Obama administration bolsters new marijuana laws
New laws in Washington and Colorado allowed for the recreational use of marijuana, sparking an inevitable conflict with federal laws banning the controversial drug. But in an announcement today, the Department of Justice said that it will allow those laws to remain on the books.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll be turning a blind eye to the growing marijuana industry in the two states:
A department official stressed, however, that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that U.S. prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce the law against those who sell marijuana to minors and to criminal gangs that are involved in drug trafficking.
Photos: Elaine Thompson, Brennan Linsley / Associated Press
Setting the groundwork for profitable legalization
As more and more states alter their marijuana policies, from decriminalizing the possession within preset restrictions, allowing its use for medicinal purposes to outright legalization, entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing green.
Ken VandeVrede, chief operating officer at Terra Tech, a hydroponic equipment maker, is among those bracing for the flood gates to open:
"We can scale this thing very, very quickly. When hemp and cannabis become legal, we’re ready to rock and roll."
And things aren’t exactly quiet on the investment side of things. From Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of the Seattle private equity firm Privateer Holdings
"More and more people see the inevitability. They see that the Berlin Wall of cannabis prohibition is going to come down."
Read more, and learn about the possible involvement of Wall Street in the marijuana industry, here.
Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
On the frontier of medical pot to treat boy’s epilepsy: A U.S. crackdown on pot shops threatens a father’s search for cannabidiol in hopes of halting his son’s seizures from Dravet syndrome.
In the 14 months since, the little boy has been swallowing droppers full of a solution made mostly of cannabidiol, or CBD, the second most prominent of marijuana’s 100 or so cannabinoids. Unlike the dominant THC, cannabidiol is not psychoactive, so the sweet-tasting infusion Jayden takes four times a day doesn’t make him high.
Down from 22 prescription pills per day to four, he now eats solid food, responds to his father’s incessant requests for kisses and dances in his Modesto living room to the “Yo Gabba Gabba!” theme song. The frequency and intensity of his seizures have been greatly reduced.
But this summer, federal prosecutors moved to close Oakland’s Harborside Health Center — the nation’s largest dispensary and the place David has relied on most for help.
Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
In which Times critic Jonathan Gold gets invited to a nine-course marijuana-infused dinner.
You don’t just reserve a table. You fill out a questionnaire designed to weed out unsympathetic clients, so that it sometimes feels as if you are applying to a small liberal arts college rather than arranging to have dinner. My answer to the question “If you could fly/resurrect/bring any person you could to this dinner, who would you bring and why?” was 19th century gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, but I wondered whether I should have named somebody more contemporary, like Jeremy Lin or Waka Flocka Flame.
Photo: Marijuana leaves are laid out in preparation for one of several courses. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times
'Master growers' cultivating a higher grade of marijuana: A new breed of connoisseur is producing pot that is potent, tastes smooth and has a pleasing aroma — the kind of product now expected by ever-more discriminating consumers who frequent medical cannabis dispensaries.
Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
Testing pot in a legal vacuum: Few standards apply to quality of marijuana, because the federal government considers all use illegal.
His lab, called The Werc Shop, tests medical cannabis for levels of the psychoactive ingredient known as THC and a few dozen other compounds, as well as for contaminants like molds, bacteria and pesticides that marijuana advocates don’t much like to talk about. The strains that pass muster are labeled Certified Cannabaceuticals, a trademarked term.
Best quote: “Labs are popping up in people’s vans. People are doing color tests and all kinds of stuff that’s not very accurate… Unfortunately, that’s what an unregulated industry has to deal with.”
Photo: Mark Raber prepares marijuana samples to be analyzed at his brother’s lab, one of dozens to open in the last two years. But the labs are as unregulated and vulnerable to prosecution as dispensaries and growers. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
Prep work is a payday in the marijuana business: An international, countercultural labor force prepares pot on its path to market. Trimmers can make $200 a day plus lodging, sometimes “with a crazy guy in the middle of the woods with an AK-47.”
Photo: People from all over the world descend on Northern California to “trim” the marijuana crop. Trimmers can make $200 a day plus lodging. Credit: Joe Mozingo / Los Angeles Times
Remember that story we posted about how a Rand study showed that crime rose after hundreds of dispensaries were required to close last summer? Prepare to be disappointed. The think tank is retracting its report, saying researchers failed to realize that data used in the study did not include LAPD statistics. It plans to recalculate its analysis.
Photo credit: Los Angeles Times
Rand study finds less crime near pot dispensaries: Crimes such as assaults and thefts rose in areas of L.A. where the shops were forced to close last summer, researchers say. The city attorney’s office and a sheriff’s spokesman dispute the report’s conclusions.
For the record, Oct. 11: The headline on an article about a study of crime near marijuana dispensaries said that less crime was found near L.A. dispensaries. In fact, the study found that after hundreds of dispensaries were required to close last summer, crime increased nearby.
Update: The study’s been retracted.
Photo: An employee sorts merchandise at a Southern California medical marijuana dispensary. Credit: Los Angeles Times
Spread over a thousand acres of Humboldt County backcountry, Lost Paradise Land Corp. — also known as “Buddhaville” — was an off-the-grid homestead for the roughly 40 people who invested in it. The dream ended with the marijuana bust.
Photo: Robert “Buddha” Juan outside his home in Humboldt County in June 2010. Credit: Sam Quinones / Los Angeles Times
Stoned driving is uncharted territory: Experts say they don’t know what level of marijuana impairs a driver, but statistics show that fatal crashes involving drugged drivers have jumped. Law enforcement puts much of the blame on the growth of medical marijuana use.
Photo: Officers look for signs of drug impairment. Without a standard in most states for the amount of pot allowable in a driver’s system, police administer a lengthy 12-point examination. Credit: Joe McHugh / CHP
California marijuana law is still murky. Lawmakers are looking at a range of bills to expand, contract or change state marijuana laws. Legalization proponents say it reflects a political disconnect on an issue much of the public considers mainstream.
Photo credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
“The Netherlands plans to ban foreign visitors from pot shops in a move that opponents have labeled ‘tourism suicide,’” Mary Forgione reports.
Photo: A woman smokes a marijuana cigarette in an Amsterdam shop. Credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images