Knowing the Law is Key to Success in the Cannabis Industry

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To Keep it Legal, Keep it Ethical

Marijuana is enjoying an increase in popularity as states throughout the U.S. decriminalize and legalize its use and possession. Regardless of the fact that 57% of Americans now “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” it is still against federal law and remains listed by the DEA as Schedule I, placing it among drugs considered the most dangerous and without any therapeutic value.

The legal cannabis industry is currently underpinned by a simple written statement from the former Obama Administration, known as the Cole Memo, which outlines the requirements to avoid federal actions — such as keeping it out of the hands of children and organized crime.

However, recent statements from the Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seem to disregard both popular opinion and the democratic process by which legalization has occurred across many states. These reversals have had an understandably chilling effect on the industry as a whole.

So how can you best navigate this uncertain environment? Here are a few tips:

  • Continue to operate in compliance with the Cole Memo
  • Ensure you have a thorough understanding of all state and local laws and regulations
  • Get to know your regulators
  • Participate in all available public hearings as laws and rules are developed & re-assessed in your community
  • Know which of your elected officials support legal cannabis, share your story with them, and support them with your vote
  • Find a credible legal expert who can guide you as local, state, and federal regulations change

To that end, Cannabis Institute instructor and attorney Nicole Li is an exceptional resource. Her Li Law Firm specializes in cannabis law and compliance, and she’s dedicated to helping people become more comfortable and knowledgeable about cannabis law and professional ethics. Nicole also lends her expertise to highlight the racial inequities that have been exacerbated by prohibition-era laws.

“Our country’s marijuana policy is not evidence-based, it is out of step with medical research, and it worsens social disparity through racist enforcement,” Nicole states. “When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana,’ he spreads stigma that reinforces those problems. I have the privilege to be an attorney with degrees in both medical ethics and philosophy to challenge those prejudices. I feel that it’s a moral duty to do so.”

In addition to her law practice, Nicole is the legal advisor for Seattle Central Cannabis Institute’s Medical Marijuana Consultant Certificate Program, as well as the instructor for one of our online CEU classes, Law and Ethics for Medical Marijuana Consultants. If you’re currently a Medical Marijuana Consultant, working in the cannabis industry in another capacity, or are simply interested in gaining more insight into the legal and ethical considerations of this developing industry, Nicole’s 5-hour online course is an excellent resource and highly recommended — especially in the context of these uncertain times.

How Does Your Cannabis Garden Grow?

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How Does Your Cannabis Garden Grow? | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Is it Sticky and Green?

If you’re a medical marijuana patient in Washington state, it should be!

As a patient with a valid recommendation, you can legally grow up to four cannabis plants; but if you’re registered in the state database, you may grow at least six plants and up to a maximum of fifteen plants — based on approval from your healthcare professional.

That’s a lot of green — which can save you a lot of green! — but that’s not the only reason you should consider cultivating your own plants.

For all of the strain varieties available on the recreational marijuana market, it doesn’t come close in scope when compared with the great diversity of genetics available.

Also, being your own gardener means you can better control the end product; not only can you regulate the types of chemicals used to fertilize your cannabis, you can learn to grow without traditional fertilizers by building a good, living substrate.

Even in a small space, such as a closet or in a small grow tent, amateur gardeners can harvest several ounces from each plant after a few weeks. But between planting your first seeds and harvesting your plant, there are a number of steps that you must take to ensure a healthy and bountiful return.

For the patient depending on safe, reliable marijuana, getting it right is key. That’s why the Cannabis Institute at Seattle Central College is busy preparing a ‘Growing Cannabis at Home’ course. This 10-hour online course includes the following, plus a whole lot more:

  • The physiology of the plant
  • How to create an indoor growing space
  • Substrate tips
  • Circulation and light requirements
  • Nutrient options
  • Harvesting and curing 

If you’re interested in learning how to grow your own cannabis, consider signing up for our course! You can join our email list and we’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Seattle Central Cannabis Institute Partners with the Cannabis Alliance

The Cannabis Alliance | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

We're Bringing the Cannabis Industry to You

The Cannabis Institute at Seattle Central College is excited to announce that will now be hosting monthly meetings of the Cannabis Alliance.

The Cannabis Alliance “is a non-profit, membership-based association of individuals, businesses, government officials, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to the advancement of a sustainable, vital and ethical cannabis industry.” Stated briefly, they work to make it work.

To learn more about the work that they do, we spoke with Danielle Rosellison, president of The Cannabis Alliance. In addition to her role with the Alliance, Danielle is co-owner of 502 producer Trailblazin’ Productions, and board member of both The Cannabis Farmers Council and Washington Federation of Marijuana Businesses.

