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  • 3 Sep 2019 3:57 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    HCC to offer classes to train people for cannabis economy

    Sept. 3, 2019 | G. Michael Dobbs |   news@thereminder.com

    HOLYOKE – With the cannabis industry now in its second phase – first medical dispensaries and now adult use recreational facilities – Holyoke Community College (HCC) is anticipating a demand for jobs in the cannabis industry and will start this fall four cannabis workforce training programs.

    The college has joined forces with the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) to create these programs. According to the college, the program has been approved by “the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission as a Social Equity Vendor, the partnership aims to prepare workers – particularly those in communities with high levels of poverty and unemployment – for employment opportunities in the newly legal and regulated cannabis market.”

    Jeff Hayden, HCC vice president of Business and Community Services, explained to Reminder Publishing that in Holyoke alone 500 new jobs are expected to be created by cannabis.

    He said the need for trained people is “a significant demand.”

    Hayden added, “It is a very strong and growing industry.” The job offerings are also very diverse, as the classes illustrate. There are classes in Cannabis Cultivation Assistant; Dispensary Patient Advocate/ Bud Tender; Extraction Technician Assistant and Cannabis Culinary Assistant & Infusion Specialist.

    The Cannabis Culinary Assistant program will be the first program to launch in fall 2019 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at the Cubit Building on Race Street. The programs will start in spring 2020.

    According to HCC, “The culinary program will consist of 96 hours of skills-based training that will cover job readiness, professional skills, industry background, and Massachusetts laws and regulations. Training will use hemp and other products that simulate cannabis, rather than cannabis itself. In addition, C3RN will provide mentored internships with local legal and operating cannabis dispensaries.”

    In a written statement Hayden said, “We will be training students in customer service, cultivation, dosing, cooking, and extraction methods and techniques, but when it is time for students to work with actual product, that will take place offsite through our partner C3RN and local, legal operating dispensaries and cannabis and hemp companies. As the education partner, we want to ensure that local residents and students have access to opportunities – including those in emerging industries such as cannabis and hemp – that lead to jobs.”

    Marion McNabb, chief executive officer of C3RN said, “We are thrilled to get started with HCC and cannabis industry partners to collaboratively develop high-quality skills-based workforce training programs that are rooted in evidence and cannabis industry best practices. The first culinary focused program will be offered this fall at the new HCC Culinary Arts Institute in Holyoke. We are utilizing best practices in adult workforce learning, entrepreneurship, and innovation to create training programs that are collaborative with industry partners and meet the needs of the industry and the learner.”

    To learn more go to www.cannacenterofexcellence.org/workforce.

    Share this:

    Original Article: https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/holyoke/hcc-to-offer-classes-to-train-people-for-cannabis-/

  • 22 Aug 2019 1:08 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    Seth Moulton to speak by video at Lynn cannabis conference
    By Colin A. Young State House News Service,August 22, 2019, 8:53 a.m.

    Congressman Seth Moulton, as he darts across the country running for president, will deliver a keynote address by video Thursday at a cannabis conference in Lynn, organizers said.

    Moulton, who has worked in Congress to make cannabis a more realistic treatment option for veterans, recorded the video message for the conference on innovations in cannabis cultivation, extraction, and ancillary services, hosted by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network and Alternative Treatment Veterans.

    Organizers said their event, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Lynn Museum, “is intended to enhance interaction by bringing professionals who represent a diversity of experience and approaches to sound models and applications on the businesses serving the current and future cannabis medical and adult-use market.”

    Last year, Moulton joined Republican US Representative Matt Gaetz, of Florida, to prepare three bills that seek to learn more about how veterans use cannabis, to prepare better medical marijuana education for providers and to protect the benefits of veterans who use marijuana.

    “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids, and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana — including our veterans,” Moulton said at the time.

    A 2011 study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that Veterans Health Administration patients were nearly twice as likely as the general population to die of an accidental opioid overdose, and recent survey data from the American Legion shows that veterans and their caregivers are interested in having medical marijuana as a treatment option.

    The American Legion reported in 2017 that 22 percent of veterans were using marijuana to treat a medical condition. Eighty-three percent of veteran households surveyed indicated that they think the federal government should legalize medical cannabis, and 82 percent said they want to have medical cannabis as a federally-legal treatment option.


  • 19 Aug 2019 1:31 PM | Marion (Administrator)
    Summer Catch Up With C3RN, VAH, And Joint Venture Co.

    By: Brit Smith, Blunt Talk, IHeart Radio August 19, 2019 

    BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — In this episode of Blunt Talk, host Brit Smith talks to the people behind the Cannabis Advancement Series Events in Massachusetts about their ongoing study on how veterans use marijuana.

    In the studio are Dr. Marion McNabb and Randy MacCaffrie of Cannabis Community Care Research network (C3RN), Stephen Mandile from Veterans Alternative Healing (VAH), and Ann Brum from Joint Venture Co.

    They discuss recent bipartisan legislation on legalization, the hurdles facing veterans who use medical marijuana, the new policy on hemp and CBD, and the anti-prohibitionist rallies on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse.

    We also get a preview of C3RN’s cannabis panel event, which Brit will be moderating at the Lynn Museum on 8/22.


