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

Thailand becomes first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana

Thailand on Tuesday became the first country in Asia to approve the de facto decriminalization of marijuana, though authorities have left a grey area around its recreational use.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the Narcotics Control Board had approved the dropping cannabis from the ministry’s list of controlled drugs. The delisting by the ministry’s Food and Drug Administration will now need to be formally signed by the health minister and enters into effect 120 days after its publication in the government gazette. It follows the removal of cannabis — a plant species to which both marijuana and hemp belong — last month from the list of illegal drugs under Thailand’s Narcotics Law.

Police and lawyers contacted by The Associated Press said it was unclear if possession of marijuana would no longer be an offense subject to arrest. A tangle of related laws means that production and possession of marijuana remains regulated for the time being, leaving the legal status of recreational marijuana use in a grey area.

The Health Ministry measure retains on its list of controlled drugs parts from the cannabis plant that contain more than 0.2% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gives users a high.

Thailand in 2020 became the first Asian nation to decriminalize the production and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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Drug Task Force finds handgun, cash, marijuana during drug-dealing arrest

The Wayne County Drug Task Force caught a Richmond man again. Kenton Ray Bennett Jr., 33, was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop made by first-shift Richmond Police Department patrol officers, according to a Drug Task Force news release. Bennett was convicted and sentenced in March 2016 after a previous arrest by the Drug Task Force.

On Tuesday, Bennett was arrested on a warrant that resulted from a lengthy Drug Task Force investigation into the sale of illegal narcotics, the release said. The warrant charged Bennett with two Level 4 felony counts of dealing heroin and fentanyl.

During the stop, officers located a handgun, cash and marijuana inside the vehicle. That resulted in additional preliminary charges of Level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
 

Bennett was lodged in the Wayne County Jail with bonds totaling $38,000. A bond of $17,500 was set when the arrest warrant was issued; the new charges carry bonds of $20,000 and $500.

The 2016 convictions for Level 5 felony dealing heroin and Level 5 felony dealing cocaine qualify Bennett as a serious violent felon. He was sentenced to two years of incarceration and one year of probation for those convictions, which resulted after he sold cocaine and heroin to a confidential informant.

Bennett also has a previous misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana.

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Amazon supports GOP’s marijuana legalization bill

Amazon, Inc. announced its support on Tuesday for a Republican-backed congressional bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and let states decide how and whether to ban or regulate it. Congresswoman Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) State Reform Act, released in November, would remove cannabis as a Federal Schedule I substance and introduce a new 3% federal tax on that substance. It was the first bill issued from the Republicans and it created quite a stir at the time.

Now, Amazon, which already supported cannabis legalization, has expressed support for the GOP bill. In a tweet on Tuesday, Amazon’s public policy department said, “We’re pleased to endorse @RepNancyMace’s States Reform Act. Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort.”
 
Mace said Amazon was likely motivated to approve her bill because legal issues with marijuana could make hiring difficult.
 
“They see it from a worker’s point of view,” Mace said, according to Forbes.
 
“The ban at the federal level actually affects their workforce.”
 

The congresswoman’s got that right.

In September, Amazon asked its delivery partners to openly advertise that they don’t screen applicants for marijuana use in an effort to address the shortage of the company’s delivery drivers, noting that cannabis screening reduces prospective applicants by up to 30%.

Prior to that, in June, Amazon stopped testing for workplace cannabis use for most of its on-site positions, apart from those regulated by the Department of Transportation.

American As Apple Pie

Cannabis connects us all, says Mace. And she’s got that right too.

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Wisconsin Senate Republicans vote against recreational cannabis

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate stopped an effort by Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) to force a vote on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. The Senate took up a bill Tuesday that would increase penalties for a person who uses a butane torch to extract resin from a cannabis plant. Agard introduced an amendment to the bill that, instead of making penalties harsher, would have completely legalized all uses of cannabis. 

Agard said she was introducing the amendment because if the goal of the bill is to increase public safety, then increased criminalization is not the direction to go — especially since most of Wisconsin’s neighboring states have legalized either medicinal or recreational use. Republicans in the Senate killed Agard’s effort by voting that the amendment was out of order and not “germane” to the initial bill.  The original bill, without Agard’s amendment, passed on a 20-12 party line vote.

