Who would have thought that God had corporations in mind when he said “I have given you every plant bearing seed on the surface of all the earth?”

Is Foreign Money Buying Up Some of Michigan’s Corporate Cannabis State Grow Facilities and Dispensaries?

https://scontent.fftk1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/41550905_2330558496960272_723096575080923136_n.jpg?_nc_cat=0&_nc_eui2=AeEZARlqw_gjsDvkCYfr5Lq5mDQy1o5MKu-ztd0TsBJ_mPFqKpAji9F3iY_kJcywLLtWWnhfoWeqd97SDCccEnYwGbXMt6L4vMD7p9XDcSvnRA&oh=a899bb4633a5b81ad9f09145b8ab698d&oe=5C1D3D10

Bruce Cain·Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Introduction

Who would have thought that God had corporations in mind when he said “I have given you every plant bearing seed on the surface of all the earth?”

I have been a Cannabis Activist for 50 years and a Journalist/Activist for at least 30 years. I just wanted adults to be able to “grow their own” without government interference and become the only source of Cannabis for our state dispensaries. Instead our legislators are setting up a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” in Michigan. And the same boilerplate is unfolding in CA, WA, CO, AZ and OR. As far as I’m concerned the people got screwed again. Rather than blather on let me refer you to a few of my recent essays which you can find at the links below.

===== The Coming War: Securing Our Right to Grow our own Cannabis from the Global Corporations BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018 1,231 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-coming-war-securing-our-right-to-grow-our-own-cannabis-from-the-global-corpo/2445909552101685/

Just Vote No on Michigan’s Cannabis Initiative: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (November 2018) BRUCE CAIN·WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2018 419 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/just-vote-no-on-michigans-cannabis-initiative-regulate-marijuana-like-alcohol-no/2441433565882617/

The Global Marijuana March originated with International Drug Policy Day in May 1990. BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 582 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-global-marijuana-march-originated-with-international-drug-policy-day-in-may-/2393282000697774/

Why the Right to Grow Your Own Medical Cannabis Must Be Protected from “Tax, Regulate and Control” State Models BRUCE CAIN·TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2017 3,920 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/why-the-right-to-grow-your-own-medical-cannabis-must-be-protected-from-tax-regul/1941658819193430/

The Complete Recent Essays of Bruce W. Cain https://www.facebook.com/bruce.cain.98/notes?lst=100000184321094%3A100000184321094%3A1536699785

This little bit of research began with a Facebook post from Adam Brook, who has been the Master of Ceremonies for the Hash Bash since 1989 to 2018. Here’s Adam’s Post:

Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!

Before I go on I want to briefly review my history with Adam Brook and the Hash Bash. The two of us have been involved, as Cannabis Activists, since around 1985. We were both instrumental in having the Hash Bash occur on the first Saturday in April rather than on April 1st. And we did that, around 1989, in order to increase attendance for what might be the longest running Annual Cannabis/Marijuana protest in US history. I have spoken at the Hash Bash nearly 15 times between 1990 and 2012 and Adam continues to MC the annual event. We’ve both been significant Cannabis Activists for many decades. So when he blocked me from his Facebook feed — after calling me a racist and xenophobe — I was taken aback. I am neither a racist, an Islamaphobe or a Xenophobe.

I grew up in Dearborn and have lived in the area for many decades. I’m not at all racist and have many great neighbors who happen to be Muslim. But all groups have their “bad actors.” The Jews had the Purple Gang. The Italians had the Mafia. And yes I do believe there is a fringe group of Muslims that are probably connected to Hezbolla – a Lebanese Shiite Terrorist group.

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God By Matthew Levitt https://books.google.com/books?id=6QsxCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA323&lpg=PA323&dq=Zig-Zag+Counterfeit+Cigarette+Paper+Scheme+dearborn&source=bl&ots=UM1ExdVMVX&sig=xw__xZ5vpt5h6BG9YOYC7oznmmg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI5aKwn7HdAhUMr4MKHdcVBQ8Q6AEwEHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Zig-Zag%20Counterfeit%20Cigarette%20Paper%20Scheme%20dearborn&f=false

And there was a Chaldean Mafia operating in Detroit in 2011.

Chaldean_Mafia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldean_Mafia

As you read this essay, largely focusing on Wild Bills Tobacco Outlets, it is obvious that they have little respect for our laws (e.g., the ZigZag Conterfiet Racket, 2004) and one has to wonder where are the money came to set up 75 stores in Michigan and more recently 3 stores in Ohio. Apparently the state feels the same way as they denied giving Oasis a dispensary in Lansing for previous criminal activity [Sept. 10 2018].

Frankly I have no formed opinion on Wild Bills but there is plenty of data to suggest they are not choir boys. And that is how I will present it in my essay. I will lay out the facts and let my readers decide. With 75 stores and recent acquisitions, of grow facilities and dispensaries, I guesstimate there is already over 200 million dollars in total assets for Wild Bill’s. * $50 million for grow warehouses if CRMLA (Prop 1) passes in November 2018 * $150 million, at least, for there 78 “Wild Bill’s Tobacco Outlets. [I’m guesstimating $2 million per outlet]. * ??? The Oasis Wellness Centers. * ??? Salaries for workers across 78 Stores. And my big question is this: where did all this money come from? Are there foreign Chaldean investors behind this? Or is it just a bunch of “rich greedy assholes?” What is not in dispute is that Wild Bill’s is trying to corner the market in both Cannabis production and distribution. What is not in dispute is Wild Bill’s has stated that they want to put the home growers out of business. Fuck that.

Every group has their bad apples. And what I do not want to see is a Cannabis Mafia monopolize the Cannabis business, in Michigan, as the Italian Mafia once monopolized Alcohol. Frankly I want it to remain in the hands of small growers which is why I am imploring people to boycott Wild Bill’s while encouraging you to “grow your own” and put the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” — in Michigan and other states — out of business.

