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Garbage from Washington’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers, landfills

SEATTLE — Washington’s penchant for getting high is trashing the place.

Plastic “doob tubes” and small Mylar bags used to package pot are moldering in gutters, bleaching out in landfills and bobbing in waterways.

Concentrated nutrients and fertilizers left over from cannabis growing operations are being dumped in public sewers and making their way past wastewater treatment plants into Puget Sound. And millions of pounds of weed harvest waste that could be composted are instead getting trucked to landfills.

This, in a part of the country that prides itself on being environmentally friendly.

“We’re seeing a lot of marijuana packaging in our public spaces,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington, which organizes litter cleanups. “Cannabis packaging is adding to our load, which then gets washed into our lakes and Puget Sound.”

It’s all an increasingly big challenge for the state, which collected $315 million in taxes on retail marijuana sales of $1.4 billion in fiscal 2017. But in some ways, the problems start small.

Pre-rolled joints, for example, spiked in popularity by 67 percent in just one year, according to BDS Analytics, a cannabis industry data firm. They are sold for as little as $2 and come in small plastic containers. But doob tubes usually cannot be recycled, even when made of recyclable plastic, because their small size means that they fall through the grates of the recycling machines.

“The historical cannabis community is environmentalist, but green rushers” — as some cannabis entrepreneurs are known — “aren’t, necessarily,” said Danielle Rosellison, president of the Cannabis Alliance, a nonprofit group of cannabis stakeholders dedicated to sustainability. Rosellison, who owns the pot farm Trail Blazin’ Productions in Bellingham, said she “looked high and low for a bag that had a shelf life and was recyclable — and nothing.”

Meanwhile, industrial composters say few of them have received significant business from Washington growers. “We haven’t had any producers sign on,” said Scott Deatherage, an operations manager for Barr-Tech, a large industrial composter in Eastern Washington. “We have the proper permits to accept the materials — we just haven’t had any.”

Every marijuana harvest generates plant matter that cannot be used commercially.

The state requires that landfill-bound harvest leftovers be ground up, mixed with other garbage, bagged and held for days to render it unusable by scavenging smokers. Some rural growers compost their plant waste on site, but Trail Blazin’ Productions is in an urban environment near a methadone clinic. On-site composting is not feasible.

“We keep our garbage in our facility until collection day so the addicts can’t get at it,” Rosellison said. “We grind it up, mix it 50 percent with stuff like our office garbage and pour bleach or contaminant in there, as well.”

When Rosellison first inquired with her local composter, “they didn’t want our waste,” she said. “To some of them, we are selling the devil’s lettuce.”

Initiative 502

Initiative 502 legalized marijuana for adults in Washington through a 2012 popular vote. To create an industry easily overseen by existing governmental structures, the initiative’s drafters modeled their regulation of cannabis on the tiered system used to monitor the manufacturing, distribution and sales of liquor.

The state achieves a safe cannabis supply chain by regulating the packaging, with strict controls on labeling, but otherwise has shown little interest in environmental sustainability. “Bottom line, our minimum requirement is meeting goals for public safety and avoiding contamination,” said Joanna Eide, the policy and rules coordinator for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

That means it is up to individual farmers to decide whether they can afford to go green. The Hollingsworth Cannabis Co. sells about 40 pounds of marijuana per month, whether as flower or oil. While it uses solar power and compost its plant waste on site, it cannot pay more for packaging. Consumers balk at paying the retail markup.

“I am sitting here looking at all the packaging that goes into weed. Put a pound of weed into a jar, break it down into one-gram units — that’s 454 single jars, tubes, bags,” co-owner Joy Hollingsworth said. “I don’t think there is any true way around this problem, the way the laws were produced in Washington” — specifying the weights in which marijuana can be sold.

Alex Cooley is co-founder of cannabis operation Solstice and founding president of the Cannabis Alliance. He said the sustainability focus of many cannabis companies has waned as competition has increased. “I’ve never sold so much cannabis for so little money,” he said. “As a result, we’re focused on pennies, and packaging is a big area that is easy to be cut.”

In Washington, there are more than twice as many producers and processors as retailers, leading to intense competition for shelf space in shops that display marijuana products in glass cases like jewelry.

Consequently, “the packaging is as important to consumers as the product itself,” said Jason McKee, general manager of Ganja Goddess, a retail pot shop in south Seattle.

Recycling issues

Therein lies the problem. Many states are studying Washington’s laws to create a safe supply chain. But they, like consumers, are not focused on the combined effect of sending hundreds of millions of plastic tubes and Mylar bags into landfills every year. What’s more, many consumers mistakenly try to recycle that packaging.

