It’s a $130 Fine for 3 Grams, Under Hawaii’s Decrim Bill

Hawaii, the cradle of Maui Wowie, Kona Gold and other classic strains, may soon become the 23rd state (along with Washington D.C.) to decriminalize low-level possession of cannabis.

The decriminalization bill now sits on Gov. Ige’s desk. No word yet on whether he’ll sign it or veto.

Earlier this week, the state’s House and Senate passed a final vote on a measure that will decriminalize the possession of up to three grams of marijuana starting on Jan. 11, 2020.

The bill now moves to Hawaii Gov. David Ige for his signature or veto. Ige hasn’t signaled which way he’ll go. Cindy McMillan, Ige’s communications director, told Leafly that the bill “will undergo departmental and legal review before the governor will make a decision on it.”

If he vetoes the bill, Ige must notify the Legislature by June 24. He has until July 9 to sign the bill into law. After that date, the bill will become law without his signature.

What’s Decriminalized, Exactly?

Under current law, people in Hawaii found in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana can be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges. They could face 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

But under the new legislation a person found in possession of three grams of cannabis or less would receive a $130 fine, with no arrest or jail time. The measure would also expunge criminal records in the state for those who have been prosecuted for three grams or less.

‘Misunderstanding the Drug’

There was some opposition to the decriminalization measure at the state house in Honolulu.

State Rep. Sharon Har said the bill “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the drug.” She also expressed concerns that the decriminalization measure did not require minors to attend drug rehab programs-and that it didn’t take into account the different THC levels in different strains of marijuana.

But supporters of decriminalization in Hawaii point to the how the current laws on marijuana possession can have wide-ranging and negative impacts.

“In Hawaii we spend about $146 per day incarcerating people, often for substance abuse convictions,” State Rep. Chris Lee, who helped to introduce the bill, told Leafly

Having costly penalties and jail time for people possessing small amounts of cannabis, he added, “sends people further into poverty and further away from jobs and a productive future–for something which is clearly far less harmful than alcohol or any number of other things that are already legal.”

Mixed Emotions From Activists

Some supporters of the measure, while welcoming the change, also expressed doubts.

In a statement issued earlier this week Carl Bergquist, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the bill “marks a long overdue turning point for the Aloha State.”

But he added that his organization remains “concerned that the low threshold of three grams, with its relatively high fine, will foil the good intentions of the bill. There are sound reasons that all other states-including Alabama, Missouri and Texas which are currently contemplating decriminalization-have set their threshold at ten grams, or half an ounce, or higher.”

Gov. Ige Previously Voted in Favor

Bergquist noted that Gov. Ige has a voting record that might lean toward signing the bill–or at least not killing it with a veto. Ige voted for an unsuccessful decriminalization bill in 2013 while he was a state senator.

“We would urge the governor to sign this bill into law as soon as possible,” Bergquist said. “There’s no reason to delay this small reform for even a second, because people are being criminalized on a daily basis. We have hundreds of people being arrested each year for cannabis possession.”

Bergquist said about 200-plus bills are arriving on the governor’s desk this week as the annual legislative session winds down, so it might take some time before Gov. Ige actually gets to the decriminalization measure.

Is Adult-Use Legalization Next?

While decriminalization may not be a pathway to adult-use legalization, Rep. Lee believes such legalization is inevitable everywhere in the U.S.

“It’s just a matter of time, both at the federal level and with the states,” he said. “So I think that applies here in Hawaii just as it would in any other state.”

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The First Arkansas Medical Marijuana Dispensary Just Got Its License

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Officials have formally signed off on Arkansas’ first medical marijuana dispensary, about one week before cultivators expect to have product ready for sale.

Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said Friday that Hot Springs dispensary Doctor’s Orders RX has been officially awarded the state’s approval.

The dispensary had been inspected by Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates medical marijuana, and the fire marshal.

Hardin says Green Springs Medical, another Hot Springs dispensary, is scheduled for inspection May 9.

He says if they meet the qualifications they could receive approval before May 12, when cultivator BOLD Team expects to have their first harvest ready for sale. Two other cultivators expect to harvest by the summer.

Voters approved a medical marijuana amendment to the state’s constitution in November 2016.