  • 27 Jul 2019 7:10 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    Aging baby boomers becoming new face of cannabis

    By Susan Spencer

    Telegram & Gazette Staff

    Posted Jul 27, 2019 at 7:00 PM

    Seventy-two-year-old Nancy Young shakes almost incessantly, a cruel symptom of the Parkinson’s disease she’s borne for decades. The Otego, New York, resident, who lives much of the time in Sutton with her daughter, Michelle Edelstein, Sutton Senior Center director, has taken prescribed opioids OxyContin and Percocet for nearly 30 years. She said it “just barely covers the pain” of her condition.

    Around Christmastime last year, Ms. Young decided, on the recommendation of people she met in the supermarket and eventually, her doctor, to try marijuana to ease her symptoms.

    She didn’t roll a joint or buy a bong. Instead, she went with her daughter to a Canna Care Docs clinic in Worcester to receive a medical marijuana certification, registered with the state and purchased some edible marijuana products at the Curaleaf dispensary in Oxford.

    “I was looking for a way to walk and keep my feet under me, and to stop this infernal shaking,” Ms. Young said in an interview at the Sutton Senior Center.

    It took a bit of experimenting to find the right way to consume cannabis. First she tried a cannabis-infused chocolate bar.

    “I’m a chocaholic and I took the whole thing,” she said. “My head was going like nobody’s business.”

    Ms. Young learned the hard way about “start low, go slow” with marijuana edibles. And she found a different medium she much prefers: a tincture she drops under her tongue when the tremors get bad, especially in the evening.

    “It makes me relax, which in turn slows the shaking down and I can grab some sleep,” she said.

    “I’m grateful to see her not take those opioids so much,” Ms. Edelstein said. Noting her mother’s reduced pain and relief from other pharmaceutical side effects, she said, “I have to say, I’m kind of an advocate for it.”

    Ms. Young is one of the fastest-growing group of marijuana consumers: older adults.

    A recently released study out of New York University, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, looked at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of 70,000 Americans of all ages.

    Researchers found that in the 2015-2016 survey, 9% of adults ages 50 to 64, and 2.9% of those 65 or older, reported using marijuana in the past year.

    That prevalence is a 27% increase for 50- to 64-year-olds, and a 107% increase - essentially doubling - for those 65 or older since the 2012-2013 survey. Compared with the 2006-2007 survey, the increases are 100% for 50- to 64-year-olds and 625% for 65 or older.

    A Massachusetts survey by the state Department of Public Health, conducted in late 2017, before recreational marijuana stores were open, found that 18.7% of people in their 50s, or nearly one in five residents in that age group; 14.1% of people in their 60s; and 3.4% of residents age 70 or older reported using marijuana in the past month.

    “Grandma is certainly the new face of cannabis,” said Stephanie Gluchacki, president of clinical operations for Canna Care Docs, which has 11 medical offices in Massachusetts.

    She said about 24%, nearly one out of four, of their patients are ages 60 to 74, and another 10% are over 75.

    “It’s definitely not the demographic one would anticipate to see,” she said.

    Ann Brum, spokeswoman for MedWell Health & Wellness, another clinical group that certifies patients with qualifying conditions for medical marijuana eligibility, said baby boomers, roughly ages 55 to 73, and older patients are a growing and important part of the marijuana market.

    She highlighted a market trend report by BDS Analytics, which found that two out of three baby-boomer consumers use cannabis for medical or health reasons, often to replace prescription medication.

    “They’ve just had it with polypharma, med after med,” Ms. Brum said.

    Another recent survey by researchers at Worcester-based Cannabis Community Care and Research Network and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth reported that medical marijuana consumers ages 50 or older primarily use cannabis to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and arthritis.

    Approximately one in five survey respondents reported that cannabis helped them reduce use of opioids. Nearly a third reduced their use of other medications.

    Medical marijuana clinicians and dispensaries are targeting their outreach to tap into this growing demographic.

    MedWell, which has brick-and-mortar offices elsewhere in the state, offers local pop-up medical cannabis evaluation and certification clinics, such as one scheduled for Aug. 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Worcester.

    MedWell clinicians also go into assisted living and retirement communities, or will conduct home visits to evaluate and educate patients on medical cannabis, according to Ms. Brum.

    Canna Care Docs offers lunch and learn sessions at senior centers. A nurse practitioner discusses legal and health-related aspects of cannabis, but evaluations and certifications aren’t conducted as part of the seminars.

    Medical marijuana dispensaries are invited to participate in these educational sessions as well.

    “These Q&As allow for open conversation without judgment,” Ms. Gluchacki said.

    There are several common themes among seniors, according to Ms. Gluchacki. They’re seeking relief from chronic pain, especially arthritis; they’re looking to cannabis as a sleep aid; and they’re interested in cannabis’ role in curbing Alzheimer’s symptoms, for which there is some, but not rigorously tested, association, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Seniors are also cost-conscious and look to cannabis as a cheaper alternative to prescription medication, she said.

    Several in the marijuana industry said seniors were less likely to rely on the internet for information, preferring to have printed material to share with family and friends, and to rely on word-of-mouth.

    Ms. Edelstein arranged for a lunch and learn with Canna Care Docs and Curaleaf in May.

    Worried at first about what the town would think, she said, “I ran this program with a nervous stomach. And it was amazing.”