“We have all these materials coming online that are not recyclable, and they’re causing contamination in the recycling system,” Trim said. “People assume that they are recyclable and feel that they should be recyclable. But they are not.”

The only viable option, Cooley said, is to make sustainable, recyclable packaging a regulatory requirement for the industry. But some fear that legislating higher production costs could bankrupt cannabis farmers who have difficulty accessing capital.

Jason Lammers is general manager for, a division of McCallum Packaging. As chair of the Cannabis Alliance’s packaging committee, Lammers is working to develop biodegradable and recyclable options with color printing, clear plastics and bright labels. “The goal is to eliminate single-use plastic from our industry,” Lammers said, noting that hemp-based alternatives are not yet comparably priced.

Alli Kingfisher, Washington state’s lead recycling official, has not had time to consider the cannabis industry’s waste, in part because she is so busy dealing with a bigger problem. China no longer accepts most mixed paper and scrap plastic from the West, because of policies meant to preserve that country’s environment.

Down tumbled the price of paper, whose marketability as a recycled product has sustained the recycling industry for decades. Bales are piling up at many West Coast recycling facilities forced to send that carefully collected and sorted recycling to landfills. In those vast waste fields, decomposing garbage generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that heats the planet.

“It’s incredibly painful,” Kingfisher said, “especially for Washingtonians, who are passionate, avid and committed recyclers.”

From gum to ganja: William Wrigley Jr. investing in medical marijuana

The former head of the Wrigley gum empire is getting into the medical marijuana business.

William Wrigley Jr., once the president and CEO of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., has been named chairman of the board of directors at Surterra Wellness, a medical cannabis company with operations in Florida and Texas. Wrigley’s investment fund led a $65 million equity fundraising round that Surterra closed in July. The company has raised more than $100 million since 2015.

Wrigley first invested in Surterra in September. The pot industry is expanding around the country despite the federal government’s classification of marijuana as an illegal drug.

Wrigley, who in 2010 left the company founded by his great-grandfather, has a home in Florida, where voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical cannabis.

“I haven’t been this excited about a business in a very long time,” he said in a statement provided to the Tribune.

“This is about helping people,” he added. “It can give people a normal life, let them go to school and be a normal member of society. It is incredible to craft that opportunity in an industry that is starting from scratch.”

Wrigley took over his family’s multibillion-dollar confections company after his father died in 1999 and led it through acquisitions of brands such as Altoids and Life Savers. Candy-maker Mars acquired Wrigley in 2008 for $23 billion.

Wrigley’s involvement in the company shows marijuana is losing some of its stigma, said Surterra CEO Jake Bergmann. It’s no longer socially unacceptable to be involved in the industry, he said.

“It’s great to have verification from a well-known name brand and business leader that we are indeed a professional industry and the industry has grown up, so to speak,” he said.

Surterra plans to use the new funding to research the drug’s treatment of conditions including pain and anxiety.

Medical marijuana divides Mormons in Utah

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Brian Stoll faced a dilemma as his wedding day approached. For more than a year, he had been smoking marijuana to treat severe back pain, but to remain in good standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and get married in the temple, he had to stop using pot.

Since marijuana was illegal under Utah law, church leaders told him, it was forbidden. Stoll turned to an opioid painkiller and has continued using it since his marriage three years ago, despite unpleasant side effects and its inability to match the soothing qualities of marijuana.

“This was devastating … I had to choose between my health and my fiancee,” Stoll said recently. “It seemed asinine that if I lived in another state, I wouldn’t have to make such a difficult decision.”

Perhaps soon, Stoll said, that could all change for him and his fellow Mormons in Utah.

In November, voters here will consider a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana and possibly join 30 others states that allow its use.

While opponents, including a group of Utah doctors, have characterized Proposition 2 as a clear and dangerous step on the path toward legalizing recreational pot in the state, supporters say the initiative is a move of compassion.

Dozens of parents of children with severe illnesses, including epilepsy, who say they rely on marijuana for treatment, have become the public faces for the campaign. The initiative, supporters argue, is also a necessary response to the opioid epidemic. Every year between 2013 and 2016, roughly 600 Utahns have fatally overdosed on opioids, according to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We’re talking about medical marijuana, which science time and again has shown to have benefits for people in pain and suffering,” said DJ Schanz, a Mormon and the director of the campaign supporting the measure. “People are being prescribed pills but can’t use something natural.”

