IN THE PRESS
Cannabis commission taps six groups to boost social equity efforts
By Colin A. Young State House News Service,July 18, 2019, 11:28 a.m.
As it continues to build out the nation’s first statewide cannabis social equity program, the Cannabis Control Commission on Wednesday selected six organizations to provide technical and financial assistance to prospective business owners from communities disproportionately harmed by past drug laws.
From 15 applications it received, the CCC selected six groups to negotiate a formal work agreement: Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, a marijuana advocacy, research, and education group; Greenlight Business Solutions, which helps clients navigate cannabis regulation; Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, a group that works to educate and advocate for consumers; Point7, a woman-owned cannabis business management consulting firm; Four Trees Management, a cultivation consulting firm; and Marketing Edge Consulting Group, which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“With the help of these vendors, our Social Equity Program, also the nation’s first to be implemented statewide, will ensure our legal marketplace is accessible to impacted individuals and offer the resources participants need to overcome barriers to entry,” Commissioner Shaleen Title said.
The program is a central component to the state’s 2017 marijuana law. The law mandates that the CCC adopt “procedures and policies to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.”
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July 17, 2019
BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) on Wednesday approved six qualified entities to move forward with the state’s procurement process for vendors that will provide training and technical assistance as part of the nation’s first statewide Social Equity Program.
The Commission’s program is designed to create sustainable pathways into the legal, adult-use industry for Massachusetts residents who have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and face barriers to entering the market. After introducing the program last summer, the Commission began accepting applications from individuals who seek professional instruction and mentoring for entering the regulated adult-use cannabis industry and then issued a Request for Responses to contract with vendors.
“Massachusetts is a leader nationally when it comes to our legislative mandate to include in the regulated cannabis industry the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” said Commissioner Shaleen Title. “With the help of these vendors, our Social Equity Program, also the nation’s first to be implemented statewide, will ensure our legal marketplace is accessible to impacted individuals and offer the resources participants need to overcome barriers to entry.”
Out of fifteen proposals received, the Commission has approved the following vendors:
Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN): a provider of advocacy, research, and education services related to cannabis, which intends to partner with Holyoke Community College for its contract;
Greenlight Business Solutions, LLC: a provider of client services for navigating the cannabis industry landscape;
Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC): a nonprofit that seeks to ensure the safety of recreational marijuana consumers by bridging the gaps between communities, local legislators, and Massachusetts businesses;
Point7: a woman-owned, tenured, global management consulting firm dedicated to the commercial cannabis industry;
Four Trees Management, LLC: a cultivation consulting company comprised of industry professionals focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship; and
Marketing Edge Consulting Group: a certified, woman-owned business that collaborates with public and private organizations to help small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.
To identify these businesses and organizations, Commission staff reviewed submissions over several phases and scored them based on curriculum framework; experience working with minorities, veterans, women, farmers, or other disproportionately impacted communities; experience developing digital content; a timeline for deliverables; and budget. The selected entities must now reach a negotiated Statement of Work with the Commission and enter into a Master Agreement prior to starting instruction.
Since the Commission opened the application for prospective Social Equity Program participants in December, more than 100 individuals have been accepted after demonstrating they meet at least one of the following criteria:
Residency in a Massachusetts area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the past 10 years (income may not exceed 400% of federal poverty level);
A past drug conviction and residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months; or
Marriage to or child of a person with a drug conviction, and residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months.
The Commission held introductory seminars with two cohorts of Social Equity Program participants last month in Worcester and Boston, and will host additional sessions this summer. In the coming months, qualified vendors will commence formal training based on four teaching tracks that are designed to meet trainees’ diverse needs and career goals:
Entrepreneurs: those who seek marijuana establishment licensure and ownership;
Core: those who have existing industry experience (either two to six years, or seven or more years) and are interested in managerial and executive level careers;
Re-Entry and Entry Level: those reentering society and those with entry level industry experience (up to two years) interested in entry level careers; and
Ancillary: those with existing skills that are directly transferable to supporting cannabis businesses.
Participants will develop competency in areas such as accounting and sales forecasting, business plan creation, farming best practices, identifying funds and raising capital, navigating municipal processes, tax prediction and legal compliance, and more.
State law requires the Commission to adopt procedures and policies to encourage full participation by disproportionately impacted individuals and to positively affect their communities. Additionally, a legislative mandate requires a study of minorities, women, and veteran business enterprises in the cannabis industry. If obstacles are identified, the Commission is instructed to create training programs designed to achieve their meaningful involvement.