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California gives $764K grant to San Diego’s cannabis business division

 

 San Diego’s Cannabis Business Division received a $764,261 grant from the California Department of Cannabis Control, intended to develop tools to help businesses comply with local and state laws, it was announced Monday.

“The grant funding will help streamline and enhance the local regulatory process,” said Mayor Todd Gloria.

“We want to ensure that our local cannabis community has the resources to develop a marketplace that benefits both businesses and the community alike.”

According to the city, the grant will be used to:

— Develop a web portal that will automate and streamline the tracking and upload of annual self-compliance requirements;

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Man charged with growing marijuana, having weapons of mass destruction

A man was arrested after police allegedly busted a marijuana growing operation and found weapons of mass destruction. George Costas Skouras, 44, allegedly grew and sold marijuana at his Springettsbury Township home. Springettsbury Township Police served a search warrant Thursday and discovered "a large marijuana growing operation," according to court documents. Police also found mushrooms and powder that was being compressed into pill form, according to a criminal complaint.

Skouras is facing a felony charge of possessing weapons of mass destruction after officers found several firearms in his residence, police said. It's unclear what those weapons were. He's also charged with three counts of felony manufacture, delivery or possession of drugs. He was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Thomas J. Reilly and released on $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Feb. 3 before District Judge Barry L. Bloss Jr.

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What's the state of cannabis in the Empire State?

A candid conversation with a local cannabis consultant about what's going on in New York.

The race for New York has begun. All types of entrepreneurs looking to enter the state's cannabis marketplace are busy preparing for the soon-to-be-released application process. Hemp farmers are poised to switch to marijuana crops, legacy entrepreneurs are operating in the open, regulators are shaping the laws, and no one is excited about opening the borders.

I spoke to Kalean Castetter, a long-time upstate resident, son of a legacy grower, owner of a hemp-infused wine company, and now cannabis consultant, to get his insights into how things are shaping up in New York.

Please share your background.

I've always had a passion for policy and helping entrepreneurs understand the regulatory frameworks of legislation. Towards the end of last year, I decided to completely step away from the hemp wine business and focus on my consulting practice, The Castetter Cannabis Group. We're a boutique firm. We do government relations lobbying advocacy. We help entrepreneurs understand the legislation, forecast regulations, and develop a business plan around it. 

Who are the entrepreneurs you work with who are looking to enter the New York marketplace? 

I've developed a reputation for working with small players like social equity applicants, people of color, and legacy operators—New Yorkers who are hungry for an opportunity and have unique and innovative ideas. I have clients in Niagara Falls, and I have clients in Harlem. We hold a summit in December, where our clients come together to meet and share their expertise and experience. Because of prohibition at the federal level, we're going to develop supply chains and relationships from upstate and downstate where people have not been connected for a long time. I think that's going to be a huge cultural change in bringing communities together.

But many private equity-backed entrepreneurs, MSOs, and ROs are all looking at this opportunity from a dollars and cents perspective. And a lot of the money they make will leave the state, and we won't create wealth in this community. So, I think they should move to the back of the line.

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2 petitions filed aim to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma

A few new initiatives are hoping to legalize recreational marijuana use by those 21 years and older in Oklahoma. 

Two petitions have been filed with the Secretary of State's office, but they are still in the early stages.

If it qualifies for the ballot, the newest petition would appear as State Question 820.

A similar petition was brought forward two years ago.

Since then, Campaign Spokeswoman Michelle Tilley said they have made some changes and now they feel this petition is better written and has more support.

"More and more people are interested in this from an economic standpoint, criminal justice aspect, and the revenue it can provide for the governor and for the citizens of our state," said Tilley.

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Driver busted for cannabis after vehicle stopped at Stoner Drive

California patrol cops find garbage bags containing about 40 kilograms of weed in BMW.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) troopers made a serendipitous, if not stunningly stereotypical, cannabis bust this weekend after a car was stopped on the corner of Stockdale Highway and Stoner Drive in Buttonwillow, Calif.

Cannabis seizures are nothing new in California, but the location of Saturday afternoon’s traffic enforcement stop distinguished itself.

