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Red States’ Anti-Pot Laws Start to Crack?

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Missouri is poised to become the latest state in the U.S. to launch recreational cannabis sales. The move will likely attract the attention of marijuana businesses and voters in nearby Oklahoma, who will vote next month on whether to legalize adult use in a special election.

 

Medical dispensaries are awaiting approval from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to start selling recreational marijuana as soon as Friday.

 

With the GOP controlling the state’s governorship and legislature, Missouri is projected to generate over half a billion dollars in sales in its first year and draw customers from neighboring states. Nearly all of Missouri’s 212 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries, 95% of them, have applied for the expanded license, and if approved, they can begin selling to those 21 and over.

 

Missouri’s recreational marijuana sales are estimated to reach $550 million in the first year and potentially increase from $800 million to $900 million in four years.

 

Key Attributes

The recent enactment of Amendment 3 in Missouri, with 53% of voters approving it in November, has changed the Missouri Constitution, establishing various regulations for the legal cannabis industry. Here are the key takeaways for state operators and consumers:

  • A low 6% retail tax on recreational cannabis purchases is one of the lowest in the country. Jurisdictions can add a maximum 3% tax, but only through local ballot initiatives.

  • Recreational cannabis advertisements will be treated in the same manner as advertisements for alcohol.

  • Local cities and towns can only ban retail operations via a ballot measure with a minimum of 60% approval.

  • The DHSS was required to process, deny or approve comprehensive retail license applications by February 6, establishing a recreational cannabis program in a mere three months, one of the shortest transitions of any recreational market launch (Arizona’s recreational market launch in January 2021 was even quicker).

Missouri’s tight timeline meant regulators needed to start granting licenses by Friday. Despite the possibility of launching the adult-use program with nearly 200 retailers, Missouri’s limited-license and vertically integrated market are effectively established for the time being.

 

Amendment 3 did not significantly increase the number of licenses, which drew criticism from prominent figures such as the Missouri NAACP and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. The Missouri Democratic Party declined to endorse Amendment 3 because it worries that it “could have adverse effects on minorities, low-income Missourians, and people of color.” However, the amendment does establish a process to approve an additional 144 licenses for “microbusinesses eventually.

 

A third of the licenses must be distributed through a lottery by October 3, 2024, but the final third can only be granted 548 days after the initial licenses are issued. This means the completion of the microbusiness licensing process is likely to take place in 2026.

 

According to Cox, while Missouri has no limits on licenses, regulators have decided to keep the number of cultivators (50), manufacturers (78), and licensed stores (195) close to the minimum set by the state constitution. This, combined with Amendment 3, has created few opportunities for new entrants and reduced competition for existing operators.

 

 

Revving up

Given the unpredictable timeline of license approvals, the first day of sales in Missouri could be more of a gradual launch rather than a grand celebration with festivities and industry recognition.

 

Despite the quiet launch, operators are optimistic about high demand. Some dispensary owners have informed MJBizDaily that they anticipate doubling their sales with the addition of recreational offerings.

 

BeLeaf Medical, with five stores serving approximately 310 medical marijuana patients daily, can handle two to three times the traffic, according to CEO Jason Nelson. To ensure a smooth transition for medical marijuana patients, the retailer encourages them to make online orders for seamless pick-ups so their shopping experience remains unchanged.

 

To streamline transactions, BeLeaf staff will use laptops and iPads to introduce products and take orders from customers waiting in line inside and outside the stores. To add a local flavor, BeLeaf’s Sinse Cannabis brand has teamed up with renowned St. Louis chef Bob Brazell to launch a new line of gummies made with THC distillate, CBD, and full-extract cannabis oil.

 

Good Day Farms has hired 200 new employees, expanded their hours, and increased their inventory of popular products like flowers, vapes, and gummies. They offer a range of prices, starting at $25 for an eighth, to cater to all customers.

 

C3 Industries, a multistate operator, has added 75 new workers and upgraded their technology and displays in preparation for the launch. They anticipate a two-fold increase in sales velocity with the shift to adult use.

 

Wana Brands, based in Colorado and a leading provider of edibles, is partnering with Clovr, a Missouri-based manufacturer, to double its production capacity. The goal is to ensure that they have ample inventory to meet the varying demands of new customers.

