” said Kermit Dunkelberg, the assistant Vice President for adult education and workforce development at Holyoke Community College.
The classes aim to give students the proper training and the science behind what they are cooking. Randy MacCaffrie, the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer for Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, says this course is teaching valuable skills.
"There’s no precedence for any type of training in that industry unless it was in the traditional market,” said MacCaffrie.
Students use hemp products, CBD oil and tinctures in the class. They do not contain any THC but the process for baking is the same.
"It is important to know the proper calculations in that kind of thing for proper dosaging so people understand what they are ingesting,” said MacCaffrie.
The students will eventually handle cannabis when they do their internships with companies following the classroom training.
"The idea is that people are coming in, getting this partnered education here at Holyoke then moving on to an internship with one of our licensed applicants,” said Kate Phillips, the director of education for Cannabis Community Care and Research Network.
There is four parts to the program, including the culinary portion. HCC’s partners at the Cannabis Community Care and Research network say there will be a need for trained workers. "In Massachusetts were projected to get easily another couple 1000 jobs never mind a U.S. national, were looking at getting another 420,000 jobs just this next year,” said Phillips.
McNabb added there’s a high demand in this type of education and they are excited for their program moving forward.
Article and Video here: https://spectrumnews1.com/ma/worcester/news/2020/02/12/cannabis-culinary-assistant-course
Local Man Helps Veterans Get Access To Medical Marijuana
By Spectrum News Staff Worcester
PUBLISHED 8:04 AM ET Feb. 12, 2020
A local man is working to help veterans get access to medical marijuana more easily without paying a high cost. Veteran advocate and co-founder of the Cannabis Advancement Series Stephen Mandile, "There's no better person to advocate for veterans than other veterans. We're all brothers and sisters in arms and that comrade is what binds us together and what makes our armed forces the strongest in the world."
Mandile is an Iraq War veteran and cannabis advocate. The Uxbridge native was seriously wounded in Iraq more than ten years ago while serving in the Army National Guard. He says Veteran's Administration doctors put him on 57 medications, including nine opioids. In 2013 he attempted suicide, and knew something needed to change.
Mandile, "After working with my VA (Veteran's Administration) care provider for five months I tapered off all my meds and all opioids and all sleeping pills and had my VA doctor tell me I was the first patient in twenty years to do that."
Mandile partnered with Marion McNabb a little more than a year ago to survey veterans. It (the survey) asked what they were suffering from and what medications they were using. McNabb says 91% of respondents reported using medical marijuana. but say it was costing them more than $317 a month. McNabb, "One hundred percent of our sample believed the VA health provider should be trained in the benefits of medical marijuana use and 100% of our Massachusetts veterans believe (there) should be more research around the benefits of medical cannabis use."
The two are now working to help push proposed legislation which would allow veterans to use their Veteran's Administration paperwork to qualify for a medical marijuana card. They're asking people to reach out to their local legislators to help push bill H4274.
Mandile, "You can still send in written testimony to joint committee on cannabis policy at the State House at the Massachusetts Legislature."
Cannabis Education Center Announces Upcoming Courses
By BusinessWest Staff December 13, 2019 412
HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started.
The first, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” will be held Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on HCC’s main campus, 303 Homestead Ave. The course, which costs $99, is a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business.
The next, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan.
The third, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99.
Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’
HCC and C3RN are designated training partners through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Vendor Training program. The program was designed to provide priority access, training, and technical assistance to those negatively impacted by the drug war. The Cannabis Education Center is based out of the HCC Kittredge Center.
Original Article: https://businesswest.com/blog/cannabis-education-center-announces-upcoming-courses/
December 13, 2019 116 Views
"Other public health specialists believe Baker’s ban may have caused harm by pushing people to traditional cigarettes or to the illicit market. About 31 percent of 169 Massachusetts residents surveyed online by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network said the ban made them purchase illicit marijuana vape products."
Mass. banned vape sales more than two months ago. And now business in N.H. and Maine is booming.
By Jessica Bartlett – Reporter, Boston Business Journal
10 hours ago
The state's Cannabis Control Commission has quarantined medical marijuana vaping products as the state agency said it will seek to test the substances.
The commission had indicated last week that it could order retail shops and dispensaries to quarantine products if Gov. Charlie Baker’s ban on medical marijuana vapes expired this week. On Tuesday the commission took action, instituting a quarantine on marijuana oil products such as vape pens, vape cartridges, aerosol products, and inhalers.
