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Hot off the press cannabis, marijuana, cbd and hemp news from around the world on the WeedLife News Network.

Proposal would shield Louisiana’s state employees who use medical marijuana

The House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations unanimously advanced a bill Thursday that would protect Louisiana’s state employees who are legally treated with medical marijuana.

House Bill 988, sponsored by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, protects state employees from negative consequences if they are diagnosed with a condition for which their doctor recommends medical marijuana that is used in accordance with state law.

The law would protect employees from being fired and would protect prospective employees from being discriminated against for their use of medical marijuana.

The bill would not apply to law enforcement, firefighters or other public safety officials.

The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy reported that there are over 43,000 medical marijuana users in the state. The first medical marijuana dispensaries in the state began operating in 2019.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to take opioids for their long-term PTSD and pain management because of the high possibility of addiction to opioids,” Landry said.

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Feds in California arrest entrepreneur with huge social media following on interstate pot trafficking, gun possession charges

Kamil Misztal released on $100,000 bail

Federal prosecutors have filed marijuana trafficking and gun possession charges against a popular social media influencer who runs a luxury car rental business in Illinois, court records show. Kamil Misztal, 31, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing more than 100 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was released from federal custody May 16 on a $100,000 bond, three days after arranging to turn himself in on the federal arrest warrant.

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Brian Nehring wrote in the criminal complaint that federal authorities began investigating Misztal last October, based on the suspicion he was arranging for marijuana to be transported from California to Illinois.

“I received information that Misztal lived outside of California in Illinois where he ran an exotic vehicle rental business ‘I-94 Exotics.’ I also received information that Misztal regularly travelled to California to obtain multiple, 100-pound quantities of marijuana and then transported the marijuana back to Illinois for distribution,” Nehring wrote.

On Oct. 27, agents raided a Roseville home where Misztal was believed to be staying, seized roughly $28,000 in cash, approximately 140 pounds of marijuana in one-pound bags, and a pistol that Misztal was prohibited from possessing due to a 2007 burglary conviction, according to the complaint.

Misztal has more than 500,000 Instagram followers and has publicly spoken about his journey to becoming a “self-made millionaire,” starting with working at grocery stores and car detailing jobs when he was just 13. He also owns a legal marijuana business, according to interviews and sponsored content, including a sponsored post that was published by the Bay Area News Group.

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Sacha Baron Cohen and the weed company he was suing agree to dismiss filing

No settlement was announced, but actor and activist Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly will not move forward with his lawsuit against a cannabis dispensary that used an image and catchphrase of his Borat character in a billboard ad without permission.

According to The Associated Press, a document filed in Federal Court in Boston notes that both Baron Cohen, 50, and the Massachusetts cannabis company, Solar Therapeutics Inc., have agreed to dismiss the case.

WPRI reports that the suit was dismissed with prejudice.

Information from Cornell Law School explains that dismissal with prejudice means “the plaintiff cannot refile the same claim again in that court.” This type of dismissal is considered an “adjudication on the merits” and, as such, the court “made a determination on the legal and factual issues of the claim.”

What did the billboard depict?

The billboard at issue, which was displayed on an interstate highway in Massachusetts, depicted the Borat character, a fictional Kazakh journalist, offering two thumbs-up and exclaiming “It’s nice” alongside the company name and Happy 4-20! message.

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Is Austria set to legalise cannabis use?

 

A case in the Constitutional Court could bring changes to the ban of cannabis for personal use in the country. The Local spoke with Dr Helmut Graupner to understand more.

Austria has a very complex system when it comes to its drug laws and regulations, but in short: no, cannabis is not legal in the alpine country.

People are not allowed to consume, buy, sell, or grow the plant (growing it at home has some very strange specifications, such as it must never be allowed to bloom).

However, since 2016, a person caught with a small quantity of cannabis could face only small charges, similar to traffic violations.

Still, Austria won’t allow an adult to privately consume the product of the plant.

With legalisation and decriminalisation movements sweeping the globe, this might change.


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Bill to create marijuana market in Delaware falls short again in House

The regulatory piece of a two-pronged effort in Delaware to legalize and create a retail market for marijuana failed Thursday in the state House.

The bill needed a three-fifths majority, or 25 votes, in the 41-member House. The measure almost got there but Elsmere Democratic Rep. Larry Mitchell, a co-sponsor, was absent. That left the bill one vote short with 24.