Among those gathering signatures to place the measure on the ballot was Stoll. The product of a devout Mormon home in the Salt Lake Valley, he started taking prescription opioids in 2012, after fracturing his back in a fall during his sophomore year at Brigham Young University.

The pills helped somewhat, but he hated the possibility of growing addicted. So at 24, Stoll bought a mini bong and some pot, and soon his life changed. The pain faded, and he could sit through church services and go on hikes. Fears of addiction no longer flooded his mind, and his mood improved.

But then came his engagement and his desire to be married in the temple. He now takes a tablet of Tramadol most mornings. The powerful opioid can cloud his mind and make him drowsy, but he said that without it, he couldn’t sit through the four-hour service at his Mormon meeting house.

One recent Sunday morning, Stoll gulped down the small, white pill as he rushed out the door and headed to his church.

Church leaders long remained silent on the marijuana initiative but eventually took a public stance, releasing a brief statement in April lauding a memo by the Utah Medical Association, a group of doctors opposed to the measure. The church praised the association for “cautioning that the proposed Utah marijuana initiative would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities.” A month later, church leaders put out a document citing legal concerns, including “significant challenges for law enforcement.”

According to a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, two-thirds of voters in Utah, where more than 60 percent of the population identifies as Mormon, support the medical marijuana proposal.

The leaders of the church, whose membership tops 16 million worldwide, “have enormous sway in Utah,” said Philip Barlow, a professor of Mormon history at Utah State University. And yet, he noted, “Mormon conclusions are not monolithic.”

“Among the majority in the state who identify as LDS, a fair portion of these, as with all religions, are not robust or active in practicing their faith,” Barlow said. “They simply identify as Mormon, as opposed to Baptist or Muslim.”

Social issues

The Mormon Church has a history of weighing in on social issues.

In 2008, church members helped bankroll a successful campaign in California for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state until it was struck down as unconstitutional. Last year in Utah, the church supported a successful effort by lawmakers to create the lowest blood-alcohol driving limit in the country — 0.05 percent — despite concerns from the state’s tourism industry.

While the church’s doctrine regarding health, referred to as the “Word of Wisdom,” does not directly address medical marijuana, it does ask members to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and “illegal drugs.” In recent years, some church members, including Stoll, have sought clarity on what classifies as an illegal drug, especially as more and more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The church declined to comment for this article.

Utah has a long history with pot. In the early 1900s, it was among the first states to ban cannabis, following the return of Mormon church members from missions in Mexico, where some historians have said they used pot, according to a reference handbook on marijuana by scholar David E. Newton.

During the state’s current battle, Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican and a member of the Mormon church, has voiced his reservations about Proposition 2.

“I am concerned about this initiative because of the lack of medical science on the safety, efficacy and proper dosage for compounds found in cannabis,” Herbert said in an email. Referring to the Food and Drug Administration, he added, “We should have clinical studies — just like we do for any other FDA-approved medicine. We need to isolate what helps and heals from what harms.”

Herbert said he has met with Utahns recovering from addiction who have told him “that marijuana was their gateway drug to other more dangerous and addictive drugs.”

“To a person,” Herbert said, “they have argued against the legalization of marijuana.”

For Stoll, who works in digital marketing in this suburb south of Salt Lake City with views of the towering Wasatch Range, his pain has propelled his activism.

Two years ago, he testified before lawmakers about a bill that would have legalized pot for medical purposes. The measure died in the Republican-controlled Legislature. But lawmakers have passed laws over the years that, among other things, allow oils and creams made from the nonpsychoactive component of cannabis.

Before Stoll, his wife and their infant daughter drove to the red-brick meeting house in West Jordan on a recent Sunday, he pulled out the green bong he’s kept in a cardboard box in his closet since his marriage in 2015.

He can’t help but think about how much pot helped him — about what his life would be like if he could give up the Tramadol.

But he fears losing his good standing within the church — a designation that allows him to attend temples, where Mormons marry, have baptisms and other major life ceremonies. At times, Stoll admits, he thinks about moving out of state to better treat his condition. Stoll said he knows Mormons in other states — where pot is legal — who use marijuana and are in good standing and have temple recommends with the church because sympathetic local church leaders have given their assent. He wants that for himself.

“This is something that if I drive east or west — to Colorado or Nevada — is 100 percent legal and helpful to my situation,” he said. “We’re not talking about recreational. This is simply for medical.”

His wife, Rachael, said her husband seemed healthier when he used cannabis.

“As a family, we need this to become law,” she said, holding their daughter, Everly. “We pray for this.”

But her stepfather, Hector Llamas, 63, disagrees, saying he foresees medical pot being sold on the black market.