To learn more about the Social Equity Program, visit MassCannabisControl.com, email CannabisEquity@Mass.Gov, or follow the Commission on Facebook and Twitter.
Researchers Seek Veterans for National Survey on Marijuana
Toni Denis ∙ June 28, 2019 2:16 pm PDT
Researchers hope a national cannabis survey for U.S. military veterans will help educate elected officials, government department heads, and the public about the health benefits of cannabis use by those who served in the military.
In March 2019, a coalition of academic, medical and veterans' groups launched the Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study to understand veterans health status, treatments, medications, cannabis use, access to insurance, and quality of life.
Preliminary data from the anonymous study, which includes no identifying details about respondents, already has shown that veterans are reducing the need for over-the-counter prescriptions for pain and stomach ailments, and reducing or eliminating the use of opioids for chronic pain. ,
Though veterans' groups nationwide have pushed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to employ medical cannabis treatments, particularly for post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), the agency follows federal law, which considers cannabis an illegal narcotic with no medical value.
Researchers are seeking to expand their participant pool nationwide to collect enough data to convince officials that cannabis has medicinal value. To participate in the study, click on this link.
A series of public forums, the Cannabis Advancement Series, is traveling throughout Massachusetts to present findings and related study information from experts such as Dr. Sue Sisley, who recently completed the first federally funded clinical trial for cannabis as a PTSD treatment for veterans.
Lead researcher Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO of the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN), detailed the preliminary results and ultimate goals of the survey in a recent interview.
Q: Tell me about your group, Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) and the cannabis survey you're conducting about veterans related to harm reduction in the time of the opioid epidemic. What are the most important results you've found so far?
A: Key points that we found surprising are that 67% in the study from March 3 until now--141 veterans in Massachusetts--used cannabis to reduce the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications. That research gained more support when Dr. Dustin Sulak from Maine presented several other studies that found similar trends of patients, veterans, and consumers using cannabis to reduce unwanted prescription medications. He currently runs Integr8 Clinics, is a doctor of osteopathy and specializes in helping patients get off of pain medicines. He's published peer-reviewed medical literature on cannabis.
Q: What other significant results have you discovered in the study of veterans?
A: We asked veterans now that you are doing this yourself, are you making your VA healthcare provider aware? Sixty percent say their doctors are aware but don't know if they approve it. (Doctors) have their hands tied by the Veterans Administration as far as talking about cannabis. We're leaving our veterans in a predicament in which their doctors don't tell them a safer alternative to opioids is available, but they are seeking it out on their own.
Q: Do veterans of different wars have different responses in the study?
A: The Vietnam vets and the younger ones from the Gulf and Iraq wars are very different. They've been exposed to different chemicals and injuries. The Vietnam veterans faced a lot of hardship when they returned and were not celebrated for their service. They are an older population, part of the reefer madness generation, to understand the history of stigma. We need to have different ways of educating different age groups. They prefer different types of cannabis and ingestion. Those who are 29 know what a dabber is; the Vietnam vets don't.
Q: What would be the ideal scenario to help veterans with PTSD and chronic pain?
A: There's documented evidence that cannabis is working…but if we have the $10 million we would like to have, should we spend it on research or make sure all veterans have access to cannabis available to them? … Veterans in Massachusetts are three times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than those in the rest of the country. We are committed to doing everything in our power to amplify the issue, (but) we are at a time when everyone is saying we need more research. The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) of Massachusetts has spent $50,000 to help veterans—and it identified PTSD as a real problem for veterans and for others who have dealt with trauma.
Q: What made you quit your university position to pursue studying cannabis as part of this nonprofit group you co-founded two years ago with Randal McCaffrie, Chief Innovation Officer of your advocacy and network group?
A: I intentionally left academia because I knew I couldn't study it properly—it's a restriction of scientific freedom. It's important now to get the word out about that. I worked on the HIV epidemic in Africa before there was an HIV test. Then HIV treatment became available and it was completely unaffordable. The world rallied around to make the HIV drugs available. You're making a choice between life and health. An 8-year-old who requires CBD oil for epilepsy needs our support. How many families had to move to California and Colorado to treat their children? People should be able to afford their healthcare and have access to balanced research about it.
