You’ve likely noticed cannabis’ new presence in your hometown: marijuana leaves on billboards, CBD stores popping up, or a dispensary opening down the street. But, cannabis has been present in the United States since before its founding. Hemp, which is fast growing and easy to cultivate, was valued by early colonists for its versatility, and was even used as legal tender in select states in the 1600s.
Cannabis also has a long history of use and cultivation by U.S. presidents; George Washington wrote about growing hemp and using it to alleviate tooth pain, Thomas Jefferson cultivated hemp and likely smoked while ambassador to France, and it’s widely accepted that James Madison once remarked that “hemp gave him the insight to create a new democratic nation.”
By the late 1800s, cannabis products were commonly sold in pharmacies and cultivation remained widespread until its criminalization in the 20th century.
The public’s perception began to change when immigrants escaping the Mexican Revolution popularized recreational use. Cannabis developed a racial stigma and opinions deteriorated further during the social unrest of the Great Depression. By 1931, it had been prohibited in all 29 states.
Propaganda, like the film Reefer Madness, stoked fear with depictions of cannabis-induced murder and insanity. The film and other similar depictions were widely circulated in the 1940s, likely contributing to stricter sentencing in the 1950s.
The 1970s saw an intensified fear of cannabis during President Nixon’s presidency. Although federal commissions suggested decriminalization, Nixon ignored these findings and designated cannabis a Schedule I drug, with no medical value and a high potential for abuse.
The last few decades have seen presidents increase federal drug abuse spending from $5 billion to $12 billion, mandates for life sentences for repeat offenders, and raids and seizures of cannabis- even in states that had legalized. And while many hoped that President Obama would change federal policy, he primarily left decisions to the states.
Despite cannabis’ negative image and association with heavier drugs, 1996 saw California’s Compassionate Use Act which allowed medicinal marijuana for patients with severe illnesses. The public’s perception of the plant began to change, but it would be almost two decades before real progress was made.
Today, 33 states allow for medicinal cannabis and 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana. Although California paved the way for medical use, Colorado and Washington were the first to legalize recreationally in 2012. Since it was signed into law, Colorado has earned over $1 billion in cannabis revenue, enticing more and more states to legalize. While it’s still illegal under federal law, it’s becoming likely that this will change - and change may be coming soon.
Polls show that a majority of Americans support cannabis, with 59% supporting full legalization and 32% favoring medicinal use only. Even President Trump has signaled his support, endorsing his “Right to Try Act” which would allow patients with terminal illnesses to seek cures that have not yet received FDA approval- like medicinal cannabis. Although only available to patients with a reasonable likelihood of death, this bill will allow legal medical marijuana nationwide.
The 2020 election may act as a catalyst for legalization with the possible beginning of a new administration. All but one Democratic candidate support legalization- Joe Biden.
Biden, who has a history of supporting tough penalties, has expressed his belief that marijuana may act as a “gateway drug,” leading to the use of stronger narcotics. Although he has proposed decriminalization, expungement of past convictions, and downgrading cannabis to a schedule II drug, full legalization may not be something he would be behind.
Despite the politics of taking a pro-cannabis stance, an increasing number of states are looking to 2020 for legalization, including Illinois and Maine which have already passed legislation. States like Arizona, New Jersey, and many more are currently in the process of full legalization with others, like Mississippi, making progress toward medicinal use.
But, while states continue to legalize, an illicit cannabis market still remains active. Licensed cannabis businesses must remain vigilant in securing their locations and proactively protecting their employees, customers, and products. There continues to be an increasing demand by the state to better safeguard these legitimate businesses without looking like a prison with high fences and armed guards. Cannabis businesses, especially dispensaries, want to be seen as welcoming and inviting retailers, without sacrificing the quality of security.
While cannabis may not be available in every state yet, it’s likely that it will have a legal presence nationwide, whether medicinal or recreational, within the next few years- and the cannabis security industry will only expand
Authors: Tony Gallo, Katharine Baxter
After two years of waiting and months of delays, West Virginia will finally begin accepting applications for medical cannabis dispensaries, grows, processors, and laboratories.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the Bureau for Public Health have announced that the Office of Medical Cannabis will begin accepting applications at 3:00 p.m. EST on December 19. Applicants will have 60 days to submit their applications before the submission period will close on February 18 at 3:00 p.m. EST.
Applications are required to be submitted online through www.medcanwv.org and will not have the option to submit a paper version. Late applications will not be accepted.
Originally, the Bureau announced that it will allow for up to 30 permits for dispensaries or delivery services, 10 permits for grows, and 10 permits for processors. The Bureau has not signaled its intent to diverge from this initial roll-out plan.