“People buy it with a card and then turn around and sell it elsewhere is going to be a problem,” Llamas said as the family sat at the kitchen table before church.

Moments later, Stoll read a passage from the Book of Mormon:

“And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land — but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.”

This, he said, reminded him of his current situation.

“Marijuana,” he said, “is a gift from God.”

FBI data show Washington, Colorado closing more cases since legalization of marijuana

Police in Washington and Colorado appear to be closing more cases since the legalization of marijuana in both states, according to an analysis of FBI crime clearance data by researchers at Washington State University.

To do the study, the researchers examined monthly FBI crime data from 2010 to 2015. They performed a statistical analysis looking at the trends in clearances for different crimes before and after marijuana was legalized. Similar data isn’t available at the local level.

A clearance rate is the ratio of crimes ending with an arrest, or cases “closed,” with the total number of reported crimes recorded by police. The higher the rate, the more cases are cleared, and researchers and police agencies use the rate as a measure of performance.

There were no immediate changes in clearance rates after the laws passed, but Washington’s clearance rate for motor vehicle thefts jumped 5 percent.

Longer term, the trend in property crime clearance rates jumped in Colorado, then continued to climb, where Washington’s trend largely levels out to the prior trend over time.

Violent crime clearance rates were declining in both states before legalization. Post-legalization, that decline stabilized in Colorado and started to reverse itself in Washington. There’s no similar shift in the country as a whole.

The differences are more pronounced for specific crimes, with the most striking jumps in clearances for burglary and motor vehicle theft.

Furthermore, there appeared to be no decline in clearance rates for either states after legalization. David Makin, a professor at WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and one of the study’s authors, was quick to note that the relationship found in the research shouldn’t be interpreted as causal.

“It’s just saying there’s a relationship between legalization and what we see as visual and statistical improvements in clearances for a range of crime,” he said.

Figuring out what that jump in closed cases means, he said, will require more research.

Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said the department’s crime analysts looked at the research, and said the department doesn’t have the data to perform a similar analysis.

The analysts, as did WSU’s researchers, noted that it’s difficult to parse out the effects of staffing, policy or other internal factors and how they relate to clearance rates.

It’s one of several limitations the researchers noted for the study.

There’s little research on clearance rates as a function of law enforcement agency resources, or for clearance rates in nonlethal crimes. Furthermore, not all agencies report their clearance data to the FBI. Washington’s data were less complete than Colorado’s, covering about 60 percent of the state’s population to the Colorado data’s 80 percent.

Not every clearance reported in the data set used is connected with a case from that same month. But considering about 88 percent of clearances are within a month of a crime’s reporting, any error is likely small, they wrote.

It’s also possible there was some other shift in late 2012, when both states passed their legal marijuana laws. There appeared to have been no major public policy changes in the two states at the time, the researchers found, but some other combination of factors might explain changes in clearances.

Makin said the team plans to add more clearance data by working directly with agencies and increasing their time scales.

Also, they plan to check with other states that have legalized recreational marijuana since 2012.

“We might see that it didn’t have such a substantial impact. But that leads to more important research,” Makin said.

Any large public policy change has unintended, or unseen, consequences, he said, explaining that there’s a lot more work to be done before researchers, or policymakers, can responsibly make conclusions about legalization’s effects.

“Think about how long we have spent studying alcohol. We’re still studying it,” he said. “And yet we somehow think in a span of a few short years we can answer everything about the impact of marijuana on public safety and public health.”

Legalization north of the border big lure for marijuana companies

PORTLAND — Green Thumb Industries had a business plan, expertise and plenty of ambition to grow its marijuana business. What the Chicago-based company didn’t have was access to enough capital to make it all happen.

So last month, the company with $20 million in revenue from pot shops in seven states turned its gaze north and went public in Canada, where marijuana soon will be broadly legalized nationwide.

The Canadian Securities Exchange is quickly becoming the go-to place for U.S. cannabis companies orphaned by their own stock exchanges because the U.S. government still considers marijuana an illegal drug.

Green Thumb took over a publicly traded Canadian company, added an “Inc.” to its name and went public. The company raised $67 million U.S. dollars, money that will allow Green Thumb to get licenses in new states and open more retail stores across America.

“The phone rings more, we’re talking to more people, and business has expanded,” company founder Ben Kovler said. “We’re just excited about what’s happening.”

In recent months, prominent U.S. pot companies including MedMen, Liberty Health Care and Chalice Farms have listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, raising capital and drawing attention from wealthy investors in Asia, Europe and Australia who want to make a play in the cannabis industry but are spooked by the U.S. federal prohibition.