Q: What's the greatest challenge of your work in crowdsourcing and collecting anecdotal evidence and aggregating that into research?
A: As a public health doctor of 25 years with three advanced degrees and international experience, it's spending time making five phone calls and talking for hours to get each dispensary to agree to sponsor the survey. We're making connections, we want them to participate and provide sponsorship and we provide data back. There's a real need for the industry in cannabis to understand if they want us to fight for them they need to support research that helps them, too. Not only for medical benefits but for access for people. You can't create a mega-business without investing in the community and giving back. As this industry grows, it will be the third boom after the tech industry. They can change the world like Microsoft did. To make someone like Dr. Sisley fight for 10 years to do research is absurd. These people are helping you—we are business partners and we are working with consumers.
Q: You've done three of six planned education events, including a talk from Dr. Sue Sisley, who worked on a study for 10 years on veterans and cannabis; and Stephen Mandile, a veteran who says he cured his depression and health issues with cannabis and founded Veterans Alternative Healing. What is the most gratifying aspect of that so far?
A: I think the presentation of the research was very successful. …The last forum gave a careful and thoughtful look at medical cannabis as part of the right mix for addiction, mental health, and therapy options for cannabis. Those two presentations were great to frame where we are in science and in medical practice. Dr. Sisley's talk was very powerful. She had to work with poor quality cannabis from the University of Mississippi, with stems and sticks and moldy leaves. That's unacceptable. We fully intended in the design of the study to analyze and present a policy report and highlight issues around spending and the need for free access. [Providing] data on spending, insurance companies, improved quality of life measures, etc. It's not only impacting our veterans who served their country and fought for freedom, but also their families and all of the people around them. We're thinking from a broader perspective.
Q: How do you feel about the support C3RN is getting for a national survey?
A: Weedmaps and the DAV are partnering with us to expand it into other states. We want to see if we find differences in other states and will use a health survey tool to find out how trends are changing. We're very much excited to go national, but we're still looking for partners to reach out and support it and work with us.
We're grateful for the backing of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Healing Rose, and other groups that are providing support, too. We are able to talk to legislators, communities, and academics and we think that will impact policy.
Article can be found here: https://news.weedmaps.com/2019/06/researchers-seek-veterans-for-national-survey-on-marijuana/
By Jessica Bartlett – Reporter, Boston Business Journal
Jun 25, 2019, 6:39am EDT Updated 6 hours ago
See Correction/Clarification at end of article
Linda Noel had just finished planting her 400th hemp plant at her small Massachusetts farm when the state changed the industry’s rules.
She had planned to grow the plant to be consumed or processed for CBD — a derivative of both hemp and marijuana plants. But earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) released guidance banning the sale of hemp-derived CBD for use in food or as dietary supplement.
The guidance came six months after MDAR prohibited Noel from selling her first hemp crop to a hemp tea manufacturer. The dried hemp is still sitting in bins in her house.
“The whole industry is up in the air,” she said. “We don’t know if we wasted our time and money.”
Noel was one of dozens of farmers, retailers, advocates and attorneys who came out Monday to protest the MDAR guidance. Standing on the steps of the State House, over 30 advocates spoke about their participation in the industry, saying the state’s new rules threatened their livelihoods.
The rules came within a week of House lawmakers passing a bill that gives hemp farmers preferential tax treatment and allows hemp to be grown on land restricted as agricultural use. But farmers say they have no interest in growing hemp for use in textiles and rope.
“CBD hemp flower is the only way we can survive in this industry,” said Laura Beohner, president and co-founder of CBD processing company The Healing Rose in Newburyport. Boehner said she had just spent $30,000 and three months upgrading to a new facility, only to see the state issue rules eliminating her business.
“I already put my seeds in the ground,” said Ellen Brown, a Barnstable hemp farmer and hemp educator with Sinsemilla Seminars. “Don’t mess with my livelihood, I’ve already bet the farm on it.”
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Jim Borghesani, one of the people who helped pass cannabis legalization in the state, said it was an “absurd dichotomy” to have cannabis legalized and accessible but not hemp-derived CBD, which doesn’t give users a high. He asked Gov. Charlie Baker to ensure that retailers don’t have their products seized by state or local law enforcement.
“Until we get a law, we need leadership,” he said.