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Allergies Buggin’ Out? Cannabis Can Help, or Hurt

It’s allergy season again, and it’s no fun at all. If you’ve got seasonal allergies, it’s a familiar story. The weather is finally nice enough to be outside, but you can’t enjoy it because you’re spending the whole time sneezing and looking through blurry, watery eyes!

If the standard decongestants and nose sprays haven’t worked for you yet, don’t lose hope. You might be surprised to find help in an unlikely place–the cannabis plant!

“I certainly have some people say that it helps their allergies.”

Dr. Frank Lucido, cannabis clinician, Berkeley, CA

That’s right–while cannabis can sometimes cause its own allergies, studies are showing that it can also help to curb the effects of allergic responses.

Learn the science and find out whether cannabis can help you defeat your seasonal allergies!

How Allergies Work

Allergies are the body’s way of protecting us from invaders, but allergic reactions often get triggered by harmless substances. When something like a piece of dust, mold, or pollen gets into your system, your body reacts, producing custom antibodies to attack the ‘invader’. These antibodies trigger chemicals like histamine which bring on our familiar allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itching, watery eyes, ear congestion, inflammation, wheezing, coughing, or even asthma.

This is no small problem. An estimated 40% of the world’s population has allergic responses to foreign proteins in their environment, and 10-30% are affected by allergic rhinitis–the allergic response in the nose that gets triggered by inhaling allergens.

Can Cannabis Help Reduce Allergies?

It’s clear allergies can be rough. So can cannabis help?

Some experts say “yes.” Cannabis may be able to help when it comes to reducing allergies, and some cannabis consumers have already noticed the connection.

“I certainly have some people say that it helps their allergies.” explains Dr. Frank Lucido, a cannabis clinician from Berkeley, CA. As a doctor who regularly interacts with cannabis patients, Dr. Lucido says that he rarely see patients who suffer from cannabis-related allergies, but does have some clients who report using cannabis eases their allergic reactions.

Still, other doctor’s say cannabis has potential but may not be all that effective in its current form.

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Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, instructor at Harvard Medical School and board member of the advocacy group Doctors For Cannabis Regulation, says that while he knows that some people use cannabis for allergies, he hasn’t come across that use in his patients.

Still he explains that, “some of the cannabinoids have a lot of anti inflammatory properties… so hypothetically, it could help.”

Whether you are dealing nasal inflammation, airway hyperreactivity, allergic asthma, or an immune overreaction, using anti inflammatory agents is usually helpful.

Still, Dr. Grinspoon cautions that just taking cannabis might not be as effective the standard over-the-counter allergy remedies.

“I don’t think cannabis, as we’re taking it now, is nearly as strong as, for example, Flonase.”

Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Massachusetts General Hospital

“I don’t think cannabis, as we’re taking it now, is nearly as strong as, for example, Flonase.” He explains, adding, “I don’t think it’s a great treatment per se for allergies. That isn’t to say it doesn’t help people. If it helps people, that’s great.”

But cannabis for allergies is not something he’s recommending to his patients.

Dr. Grinspoon says he could envision a nasal spray in the future made from concentrated anti-inflammatory cannabinoids and terpenes. With something more targeted at the source of the allergies, he says he could see cannabis, “having the hypothetical potential for being a very effective treatment in the future.”

Still, for those who say cannabis helps them when their allergies get out of control, it can make a difference. It can be amazing to notice the quick reduction in all that sneezing and itching.

So what does the scientific research have to say? Unfortunately, we don’t have enough controlled human studies to say definitively whether cannabis can help with your allergies. But, there are quite a few studies that support the idea that cannabis can play helpful role in reducing allergies. Here are the facts:

Cannabis Vs. Histamine

One of the main ways that cannabis can help with allergies is through reducing the level of histamine released into your system. Histamine, which is triggered by antibodies, brings on a whole host of allergic responses. So preventing or reducing histamine release can make a big difference. One way cannabis can do this is through reducing the antibodies that trigger histamine.

For example, A 2009 study found that cannabinoids impaired activation of mouse T-cells (a type of white blood cell). Since T-cell activation increases antibody responses, it leads to increased histamine and thus, increased allergic reactions. By impairing this activation, cannabinoids are able to reduce the antibody response and help lesson your allergy symptoms.