    Several seniors pursued medical marijuana after that presentation, but most were still reluctant to talk publicly about their use.

    “There’s a stigma that goes with it, and that’s a shame,” Ms. Edelstein said. “If it can help somebody, I say, shout it from the rooftops.”

    Northbridge Senior Center has scheduled a cannabis information session with Canna Care Docs for Sept. 4.

    Uxbridge Senior Center is exploring hosting an information session, according to Director Lisa Bernard.

    Last year, Worcester Senior Center hosted a presentation on medical marijuana by Dr. Alan Erlich of University of Massachusetts Medical School, according to Senior Center Director Amy Vogel Waters. In addition, there will be a presentation on the use of CBD oil at the Senior Center on Sept. 19 to be made by pharmacist Vrushank Patel, manager of Auburn Pharmacy & Home Health Care.

    Local retail pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries have taken notice of the older customers who come in.

    “It’s what we’re seeing,” said Caroline Frankel, owner of Caroline’s Cannabis in Uxbridge, a recreational marijuana retail store. “About 15% to 20% of our customers are over 65.”

    Older adults were looking for a healthier alternative to prescription medication, she said. “The biggest thing: Seniors can’t sleep.”

    Some seniors opt to buy recreational marijuana for health treatment rather than go through the expense and procedures for medical certification and registration with the state, Ms. Frankel said.

    She’s also seeing older “hard-core enthusiasts who are excited to have an outlet to purchase” marijuana legally.

    “In Worcester in particular, we’ve really got a good 50-plus demographic and we see that increasing,” said Matthew J. Huron, founder and CEO of Good Chemistry, which has a medical marijuana dispensary and adult-use retail store at 9 Harrison St.

    He said older customers often look for advice on products, which have proliferated from what was available 30 or 40 years ago. “They have more patience, are a little more eager to learn,” he said.

    Westword, a publication based in Denver, awarded Good Chemistry’s Colorado locations the “best dispensary to take your grandmother” in 2017. The award highlighted Good Chemistry’s easy-to-understand description of different cannabis strains’ effects.

    “We’re very proud of that,” said Mr. Huron.

    Kate Steinberg, program manager of Curaleaf Cares, said outreach in senior centers was often the first place the company connects with many seniors.

    When they come to a dispensary, located in Oxford and Hanover, they can have an extensive personal consultation and are sent home with a few products to try.

    “We love that experience and knowledge we gain to maybe help other seniors,” Ms. Steinberg said. “They never have to go home, look in their bag and say, ‘Now what?’ ”

    “Education is a hallmark of our company. People are overwhelmed by the number of different products,” said Katrina Yolen, Curaleaf’s senior vice president of marketing.

    Tyler Coste, dispensary manager at The Botanist, a medical marijuana dispensary at 65 Pullman St., Worcester, said 35% of The Botanist’s customers are 65 or older.

    He said tinctures, which are often heavily based on the nonpsychoactive CBD component of cannabis, were one of the largest-selling products for older adults. Transdermal patches and roll-on ointments were also popular.

    “Easily the thing we hear the most is, ‘I don’t want to get high,’ ” said Ross Riley, outreach manager at The Botanist.

    The Botanist started holding outreach seminars in Sterling, according to Mr. Riley, first for the general population and then one for seniors.

    Word-of-mouth spread. “The more we’ve seen, they’ve told their friends, they go get (medical marijuana) cards,” Mr. Coste said. “That blows me away. That’s such a rewarding feeling.”

    The need for information about today’s wide array of cannabis for the Woodstock generation was a theme cited across the industry.

    A magazine publisher in Western Massachusetts recently launched Different Leaf, a print-only quarterly billed as a journal of cannabis culture, targeted to readers 45 and older.

    “There are 150 to 200 products in every dispensary. It’s going to be overwhelming,” said Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Michael Kusek of Northampton, who previously ran an arts and culture magazine.

    Mr. Kusek, 50, said after talking to people in the industry, he learned, “the overwhelming amount of their customer base were 50-plus.” But existing marijuana media was either business-to-business or targeted to young adults.

    “My goal is to be a trusted source about cannabis,” he said.

    Not everyone is pleased with the growing interest in marijuana among older adults.

    “I have tremendous respect for the brain. I’m not in favor of people putting things in their body that potentially adversely affect the brain,” said Dr. Anthony J. Rothschild, professor of psychiatry at UMass Medical School.

    Dr. Rothschild was one of more than 40 pediatricians, mental health and addiction clinicians and scientists in Massachusetts who signed in May a statement of concern about marijuana policy in Massachusetts.

    He said the impact of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, on older adults is just not known. Some studies have shown harmful effects, including cognitive problems and decreased functioning on neuropsychological testing.

    “Older people’s brains are more sensitive to things,” he said. “As you age, there’s loss of brain tissue. We don’t have enough data to say if it (marijuana) is bad or good.”

    He said more research needed to be done, particularly on conditions such as Alzheimer’s, for which data are conflicting.

    Dr. Rothschild was also concerned about people driving under the influence of marijuana and about self-medicating, similar to alcohol use, instead of seeking a doctor’s advice for conditions such as depression and sleep problems.

    There’s big money in marijuana too, in industry profits as well as in tax revenue for the state and municipalities. “That’s something about this that makes me nervous,” he said.

