What You Need to Know About Senate Bill “Path to Marijuana Reform”

Senate Bill path to Marijuana reform

If you are a cannabis connoisseur who regularly visits our Mary Jane’s House of Grass dispensary, then you’ve probably heard about the newest pro cannabis bill that was introduced to the Senate on March 30. But, whether you’re hearing about “Path to Marijuana Reform” for the first time, or you just really want it to pass, here’s what you need to know.

Today, already 95% of Americans have some form of access to legal marijuana and more than 20% live in states that legally allow adults to consume cannabis. This group of three bills, introduced by Oregon politicians Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, aims to grant legal access to all Americans in cannabis approved states, introduce responsible federal regulation, and legitimize and protect marijuana businesses throughout the U.S.

Unfortunately, since cannabis is illegal under federal laws, consumers in compliance with legal state laws can still be arrested and charged with a federal crime; they can even face jail time.

Similarly, cannabis retailers, researchers, healthcare providers, producers, and more, who are adhering to their local state laws may face jail time, financial penalties, and asset forfeiture. Additionally, they also have a more difficult time (than federally approved businesses) receiving bank loans, accessing bank accounts, renting property, conducting scientific testing, and the challenges don’t stop there.

In spite of these current provocations, the cannabis industry is on the rise. It’s expected to provide 300,000 jobs by 2020 and grow to a $24 billion business by 2025, far surpassing 2016 totals of $7.2 billion. This, coupled with the dramatic benefits of cannabis and low-risks, especially when compared to substances like alcohol, is the driving force for the reformation.

So, here’s what’s currently included in the plan. The “Path to Marijuana Reform”, as outlined by Wyden and Blumenauer, is comprised of three separate bills introduced as a package. This is what they entail:

Small Business Tax Equity Act

This bill is focused to benefit the small businesses, like your local Mary Jane’s House of Grass dispensary. It would repeal the current tax penalties aimed directly at state-legal businesses that are forced to operate against direct approval by the federal government. It will also allow these owners to claim deductions and tax credits that are afforded to all other small businesses.

Responsibility Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act

For consumers and businesses alike, this potential law would remove any federal criminal penalties, including jail time, legally upholding the rights of citizens adhering to their respective state cannabis laws.

It would also remove current barriers faced by cannabis business owners. Under this law, they could just as easily open a bank account and secure advertising as any other legal business.

Additionally, it would ensure that those who consume marijuana are granted the same access to federal programs such as federal housing and student loans. It would also not deport or deny U.S. entry to legal immigrants who are found to consume cannabis and are complying with their state laws.

This potential law would also remove the burden of veterans legally acquiring medical marijuana in states where it is legal, and would similarly protect pro cannabis Native American tribes under both state and federal law.

Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act

This particular bill is focused on federal regulation. According to the proposal, “It would impose an excise tax on marijuana products similar to current federal excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco.” The rate would top out at 25% of the sale.

Additionally, it would be required for producers, importers, and wholesalers to receive permits from the Department of Treasury, similar to the permits required by each state.

As suspected, the bill suggests regulating marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol, which is already common practice (if not stricter) in states where medicinal and recreational marijuana is already legalized.

While the bill would federally uphold state rulings in regards to marijuana, at this time it would not ensure legalization across the U.S. as marijuana is regulated very differently across state lines. More specifically, it would still prohibit the sale or distribution in states where it’s illegal under their current law.

Support Behind the Bill

While states are beginning to legalize marijuana in various capacities, Oregon in particular wants to protect its growing industry and all parties involved, which, said Wyden, was why he presented the reform.

“This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard,” said Wyden in a press release.

“As more states follow Oregon’s leadership in legalization and regulating marijuana,” added Blumenauer, “too many people are trapped between federal and state laws. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need to change now – and this bill is the way to do it.”

It should be no surprise that Blumenauer is one of four founding members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus introduced February 2017. He was joined by Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher of California and Don Young of Alaska, as well as Democrat U.S. Representative Jared Polis of Colorado.

Polis has also been pushing for marijuana reform. He introduced a bill in 2015 that was the basis for the “Path to Marijuana Reform” and also introduced a watered-down bill in March 2017 that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate it like alcohol. And, he’s not the only one. U.S. Representatives Tom Garrett, a Virginia Republican, and Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaiian Democrat, also submitted legislation this year. “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” also requests to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act, placing the authority in state hands.

While proposal bills are nothing new, increased bipartisan support for the federal government to place marijuana regulation in state control is gaining overwhelming support. Ultimately, federal approval will ensure safe regulation and consumption by those living in pro cannabis states. And this is good for everyone involved.