And it’s not just cannabinoids that can help. Terpenes play a role as well. In a 2014 study, researchers found that alpha-pinene, a common terpene in cannabis, may also be able to help reduce antibody levels. Mice who were treated with the terpene showed decreased clinical symptoms of allergies, like rubbing their nose, eyes, and ears. But they also had significantly lower levels of nasal immunoglobulin E, an important antibody that triggers histamine release.

A cell study from 2005 suggests cannabis can also prevent increased histamine responses through a different route. This study found that exposure to THC could suppress mast cell activation. Mast cells are found in connective tissue and their activation triggers the release of histamine.

So suppressing mast cell activation could prevent or reduce the severity of your allergies.

Cannabis Vs. Inflammation

When allergies hit, inflammation plays a big role, so one way that cannabis may be able to help reduce allergy symptoms is through preventing or reducing inflammation.

“Cannabis seems to inhibit the inflammatory pathway.” explains Dr. Sue Sisley, a cannabis researcher currently conducting controlled human studies on cannabis’ effects. “And that certainly does relate to allergies because if you can cut the inflammatory pathway, then it could certainly help the untreated allergies, all the classic symptoms, the itchy, runny nose, itchiness, hives, all those kinds of things.”

Still, Dr. Sisley cautions that this is still theoretical. “It makes sense. It’s just that I can’t back it up with science,” she explains. “It’s like most things in cannabis research, we have a mountain of anecdotal reports, but very little objective controlled data to back it up.”

Her study, which is investigating cannabis’ use for veterans with PTSD, will also take a closer look at cytokines–a marker for inflammation.

“We’re treating the veterans with all different varieties. So there’s a high-THC, a high-CBD, there’s a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. So we’ll be able to see how smoking these different varieties of flower affect the levels of their cytokines,” Dr. Sisley explains. “We’ve never really measured that, so in this study were drawing all these cytokines, and measuring their concentration.”

While the study isn’t designed to look at allergies, the research on cytokines may shed light on cannabis effects on inflammation – and this route towards easing allergic responses.

THC Vs. Allergic Skin Reactions

THC may also be able to help when it comes to allergic skin reactions. In a study from 2007, scientists looked at whether THC-based drugs could help reduce allergic responses in the skin. Researchers applied synthetic THC to the skin of mice with severe skin allergies and found that the skin cells of the treated mice had less cytokines–a chemical responsible for signaling immune cells to come to an irritated area. Researchers say this means cannabis could be helpful for reducing allergic reactions in skin.

CBD and THC Open Up Airways

In addition to reducing the symptoms of your runny nose and itchy skin, cannabis can also help with more severe allergy symptoms like asthma. Both THC and CBD have been shown to be effective bronchodilators in animal models–meaning that they are able to open up constricted airways. You can even find THC inhalers designed to help frequent asthma sufferers. Still, asthma can be a dangerous condition and needs to be treated with care. Make sure to talk to a doctor before making any changes to your asthma treatment plan.

While research on cannabis for allergies is still in an early phase, there is some evidence to support the idea that cannabis can help with your allergies. Whether it’s reducing your congestion and itching, calming your skin, or opening up your airways – cannabis may help.

But don’t take our word for it! Try it out the next time you get those springtime sniffles. You might be surprised at how much better you feel.

Rising Cases of Cannabis Allergy

While cannabis can definitely help ease allergy symptoms, like many pollen-rich plants it’s also been known to cause it’s own allergic responses. And as legal cannabis use increases, reports of cannabis allergies have increased as well, with commonly reported symptoms like increased congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, post-nasal drip, and itchy eyes or nose. In more rare cases, other symptoms may arise as well. Some folks complain about migraines when they smell cannabis. Some report skin rashes from contact with cannabis resin. In more severe cases, cannabis allergies can worsen asthma or even cause anaphylactic shock.

In addition, some researchers have begun to notice a trend of cross-reactivity with allergies to cannabis or hemp and certain other plants such as tobacco, natural latex, plant-food-derived alcoholic beverages, and tomatoes. This means that those allergic to cannabis are more likely to also be allergic to these other plants-derived substances. Research is still unclear whether halting cannabis use can reduce allergic responses to these other plants.

