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Medical marijuana sprouts in Israel

This article originally appeared on Alternet.
Mimi Peleg’s job is to teach people how to use pot—how long to inhale smoke or vapor, how to administer sublingual drops, or how to ration out a pot cookie.
Peleg directs large-scale cannabis training for the Israeli government’s state-run, discreet, successful and expanding medical cannabis distribution center, MECHKAR. MECHKAR began as a tiny program serving about 1,800 people from 2008-2009. Today, supplied by eight farms located all over the country, the program distributes cannabis to 12,000 patients.
While medical marijuana has been approved in 18 U.S. states, and recreational use in two, U.S. federal law still criminalizes the drug, and its future remains uncertain. In Israel, however, the $40-million-per-year medical-marijuana industry is thriving. And, while research efforts have been continually hindered in the states by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the DEA, the Israeli government is funding and supporting breakthrough research on the many healing potentials of the cannabis plant.
Likud Party MK Haim Katz, who chairs the Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee in Israel’s Knesset, said in January that the number of doctors allowed to prescribe medical cannabis would double from nine to 20 by the end of the year. Mimi Peleg told AlterNet that has already happened, as more than 20 doctors can now legally prescribe cannabis in Israel, though some are limited to the prescription of cannabis oil.
While Israel has long had a hash-smoking underculture, recreational cannabis use is not nearly as common as in the U.S.
“There was always hash here, but not a pot culture so to speak,” Peleg said, noting that most students arrive at her offices terrified they will hallucinate or lose their minds.

Marijuana goes mainstream and now the suits want pot brownies, natch

  by Kent Bernhard Jr. , Upstart Business Journal Money & Finance EditorApril 8, 2013  |  9:55am EDT  Last Modified: April 8, 2013  |  12:38pm EDT T he marijuana business is starting to look more like, well, a business, as more states legalize medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington make rules for legalization of recreational use. But the expanding legal business still requires a big appetite for risk, thanks to the federal government's prohibition on buying and selling pot, and the hodgepodge of state regulations on production and distribution. USA Today reports today on the influx of legitimate business types, including Privateer Holdings' Brendan Kennedy—who went from Silicon Valley Bank to a private equity firm looking to buy small marijuana-related businesses and roll them up into a larger business. Here's Tim Mullaney, of the newspaper: Jokes aside, the striking thing about the new gold rush in pot is how familiar it sounds to people used to the technology business. Just like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, start-up pot investors such as Kennedy … and ArcView CEO Troy Dayton — whose company runs an angel-investor network matching companies with rich activists — talk about how big and fragmented the market is, and how the relative handful of legal businesses out there lack the leadership and tools they need to (sorry, Mr. Kennedy) grow the industry. That leaves the field open for people who can bring capital and experience, they say. But, like the technology business, marijuana investing isn't for the faint of heart, thanks to the iffy legal status, the free-wheeling nature of some of the entrepreneurs involved, and the chance that the popularity of marijuana as a legal business will be limited. Adam Wiggins, a member of Dayton's investor network, made his money by selling his software company, Heroku, to Salesforce.com, for $250 million. He sees the hurdles as a positive. Here's his take: Wiggins says the open-source software industry that made him rich "used to be a long-haired hippie business, too.'' Risk means less competition, because the weak-kneed won't jump in, Rosen said. "The extra layer of risk is where the opportunity comes from,'' he notes. Sounds like a good business for upstarts to me.

For first time, majority of Americans back legal pot

      By Rob Hotakainen McClatchy Newspapers Published: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 1:55 pm Last Modified: Friday, Apr. 5, 2013 - 2:41 pm WASHINGTON -- Just five months afterWashington state and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a poll released Thursday found that a majority of Americans now agree and say it should not be illegal to smoke the drug. And, as Attorney General Eric Holder tries to figure out how to respond to the new legalization laws, the poll had more good news for voters in the two states: Sixty percent of Americans say the U.S. government should not enforce federaldrug laws in any state that has voted to legalize pot.  