Oregon is Proposing Cannabis Pesticide Changes

Oregon cannabis pesticide laws

All agricultural products are closely regulated no matter where you visit in the U.S. This is to ensure you consume fruits and vegetables that are grown with care and are safe to consume. For this reason, pesticide use is strictly controlled.

Similarly, pesticide use on cannabis is strictly controlled. You don’t want to inhale a joint or eat an edible that was sprayed with potentially harmful chemicals just like you don’t want to eat a tomato that was coated in those same pesticides. Ideally, everything you consume should safe, including your cannabis.

That’s why your Vancouver, Washington dispensary, including us at Mary Jane’s House of Grass, develops close relationships with its distributors. Not only do we want to guarantee you with the best cannabis that provides the high you are looking for, we want to assure our customers that no matter what they purchase, it was grown with care.

While we have established diligent standards on our own, states including Washington, California, and Oregon have also introduced laws to mitigate any harmful reactions and regulate cannabis through testing to confirm its safe for consumption.

However, just as all industries evolve, so does the cannabis industry, which is why Oregon is rethinking its current pesticide laws.

Just like tomatoes, the Oregon Department of Agriculture lists cannabis as an agricultural crop in terms of pesticide regulation, so the guidelines are similar, but evolving. With that in mind, the most recent iteration of approved pesticides was updated on April 26, 2017. While the list is not a recommendation or endorsement, it does distinguish between prohibited and condoned pesticides.

In addition to the changing pesticide list, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is also considering revisions to the cannabis testing rules. While some believe the change is spurred by high testing prices and long waits for results, it seems that high contamination is the main culprit advancing change, according to an article in the Oregon Cannabis Connection.

As it turns out, 10% of flower and upwards of 26% of cannabis concentrates fail the pesticide contamination test in Oregon, according to the OHA. However, failure rates were even higher in most labs when it comes to concentrates. The estimates are closer to 50 to 70%, but could have been considered preliminary tests and were therefore never reported to OHA.

It seems imprudent to limit testing, but more testing leads to more expenses for the consumer and, by law, the state is mandated to consider both consumer cost and public safety when installing rules. With that in mind, Andre Ourso, manager of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program added, “The agency will evaluate the public comment. If it comes out that this is not something the public wants, the agency won’t adopt the change.”

Unfortunately, it seems as if this new introduction for limited pesticide testing was a surprise to many when it was announced by OHA and OLCC on March 3.

According to a Rules Advisory Committee member, and head chemist at OG Analytics, Rodger Voelker, the pesticide changes were a surprise introduction. “We thought we were going to be talking about some of the problems concerning edibles and batch sizes and addressing a wider scope of issues,” he said.

The concern does not stop with him; during the testimony other state representatives discussed their concerns with limiting testing as well including Representative Carl Wilson who said, “I guess a question that I would have is: given the responsibility that we have here, how do we vouch for walking back on safety standards.”

And Representative Julie Fahey asked, “Right now there is a relatively high percentage of concentrates and extracts that are failing and yet we seem to have set up what seems to be a ‘safe harbor’ where if your usable marijuana is tested to use concentrates, we are rolling back the requirements therein allowing this random sampling.

However, others were more moderate, like Senior Policy Advisor for the Governor Jeff Rhoades. “We are still testing more than any other food safety arena and we want to maintain that level of public safely, that an important piece for us,” he said. “ But we also want to be mindful of our statutory obligations to make certain that we are not making this overly burdensome or that we’re costing Oregonians good jobs, as well.”

It’s definitely a topic with no clear answer, but change is coming either way. While the public comment period, which was between March 15 and April 30, has now ended, whatever new rules come into place will be implemented by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission by June 1, 2017.

Today, in Oregon, testing is around $350 to $400 at most labs, which includes all the required tests to-date. This is way up from previous rates due to the stringent ongoing standard changes, but, says the labs, is not a result of “price collusion”. In fact, it’s frustrating to lab owners, who are faced with backlash for rising costs, said Camille Holladay, owner of Synergistic Pesticide Lab in Portland.

“Beyond the standard costs of rent, insurance, labor, utilities, marketing that most businesses have, there are instrumentation/equipment purchase and ongoing costs, specialized labor costs, accreditation related costs, calibrations, consumables, solvents, chemicals, gases, hazardous waste costs – I could go on.”

While something needs to change to ensure fair pricing and improved safety, one thing is for sure: education on pesticide use is needed. Among the cannabis crops that failed, some failure was seen among allowable pesticides. This shows that approved cannabis pesticides are being used improperly. For this reason, Holladay is proposing an education campaign this spring to ensure growers know how to properly read pesticide labels and follow the directions as specified.

While this has been a hot topic in Oregon, it’s not distinctive to this state. Similar conversations are taking place in other states where cannabis is now legal. The industry is new and evolving and our Vancouver, Washington dispensary is rolling with the punches.