While these allergic responses are more commonly reported amongst cannabis users, they may also affect those who are exposed passively to cannabis in their home environment (such as those who live with a cannabis smoker, or live near a cannabis grow site) or those who are exposed in occupational settings.

Until federal prohibition’s end makes research easier, allergy sufferers will have to do the research, and experiment for themselves.

How does cannabis affect your allergies? Let the Leafly community know in the comments below!

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5 Cannabis Moms Who Changed the Game

Like every other mother on this list, Dr. Marsha Schuchard, PhD, never set out to become a cannabis activist, never mind one capable of changing the game. Her call to action came in the form of a birthday party that she and her husband hosted at their suburban Atlanta home in 1976. The guest of honor was their thirteen-year-old daughter, who’d lately been “moody” and “indifferent” towards her parents–both liberal-leaning English professors.

Other parents stepped forward, at great personal risk, to tell a different story about cannabis and children, one about profound healing.

Concerned by these recent behavioral changes and the raucous nature of the celebration, Marsha decided to monitor her daughter’s backyard birthday party from an upstairs bedroom window and noticed what looked like little fireflies occasionally flickering at the outskirts of the festivities. So when the last guest left, she went out on the lawn with a flashlight, where she quickly found empty beer cans, wine bottles, and a few stubbed out joints.

Dr. Schuchard didn’t worry too much about the underage drinking, because despite its obvious dangers, alcohol felt culturally familiar. But she most definitely freaked out about the pot-smoking. At the time, cannabis was going mainstream for the first time in America, certain states were starting to decriminalize, and many people believed it was about to be legal nationwide.

So Schuchard decided to spearhead a backlash.

She co-founded Families in Action, widely recognized as the country’s first “anti-drug” parents’ group. Before finally sending a fateful letter to Robert DuPont, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who at the time supported cannabis decriminalization and wanted to focus the majority of his resources on tackling heroin addiction.

Dupont read the letter skeptically, but agreed to meet in person with Families in Action, who in turn told him their horror stories of upper-middle-class white suburban adolescents experimenting with marijuana and back-talking their parents.

DuPont would soon after drop his support of decriminalization, in favor of serving as a field general and a profiteer in the war on cannabis. He also convinced Dr. Schuchard to write Parents, Peers, and Pot, an eighty-page booklet published by NIDA that was printed more than a million times. It portrayed cannabis as a deadly scourge pushed on the nation’s youth by an immoral drug culture hell bent on destroying society.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the presidency, and immediately enlisted parents’ groups across the nation as frontline soldiers in an all out assault on cannabis. “But what about the children?!” became such a constant rallying cry among these forces that it was a meme before the internet. And the tactic worked. After rising rapidly in the late 1970s, support for cannabis legalization in America stagnated throughout the 1980s.

So how did we ever turn the tide against these parents’ groups and their well-meaning but misguided efforts? Other parents stepped forward, at great personal risk, to tell a different story about cannabis and children, one about profound healing.

Here are the stories of five incredible mothers whose advocacy for their children’s right to access cannabis changed the game–for the better!

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a successful novelist. She’s also the mother of a severely autistic son, who underwent two major spinal-cord tumor surgeries as a toddler, plus countless other pharmaceutical, nutritional, and behavioral treatments.

Despite all this, he still suffered as many as 300 violent rages per day, as his mother explained in a 2009 essay titled “Why I Give My Nine-Year-Old Pot

“He would bang his head, scream for hours and literally eat his shirts. At dinnertime, he threw his plates so forcefully that there was food stuck on the ceiling. He would punch and scratch himself and others, such that people would look at the red streaks on our bodies and ask us, gingerly, if we had cats.”

When doctors suggested moving on to a prescription drug commonly known as a “chemical lobotomy,” Lee decided to take matters into her own hands instead. First, she signed up her son as the youngest ever medical cannabis patient in the state of Rhode Island, then she “got busy figuring out which type of marijuana would best work for him and how to get him to ingest it.”

After some trial and era, she found that properly dosed cannabis cookies worked like a “miracle.” So she put her writing talents to work on an essay that made waves and inspired many other parents to follow her example.

Paige Figi

When CNN aired its documentary Weed in 2013, the conversation around children and medical cannabis changed overnight. That’s because the global news network’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta not only admitted that he’d been all wrong about cannabis, he also introduced the world to Paige Figi and her daughter Charlotte.