More lined up

Many more U.S. marijuana companies are lined up to join them as the U.S. industry quickly expands. Acreage Holdings, one of the United States’ largest vertically integrated cannabis companies, announced Monday it will list on the Canadian Securities Exchange this fall because it’s become the “exchange of choice for U.S. companies like ours.”

Two-thirds of U.S. states now allow medical marijuana, and nine of them and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational use. Last month, voters in Oklahoma approved medical marijuana, further evidence of the eroding opposition even in conservative states.

U.S. companies need quick access to money to snap up limited production and retail licenses so they can quickly establish themselves in new markets.

“If you don’t get in and get on, you’re out,” said William Simpson, founder of Chalice Farms, an Oregon company that was acquired last year by a publicly traded Canadian company called Golden Leaf Holdings. “Time is of the essence. You need money now, and you need it yesterday.”

Last week provided evidence of American investors’ willingness to jump into the marijuana market if given the chance. U.S. stock exchanges will not list companies that do business where marijuana is illegal, but several Canadian companies trade in the U.S. because their business is legal in the country where they are based.

Tilray Inc., a British Columbia-based medical marijuana company, became the first cannabis business to complete an initial public offering on a major U.S. stock exchange when it began trading on Nasdaq. It raised $153 million and the stock jumped nearly 33 percent on its first day of trading.

Chris Barry, a partner at the Dorsey and Whitney law firm in Seattle, handles marijuana investment deals and mergers in the U.S. and Canada. He noted that major institutional investors, including the century-old New York investment bank Cowen, were involved in Tilray’s IPO.

“The lesson is that the institutions will be there if you have a good business plan and your business is 100 percent legal in the jurisdiction you’re in,” he said.

That’s the problem in the U.S. While more states approve legal marijuana, the federal government — and especially U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — remain opposed, creating uncertainty for banks and investors.

“There’s pent-up demand all over the world, and all over in the U.S., and it’s all getting forced into Canada,” said Troy Dayton, chief executive of The Arcview Group, an Oakland, California-based cannabis investment and market research firm. “Every large investor and every large company is salivating over this market now, but they’re held back because of the uncertainty.”

Meantime, U.S. consumer spending on marijuana is exploding. It was $8.5 billion in 2017 — the year before California became the world’s largest legal marijuana market — and is projected to reach nearly $24 billion in the next four years, according to Arcview.

U.S. companies that list in Canada are seeing eyebrow-raising valuations because investors hungry to get a piece of the cannabis action have nowhere else to go, Dayton said.

Some of those companies will implode, but the ones that are well-positioned will be able to use the new cash flow to prepare to compete with the multinational alcohol and cigarette conglomerates positioning themselves to swoop in, he said.

“You look at California by itself, Florida by itself, they are both larger alone than the entire Canadian cannabis marketplace,” said Simpson, founder of Oregon’s Chalice Farms. “It is a massive opportunity.”

Chalice was acquired last year by Canadian-based Golden Leaf Holdings. Almost all of the company’s business remains in the American West, and it’s using the $19.5 million from its public listing to pursue cultivation deals in Nevada and California.

Simpson said it’s frustrating he couldn’t go public as an American company.

“The people have spoken. We voted for this,” Simpson said. “Allow the banks and the investors to get on board.”

Marijuana use by college students on the rise in Oregon, OSU study indicates

EUGENE, Ore. — Marijuana use by college students in Oregon has increased since it was legalized in 2015, more so than among college students in states where pot remains illegal, according to an Oregon State University study.

Building on a smaller study released last year, OSU researchers said college students at two large universities in the state are reporting more marijuana use since legalization. The increase includes more pot use by underage students. Researchers didn’t disclose the names of the two state schools.

“What’s happening in Oregon might be relevant to other states that have legalized marijuana or are considering doing so,” said David Kerr, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at OSU.

The legal age for marijuana use in Oregon is 21.

Around the country, marijuana use is on the rise among college students, according to the study, published this week in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. But the increase is higher in Oregon than in states where pot isn’t legal, according to OSU. The new study relies on a larger data set than last year’s study published in the journal Addiction.

“The results just seem to be more clear in that there were increases in the Oregon students,” Kerr said.

OSU researchers compared college student marijuana use data from the National College Health Assessment survey collected between 2008 and 2016. College students take the survey anonymously at universities and colleges around the country. The study focused on responses from undergraduates age 18 to 26 at two large public universities in Oregon and 123 schools in states where marijuana had not been legalized. None of the institutions was identified in the study.