Regardless of the changes to come, we will continue to ensure, regardless of state regulations that when you purchase cannabis and its concentrates at Mary Jane’s House of Grass you are receiving the highest quality products.

Bong Bowls, What’s the Difference?

bong, glass, how to, shop, cannabis, vancouver

Bong Bowls: Rubber Grommet vs. Glass-on-Glass

There was a day when most people didn’t care about what type of bong bowl they had. But the days of the cannabis connoisseur are upon us. Consumers are becoming picky, and we at Mary Jane’s House of Grass believe that to be a good thing! We want you to be picky, because that means you’re getting the best, safest, and most effective cannabis experience possible. After all, cannabis is all about enjoying life and having a good time!

So what are the two categories of bong bowls? What are the differences between the two? And most importantly, why does it matter to you as the consumer?

The Two Types

The two main categories in bong bowls are rubber grommet (also called slide bowls) and glass-on-glass. Rubber grommets are exactly like they sound. They’ll usually have an o-ring around the base of the bowl, which fits into the down stem to form a seal between the bowl and the bong itself. A glass-on-glass bowl will have a frosted glass “joint” that fits snugly into the down stem, without the need for an o-ring or other seal. It’s just the glass of the bowl joining to the glass of the bong.

These two types are both effective in creating a seal between the bowl and the bong. However, they each have their own benefits and detriments. So let’s examine the differences, and determine which type would be the best fit for you!

Rubber Grommet

Rubber grommet bowls, also called slide bowls, are generally going to be less expensive than glass-on-glass. This is because they tend to be thinner, and they do not need to be exactly the right size, since their seal comes from the rubber grommet or o-ring. Using this type of bowl is makes it easier to slide out of the down stem, making for a quicker, easier clearing of the smoke from the chamber. Whereas a glass-on-glass bowl will use friction to keep it sealed and secure, a rubber grommet bowl does not create any friction. It just “slides”.

There are definite downsides to grommet bowls. In fact, for most connoisseurs, the downsides will outweigh the upsides. Most importantly, because there is no friction locking the bowl down in place, a fair amount of airflow gets through, which means your hits will not be as efficient or strong. It also means the bowl can fall out much easier. If you’re like us, you’ve had the occasional “butt bump” of the bong, and sent the bowl crashing to the ground, stamping your ticket back to Mary Jane’s for a new one. Second, grommet bongs are usually more difficult to clean. The reason is that the down stem is attached via the grommet. Many people struggle to take it out, and even end up breaking their bong in the process, sometimes causing injury from broken glass. Not fun when you’re trying to get high!

Glass-On-Glass

Glass-on-glass bowls are the more popular choice for the cannabis connoisseur, because they form a nearly perfect seal at the joint. Whereas grommets simply sit on top of their joint, glass-on-glass bowl joints “hug” each other, forming a seal from friction. This means that the bong will be airtight in all the right places, making it easier and much more efficient to take a hit. The friction seal also makes it much harder for the bowl to slip out accidentally.

Another nice thing about glass-on-glass bowls is that they are a more ubiquitous option on the cannabis market. They are very common, and come in standard sizes of 10mm, 14mm, and 19mm. You should be able to walk into any headshop on the planet and find dozens of options for each size. And the best part is that you’ll usually find the more extravagant, beautiful designs for glass-on-glass bowls. This is for two reasons which we’ve already mentioned. 1) Glass blowers want their product to be effective and efficient as well as beautiful, and 2) Glass blowers don’t want their bowls to easily fall out of their bong (think of how hard they worked on that piece!!!).

The biggest downside to a glass-on-glass bowl is, ironically, one of its biggest upsides. The fact that the joint creates a tight seal based on friction also means that it’s not as easily maneuverable, and can get stuck when you’re trying to pull it out. It can create a tug-o-war match with your bong, and end in you ripping the bowl out and sending your weed flying across the room!

The Verdict

There’s no perfect answer for which type of bowl to buy. Many times, it will depend on which bong you already own, or which bong catches your eye in the store. However, we recommend that you take the type of bowl into account when looking for a bong, and consider these pros and cons, and decide which one will work best for you. Most importantly, when you don’t know the answer, ask your friendly budtenders at Mary Jane’s House of Grass! We’re always looking to help. It’s what makes us smile! At the end of the day, though, we want you to walk out with something that makes you happy.

It’s your world. We’re just living in it!

-Budtender Matt

Is Cannabis Safe for Pets?

cannabis use safe for pets

We are big fans of pets over here at our House of Grass dispensary in Vancouver, WA. At Mary Jane’s we believe cannabis is for all, not just for all people but also for our beloved four-legged friends. Not only has cannabis become something with known benefits that we enjoy partaking in recreationally and medicinally, as well as recommending our favorite strains to everyone we know, it is also continually being used in new and unexpected ways.

