WeedLife News Network
Three bills revising marijuana laws passed their final reading in the Montana House Thursday afternoon.
House Bills 701, 707 and 670 are all measures generally revising laws relating to the taxation and regulation of recreational and medical marijuana.
HB 701 would give licensing, cultivation and sales authority of medical marijuana to the Department of Revenue, as well as create separate license categories for cultivation, manufacturing, dispensing and transporting marijuana.
HB 707 would provide taxation for marijuana at the wholesale level and create wholesale licenses.
HB 670 would create a marijuana revenue trust fund, increase the medical marijuana tax rate to 5% and decrease the adult-use marijuana tax rate to 15%, among other things.
South Dakota has been in the headlines for both good and bad reasons since they legalized cannabis with a ballot measure during the last election cycle. While they did manage to legalize, anti-cannabis forces immediately sued over this decision. Now, the case comes before the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Amendment A, which legalized adult-use cannabis and set up a regulated market, and Measure 26, which legalized medical cannabis, both became legal last year, however the recreational part of the measure has still not been able to move forward. While the state’s residents approved medical cannabis at a 70 percent margin, Amendment A was approved at a much smaller margin of 54 percent.
For a brief time, the state rejoiced about the new laws, but that excitement was crushed pretty quickly. Following the election, South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom sued to block the amendment on a technicality. They claim that the measure violates the constitution by trying to set up a framework for legalization and also legalizing, rolling two things into one.
Even worse, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who is conservative when it comes to cannabis, came out in support of the suit, claiming she never wanted to see cannabis legalized.
“I was personally opposed to these measures and firmly believe they’re the wrong choice for South Dakota’s communities,” Noem wrote in a statement. “We need to be finding ways to strengthen our families, and I think we’re taking a step backward in that effort. I’m also very disappointed that we will be growing state government by millions of dollars in costs to public safety and to set up this new regulatory system.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case to decide the fate of Initiative 65, the state's voter-approved medical marijuana program.
The city of Madison and its mayor, Mary Hawkins Butler, filed a lawsuit opposing the medical marijuana constitutional amendment just days before voters overwhelmingly endorsed it in November.
Butler opposes legalization and says the way the marijuana question reached the ballot was improper. Attorneys for the state have called her suit "woefully untimely" and argued in court filings her technical interpretation of constitutional language that regulates ballot initiatives is off-base.
A flurry of court papers were filed in recent months, including from groups not named in the case but wanting to stake out a position before the court on medical marijuana legalization. But Wednesday will be the first time attorneys for Butler and lawyers from Attorney General Lynn Fitch's office — representing Secretary of State Michael Watson — will be able to make their case in-person to the nine-member high court. It's unclear when a ruling could occur.
Mississippi lawmakers proposed creating a backup medical marijuana program earlier this year, in case the court invalidates Initiative 65. But that plan died amid public backlash and concerns that the Legislature wanted to create a program that looked drastically different from the initiative's language.
Working in the cannabis industry is more than just a job for Destiny Perez. It's a passion.
Her current employer, Catalyst Cannabis Co., is one of the only employers to look past her previous marijuana charges.
"Four cop cars pulled me over in an Uber, scared my Uber driver. He thought I robbed the place or something. But honestly, all I did was close up a dispensary that was technically not legal," Perez said.
Perez received two charges that day over three years ago. In fear of seeing a conviction on her record, she has avoided the legal process. Her charges have now turned into warrants that continue to hang over her head.
"It's been extremely stressful," she said. "It's been an inconvenience. Many times, it brings up [a] conversation that I would rather not have to go through with a landlord or a potential workplace."
To ban residents from consuming any form of cannabis is playing into the stereotype that cannabis users are “less than” their non-smoking counterparts.
Can your landlords evict you for smoking cannabis on their property? In Massachusetts, landlords do have the right to evict you if you “smoke” but they do not have permission to evict you for possessing or consuming it. But that doesn’t mean that some landlords aren’t trying.
Some landlords in MA are trying to ban all forms of cannabis consumption, whether eating it or simply possessing it on the property. Some of these clauses include, “immediate eviction” which have left some tenants on edge about where they can and cannot smoke.
With legalization comes different problems and while previously, these laws may have been overlooked due to the illegality of cannabis. However, when a substance is legally permitted within a state it may clash with the property rights of landlords.
This puts tenant and landlord at odds which is not the ideal situation when talking about the place where someone needs to feel safe and secure — their home.
The Senate voted 30-5 in favor of the industrial hemp legalization bill. HB 126 has already passed the House. It will now go to the governor’s office.
The law would change Idaho Code to differentiate industrial hemp from marijuana. It would do so by amending “Idaho’s list of controlled substances to differentiate between hemp, which has no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and its more potent cousin. It would authorize the production, research, processing and transportation of industrial hemp by those licensed in Idaho, and allow the legal possession and transportation of the product in and through the state,” according to the Idaho Press.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, said the issue has been “much like a football game” that has “been played over the course of several years now.” Many legislators have worked together to advance this bill.
