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Marijuana Cultivation Facility

There can be extreme build-out costs when it comes to outfitting a warehouse for medical marijuana cultivation. And Arizona has some of the priciest build-out costs in the entire country because of the recreational marijuana legalization effort that will be on the 2016 ballot.

A company that analyzes building permit and construction data found that just after Colorado (where recreational marijuana use is legal), Arizona has some of the highest construction build-out costs in the nation.

They found it cost $764,400 to convert a warehouse building in central Phoenix into a medical marijuana cultivation facility for Nature’s AZ Medicines‘ dispensary.

There are many rules and regulations placed on indoor medical marijuana cultivation facilities in Arizona and other states, but there are also many advantages to building these enclosed, warehouse cultivation sites because they offer climate controlled conditions and heightened security measures.

Earl Blumenauer

Two House bills were filed last Friday that together would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana at the federal level, effectively ending the U.S.’s decades-long prohibition on marijuana.

The first bill, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, transfer oversight of the substance from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and would ultimately regulate marijuana in a way similar to alcohol.

The second bill, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana sales in the U.S.

“As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” noted Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), “it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”

The bills wouldn’t force states to legalize marijuana, but the new federal regulatory framework would be set in place for the states that do decide to legalize marijuana.

History of Marijuana

Marijuana is currently illegal in most parts of the world, but its use as a medicine dates back thousands of years.

As the debate over legalizing marijuana heats up, many people continue to dispute the value of marijuana as a treatment for various ailments. But, as the following facts show, history tells a much clearer story:

1. The earliest record of marijuana used and medicine comes from ancient China.

In 2737 BC, Chinese Emperor Shennong wrote a book on medicine that included marijuana as a treatment for many conditions. According to ancient Chinese texts, marijuana was thought to be helpful for constipation, gout, rheumatism and absent-mindedness.

Interestingly, Shennong was not only an emperor but a pharmacologist as well. He was said to have tried hundreds of herbs on himself in order to test their medical value.

2. Ancient Egyptians were the first to use marijuana as a treatment for tumors.

The 2nd century Fayyum Medical Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian text, is believed to contain the earliest record of marijuana as an ingredient in cancer medicine.

While little is known about the successes of ancient Egyptian cancer treatments, marijuana continues to receive significant interest as a cancer therapy today.

3. Marijuana was used as a veterinary medicine in ancient Greece.

The ancient Greeks used cannabis to dress wounds and sores on their horses after battle. The plant was also given to humans for a variety of ailments, including ear pain and inflammation.

Interestingly, the practice of medical cannabis/marijuana is believed to have spread to Arabic countries from ancient Greece.

4. Medical marijuana was introduced to Western medicine in the mid-1800s.

In the 1830s, an Irish physician by the name of William Brooke O’Shaughnessy observed the use of medical marijuana during a trip to India.

After studying its effects, he introduced marijuana to physicians in England as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including muscle spasms, rheumatism, epilepsy and pain. As early reports of its effectiveness were published, the popularity of marijuana-based medicines quickly spread across Europe and North America.

5. The name ‘indica’ refers to Indian cannabis.

The name Cannabis indica was originally thought up by a French biologist in 1785. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was also visiting India when he observed a difference between locally-grown cannabis and its European cousin, the hemp plant.

European hemp was mostly used for agricultural purposes and was known at the time as Cannabis sativa. Lamarck decided to classify the Indian species separately, giving it the name Cannabis indica.

6. Cannabis was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1851 until 1941.

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) provides a list of acceptable medical products each year, and cannabis/marijuana was recognized in many of its earliest editions. But while cannabis/marijuana preparations were widely prescribed in the late 1800s, they began to be replaced by synthetic drugs during the 20th century.

Leading up to and following the passage of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, prescribing cannabis/marijuana became increasingly difficult and its once-prominent role in Western medicine was soon forgotten. It was removed from the USP in 1942 and has never appeared since.

Marijuana Edibles

Legalization of marijuana across the U.S. is being projected to become a larger success than the organic food industry, and if so, Whole Foods and other major retailers could very well jump on the bandwagon.