So the chief sponsor, Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski of Newark, changed his vote to no, a procedural move that left the bill two votes short of passage. Now he can bring it up for a vote again before the General Assembly adjourns on June 30. Bills that fail by one vote cannot be brought up a second time.​

The legalization measure is a companion piece to another bill that would create a tax and regulatory structure for vendors to grow and sell weed.

Thursday’s vote to regulate pot and tax sales came as Gov. John Carney weighs what to do with a companion marijuana bill that has passed both the state House and Senate in recent weeks. That measure would legalize recreational weed by removing any penalties for adults over 21 with less than an ounce. Delaware decriminalized simple possession in 2015 but it still carries a civil penalty of $100.

Zoë Patchell, executive director of the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, was crestfallen after Thursday’s unsuccessful vote to create a retail market.

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This New York State Senator just presented 2 new cannabis bills: Grow your own and medical marijuana for out-of-state visitors

Senator Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) announced Wednesday a package of two cannabis bills designed to lay additional groundwork for the future of legalized cannabis in New York State.

Senate Bill S.9217 would permit New Yorkers to cultivate cannabis in licensed personal cultivation facilities. Current regulations allow for personal cultivation eighteen months after the first adult-use sales commence. However, the plants must be grown at the individual’s personal residence. (Benzinga)

These guidelines would exclude those without sufficient open space, especially renters/tenants. This bill would authorize the Cannabis Control Board to make regulations allowing for personal cultivation in specified licensed facilities open to adult use. This will ensure individuals who do not have a residence that is suitable for personal cultivation, such as most renters and individuals living in urban communities, still have the opportunity to utilize personal cultivation in a safe and controlled setting. This is about achieving equity in the home grow process.

Senate Bill S.9218 would allow certified medical cannabis patients from other states to access NYS medical dispensaries provided they present sufficient documentation. States such as Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri already allow for reciprocity with other states' medical cannabis programs. New York is one of the most visited states by domestic travelers in the country, and these visitors should continue to have access to medical cannabis products throughout their stay. 

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will further support the fast-growing New York cannabis industry. Since the passing of the MRTA last year, the Office of Cannabis Management has made necessary reforms to the medical cannabis program and this legislation will continue that effort by expanding access to medical cannabis for medical patients in-and-outside of New York," said Senator Jeremy Cooney.

"Although the legal ability to personally cultivate cannabis is several months away, we must be proactive in reducing the barriers to participate, especially for New Yorkers in urban areas who are most likely to be excluded from home grow. Renters and individuals who are unable to cultivate cannabis in their homes should still have the option guaranteed to them in the MRTA.”

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The link between marijuana legalization and driving while high

Legalizing marijuana has led to an uptick in driving while high, also known as intoxicated driving. Researchers and police report an increase in accidents where the driver has THC in their system, the active ingredient in cannabis. High THC levels are typically considered five nanograms per milliliter or more.

The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that marijuana in drivers killed in traffic accidents doubled from 2009 to 2018.

 

Increase in intoxicated drivers

According to Dr. Nora Volkow, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse Director, research shows a 15 percent increase in the risk of fatal vehicle collisions and a 16 percent increase in associated deaths in states where marijuana is legal. Volkow described this area of research as emerging but “extremely important” for determining the best strategies to reduce driving while high.

However, Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher warned against blaming cannabis for every accident, even if THC is present in the driver’s system. He admitted an increase in the number of drivers using marijuana, a development he called “concerning,” but warned against preemptively discounting other factors that can lead to a crash.

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Rhode Island lawmakers to vote on cannabis legalization

The Rhode Island legislature will consider rulings this week that would legalize recreational pot for adults.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island are expected to vote on cannabis policy reform this week, with legislative committees in the state Senate and House of Representatives scheduled to consider identical bills to legalize recreational pot for adults. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Senate Bill 2430 sponsored by Democratic Senator Joshua Miller on Wednesday afternoon, according to a report in local media. And later the same day, the House Finance Committee will vote on House Bill 7593 from fellow Democrat Representative Scott A. Slater. If passed, the companion bills would legalize the possession and purchase of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults 21 and older and create a regulatory framework for the commercial production and sale of recreational cannabis.

“This historic shift in public policy will create a vibrant new marketplace in our state and end the failed practice of prohibition, which has caused such harm to so many in our communities,” Miller said when the legislation was unveiled earlier this year.

“To help address those past wrongs, and to ensure all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to share the economic benefits associated with legalizations, equity is a central focus of this legislation.”

“The time for Rhode Island to move forward with cannabis legalization is now,” Miller, a longtime supporter of cannabis legalization, said in a statement when the legislation was unveiled earlier this year.