A CHP official told KGET that a trooper noticed two vehicles next to one another that looked like they were readying for a speed contest on the highway. The BMW was pulled over after a police check determined the vehicle registration was expired and that the car had illegally tinted windows.
 
After stopping the sedan, an officer approached the car and could see a mess of snacks and trash in the front seat of the vehicle and several trash bags in the back seat, according to KMPH. But what the trooper smelled, the distinctive skunky odour associated with cannabis, was enough to prompt a vehicle search.
 
KGET reports that responding officers discovered about 90 pounds (41 kilograms) of processed weed stashed in the back seat and trunk of the car. 
 
Recreational cannabis is legal in California, but there are limits. Adults 21 and older can possess as much as an ounce (28 grams) of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis, as well as grow as many as six plants for personal use in line with local cultivation rules.
 
Clearly, however, allowable limits do not extend to garbage bags full of what troopers suspected was illegal weed.
 
Indeed, the find was so fortuitous and the location so clichéd that it inspired a Facebook post by the Buttonwillow CHP, in which the authorities released nine photos of the scene and asked members of the public to provide their best one-liners of what they believed had taken place
 
Commenters didn’t disappoint.
 
“Officer, I’m a gardener, lawn clippings from my last job!” noted one poster.
 
“Well that’s a new way to get a nickname in jail, the Stoner Dr. dealer,” added another.
 
“That’s for my own personal use. Honestly officer…” a third person chimed in.

And one person, drawing a link between the cannabis and snacks, offered this: “Just couldn’t wait on that munchies run!)”

The incident is hardly the first time in which traffic or driving infractions have landed people in hot water over cannabis. Breaches that ended with drivers on the wrong side of the law have included people talking on cellphones, speeding, stunt driving, not stopping at a weigh scale, having plates not associated with the vehicle being driven and having an expired vehicle registration sticker.

But the tinted windows infraction seems to be gaining some momentum of late among law enforcement types. That infraction was enough for the Florida Highway Patrol to pull over another driver near the Jacksonville International Airport earlier this month.
 
In that case, troopers found six suitcases — complete with baggage claim tickets and listing the names of two of the vehicle’s three occupants — containing 108 vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana weighing 125 pounds (57 kilograms).

During the California stop, the car was towed. According to KGET, after being cited for alleged marijuana possession and vehicle violations, the driver was released.

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House Republicans begin retail marijuana debate with focus on lower taxes and school funding

Del. Michael Webert's proposed bill would cut taxes on marijuana sales in half

GOP lawmakers in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking their first stab at legislation to open the retail marijuana market, introducing bills that would lower the tax rate on sales and redirect proposed social equity funding to school infrastructure.

But leadership in the chamber stressed that the effort remains very much a work in progress and that they expect plenty of changes as the legislation makes its way through the committee system.

“We’ll come up with something,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Speaker Todd Gilbert, said last week.
 
“There will be a bill. There may be multiple bills. But something is going to come out of this chamber.”
 
Republicans unanimously opposed legalization when Democrats voted last year to allow people to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana. But Democratic lawmakers’ decision to leave it until this year to finalize the particulars of how a legal retail market would work —combined with the loss of their House majority in November — has left the once-reluctant GOP with a key role in deciding how to proceed.
 
Gilbert said that while his caucus opposed legalization, he views it as imperative to come up with a mechanism for legal sales, complaining that the legal framework left in place by Democrats has only empowered the black market. 
 
The party has so-far left the heavy lifting on that front to Del. Michael Webert, R-Fauquier, who was among a handful of GOP lawmakers to support reducing penalties for marijuana possession two years ago and is the only member of the party to introduce a comprehensive bill governing retail sales.
 

Taxes

While his bill largely tracks with legislation introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate, it diverges in a few key areas.

First, it halves the proposed tax rate on retail sales from 21% to 10%, which would be the lowest in the country. Webert called the step important to compete with the black market, citing the experience of California, where the combined tax rate on sales is just over 36%.

“They have an ungodly huge black market,” Webert said.