    “What bothers me,” Dr. Rothschild said, “is the enthusiasm by which a large part of the population is embracing this.”

    Original article here: https://www.telegram.com/news/20190727/aging-baby-boomers-becoming-new-face-of-cannabis

  • 19 Jul 2019 12:36 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    From Reducing Stigma to Driving Justice: Notes on the Future of Cannabusiness

    By Rowan Walrath - July 19, 2019

    What is the future of the budding cannabis industry in Massachusetts?

    That was the topic of BostInno’s State of Innovation: The Future of Cannabis meetup last night. The event was presented by General Assembly at its 13th-floor space at 125 Summer St. The panel featured Beth Waterfall, executive director of ELEVATE Northeast; Dr. Marion McNabb, co-founder and CEO of C3RN; and Adam Fine, a partner at Vicente Sederberg. Over the course of the evening, these experts explored topics like reducing the stigma around marijuana consumption, how small businesses can break into an industry already fraught with consolidation, and some of the Bay State’s biggest hurdles for the cannabis business.

    Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

    Know the Regulations Before You Go In

    Massachusetts’ marijuana regulations are infamously unstable (we recently put together a timeline of the changing rules and policies). If you’re planning on going into the cannabis industry, make sure you know your stuff. Ancillary businesses face less scrutiny than those that handle the plant directly, but the law applies to all.

    Fine noted that if you can, you should hire a consultant to make sure you’re in line.



    Adam Fine, Managing Partner @VScannabislaw: “There’s a lot of regulatory risk at the state level and there’s a lot of businesses that fail.”

    7:17 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    Beth Waterfall, executive director, @ELEVATE_NE: “We all have a repsponsibilty to follow the regulations ... We’re all under a microscope.”

    7:26 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    Srividya K


    Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw says it is not too late for businesses to step in, and not be scared of regulations. “Regulators will regulate.” #SOIBOS

    7:18 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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    The Time to Destigmatize is Now

    As Waterfall put it, the cannabis industry is working against a multi-decade marketing campaign that effectively stigmatized the use of marijuana, ultimately fueling the War on Drugs. It’s imperative for professionals in this space to destigmatize—in their businesses, at home, and at events like this.

    Srividya K


    “Our job is to destigmatize,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

    7:23 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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    Dr. Marion McNabb, co-founder and CEO, @C3ResearchNet: “The cannabis industry has HR, legal support, data, analytics ... I think there’s a lot of opportunities ... I think our job is to really destigmatize.”

    7:23 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    Bake Restorative Justice Principles Into Your Business

    As opportunity in cannabis-related business and innovation opens up, Massachusetts stakeholders have a responsibility to make space for people of color who were hit disproportionately hard by enforcement and policing when recreational marijuana was illegal (as recently, you’ll recall, as 2016).



    Waterfall: “As we’re sitting here tonight talking about making money and starting businesses, there are still people in jail for cannabis.” She says it’s our responsibility to change that.

    7:31 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    One way the state is working to fix that imbalance going in is through social equity programs. Business leaders can and should take advantage of that framework. Plus, be thoughtful when it comes to the people you hire and the vendors you work with. How can you support your local community?

    Srividya K


    · Jul 18, 2019

    “Each company is required to submit a plan to create a positive impact plan for these communities. Not just throw money at the problem,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

    Srividya K


    “It is really remarkable, I have always commented at how amazing our social equity program is. Everyone hired lobbyists but the most effective lobbyists were grassroots organizations. We have the most comprehensive process in Mass.,” says Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw #SOIBOS

    7:35 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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    Waterfall: “From hiring to the vendors you use to the accountant you use, acknowledge the opportunity to do social justice ... Who can you loop in who’s outside of your payroll?”

    7:35 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    McNabb: “If you’re a dispensary in X town, are you supporting your neighboring business and rising the community?”

    7:36 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    There’s Plenty of Opportunity for Small Businesses to Get a Foothold

    In the face of major consolidation moves—think Surterra Wellness’s acquisition of New England Treatment Access and the planned merger of Curaleaf Holdings with Cura Partners—there’s still plenty of space for the little guys. In fact, the prevalence of big cannabusiness can create buyout opportunities for entrepreneurs who want an exit strategy for their business.



    Fine: “I think there’s room for everybody. It’s absolutely not too late for small businesses ... if you can deal with total regulatory pain and stress, then you can make it in Mass.”

    7:41 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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    Srividya K


    · Jul 18, 2019

    Replying to @srvdyak

    The cannabis industry is so new but we have already seen some big business moves, and looming threat of consolidation, where does that leave the middle guys, asks @rowanwalrath #SOIBOS

    Srividya K


    “There is a lot of false narrative about this: Companies raise money in Canada and bought small companies. I have seen some big businesses who don’t do that well. Then you have a small operator who is more precise. There is room for everyone” -Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw #SOIBOS

    7:42 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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    Srividya K


    · Jul 18, 2019

    Replying to @srvdyak

    “Think of this business as you would about any other,” says @BethWaterfall of Elevate NE #SOIBOS

    Srividya K


    “Power and strength of small businesses should help this,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

    7:46 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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    Thank you to all who came out last night. Join us in August for BostonFest, our summer pillar event and celebration of the city’s best cultures in the innovation class. Before the party, make sure to vote in our Coolest Companies Competition. Reader’s choice voting closes July 25.