Salem resident Melissa Faulkner said her six-year-old son, Joshua Faulkner, uses CBD to control a rare form of epilepsy. She begged lawmakers and state administrators to reopen the pathway for the industry, and then handed the microphone to Joshua. “Gov. Baker, please help protect my rights,” Joshua said into the microphone.
Advocates say they plan to meet with MDAR officials in the coming weeks and may seek a legislative fix.
State lawmakers said they are supportive of hemp cultivation, though were mixed on whether that should include CBD production.
Rep. Dave Rogers, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, said the guidance still allows farmers to grow hemp for other uses. While the Legislature may want to take a look at whether CBD should be allowed in Massachusetts, it would need to be carefully studied and discussed.
“The legislature did not specifically include reference to CBD oil in our statute,” the Cambridge Democrat said of the state law legalizing hemp production. “So I’m not sure there was a specific legislative intent as to CBD oil. The policy statement from MDAR does allow hemp to be grown and used in a variety of ways, but it simply has said certain uses including CBD oil are (not allowed).”
State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli also said there was plenty of opportunity for farmers interested in hemp even without CBD products. Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat, was the lead sponsor of the bill to create more incentives for hemp farming, and was involved in passing legislation around cannabis and hemp cultivation in 2017.
But he acknowledged that retailers were already selling CBD products in Massachusetts, and said lawmakers should be working diligently to find a way to include it within a legal framework.
“We have more work to do, that’s the bottom line,” Pignatelli said. “If it’s the Legislature that fixes it, fine, let’s talk. If it's administrative adjustments, that’s fine with me. We can’t ignore the positive effects of it, but how will we police and regulate it? That’s what we need to work on.”
An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of Melissa and Joshua Faulkner due to an error by organizers of the protest.
Original article source: https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2019/06/25/don-t-mess-with-my-livelihood-hemp-advocates-tell.html
HEMP GROWERS ALARMED BY STATE'S NEW CBD GUIDANCE
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 25, 2019.....It has popped up on convenience store shelves, as a pricey add-on at trendy coffee and smoothie places, and as a purported cure-all pitched by social media influencers. But the legality of CBD is murky and hemp farmers say new state guidelines will effectively kneecap their industry in Massachusetts.
Julia Agron, a hemp farmer and organizer of the Mass. Hemp Coalition, said Monday that her plans to grow hemp and process it into tinctures, topicals, edible products and more have been thrown into question by new guidance from a state agency essentially prohibiting products that contain CBD. [Photo: Colin A. Young/SHNS]
CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived from the cannabis plant and is commonly extracted from hemp. The non-psychoactive component is said to deliver therapeutic benefits like calming anxiety without impairing the user. CBD products are not directly regulated by the state and many local health and police departments do not take action against retailers. CBD products are widely available online.
But now the opportunity to grow hemp and process it into CBD products could be closing in Massachusetts. The Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), which regulates the growing of hemp, this month issued guidance that effectively outlawed the sale of food products containing CBD, any product containing CBD that makes therapeutic claims, any product with hemp as a dietary supplement and any animal feed with hemp products.
On Monday afternoon, a recently-formed coalition of Massachusetts hemp farmers, businesses, advocates and consumers rallied outside the State House to call on MDAR to clarify its guidance and to push for the state to clear up the legality of their products.
Julia Agron, a hemp farmer and organizer of the Mass. Hemp Coalition, told the crowd about the process she and her family went through to get an MDAR license to grow and process hemp, only to then find out that MDAR's new guidance effectively made her plans illegal.
"We were going to make tinctures, we were going to make infused edible products, we were going to infuse directly into coconut oil, we were going to make topicals -- the whole range of it. That artisinal product is what we feel we have to offer," Agron said. "Within two months of getting our license approved, I happened to get an email from MDAR basically saying that every single product that we need to be able to sell in order for our farm to grow and succeed was suddenly off the table."
The MDAR guidance came on the heels of an opinion from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that CBD cannot be added to food and dietary supplements, and state Department of Public Health guidance also prohibiting the sale of any product containing CBD oils derived from hemp.
A variety of products made from hemp -- hemp seed, protein, clothing and other items made from hemp fiber -- are approved for sale in Massachusetts.
On Monday, CBD supporters decried what they said is the unfair treatment of the hemp-based product by a state that licenses stores to sell products infused with THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
"An absurd dichotomy exists in the state today where you can legally produce and sell cannabis consumables, but you cannot legally produce and sell hemp consumables," Jim Borghesani, who served as spokesman of the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana, said.
