President Thanks U.S. Health Care Workers Fighting Ebola • PG County Launches Marketing and Branding Campaign • Hoyer Attends PGCC Foundation’s Partners for Success Awards Dinner • New Initiative to Save on Stormwater Fees • The Medical Marijuana Process


   

November 13 - November 19, 2014

 

President Obama Thanks U.S. Health Care Workers Fighting Ebola

 

By Press Officer
O
ffice of the White House

America has never been defined by fear. We are defined by courage and passion and hope and selflessness and sacrifice and a willingness to take on challenges when others can’t and others will not, and ordinary Americans who risk their own safety to help those in need, and who inspire, thereby, the example of others -- all in the constant pursuit of building a better world not just for ourselves but for people in every corner of the Earth.
– President Obama, October 29, 2014 

Captain Calvin Edwards is a father of four from Harrisburg, PA. On his 29th wedding anniversary, he left home for Liberia with a pillow and the copy of the New Testament he always carries on his deployments. But not before he bought his wife a dozen roses.

Dr. Dan Chertow is also an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, who took leave from his position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to volunteer with Doctor Without Borders in Liberia, where he cared for more than 200 Ebola patients.

Katie Curren led a "disease detective" team to a village in Sierra Leone that was so remote, they had to take canoes to reach it. The chief who met them wore a Pittsburgh Steelers hat, and welcomed their help. She's completed her mission and is on her way home.

These are just a few of the extraordinary American health workers who are willingly and courageously serving on the frontlines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They signed up to leave their homes and their loved ones to head straight into the heart of the epidemic.

Today in the East Room of the White House, President Obama called on all of us to honor them for what they are: "American heroes" -- a "shining example of what American means to the world, of what is possible when America leads."

When disease or disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the world calls us. And the reason they call us is because of the men and women like the ones who are here today. They respond with skill and professionalism and courage and dedication. And it’s because of the determination and skill and dedication and patriotism of folks like this that I’m confident we will contain and ultimately snuff out this outbreak of Ebola -- because that’s what we do.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is understandably stirring concern at home. But, as the President said, what makes America exceptional is our refusal to hide from the challenges that frighten us most:

We don’t react to our fears, but instead, we respond with commonsense and skill and courage. That’s the best of our history -- not fear, not hysteria, not misinformation. We react clearly and firmly, even with others are losing their heads. That’s part of the reason why we’re effective. That’s part of the reason why people look to us. And because of the work that’s being done by folks like this and by folks who are right now, as we speak, in the three affected countries, we’re already seeing a difference.

Our U.S. military and health personnel have been instrumental in setting up supply lines, laying down the necessary transportation infrastructure for aid to get into countries that need it most, cutting the testing time for Ebola by days, doubling safe burial practices, and imbuing a stronger sense of confidence that this outbreak can and will be controlled and defeated.

The problem has not been solved, there is still a severe and significant outbreak that will take time for countries to battle back. "We've got a long way to go," the President said. But thanks to American leadership, the mood is changing for the better. "That's what's happening because of American leadership, and it is not abstract: it is people who are willing to go there at significant sacrifice to make a difference. That’s American exceptionalism. That’s what we should be proud of. That’s who we are."

We cannot erase the threat of Ebola until we stop the outbreak in West Africa. That is a fact that these health care workers understand, and the mission America is leading on the international stage. The truth is that we are likely to see possible cases outside of the affected countries -- whether or not we adopt a travel ban or a quarantine. That's the nature of diseases. But here's the good news:

We know how to treat this disease. And now that the West African nations of Senegal and Nigeria have been declared Ebola-free, we know that this disease can be contained and defeated if we stay vigilant and committed, and America continues to lead the fight. We’ve got hundreds of Americans from across the country -- nurses, doctors, public health workers, soldiers, engineers, mechanics -- who are putting themselves on the front lines of this fight. They represent citizenship, and patriotism, and public service at its best. They make huge sacrifices to protect this country that we love. And when they come home, they deserve to be treated properly. They deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are.