    Original article: https://www.americaninno.com/boston/bostinnos-state-of-innovation/from-reducing-stigma-to-driving-justice-notes-on-the-future-of-cannabusiness/?fbclid=IwAR3TnGG1129MZ18A2eR_e5vXqX3ehPf2-mvLiv2WuEYgg-VLfxqoCvCKiMc

  • 18 Jul 2019 3:41 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    Cannabis commission taps six groups to boost social equity efforts

    By Colin A. Young State House News Service,July 18, 2019, 11:28 a.m.

    As it continues to build out the nation’s first statewide cannabis social equity program, the Cannabis Control Commission on Wednesday selected six organizations to provide technical and financial assistance to prospective business owners from communities disproportionately harmed by past drug laws.

    From 15 applications it received, the CCC selected six groups to negotiate a formal work agreement: Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, a marijuana advocacy, research, and education group; Greenlight Business Solutions, which helps clients navigate cannabis regulation; Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, a group that works to educate and advocate for consumers; Point7, a woman-owned cannabis business management consulting firm; Four Trees Management, a cultivation consulting firm; and Marketing Edge Consulting Group, which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs.

    “With the help of these vendors, our Social Equity Program, also the nation’s first to be implemented statewide, will ensure our legal marketplace is accessible to impacted individuals and offer the resources participants need to overcome barriers to entry,” Commissioner Shaleen Title said.

    The program is a central component to the state’s 2017 marijuana law. The law mandates that the CCC adopt “procedures and policies to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.”

    Original article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/marijuana/2019/07/18/cannabis-commission-taps-six-groups-boost-social-equity-efforts/AnKNafJyemxeKslZk8dmKN/story.html

  • 17 Jul 2019 11:16 AM | Marion (Administrator)
    Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Program Moves Forward with Six Selected Vendors


    CONTACT: Cedric Sinclair, Director of Communications, 857-268-6454; Maryalice Gill, Press Secretary, 857-292-4891; cnbpress@mass.gov

    July 17, 2019

    BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) on Wednesday approved six qualified entities to move forward with the state’s procurement process for vendors that will provide training and technical assistance as part of the nation’s first statewide Social Equity Program.

    The Commission’s program is designed to create sustainable pathways into the legal, adult-use industry for Massachusetts residents who have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and face barriers to entering the market. After introducing the program last summer, the Commission began accepting applications from individuals who seek professional instruction and mentoring for entering the regulated adult-use cannabis industry and then issued a Request for Responses to contract with vendors.

    “Massachusetts is a leader nationally when it comes to our legislative mandate to include in the regulated cannabis industry the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” said Commissioner Shaleen Title. “With the help of these vendors, our Social Equity Program, also the nation’s first to be implemented statewide, will ensure our legal marketplace is accessible to impacted individuals and offer the resources participants need to overcome barriers to entry.”

    Out of fifteen proposals received, the Commission has approved the following vendors:

    Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN): a provider of advocacy, research, and education services related to cannabis, which intends to partner with Holyoke Community College for its contract;

    Greenlight Business Solutions, LLC: a provider of client services for navigating the cannabis industry landscape;

    Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC): a nonprofit that seeks to ensure the safety of recreational marijuana consumers by bridging the gaps between communities, local legislators, and Massachusetts businesses;

    Point7: a woman-owned, tenured, global management consulting firm dedicated to the commercial cannabis industry;

    Four Trees Management, LLC: a cultivation consulting company comprised of industry professionals focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship; and

    Marketing Edge Consulting Group: a certified, woman-owned business that collaborates with public and private organizations to help small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.

    To identify these businesses and organizations, Commission staff reviewed submissions over several phases and scored them based on curriculum framework; experience working with minorities, veterans, women, farmers, or other disproportionately impacted communities; experience developing digital content; a timeline for deliverables; and budget. The selected entities must now reach a negotiated Statement of Work with the Commission and enter into a Master Agreement prior to starting instruction.

    Since the Commission opened the application for prospective Social Equity Program participants in December, more than 100 individuals have been accepted after demonstrating they meet at least one of the following criteria:

    Residency in a Massachusetts area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the past 10 years (income may not exceed 400% of federal poverty level);

    A past drug conviction and residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months; or

    Marriage to or child of a person with a drug conviction, and residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months.

    The Commission held introductory seminars with two cohorts of Social Equity Program participants last month in Worcester and Boston, and will host additional sessions this summer. In the coming months, qualified vendors will commence formal training based on four teaching tracks that are designed to meet trainees’ diverse needs and career goals:

    Entrepreneurs: those who seek marijuana establishment licensure and ownership;

    Core: those who have existing industry experience (either two to six years, or seven or more years) and are interested in managerial and executive level careers;

    Re-Entry and Entry Level: those reentering society and those with entry level industry experience (up to two years) interested in entry level careers; and

    Ancillary: those with existing skills that are directly transferable to supporting cannabis businesses.

    Participants will develop competency in areas such as accounting and sales forecasting, business plan creation, farming best practices, identifying funds and raising capital, navigating municipal processes, tax prediction and legal compliance, and more.