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As Missouri looks to legalize recreational marijuana, expungement gets renewed attention

Legal experts worry expungement proposals currently being considered might cause more harm than good

The push to legalize recreational marijuana use in Missouri is coming from multiple directions, with a handful of proposed initiative petitions and at least one bill, and potentially more, backed by Republican lawmakers. 

Each hopes to place the issue on the 2022 ballot for voter approval.

And each proposal also includes a provision that, while often overlooked in the marijuana debate, is considered a transformative piece of the legalization puzzle — the expungement of nonviolent marijuana offenses from criminal records. 

The proposals differ on how they handle expungement. 

Some propose an “automatic” system that would have the courts identify the old offenses and seal them on people’s records. Others would require people to submit a petition and pay a fee.

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Florida’s roadmap to cannabis legalization

The wait for legal cannabis in Florida may continue longer than proponents planned, but if everything goes accordingly from a planning and preparation standpoint, the wait may be worthwhile for consumers.

Ever since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use about a decade ago, dozens of other states have followed in their footsteps. In fact, nearly half of the states in the country have recreational cannabis laws on the books now, which makes one curious as to where Florida is on cannabis legalization.

There is medical marijuana available in the state, which leads one to believe that the legalization of recreational cannabis isn’t too far away. Cannabis legalization could be an economic driver for Florida that’s tough to rival. Here are some key insights about the path to cannabis legalization in the Sunshine State.

Status of Medical Marijuana  

Medical marijuana was initially introduced to Floridians back in 2019. Florida SB 186 signed into action by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis allows Florida residents to possess and consume up to 2.5 ounces of dry herb cannabis every five weeks. Physical possession of a medical marijuana card is necessary for avoiding prosecution from police.

While Florida medical marijuana patients aren’t allowed to grow their own cannabis, there are numerous dispensaries throughout the state they can purchase from. The amendment allowing for the medical marijuana bill to be signed into law was placed on the ballot of the 2016 election. It passed by an overwhelming majority of 71.3% to 28.7. Some of the conditions that allow Florida residents access to medical marijuana include Lupus, Migraines, Arthritis, HIV along with a handful of others.
 

Biggest Obstacles to Legal Recreational Marijuana  

Florida voters demonstrated glaring support for medical marijuana sales in the state. Taking that into consideration, it’s fair to question what barriers cannabis advocates face when it comes to getting it legalized recreationally in the state.

According to Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Public Management for The Brookings Institution, John Hudak, there’s no bigger obstacle for cannabis legalization in Florida than the Governor himself.

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New York predicts $1.25 billion in pot tax revenue over six years

New York is looking at major revenue from cannabis sales over the next six years according to Governor Kathy Hochul.

New York is poised to collect $1.25 billion in revenue from taxes on legal cannabis sales, according to a budget projection from Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul released on Tuesday. The revenue projections are included in the state budget for next year, which includes significant investment in projects designed to continue the economic and social recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We have the means to immediately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as embrace this once-in-a-generation opportunity for the future with a historic level of funding that is both socially responsible and fiscally prudent,” Hochul said in a statement from the governor’s office.

New York’s state budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which is detailed in an 85-page briefing book from the governor’s office, anticipates $56 million in cannabis revenue, including $40 million collected from license fees on cannabis businesses. State lawmakers legalized recreational cannabis last year, and since taking office in August Hochul has vowed to expedite the regulation of adult-use cannabis stalled by Andrew Cuomo, the former governor who resigned last summer because of a sexual harassment scandal.

Over the next six years, the governor’s office predicts that the state will collect more than $1.25 billion in revenue from taxes and fees on recreational cannabis, with the annual total increasing as more producers, processors and retailers launch their operations. Cannabis tax revenue is expected to increase to $95 million in fiscal year 2024 and reach an estimated $363 million in 2028.

New York Budget Projections Include Revenue from Cannabis ‘Potency Tax’

The taxes on New York’s cannabis industry include a nine percent excise tax and another four percent tax for local governments. The state’s regulations also include a separate tax on THC, with the amount of tax collected rising as the potency of a product rises.

David C. Holland, a New York attorney with extensive experience in cannabis policy and law, says that the “THC potency tax at first seems like the state gouging revenue but, in fact, some view it as being an ingenious, recession-proof tax for the state to receive predictable revenue.”
 