“Slowly but surely we have moved this policy down the field. We find ourselves near the end zone. Along the way, much effort by many diligent people has been employed,” Guthrie said.
Idaho is currently the only state where hemp is illegal. Industrial hemp is used in a variety of products, from rope to clothing. Farmers across Idaho have expressed interest in growing this crop, and the Idaho Farm Bureau supports the bill.
As many states are doing, New York fully embraced the concept of social and economic equity by setting a target goal of 50% of licenses issued to social and economic equity applicants.
After years of fits and starts, New York finally legalized adult-use cannabis and expanded its previously restrictive medical cannabis program. As the nation’s third largest economy and fourth most populous state, New York has the opportunity to set the gold standard for state cannabis industries.
New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”) establishes industry governing bodies — the Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) and the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”), creates license types across the commercial cannabis activity spectrum, sets up a social and economic equity plan, and allocates a significant portion of tax revenue from cannabis sales to social and economic equity programs.
An important political catalyst for the New York legislature’s passage of the MRTA was the expectation that tax revenue generated from cannabis sales will reduce the state’s significant budget deficit and repair of some of the economic damage caused by COVID. Another political objective was correcting social and economic injustices caused by decades of inequitable enforcement of marijuana laws.
Commercially, the MRTA aims to prevent anti-competitive behavior among licensees, creating adult-use licenses for cultivators, processors, cooperatives, distributors, retail dispensaries, microbusinesses, deliveries, cultivation nurseries, and on-site consumption. Industry rules and regulations will be created and implemented by the CCB and OCM, including those related to the number of licenses issued per license type and by geographic area.
In a bold move that many did not see coming from the South, Virginia just officially passed legal, recreational cannabis.
The bill passed thanks to support from the Democratic governor and legislature. Now, small amounts of cannabis are officially legalized in the state. Those 21 and up can have an ounce or less of cannabis starting July 1. Initially, the state was looking at 2024 for an end to prohibition, but Governor Ralph Northam felt it could be hypocritical and problematic to keep criminalizing something that would be legal in the future.
Victory Over Opposition In Virginia
Unlike many states, Virginia did not receive bipartisan support for this measure. In 2019, an attempt to legalize and decriminalize cannabis failed in the state. This year, however, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax had to break a 20-20 tie, as Democrats and Republicans in the Virginia Senate were split down the middle.
Republicans claimed that the bill was too long and involved at 300 pages, and some were concerned that licensing preference would be given to marginalized folks who have been more affected by the war on drugs than others. Others felt this was just a move to make the governor look good, or worried that the bill provides language allowing cannabis workers to unionize. However, despite all these objections, it passed by a hair margin.
New York’s cannabis legalization law contains a provision to expunge certain convictions for marijuana-related offenses, and the state Office of Court Administration said the measure is expected to wipe out criminal records for potentially tens of thousands of people — including 19 individuals who are currently serving state prison terms.
The deadline for expunging marijuana-possession convictions is two years from when the law was signed last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said OCA spokesman Lucian Chafen. Right now, he said, the estimate of marijuana-related offenses that will be expunged is about 108,000, but that number is expected to grow to about 150,000 when they’re able to identify all portions of the relevant cases.
Those figures do not represent the number of people whose criminal records may be expunged, but the total number of convictions — with some individuals potentially having more than one conviction for offenses that are no longer a crime.
The number of people with marijuana convictions on their record is likely in the tens of thousands, and studies show that it’s certain to be disproportionately Black and Latino individuals. Those with criminal records often face a more difficult time finding employment, securing loans and renting or buying a home. The goal of the expungement provision in the legalization bill is to wipe out those obstacles for people who were convicted of something that is no longer criminal.
The 19 people incarcerated in state prisons were convicted of the most serious charges, such as felony possession or sale of marijuana, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Spokespeople from the OCA and DOCCS said they’re waiting to verify those people’s identities and conviction details before anyone can be released.
If Washington wants to be as competitive as possible, it has to drop the cottage cloak around ownership at some point — and eliminating it for financiers just isn’t enough.
I absolutely loved Washington State when I lived there. I lived in Seattle for seven years and was one of the first attorneys in the state to take on medical cannabis business clients in 2010 and then again with adult use clients in 2012 when I-502 passed. Our law firm is a pioneer in the cannabis space, but particularly in Washington State where our cannabis practice first began many years ago.