The kind of progress that will win the battle against Ebola is slow, it's steady, and it's defined by grace under pressure and courage in the face of fear. It will take the compassion and painstaking effort that these health care providers readily offer. "So I put those on notice who think that we should hide from these problems," the President said. "That's not who we are. That's not who I am. That's not who these folks are. This is America. We do things differently."

That's what I want to see from us -- the pride of a nation that always steps up and gets the job done. America has never been defined by fear. We are defined by courage and passion and hope and selflessness and sacrifice and a willingness to take on challenges when others can’t and others will not, and ordinary Americans who risk their own safety to help those in need, and who inspire, thereby, the example of others -- all in the constant pursuit of building a better world not just for ourselves but for people in every corner of the Earth.

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PG County Launches New Marketing and Branding Campaign

      

By PRESS OFFICER
Prince George’s County Gov.

Upper Marlboro, MD – at The Capital Wheel - National Harbor, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III will join Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin, (D-District 9) Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation CEO Gwen McCall, Prince George's County Conference & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Matthew Neitzey, Peterson Companies Principal Jon Peterson, along with County elected officials, business leaders, and residents to launch the new Prince George’s County marketing and branding campaign - “Prince George’s County - Experience. Expand. Explore.”

This event will occur during the CoreNet Global Summit of national and international commercial real estate professionals at the Gaylord at National Harbor. This event will consist of a launch ceremony beginning at 5:00 p.m. and a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the iconic Capital Wheel. At 7:00 p.m., National Harbor will also provide a short fireworks show for attendees.

“The time has come for Prince George’s County to soar! Indeed, this is the ‘place to be’ and I am excited to launch this new branding campaign,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “Over the last four years we have begun to change the perception of Prince George’s County and instill greater appreciation for our diverse offerings as a community. There remains a larger audience throughout the County, region, state, and nation that needs to be made aware of the wonderful attractions for tourists to Experience, amazing opportunities we offer for businesses to Expand, and incredible communities and resources for both new and established residents to Explore. From reducing crime to improving schools to building a new hospital, along with a billion dollar destination resort, and potentially being the new home to the FBI, Prince George’s County has been, as the Washington Post editorial board noted, ‘A County on the Move.’ I believe this eye-catching and creative campaign will truly accelerate our momentum.”

This first phase of the Prince George’s County marketing and branding campaign is an approximately $500,000 investment and partnership between the Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive, Prince George’s County Council, Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation and Prince George's County Conference & Visitors Bureau to attract and retain businesses, spur tourism in the County, and create awareness of the amenities, options, and opportunities that are located throughout Prince George’s County. This campaign will consist of traditional advertising, social media coordination and promotion, a County-based “My Prince George’s” grassroots campaign will solicit and promote testimonials from residents and stakeholders to share their personal stories and their favorite places throughout Prince George’s County to be used during the next phase of the marketing and branding effort.

This campaign will be supported online and through social media by utilizing the web portals – ExperiencePrinceGeorges.com, ExpandinPrinceGeorges.com, and ExplorePrinceGeorges.com, representing tourist, business, and residential resources and information respectively. The campaign will also consist of the re-branding of the Prince George's County Conference & Visitors Bureau social media as @ExperiencePGC, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation as @ExpandPGC, the Prince George’s County E-Government social media channels as @ExplorePGC, and unifying all social media under the hashtag #MyPGC. In addition, a new mobile app is being launched that can be downloaded for free on iPhone and Android devices. This mobile app is a one-stop guide to everything Prince George’s County.


 

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Hoyer Attends PG Community College Foundation’s Partners for Success Awards Dinner

      

By Press Officer
Office of Steny Hoyer

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) delivered remarks at the Prince George’s Community College Foundation’s Partners for Success Awards Dinner at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The college recognized individuals and corporate partners at the dinner who have demonstrated shared responsibility in transforming the lives of students through accessible and affordable learning experiences. Senator Barbara Mikulski was one of the honorees at the dinner.

