Profitable Pot
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Profitable Pot
Posted by CN Staff on March 20, 2011 at 06:31:26 PT
By Kristen Consillio 
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser 
Hawaii -- Medical marijuana has become a lucrative business in Hawaii. Legal users soared to more than 8,000 over the past decade from 255 in 2001, the program's first year. $38 million a year, with patients consuming an average of 1 ounce per month at a street price of $400.It's a burgeoning business for doctors, who charge as much as $300 to certify medical marijuana patients. The consultation typically lasts an hour and often is not covered by medical insurance.
There were 175 physicians licensed to certify medical marijuana patients as of June, up from 35 in 2001, according to the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the state Department of Public Safety.The state charges a $25 processing fee for a medical marijuana certificate. Patients are required to be certified annually.Hawaii's medical marijuana law allows patients with a debilitating condition such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, severe pain or nausea to use the drug if they are certified by a physician registered with the state. It is still illegal to buy marijuana, but patients can grow it legally.Matthew Brittain, a licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor on the Big Island, has built a niche for himself referring potential medical cannabis users to doctors. Brittain has about 600 active patients and charges as much as $100 for referrals and handling the paperwork."We're in this to make money I wouldn't spend the time if I weren't making money because I have to pay my bills," said Brittain, who also is a certified medical cannabis user for a degenerative back condition.The Big Island, which has 13.6 percent of the state's population, accounts for 57.8 percent of the medical marijuana certificates.Out-of-state doctors are also benefiting from the increase in Hawaii patients. Doctors from the Hemp & Cannabis Foundation, based in Portland, Ore., make frequent trips to the islands. The company charges $250 for a marijuana certificate, including the $25 state fee."There's a big market," said Keith Kamita, deputy director for law enforcement at the Department of Public Safety, which administers the medical marijuana program.What concerns law enforcement officers is that certain doctors are willing to issue medical marijuana certificates to patients who are not suffering from major illnesses."Is there a true doctor-patient relationship, or are they just paying a fee to smoke marijuana?" Kamita asked. "There are some questionable practices."Kamita said the bulk of marijuana permits are for residents in their 20s and 30s, most of whom cite severe pain as their medical condition."We know that the ages are younger and we're getting more and more minors … which concerns us," Kamita said. "Because the term is so broad, doctors are interpreting it in their own manner. We don't see what their diagnosis is. It's not what the original (law) was intended for. It was touted as this would be a last-resort type of drug, but that's not the case."Dr. Jim Berg, a Big Island physician, has issued the most marijuana certificates since the law was passed, according to state records. The Narcotics Enforcement Division records showed Berg had authorized 2,957 certificates as of June 2010.Berg disputed that number, but said he doesn't keep count. He said he typically charges between $125 and $150 per office visit.Once the marijuana certificate is issued, patients in Hawaii have to break the law to acquire the drug. Buying marijuana or the seeds to grow the plant is illegal even with a certificate. Certified patients or caregivers can jointly grow seven plants three mature and four immature, or nonflowering and have up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana per mature plant."What they've done is created a law that makes somebody break it in order for the law to be fulfilled. It's a Catch-22," Berg said. "An unbelievably high percentage of my patients are extremely law-abiding patients. People who are coming for medical marijuana usually want to be legal; they're trying to do what the state wants them to do."Patients or their caregivers often end up buying pot, paying as much as $400 an ounce."When I can't grow it … I spend (money) or I don't walk," said Teri Heede, a 55-year-old Makakilo resident and retired computer engineer suffering from multiple sclerosis, which causes her frequent blindness and immobility. "There is no other way to purchase it, except illegally, so there is no legal mechanism for us to comply with the law."Heede said she used to take 25 to 30 pills a day to alleviate her condition. Now she uses at least one-eighth of an ounce daily and virtually no pills."Marijuana holds it at bay and in some cases totally alleviates it," said Heede, who has lobbied lawmakers for the past two years to establish marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. "Pills weren't working."Medical marijuana advocates are pushing to make it easier for patients to buy the drug. A bill to allow the distribution of medical marijuana through a single Maui dispensary, or "compassion center," for five years as a pilot program passed out of two committees in the state Legislature last week. It would also establish a 30 percent tax on medical marijuana products.Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs. In many states, the industry is growing rapidly with new fields emerging for cutters, growers, rippers, testers and so-called bud tenders, who help patients choose the right strain of weed for their illness.Illegal cannabis sales nationwide are estimated at $35 billion to $40 billion, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C.The United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 5, in Californiahas organized 200 medical cannabis members and has another 400 workers whose collective bargaining contracts still must be negotiated, said Dan Rush, Local 5 cannabis division director.In California, the nonprofit medical cannabis companies "generate a tremendous amount of revenue, which makes them willing to want to pay their workers well," Rush said.The union has recognition agreements with cannabis companies that will be employing another 2,100 people in California within the next year, Rush said. "What we're trying to do is take that from the black market and bring it to the open market."VARYING LAWSFifteen states and Washington, D.C., have medical marijuana programs, but laws vary from state to state: California has legalized medical marijuana sales with retail dispensaries and home delivery services available in certain counties. About a dozen counties or cities in California tax medical marijuana products. Most recently, Los Angeles passed a tax measure. Marijuana sales are illegal in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Michigan, Vermont and Montana. People can possess or grow a small amount in those states, but not purchase it. State-sanctioned marijuana sales are legal in Colorado, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maine, Arizona and the District of Columbia. In Maryland, if people are arrested for possession of the drug, they can use medical necessity as a defense.Source: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana LawsLEGISLATIVE EFFORTSBills related to medical marijuana that are still alive in the Legislature: HB 1085: Makes Hawaii statutes on controlled substances consistent with federal laws and increases fee for registration. SB 1458: Creates a five-year pilot program with one medical marijuana dispensary on Maui. SB 1460: Decriminalizes an ounce or less of marijuana. SB 175: Moves medical marijuana program from Department of Public Safety to Department of Health. Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)Author: Kristen Consillio Published: March 20, 2011Copyright: 2011 Star AdvertiserWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by herbdoc215 on March 20, 2011 at 13:08:43 PT
Sam, what is worse is they actually know 
SSRI's kill as an entire group of drugs and ignore the deaths due to drug company, Here is one they are giving vets for PTSD that's killing them and Paxil and Zoloft are JUST as dangerous...the real kicker is science doesn't even know HOW they work...just black box put this in and get this out??? Killing in the name of profit!"Seroquel’s side effects include diabetes, weight gain, uncontrollable muscle spasms, slurred, speech, disorientation, and tremors. Approximately 26,000 lawsuits have been brought against AstraZeneca because of Seroquel’s side effects. Recently, the company settled many of these lawsuits by agreeing to a multi-million dollar payment."Peace, Steve
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on March 20, 2011 at 08:47:13 PT
Post propaganda
I see the scapegoating and witch-hunting is alive and well at the Denver Post.So now, in order to be a valid, medicine must be used equally by both genders?I can't wait to check out some of the other drugs on the market - anti-depressants, for instance. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts women use SSRI's more than men. It must be a hoax!This has absolutely nothing to do with medicine, it's all about scapegoating to maintain the tyranny of the economic elite and political class. I find the propaganda insulting. We're supposed to watch these TV ads for "Abilify" and "Cymbalta" and then think that 10,000 year-old medical cannabis is a hoax? By asking me to believe this editorial the Denver Post is basically calling me an idiot.
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Comment #2 posted by herbdoc215 on March 20, 2011 at 08:39:29 PT
That Denver Post story below has to be
THE dumbest piece of propaganda/sophism I've ever read...What about men doing probably >80% of the physical and dangerous work like construction and combat which would make them much more prone to physical injuries on a % basis, or am I the only one whom still has a belief system based upon reality? All these stories are just back door attempt's to slander and smear us. You know I bet over 70% of the people whom have epidural anesthesia are women in child labor but that doesn't make them evil? Peace, Steve  
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 20, 2011 at 06:46:53 PT
Denver Post Editorial
Editorial: Deeper Doubts About "Medical" MarijuanaMarch 20, 2011Seventy percent of Colorado's registered users are men, a sign that the state's culture of pot use has little to do with medicine.We weren't surprised to see that men comprise the vast majority of those on the state's medical marijuana registry, according to a Denver Post story last weekend.The more bewildering assertions came from medical marijuana advocates who said women shy away from marijuana due to "socio-cultural" factors. And they claim doctors might not be willing to talk to women about pot as a treatment.URL:
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