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Senate candidate John Fetterman's campaign T-Shirts: 'It's high time to legalize cannabis'

The 2022 midterm elections are heating up as politicians on both sides are batting around different strategies to reach their goals.

A recent survey from Morning Consult and Politico revealed that four out of ten voters overall said ending cannabis prohibition should be prioritized, shedding light on Democrats' midterm strategy. (Benzinga)

John Fetterman, an American pro-marijuana politician serving as the 34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania and currently the top Democratic Senate candidate on Tuesday's primary in the state, is loud and clear regarding cannabis reform.

"It's high time that we get our sh*t together and legalize weed in PA + USA. More justice, jobs, revenue, and freedom," reads the description on the top-selling campaign T-shirt that's selling on Fetterman's website for $35.

In a Twitter note from Sunday, Fetterman said that he'd recently been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. He canceled all of his public appearances in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary election in which Pennsylvania voters are choosing a candidate to succeed Republican Senator Pat Toomey in the 50-50 chamber and a term-limited Democratic governor.

Still, Fetterman - an unofficial spokesman for the state's efforts to legalize the plant - is determined to fight for the cause on the national level if he reaches the U.S. Senate.

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Do Biden’s views on weed now make him a conservative?

 

With leaders in both parties eager to move marijuana legalization forward, it seems like legalizing marijuana in some form is a low hanging fruit.

President Biden’s political career has not exactly made him the poster child for marijuana legalization. Earlier in this career, he was among the many who supported the War on Drugs and anti-marijuana legislation. With time, the President has changed and liberalized his views significantly. But has he changed them enough to keep Democrats in power?

Legalization bills are popping up on both sides of the political aisle, and the public support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high.Two-thirds of this nation’s citizens believe marijuana should be legal, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. 

Meanwhile, some Republicans are going so far as to call out the President for his dated and conservative views on marijuana. This leaves many wondering exactly when and how the White House will take a stance on weed as the concept itself continues to grow in popularity among voters.

With all this forward momentum, and so close to a very important midterm election, it is puzzling to some as to why the President has not taken a stronger stance on marijuana legalization.

“It’s almost as if the President doesn’t recognize the astounding increase in support for marijuana legalization over the last two decades,” wrote Harry Enten For CNN.

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Will Ohio legalize cannabis in 2023? It's complicated but a vague deal has been reached, here's what we know

State officials and cannabis legalization advocates reached a deal on Friday, agreeing to allow the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to retain the signatures they’ve already collected while delaying their campaign until 2023.

The Coalition agreed to delay its legalization campaign until next year in exchange for state officials agreeing to accept the more than 140,000 signatures the coalition had already collected, instead of potentially making them start over from scratch.

“This guarantees the validity of the signatures we’ve already gathered, and we’ve got a much clearer path if we have to get to the ballot next year,” said Tom Haren, a spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

It's been an arduous legalization campain...still is

The Coalition, meanwhile, recently sued after House Republicans refused to take up the marijuana legalization law the group had proposed under a state mechanism called an ‘initiated statute,’ through which members of the public can propose new laws. The House GOP pushed back saying that the group submitted its signatures too late anyhow to be considered during this year’s legislative session.

Under the initiated statute rules, however, the public can force lawmakers to take up a proposed law change if they can gather the needed number of signatures - currently 132,887 - from registered voters in Ohio’s 44 counties. If lawmakers don’t enact the law as written within four months, backers of an initiated statute can then collect the same number of signatures again to force it onto the ballot for the following November’s election.

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While neighboring states open up to cannabis, Kentucky stays closed

Tourists come from far and wide to see the 15-foot Superman standing with hands on hips in the center of Metropolis, Illinois. The 6,000 person-town got its name about a century before the Man of Steel was conceived, but still, the city holds a Superman Festival every year to capitalize on its namesake.

Now, a new attraction has cropped up in the Ohio River city after Illinois legalized medical and recreational cannabis in 2020. People from around the region regularly line up outside Metropolis’ one dispensary, but out-of-staters still risk criminal penalties if they use or possess the drug back home, whether they bought it legally, or not.

Kentucky is bordered by five states that have legalized marijuana in some form. But, it remains illegal in all forms in the Commonwealth. Illinois, on the other hand, has completely legalized marijuana, as has Virginia. Ohio and West Virginia have both legalized its medical use. 

Many western Kentuckians make the short trip over a narrow blue steel bridge that connects the Bluegrass to Illinois to sample the product.