So let us begin disassembling this story by going back to Adam’s post.

Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!

Adam gave no link to any article describing “why” Wild Bills Tobacco got denied. And that began my research.

This is how Wild Bill’s Tobacco Website describes themselves:

===== About Wild Bill’s Tobacco

Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country. The first store opened in 1994 and the company slowly expanded to more than 60 stores over the next 22 years. At Wild Bill’s, we specialize in providing the best quality tobacco products at competitive prices all under one roof for the convenience of our customers.

Our stores are equipped with the largest well humidified walk in humidors containing fine cigars from across the world. Many of our locations have a lounge area where customers can relax and enjoy a fine cigar with friends. All staff members are trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to assist the customer and provide exceptional service. http://www.wildbillstobacco.com/about/ =====

The 75 Stores are mainly in Michigan and there are 3 locations in Ohio. They are named both “Wild Bill’s and Mr. Vapor.

http://www.wildbillstobacco.com/locations/

How Wild Bill’s Tobacco, Smokers Outlet Management and Oasis Wellness Centers are related

===== The top donor to the the current campaign, shown as giving a total of $150,000 as of June, is a company called Smokers Outlet Management in Troy, according to the campaign finance statements. The company owns 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops across Michigan, its website says. But its plan is to use the name Oasis Wellness Centers to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in 2015 by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.

Top 6 Donors to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol:

1.) Smokers Outlet (chain of 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops), Troy, $150,000

2.) Marijuana Policy Project (nonprofit with 32,000 members), Wash, D.C., $58,161

3.) Andrew Driver Jr. (with Advance Electric), Gaylord, $35,000

4.) David Kelley (investment banker), Traverse City, $10,000

5.) Alec Riffle (with Tree City Health Collective dispensary), Ann Arbor, $10,000

6.) Wholesale Hydroponics (store for marijuana growers), Lansing, $10,000

Michigan marijuana campaign brings together activists, moneyed investors, tobacco dealers

Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press Published 11:03 p.m. ET July 15, 2017

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/07/16/marijuana-legalization-michigan/481154001/ =====

Wild Bill’s has some really big plans for Cannabis Grow and Distribution Facilities

Under the name, Oasis **, Wild Bill’s is willing to pay $21 million dollars for a 320,000 square foot building to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state. So we can project that they somehow have the capital to invest $40 to $50 million dollars to supply all their dispensaries. Are they planning to convert the 75 Wild Bill’s Tobacco stores into dispensaries. And gee where is all this money coming from?

===== BANGOR TWP, MI – The Bangor Township Board of Trustees have thrown their support behind bringing a medical marijuana grow and distribution facility to Bay County.

Trustees unanimously agreed at their meeting Tuesday, May 9, to support an investment of a grow and distribution facility. Before any type of industry comes to town, however, the township needs to update its code of ordinances.

About 50 people were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

Oasis Wellness Center, based out of Clawson, Michigan, is interested in investing $21 million into the former Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building, 4675 E. Wilder Road.

During public input, Oasis Vice President Paul Weisberger said his company is looking to employ more than 100 people in the 320,000 square-foot building. Weisberger said Oasis is not currently in the medical marijuana field.

Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley said other companies have reached out to the township, although Oasis has been the most vocal.

Rowley said future board meetings will discuss ordinances and layout details.

“There’s one opportunity to do this right and we want to make sure we have that,” Rowley said. “We agree we are going forward on this.”

As part of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which went into effect last December, application processes for licensed dispensaries is expected to be finalized by Dec. 31.

Bay County township supports medical marijuana facility Updated May 10, 2017; Posted May 9, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/bangor_township_agrees_to_impl.html =====

===== BANGOR TOWNSHIP, MI — A medical marijuana company has approached Bangor Township about investing $21 million to purchase and convert an old factory building into a grow and distribution facility.

But before the controversial industry comes to town, the township’s board of trustees needs to throw its support behind it. A discussion takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Bangor Township Hall, 180 State Park Drive. It’s unclear at this time if the board is going to make any formal decisions on the matter Tuesday evening.

The company, which township officials are declining to name, hopes to purchase the old Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building at 4675 E. Wilder Road and hire 140 people to work at the plant. If plans come to fruition, the plant would supply medical marijuana to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state.

Medical marijuana company wants to invest millions into Bay County Updated May 6, 2017; Posted May 6, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/medical_marijuana_bay_county_d.html =====

Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing

===== Accordingly, the latest round of state approvals didn’t grant a license to a single Lansing-based business. Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing — with local approval for two local growing operations and two processing facilities — was denied for state prequalification for those and several other business enterprises across mid-Michigan.

City records indicate Oasis planned five local businesses centered around Beech and Hazel streets. The state board suggested the owner was arrested twice but failed to disclose that information in its state applications. The would-be shops were also turned down based on the poor “moral integrity” of the company’s founders.

State officials eye marijuana deadline extension [Sept. 10 2018]

Local licensing system remains stagnant amid statewide changes http://lansingcitypulse.com/article-16421-State-officials-eye-marijuana-deadline-extension.html =====

Who own’s Wild Bill’s Tobacco?