In all, researchers evaluated about 280,000 surveys for the new study, according to OSU, compared to just under 11,000 from the same age group for the initial study. The previous study only had data from one university in Oregon and compared it to six other schools.

The new study indicated that, nationwide, marijuana use is more common among students who are white, male, living off campus or under age 21.

Kerr said the uptick in marijuana use by underage students “may be an unintended side effect of legalization.”

Harold Bae, co-author of the study and another assistant professor at OSU, said the latest study reflects immediate changes in marijuana use just after legalization.

“We recently received grant funding to examine longer term effects, including in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana,” he said.

IPO on Nasdaq big step for Canadian pot firm

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete an initial public offering on a major U.S. stock exchange, raising $153 million to expand its operations as Canada prepares to legalize the drug nationwide.

British Columbia-based Tilray Inc.’s shares began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Initially priced at $17, the stock quickly jumped, closing for the day at $22.55 – up about one-third.

Tilray isn’t the first pot company to trade on a major American stock exchange, but it is the first to do so with an IPO, a step that could boost credibility and confidence in the industry, said John Kagia, an analyst with the marijuana market research firm New Frontier Data.

“It’s another high-profile marker of how the cannabis industry is maturing and professionalizing,” he said.

Two other Canadian marijuana companies began trading on major U.S. exchanges earlier this year — Cronos Group on Nasdaq and Canopy Growth on the New York Stock Exchange. Those companies already were publicly traded in Canada.

Nine U.S states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and about two-thirds have legal medical marijuana. But American cannabis companies have been unable to list on major U.S. exchanges because of the drug’s illegal status under federal law. Instead, some have gone public in Canada by being acquired by companies there.

Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, and on Oct. 17, the country will become the first major industrialized nation to legalize its production and sale for recreational use. Uruguay is the only other country to do so.

No sales in U.S.

Tilray doesn’t do business in the U.S., but has been licensed to produce cannabis for medical use in Canada and Portugal. In documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it said it has sold marijuana to “tens of thousands of patients in 10 countries spanning five continents through our subsidiaries in Australia, Canada and Germany and through agreements with established pharmaceutical distributors.”

Chris Barry, a partner at the Dorsey and Whitney law firm in Seattle, handles marijuana investment deals and mergers in the U.S. and Canada. He noted that major institutional investors, including the century-old New York investment bank Cowen, were involved in Tilray’s IPO.

“You wouldn’t be able to do an offering of that size without institutional participation,” Barry said. “The lesson is that the institutions will be there if you have a good business plan and your business is 100 percent legal in the jurisdiction you’re in.”

Tilray plans to use the money to build additional marijuana growing and processing capacity in Ontario, and to repay Privateer Holdings, the Seattle-based private equity firm that controls it.

The IPO “signifies tremendous validation for Tilray as a company, but really for the entire sector,” Tilray Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy said in a phone interview Thursday. “It gives us access to large pools of capital, capital that feeds the global paradigm shift taking place.”

That said, analysts will be watching to see how the Canadian marijuana stocks perform in the U.S. Many are concerned that the companies may be overvalued amid excitement around what amounts to a newly legitimate industry with vast growth potential, Kagia said. Canada’s recreational marijuana market is expected to be worth between $5 billion and $9 billion.

“Right now a lot of investment has been highly speculative. Those valuations feel a little supercharged,” Kagia said. “We expect some kind of correction in the near future.”

Some fear changes to state laws as U.S. weighs pot medicine

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Some American parents who for years have used cannabis to treat severe forms of epilepsy in their children are feeling more cautious than celebratory as U.S. regulators near a decision on whether to approve the first drug derived from the marijuana plant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a decision by the end of the month on the drug Epidiolex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals. It’s a purified form of cannabidiol — a component of cannabis that doesn’t get users high — to treat Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes in kids. Both forms of epilepsy are rare.

Cannabidiol’s effect on a variety of health conditions is frequently touted, but there is still little evidence to back up advocates’ personal experiences. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has long categorized cannabis as a Schedule I drug, a category with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That strictly limits research on potential medical uses for cannabis or the chemicals in it, including cannabidiol, or CBD.

But for years, parents desperate to find anything to help their children have turned to the marijuana-based products made legal by a growing number of states.

Meagan Patrick is among the parents using CBD to treat symptoms in their children. She moved from Maine to Colorado in 2014 so she could legally get CBD for her now-5-year-old daughter, Addelyn, who was born with a brain malformation that causes seizures.

“My child was dying, and we needed to do something,” Patrick said.