“It’s possible that Whole Foods could be the Whole Foods of cannabis,” said an insider at the ArcView Group that does market analyses on the marijuana industry.

When asked at a panel if Whole Foods would ever sell marijuana, Whole Foods CEO reportedly said only if the it were legal to use and the local community approved.

The ArcView Group’s 3rd State of Legal Marijuana Markets report found that if legalized nationwide, the U.S. marijuana industry would surpass the $33.1 billion organic food industry by approximately $3 billion.

“I’ve studied the growth of the nutrition and the organic food industries for years,” said Patrick Rea, executive editor of the ArcView report. “I believe the cannabis industry will be an even bigger opportunity. Yet, there are risks associated with a fragmented and nascent industry that is growing so fast.”

The report also found that consumers purchased $370 million worth of marijuana products in 2014 in Colorado and Washington, and that Arizona was the fastest developing major marijuana market last year, enlarging from $35 million in sales in 2013 to $155 million in 2014.

“With Oregon and Alaska coming online soon and with the potential of six states including California going legal in 2016, legalization will be the largest driver of market growth going forward,” stated an ArcView insider.

Overall, the U.S. legal marijuana industry grew 74% to $2.7 billion, and about $30 million per year goes to educational and political work for nonprofits working on marijuana issues.

Colorado Marijuana Statistics

The entire world at large has been watching Colorado throughout 2014 because it’s the first place to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Many people predicted positive outcomes while others predicted negative. Now that a full year has passed, it appears that Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry was a gigantic success; state revenues are up thanks to taxes from sales and crime rates are down.

With such amazing statistics, it is safe to assume that many other states – such as California, Arizona, Nevada, and others – will legalize marijuana for recreational use via ballot initiates in 2016. Below are some astonishing facts from Colorado’s marijuana industry in 2014:

1. 130.3 metric tons – Colorado’s annual demand for marijuana, which is equal to 36.8 million “eighths” of marijuana flower.

2. 485,000 – The number of adults who are 21 and older using marijuana on a regular basis (at least once a month), which is about 9 percent of the state’s population.

3. 23 percent – The amount of Colorado’s user population that consumes marijuana near daily.

4. 90 percent – The amount of recreational marijuana sales that out-of-state tourists are responsible for purchasing at shops in mountain resort communities.

5. 7 percent – The amount of Colorado’s annual marijuana demand that was purchased by out-of-state tourists.

6. -9 percent – The price drop on a recreational eighth of marijuana flower at about a dozen major Colorado marijuana shops from January 2014 ($53.88) to December 2014 ($48.95).

7. $246,810,599.03 – The state’s total recreational marijuana sales from January to October 2014 (November and December data not yet available from the Colorado Department of Revenue).

8. $326,716,273.59 – Colorado’s total medical marijuana sales from January to October 2014. (That’s $573,526,872.62 in 10 months for both recreational and medical pot sales in Colorado.)

9. $60.1 million – The amount Colorado has made in via taxes, licenses and fees on recreational and medical marijuana from January to October 2014.

10. 10 milligrams of THC – Colorado’s single-serving size for marijuana edibles, with 100 milligrams maximum allowed in an individually packaged edible being sold for recreational use.

11. 103,918 – The number of medical marijuana patients reporting “severe pain” as their qualifying medical condition for a marijuana card, which makes up 94 percent of the state’s total patients.

12. Zero – The number of reports of THC-infused edibles (candy) given to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, regardless of widespread national concern that legal marijuana would lead to marijuana-infused candies in children’s Halloween gifts.

Vivek Murthy Marijuana

The nation’s new surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated that marijuana “can be helpful” for certain medical conditions, and that he wants science to dictate policy on the federally banned substance.

“We have some preliminary data that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful,” Murthy mentioned in an interview with “CBS This Morning” in response to a question about his position on marijuana legalization in the U.S.

Murthy didn’t use the opportunity to endorse marijuana legalization for medical or recreational purposes, but he did note that he believes U.S. marijuana policy should be driven by scientific research and what it reveals about the efficacy of using the cannabis plant for medical reasons.