West Virginia had planned to open applications in July of this year, but has faced setbacks from the state’s treasury department. While banking venders declined to process cannabis funds, the use of credit unions has been arranged as a solution.
While the original legalization legislation, SB 386, was passed in April 2017, patients in West Virginia have been unable to access medicinal cannabis within state borders. Since its passing, eligible patients have had to travel to nearby states with established patient reciprocity agreements to obtain their medicinal cannabis.
The Office of Medical Cannabis intends to provide access to medical cannabis to West Virginia patients before the summer of 2021. Until then, patients will have to travel for their medicine but are celebrating the progress that has been made.
Update on 10-9-19: The Texas DPS announced: "The Department's Compassionate Use Program is not accepting applications at this time." We will monitor the situation.
Applications were released today for Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organizations. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will begin accepting applications on December 10, 2019, and all applications must be submitted by January 2, 2020, at noon.
You’ve been planning your cannabis application for months. Now it’s time to start writing!
The application is broken into 10 scored sections for a total of 250 points.
The most emphasis has been placed on the Security and Record Keeping section and the Business Plan, Financials, Operating Plan, and Floor Plan section. Both sections are worth 65 points each.
Other scored sections are:
According to the state, scoring and awards will be likely be announced on or before May 1, 2020.
The thoroughness and quality of these sections could allow you to open your business – or prevent you from opening at all if you’re unprepared.
Not sure what to do or unsure on where to start? Hire an expert consultant with experience in the cannabis industry!
Sapphire Risk Advisory Group has written over 200 city/state applications for dispensaries and cultivation facilities in 24 states, including Illinois in the last round. Our professionally written security sections have received an average score of 96%. Additionally, we have managed the build outs of over 50 successful cannabis businesses and trained several staffs on security awareness and protocols.
Let our success be your success! How can we help you open your business?
For the Illinois application, we are prepared to write the entirety of Exhibit H: Security. This section outlines safety and security procedures for cannabis, the facility, and its employees. This section has a page limit of 50 pages, and historically, the highest scoring applications are near or at this mark.
Our experience and expertise is also applicable for some security adjacent sections and services. For the Illinois application we are equipped to assist with Exhibit G: Recalls, Quarantine, and Destruction Plan, Exhibit I: Inventory Monitoring and Recordkeeping Plan, and Exhibit J: Proposed Floor Plan.
It’s a lot of work, so don’t do it alone! Connect with us today for a free consultation and let us help you succeed in the cannabis industry.
Sapphire Risk Advisory Group is pleased to announce that it has been honored as the Dallas Award Program’s 2019 Consultant of the Year. We were commended for our exceptional marketing success and our contribution to our community and to the U.S. economy.
Over the past five years, Sapphire Risk has written the security section in over 200 state/city cannabis applications in 24 states. We continue to have one of the highest average security scores with a nationwide average of 96%. Our physical security floor plan designs are used by owners and architects across the United States and we have managed the physical security build-out of over 50 cannabis facilities.
Let our success be your success! We have an experienced staff ready to help you get your cannabis license, build your facility, and sustain your growing business. Connect with us today to see how we can solve your security concerns.
View the original press release here: Sapphire Risk Advisory Group Receives 2019 Dallas Award.
Sapphire Risk Advisory Group is pleased to announce that Katharine Baxter has joined our team in the position of Lead Technical Writer. Katharine, a recent alumna from the University of North Texas, graduated Cum Laude with bachelor’s degrees in both Journalism and Political Science. In addition to being a published writer, she also brings experience in marketing and social media to the company.
Katharine will be working with the team, writing the security sections of city and state cannabis applications as well as Standards of Operations Procedures, Emergency Procedures and other business training modules. Katharine is a welcome addition to the team as Sapphire Risk continues to help business owners develop their security strategy.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning the general public that it is illegal to operate a drone with a dangerous weapon attached.
Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.
Operating a drone that has a dangerous weapon attached to it is a violation of Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act enacted Oct. 5, 2018. Operators are subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the operator has received specific authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation. “Dangerous Weapon” means any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.
Operators should keep in mind that federal regulations and statutes that generally govern drone operations still apply. Some state and federal criminal laws regarding weapons and hazardous materials may also apply to drone operators or manufacturers involved in certain operations.
WHAT EXACTLY IS HEMP?
While hemp is a plant in the cannabis plant family, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp does not contain the THC that marijuana does, so it has no psychotropic effects. In fact, hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years by people around the world. Ancient civilizations used hemp to create fibers for cloth, fiber-pulp for paper making, oil for fuel, and they ground it into power to use for medicinal purposes.