Borghesani said he wanted to remind Gov. Charlie Baker, who oversees MDAR, that about 54 percent of Massachusetts voters were in favor of legal access to marijuana products and "probably a lot more want access to hemp consumables."
And because it is up to local officials to police what's offered behind the counter at corner stores, where CBD products have become commonplace alongside tobacco and rolling papers, hemp supporters said MDAR's guidance is only going to harm the local small hemp farmers who hoped to sell CBD products in order to turn a profit.
"Out of state farms aren't affected by this, people selling on the internet aren't affected by this. I still drove by every single gas station between here and Amherst selling me dubious a CBD product that isn't tested and isn't regulated," Agron said.
The topic of hemp and hemp products is not totally foreign to the state Legislature. Last week, the House voted unanimously to allow farmers with agricultural deed restrictions on their land to grow hemp, pitched by supporters as a boon to many farmers in rural parts of the state that own 73,000 acres currently under agricultural restrictions.
Agron said Monday that she previously thought getting the state Legislature on board with a policy change that would benefit the growing hemp industry was going to be her biggest public policy concern. After MDAR's guidance, she said the industry faces a more existential threat.
"Our legislators empowered hemp farmers to farm hemp on farmable land, which seems like such a win and two and a half weeks ago it was my biggest goal for the hemp industry in Massachusetts and suddenly I don't know if it matters anymore," she said. "None of the farmers that I'm talking to are looking to expand right now. They're not sure if there's a market for their product, they're not sure if they're going to be farming next year at all."
Rep. David Rogers, House chairman of the Cannabis Policy Committee, told the News Service after last week's House session on hemp that he intends to look closely at the MDAR and DPH guidelines and did not foreclosure the possibility of recommending further action to open up the market for additional hemp products.
"There's a possibility in the future that the House will address, if need be, the new restrictions on CBD oil," he said.
C3RN | Study could help veterans get cannabis through health insurance
Jun 20, 2019
Veterans and cannabis: It’s all in the family.
America’s short history of legal cannabis has proved this much: Veterans are one of the groups that benefit most from the plant, from managing aches and pains to PTSD symptoms, and often avoiding synthetic opiates along the way.
But another, more inconvenient truth has also become apparent. Decades of prohibition left a dearth of serious, formal research into how the plant is used, and by whom.
This creates a moment of unique opportunity, according to those behind a new initiative called the Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study. The survey is spearheaded by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) as part of a larger, ongoing study of cannabis use being conducted in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
The Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study formally launched earlier this year in Boston, the first of six C3RN events produced bypartnered business development agency Joint Venture & Co and Massachusetts-based Alternative Treatment for Veterans.
Organizers are hoping this look at veterans, their families, and cannabis will help lead to fundamental change in how former soldiers access medicine.
“What I’d like to do is really show what the burden is on the veteran population and show what their spending pattern looks like so we can start to make an argument for health insurance coverage,” says public health veteran Dr. Marion McNabb, Director of Research for ATV and CEO of C3RN.
‘A lifesaving substance’
In recent years, veterans across America have reported cannabis helping treat a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Many have even used the plant to wean themselves off pharmaceutical painkillers, which can bring debilitating side effects and cause intense physical addiction.
Government-provided health insurance gives veterans virtually unlimited access to pharmaceuticals. Yet, even in states where cannabis is medically or recreationally legal, veterans must pay out-of-pocket or rely on donations for herbal relief. This gets at a core issue McNabb and others hope to address through their study.
“It’s complicated when you’re working with addiction, and opioid addiction specifically, but we really believe cannabis could be a viable harm-reduction strategy,” she says.
Before starting the non-profit Veterans Alternative Healing, Stephen Mandile (also president of President of Alternative Treatment for Veterans) was one of an untold number of former servicemen and servicewomen unable to find effective treatment through prescription medications.
Cannabis changed everything.
“For me this was definitely a lifesaving substance,” Mandile told CBS Boston last November, when he became one of the first people in Massachusetts to purchase newly legalized recreational cannabis.
Veterans from coast to coast recount similar personal experiences. The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, Operation Evac, Weed for Warriors and the Veterans Cannabis Group are just a sampling of the organizations that help connect former military personnel with marijuana’s potential for healing.