To be clear, the Figi’s were not the first family to go public about the potential benefits of cannabis in treating serious pediatric ailments. They themselves actually heard about high-CBD cannabis as an option on a reality TV show called Weed Wars.

At the time Charlotte, though just six years old, had been through endless cycles of dangerous, potentially deadly pharmaceutical drugs and had suffered through a series of incredibly painful procedures. She was left unable to walk, talk, or eat.

Trying high-CBD cannabis oil changed Charlotte’s life (taking her down from 300 seizures per week to just two or three in a month). And her mother’s decision to go public in turn changed the world.

Shona Banda

In 2010, Shona Banda’s Crohn’s disease symptoms were so intense she needed a cane to walk. But then she tried cannabis, and like magic, so much of the pain and discomfort just melted away.

The authorities visited Banda’s home with a warrant where they found a couple of ounces of cannabis and cannabis oil. They took her son away.

Five years later, her fifth-grade son, who’d witnessed her transformation firsthand, spoke up in school, telling a “drug education” presenter that he was all wrong about marijuana because that’s what helps his mom not hurt all the time.

Soon after, the authorities visited Banda’s home with a warrant where they found a couple of ounces of cannabis and cannabis oil. They took her son away.

From that point on, she fought them tooth and nail, including pleading not guilty to all charges and filing a lawsuit against the school district, the police department, the state of Kansas, the governor, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families. As the story of her arrest spread, Banda’s public campaign to overturn this gross injustice became a rallying cry for parents nationwide who use cannabis medicinally but have no law to protect them.

Ultimately, Banda pled no-contest to one minor charge as part of a sentencing deal that included a year of “mail in” probation, allowing her to move to Washington state, where cannabis is legal.

Ann Lee

Ann Lee is a lifelong conservative and Texan, who has been a leader and activist in the Republican Party since 1970. In 1990, her 28-year-old son Richard Lee was injured in a workplace accident that left him a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. At the time, Anne Lee adamantly opposed cannabis, believing it to be a dangerous “gateway” drug, but when her son reported that it worked wonders in treating his severe nerve pain she began to do her own research, and “came to the conclusion that the plant was good medicine and ought to be legal.”

Richard Lee would go on to become one of the world’s leading medical cannabis activists and entrepreneurs, founding several businesses in Oakland including Oaksterdam University, and serving as the primary backer of a 2010 ballot initiative that aimed to legalize cannabis in California. Ann Lee has supported him fully, including by forming Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition in 2012, which has since grown into a leading conservative legalization advocacy group.

Ana Alvarez

Ever since 2013, when CNN’s Weed documentary began airing internationally, parents of children with severe seizure disorders from all over the world have been seeking access to medicinal cannabis. Many have had to break the law to do so.

In Peru, Ana Alvarez’s son Anthony had been suffering with epilepsy since he was three years old. By age sixteen, she says he was in a “psychiatric crisis.” He’d tried a litany of pharmaceuticals, some of which had worked for a little while, all of which came with serious side effects. By 2015 her son was taking sixteen different prescription drugs to treat his epilepsy, and another six to treat psychiatric problems.

She wondered if his painful life was worth living.

But after watching the CNN special, she scored some cannabis on the underground market and made a mate. When she gave it to her son, the results were profound, as she explained to High Times:

“Anthony’s eyes turned red and he slept and slept–almost 72 hours. His pulse and breathing became relaxed. He went two days without a fit for the first time in years. And I began investigating.”

After joining forces with other families facing the same circumstances, Alvarez organized a series of public marches and a vigil outside the Ministry of Health. She told the press her heartbreaking story. And then she co-founded a collective to cultivate cannabis for her son and other pediatric seizure patients in Peru.

The police raided while the collective’s first harvest was still drying. Alvarez found herself charged with crimes that could land her fifteen years in prison, but still didn’t back down. In time, the public outcry about her unjust punishment led to a successful push to pass a medical cannabis law in Peru. Alvarez was an honored guest for the signing ceremony at the presidential palace, even though she still faced charges.

Five months later, in April 2018, charges against Alvarez and her two co-defendants were formally dropped.

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