The commission’s quarantine isn't as broad as the governor’s ban. The commission will allow vaping of marijuana flower, which marijuana advocates say is not as effective as vaping oil.
The commission said in a release that the quarantine is necessary after the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention found on Friday that many of the vaping illnesses were tied to a substance called vitamin E acetate.
“The Commission’s existing testing regulations and protocols do not require testing for vitamin E acetate,” the commission said in its Tuesday release. “Based on current manufacturing processes, it is possible that legal marijuana products sold in the state could contain vitamin E acetate or other potential ingredients of concern. As part of the Commission’s quarantine order issued Tuesday, licensed Marijuana Establishments and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are required to quarantine products on administrative hold in the state’s mandated seed-to-sale tracking system of record.”
The commission added that it had begun talking to labs to understand their capacity to test for vitamin E acetate, and circulated an anonymous survey in September to understand ingredients and sources of additives used in marijuana products.
In a press conference hosted Tuesday by cannabis advocacy groups known as C3RN, Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title said that the quarantine was in response to “credible evidence” of a problem, unlike the “ill-informed, unconstitutional” ban.
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The ban on medical marijuana products was lifted on Tuesday after Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled last week that the commission, not the governor, had authority over medical marijuana products. Wilkins said the medical marijuana vape ban would expire at noon on Tuesday unless the commission took action.
Will Luzier, one of four medical marijuana patients who filed suit against the vape ban, said he was disappointed in the commission's action.
“I think its unfortunate that medical marijuana patients will not be able to get the medicine they feel they need to treat whatever malady they had," he said.
He added that the commission should have started testing for vitamin E acetate, which had long been suspected of causing illnesses, earlier.
The ban remains in place for nicotine products and recreational cannabis products, and litigation on those has been moved to the state Supreme Judicial Court for a hearing in December. The Baker administration has been ordered by the courts to hold a hearing in late November as part of emergency regulations for the ban.
How much Mass. towns are charging marijuana businesses
The quarantine is the latest development in the months-long outbreak of vaping-related illnesses that has sickened 2,051 people across the country, as of Nov. 5. As of Nov. 6, three vaping-related deaths and 220 injuries had been reported in Massachusetts since the state started tracking vaping-related illnesses in September.
Despite the bans, users have continued to vape. Consumers have flocked to MCR Labs in Framingham to have their vape product tested for harmful chemicals. While only one walk-in test was received prior to the ban, 73 have occurred since the ban.
The lab’s experience matches the results of a survey released Nov. 6 by C3RN, which found that 32% of the 146 respondents had purchased THC vape products illegally since the ban. Additionally, 31% reported traveling to another state to get vape products. Of those that answered the survey, 63% said they were medical cannabis patients.
“When you ban things you drive people to the illicit market,” Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care clinician at Mass General Hospital and Harvard, said at the C3RN press conference. “The irony is, what's... making people sick is vapes from the illicit market. There is little evidence that people are getting sick from regulated products. It seems counterproductive to ban a regulated market where you can control, test and selectively ban certain agents and force people out of state or to the illicit market.”
Grant Smith, a medical cannabis patient, added at the press conference that the ban had impacted his ability to receive much needed medication.
“Take into consideration the human impact of these bans and act on evidence based recommendations from scientists,” Smith said.
Even beyond Tuesday, there is likely to be a tighter regulations around vaping. The Commission will seek to enact more robust regulations around vaping in the longer term, saying at their meeting last week that they would develop rules around ingredients, labeling, testing, sourcing, storage, manufacturing and consumption processes of both vaping products and accessories.
Today, C3RN led a press conference on the Massachusetts Vape ban with several speakers from the medical cannabis and nicotine vaping communities.
The press conference launched today at noon, and shortly after the conference started the announcement that the quarantine on medical products was released by the CCC.
The press conference lasted an hour, and speakers provided reactions and insights into the recent ban on vapes in Massachusetts, in addition to the announcement of the quarantine.
Online Press Conference Speakers:
You can find the full list of recommendations and statements provided HERE.
Watch the video HERE.
Thank you to the Boston Business Journal for Covering Todays Event, read the coverage HERE
Dr. McNabb on Morning Edition WBUR/NPR with Bob Oakes Discussing the MA Vape Ban November 7, 2019
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