    State law requires the Commission to adopt procedures and policies to encourage full participation by disproportionately impacted individuals and to positively affect their communities. Additionally, a legislative mandate requires a study of minorities, women, and veteran business enterprises in the cannabis industry. If obstacles are identified, the Commission is instructed to create training programs designed to achieve their meaningful involvement.

    To learn more about the Social Equity Program, visit MassCannabisControl.com, email CannabisEquity@Mass.Gov, or follow the Commission on Facebook and Twitter.


  • 28 Jun 2019 2:16 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    Researchers Seek Veterans for National Survey on Marijuana

    Toni Denis ∙ June 28, 2019 2:16 pm PDT

    Researchers hope a national cannabis survey for U.S. military veterans will help educate elected officials, government department heads, and the public about the health benefits of cannabis use by those who served in the military.

    In March 2019, a coalition of academic, medical and veterans' groups launched the Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study to understand veterans health status, treatments, medications, cannabis use, access to insurance, and quality of life.

    Preliminary data from the anonymous study, which includes no identifying details about respondents, already has shown that veterans are reducing the need for over-the-counter prescriptions for pain and stomach ailments, and reducing or eliminating the use of opioids for chronic pain. ,

    Though veterans' groups nationwide have pushed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to employ medical cannabis treatments, particularly for post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), the agency follows federal law, which considers cannabis an illegal narcotic with no medical value.

    Researchers are seeking to expand their participant pool nationwide to collect enough data to convince officials that cannabis has medicinal value. To participate in the study, click on this link.

    A series of public forums, the Cannabis Advancement Series, is traveling throughout Massachusetts to present findings and related study information from experts such as Dr. Sue Sisley, who recently completed the first federally funded clinical trial for cannabis as a PTSD treatment for veterans.

    Lead researcher Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO of the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN), detailed the preliminary results and ultimate goals of the survey in a recent interview.

    Q: Tell me about your group, Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) and the cannabis survey you're conducting about veterans related to harm reduction in the time of the opioid epidemic. What are the most important results you've found so far?

    A: Key points that we found surprising are that 67% in the study from March 3 until now--141 veterans in Massachusetts--used cannabis to reduce the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications. That research gained more support when Dr. Dustin Sulak from Maine presented several other studies that found similar trends of patients, veterans, and consumers using cannabis to reduce unwanted prescription medications. He currently runs Integr8 Clinics, is a doctor of osteopathy and specializes in helping patients get off of pain medicines. He's published peer-reviewed medical literature on cannabis.

    Q: What other significant results have you discovered in the study of veterans?

    A: We asked veterans now that you are doing this yourself, are you making your VA healthcare provider aware? Sixty percent say their doctors are aware but don't know if they approve it. (Doctors) have their hands tied by the Veterans Administration as far as talking about cannabis. We're leaving our veterans in a predicament in which their doctors don't tell them a safer alternative to opioids is available, but they are seeking it out on their own.

    Q: Do veterans of different wars have different responses in the study?

    A: The Vietnam vets and the younger ones from the Gulf and Iraq wars are very different. They've been exposed to different chemicals and injuries. The Vietnam veterans faced a lot of hardship when they returned and were not celebrated for their service. They are an older population, part of the reefer madness generation, to understand the history of stigma. We need to have different ways of educating different age groups. They prefer different types of cannabis and ingestion. Those who are 29 know what a dabber is; the Vietnam vets don't.

    Q: What would be the ideal scenario to help veterans with PTSD and chronic pain?

    A: There's documented evidence that cannabis is working…but if we have the $10 million we would like to have, should we spend it on research or make sure all veterans have access to cannabis available to them? … Veterans in Massachusetts are three times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than those in the rest of the country. We are committed to doing everything in our power to amplify the issue, (but) we are at a time when everyone is saying we need more research. The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) of Massachusetts has spent $50,000 to help veterans—and it identified PTSD as a real problem for veterans and for others who have dealt with trauma.

    Q: What made you quit your university position to pursue studying cannabis as part of this nonprofit group you co-founded two years ago with Randal McCaffrie, Chief Innovation Officer of your advocacy and network group?

    A: I intentionally left academia because I knew I couldn't study it properly—it's a restriction of scientific freedom. It's important now to get the word out about that. I worked on the HIV epidemic in Africa before there was an HIV test. Then HIV treatment became available and it was completely unaffordable. The world rallied around to make the HIV drugs available. You're making a choice between life and health. An 8-year-old who requires CBD oil for epilepsy needs our support. How many families had to move to California and Colorado to treat their children? People should be able to afford their healthcare and have access to balanced research about it.

    Q: What's the greatest challenge of your work in crowdsourcing and collecting anecdotal evidence and aggregating that into research?

    A: As a public health doctor of 25 years with three advanced degrees and international experience, it's spending time making five phone calls and talking for hours to get each dispensary to agree to sponsor the survey. We're making connections, we want them to participate and provide sponsorship and we provide data back. There's a real need for the industry in cannabis to understand if they want us to fight for them they need to support research that helps them, too. Not only for medical benefits but for access for people. You can't create a mega-business without investing in the community and giving back. As this industry grows, it will be the third boom after the tech industry. They can change the world like Microsoft did. To make someone like Dr. Sisley fight for 10 years to do research is absurd. These people are helping you—we are business partners and we are working with consumers.