As for the potential approval of a pharmaceutical based on CBD, she said fear is her first reaction.

“I want to make sure that her right to continue using what works for her is protected, first and foremost. That’s my job as her mom,” Patrick said.

Advocates like Patrick became particularly concerned when GW Pharmaceuticals’ U.S. commercial business, Greenwich Biosciences, began quietly lobbying to change states’ legal definition of marijuana, beginning in 2017 with proposals in Nebraska and South Dakota.

Some worried the company’s attempt to ensure its product could be legally prescribed and sold by pharmacies would have a side effect: curtailing medical marijuana programs already operating in more than two dozen states.

The proposals generally sought to remove CBD from states’ legal definition of marijuana, allowing it to be prescribed by doctors and supplied by pharmacies. But the change only applies to products that have FDA approval.

Neither Nebraska nor South Dakota allows medical use of marijuana, and activists accused the company of trying to shut down future access to products containing cannabidiol but lacking FDA approval.

Britain-based GW Pharmaceuticals never intended for the changes to affect other marijuana products, but they are necessary to allow Epidiolex to be sold in pharmacies if approved, spokesman Stephen Schultz said.

He would not discuss other places where the company will seek changes to state law. The Associated Press confirmed that lobbyists representing Greenwich Biosciences backed legislation in California and Colorado this year.

“As a company, we understand there’s a significant business building up,” Schultz said. “All we want to do is make sure our product is accessible.”

Industry lobbyists in those states said they take company officials at their word, but they still insisted on protective language ensuring that recreational or medical marijuana, cannabidiol, hemp and other products derived from cannabis plants won’t be affected by the changes sought by GW Pharmaceuticals.

Patrick Goggin, an attorney who focuses on industrial hemp issues in California, said the company would run into trouble if it tried to “lock up access” to marijuana-derived products beyond FDA-approved drugs.

“People need to have options and choices,” he said. “That’s the battle here.”

Legal experts say the changes are logical. Some states’ laws specifically prohibit any product derived from the marijuana plant from being sold in pharmacies. The FDA has approved synthetic versions of another cannabis ingredient for medical purposes but has never approved marijuana or hemp for any medical use.

A panel of FDA advisers in April unanimously recommended the agency approve Epidiolex for the treatment of severe seizures in children with epilepsy, conditions that are otherwise difficult to treat. It’s not clear why CBD reduces seizures in some patients, but the panel based its recommendation on three studies showing significant reduction in children with two forms of epilepsy.

Denver-based attorney Christian Sederberg, who worked on the GW Pharmaceuticals-backed legislation in Colorado on behalf of the marijuana industry, said all forms of marijuana can exist together.

“The future of the industry is showing itself here,” Sederberg said. “There’s going to be the pharmaceutical lane, the nutraceutical (food-as-medicine) lane, the adult-use lane. This shows how that’s all coming together.”

Alex and Jenny Inman said they won’t switch to Epidiolex if it becomes available, though their son Lukas has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Alex, an information technology professional, and Jenny, a preschool teacher, said it took some at-home experimentation to find the right combination of doctor-prescribed medication, CBD and THC — the component that gives marijuana users a high — that seemed to help Lukas with his seizures.

“What makes me a little bit nervous about this is that there’s sort of a psyche amongst patients that, ‘Here’s this pill, and this pill will solve things,’ right? It works differently for different people,” Alex Inman said.

The Inmans moved from Maryland to Colorado in 2015 after doctors recommended a second brain surgery for Lukas’ seizures. The couple and other parents and advocates for CBD said children respond differently to a variety of strains.

The Realm of Caring Foundation, an organization co-founded by Paige Figi, whose daughter Charlotte’s name is attached to the CBD oil Charlotte’s Web, said it maintains a registry of about 46,000 people worldwide who use CBD.

For Heather Jackson, who said her son Zaki, now 15, benefited from CBD and who co-founded the foundation, Epidiolex’s approval means insurers will begin paying for treatment with a cannabis-derived product.

“That might be a nice option for some families who, you know, really want to receive a prescription who are going to only listen to the person in the white coat,” Jackson said.

My First Indoor Grow: Complete, Total, Unmitigated Failure

One plant… I just wanted ONE PLANT to survive.

I just threw all four of my Blue Dream plants into the trash. I didn’t really plan on it, it just… happened.

Tonight, I tried one last thing to save the Blue Dream plants that I screwed up so badly a month ago. Because they grew so damned tall as a result of my error setting my grow light schedule properly, I had a serious problem on my hand. The plants were FAR too tall going into flowering. Because the plants were going to grow at least another several feet, I had a few different options on my hands.