“I was honored to celebrate with the Prince George’s Community College Foundation as they recognized Senator Mikulski and others who have worked to ensure that our students have access to a quality and affordable higher education,” said Congressman Hoyer. “I congratulate all of tonight’s honorees and encourage them to continue to work with the Prince George’s Community College to develop programs and college-to-career pipelines that support graduates’ success in our growing local economy. These partnerships they have fostered are important as we train our future leaders with the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

“I’m proud that Prince George’s Community College, under the leadership of President Charlene Dukes, is helping to lead the way in STEM education and in the field of cybersecurity, through the National Cyberwatch Center headquartered on campus,” continued Congressman Hoyer. “Together, we must continue to invest in our students and ensure that they have the skills and experience to be successful and secure a place in our middle class. We owe it to them and to future generations of Prince Georgians who deserve every opportunity to make it in America."

 

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New Initiative to Save on Stormwater Fees
County says new program provides groups with incentives to help them go green

    

By PRESS OFFICER
Prince George’s County Gov.

LARGO, MD – As part of the County’s ongoing effort to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water quality, Prince George’s County officials and other special guests officially launched the County’s Alternative Compliance Program (ACP) at Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church in Forestville. The ACP is designed to help congregations and nonprofits reduce and treat stormwater runoff by incorporating best management practices such as building rain barrels and gardens, starting a green team or ministry, coordinating tree plantings and directing community cleanups. Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church is the first faith-based organization selected to participate in the County program.

Prince George’s County Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic Development and Public Infrastructure Victor L. Hoskins remarked that he was excited about the County’s introduction of the Program. “Prince George’s County is taking a major step in making a change toward our environment,” said Hoskins. “This public-faith partnership shows what can happen when like-minded people in government and the private sector come together to make a huge change for the better.”

Jon Capacasa, Director of the EPA Water Protection Division Mid-Atlantic Region added that backing programs such as the ACP will put us in a much better position in restoring and protecting water quality for the future. “It’s important that we continue to explore clean water initiatives that will assist us in meeting the challenges we face ahead,” says Capacasa. “I applaud Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church in stepping out and taking a risk. The EPA is pleased to be here and to be a partner in this effort.”

Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church was selected to receive the County’s assistance in retrofitting their property due to the commitment expressed by Pastor Reverend Dr. Nathaniel B. Thomas to be a willing participant in changing attitudes and mindsets about the environment. “We want to do what God wants us to do,” said Reverend Thomas. “This is God’s property and we must do what we can to not only be a good church, but a good neighbor and good steward.”

Prince George’s County Department of the Environment Director Adam Ortiz shared how ACP is a true partnership between government and faith-based and nonprofits groups to help improve water quality in our local waterways. “We didn’t want to impose significant financial burdens on these organizations,” said Ortiz. “So together, we drafted a blueprint of innovative water pollution solutions that would provide tax bill savings, partnerships and grants.” Ortiz added that the project at Forestville New Redeemer will serve as a model so other organizations can see what can be done.

Some of the retrofit projects to be installed at Forestville New Redeemer include tree planters, rain barrels, permeable pavers, cistern and bioretention facilities. The project is expected to start construction later this year and will cost the County approximately $100,000.

The ACP contains three options that provide qualified organizations with a reduction in their Clean Water Act Fee (CWAF). One option provides the County a right-of-entry agreement to install stormwater best management practices (BMPs) on property owned by the organization. This option provides groups with a 50 percent reduction on their CWAF. The second option requires groups to assist the County with their Rain Check Rebate outreach and education campaign. This initiative raises awareness of water quality issues to the community at large and provides rebates to eligible applicants for installing approved stormwater management practices. In addition, groups agree to create a green ministry to teach the importance of environmental stewardship. Groups that participate in this option can earn a 25 percent reduction in their fee. The third option asks property owners to utilize certified green lawn companies for the proper use and application of fertilizers on their lawns for the protection of water quality. This option also provides a 25 percent reduction.

 

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From Seed to Smoker: The Medical Marijuana Process

   

By Daniel Kerry
Ca
pital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – After Maryland is given the OK from the federal government, patients will be able to walk into a dispensary, show their card to the retailer and pick up their medical marijuana prescription.

But before medicinal cannabis ever changes hands from retailer to consumer, it has already been through an extensive trek.

There is a complex process between the time a marijuana seed is planted and when the consumer picks up a prescription at the counter.

That whole intermediate process is one of the factors delaying Maryland’s implementation of medical marijuana.

Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Commission

The crowd at the state’s medical marijuana commission meetings in Annapolis on Sept. 9 and Sept. 23 consisted mostly of growers, dispensers and consulting firm representatives who were eager to join the new program. Since September 2013, the 15-member commission has held 15 meetings to discuss details about Maryland’s future medical cannabis industry.

Dispensers, growers and patients in need of medicinal marijuana are growing more and more restless with each passing commission meeting.

Distribution of medical marijuana in Maryland is not expected to start until early 2016.

“I can see recreational marijuana being legalized before medical marijuana is finalized in Maryland,” said Judy Pentz, executive director of the state chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). “The commission seems stuck in the reefer madness era.”

Sharon Bloom, executive director of the commission, said the wait is for a valid reason.

“There are no obstacles blocking us, only a regulatory process that needs to be followed and the informal process prior,” Bloom said. The commission is still working on the “informal process” of getting Maryland’s medical marijuana industry plans and regulations straightened out before they are sent to the federal government.

“If we do a job that the (U.S.) attorney general and the (Drug Enforcement Agency) reject, we’re back to ground zero,” said Eric Sterling, a member of the commission and a lawyer with over 30 years of experience working on medical marijuana issues.

Maryland is one of 23 states in which medical marijuana is legal.

According to the commission’s latest draft of regulations, grower application fees in Maryland are not to exceed $6,000, but annual license fees for growers are $125,000. Licensing fees for dispensaries are $40,000 a year.

In Colorado, the application fees for dispensaries can be as high as $15,000, depending on what type of distributor it is. Licensing fees can cost up to $13,200.

In Washington state, marijuana producers must pay an annual fee of $1,000 and a $250 application fee. Retailers must pay the same fees.

Though a few members of the commission admitted Maryland’s fees seem high, especially for small businesses, Bloom maintained they are not negotiable.

“We need to have the money to support our program,” Bloom said. “These fees are in line with other states with a similar number of dispensers. We were given a rather limited budget and we’re doing the best we can.”

The commission is working with a $745,700 budget for the current fiscal year, according to legislative services. This budget does not include any revenue from dispensaries, as none have opened yet.

Maryland plans to implement a sales tax on medical marijuana, but the exact percentage has yet to be determined.

The commission anticipates 44 operating dispensaries in Maryland once the program is up and running.

Cannabis Cultivation

Depending on the state, the marijuana seed or cutting could start out in farm soil or in a greenhouse or a highly secured warehouse.

Cloning is a method of breeding plants by cutting and rooting a healthy shoot. A clone has one parent and is genetically identical to it. The donor plant is known as a “mother plant.”

Growers use the cloning method for a variety of reasons, according to Kris Hermes, the media specialist at Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group based in California and Washington, D.C.

Firstly, it ensures the gender of the plant, which is “immensely important,” Hermes said.

Growers prefer unpollenated female plants because they produce the most potent “smokeable buds” filled with Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principal chemical in cannabis that makes users feel high. Male plants produce no buds and minimal THC, according to Hermes.

Cloning also enables growers to easily produce “large quantities of new plants,” Hermes said.

Cuttings or clones usually cost between $6 and $15 apiece, according to Ben Holmes, an experienced cannabis cultivator and founder of Centennial Seeds in Denver.

Far fewer cultivators use seeds now than in previous years, with the exception of those who are trying to create hybrid strains, according to Hermes. These hybrids are combinations of different strains, catered to the specific symptoms of patients. Certain strains, such as Charlotte’s Web, contain more THC than others and are more effective medicinally, according to Hermes.

Holmes urges growers to buy seeds instead of cuttings, due to what he calls “inherent problems” with indoor growing. He charges about $5.25 per seed.

“You don’t have to worry about mice or mold with seeds,” he said. “Cuttings are dirty because they’ve been reproduced over and over again. Seeds also have a long shelf-life and can be preserved by freezing, unlike cuttings.”

Holmes said there is an underground community of breeders who were instrumental in bringing seeds to the U.S. In the mid-1990s, these breeders sold these seeds to growers in Amsterdam, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. Over time, growers in Europe and Canada then sold those seeds back into the U.S, even though importing seeds has long been banned.