 

Overall, retailers are well-prepared for the launch of adult-use sales, focusing on attracting consumers and providing them with accessible, high-quality products.

 

Regulatory Concerns For Cannabis Businesses

 

As product categories remain the same between medical and recreational programs, companies anticipate a seamless transition in production. However, some companies have been operating in a legal gray area due to the recent release of proposed rules on January 20.

With the new 111-page document outlining requirements for manufacturing, labeling, and packaging set to take effect on February 3, brands are hoping for a grace period to comply fully.

 

Key regulations include:

  • No human, animal, or fruit shapes designs

  • A limit of two colors (including logos)

  • Disclosure of THC, CBD, and delta-8 concentration

  • Submission of all product and packaging designs for approval by the DHSS.

 

This last requirement may cause a delay in getting products to market and is a concern for Wana Brands, as proper staffing of the approval process is crucial. Grön, an edibles maker, has been ramping up production in anticipation of peak consumer demand in the first 6-8 weeks of recreational sales.

 

The CEO, Christine Smith, stated that the brand and design team were able to swiftly adjust to the proposed regulations and ensure the successful launch of products.

 

Conclusion

As Missouri opens its doors to recreational marijuana sales, companies are poised and ready to meet the expected surge in demand. With a blend of technology, local flair, and strategic inventory management, retailers are confident in providing consumers with a seamless shopping experience. From THC-infused gummies to extended operating hours, companies are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to capture a slice of the rapidly growing cannabis market. While regulatory hurdles may present some challenges, brands are confident in navigating the rules and bringing their products to market, setting the stage for a new era of marijuana policy and industry legitimacy.

 

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Talking to God and Feeling the Warmth of Your Soul

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what is tripping on DMT like

Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a substance with hallucinogenic properties that may be found in a wide range of plants and animals. When taken in large enough quantities, DMT may produce a “high” and cause distortions in one’s senses, making things appear that they aren’t. Other names for it include elven spice, spirit molecule, businessman’s special, and Dimitri.

 

For ages, people from many cultures have utilized DMT in rituals and religious ceremonies. It is one of the active components in South American psychedelic beverage ayahuasca. Laboratories are also capable of producing synthetic DMT.

 

Recreational users go for DMT because it produces a strong, brief “trip,” sometimes referred to as a “breakthrough in DMT.” Although some studies point to possible advantages for both physical and mental health, the drug’s adverse effects may offset these advantages.

 

Some have described tripping on DMT “like dying”, but in a positive way of getting to see the universe and afterlife. Many people feel a deep euphoric feelling that can be humbling, like comparing yourself to a piece of sand in the universe.  In a religious sense, those say you become one with the universe or the “god in you”.

 

DMT Versus LSD (ACID)

 

Both DMT and LSD, sometimes known as acid, are potent “psychedelic” substances that can change your perception. Their molecular makeup is identical to that of serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in your brain.

 

Differences between DMT and acid include:

 

Source. While LSD is manmade and derived from a material in a fungus that grows on rye grains, DMT is found in both plants and mammals.

 

Length of time. Whereas an acid trip can last up to 12 hours, DMT is a powerful, short experience lasting 15 to 60 minutes.

 

How Does DMT Trip Make You Feel?

 

DMT affects individuals differently, but common effects include:

 

– Visual or auditory hallucinations

– Out-of-body experiences

– Mood changes

– Heightened sensitivity to physical sensations such as pain, tingling, and warmth

– Feelings of euphoria or intense happiness

– Spiritual and emotional experiences

– Distorted body image

– The ability to unlock hidden memories

 

The effects of DMT depend on several factors, including:

 

– Your size, weight, and overall health

– Whether it’s your first time using it or not

– Whether you have taken other substances simultaneously

– The dosage

– The drug’s potency, which can vary between sources

– Your environment

– Your mood at the time of consumption

 

Set and Setting with DMT

 

When using DMT, your physical surroundings and mental state are referred to as your “set and setting.” These factors have a big impact on your experience, both good and bad.

 

The set is the state of mind you are in before using the drug; it includes your feelings, expectations, past psychedelic experiences, and any tension or worries you may be experiencing.

 

Setting includes the people and things in your immediate surroundings. You may be in a familiar setting with individuals you can trust, or you may be in a foreign area alone. You will be affected differently by a calm, peaceful setting than by a busy, boisterous one.