For those unfamiliar, what exactly is the Cannabis Alliance? Why does it matter?

The Cannabis Alliance is the merging of 5 other cannabis associations who realized we are more powerful unified, than scattered and fractured.

We are a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of a sustainable, vital and ethical cannabis industry.

Basically, we’re the good guys.

Why is involvement with professional organizations important?

This industry, more so than most, has so many moving parts, as well as 70 years of misinformation.

In order to combat those misconceptions, we need to be organized and strategic. Professional organizations are the best way to accomplish those goals.

What are the Alliance's current priorities?

The Cannabis Alliance is focused on getting cannabis designated as agriculture (but not for tax purposes), legalizing sharing and consumption clubs, lowering the excise tax in some cases, and eliminating the excise tax for medical patients.

Is it open to those who want to be involved in cannabis and don't know where to start? How would you suggest someone become involved?

Come to a general meeting, which is on the second Thursday of the month from 12pm – 2pm, at Seattle Central’s Wood Technology Center.

It’s free the first time for students, and you can decide then whether or not you want to become a member. It’s a great way to network and learn more about this burgeoning industry.

Pets and Cannabis

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Pets and Cannabis | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Cannabis Institute - CEUs | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Pets and Cannabis | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

No, This Article Isn't About Getting Your Animal High

In fact, if you’re getting your animal high purely for your enjoyment, it’s highly unethical and could cause your pet to be very uncomfortable and anxious. Rather, this article is about the emerging market and uses of cannabis in veterinary medicine.

The endocannabinoid system in the human body is thought to regulate sleep, hunger, inflammations, autoimmune function, and more. It produces endogenous, or naturally occurring, cannabinoids, which are very similar to the phytocannabinoids present in cannabis. Because we have receptors specifically designed to receive cannabinoids, it makes cannabis a very effective and safe medicine for humans. And all vertebrate animals — from snakes to elephants — have this endocannabinoid system.

Using cannabis to treat animals is in the very early stages right now, but there is some history of its use. In the early 1900’s, veterinary medicine used cannabis tinctures to treat herd animals for bloating, dysentery, and other gastrointestinal conditions. Due to prohibition, however, research on the efficacy of cannabis use in veterinary medicine has been limited, and professional organizations are unwilling to support its use, so licensed veterinarians are understandably hesitant to recommend cannabis therapies to pet owners.

But advances in developing cannabis for different medical applications in humans have resulted in the introduction of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can be extracted from both cannabis and hemp. Because it doesn’t have an intoxicating effect, CBD-based medicine for pets has been slowly gaining traction.

While more research is required, many anecdotal stories from pet owners and some veterinarians about the benefits of CBD in pet care have increased the interest of pet owners around the world. The potential that this therapy could help heal their pets — with possibly few side effects, when compared with more intensive pharmaceutical therapies — is quite exciting.

As interest increases and the success stories are shared, a variety of CBD-based pet treats are being introduced to the market. CBD can be derived from both cannabis and hemp, however, its future is currently uncertain. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently stated that it is reevaluating CBD — even if it’s extracted from hemp — and may include them in their drug scheduling. This is contrary to the Farm Bill signed by President Obama, so a lawsuit has already been filed to challenge any move to make CBD illegal by the DEA.

If you’re considering using cannabis-based medicine with your pet, please do so under the professional direction of a licensed veterinarian. This can present a bit of a challenge, however, given that the industry has not yet come out in support of using cannabis with pets.

In general, it’s a good idea to go ‘low and slow’ to avoid overdoing it when trying to establish the appropriate dosage for your pet. Be sure to monitor their behavior and reactions closely, as well.

Additionally, I encourage you to only use products derived from organic, US-grown hemp in order to avoid the pesticides and heavy metals sometimes found in Chinese hemp.

Do you have experience with using cannabis to treat your pet’s medical condition? If so, please share in the comments below!

Can Cannabis Help With Our Opiate Crisis?

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So You Want to Work in the Cannabis Industry? | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Cannabis Institute - CEUs | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

78 People Die From Opiate-Related Overdoses in the US Each Day

In 2014, more people died from drug overdose than any year on record in the US. Six out of ten of these deaths were from opiates, about 47,000 people. As the Centers for Disease Control notes, “Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, on an average day in the United States:

  • More than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed
  • 3,900 people initiate non-medical use of prescription opioids
  • 580 people initiate heroin use
  • 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose

Physicians nationwide are now re-evaluating prescribing practices that have contributed to the crisis. When physicians cut off prescriptions to these painkillers, many patients seek out other sources, by “doctor shopping” or going to illegal, underground markets for heroin. The drug has become readily available in even the smallest of American cities.

