As 2018 came and went, we can look back on a year that brought a lot of news, much of it historic and record-breaking, particularly about cannabis. Plenty of it was also amusing and unexpected. Here is a brief look back at some of the most unusual and intriguing cannabis moments of the year. Only time will tell what 2019 will bring.

Innovative Girl Scout

An enterprising Canadian Girl Scout put to the test a joke about how the organization could profit from selling its famous cookies outside of marijuana dispensaries rather than supermarkets.

Shortly after Canada legalized marijuana nationwide Oct. 17, 9-year-old Girl Scout Elina Childs put the idea into action and loaded her wagon with three cases of Girl Scout cookies.

Childs and her father wheeled up their block to a new cannabis retail store in Edmonton, Alberta, where dozens of waiting customers quickly snatched up her cookies. Because dispensary customers frequently carry significant amounts of cash, the enterprising girl's marketing strategy appears to have been a slam dunk.

Lesson Learned: Cannabis Isn't Legal Tender

While most adult-use marijuana states allow the “gifting” of cannabis, there are clearly defined rules regarding selling it or using it for barter. Still, some people have to learn their lessons the hard way, like one Oregon man did.

On Nov. 13, Albany police reported that Matthew Franks, 38, of Independence tried to pay for a car with several pounds of marijuana. According to the report, Franks tried to arrange a barter deal with a car dealership when he spotted a Mazda SUV on the internet that caught his fancy.

After proposing a car-for-cannabis barter to the dealer over the phone, Franks arrived at the predetermined parking lot to complete the transaction, only to find that the vehicle dealer had tipped off the police, who then seized 5.4 pounds of marijuana from Franks — which was less than the agreed-upon amount.

This just goes to show that even in the days of legal marijuana, illegal transactions can still result in a “short bag” for buyers.

Nothing Beats Firsthand Experience

Prior to the Nov. 6 elections, Utah Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis visited the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas in October to try marijuana and form his own opinion.

“We're looking at major changes in Utah laws and at least one legislator ought to see what this thing is all about,” he said as he recorded his experience. Choosing a gummy bear edible, Dabakis waited 90 minutes at a nearby hotel to let the effects set in.

His rationale for the experiment: “If legislators would actually try it, they would find out that this is no big deal and at least let those who are suffering have the help that they need.'” Despite the senator's open-minded approach to pending legislation, Utah voters ended up with one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country.

This Isn't the Last Word on Trademark Law

Companies in the cannabis industry are known for protecting not only their intellectual property, but some rather unexpected things as well. Such was the case in October when California-based MedMen Enterprises filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the word “cannabis” on T-shirts, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

The article in details the patent attempt and provides the opinion of patent attorney Frank Herrera, who states what many would guess:

“There are several (trademarks) that include cannabis for clothing, but they all are used in connection with other terms and/or are stylized,” Herrera said. “Simply attempting to register the word cannabis alone and not stylized (with logos or a design, for example) for clothing will not work, in my opinion.”

Bribery and Lies Not OK in Oklahoma

The Associated Press also shined a light on how legal cannabis states should not adopt new policies and reform with its August article about the appointment of an interim Oklahoma Pharmacy Board director two weeks after firing its past director, Chelsea Church. Although no criminal charges have been brought against Church, an investigation led to her termination from the board for texts between her and a lawyer about marijuana policies. According to reports, the texts suggest she offered the lawyer a higher paying job in exchange for his drafting state rules that included mandating the presence of a pharmacist in every medical marijuana dispensary.

Also in the news last summer about flawed marijuana practices in the Sooner State, Gangapreneur reported that the Oklahoma advocacy organization Green The Vote (GTV) was less than honest about the required number of votes it collected to get a marijuana legalization question on the Oklahoma ballot. In a Facebook video, longtime GTV president Isaac Caviness admitted to inflating the number of signatures the organization received by stating his estimated numbers as hard numbers. GTV was on record for stating it exceeded the required 123,725 signatures by receiving a total of 132,000 signatures. Caviness confirmed that the actual number of signatures was 78,000 for SQ 797, for legalizing recreational marijuana, and 72,000 for SQ 796, which would pave the way for a medical marijuana program detailed in Oklahoma's state constitution.