Meanwhile, a first-of-its-kind clinical study led by Arizona scientist Dr. Sue Sisley to analyze cannabis as a treatment for veterans with PTSD is nearing completion.
All of which helps explain why McNabb, Mandile and others believe now is the perfect time for their Veterans and Veterans Family Member Research Study. Veterans across the country are welcome to participate, but organizers are focusing initial outreach in Massachusetts, home to both C3RN and Veterans Alternative Healing. Massachusetts last year became the first state on the East Coast to open recreational cannabis stores.
Study organizers are currently recruiting state cannabis dispensaries and hemp companies to offer discounts to veterans who complete the survey. It consists of about 100 questions about consumption habits, spending, medical conditions, prescriptions and more.
The study also includes questions about family members. McNabb says the challenges and solutions experienced by veterans are deeply shared with their families and caregivers — who may themselves be cannabis consumers as well.
A recent Eaze Insights report on general cannabis trends found veterans are more than twice as likely as non-veterans to consume with family members. The C3RN survey aims to drill down further on the topic.
‘A new industry is only created once’
“We’d love to be able to compare different states as well as sub-localities here in Massachusetts,” McNabb says. “We want to reach a policy-level analysis where we can really advocate for changing the paradigm of how veterans access cannabis.”
Cannabis’ emergence from the shadows continues to open new opportunities in business and adult recreation across America. That’s all well and good. But McNabb and others hope their study can help benefit those who most deserve support.
“A new industry is only created once,” McNabb says. “We should use this opportunity to fight for research and justice and rights—not just make it about money and profit, but to really think about how we handle some of the bigger issues around cannabis.”
Original Article: https://www.eaze.com/article/c3rn-veterans-cannabis-study-marijuana-ptsd?fbclid=IwAR0kAgqtnQ5K4Lz6WJ1ygrzYHJ30mBJJ-CtOfdLG7toa1m6yr-BuOdGsBLQ
Restrictive Massachusetts guidelines on selling CBD products worry hemp farmersBy Shira Schoenberg | firstname.lastname@example.org
June 19, 2019 5:48 PM
BOSTON — Jonathan MacDougall of Baygrown Farms in Rochester refurbishes cranberry bogs to grow hemp, an attempt to rejuvenate a struggling industry.
His company recently worked with a local produce farm to create a new line of CBD-infused strawberry jam. But after the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources last week released a policy statement banning the sale of CBD-infused food, MacDougall expects to lose the thousands of dollars he put into developing the jam.
“We just invested in a whole line of edibles we can’t even sell,” MacDougall said.
Massachusetts lawmakers are taking steps to make it easier for farmers to grow hemp, which was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016 and federally in 2018. But at the same time, the state agency charged with regulating agriculture put out new guidelines that could severely limit the size of the state’s hemp market by banning the sale of certain products.
Farmers, retailers and manufacturers said the new rules could make it impossible for small farmers to enter the hemp industry.
“Massachusetts farmers just aren’t going to be able to compete with these regulations,” said Julia Agron, an Amherst farmer and outreach coordinator for the Northeast Sustainable Hemp Association.
The new policy statement says growers and manufacturers can sell hemp seed and its derivatives, clothing, building materials and fibers. A grower can sell flower to another grower or processor.
But growers cannot sell flower meant to be used by the consumer — such as for smoking. Growers cannot sell CBD-infused food, animal feed with hemp products, hemp as a dietary supplement or any CBD product for which they make medicinal claims.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a part of the cannabis plant that is thought to produce relaxation, but cannot get someone high.
The prohibition on food stems from a Department of Public Health statement prohibiting adding CBD to food, based on federal rules by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The problem, farmers say, is that CBD is the most lucrative part of the hemp market.
Agron, who runs a small hemp farm, said the market for industrial hemp is already dominated by large farms in agricultural states. The only way for a small Massachusetts farm to be viable is to sell artisanal, craft products — such as high-quality flower for smoking. Although someone cannot get high smoking hemp, it is smoked, sometimes by people looking to stop smoking cigarettes.
While Agron’s farm can produce cosmetics or topical creams, she said the market significantly shrinks if farmers cannot sell their crop for edible products.
“If we can grow artisanal product and get top dollar, we can survive as a micro-farm,” Agron said. “If we have to sell to a processor and process it into hemp oil, we won’t make enough to cover our costs of getting licenses and plants.”