I could trim them down yet again, but that would add a few weeks on to the grow as they recovered. I could trash them and start over, but I didn’t want to admit defeat so readily. Or, I could tie them down a bit and attempt to SCROG them. I decided to give that a shot.

Unfortunately, while gently bending down a large branch on one of the plants, it snapped. I threw the plant away, as I knew this was going to seriously screw up the growth. Then, I examined the three remaining plants. One of them stood out, looking considerably healthier than the other two, so I made a split-second decision. I decided to just focus on the healthiest plant, and try to make the best out of that one. I could dedicate the entire tent to making sure this ONE stupid plant finished healthy.

I tossed the other two plants and started training the healthy looking plant. Everything started out just fine. Then, one of the large branches on that plant snapped as well.

It was right about then that *I* also snapped.

Look forward to “My First Indoor Grow, v1.1” coming soon.

The post My First Indoor Grow: Complete, Total, Unmitigated Failure appeared first on Mrs. Nice Guy.

Sticky’s Pot Shop to close

The case for Sticky’s Pot Shop officially ended this week, but the Hazel Dell shop’s owner now wants to make one final appeal: to the voters.

On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court declined to hear a case led by Sticky’s that would have lifted the ban on recreational marijuana sales in unincorporated Clark County. The move affirms a decision from the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II, that upheld the ban.

After nearly four years in court, the move clears a path for Clark County to shut down Sticky’s. Bill Richardson, civil deputy prosecutor for the county, said the county is waiting for the proper paperwork to be filed at the appeals court before the closure can start.

“I would assume within a week’s time it should be out and ready to go,” he said.

Emerald Enterprises, which owns Sticky’s, first tried in 2014 to operate a marijuana shop in Hazel Dell. It has repeatedly appealed through the courts, but the state Supreme Court was its last chance — unless Clark County itself lifts its ban.

Washington voters legalized the sale of recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passage of Initiative 502. Whether local governments can continue to ban the sale in their jurisdictions was not made clear, but it had been the opinion of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and now the courts that it was within local officials’ power to impose bans.

“We have exhausted all possible appeals. While we are disappointed and disagree with the court’s decision not to hear our case, we will comply with the court order and are working with the county to close the store in an orderly manner,” wrote owner John Larson in a statement.

Still, with its final days looming, Sticky’s opened Thursday with red window paint advertising a steep clearance sale and a message for customers and passers-by to get active if they hope to see the ban lifted. Employees who checked IDs at the door also offered flyers urging people to register for the upcoming election. Two county council seats and the chair are up for re-election this November.

“We want to thank the people of Hazel Dell and Clark County for their support,” Larson’s statement said. “We ask them to contact the Clark County Council and tell them what they think. VOTE Nov. 6th.”

The County Council has considered lifting its ban on recreational marijuana businesses but didn’t move forward. Council Chair Marc Boldt had initially expressed some support for lifting the ban but reversed himself after hearing from law enforcement, addiction specialists and others who opposed the move.

“I’m happy for the settlement finally getting over,” he said, adding that the ruling is also a relief for other counties in Washington who have been uncertain how much authority they had in regulating cannabis business.

Big fines

Sticky’s isn’t quite out of court yet, either. Sticky’s technically incurred a fine $500 for every day that it opened its doors against county law, Richardson said. Since March 2016, that would amount to about $400,000 in fines. Sticky’s paid $205,000 of that last summer to reopen. Richardson said the county plans to pursue the remaining fines.

“We are going to go back and add up all these penalties for the number of days … and we’re going to ask the Superior Court to give us those penalties,” Richardson said.

According to the marijuana industry tracking website, Sticky’s has sold close to $2 million before taxes since March 2016.

Nick Sorenson, general manager, insisted that it’s the staff who will take the biggest hits. Sixteen workers are set to be out of a job, including 33-year-old Holly Matheney, who now wonders how she will make payments on a recently bought house.

“I will come back when we reopen — not if we reopen — but it doesn’t change the fact that I just bought a house (that costs) $1,800 a month,” she said.

Many customers on Thursday felt the same way. Kim Thornton, a La Center woman who works at a nearby gas station, said she plans to vote and write letters to county councilors. And Guy Platt, a 46-year-old Vancouver resident who works in Portland, said he just didn’t understand why the ban was still in place.

“It seems like they ought to be happy for the tax money. It’s not hurting anybody. I’ve been smoking for 30 years, and I’m a productive member of society. What’s the problem?”

Staff writer Jake Thomas contributed to this story.