“Customs has stepped up their enforcement over the years,” Holmes said. “People will often try to import seeds and customs end up (intercepting) and seizing them.”

Holmes said he believes the seed industry will take off as marijuana laws loosen up across the country.

The Business of Medical Cannabis

“The economic value of seeds is immense because seeds are both technology and commodity,” Holmes said. “If the seed is sterile, it won’t reproduce, which makes it a commodity, but when it reproduces itself, it becomes technology. Marijuana seeds will be a billion-dollar industry one day.”

Mike Liszewski of Americans for Safe Access noted the medical marijuana industry’s potential for profit. “If you want to be involved, now is a good time as far as setting up business,” he said. “There’s certainly a sizeable investment involved and it takes a certain level of expertise, but there are plenty of consultant firms that help put cultivators in positions to succeed.”

Jon Hofer is the founder of Recreational Marijuana Medical Cannabis Consulting, a firm based in Washington state that aims to “bridge the gap between medical cannabis users, recreational marijuana users and business professionals,” according to their website.

“There’s no gold rush,” Hofer said. “It’s not easy starting up (in the medical marijuana industry). It requires a lot of dedication.”

Starting the initial crop can be a grey area for many growers. The first roadblock for potential growers or distributors is finding the initial seeds or cuttings to turn into a crop – and then getting them to the grow site.

“In Washington state, the government turns their back for 15 days, and lets growers import seeds to get started with,” Hofer said. “They know that’s where a lot of people get their inventory.”

Not every state has the same model, however. Some states are more lenient than others regarding the importation of marijuana seeds, according to Hofer.

Bloom did not return calls or provide comments regarding where marijuana growers in Maryland are to get their initial inventory.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing

According to the preliminary regulations drafted by Maryland’s medical marijuana commission, they are in favor of growing in enclosed, locked spaces as opposed to open space.

The open space method has numerous downsides. The main drawback is its limited timeframe. Outdoor cultivation is typically restricted to one harvest a year, with a growing season from May to October.

However with indoor cultivation, the grower can yield multiple harvests a year.

“Planters can mimic seasons indoors by dimming lights or cutting the lighting period from 12 to eight hours,” said Hermes. “You can get three to four harvests a year indoors. Some people think it results in a higher grade of marijuana.”

Once the crop is ready, planters can then harvest the buds or extract THC and other cannabinoids from leaves and use them to create oils and edibles.

Typically stems and roots are thrown out or composted after the crop is ready.

“Some people crush them up so it is easier to dispose of,” said Hermes. “But stems are useless anyway because they contain no THC.”

Law Enforcement

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and frowned upon by local law enforcement. This creates challenges for people trying to transport medical marijuana shipments to dispensaries.

“I’ve heard numerous stories of people getting pulled over by police while carrying pounds of flowers in their car (to deliver to dispensaries),” Hermes said. “They’re not in highly secured trucks, just normal vehicles.” Though these drivers were not arrested while delivering to dispensaries, there is still a significant amount of danger in entering in the industry.

The federal government is pursuing producers and manufactures of marijuana all over the country, according to Hermes. Manufacturers in California, Michigan and Montana, three states in which medical marijuana is legal, have experienced some of the most recent federal stings.

Despite the threat of government intervention, there are still emerging fields within the medical marijuana industry.

One of the newer industries to emerge within the medical marijuana business is lab testing. Scientists test marijuana for contaminants such as pesticides. They also test the product in order to measure the percentage of THC.

Growing Marijuana Seeds as Intellectual Property

– Ben Holmes founded Centennial Seeds in 2009 in order to develop high quality cannabis seeds for Colorado medical marijuana growers.

– Since 2004, he has studied seed breeding and cannabis seed production.

– He has created a private cannabis seed bank with over 300 distinct genetic lines.

This bank represents a body of genetic material spanning five continents.

– Holmes method of selling seeds involves an extensive licensing process. The U.S. Department of Agriculture registers his seeds and then he is granted the intellectual property for the specific strain. --Seeds are viewed in a similar fashion to inventions and are patented as such. Certain unique aspects of seeds can be trademarked. Holmes described these traits as “utility and usability.”

Holmes said he is one of the first growers to get intellectual property and patent protection for seeds


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