Can Cannabis Help With Our Opiate Crisis? | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationIronically, heroin began as a pharmaceutical drug. The Bayer Company began an aggressive heroin marketing campaign in 1898, even marketing the product for children! But as science and understanding of the drug expanded, the therapeutic use was decreased.

However, sometimes the profit motives of a company outweigh the public’s best interest; for example, Purdue Pharma once touted OxyContin as its new “miracle pill” for pain — claiming that, because it was time-released, it posed little to no threat of addiction. They have since been fined $600 million dollars after pleading guilty of intentionally misleading the public about the risks it posed.

For all of the concerns about legal cannabis, we continue to learn about the positive benefits of legalized marijuana:

  • The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article in 2014 that indicated in states with legalized medical marijuana, there were 25% fewer overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers. Additionally, these states also see an equal percentage decrease in the number of opiate-based prescriptions being written.
  • Researchers have also analyzed traffic fatality information from 1999 – 2013 in eighteen US states. Data showed that those states that had legal medical marijuana had fewer fatal crashes of drivers with opioids in their system.

In general, people with access to medical marijuana take fewer prescription drugs. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Pain relievers such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen can significantly increase a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Up to 90% of opioid users can experience constipation
  • Opiates can compromise the immune system
  • Opioid use can cause hormone imbalances

Prior to legal interventions, the medicinal benefits of cannabis had been known throughout the world for generations. We are only just now rediscovering many of its therapeutic benefits, and how it can be used to manage many chronic health conditions with significantly less side affects than synthetic drugs.

Simply identifying a problem and talking about it will not resolve it; we will need creative solutions and dedicated citizens if we hope to address the opiate crisis in the US. We’ve tried — and failed — to police addiction, so it’s time to consider some new approaches to this problem.

What can you do?

  • Explore the data on medical marijuana that’s already available
  • Advocate for further research studies
  • Learn more about how marijuana can help with pain management by taking our Pain Management and Cannabis Therapy online course
  • Discuss medical marijuana with the people you know
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about how medical marijuana might support your health goals, or find a healthcare provider who has the background and interest in exploring the topic with you

As access to medical cannabis expands throughout the country, I’m hopeful that it will have a positive impact on communities. It’s already helping tens of thousands of people to manage their health, and it also seems to be saving lives. And that’s a ray of hope that I will embrace.

So You Want to Work in the Cannabis Industry?

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So You Want to Work in the Cannabis Industry? | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Cannabis Institute - CEUs | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Believe the Hype

Trey Reckling - Cannabis Instructor | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Instructor & Author Trey Reckling
Cannabis cowboys, ganjapreneurs, marijuana mavens — these are just a few of the creative job titles the media uses as it describes pioneering positions in the burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

And it’s no surprise: The industry has been projected by some to be worth over $40 billion — more valuable than the National Football League! — within five years of nationwide legalization. Some even say that is a humble estimate.

But just because the industry has a lot of financial potential, it actually isn’t the only motivation involved. After all, how many opportunities will you have to be part of a brand new industry?

In collaboration with the Academy of Cannabis Science, Seattle Central College’s Cannabis Institute has educated more medical marijuana consultants in Washington State than anyone else to date.

Of the hundreds of students who have successfully completed our program, now one of them has said that money is the reason they are passionate about working in the cannabis industry.

So what motivates them?

Many have had personal experiences as medical marijuana patients or have family members who are; they were often taking traditional pharmaceuticals to help with issues like insomnia, chronic pain, gastrointestinal stress, and more — and they found that transitioning to medicinal marijuana has been a huge benefit.

Since this is a new industry, we encourage people interested in the cannabis industry to bring their existing skills. For example, if you don’t have a background in agriculture, there’s no need to become a grower! As a new legal industry, there is growing need for infrastructure and support, so those with experience in the following fields will easily find a position:

  • Healthcare
  • Marketing, design, advertising & communications
  • Packaging
  • Law
  • Construction
  • Transportation

When you combined your existing skills with a great understanding and knowledge of cannabis, you’re prepared to help shape this new industry.

At the Cannabis Institute we have already seen a wide variety of students who are positioning themselves for jobs that are on the horizon by increasing their cannabis IQ and knowledge. Our program is offered in an eLearning format, so we’ve been able to work with students from all over the US. We’ve helped them better understand the industry, the science behind medical marijuana, important customer service considerations, and current scientific research.

For those who want to establish themselves in the cannabis industry, there is no single path to get there. It will take creativity, stamina, great flexibility and passion. We are excited to be able to help people realize their goals and to be prepared to succeed in a brand new industry.