Mike Samona, CEO Justin Samona, Chief Marketing Officer Paul Weisberger, VP Oasis Wellness Centers

===== The best business news for Wild Bill’s Tobacco, based in Birmingham,Michigan, with 50 stores, was when the state of Michigan enacted a 50-cent tax cap on individual cigars at the end of2012. “It allowed us to be much more competitive with our online competitors last year, which led to an increase in sales,” explains Justin Samona, chief marketing officer. Wild Bill’s specializes in premium cigars, with cigar lounges in20 locations and walk-in humidors with Spanish cedar paneling and advanced humidification systems in all 50 stores.But the top trend in 2013 was the electronic cigarette craze in Wild Bill’s stores, just as it was across America,according to Samona. “We see the paradigm shift and we feel that e-cigs are here to stay,” he says. “Wild Bill’s is  quickly becoming known as the electronic cigarette destination. Our stores are equipped with modern e-cig super centers, which we call ‘Mr. Vapor.’The chrome shelving and blue LED lights attract customers right when they enter the store. Customers can sample disposable e-cigs, rechargeable kits, tank kits, mod systems and over 100 different flavors of e-liquids and strengths.”  In 2013, the chain improved its business through customer service management.“  The HR management team here launched many creative bonus and incentive plans,”Samona explained.  One such plan that caused great excitement was the profit-sharing program, which is eligible to all managers that have been with the company for three or more years.The thinking behind it comes from Mike Samona, CEO. “When you have loyal, satisfied customers, your business becomes more referable, thus more profitable,” he says.   “We’ve discovered that staff members will provide much better service to our customers, whether it’s through up-selling, converting or handling complaints, when they know a percentage of the profits will go to them.”

https://tobaccobusiness.com/magazine/TOB_jan-feb_2014/files/assets/basic-html/page22.html Related: https://issuu.com/crainsdetroit/docs/cd_20140609 =====

If I had to guess they are possibly Chaldean as that is a common Chaldean (Catholic) surname. But who knows.

Wild Bill’s got busted in 2005 when it used to go under the name Smoker’s Outlet. “Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country.” In this case nearly 30 of their stores were selling counterfeit “Zig Zag” rolling papers . . . for which they ultimately got caught and busted. What other illegality went under the radar?

===== BOLLORE S.A., Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. 04-CV-73867-DT vs. DISTRICT JUDGE ANNA DIGGS TAYLOR MADISON HEIGHTS TOBACCO MAGISTRATE JUDGE MONA K. MAJZOUB https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867/pdf/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867-0.pdf =====

Next look at all the defendants (e.g. law breakers) in this case and take note of all the businesses owned by Wild Bills or Smokers Outlet Management that owns Wild Bills. And finally look at the names: many of which suggest Middle Eastern ancestry. Possibly Chaldean?

Habib Ajame, Defendant Mahmoud Ajami, Defendant Alsahil Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Amazing Dollar, Defendant Amazing Dollar of Highland, Defendant Steve Bahri, Defendant Baldwin Mini Mart, Incorporated, Defendant Bemis Road Service Station, Incorporated, Defendant Citgo Gas Station, 496 Main Street, Defendant Dina’s Dollar, Incorporated, Defendant Divon, Incorporated, Defendant Dort Highway 200, Incorporated, Defendant Edward Eid, Defendant Eid Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Mary Fawaz, Defendant Flint Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Joseph O. Garmo, Defendant Samer Hanna, Defendant Aoun Jaber, Defendant Jaber’s, Incorporated, Defendant John’s Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant Madison Heights Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Main Street Express, Incorporated, Defendant Marci, Incorporated, Defendant Mega Mile Gas and Mart, Defendant Awatif Misho, Defendant North Pointe Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant R and S Food and Gas, Incorporated, Defendant SAC Investment, Incorporated, Defendant John Samouna, Defendant Luke Samouna, Defendant Mazin Samouna, Defendant Saza, Incorporated, Defendant Shadia Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 1220 North Wayne Road, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 28851 Hoover Road, Defendant Gurdial N. Singh, Defendant Roy Sitto, Defendant Smokers Discount, Defendant Smokers Outlet Management, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Highland, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Madison Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Taylor, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Incorporated, Defendant Speedy’s Gas and Groceries, Incorporated, Defendant Sunoco Gas Station, 3142 Miller Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 3000 East Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 6401 West Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco-Miller Road/1-75, Defendant Super Mobil, Defendant Tobacco Road, Defendant Tobacco Road, Ltd, IV, Defendant Webb Operating Company, Defendant Charles A. Zain, Defendant Bollore, S. A., Plaintiff North Atlantic Operating Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff North Atlantic Trading Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff https://www.gpo.gov/…/USCOURTS-mied…/content-detail.html

More bribes and criminality as the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” gets ready to put all the small growers out of business

===== The U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted three would-be Michigan medical cannabis dispensary owners, accusing them of attempting to bribe officials in Garden City to approve their license, the Detroit Free Press reports. Brothers Mike and Ali Baydoun, along with their nephew Jalal Baydoun, are accused of offering bribes to the three city council members, the mayor, and the police chief.

Federal authorities say the Baydouns handed an envelope with $15,000 to a city council official – $5,000 each – in December and offered to buy the city a police car, pay a police officer’s annual salary, and give the officials a 25 percent cut of the dispensary’s profits. The councilor handed the envelope of cash over to the FBI. The indictment also alleges that the family said they would put $150,000 in an escrow account that would be used to pay additional bribes.

Under the city’s medical cannabis ordinance, only two cultivation licenses are available and the accused were hoping the bribes would convince officials to amend the rules, add another license, and award it to them, allowing them to grow 1,500 medical cannabis plants in the city.

The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment further on the investigation or who else from the State might be suspected of colluding with the Baydouns.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Indicts Three for Attempting to Bribe Michigan Officials for MMJ License 8/04/2017 https://www.ganjapreneur.com/us-attorneys-office-indicts-three-attempting-bribe-michigan-officials-mmj-license/ =====

A Short History of Wild Bill’s Strategy to Monopolize “Corporate Cannabis” in Michigan

If you are from others states expect the same crap to play out: the Rich Ganjapreneurs — like Wild Bill’s — will soon be pushing to prohibit adults to “grow their own” in their homes. To put it in the simplest of terms the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — both the State Government and the Approved Millionaire Ganjapreneurs — don’t want any competition. In future years “your” Wild Bill may come in the form of a Microsoft Executive, Big Pharma or possible a foreigner with deep pockets. But if we don’t stop this crap everyone is going to see a “Wild Bill” coming to monopolize the market in your state eventually. “Money talks, bullshit walks.”

1994: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) opens there first store.

2004: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) get busted for selling counterfiet ZigZag rolling papers at nearly 30 of its stores throughout Michigan.

