Cooking with Cannabis

By Dalton Rosario

“Fast forward about a year and a half later, and the entire landscape changed, and every publisher got in and was racing to catch up,”


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Editorial Director, Rux Martin


Long Story Short. The Cannabis edibles food space is evolving far beyond the pot-brownies of years’ past. Intricate cooking recipes mixed with chemistry and botany has led to incredible advances in the arts and sciences of cooking with cannabis. 


Gimme the Juice! As an emerging niche market combining the culinary sector with unique publications from literary houses and experimenting writers, the legal cannabis trade is becoming injected with a burst of excitement geared around the intricacies of cooking with THC. Cook books expounding upon recipes infusing cannabis with lamb chops marinated in yogurt, cilantro-cannabis dressings layered over fresh kale and bacon bits, and pepperoni cured from pot is becoming the standard of a new direction previously unexplored to such culinary depths.     


So What’s the Bottom Line? Human civilizations have been cultivating cannabis and cooking with these home-grown herbs since the beginning of Time. Whether cited in research spanning back to the Mesolithic era, or ritualistic concoctions named “Bhang” shared by Yogis in India for over 3,000 years; this ever-present fascination of infusing cannabis in our daily diets to nourish the body and spirit have been a part of our culture as a people.  


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Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Banner

By Dalton Rosario

“This is a crisis!”
Jackie McGowan, K Street Consulting Licensing Expert


Long Story Short. At the beginning of 2019 California had 6,924 temporarily registered cannabis farms, including a total number of growers with licenses that are expiring at a rate faster than annual and provisional licenses are being issued by the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA). This spells a pending crisis in supply shortages if not rectified by the state.     


Gimme the Juice! Of the 3,300 back-logged license applications, the CDFA has so far approved only 500 annual and provisional cannabis farming licenses. This means at best, the state of California will have access to 1,500 registered cultivation farms by the end of the month and at worst, just 1,000 based on the pending rate of license expirations.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? California state regulators and the CDFA have a vested interest in the success of the cannabis industry and its stable growth. They are ramping up efforts to register as many temporary licenses as possible at a nearly 100% guarantee approval rate, so long as cultivators file a provisional license. For some perspective, only 5 applications had received licensing at the beginning of March, which had increased to 500 approvals by the 31st. With that said, at the current rate of expirations and provisional licenses being administered, by early May half of the current 6,924 temporary cannabis farming licenses will have already expired.  


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Trulieve Logo

By Dalton Rosario

“Conveniently located medical marijuana dispensaries promote authorized users’ improved access to medical marijuana products and related information and services, at lower cost, and promote public safety.”
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers


Long Story Short. Florida Health Officials are allowing the state’s largest medical cannabis manufacturer - Trulieve - to open more dispensaries than the State law limits; totaling 49 retail locations.     


Gimme the Juice! Florida’s medical cannabis program caps dispensary operators at 25 locations statewide. This limit increases as more companies enter the emerging market. The outcome was supposed to create a level-playing field and reduce the risk of market monopolies. This limit has risen to 35 locations per operator since, and will be in place until April 2020.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? Reducing product availability does not help the end-user in any way, and even adds unnecessary barriers of entry for companies looking to take a foothold in Florida’s medical cannabis market. Trulieve has set the precedence by being allowed to lawfully open a total of 49 dispensaries. This amount includes the original 14 locations they started in business with, plus the additional 35 retail store limit to be revoked from state law in April 2020.


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Cannabis for Pets

By Dalton Rosario

“It’s a Wild West... There’s not a lot of science behind it. That’s what we’re up against right now.”

Susan Curtis, Executive Director of Massachusetts’ Medical Association 

Long Story Short. The pet market is the largest growing niche within the CBD Market for states that have legalized cannabis.


Gimme the Juice! Particularly in Massachusetts, Veterinarians are reporting increasingly more cases of pet-owners giving cannabis-derived products to their pets to treat their ailments. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Veterinarians and pet-owners are in favor of medication that mitigates pain in animals; however, Massachusetts law strictly enforces punishable offensives for licensed vets that recommended cannabis to a pet that experiences adverse side effects.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? Veterinarians confirm from pet-owners that cannabis and CBD derivatives work wonders for pets with a myriad of health conditions. But without the proper scientific research to back these claims, even though Vets are doing what is morally right to reduce pain in these animals, they are still unlawfully recommending medications that they can and will be held accountable for under state law.     