 

Can DMT Cause a Bad Trip?

 

It is possible to have a negative experience, or “bad trip,” when taking DMT. Instead of euphoria, you might feel:

 

– Intense anxiety

– Frightened by your hallucinations

– Very confused

– Paranoid

 

Being in a positive set and setting can help reduce the risk of a bad trip.

 

Due to limited research, the long-term effects of DMT are not well understood. Flashbacks, which can be unpleasant and occur days, weeks, or even months after taking DMT, are a commonly reported side effect.

 

While there are no reports of toxicity from long-term DMT use, there are concerns about its impact on heart health, as it can raise blood pressure.

 

Potential Therapeutic Uses of DMT

 

According to recent studies, DMT may have a variety of medicinal uses. Studies suggest that DMT may be helpful in the treatment of mental health issues, however, they are still in their early phases. Here are a few possible medicinal applications:

 

1. Treatment for Sadness and Anxiety: According to preliminary studies, DMT can affect mood in a quick and significant way, which may be able to provide treatment for those with sadness and anxiety. Because DMT experiences are strong and brief, they may provide immediate therapeutic effects without requiring lengthy therapy sessions.

 

2. Support Psychotherapy: People may find it easier to process trauma and unearth suppressed memories if DMT can elicit strong emotional and spiritual experiences. DMT may help make significant progress in psychotherapy under carefully monitored conditions, enabling patients to address and resolve ingrained psychological problems.

 

3. Potential for Addiction Treatment:

Some studies suggest that DMT and other psychedelics might be useful in treating substance abuse disorders. By providing profound insights and altering perception, DMT could help individuals break free from addictive behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

 

4. Neurogenesis and Brain Health: Some research indicates that DMT may encourage neurogenesis, or the development of new neurons, which may have an impact on cognitive performance and overall brain health. Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses may benefit especially from this feature.

 

Even while these prospective advantages seem encouraging, it’s crucial to remember that DMT research is still in its early stages. To completely comprehend its therapeutic potential and create safe, efficient treatment procedures, more thorough, controlled research is required. To reduce hazards and optimize benefits, the DMT experience is intense, thus it must be administered in a controlled setting, ideally under the guidance of qualified specialists.

 

Bottom Line

 

DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful hallucinogenic compound found in various plants and animals and can be synthesized in laboratories. Known by names like elven spice, spirit molecule, businessman’s special, and Dimitri, DMT has been used for centuries in rituals and religious ceremonies, particularly in South American cultures through the ayahuasca brew. Recreational users seek DMT for its intense, short-lived “trip,” which can include profound sensory distortions and out-of-body experiences. The effects of DMT vary greatly depending on factors like dosage, individual health, environment, and mental state. A positive “set and setting” can enhance the experience and reduce the risk of a “bad trip,” characterized by intense anxiety, confusion, and paranoia. Although the long-term effects of DMT are not well understood due to limited research, some studies suggest potential therapeutic benefits, such as treatment for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. However, these potential benefits come with risks, including the possibility of flashbacks and concerns about heart health due to increased blood pressure. In summary, while DMT offers intriguing possibilities for both recreational and therapeutic use, it should be approached with caution and ideally under professional supervision to mitigate risks and maximize potential benefits.

 

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Celebrating Juneteenth

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Our offices are closed today in commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday. In the past, we’ve used this occasion to highlight the need for criminal justice reform, inside and outside of the cannabis industry.

Juneteenth is also a day of celebration, to commemorate the liberation of enslaved people in the United States.

We hope you have the day off today! And that you have the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the significance of our newest federal holiday.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our regular programming.

The post Celebrating Juneteenth appeared first on Harris Sliwoski LLP.



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True or False – Legalizing Drugs Would Put an End to Human Trafficking?

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How to Stop Human Trafficking: Legalize Drugs!

The largest illicit market on the planet is not weapons, exotic animals, or even human beings – it’s drugs. Since 1971, when the United Nations amended its narcotic charter and essentially declared an international war on drugs, the global drug trade has only grown in size and complexity.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement agencies worldwide over the past five decades, drugs have become more prevalent, more accessible, and far more dangerous.

From the streets of American cities to remote villages in Afghanistan, the drug trade has left a trail of addiction, violence, and corruption in its wake. It’s safe to say that after 75 years of futile efforts, drugs have definitively won the war.