2015: Wild Bill’s announces its intent to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.

===== Excepts from Weisberger’s Letter: (Vice President of Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers)

“We believe that the grow operation needed to supply consistent, high quality medical marijuana should be based in a larger scale “commercial grow” type model.” [What I call a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.”]

“This would allow for a consistent and cost effective supply of product while at the same time moving the grow operations out of our neighborhoods.”

“We must bring this above ground and out of the neighborhoods through a commercial grow operation that provides consistent lower cost medical marijuana.” [05/07/2015]

RE: Michigan House Judiciary Committee; House Bills 4209 and 4210 From: Paul Weisberger, vice president, Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers http://house.michigan.gov/sessiondocs/2015-2016/testimony/Committee339-5-7-2015-5.pdf =====

2016: (December) The Legislature passed laws to tax,regulate and control the market: to create what I call the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.” Once in place (October 2018?) the vast number of small growers — who sold their overage to local dispensaries and “patients” — will become instant criminals if they continue to sell without a license none of them can afford. In practical terms it will cost literally millions to “get into this game.”

2017: (May) Wild Bill’s offers $21 Million for a 320,000 square-foot building in Bangor Township to supply just 50% of it’s projected dispensaries.

2017: (July) Wild Bill’s becomes the top donor to the CRMLA Initiative ($150,000)

2017: (Sept) Wild Bill’s (Oasis) Gets on one of the 5 working groups (growers) regulated by the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) for the State of Michigan.

===== Per the August 22 statement from LARA/BMMR, almost 750 applications were received and of those, more than 550 were valid and complete. From that huge pool of citizens the Departments have selected the advisory groups who will make recommendations to LARA for rules governing the different business types; LARA is not obligated to honor the recommendations.

Michigan: LARA Announces Medical Marijuana Workgroup Members September 27, 2017, 8:00 am Rick Thompson Medical Marijuana https://www.weednews.co/michigan-lara-announces-medical-marijuana-workgroup-members/ =====

2018: Wild Bill’s now has 75 Stores in Michigan and 3 in Ohio

2018: (Sept) Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing because the owner had 2 arrests and because of the “poor moral integrity” of the company’s founders.

2018: (July) Michigan awards the first 7 Medical Marijuana Licences for the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — which was put in motion through legislation in December 2016.

===== Michigan awards first medical marijuana licenses Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Published July 12, 2018 https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2018/07/12/medical-marijuana-michigan/779840002/ =====

2018: (Nov) If Prop 1 (CRMLA) passes, in November’s Election, those that get a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” licence stand to profit from a $700 million dollar industry while all the smaller growers will become instant criminals if they continue to grow or sell to groups or individuals. This is what Wild Bill’s and all the other Millionaire Ganjapreneurs are betting on. That is why Wild Bill gave more money than anyone else ($150,000) to get it passed.

Concluding remarks:

The Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly will probably be operational in the next year. And once it becomes fully operational you can expect an increase in arrests and home invasions for home growers. The State will want all the profits from “seed to sale” and will therefore be incentivized to put the small growers out of business: regardless of whether they are growing for themselves or continuing to sell their overage.

Meanwhile you just have to wonder where Wild Bill’s is coming up with 50 million dollars to buy growing facilities and millions more for their dispensaries. And where did the Baydoun’s come up with $150,000 dollars in bribes to open a dispensary in Westland, MI. Could some of this money be coming from Terrorist organizations or other crime syndicates?

When my friend Jack Herer died in 2009 he could not have foreseen this nightmare. It was not what either of us had hoped for. I really thought I had retired from this fools crusade but I seem compelled to carry on. Perhaps the best solutions is to encourage everyone to “grow their own” and put these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” out of business.

I also want to make clear that I don’t really know that Wild Bills is a criminal syndicate. I do know that it took me hours to find the little information that I did find on their operation. But where is all of this money coming from? I am no nearer answering THAT question than when I began. And Wild Bill’s is but one of many groups that want to get into these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies. Frankly they all deserve thorough investigation. Until that happens — which it never will — let me just say:

Grow Your Own.

Destroy the Corporate Cannabis Beast.

We cannot allow our government to take away our right to grow a plant the really belongs to all of us.

Please share this essay and others that I have written on Cannabis Policy. We cannot allow this to end this way.

SOURCE LINK

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Obama says marijuana should be treated like ‘cigarettes or alcohol’

By Christopher Ingraham November 30 at 12:33 PM

 

In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”

“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

Obama has made comments to this effect before. In a 2014 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” More recently, he told TV host Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”

In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug’s lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, but it has declined to do so.

Marijuana legalization advocates have been frustrated at what they see as Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to advocate for their cause. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority said in a statement. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”

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There is little disagreement on either side of the legalization debate that personal marijuana use should be treated primarily as a public-health issue. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading anti-legalization group, says that it “seeks to establish a rational policy” for marijuana use and possession that “no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

But there is vehement disagreement over what such a “rational policy” would look like. SAM advocates for a policy of decriminalization of marijuana use, but not full-scale commercial legalization. Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, on the other hand, are pushing for the creation of Colorado-style commercial marketplaces where it is completely legal to buy, sell and consume marijuana.

Obama has been hesitant throughout his second term to push for one approach or the other. His Justice Department has created a policy explicitly allowing states to legalize marijuana as they see fit, but he has made no effort to alter the strict federal prohibition on marijuana that complicates any effort to create a legal nationwide marijuana industry.

Pro-legalization advocates are worried that the current Justice Department policy of noninterference on marijuana legalization could be reversed by an incoming Trump administration stocked with harsh critics of such legalization. Trump himself has said that the matter should be left up to the states.

In the Rolling Stone interview, Obama hinted that he may be more vocal on the issue once he leaves office. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go” on marijuana, he said.