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Cannabis legalization rules

By Dalton Rosario

“History is rarely made at the first attempt... But eventually barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down. Certainly I am disappointed, but we are not defeated.” 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

Long Story Short. Legislative efforts to expand NJ’s medical cannabis program and expungements program fell through Monday, March 25th as the Legislature was not able to secure enough support, despite increasing momentum for legalizing adult cannabis consumption. 


Gimme the Juice! The Democratic majority largely supported the emerging cannabis legislation; however, Democratic leaders representing predominately urban areas believed the bill did not do enough to aid lower socio-economic neighborhoods. They argued the bill favored the profitability of the industry at large, rather than contributing to the betterment of communities of color targeted most directly by law enforcement. 


So What’s the Bottom Line? State lawmakers are optimistic about adult cannabis consumption passing in New Jersey, but the question on everybody’s mind is how soon. Ideally, the vote would have been secured before NJ’s July 1st new state budget deadline. But with the failed vote this past Monday, speculation has already hinted that such a heavily debated topic would be untouchable by Assembly members during re-election campaigns in the late summer and early Fall. The next vote for the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act can come as soon as November.     


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Colombia marijuana smoking poster

By Dalton Rosario

The Colombian government has authorized for the first time ever an exported shipment of medical grade cannabis for research testing and analysis to be conducted in Canada. This has been deemed by the government as a testament of the quality conditions and cultivation capable in South America, launching Colombia as a pioneer on the global market. Six Canadian Import permits were authorized by Health Canada, from which Colombia’s government expedited approval of shipment. This proves advantageous for both countries as the capital investments required to accommodate Canada’s greenhouse infrastructure can be significantly reduced by Canadian companies instead investing their external laboratory overhead costs into Colombia-grown cannabis.

This is not the first time Canada has accepted cannabis shipments from abroad for medical testing. Two other instances have occurred in 2018: the first from Africa in March and the second from Jamaica in September; placing Canada as the premier destination for cannabis testing and scientific experimentation worldwide. Later in 2019, Canadian company Ecomedics S.A.S. aka Clever Leaves will also begin accepting shipments of Colombian cannabis extracts for testing purposes. Likewise Colombia’s government has expressed interest in allowing medical cannabis cultivation from their country to be exported for research testing in countries that are willing to register for permits, such as Germany in the near future.  


Cannabis worldwide graph

By Dalton Rosario

Based upon recommendations from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, a series of cannabis-related rescheduling initiatives will be set into motion concluding beneficial collaborative research with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Most impacted by these status changes will be the marijuana plant itself, cannabis-derived resin, and THC which will be removed from its current Schedule IV status - the most dangerous and controlled classification - and will be added to the Schedule I status of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961). Unlike in the U.S., Schedule I internationally is the least restricted of listings. As well, CBD containing 0.2% of THC or less will no longer fall under international control; and extracts are to be removed from Schedule I status.

In effect the WHO is officially shifting its stance on nearly 50 years of denouncing cannabis’ medical health benefits. This is symbolic of a greater global push for embracing cannabis’ holistic properties and creating meaningful legislative frameworks for ending prohibition. Even though moving forward with rescheduling procedures is its own cause for celebration, current WHO classifications will still place countries in a compromising position when lawmakers legalize the plant recreationally, because doing so places their governments in contempt of international treaties through violations of global conventions. The WHO's recommendations for rescheduling cannabis and its derivatives will be officially released at the United Nation’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March, when 53 of the world’s governing bodies will meet to vote on accepting or declining the international policy proposal.  

William Barr Picture

By Dalton Rosario

Earlier in January President Trump’s U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr openly addressed his stance on supporting cannabis companies that have lawfully complied with state policies and regulations legalizing recreational and/or medicinal cannabis under the Cole Memorandum. This news was well received by cannabis advocates, lawmakers and industry leaders who were reluctant on what to make of William Barr’s stance towards cannabis legalization, particularly after former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was vehemently opposed to any forms of cannabis legislation, to the point of rescinding the Obama-era Cole Memorandum in January 2018. 

