- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2015

Curious about “Hacking Your Body With Cannabinoids” or “Saving America Through Cannabis”?

Perhaps your interest lies in e-njoint, billed as “the world’s first electronic joint.” Or maybe you’d like to navigate Weedmaps, the Google Maps of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Whatever your pot priorities, the High Times Business Summit aims to provide the information, the networks and the, let’s say, paraphernalia you need to take entrepreneurial advantage of the District’s approval of recreational marijuana use.

High Times, the pro-legalization magazine, kicked off its summit Monday at the Washington Hilton in Northwest. Through Wednesday the marijuana confab features variety of speakers, including policy reform advocates, medical professionals, pot entrepreneurs and lawmakers like Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat.

“It’s historic and monumental,” said David Kohl, the magazine’s president and CEO. “Legal recreational use in the District of Columbia is meaningful in that it has created the first legal climate on the East Coast.”

Seminars designed to help the budding businessman or -woman set up shop in the District, to address attitudes and policies about marijuana and to inform the public about cannabis will be led by nationally recognized experts such as researcher Raphael Mechoulam; Marsha Rosenbaum, founder of the Safety First drug education project; and attorney Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), among others.

In addition, pro-pot sponsors and exhibitors such as Moxie Seeds & Extracts, Alternative Herbal Health Services, the Cannabis Consulting Co. and Buds & Roses will offer presentations, pamphlets and other materials at booths around the summit area.

Mr. Kohl said that the District’s legalization of marijuana affects more than just the city’s residents because it could show the federal government that legalization policies can work.

“It’s key in keeping awareness top of mind in our nation’s capitol, where key members of the executive, judicial and legislative branches live and work,” he said. “Because the District of Columbia was a first mover on the East Coast, it’s an important reason why we chose to have our first business-to-business summit here.”

Mr. Blumenauer echoed that sentiment. Like the District, voters in his home state of Oregon approved the recreational use of marijuana last year, and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown this year signed a bill permitting pot sales to begin Oct. 1.

“Having this [summit] within a stone’s throw of the [U.S.] Capitol continues the drumbeat of inevitable reform,” Mr. Blumenauer said.

On Nov. 4, 2014, D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, which allows for those 21 and older to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. The law allows for the possession and transport of up to 2 oz. of pot and the personal cultivation of up to six plants, with no more than three of those plants being mature.

Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, threatened to repeal the law under the Home Rule Act, which gives Congress the authority to strike down the law within 60 days.

But those threats proved empty, and the legislation survived congressional review and became law on Feb. 26.

While the District’s law is seen as a victory for marijuana policy reform advocates, it isn’t optimal, Mr. Kohl said, because it doesn’t include a provision to allow the sale and purchase of marijuana, which is a key part of the High Times summit.

Mr. Kohl hopes that the summit will raise awareness and spark a dialogue about revising the law to include regulations for setting up legal marijuana businesses in the District.

“A key benefit would be to enable cannabis-oriented business activity, innovation and economic development to flourish here,” he said.

Mr. Kohl referenced Colorado as an example of a state that is taking advantage economically of pot legalization.

“The revenues that are being generated, as well as the social and business benefits in that state, are quite significant,” Mr. Kohl said.

Mr. Blumenauer was more sharply critical of the District’s lack of sale and purchase provisions, but placed the blame on congressional Republicans, who vowed to block any law in the District that allowed for the legal sale of marijuana.

A federal budget bill that House Republicans tried to advance in June would have blocked the sale of marijuana for two years.

“No one in their right mind would do it the way it’s done,” Mr. Blumenauer said.

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