CONTINUE READING…

High levels of Formaldehyde Hidden in E-Cigs

 

 

 

Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, also dwells in the vaporized liquid of popular electronic or e-cigarettes, researchers said Wednesday.

E-cigarette sales are booming in the United States and many hoped so- called “vaping” would replace tobacco smoking and be a panacea for the nearly 160,000 lung cancer deaths associated with conventional cigarettes.

But according to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the exposure to formaldehyde from e-cigarettes, based on similar chronic use as tobacco, could be five to 15 times higher than from smoking cigarettes.

“It’s way too early now from an epidemiological point of view to say how bad they are,” said co-author James F. Pankow, professor of chemistry and engineering at Portland State University in Oregon. “But the bottom line is, there are toxins and some are more than in regular cigarettes. And if you are vaping, you probably shouldn’t be using it at a high-voltage setting.”

5 facts about e-cigarettes

Pankow and his colleagues analyzed aerosolized e-liquid in “tank system” e-cigarettes to detect formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages.

They found that vaping 3 milligrams of e-cigarette liquid at a high voltage can generate 14 milligrams of loosely affiliated or “hidden” formaldehyde. Researchers estimated a tobacco smoker would get .15 milligrams of formaldehyde per cigarette or 3 milligrams in a 20-pack.

Pankow told NBC News those numbers “may be conservative.”

“We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes,” he said. “We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”

There are more than 8,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, so it’s hard to pinpoint whether formaldehyde is the main culprit in cigarette-related cancers.

“A lot of people make the assumption that e-cigarettes are safe and they are perfectly fine after using for a year,” said Pankow. “The hazards of e-cigarettes, if there are any, will be seen 10 to 15 years from now when they start to appear in chronic users.”

E-cigarettes were first invented in China in 2003, but they started appearing in the United States around 2006. A five-pack of flavor cartridges costs about the same as a pack of cigarettes and starter kits can cost between $30 and $100.

A cartridge or tank contains a liquid of propylene glycol, glycerol, or both, as well as nicotine and flavoring. These chemicals are heated to the boiling point with a battery-operated atomizer, creating a smokeless vapor that is inhaled.

But formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds can be released during the “vaping” process as the liquid is heated. Pankow said some e-cigarettes can burn hotter than 1,000 degrees fahrenheit.

“The difference in e-cigarettes is the material that is heated and turns into hot gas as it cools is not tobacco, but two main chemicals,” he said. “When it gets really hot, unwanted reactions occur.”

Pankow said the same risks likely do not occur when vaping dry marijuana or hash oil, which typically does not use those chemicals. “But it’s totally likely that some people dilute hash oil with propylene glycol and glycerol, which we know can form formaldehyde,” he said.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in embalming fluid, building materials and some medicines and cosmetics. It can also be produced as a byproduct of cooking and smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and has also been linked to some cancers in humans.

When gaseous formaldehyde, found in funeral homes and other occupational settings, is inhaled, it breaks down in the mouth, nose, throat, and airways. Exposure has been linked to throat and nasal cancers and leukemias.

First published January 21st 2015, 4:32 pm

The marijuana industry is following the trail blazed by Big Tobacco

By Samuel T. Wilkinson December 5 at 8:09 PM

Samuel Wilkinson is a resident physician at the Yale School of Medicine.

Last month, people voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Oregon, Alaska and the District. As the movement toward marijuana legalization continues, lawmakers and policy experts are looking to the experiments in Colorado and Washington for guidance. We should not overlook, however, valuable lessons from our experience with another legal drug: tobacco.

In the late 19th century, the landscape of tobacco consumption was very different than it is today. Tobacco use was much less prevalent, and cigarettes accounted for a tiny portion of consumption. Yet by the mid-20th century almost half of U.S. adults smoked, with major consequences for public health. Despite important health policy achievements since, cigarette smoking remains a major contributor to the top causes of death in the United States, including cardiovascular and lung diseases, as well as cancer.

This drastic rise in the prevalence of smoking can be attributed to a number of successful business strategies. Hand-rolling of cigarettes, a technique that limited production potential, was supplanted by machine manufacturing. Changes in the chemical composition and curing process of cigarettes made them more flavorful as well as more addictive. Aggressive marketing techniques sought to build a larger consumer base. Advertisements often featured doctors in an effort to quell public fear over smoking-related health concerns; other campaigns targeted children or adolescents, who represented potential lifetime customers. Finally, the industry created powerful lobbying groups to protect their profits from regulations aimed at curbing consumption.

Alarmingly, marijuana businesses are now mimicking many of Big Tobacco’s successful strategies. New methods of consuming marijuana (such as vaporization) are said to represent a healthier way to get high — though little research supports this claim — encouraging individuals to consume more marijuana in one sitting. The percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (the euphoria-inducing compound associated with many adverse health effects) in marijuana is much higher than it was a few decades ago. Just as tobacco companies featured doctors in advertisement campaigns, marijuana advocates have appealed to medical authority by successfully lobbying in many places for the approval of “medical marijuana” for a plethora of conditions, even when little or no scientific evidence supports its use. While it is laudable that Colorado has placed restrictions on marijuana advertising, it is also disturbing that the marijuana industry quickly mounted powerful legal efforts to challenge these restrictions in court.

The formula for success in profiting from a legal drug is simple and has been clearly outlined by Big Tobacco: Identify a product with addictive potential, aggressively market it to as large an audience as possible, develop technical innovations to allow for and promote increased consumption, and deny or minimize potential costs to human health. The marijuana industry is poised to copy this formula, with dire consequences.

Important lessons can also be drawn from the Netherlands , where marijuana has been decriminalized since 1976. Following decriminalization, the Dutch government strictly enforced guidelines prohibiting advertising and transactions above a certain quantity (to discourage mass production and distribution). For about a decade, marijuana consumption rates remained stable. However, in the mid-1980s, waning enforcement of these guidelines coincided with a drastic increase in both the commercialization of marijuana and rates of consumption. The overriding lesson from the Netherlands is that it was commercialization, not decriminalization itself, that led to sharp increases in use.