    Q: You've done three of six planned education events, including a talk from Dr. Sue Sisley, who worked on a study for 10 years on veterans and cannabis; and Stephen Mandile, a veteran who says he cured his depression and health issues with cannabis and founded Veterans Alternative Healing. What is the most gratifying aspect of that so far?

    A: I think the presentation of the research was very successful. …The last forum gave a careful and thoughtful look at medical cannabis as part of the right mix for addiction, mental health, and therapy options for cannabis. Those two presentations were great to frame where we are in science and in medical practice. Dr. Sisley's talk was very powerful. She had to work with poor quality cannabis from the University of Mississippi, with stems and sticks and moldy leaves. That's unacceptable. We fully intended in the design of the study to analyze and present a policy report and highlight issues around spending and the need for free access. [Providing] data on spending, insurance companies, improved quality of life measures, etc. It's not only impacting our veterans who served their country and fought for freedom, but also their families and all of the people around them. We're thinking from a broader perspective.

    Q: How do you feel about the support C3RN is getting for a national survey?

    A: Weedmaps and the DAV are partnering with us to expand it into other states. We want to see if we find differences in other states and will use a health survey tool to find out how trends are changing. We're very much excited to go national, but we're still looking for partners to reach out and support it and work with us.

    We're grateful for the backing of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Healing Rose, and other groups that are providing support, too. We are able to talk to legislators, communities, and academics and we think that will impact policy.

    Article can be found here: https://news.weedmaps.com/2019/06/researchers-seek-veterans-for-national-survey-on-marijuana/

  • 25 Jun 2019 5:00 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    By Jessica Bartlett – Reporter, Boston Business Journal

    Jun 25, 2019, 6:39am EDT Updated 6 hours ago

    See Correction/Clarification at end of article

    Linda Noel had just finished planting her 400th hemp plant at her small Massachusetts farm when the state changed the industry’s rules.

    She had planned to grow the plant to be consumed or processed for CBD — a derivative of both hemp and marijuana plants. But earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) released guidance banning the sale of hemp-derived CBD for use in food or as dietary supplement.

    The guidance came six months after MDAR prohibited Noel from selling her first hemp crop to a hemp tea manufacturer. The dried hemp is still sitting in bins in her house.

    “The whole industry is up in the air,” she said. “We don’t know if we wasted our time and money.”

    Noel was one of dozens of farmers, retailers, advocates and attorneys who came out Monday to protest the MDAR guidance. Standing on the steps of the State House, over 30 advocates spoke about their participation in the industry, saying the state’s new rules threatened their livelihoods.

    The rules came within a week of House lawmakers passing a bill that gives hemp farmers preferential tax treatment and allows hemp to be grown on land restricted as agricultural use. But farmers say they have no interest in growing hemp for use in textiles and rope.

    “CBD hemp flower is the only way we can survive in this industry,” said Laura Beohner, president and co-founder of CBD processing company The Healing Rose in Newburyport. Boehner said she had just spent $30,000 and three months upgrading to a new facility, only to see the state issue rules eliminating her business.

    “I already put my seeds in the ground,” said Ellen Brown, a Barnstable hemp farmer and hemp educator with Sinsemilla Seminars. “Don’t mess with my livelihood, I’ve already bet the farm on it.”



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    Jim Borghesani, one of the people who helped pass cannabis legalization in the state, said it was an “absurd dichotomy” to have cannabis legalized and accessible but not hemp-derived CBD, which doesn’t give users a high. He asked Gov. Charlie Baker to ensure that retailers don’t have their products seized by state or local law enforcement.

    “Until we get a law, we need leadership,” he said.

    Salem resident Melissa Faulkner said her six-year-old son, Joshua Faulkner, uses CBD to control a rare form of epilepsy. She begged lawmakers and state administrators to reopen the pathway for the industry, and then handed the microphone to Joshua. “Gov. Baker, please help protect my rights,” Joshua said into the microphone.

    Advocates say they plan to meet with MDAR officials in the coming weeks and may seek a legislative fix.

    State lawmakers said they are supportive of hemp cultivation, though were mixed on whether that should include CBD production.

    Rep. Dave Rogers, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, said the guidance still allows farmers to grow hemp for other uses. While the Legislature may want to take a look at whether CBD should be allowed in Massachusetts, it would need to be carefully studied and discussed.

    “The legislature did not specifically include reference to CBD oil in our statute,” the Cambridge Democrat said of the state law legalizing hemp production. “So I’m not sure there was a specific legislative intent as to CBD oil. The policy statement from MDAR does allow hemp to be grown and used in a variety of ways, but it simply has said certain uses including CBD oil are (not allowed).”

    State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli also said there was plenty of opportunity for farmers interested in hemp even without CBD products. Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat, was the lead sponsor of the bill to create more incentives for hemp farming, and was involved in passing legislation around cannabis and hemp cultivation in 2017.

    But he acknowledged that retailers were already selling CBD products in Massachusetts, and said lawmakers should be working diligently to find a way to include it within a legal framework.

    “We have more work to do, that’s the bottom line,” Pignatelli said. “If it’s the Legislature that fixes it, fine, let’s talk. If it's administrative adjustments, that’s fine with me. We can’t ignore the positive effects of it, but how will we police and regulate it? That’s what we need to work on.”