To those unfamiliar with the Cole Memo, it is an invaluable piece of legislation that catapulted the cannabis market into a viable national industry by granting the Justice Department orders to not enforce federal prohibition within states that had “legalized marijuana in some form and… implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana.” Although full-proof for all practical purposes, the Department of Justice was also granted discretionary leeway to enforce federal prohibition within states that have legalized cannabis, as long as doing so prevents violence related to the cultivation and/or distribution of cannabis, reduces cannabis-related DWI’s, and discontinues revenues from getting into the hands of gangs or cartel networks. 

Based on Barr’s written response to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), AG nominee Barr supports “the expansion of marijuana manufacturers for scientific research consistent with the law,” increasing the number of institutions permitted to grow cannabis specifically for the purpose of medical research. This would be done by Barr overturning Sessions’ ban on the Department of Justice moving forward with any of its stalled applications for medical facility growers. Furthermore, Barr pledged to look into scientific evaluations of CBD and its rescheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, based upon federal acceptance of hemp-derived products lawfully manufactured under the 2018 Farm Bill. Given Barr’s written confirmation supporting cannabis initiatives, in the words of Don Murphy, Director of Federal Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, “William Barr didn’t just wave the white flag, he signed a peace agreement.”  

Marijuana Leaf Printed Hat

By Dalton Rosario

A new cannabis bill proposed this week by the Senate requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to actively study the medical benefits of cannabis for prescription use in  the treatments for our veterans. According to statistics from Military Benefit’s PTSD Awareness Day: an estimated 44 million veterans develop PTSD symptoms and suffer from a number of ailments revolving around traumatic brain injury and chronic pain. Within the U.S. half of all mental health patients have been diagnosed with PTSD. 

The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation filed by Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA), which follows the first Senate cannabis bill of the 116th Congress filed just the week prior. Said legislation was authored by bi-partisan partners Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). As remarked in a press release by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), “Rather than risk becoming dependent on opioids, these veterans find relief in medical cannabis… With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries.” As stated these efforts attempt to target the severity of opioid abuse for our veterans and the rates of addiction exhibited within our country. Many states have begun mobilizing lawmakers and passing legislation that places precedence upon medical clinics, physicians and certified practitioners utilizing cannabis as a healthy alternative for pain-relieving opioids. Most recently earlier this week in New Jersey, the state Department of Health declared that physicians may immediately begin recommending medical cannabis for opioid addiction. Similar treatment plans have been written into law in New York and Pennsylvania. Our veterans deserve the very best methods available on the market. If that includes cannabis as their preference of choice - so be it.  

Cannabis Vote nomination

By Dalton Rosario

Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, openly refuted countrywide efforts for cannabis reformation and personally sponsoring legislation geared towards recreational use in a speech this past Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In his words, “To make it easier for people to engage in a behavior that has a significant possibility of damaging people’s health—is just nonsensical… And today incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic [cannabis] which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done. We’ve got to fight that!” This is certainly unnerving to hear - let alone from a potential candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

The wave of green states gaining momentum across our country is supported by 75% of voters within the Democratic party, putting Bloomberg at odds with the vast majority of his constituents. The current list of Democratic nominees in favor of cannabis reformation, regulation and taxation are: California state Senator Kamala Harris, New York state Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Massachusetts state Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed a plan last week for adult cannabis legalization within the state of New York that was included in his annual budget request to lawmakers. As outlined he would like to instill a 20% state tax and 2% county tax on cannabis distribution between wholesalers and retailers. Also there would be a $1/gram tax for dry herb cultivation in addition to a $0.25/gram tax on trimmings. In total, this plan could generate up to $300 Million in annual tax revenue depending on the number of contributing cities and counties. 

Although on the surface there seems to be a unified consensus within the Democratic Party regarding the central role state lawmakers play in ending federal prohibition, the topic is still highly debatable, requiring a cultural shift in ideology to perform. The likelihood of which occurring can neither be confirmed nor denied, despite an overwhelming majority of Democrats agreeing that abundant opportunities will be allotted to our nation for investing in the cannabis industry.