If we are intent on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, lessons from the tobacco industry and the Dutch marijuana experiment suggest that we do so in a way that does not pit corporate incentives against the interests of public health. Similar to efforts in Uruguay, production and distribution should be done solely by the government so as to ensure that there is no corporate incentive to entice more people to consume marijuana in larger quantities. Advertisements in all media venues should be banned, or as stringently regulated as allowed by law.

While the health effects of marijuana are generally not as severe as those of cigarette smoking, the consequences — including addiction, psychosis and impaired cognitive abilities — are nonetheless real. Notably, these effects are most pronounced in children and adolescents. Claims that marijuana legalization will make it easier to prevent use by minors are not backed by scientific or historical evidence. The most prevalent drugs consumed by teenagers are those that are legal: alcohol and tobacco. This should give us pause to consider the optimal way to legalize marijuana — and indeed whether other states should consider legalization at all.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky company used local tobacco to help produce an experimental serum to fight Ebola,

 

 

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky company used local tobacco to help produce an experimental serum to fight Ebola, which may help save two American aid workers stricken with the deadly disease.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American Services, said Owensboro-based Kentucky BioProcessing complied with a request from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and Samaritan’s Purse this week "to provide a limited amount" of the compound, called ZMapp.

Kentucky BioProcessing, which was acquired by North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc. in January, does contract work for many clients, including ZMapp maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego.

Howard couldn’t confirm that the compound was used on the aid workers, and Emory officials didn’t respond by deadline to a call or email seeking confirmation. But The Associated Press, CNN and other media outlets reported that the aid workers have gotten the serum and have improved.

The fact that a Kentucky company focused on plant-based science played a part "is fantastic," said Kenneth Palmer, a University of Louisville professor who is involved in tobacco-based research in Owensboro but not in this project. "The more that (medicines) made in plants are used, the better the acceptance. … It gives tangible evidence of how what we do can be applied to help people."

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out that ZMapp is not a proven treatment for Ebola but said it’s a good example of the intriguing science of growing medicines in tobacco plants.

"We’d love to see tobacco used for health," said Frieden, who was in Hazard, Ky., on Tuesday for a series of talks on health problems in Appalachia. But he added, "We don’t have proven treatments or vaccines against Ebola. … This Ebola outbreak is the biggest, worst, most complicated one that the world has ever seen."

Howard said tobacco helps in the production of ZMapp, acting like a "photocopier" to mass-produce proteins used to make the serum. Palmer said three, single-gene antibodies are put into trays of plants at Kentucky BioProcessing and replicate the antibodies after about 10 days.

Palmer likened it to antibodies being produced in the bodies of people or animals after an infection.

"What the plants are doing is pumping out the antibodies," Palmer said. "The plants are used to make the antibodies, and then they purify the antibodies."

"It’s faster than more traditional methods," Howard added. "It allows for rapid growth of proteins … on a reasonably large scale."

At the direction of Mapp, the Kentucky company developed a precursor to ZMapp, called MB-003, which was tested in non-human primates and showed good results, published last August in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers said the treatment previously had been shown to protect all the primates when it was given an hour after exposure to Ebola, and two-thirds of them when given 48 hours after exposure.

‘We’d love to see tobacco used for health.’

Dr. Tom Frieden, director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the study published last year, researchers said, 43 percent of infected primates recovered after getting the treatment intravenously up to 120 hours after they were infected and had developed symptoms.

ZMapp was never tested in humans, but even before the latest Ebola outbreak, the companies had planned later this year to begin the federal process to get the drug approved, Howard said.

Meanwhile, tobacco plants also will be used to develop a gel to prevent the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. University of Louisville researchers announced this week they will lead the international effort, which is being funded by a five-year, $14.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The gel — designed to be used during sexual intercourse by people at risk for HIV — is developed using a synthetic copy of a protein found in red algae shown to act against HIV in the lab.

Research is also underway at Louisville using tobacco plants to produce a cheaper version of the vaccine against human papillomavirus, which causes most cervical cancer.

University of Louisville President James Ramsey said all of the tobacco-based research is exciting, particularly in a state where smoking kills at the highest rate in the nation.

"It is ironic," Ramsey said in an interview Tuesday. "We’ve been a tobacco state, and it’s been such a part of our economy, and it’s pretty amazing that they can take tobacco and potentially solve some of the biggest health problems around the world."

Laura Ungar also reports for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

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Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers

By Robert Langreth, Caroline Chen, James Nash and John Lauerman Aug 4, 2014 9:52 PM CT

A tiny San Diego-based company provided an experimental Ebola treatment for two Americans infected with the deadly virus in Liberia. The biotechnology drug, produced with tobacco plants, appears to be working.

In an unusual twist of expedited drug access, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which has nine employees, released its experimental ZMapp drug, until now only tested on infected animals, for the two health workers. Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc., manufactures the treatment for Mapp from tobacco plants.

The first patient, Kent Brantly, a doctor, was flown from Liberia to Atlanta on Aug. 2, and is receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital. Nancy Writebol, an aid worker, is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta today and will be treated at the same hospital, according to the charity group she works with. Both are improving, according to relatives and supporters.

Each patient received at least one dose of ZMapp in Liberia before coming to the U.S., according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Related:

“There’s a very scarce number of doses,” and it’s not clear how many each patient needs for treatment, Fauci said. “I’m not sure how many doses they’ll get.”

Photographer: WSB-TV Atlanta/AP

An ambulance arrives with U.S. doctor Kent Brantly, right, at Emory University… Read More

Citing unnamed sources, CNN yesterday reported that the drug used for the treatment is Mapp’s.

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola, spread through direct contact with body fluids such as blood and urine, has sickened 1,603 people in West Africa, killing 887, according to the World Health Organization. The disease, first reported in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, can cause bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose.