“I think we’re going to get a lot more data about that,” Murthy stated. “I’m very interested to see where that takes us.”

Murthy was not the first surgeon general to question U.S. drug policies. In 1993, Joycelyn Elders, the surgeon general under President Bill Clinton, stated that she believed that legalizing drugs in the U.S. would “markedly reduce our crime rate.” Not long ago, in 2010, Elders called for the legalization of marijuana in the U.S.

Veterans Marijuana

A new bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would allow doctors employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend marijuana as means of medical treatment to veterans that suffer from certain medical conditions, such as: serious physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.

Do to federal laws current VA policy prohibits doctors from recommending marijuana for medical use.

Nearly 20% of veterans returning from the Middle East are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or PTSD; all of which are notoriously difficult conditions to treat. A study published recently in the Annals of Epidemiology found that the suicide rate among these veterans is 50% greater than the national average.

Last year a study was published in the American Journal of Public Health which found that in states that passed medical marijuana laws there was a statistically significant reduction in suicide rates.

“The men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have made tremendous sacrifices for our country,” stated a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project. “They deserve every option available to treat their wounds, both visible and hidden. If VA doctors are confident that medical marijuana would improve their patients’ quality of life, they should be able to recommend it to them in states where it’s legal.”

New Mexico Recreational Marijuana

A New Mexico legislative committee voted in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico. The 5-4 vote for Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2) narrowly passed in the Senate Rules Committee, and its passing will put it on the 2016 ballot where citizens will vote to decide if recreational marijuana will be legalized in New Mexico.

SJR2 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by anyone 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana for recreational use in New Mexico.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico’s director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of people, gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste. Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

A statewide poll taken in 2013 found that a majority of New Mexico’s registered voters (52 percent) say they support legalizing marijuana for adult use.

Native American Marijuana

Over 100 Native American tribes have contacted FoxBarry Farms, a management firm building the nation’s first marijuana cultivation facility on tribal land, expressing interest in the marijuana industry.

There has been a huge surge of interest since the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement in 2014 stating that tribes are free to cultivate and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they adhere to certain guidelines.

“Tribes want what any government wants for its people, and that’s financial independence,” stated an industry insider. “They want to earn their own money, provide education, health care and housing. This new industry allows them to be more economically independent.”

Two companies recently signed a contract to build a large medical marijuana cultivation center on the Pinoleville Pomo Nation’s ranch in Northern California. The $10 million, 2.5-acre facility is said to include spaces for cultivating, processing and selling products under the name United Cannabis. The operation create 50 to 100 jobs, and provide preference to tribe members.

Many Native American tribes throughout the U.S. are expected to implement marijuana cultivation and distribution ventures. Many western states – Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington – that already have marijuana industries as well as large Native American tribal lands will likely see Native American marijuana industries popping up.

Most Harmful Drugs

As the U.S. considers drug policy reforms and marijuana legalization, there’s one part of the war on drugs that remains perplexingly contradictory: the most harmful drugs in the U.S. are legal.

Available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that tobacco, alcohol, and opioid-based prescription painkillers are responsible for more direct fatalities than any other drug in 2011.

When it comes to deadliness, tobacco leads the way – by far. Fewer Americans die from reported drug overdoses, traffic accidents, and homicides combined than tobacco-related health problems like lung cancer and heart disease. Cigarette smoking is attributed to one in five deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. Furthermore, nearly 42,000 of the 480,000 deaths are caused by secondhand smoke.

Alcohol-related health problems, such as liver disease, caused more than 26,000 deaths in 2011. When including other alcohol-related causes of death like drunk driving and other accidents, the death toll rises to 88,000 per year.

Opioid-related prescription painkillers have been associated with an increase in overdose deaths since 1999. The deaths frequently involve multiple drugs. The CDC found 31 percent of prescription painkiller-related overdose deaths in 2011 were also related to benzodiazepines, a legal anti-anxiety drug.