Lori Nichols owns Riverview Mansion, a bed and breakfast nestled in a 140-year-old house in Metropolis, where guests are welcome to treat the place like their own. She sees a lot of license plates from bordering states around town but especially at the dispensary. Nichols said having the dispensary in town has created some interesting requests for weddings as well. She says one group asked if they could be “420” friendly.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom adds tax cuts in revised budget proposal

California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced an updated budget proposal which included details about his plans to cut the cannabis cultivation tax.

Newsom announced the revision proposal on May 13, which aims to set aside $150 million in order to “temporarily reduce taxes” and simplify the tax structure, while $21 million will go toward local governments to help expand cannabis’s retail footprint.

Newsom said in response to a question from a Bloomberg reporter that he is “…addressing the persistent issue that is exactly what we anticipated would be a persistent issue—and that’s dealing with the black market, going after the illegal growers and the illegal operators,” Newsom explained.

“Trying to level-set, trying to be flexible in terms of the cost pressures related to the current tax structure, and the lack thereof, in the black market.”

“This is [the] beginning of a process from my humble perspective, in terms of my thinking,” Newsom continued.

“This will be a multi-year process to get that black market, get it on the retreat—not the ascendancy—and to get the retail and responsible adult-use market on steady ground.”

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New Jersey lawmakers question top CRC official about cannabis prices, regulations

Both Democrats and Republicans repeatedly asked about regulations for setting up Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts.

Lawmakers on Thursday questioned the top staffer of New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission about pricing, workplace impairment tests and more during a highly-anticipated legislative hearing into the state’s nascent recreational market.

Jeff Brown, the CRC’s executive director, testified for nearly two hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate President Nick Scutari — the chief architect of legal cannabis efforts in the state. While Brown was joined by other top members of his staff, CRC commissioners were absent from the hearing. Chair Dianna Houenou had planned to attend but was “under the weather,” Brown said.

Lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — repeatedly asked Brown about regulations for setting up Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts, or WIREs, who are tasked with physically examining whether someone is high on cannabis in the workplace. New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law bars employers from taking disciplinary action against workers based solely on a positive test since the drug can be detected weeks after initial use. WIREs are required to confirm if an employee is high at the moment.

The CRC, which is tasked with creating regulations for the experts, has not done so yet.

“I would only ask you that the word expeditious come across in capital letters and you get this thing done like ASAP,” Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester) said.

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Why do legal cannabis states see less DUIs?

Ironically, it seems that the states that cling to the myths perpetuated by prohibition are the same ones suffering from the consequences these myths suggest would happen if you legalize weed.

Throughout the prevalence of prohibition, we’ve been sold on the idea that if we were to legalize cannabis, everybody would just start smoking like junkies on the hunt for their latest fix. When cannabis was legalized, that didn’t happen.

They told us that if we were to legalize cannabis, kids would suddenly think that it’s okay to smoke weed and we’d have a bunch of red-eyed youths running around being all “delinquent” and stuff. When we legalized, it seemed that there was no change in youth consumption rates, and in some cases, fewer youths engaged in the activity.

Now it seems that another myth that was often perpetuated by the prohibition has surfaced agin, the myth that if we were to legalize, we would have “stoned drivers” crashing all over the place. Unfortunately with most prohibition myths, once a legal market steps in to prove or disprove the point, the facts usually side with cannabis.

A recent Marijuana Moment article pointed out a study that found legal marijuana states have less impaired driving than prohibition states.

“The risk of self-reported DUIC was significantly lower in recreational and medical states than in neither states,” the study authors wrote.

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How the police tried to steal millions in cash from legal cannabis companies

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus is a prime example of what can go wrong when the police force does not watch what happens to the cops. Here’s why.

One of the biggest headaches with running a legal cannabis business is the cash. Since cannabis is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, it’s nearly impossible to store the cash you’ve made through your state-licensed cannabis business anywhere else. And that leads to another problem: security.

Because most licensed cannabis businesses operate and transact almost entirely in cash, they have become the top target of thieves and robbers. They’ve had to resort to other creative solutions to ensure that their legally-made cash profits are safe, turning to businesses such as transporting cash in armored cars. And then you have bad apples like Sheriff Shannon Dicus who comes and exploits the situation.

Who is Sheriff Shannon Dicus?

Dicus is the 36th Sheriff-Coroner appointed for the San Bernardino County in California, the biggest county in the United States.

The sheriff campaign website reads that he is a “proven public safety leader for San Bernardino County”. However, he has been running a very dirty scam hurting legal cannabis business owners. According to the equitable sharing program of the U.S. Department of Justice, the sheriff’s department can keep as much as 80% of the cash that has been collected through civil forfeitures, except in California, legal cannabis money can’t be seized by cops.