But the illegal drug trade does more than line the pockets of criminals and cartels. It also serves as a shield for one of the most horrific crimes imaginable: human trafficking.

The same shadowy networks that smuggle cocaine and heroin across borders are often deeply intertwined with the traffickers who buy and sell human beings as chattel.

In this article, we’re going to explore the number one thing the world can do to stop human trafficking – legalize all drugs.

But we’re not talking about a free-for-all where anyone can buy anything at any time. Instead, we’ll lay out a nuanced approach to legalization and regulation designed to reduce the harms of drug abuse while focusing law enforcement resources on the fight against human trafficking.

By removing the profits generated by the illegal drug trade, we can strip away the financial incentives that fuel trafficking networks. And by redirecting policing efforts towards identifying and protecting victims rather than endlessly chasing drug dealers, we can make a real dent in this abhorrent practice.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

But if we’re serious about ending human trafficking, we need to start by rethinking the failed war on drugs. The evidence is clear – prohibition has only made the problem worse. It’s time for a new approach, one grounded in public health, human rights, and common sense. Let’s dive in.

Since the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 and the subsequent declaration of the war on drugs in 1971, the illegal drug trade has exploded in size and reach. What was once a relatively small-scale, localized problem has morphed into a global behemoth with tentacles in every corner of the planet.

According to estimates from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the global drug trade is now worth between $426 and $652 billion annually. That’s more than the GDP of most countries and represents a staggering increase from the pre-1961 era when the trade was a fraction of its current size.

But it’s not just the scale of the trade that has changed – it’s also the nature of the drugs themselves. In response to prohibition efforts, drug producers and traffickers have become incredibly innovative, constantly developing new synthetic substances to evade detection and skirt the law.

One prime example is “Spice,” a synthetic cannabinoid that mimics the effects of marijuana but is infinitely more dangerous. Because Spice is unregulated and its chemical composition is constantly changing, users have no way of knowing what they’re ingesting. The result has been a wave of overdoses and deaths that have devastated communities around the world.

Meanwhile, the financial institutions that are supposed to be safeguarding the global economy have become complicit in the illegal drug trade. Banks like HSBC have been caught repeatedly laundering money for drug cartels, yet they’ve only been slapped with fines rather than facing criminal charges.

In 2012, HSBC admitted to laundering nearly $900 million for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, yet no executives went to jail. Instead, the bank paid a fine of $1.9 billion – a mere slap on the wrist compared to the profits it had reaped from its illicit activities.

This double standard is a stark reminder of the inherent inequities of the war on drugs. While low-level dealers and users face harsh prison sentences, the wealthy and well-connected can profit from the trade with impunity.

Perhaps most tragically, drug prohibition has created a black market where profits are prioritized over safety. With no regulation or quality control, drug producers often cut their products with dangerous adulterants or increase potency to maximize profits. The result is a staggering number of drug-related deaths that could have been prevented with a more rational approach.

According to the CDC, over 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020 alone – a record high. Many of those deaths were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has become increasingly common in the illegal drug supply.

The numbers don’t lie – the war on drugs has been an abject failure. If the goal was to reduce drug use and combat criminal organizations, then by every empirical measure, it has fallen short. Continuing to support a failed system is not only misguided – it’s actively causing harm to individuals and communities around the world. It’s time for a new approach.

While the illegal drug trade may grab more headlines, human trafficking is a shockingly prevalent and profitable criminal enterprise. In fact, it’s the second largest illicit market in the world, generating an estimated $150 billion in annual profits for traffickers.

The scale of human trafficking is staggering. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with women and girls accounting for 75% of those trafficked. Perhaps most disturbingly, one in four victims of trafficking are children.

These victims are bought, sold, and exploited for a variety of purposes, including forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation. The primary motivations for traffickers are greed and the desire for power and control over others but mostly supply and demand.

While trafficking occurs in virtually every country, some regions are particularly prone to this horrific practice. Asia and the Pacific region account for the largest number of victims, with 15.4 million people trafficked in that region alone. Africa and Europe also have high rates of trafficking, with millions of victims in each region.

So who are the buyers driving this brutal trade? While there is no single profile, research suggests that many purchasers of trafficked persons are individuals with wealth and power. From corrupt politicians to wealthy businessmen to high-ranking officials, the demand for trafficked persons often comes from the upper echelons of society.