The Deadliest Disease on Earth

The virus has historically killed as many as 90 percent of those who contract it. The current outbreak has a fatality rate of about 60 percent, probably because of early treatment efforts, officials have said.

There is no cure for Ebola, although several companies — including Mapp — are working on drug candidates that are undergoing animal testing. Normally, patients are given fluids, blood transfusions and antibiotics with the hope their immune systems can fight off Ebola’s onslaught.

The two scientists behind Mapp, President Larry Zeitlin and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Whaley, “are both brilliant,” said Charles Arntzen, a plant biotechnology expert at Arizona State University who collaborated with the two researchers years ago. “They are very, very bright guys and free spirits.”

Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Tobacco plants in Ohio.

The antibody work came out of research projects funded more than a decade ago by the U.S. Army to develop treatments and vaccines against potential bio-warfare agents, such as the Ebola virus, Arntzen said in a telephone interview.

Tobacco Plant

The tobacco plant production system was developed because it was a method that could produce antibodies rapidly in the event of an emergency, he said.

To produce therapeutic proteins inside a tobacco plant, genes for the desired antibodies are fused to genes for a natural tobacco virus, said Arntzen. The tobacco plants are then infected with this new artificial virus, he said.

“The infection results in the production of antibodies inside the plant,” Arntzen said. The plant is eventually ground up and the antibody is extracted, he said. The whole process takes a matter of weeks.

When confronted by reporters about the Ebola infections in Liberia and subsequent treatments, Whaley said he needed to get up to speed on the developing events.

“This is all new to me,” said Whaley, who was dressed in shorts, a well-worn T-shirt and flip-flops while addressing reporters’ questions outside the company’s offices in a San Diego business park. “I just don’t want to give out any inaccurate information, that’s all.”

Antibody Cocktail

Mapp’s drug is being developed with Toronto-based Defyrus Inc., which has six employees, according to Defyrus CEO Jeff Turner. ZMapp is a “cocktail” of monoclonal antibodies that help the immune system attack the virus.

Monoclonal antibodies designed to fight and block specific proteins can stop the virus from latching onto and entering cells, said Heinz Feldmann, chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Laboratory of Virology in Hamilton, Montana.

The key is to find antibodies that can prevent viral infection, and to attack several points on the virus so that mutants won’t “escape” treatment, he said.

“What you want is a cocktail of antibodies that target different domains on the virus so escape is less likely in treatment,” he said in a telephone interview. Feldmann said he hasn’t been involved in developing treatments.

ZMapp’s predecessor, MB-003, protected three of seven rhesus macaques in a study run in 2013 by Mapp and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Ethical Questions

Ebola and virology experts believe the use of the Mapp drug for Brantly and Writebol is unusual in the annals of emergency drug treatments. While potentially saving lives, the cases raise questions about who should have the right to receive experimental drugs years before they gain FDA approval.

“There are a lot of Africans that are also dying,” Robert Garry, a virologist at Tulane University, said in a telephone interview. “If we are going to do it for the Americans then we should certainly step up our game for the Africans.”

Although no drugs to treat Ebola are approved by U.S. regulators, the Food and Drug Administration can approve an emergency application to provide access to unapproved drugs, Stephanie Yao, an FDA spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Emergency Approval

Approval for emergency drug use outside of a clinical trial can be made within 24 hours, Yao wrote. Shipment and treatment with the drug could begin even before completed written forms are submitted to the FDA, which can approve the use of an experimental treatment by telephone in an emergency.

“The FDA stands ready to work with companies and investigators treating these patients who are in dire need of treatment,” Yao said. She declined to say whether the FDA had allowed any drug to be used in the Ebola outbreak.

Erica Ollmann Saphire, a molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, worked with Mapp and the other biotechnology companies to develop models of the Ebola virus and potential antibodies.

She directs a global consortium given the job of modeling the virus and the mixture of antibodies needed to defeat it. She said the drug was approved for the two American medical workers in Liberia under a compassionate-use doctrine, because it’s not even scheduled for clinical trials until next year.

Informed Consent

“I’d take it myself,” she said in an interview in her laboratory, near La Jolla. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t think twice.”

She said the American medical aid workers were in a better position to give consent to the treatment than African disease victims.

“Do you put an untested therapy in a human or do you just watch them die?” Saphire asked. “Certainly these two Americans are medically trained individuals who knew what they were getting into. They are able to give informed consent.”

Medical care of the two U.S. citizens may take two to three weeks if all goes well, Bruce Ribner, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said in an Aug. 1 news conference.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed that Brantly and Writebol are the first Ebola patients on U.S. soil, is working with the hospital and transport company to make sure evacuation of the two patients goes safely, said Barbara Reynolds, an agency spokeswoman.

“We’re here to make sure the transportation process and the care here in the U.S. ensures there’s no spread,” Reynolds said. “It’s important to remember this is not an airborne virus, it requires close contact with body fluids. It’s minimal risk as long as the people caring for the patient use meticulous procedures.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Langreth in New York at rlangreth@bloomberg.net; Caroline Chen in New York at cchen509@bloomberg.net; John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Schine at eschine@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack

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Kentucky reaches settlement with Big Tobacco

Adam Beam, AP Business Writer 6:04 p.m. EDT June 12, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Tobacco companies have agreed to pay Kentucky more than $110 million to settle a 10-year legal battle over the state’s share of the tobacco master settlement agreement.

In 1998, U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $229 billion to 52 states and territories over many years to compensate them for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. The companies also agreed to advertising restrictions, including a ban on marketing to youth.

Lots of smaller tobacco companies did not participate in the settlement and were not subject to its restrictions. Kentucky agreed to charge those companies more taxes as a way to level the playing field with the bigger tobacco companies.

But in 2003, the big tobacco companies accused Kentucky of not collecting all of the taxes it was supposed to. As a result, they withheld some of Kentucky’s annual payments. State officials and tobacco companies have been fighting over those disputed payments since 2003.