I also think Washington has a top notch cannabis program when it comes to its regulations. They are clear and comprehensive, setting up licensees for success as industry understands what it is getting most of the time from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“LCB“). Of course, there are ambiguities with Washington’s administrative code and cannabis (like with all states), and there always will be because different licensing analysts will give competing interpretations of the law and rules on everything from label review submissions to analyses of true parties of interest. I certainly don’t agree with every LCB rule on the books, but I respect the heck out of Washington for the cannabis program it created and has maintained over the years.
Photo by Flickr user Tanya
All of the foregoing is why I was incredibly excited and honored to testify at a Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee Legislative Work Session on March 26. You can watch the entire hearing here. I moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and have really focused on California’s cannabis scene for a while now, but I keep up with Washington’s cannabis marketplace and our firm continues to maintain its cannabis practice out of Seattle.
A record 5,034 people were involved in cannabis-related crimes in Japan in 2020, with teens and those in their 20s accounting for the majority of the offenders, police data showed Thursday.
The figure rose 713 from the previous year for the seventh consecutive yearly increase and exceeded 5,000 for the first time.
The National Police Agency warned that many young people are not aware of the risk of drugs due to the circulation of "positive information online" and vowed to boost cyber patrols and crack down on drug deals using social media.
According to a survey involving 748 of the total offenders, just 16.7 percent said they were aware of the dangers of using cannabis.
Of the 5,034 people, 887 were aged between 14 and 19, up 278 from the previous year, and 2,540 were in their 20s, up 590.
With Montana set to become the next state to legalize marijuana, lawmakers in Big Sky Country will have some options on how to go about implementing the policy.
Local TV outlet KPAX reported this week that legislators there in the state House have “advanced three bills that provide different visions for how to implement recreational marijuana in the state, after legislative leadership asked them to keep all three alive.”
According to KPAX, House Bills 701, 670 and 707 have all passed in “preliminary votes” after floor debates, giving hope to sponsors of each piece of legislation that theirs may still gain ultimate passage. All three bills have been brought up by Republican members of the House, with each offering a distinct vision on how to bring legalization to Montana.
HB 701 “would set up separate licenses for medical and recreational dispensaries, limit licenses to existing marijuana providers for 18 months, require counties to ‘opt-in’ to allowing marijuana businesses and send some of the tax revenue to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s ‘HEART Fund’ account for mental health and substance abuse treatment,” according to KPAX.
HB 670, meanwhile, would “create a single license for medical and recreational marijuana sales, lower the tax on recreational sales to 15% and raise the medical marijuana tax to 5%,” KPAX said, while also earmarking a third of the revenue from recreational pot toward “a trust fund to address negative impacts of marijuana use, with the rest going toward the state’s public employee pension liability.”
Throughout history, professional athletes have been punished by teams, leagues and the law for cannabis consumption. Several high-profile examples are listed below, showcasing just how serious such actions were viewed within the world of professional sports.2004: Running back Ricky Williams is suspended from the National Football League for 4 games after testing positive for marijuana. He subsequently retired from the NFL due to their cannabis policy (before later returning) and was later suspended in 2006 for a full year, after testing positive once again.2009: Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is suspended from competition for three months after a picture goes viral that shows Phelps smoking (allegedly marijuana) out of a bong.2015: Jon Singleton, at the time a top prospect for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball, was demoted and suspended for 100 games after testing positive for marijuana three times.2017 & 2018: Notable UFC fighters like Cynthia Calvillo, Nick Diaz, Niko Price, Curtis Blaydes, and Abel Trujillo were all suspended after testing positive for marijuana.
Professional sports are an example of how the treatment and opinions of cannabis usage is ever-changing across America. With continued education on cannabis and its benefits, we see an easing in laws and regulations on cannabis usage by employers for their employees. With continued education, we hope this continues to evolve in a positive direction.
Cultiva Law is one of the leading Cannabis law firms in the country and is striving to move the cannabis industry forward through education and representation. The firm supports the progress and evolution of the United States professional sports industries’ treatment on cannabis usage.
Restrictions Are Easing
Only recently has the U.S. professional sports industry seen a shift toward easing restrictions and penalties on cannabis consumption. The following is a breakdown of the current state of cannabis across various American professional sports leagues:
New York recently became the 15th U.S. state to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does.
Hemp, marijuana and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways. Here’s what you need to know about their legality, effects and potential health benefits.
Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals
Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, and the two plants look somewhat similar. However, substantial variation can exist within a species. After all, great Danes and chihuahuas are both dogs, but they have obvious differences.
The defining difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, meaning hemp-derived products don’t contain enough THC to create the “high” traditionally associated with marijuana.
South Carolina's medical marijuana legalization bill is heading to likely defeat without getting a debate in the state Senate.
Despite the discussion being scheduled for Tuesday, opposition to the proposal among lawmakers is becoming increasingly clear, with Sen. Greg Hembree (R-Myrtle Beach) announcing he intends to block the debate from even starting.