Business owners say the timing of the new statement is also problematic, since farmers already started growing this season. The Department of Agricultural Resources has issued 102 licenses to grow or process hemp in 2019.
Linda Noel of Terrapin Farm in Franklin is in her second year of growing hemp. She had a contract to sell flower to a company that wanted to infuse it in herbal tea. But MDAR denied that company a license, so she has been unable to sell her crop.
“This is a completely misguided policy,” Noel said.
Zach McInnis, vice president and co-founder of the Healing Rose in Newburyport, sells cosmetics and body care products. The company had hoped to expand into foods and tinctures, but the new MDAR rules “trampled on those dreams a bit,” McInnis said.
McInnis said he worries that out-of-state companies will import products that Massachusetts companies are not allowed to develop. If he were allowed to manufacture things like CBD capsules or tinctures, McInnis said, “We could easily triple our revenue right now.”
Kirby Mastrangelo, who owns Hempire, which sells hemp products in Methuen and Amesbury, said the guidelines are also confusing. For example, it is unclear whether CBD-derived tinctures or capsules are prohibited.
State officials say the state guidelines are partially dependent on federal rules.
Brendan Moss, a spokesman for Gov. Charlie Baker, said in a statement, “The Baker-Polito Administration recently issued policy guidance regarding the sale of hemp-derived products in the Commonwealth consistent with previously announced federal policy and looks forward to working with the FDA, state agencies and local boards of health to ensure all products in Massachusetts comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.”
Massachusetts House votes to let farmers grow hemp on agricultural land
If the bill becomes law, it could vastly expand the amount of land that can be used to grow hemp in the state.
Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, introduced a bill, which passed the House Wednesday, to allow farmers to grow hemp on agricultural land.
Pignatelli said he thinks part of the issue with CBD is the lack of scientific evidence on its effects. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions, there’s a lot of science we need to delve into,” Pignatelli said.
Pignatelli said he thinks MDAR is trying to “hit the pause button” to allow time for a “more thorough analysis” of the pros and cons of CBD oil.
Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, chairman of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, said lawmakers will take a careful look at the new guidelines, and the Legislature could consider passing a new law regulating or allowing CBD products.
He said it is a complex issue because of the intersection of state and federal law. At the same time, Rogers said, “It’s one more product in commerce that could generate revenue and jobs for farmers.”
Original article: https://www.masslive.com/news/2019/06/restrictive-massachusetts-guidelines-on-selling-cbd-products-worry-hemp-farmers.html?fbclid=IwAR0a6a65WiyoWpqmjMqd4YgDhJfWrFTKk8xjMnt7jqjjYi_kXOBV8jyq3yA
MASSACHUSETTS HEMP COALITION PRESS CONFERENCE
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, 7:00 AM JUNE 17, 2019
C3RN Press Contact; Josh Milne: 617-501-1620, email@example.com
Photo Courtesy: MA Hemp Coalition 2nd Meeting, Worcester MA June 18, 2019
June 19, 2019: By Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN)
The Massachusetts hemp farming community (including small MA farmers), manufacturers/processors, retailers, consumers, healthcare providers, patients, and citizens engaged in the hemp industry will hold a press conference June 24, 2019 2 PM at the MA State House Steps concerning a policy statement issued by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). This statement refers to the state and local regulations regarding hemp and hemp-derived products and the community will give input.
FROM WHO: THE MASS HEMP COALITION: A recently formed coalition of Massachusetts hemp businesses, advocates, industry leaders, academics, healthcare providers, consumers, patients, and engaged stakeholders; organized by the Northeastern Sustainable Hemp Association (NOSHA) and Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN).
WHAT: MASS HEMP COALITION community press conference re: MDAR Policy Statement
WHEN: Monday, June 24, 2 PM – 4 PM
WHERE: Massachusetts State House Steps, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133
WHY: The MASS HEMP COALITION has recommendations related to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) policy statement entitled “Sale of Hemp-Derived Products in the Commonwealth” issued on June 12, 2019. The MASS HEMP COALITION will hold a press conference to provide these recommendations and looks forward to working with MDAR and other stakeholders to shape a hemp industry that is supportive of existing and future MA hemp businesses, upholds public health and safety, and educates stakeholders across the Commonwealth to ensure the new hemp industry succeeds and thrives locally. Community comments will be related to the below (and other aspects) of the MDAR statement:
HEMP PRODUCTS NOT APPROVED FOR SALE
The following products are NOT approved for sale in the Commonwealth pursuant to M.G.L. c. 128, Section 117(c) and are likewise prohibited for sale under FDA and DPH guidance:
For more information about the press conference, please visit www.cannacenterofexcellence.org/hemp
By Naomi Martin Globe Staff,June 12, 2019, 6:36 p.m.