HAS HEMP EVER BEEN GROWN IN THE UNITED STATES?
Hemp was brought to colonial America by the Puritans. They planted the hemp seeds in New England, so they could use their hemp harvest to make linen for sails and caulking for ships. Hemp was a mainstay in the maritime industry because of its natural resistance to decay. As the colonies grew so did hemp cultivation. Eventually, hemp was a valuable crop being grown in Maryland and Virginia as well.
EVEN THE FOUNDING FATHERS GREW HEMP.
Hemp was such an important crop for the colonial economy that farmers were compelled to grown hemp to show their patriotism to the fledgling country. George Washington grew hemp on his farm and Thomas Jefferson cross-bred hemp seeds to create new varieties. He also invented a unique tool that kept the hemp stems from being crushed while being processed. While the founding fathers were hammering out the details of the Declaration of Independence, they wrote their ideas down on hemp paper.
WHY WAS GROWING HEMP OUTLAWED?
Hemp cultivation got caught up in the "Reefer Madness" hysteria of the early 1900s. This was an idea widely circulated to the public that young people would become "insane" by smoking marijuana. An all-out assault on marijuana reached a crescendo and citizens pressured the politicians of the day to do something.
POWER AND GREED GOT INVOLVED.
Knowing the societal pressure over marijuana, greedy industrialist William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont Company also pressured them to include hemp in any ban on cannabis. As has been noted hemp was used to make paper and oils for plastics. Hearst had a huge financial stake in timber cultivation and paper mills and DuPont had just created cellophane and other plastic products from petroleum. Together they had a million reasons to want hemp cultivation and the products that could be made from it outlawed in the United States.
The biggest news to come out of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee this year is the passage of "House Bill 1325". That day a Wednesday, Texas State Senator Charles Perry declared, "Wednesday is not hump day but hemp day."
TEXAS HOUSE BILL 1325 IS A GAME CHANGER.
The bill, now signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, "legalized the cultivation of hemp, processing of hemp, and manufacturing hemp derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD)." This law brings Texas in line with 40 other states and the federal government laws that deemed hemp legal for cultivation and production. Many in Texas are excited to learn how they can now reap the financial benefits from this valuable product.
The Texas Agriculture website states that Sid Miller, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner "is a strong supporter of industrial hemp production as a new market opportunity for Texas farmers to expand their operations and grow alternative crops."
WHAT EXACTLY IS HEMP?
While hemp is a plant in the cannabis plant family, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp does not contain THC that marijuana does, so it has no psychotropic effects. In fact, hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years by people around the world. Ancient civilizations used hemp to create fibers for cloth, fiber-pulp for paper making, oil for fuel, and they ground it into power to use for medicinal purposes.
CAN HEMP SAVE THE TEXAS FAMILY FARM?
Lisa Pittman, a Texas cannabis attorney stated to the Texas Tribune; "Previously dormant pilot programs are all now activating after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. I personally believe Texas will become a leader in [the hemp growing] arena because farmers have been looking to this bill as a lifeline to save their family farms."
HOW VALUABLE CAN HEMP BE TO TEXAS FARMERS?
Texas farmers need to know that their next most valuable crop may be hemp. Farmers in states where it is now legal to grow hemp have realized substantial profits from their crop. Jeff Lake, President of Elemental Processing, and part of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is quoted in the Dallas News, "Where corn may yield $350 to $400 per acre on a good year, and soybeans $150 to $200, Elemental Processing pays $3,000 to $5,000 an acre for hemp plus a bonus on the yield."
WILL HEMP GROW WELL IN TEXAS?
Hemp is a very hardy, drought tolerant annual plant that produces high yields. The climate in Texas is ideal for growing hemp. Industrial hemp thrives in warm weather and can grow in a large variety of soils. While hemp can be grown in the same plot for years, rotation with other crops is best. It is also known that depleted soils benefit from hemp rotation.
HOW CAN I START A HEMP FARM IN TEXAS?
Even though House Bill 1325 was signed into law, the State of Texas must work with the USDA to iron out the details. Applications for hemp growing permits will be available in 2020. Check the Texas Department of Agriculture website for updates.
Before starting any new venture, and especially before starting a hemp farm, it is critical to hire a Risk Advisor. Risk Advisors can analyze your entire operation, identify any potential risks before they happen and create a complete hemp security program for your business. There still is a lot of confusion around all the "can and cannot do's" regarding Industrial Hemp Production and Call today to see how our "proactive security strategies can protect your time, money and reputation as your business grows."