In September, a federal arbitrator ruled Kentucky did not do all it could to collect the taxes. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway challenged that arbitration ruling in court. But the state was in danger of losing all of its tobacco settlement payments – tens of millions of dollars each year that paid for a range of agricultural, public health and early childhood education programs.

That’s why in November, Conway said he began secret negotiations with the tobacco companies in hopes of reaching a settlement.

"There was no end in sight," Conway said. "Given the time, value of money and the needs of this state and the agricultural community and our health community right now, I think it’s a good deal for the state."

According to the terms of the agreement — which Conway signed on Wednesday — Kentucky will get $110.4 million of the disputed payments in the 2014 fiscal year, bringing the state’s total payments to $158.7 million. Going forward, tobacco companies will pay Kentucky 45% of the disputed payments.

Kentucky is the 23rd state to settle this dispute with the tobacco companies.

"By joining 22 other states in settling, Kentucky escapes that chaotic landscape of future legal battles as well as saves itself from the financial and administrative cost of litigating these decades-old events," Beshear said.

Denise F. Keane, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria — the parent company of Philip Morris — called the settlement good for both parties.

"We have always said we are open to resolving these disputes in a manner that makes sense to the states and to us, and that remains the case," she said in a news release.

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Attorney General Conway Announces $101.7 Million in Tobacco Settlement

Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces $101.7 Million in Tobacco Settlement Money

Press Release Date:
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Contact Information:
Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that Kentucky, as required under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major tobacco manufacturers and 52 states and territories, received its annual payment of more than $101.7 million in tobacco settlement money this week.

“The money Kentucky receives each year from the MSA provides funding for many invaluable programs –from agriculture to education,” General Conway said. “My office continues to closely monitor and enforce the agreement and stands ready to defend actions brought to challenge it in both state and federal courts.”

Under the MSA, the tobacco companies agreed to make annual payments in perpetuity to the settling states, to fund a national foundation dedicated to significantly reducing the use of tobacco products by youth and to abide by certain restrictions on promotional and lobbying activity. Kentucky’s share of the settlement is approximately $3.45 billion over the first 25 years. Payments are determined according to a formula that is calculated, in part, by the number of cigarettes sold by companies that have agreed to join the settlement. This year’s payment totals $101.7 million.

The total received by Kentucky since the initial MSA payment in 1999 is $1.4 billion for “Phase I.” An additional $600 million was received by Kentucky tobacco growers under “Phase II,” the Tobacco Growers Trust Agreement, which was created as a result of an MSA provision to address affected tobacco-growing communities in 14 states.

Most of the MSA payment was to be paid by the three largest cigarette manufacturers – Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds, and Lorillard. Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard put into a disputed payment account more than $750 million based upon their claim to reduced payments under a provision in the MSA called the Non-Participating Manufacturer (NPM) Adjustment. The Office of Attorney General is currently participating in an ongoing proceeding to obtain Kentucky’s full share of the disputed payment amounts going back several years.

This year marks the 14th full year since the signing of the landmark MSA. Cigarette sales nationally are down more than 30% since the agreement went into effect and the public health provisions of the MSA that restrict cigarette advertising and promotion in numerous ways have changed the way cigarettes are marketed in the United States. This decline will have significant long-term effects on the health of Kentucky citizens and in health care costs related to smoking in the future.

Although a portion of the payment was disputed, participating manufacturers still paid the states that are signatories to the agreement more than $6 billion this week, bringing the total payments made under the MSA thus far to all settling states to more than $72 billion.

Teen tobacco ‘epidemic’ shocks surgeon general By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Many of America’s teens smoke cigarettes as well as use smokeless tobacco, and the tobacco industry’s marketing fuels their addiction, says the first U.S. surgeon general’s report on youth tobacco use since 1994.

"The numbers are really shocking," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said in an interview, citing data in today’s report that nearly one in four high school seniors and one in three young adults under age 26 smoke despite a half-century of federal warnings about tobacco.

"It’s a problem we have to solve," Benjamin said, calling it a "pediatric epidemic" in need of greater public action. She said one of every three young smokers will quit and one of the others will die from tobacco-related causes. She said adolescents, because their bodies are developing, are more susceptible than adults to nicotine’s addictiveness and tobacco’s damage to hearts and lungs.

The voluminous report finds that progress in reducing youth cigarette smoking — quite dramatic from 1997 to 2003 — has slowed in recent years. It says more high school students are using smokeless tobacco and many (at least half of white and Hispanic male tobacco users and nearly half of Hispanic female users) both smoke and chew tobacco.

The report concludes that the tobacco industry’s $10 billion in annual marketing, some of it in promotions to reduce prices, encourages young people to begin and continue their tobacco use.

"Tobacco marketing is a big cause of the problem," said Danny McGoldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, citing his group’s report this week on the industry’s partnerships with convenience stores to prominently advertise and display tobacco products.

Another factor, McGoldrick said, is the industry’s successful opposition to state tobacco tax increases, which the report credits as an effective way to fight smoking.

"There’s already quite a (tax) burden on adult smokers," said Ken Garcia of Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest tobacco company. He says about half the price of a pack of cigarettes is state and federal taxes, and states have not used much of the industry funds they’ve received via a national settlement in 1998 to curb teen use of tobacco.

"We’re talking billions," Garcia said, adding that Philip Morris alone has paid $55 billion to states as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998.

"We market our products to adults," Garcia said.

Philip Morris relies on direct mail, websites that require age verification and the nation’s retailers, which are not allowed to sell tobacco products to youths under age 18, he said.

"They say they don’t market to youth, but this group is influenced by it (marketing)," the surgeon general said, noting that teens are exposed to such ads.

Benjamin said she’s not taking on Big Tobacco or the states but encouraging a renewed emphasis on anti-tobacco efforts that work, including price hikes, smoke-free laws and cessation programs. She said, "My goal is to make our next generation smoke-free."

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