Dozens of cannabis advocates rallied at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday to refute a public health group’s criticisms of the state’s newly regulated marijuana industry.
The crowd held signs that read: “Weed’s not new,” “Empower our communities,” and “Cannabis equity is non-negotiable.” The audience cheered as researchers, clinicians, a state regulator, and people harmed by the war on drugs spoke in support of the current regulations and new ones they hope will be approved this summer, such as the creation of cannabis cafe licenses.
“If we had social consumption lounges, I wouldn’t have to do this,” advocate Peter Bernard said as he lifted a joint to his lips with a showman’s flair, sparked it, and inhaled. “Damn, that’s good.”
“If we had social consumption lounges, I wouldn’t have to do this,” advocate Peter Bernard said as he lifted a joint to his lips with a showman’s flair, sparked it, and inhaled. “Damn, that’s good.”(SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF)
The rally was organized by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network in response to a statement issued recently by the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance, which was signed by 40 local doctors and scientists. The letter said marijuana is far more harmful than many people believe and can increase consumers’ risks for psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. It called for an indefinite delay to social consumption and home delivery — two license types that state regulators are considering adding.
The statement also called for a pause of licensing new pot stores to review the state’s social equity program, which the group described as targeting minority neighborhoods for pot shops. But, as regulators replied, the program aims to help entrepreneurs from communities with high rates of marijuana arrests start their own businesses anywhere in the state.
“Entrepreneurs like myself who have been arrested for weed in our youth intend to employ dozens of oppressed people [hurt] by the war on drugs,” said Chauncy Spencer, a social equity applicant from Dorchester. This, he said, “will be a small start to addressing the lack of true self-determination denied to our community.”
Cannabis activists, including Jesse Daniels (left), and supporters smoked marijuana in front of the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday.
Cannabis activists, including Jesse Daniels (left), and supporters smoked marijuana in front of the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday.(SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF)
Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title, who helped craft the social equity program, thanked the crowd for showing “when prohibitionists try and have a big publicity stunt, that it doesn’t work.”
“Everything is going to be evidence-based,” Title said, of the commission’s approach to regulating cannabis. She said she has consulted with faculty at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital who aren’t interested in publicity or “Prohibition 2.0,” and who “want patients and consumers to be treated like the legal, normal people that we are.”
Doctors who have found cannabis helpful for their patients criticized the prevention alliance’s narrow stance on the drug, which they said can pose risks to people with family histories of mental illness, but offers far more people life-changing benefits.
Dr. Eric Ruby, a Taunton pediatrician, said he has recommended cannabis — and seen positive results — for more than 300 children since 2014 for conditions such as anxiety, pain, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, nausea, anorexia, and muscle spasticity. One boy with autism, he said, finally enjoys going outdoors. (Minors in Massachusetts can only obtain medical marijuana if two doctors, including a pediatrician, recommend it.)
Ruby’s interest in cannabis grew after his son found relief from severe neuropathic pain resulting from a car accident. He had previously been on opioids and suicidal.
“Cannabis saved my son’s life,” Ruby said. Doctors on both sides want public health improvements and should unite to pressure the federal government to fund research, he said. “Dogma on either side do not further the cooperation needed to encourage scientific inquiry.”
Original article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/marijuana/2019/06/12/cannabis-advocates-rally-rebuttal-prohibition/uExEIEqxHNtnw3uHx1OJtL/story.html
Pot Advocates Push Back on Concerns Raised by Some Health Professionals
The Take with Sue O'Connell
Earlier this month, over three dozen Massachusetts doctors and researchers warned that the state could be headed toward a public health crisis because of its policy around recreational marijuana. Advocates for marijuana are pushing back, questioning the science and motives of the researchers. Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO and co-Founder of Cannabis Community Care & Research Network and Stephen Mandile, President/Founder of Veterans Alternative Healing Inc. join Sue to discuss.
(Published Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019)
Dr. McNabb on Morning Edition WBUR/NPR with Bob Oakes Discussing the MA Vape Ban November 7, 2019
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