The Dime: 5/22/20

By Sonia Case 

 

Following important cannabis news articles every day can be a real burn-out, we know. That’s why the Emerald rolls up a chronicle of the headiest news hits, and passes them to you at the end of each week. We Bring You: The Dime.


 

 

 

Los Angeles Explosion Highlights Dangers of Unregulated Black Market 

A fire broke out last Saturday, May 16th, at Smoke Tokes, a wholesale butane supplier in downtown L.A., effectively ending a lazy quarantine evening and sending over 200 firefighters into action. What seemed like a standard operation quickly turned into a violent explosion, sending a 30-foot-fireball into the air, igniting neighboring buildings and injuring a dozen firefighters. 

The illegal market continues to thrive in California as multiple jurisdictions limit the opportunities for commercial cannabis production and distribution. So-called ‘hash blasters’ purchase volatile gasses like butane and carbon dioxide, used to make cannabis extract products, from wholesalers like Smoke Tokes. 

Nate Bradley, head of the Cannabis Consumer Policy Council, indicates that, “the city needs to regulate all aspects of the industry or these kinds of things are going to keep happening.” For now, the city has launched an investigation into the cause of the fire and the hospital discharged most of the injured firefighters.

Massachusetts Recreational Users Rejoice! 

Good news if you’re a Bay Area local; recreational cannabis shops will be reopening for curbside pickup on May 25th. Gov. Charlie Baker did not grant recreational cannabis businesses “essential” status, resulting in a huge hit to revenue and major lay-offs. Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level so cannabis businesses are ineligible for federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program. Recreational shops have been closed since March 24th, while medical cannabis shops have remained open. Incidentally, Massachusetts also saw an 14% increase in certified patients between March and April. Looks like the state will be missing out on some future tax revenue. In any case, adult-users are advised to go out and support their local recreational cannabis shops! 

Louisiana’s Medical Cannabis Program Aims to Expand 

Do you know Rep. Larry Bagley, R-LA? He’s a republican from Louisiana and he wants to make medical cannabis more accessible in his state. On Friday, May 15th, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved both of his proposed bills. House Bill 819 will add nine more qualifying conditions for cannabis treatment and permit doctors to prescribe it for conditions they deem, “debilitating to an individual patient.” House Bill 792 will make it possible for medical cannabis dispensaries to deliver to their patients, particularly important in the age of COVID-19. The bills are now headed to the Senate for approval. If passed, the bills will contribute to the increased safety of Louisiana residents. In the words of Rep. Bagley, “I know we have a terrible addiction here in Louisiana with the opioid epidemic. Opioids can kill you. I don’t think anybody’s ever died from medical marijuana.”

Oklahoma Wants You to (Voluntarily) “Breathe Into This…” 

Drunk driving kills roughly 10,000 Americans every year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. What about driving under the influence of cannabis? With little data and imprecise testing, Oklahoma leaders are trying to get the full picture and keep drivers safe. Last week, the state legislature passed a bill allocating $300,000 for the implementation of a pilot program for a THC breathalyzer test. Right now, tests can only detect cannabis use using a blood, urine or hair sample. Positive results from these types of tests are often from usage days prior and are therefore useless in determining whether someone is driving under the influence of cannabis. Results from a THC breathalyzer will not be admissible in a court of law during the pilot program, which is expected to roll out sometime next year. 

Emerald contributor since March 2012

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