Under Senate rules, one senator has the power to hold up discussions. It would require three-fifths of senators to vote to override the move. It's unclear if enough senators support the divisive bill, but even its supporters contend that it isn't likely.
Hembree said he was concerned that medical marijuana had not been approved by the FDA and thought this bill was a gateway effort to legalizing recreational marijuana.
"Do we want to be a state that approves the safe recreational use of marijuana? I'm okay to have that debate," he said. "That, to me, is an honest debate."
London Mayor Sadiq Khan will form a commission to study the potential of decriminalization of cannabis if he is re-elected next month, according to media reports from the United Kingdom. Khan was expected to unveil the proposal to study the health, economic, and criminal justice benefits of cannabis decriminalization on Tuesday as part of his platform for re-election.
“It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families, and communities,” Khan will say, according to a report from The Guardian. “The commission will make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health, and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”
“That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I will establish a new London Drugs Commission comprised of independent experts to examine the latest evidence from around the world,” Khan said.
“The commission will make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”
The mayor’s office noted that the illicit drug trade costs U.K. society £19 billion per year, and nearly 42,000 people in England and Wales were charged with a drug-related offense last year. Although Khan has said he is against decriminalizing class-A drugs such as cannabis and heroin, he would support cannabis reform if the commission concludes the move would be beneficial.
The marijuana industry in New York will be similar to Colorado’s, where nine years after it was legalized there are nearly 1,000 retail stores and small medical marijuana dispensaries spread across that state.
For many people who suffer from conditions such as insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain, the legislation will also pave the way for easier access — and lower prices — to marijuana therapies that may help them treat their symptoms and avoid the need for synthetic drugs that often come with debilitating side effects or potentially dangerous interactions with other substances.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed by the Legislature — and signed into law last week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — is largely mirrored after Colorado’ssystem that has enabled small business owners to establish a network of boutique shops and dispensaries that sell everything from small amounts of cannabis to pain creams and edibles.
Unlike some states where a few large dispensaries are spread out geographically and customers drive sometimes long distances to make purchases, New York’s plan is a statewide framework of relatively small retail shops with a focus on awarding licenses in many of the communities where convictions for marijuana-related offenses have been the highest.
Tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical companies for years had dispatched lobbyists to ply the Capitol corridors in Albany trying to influence the framing of the legislation, but lawmakers said they beat back that effort and their attempts to seize control of the industry here.
Just miles off the coast of the UK, Britain’s crown dependencies smell opportunity in the air.
Typically known for their tax-friendly regulation and as an outpost for wealthy entrepreneurs, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have all introduced new legislation allowing for easier investment in a new and emerging market - medicinal cannabis cultivation.
In January, the Isle of Man’s parliament approved plans to sell licences to grow and export cannabis for medicinal use. As a crown dependency, like both Guernsey and Jersey, it is self governing - meaning it does not need to wait for permission from the UK government.
Enterprise minister Laurence Skelly said new regulations on cannabis cultivation had been a “long time coming”. He’s hoping the island can steal a march on the UK.
“We want to make sure it [medicinal cannabis] is a high quality product so we’re at the top end of the market and we’re attracting the right investment. We’ve put the framework in place and already the interest has been fantastic,” he said.
Legislation reintroduced to the U.S. Senate this week seeks to increase the maximum allowable level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp.
While the 2018 Farm Bill legalised hemp in the USA at a federal level, it imposed a maximum level of 0.3% THC. In addition to greatly increasing the risk of crops being considered “hot”, resulting their destruction and farmers potentially facing criminal proceedings, it also put the industry behind jurisdictions in some other countries where the maximum level is 1%; for example in Western Australia.
Additionally, while the USDA’s final rule for hemp production released in January took into consideration some comments submitted regarding the interim final rule, several other particularly thorny issues remain.
This week, U.S. Senator Rand Paul reintroduced the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act of 2021 that would tackle these issues.
“My legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic potential, and I am proud the bill has strong support all the way from local Kentucky farmers and activists to national groups,” said the Senator.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a strong advocate of marijuana legalization, is ready to move ahead with major changes to federal laws prohibiting the use, sale and production of cannabis products – with or without the support of President Joe Biden.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden – a leading Democratic proponent of tough drug laws during his long Senate career – was the only leading Democratic primary candidate to oppose federal legalization of the plant, saying more study is needed. While the president supports legalizing the drug for medical use and the decriminalization of possession, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week, Biden's "position has not changed" on full legalization since the campaign.
Schumer told Politico he respects Biden's desire for more study on the subject, but he said "we will move forward" even if the president's view stays the same.
"He said he's studying the issue," the New York Democrat said when asked if he would introduce a legalization bill even if Biden opposes it. He added he wants to give the president "a little time" to research the question.
"I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will," Schumer told Politico. "But at some point we're going to move forward, period."