A bill approving the use of medical marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic Pain, severe muscle pain and glaucoma will now head to state senate.
HB 579, authored by Rep. Edward James, was approved by the House on Thursday (April 12) by a vote of 60 to 39. The bill was approved with an additional amendment that adds Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, to the list of conditions a licensed physician can recommend the use of medical marijuana.
The final version of the bill also included an amendment added by Rep. Alan Seabaugh that excludes employers and worker's compensation insurers from having to pay for medical marijuana under the state's Worker's Compensation Law.
Louisiana's medical marijuana bill approved in 2016 allowed the use of medical marijuana to treat certain conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy.
Fire chiefs and municipalities around the province say a lack of regulation and oversight of residential cannabis grow operations is putting people at risk, as evidenced by a fatal fire at a licensed medical grow op in Surrey this week.
Regulations and compliance are top priorities for cities as the legalization of recreational marijuana nears in the coming months. A provincial framework is expected in the coming weeks.
“The (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations) has been flawed since its inception,” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who is a vice-president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities. “The program has led to a proliferation of grow operations in residential neighbourhoods. The operations are frequently out of compliance with our bylaws and provincial health and safety and building regulations.
Bipartisan senators are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cease efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to slow medical marijuana research.
In a letter sent Thursday, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said they are concerned by reports that the Justice Department is effectively blocking the DEA from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana for use in research.
“Research on marijuana is necessary for evidence-based decision making, and expanded research has been called for by President Trump’s Surgeon General, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the FDA, the CDC, the National Highway Safety Administration, the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Academies of Sciences, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse,” the senators wrote.
According to Cannabis Business Times’ “2017 State of the Industry” report sponsored by Nexus Greenhouses, 34 percent of cultivators use rolling benches in their operations.
This number comes as a surprise to Paul Golden, Controlled Environment Agriculture Engineer and Northern California Sales Manager for Nexus Greenhouses. The additional costs are vastly outweighed by making the most of the greenhouse, he says.
“By using benching systems, you can achieve up to 85-percent utilization by eliminating aisles, up from 60-percent utilization with stationary benches or pots on the ground, which means a lot more throughput for the same energy cost to run your facility.”
Rolling benches increase efficiencies by eliminating aisles. The tops of the benches roll on top of the lower racks, leaving only one movable aisle and more room for your crops. Labor efficiency also increases, as fewer employees are needed to cover the same space, which is an added benefit to integrated pest management (IPM) by reducing the amount of contact between workers and plants.
IPM Tip: “We recommend having concrete slabs. It makes a more even surface for the bench to lie on, and the concrete slab prevents pests from coming through the soil.” -Paul Golden
Palletized systems can bring another level of efficiency to your grow by turning benches into conveyor belts. “You’re making a pretty big step forward in operational management; imagine a plant rolling down a conveyor belt, and trimmers are doing what they need to do,” he says. “You start bringing factory type efficiency to your greenhouse.”
While this might not be cost-effective for some smaller growers, other automation features like drip systems, ebb-and-flow trays and cleaning processes can be added to make rolling bench systems even more efficient.
Benches can last over 20 years, trays 10 years and emitters two years, and cost between $5-$10 per square foot depending on the design. But Golden says growers won’t have to wait long before seeing a return on investment. “You can easily pay out $50,000 and get $250,000 in added return in the first year.”
When choosing benching systems, Golden advises cultivators to consider greenhouse space versus bench-top space and how that relates to how the state defines canopy restrictions.
“It is an additional cost,” Golden says. “But a lot of people don’t understand the efficiency gains that come back to them by using rolling benches and eliminating aisles, and making the best possible use of the greenhouse.”
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