The infamous case of Jeffrey Epstein is a prime example. Epstein, a wealthy financier with connections to powerful figures in politics and business, was accused of trafficking and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. He allegedly used his private island in the Caribbean as a base for his trafficking operations, flying in girls on his private jet to be exploited by him and his associates.

The Epstein case raises disturbing questions about the priorities of our justice system. While law enforcement agencies pour billions of dollars into fighting the war on drugs, how much attention and resources are being devoted to combating human trafficking?

The answer is that U.S. government spends roughly 64 times more on fighting drug trafficking than it does on combating human trafficking. ($35.6 billion in 2021 for drug trafficking vs $560 for human trafficking)

Could it be that the focus on drugs serves as a convenient distraction from the uncomfortable reality that some of the most powerful people in our society are complicit in the buying and selling of human beings? Is the war on drugs a way to protect the interests of the wealthy and influential while ignoring the suffering of trafficking victims?

These are not easy questions to answer, but they must be confronted if we are serious about ending human trafficking. It’s not enough to pay lip service to the issue or to prosecute the low-level traffickers who are often victims themselves. We must be willing to hold the buyers and enablers of trafficking accountable, no matter how powerful they may be.

The numbers don’t lie – human trafficking is a massive and growing problem that demands our attention and action. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions of victims around the world. It’s time to prioritize the fight against trafficking and to hold those who profit from this heinous crime accountable, no matter who they are.

The legalization of drugs is a complex and controversial issue that requires a nuanced, evidence-based approach. Simply declaring all drugs legal without any restrictions or regulations would be irresponsible and potentially dangerous. Instead, we must look to science and best practices to guide our policy decisions.

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that not all drugs are created equal. Some substances, like fentanyl, are highly addictive and can be lethal in very small doses. These drugs should not be readily available to the general public and should be tightly controlled.

However, that doesn’t mean we should continue to criminalize addiction. Instead, we could follow the model pioneered by Switzerland in the 1990s, which provided heroin to addicts for free in designated clinics. This approach may seem counterintuitive, but it has proven to be remarkably effective in reducing the harms associated with drug use.

By providing a safe, regulated supply of heroin to addicts, the Swiss government was able to reduce disease transmission, overdose deaths, and crime associated with the illegal drug trade. Addicts were able to access the drug they needed without resorting to desperate measures, and many were eventually able to wean themselves off heroin entirely.

For other drugs like cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin, the risks of addiction and overdose are much lower. While these substances can still be abused, the vast majority of users do not develop problematic use patterns or experience significant harms.

In these cases, legalization and regulation may be the most sensible approach. By allowing the sale of these drugs to adults in licensed dispensaries, we can reduce the harms associated with the illegal market, generate tax revenue for prevention and treatment programs, and free up law enforcement resources to focus on more serious crimes.

Of course, legalization is not a panacea, and there will undoubtedly be challenges and unintended consequences along the way. But the alternative – continuing to pour billions of dollars into a failed war on drugs while neglecting the scourge of human trafficking – is simply unacceptable.

Consider this: the United States currently spends around $35 billion per year on drug interdiction and enforcement efforts, while allocating just $560 million to combat human trafficking. That means we spend over 60 times more on fighting the drug trade than we do on fighting the buying and selling of human beings.

By legalizing and regulating drugs, we could redirect those resources towards ending human trafficking and supporting its victims. The profits generated from the legal drug trade could be used to fund robust prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, while law enforcement could focus on dismantling trafficking networks and bringing perpetrators to justice.

It’s time to acknowledge that our current approach to drugs has failed by every metric. Despite decades of aggressive enforcement and trillions of dollars spent, drugs are more available, more potent, and more dangerous than ever before. Meanwhile, human traffickers operate with near impunity, exploiting the most vulnerable members of our society for profit.

We need a new approach, one that is grounded in science, compassion, and human rights. By legalizing drugs and focusing our resources on ending human trafficking, we can reduce the harms associated with both issues and build a more just and equitable society for all.

It won’t be easy, and there will undoubtedly be setbacks along the way. But the alternative – continuing down the path of prohibition and neglect – is simply not an option. We owe it to the victims of trafficking and addiction to do better, and to create a world where every person can live with dignity and freedom from exploitation.

 

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