The times they are a changin

June 2, 2017

As I was perusing today’s news, I happened upon this headline: Secret Service relaxes marijuana policy in bid to swell ranks.

Wow, the Secret Service!

The new director of the US Secret Service, Randolph Alles, told reporters this week that he’s working to grow the Secret Service, including relaxing the agency’s drug policy on marijuana.

Instead of a policy that would disqualify an applicant who has used the drug more than a certain number of times, the agency will now use a “whole-person concept” to measure marijuana use, potentially allowing candidates who admit to marijuana use based on the last age at which they used the drug and the amount of time between then and their application to the agency.

Now, keep in mind the Secret Service has two very important missions: (1) To investigate and prevent financial crimes, and (2) to protect POTUS, as well as former U.S. leaders and their families.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised.

In fact, did you know the government owns and operates a cannabis store in North Bonneville, WA? Opened on March 7th, 2015, they offer both recreational and medical cannabis. Their Mission Statement: “We are pleased to offer exceptional cannabis products for responsible adult consumption while maintaining a high level of ethics, professionalism, and customer service. Serving as a model to other communities, we are helping to revitalize the local economy and promote economic growth. As a government entity, we are unique in our industry in that our primary focus is public health and safety. We strive to be an exemplary employer, a model business, and ensure that all profits are used for the benefit of the community.”

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug both in the world and the United States. In fact, the earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC.

The cannabis plant is indigenous to Central and South Asia, and cultivation dates back at least 6,000 years ago in Taiwan. Its use spread from China to India and then to N Africa and reached Europe as early as 500 AD (1500 years ago). For thousands and thousands of years marijuana was not only legal, but an important crop among cultures throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal, and spiritual value.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states.

Recreational marijuana – the kind you smoke without a doctor’s note – is legal in eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington) and Washington, D.C.

Cannabis growers, processors, retailers, and buyers all pay taxes. Recreational pot is heavily taxed — between 17 to 37 percent — depending on city and/or county. Medical marijuana tends to be cheaper than recreational because it is taxed at a lower rate.

Pot is regulated by the federal government which means most banks won’t support dispensaries, forcing many of them to deal in cash. Interestingly, in 2014, the Justice Department issued guidelines for banks on how to legally provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses.

Today, the legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 17 percent. Medical marijuana sales are projected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2016 to $13.3 billion in 2020. Adult recreational sales are estimated to jump from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $11.2 billion by 2020.

So how is this affecting drug testing in the medical lab?

Stay tuned for my next blog and I’ll let you know.