Admitting deep regret for intentionally inflating the numbers and making a dishonest report, Caviness admitted that only he and former GTV board member Dody Sullivan were aware of the true numbers. He said his dishonesty was intended to keep GTV volunteers motivated despite the low numbers.

Sex Sells. Cannabis and Sex Sell More

A novel kind of art appreciation course appeared in November when the “Puff, Pass & Paint” program creators announced a new version of their cannabis-and-art concept:  “Puff, Pass & Pornstars.” A $69 fee allowed aspiring artists 21 and older to attend a two-hour cannabis-friendly figure-painting class with a nude porn actress as a model. Attendees were entitled to spend an evening with a “Puff, Pass & Paint” art instructor as adult-entertainment star Lotus Laine posed for the class. Art and education combined with charity: 10 percent of the event's proceeds were slated to benefit the adult industry's trade association, the Free Speech Coalition.

Free speech and sex got another boost when Julien's Auctions of Los Angeles announced a November auction of property from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's estate. Hefner, a staunch defender of First Amendment rights, established the Hugh Hefner Foundation in 1964 to support the defense of civil rights, the First Amendment, and reasonable sex and drug policies. More than a year following his death, Hefner's foundation continues to support public-health policies regarding cannabis, such as those proposed by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Goodbye, Jeff Sessions

When former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions took control of the Department of Justice (DOJ), he repeatedly stated his opposition to legalization, blocked bills that could have advanced reform of cannabis laws, and threatened to abandon Obama's more-lenient enforcement position. Sessions, who is on record for saying, “Good people don't smoke marijuana,” had many industry professionals gravely concerned about their futures. When he “resigned” (read: got fired) in early November, cannabis industry professionals had reason to rejoice. On Wall Street, news of his resignation caused cannabis stocks to soar.

At the time, Twitter was teeming with tweets about the breaking news, including:  

From Clint Smith: “jeff sessions is the only confederate monument trump was willing to take down.”

From Zooey Béchamel:breaking: trump has accidentally given jeff sessions an old sock and he is now free to leave the premises.”

From Hunter Schwarz:Jeff Sessions was Attorney General for almost 64 Scaramuccis.”

Drug Policy Alliance Director of National Affairs Michael Collins shared his thoughts, too: “Let's hope the surgeon general takes a walk over to the Justice Department and tells the staff that Sessions left behind that they may now enter the 21st century, safely leaving behind the antiquated approach to drugs embodied by their dreadful ex-boss.'

Former GOP House Speaker Promotes Cannabis

Former House Speaker John Boehner shocked many in April when he aligned himself with global cannabis company Acreage Holdings and became a member of its advisory board.

The Republican's outspoken endorsement of cannabis as a sound investment surprised many, particularly members of his own party.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, shown at the Values Voter Summit on Oct. 7, 2011, in Washington, D.C., became the member of the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company. The Ohio Republican told attendees of the American Cannabis Summit investors conference in October 2018 that he believes the federal government will legalize cannabis within the next five years. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

An article by Forbes contributor Iris Dorbian published in October detailed Boehner's deep involvement with promoting cannabis stocks and his affiliation with the American Cannabis Summit, an investor conference backed by the National Institute of Cannabis Investors. The much-touted event promised to detail every step to full legalization, how cannabis could become the next $1 trillion industry, and how average Americans can invest — as well as other enticing information such as information about the next market-doubling event.

Reports about the conference were positive. At the investor summit, Boehner said that he thinks the federal government will legalize cannabis within the next five years — if not sooner.

Boehner's continued involvement and promotion of legal cannabis have piqued the interest of many, while some have remained skeptical of his optimism about the market.                                                                   

 

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