 

More frequently customers, and even friends and family, are coming to us and asking, “Is cannabis safe for my pet?”

While you might conjure images of your higher-than-a-kite friend taking a huge hit and then blowing in into their dog’s face to see what would happen, this has become a more legitimate and complicated question. People aren’t exactly wondering what will happen if their pet gets high, they are looking for real solutions to help their pooch.

What they really want to know is, will cannabis relieve:

  •      My dog’s anxiety? He freaks out every time I leave the house.
  •      The immense pain my cat is experiencing as she battles arthritis.
  •      The same cancer symptoms we experience as humans faced by our favorite furry friends?

Today, more and more often, people are asking, “Will cannabis, used medicinally, benefit my pet in the same way it would benefit me?”

Here is what we know:

Is cannabis safe for pets?

Yes, but first of all, most people aren’t blowing smoke in their dog’s face. Rather, they are consuming cannabis in other forms. A common way is a specialized whole plant extract, or RSO. Importantly, RSO is often packed with CBDs, the substance that provides therapeutic effects. Just remember, a little goes a long way. We recommend a dose the size of a grain of rice.

Will my pet feel relief immediately?

Just like us, your pet may experience near immediate relief from pain and anxiety. However, some ailments may take more time to see results, like inflammation.

Will my pet get high?

CBDs, like in humans, do not result in the classically “high” effects. Instead, your pet will receive the medicinal benefits of cannabis, but won’t get high like we know it as this is the non-psychoactive substance in cannabis.

People have noticed that their pet gets drowsy, and on rare occasions excessive itchiness and mild vomiting have been reported. However, even these more mild symptoms are more the outlier than the rule.

With that said, while mild sleepiness is ok, if your dog experiences any negative reactions, immediately discontinue use.

Note: Since the legalization of cannabis, poison control centers are reporting an increase of calls asking what to do because their pet ate a their nugs. Cannabis, when dispensed correctly, is beneficial for your pets, but eating a bunch of your loose weed is not.

If your dog’s side effects include severe lethargy, dilated pupils, excessive drooling, being off balance, muscle twitching, excessive vomiting, involuntary urination, or even unconsciousness, immediately take your dog to the vet.

Why do people turn to cannabis?

While cancer and arthritis are the most common symptoms cannabis is used to treat, anxiety is high on the list of reasons people want to try this alternative option on their pets. Some breeds, and many mixed breeds – specifically rescue dogs – experience tremendous anxiety. This Velcro-dog will be totally chill when its owner is around, but completely freak, destroy the house, and not stop whining when left alone.

It’s a terrible position for a new dog owner to be in, especially for those who live in an apartment complex or any other close quarters where neighbors can hear the ruckus.

While there are dog anxiety vests, like the ThunderShirt, that are effective, but not enough, and medications prescribed by the vet that will make your dog so hazy they rebel the pill, cannabis has become a turn-to option.

It works on humans, so why not our canine buds?

Why didn’t my vet react positively to this question?

Each pet, like each person, is different, so there may be a specific reasons your vet does not want your animal to consume cannabis. However, a common reason vets ignore or deflate the topic is because cannabis is not legal in many places. It’s still illegal on a federal level, it’s illegal in most states at a recreational level, and it’s only medicinally recognized in about half of the states at this point.

If you think cannabis is right for your pet, do your own research and, if legal, experiment with a little to see how your pet reacts. If you like the effect, great! If not, or you think it unwise in your specific situation, we respect that opinion. You do you!

What’s the counter argument?

The American Veterinary Medical Association is staying away from support for the moment, while individual veterinarians are showing increasing support. With that said, even those who recognize that cannabis could benefit pets, want more scientific support.

In an AVMA blog post, one pro-cannabis vet, Dr. Douglas Kramer – specifically for the treatment of postoperative and chronic pain – said, “My position is the same as the AMA’s. We need to investigate marijuana further to determine whether the case reports I’m hearing are true or whether there’s a placebo effect at work. We also need to know what the risks are.”

Another more questioning vet, Dr. Dawn Boothe, followed with, “My gut reaction is they do probably provide some therapeutic effect benefit . . . but, I’m never going to say there’s enough benefit that marijuana should be given to pets. I’m saying there’s enough justification that we need to study it.”

So, what should I give my pet if I want to try cannabis?

There are numerous companies that produce cannabis products specifically for pets. Canna-Pet offers CBD-filled capsules for cats and dogs, as well as hemp doggy biscuits.

Similarly, Canna Companion also provides capsules that were developed by Washington State licensed veterinarians. These capsules are all natural, non-GMO, and do not contain wheat, corn, sugar, or soy.

Is cannabis right for your pet?