    An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of Melissa and Joshua Faulkner due to an error by organizers of the protest.

    Original article source: https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2019/06/25/don-t-mess-with-my-livelihood-hemp-advocates-tell.html

  • 25 Jun 2019 4:54 PM | Marion (Administrator)



    By Colin A. Young


    STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 25, 2019.....It has popped up on convenience store shelves, as a pricey add-on at trendy coffee and smoothie places, and as a purported cure-all pitched by social media influencers. But the legality of CBD is murky and hemp farmers say new state guidelines will effectively kneecap their industry in Massachusetts.

    Julia Agron, a hemp farmer and organizer of the Mass. Hemp Coalition, said Monday that her plans to grow hemp and process it into tinctures, topicals, edible products and more have been thrown into question by new guidance from a state agency essentially prohibiting products that contain CBD. [Photo: Colin A. Young/SHNS]

    Julia Agron, a hemp farmer and organizer of the Mass. Hemp Coalition, said Monday that her plans to grow hemp and process it into tinctures, topicals, edible products and more have been thrown into question by new guidance from a state agency essentially prohibiting products that contain CBD. [Photo: Colin A. Young/SHNS]

    CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived from the cannabis plant and is commonly extracted from hemp. The non-psychoactive component is said to deliver therapeutic benefits like calming anxiety without impairing the user. CBD products are not directly regulated by the state and many local health and police departments do not take action against retailers. CBD products are widely available online.

    But now the opportunity to grow hemp and process it into CBD products could be closing in Massachusetts. The Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), which regulates the growing of hemp, this month issued guidance that effectively outlawed the sale of food products containing CBD, any product containing CBD that makes therapeutic claims, any product with hemp as a dietary supplement and any animal feed with hemp products.

    On Monday afternoon, a recently-formed coalition of Massachusetts hemp farmers, businesses, advocates and consumers rallied outside the State House to call on MDAR to clarify its guidance and to push for the state to clear up the legality of their products.

    Julia Agron, a hemp farmer and organizer of the Mass. Hemp Coalition, told the crowd about the process she and her family went through to get an MDAR license to grow and process hemp, only to then find out that MDAR's new guidance effectively made her plans illegal.

    "We were going to make tinctures, we were going to make infused edible products, we were going to infuse directly into coconut oil, we were going to make topicals -- the whole range of it. That artisinal product is what we feel we have to offer," Agron said. "Within two months of getting our license approved, I happened to get an email from MDAR basically saying that every single product that we need to be able to sell in order for our farm to grow and succeed was suddenly off the table."

    The MDAR guidance came on the heels of an opinion from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that CBD cannot be added to food and dietary supplements, and state Department of Public Health guidance also prohibiting the sale of any product containing CBD oils derived from hemp.

    A variety of products made from hemp -- hemp seed, protein, clothing and other items made from hemp fiber -- are approved for sale in Massachusetts.

    On Monday, CBD supporters decried what they said is the unfair treatment of the hemp-based product by a state that licenses stores to sell products infused with THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

    "An absurd dichotomy exists in the state today where you can legally produce and sell cannabis consumables, but you cannot legally produce and sell hemp consumables," Jim Borghesani, who served as spokesman of the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana, said.

    Borghesani said he wanted to remind Gov. Charlie Baker, who oversees MDAR, that about 54 percent of Massachusetts voters were in favor of legal access to marijuana products and "probably a lot more want access to hemp consumables."

    And because it is up to local officials to police what's offered behind the counter at corner stores, where CBD products have become commonplace alongside tobacco and rolling papers, hemp supporters said MDAR's guidance is only going to harm the local small hemp farmers who hoped to sell CBD products in order to turn a profit.

    "Out of state farms aren't affected by this, people selling on the internet aren't affected by this. I still drove by every single gas station between here and Amherst selling me dubious a CBD product that isn't tested and isn't regulated," Agron said.

    The topic of hemp and hemp products is not totally foreign to the state Legislature. Last week, the House voted unanimously to allow farmers with agricultural deed restrictions on their land to grow hemp, pitched by supporters as a boon to many farmers in rural parts of the state that own 73,000 acres currently under agricultural restrictions.

    Agron said Monday that she previously thought getting the state Legislature on board with a policy change that would benefit the growing hemp industry was going to be her biggest public policy concern. After MDAR's guidance, she said the industry faces a more existential threat.

    "Our legislators empowered hemp farmers to farm hemp on farmable land, which seems like such a win and two and a half weeks ago it was my biggest goal for the hemp industry in Massachusetts and suddenly I don't know if it matters anymore," she said. "None of the farmers that I'm talking to are looking to expand right now. They're not sure if there's a market for their product, they're not sure if they're going to be farming next year at all."

    Rep. David Rogers, House chairman of the Cannabis Policy Committee, told the News Service after last week's House session on hemp that he intends to look closely at the MDAR and DPH guidelines and did not foreclosure the possibility of recommending further action to open up the market for additional hemp products.

    "There's a possibility in the future that the House will address, if need be, the new restrictions on CBD oil," he said.


Dr. McNabb on Morning Edition WBUR/NPR with Bob Oakes Discussing the MA Vape Ban November 7, 2019

Worcester, MA 01608

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