The crime

Investigations revealed that San Bernardino deputies have been seizing cannabis money from armored cars, which they then transferred to the FBI, saying that it was to be used as proof for investigations.

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London Mayor announces plan to study cannabis legalization

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to study cannabis legalization during a visit to a dispensary and cultivation facility in Los Angeles.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a plan to study the legalization of cannabis on Wednesday after visiting a dispensary and cultivation facility as part of an official visit to Los Angeles. Khan said that he was forming a commission to study cannabis legalization and named a prominent Labour Party official to head the panel.

Khan walked among growing cannabis plants and was introduced to the wide variety of products available at licensed cannabis dispensaries. The London mayor said that the commission he was appointing would examine the effectiveness of the city’s drug laws and explore how legalizing pot could help reduce “drug-related harm.”

“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society and we need to do more to tackle this epidemic and further the debate around our drugs laws,” Khan said.

“That’s why I am in LA to see first-hand the approach they have taken to cannabis.”

The commission will gather evidence on cannabis legalization from around the world and will study the public health benefits of cannabis, the best methods to prevent misuse, and effective law enforcement strategies. The panel will make recommendations to City Hall and government officials, law enforcement, and public health officials. More appointments to the commission will be announced this summer. The London Drugs Commission is not expected to make its first report until next year.

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Pennsylvania court rules medical cannabis still a controlled substance

 

Judge Deborah A. Kunselman rejected an appeal from a Pennsylvania medical cannabis patient who was convicted of DUI.

A court in Pennsylvania this month ruled against a medical cannabis patient who had appealed a 2021 driving under the influence conviction. 

The York Daily Record has the background on the case involving Franklin Dabney, a 29-year-old from Hanover, Pennsylvania who was arrested in 2020 after a Pennsylvania state trooper in an unmarked vehicle clocked him going 93 miles per hour in a 65 zone.

The trooper “noticed a ‘strong odor of raw marijuana’ coming from inside the vehicle,” the York Daily Record reported, prompting Dabney to “[take] out a medical marijuana card and [state] that the smell was probably originating from his clothes.”

“Law enforcement conducted a warrantless search of the vehicle, finding flakes of suspected marijuana near the center console and front-passenger seat as well as a shopping bag containing three baggies of weed,” the Daily Record reported.

“Dabney, police said, had dilated and red eyes. He also showed signs of impairment during standard field sobriety tests. Police arrested Dabney and took him to Gettysburg Hospital, where a blood test revealed that he had active marijuana compounds and metabolites in his system. Prosecutors later agreed to exclude the weed found in his car from evidence and withdrew three of the charges against him.”

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Missouri lawmakers OK plan to open up medical cannabis records

The proposal to open up medical cannabis records overwhelmingly passed the Missouri state House on Tuesday.

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to “pry open a trove of secret state records that detail the ownership structures of [the state’s] medical marijuana companies,” according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The proposal was included in a larger bill as an amendment, and it “on a bipartisan 128-6 vote,” the newspaper reported. It now heads to the state Senate.

The measure was motivated by lawmakers’ frustration with a lack of transparency surrounding the state’s licensed medical cannabis businesses. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the “amendment’s sponsor, Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said the Department of Health and Senior Services rebuffed efforts by the House Special Committee on Government Oversight to obtain the ownership records,” which effectively means that “lawmakers have no way of knowing whether business entities received more licenses than allowed under the 2018 constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.”

“We need statutory language to make it very explicit that they have to provide us that information,” Merideth told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

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Vermont lawmakers at odds over THC limit on cannabis concentrates

Some members of the Vermont state Senate are upset over a 60% cap proposed by their colleagues in the House.

Vermont lawmakers are at loggerheads over a measure that would establish a cap on the level of THC in solid cannabis concentrates sold at the state’s regulated cannabis retailers. 

Local publication VTDigger has the background, reporting that members of the Vermont state Senate “bristled Friday at a last-minute change to a key cannabis bill during a House vote Thursday—and speculated as to why the Vermont Department of Health abruptly reversed its recommendation to lawmakers on the measure last week.”

Members of the House “on Thursday imposed a 60% cap on the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in solid cannabis concentrates to be sold at retail establishments when they open in October,” according to VTDigger.

“They held the damn thing for over a week and a half and then come up with this,” said Democratic state Senator Dick Sears, as quoted by VTDigger.

“There isn’t much time to call for a conference committee.” 

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