Wall Street sniffs out opportunity in marijuana

  By Andrew Tangel Los Angeles Times Posted:   04/01/2013 02:09:36 PM PDT Updated:   04/01/2013 02:09:36 PM PDT   BELVIDERE, N.J. -- Amid the whir of fans and the glow of soft white light, workers tended to bright green seedlings sprouting in a giant greenhouse. Located about an hour's drive from Manhattan in the hills of northwestern New Jersey, the facility produces basil, chives, oregano and other herbs that are sold in grocery stores around New York City.  

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Feds' war on medical marijuana goes overboard

Monday, April 30, 2012 The Department of Justice maintains that there has been no change in the Obama administration's medical marijuana policy. President Obama recently told Rolling Stone, "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana - and the reason is, because it's against federal law."  

Medical-marijuana dispensaries run into trouble at the bank

The booming medical-marijuana industry in Washington is struggling to gain business legitimacy. Already on shaky legal footing because of the conflict between state and federal law, dispensaries are bogged down by troubles with banking and federal taxes. By Jonathan Martin Seattle Times staff reporter Conscious Care Cooperative has a solid footing in a growing industry, with three storefronts in Seattle and a loyal customer base. But for much of the last two years, the nonprofit medical-marijuana provider has lacked one business basic: steady access to a bank. The cooperative has bounced among five financial institutions, and four others rejected the cooperative outright, said CCC's president, Nate Chrysler. In one case, a bank closed the account without notice.    

Federal agents raid Oakland's pot university

  Federal agents raid Oakland's pot university Federal agents are conducting a search of Oakland's Oaksterdam University, a training school for the study of marijuana. Agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration arrived with a search warrant this morning at the school variously called the Princeton of Pot and the Harvard of Hemp.   Continued

Once-budding pot school wilts

  CLASSES SHRINK AMID FEDS’ DRUG CRACKDOWN By Peter Hecht [email protected]      OAKLAND – For the school renowned as the Princeton of Pot and the Harvard of Hemp, the high times have wafted into a downer.      Enrollment has plummeted at Oaksterdam University, the Oakland college that since 2007 has attracted 15,000 students to study cannabis cultivation and related careers, while boosting commerce in one of America’s most pot-friendly cities.          The pilgrimage for pot scholarship in Oakland is waning as California’s four U.S. attorneys wage a crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries. And yet, at Oaksterdam and elsewhere in the city, neither fewer students nor heightened federal scrutiny of the cannabis business seems to be killing Oakland’s vibe for promoting the possibilities of pot.      Despite the closing of hundreds of dispensaries elsewhere in California, Oakland is doubling down. It is seeking to license four new marijuana stores and attract new local pot tax revenue on top of the $1.7 million it gets from its four current dispensaries.      And Oaksterdam University – with its leafy green “CAN-NA-BIS crest mimicking Harvard’s crimson VE-RI-TAS seal – was drawing students last week from California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Washington, Puerto Rico and even Japan.      The mere prize of an Oaksterdam diploma was enough for Aats Otoina, 33, a rice and spinach farmer from Chiba, Japan. His country imposes strict penalties for pot possession. Yet Otoina wants to use his status as an Oaksterdam grad to lecture on Japan’s cannabis traditions under the ancient Shinto religion.   Continued

LA pot shop workers join labor union

  Associated Press Posted March 23, 2012 at 7:13 a.m. LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marijuana dispensary workers in Los Angeles are trying to save their jobs by joining a labor union. The Los Angeles Times says it's partly an effort to fight a proposed city ban on the business.  Workers at 14 pot shops have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 770. The union also represents grocery clerks, pharmacists and health care workers. Local President Rick Icaza said Thursday that the 35,000-member union will back efforts to keep the dispensaries open. Other union branches already represent dispensaries in other parts of California and in Colorado. continued


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