Holland explained that the tax on THC is levied at a rate ranging from $0.005 (one-half of a penny) per milligram of THC up $0.01 (one cent) per milligram, depending on the form of the cannabis product (i.e. dried flower, extracts or edibles). For example, an edible with 10 mg of THC would be assessed a tax of 10 cents, while a 100mg edible would be taxed one dollar. The THC tax is levied on wholesale transactions, when products are transferred from distributors to retailers.
 
Holland, who is also the co-founder and president of the NYC Cannabis Industry Association, noted that the tax on THC provides the state government with a revenue stream that is not dependent on the ups and downs of the economy.
 
“What makes it recession-proof is that the price per pound of cannabis, whether $1,000 in times of shortage, or $200 in times of surplus is irrelevant—the tax on potency remains a constant due to the THC concentration of the raw or processed product, and that tax is uniform across all product lines,” Holland wrote in an email to High Times.
 
“As such, the tax is really a more predictable revenue source for the state and insulates it against the boom-and-bust cycles of crop cultivation and the idiosyncrasies of market consumers in the forms of cannabis they choose.”
 
Revenue raised by the nine percent state excise tax will be divided among several social programs, with 40 percent going to education, 40 percent to community reinvestment, and the remaining 20 percent devoted to substance abuse treatment. Income from the additional four percent tax will be shared by local governments, with counties receiving 25 percent and 75 percent going to cities, towns and villages. 
 
The launch date for legal sales of adult-use cannabis in New York has not yet been determined, but is expected to come later this year or in early 2023.
 
 
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Austin, Texas cannabis decriminalization initiative set for ballot in May

The Austin Freedom Act of 2021 also aims to ban dangerous ‘no knock’ warrants.

Officials in Austin, Texas have officially given the green light to a cannabis decriminalization initiative now set to appear in an upcoming ballot. On January 18, the Austin City Council in Texas voted to allow the ballot initiative known as the “Austin Freedom Act of 2021” on the upcoming special election on May 7. The Act will stop local law enforcement from convicting residents of low-level cannabis offenses, and will prohibit “no knock” warrants by police as well.

The initiative is supported by an organization called Ground Game Texas (GGT).

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of the on-the-ground organizers from Ground Game Texas and partner organizations, Austin residents will soon have the ability to make lasting change to our antiquated and racist criminal justice laws,” said Ground Game Texas Political Director Mike Siegel when the organization first received approval from the City Clerk in December 2021.

“With successful campaigns like these, Ground Game Texas will continue to empower and excite communities around progressive change—and deliver for the marginalized communities that too often get left behind.”

The group collected 33,332 signatures, although only 20,000 was necessary. State law requires that 25 percent of randomly selected signatures needs to be verified, which came up to 8,334 of the signatures. Of those, 2,455 were disqualified (due to duplicates, missing signature or other reasons), but the remaining 5,879 passed the test.

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Gov. Lujan Grisham gives OK for legislature to make some cannabis law changes

In addition to high-profile efforts to improve public safety and education, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called on lawmakers to address cannabis during the 30-day legislative session.  Lujan Grisham issued a message on Thursday afternoon, authorizing lawmakers to add changes to the Cannabis Regulation Act to the legislative agenda.  The governor’s message pertains to SB 100, which is sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. The bill, if passed, would increase production limits for cannabis microbusinesses, allow state regulators to require education requirements for cannabis servers, allow liquor license holders to also obtain a cannabis business license and allow some cannabis businesses to employ workers who are under 21, but over 18 years of age, as well as other changes to the law. 

The state’s Cannabis Control Division announced earlier this week that it planned to work with the governor and lawmakers to increase plant limits for cannabis microbusinesses as a way to combat expected shortages in April when sales are expected to begin. The division also announced an emergency rule change for non-microbusinesses, but production limits for smaller operations are written into statute. SB 100 proposes to increase plant limits for microbusinesses from 200 to 1,000 mature plants.

The bill would also allow cannabis businesses that previously only sold medical cannabis to employ workers who are 18 years of age. Under the state’s medical cannabis law, producers were allowed to hire employees who are 18, but the Cannabis Control Act states that cannabis employees must be 21 years of age or older. 

Other proposed changes to the law include coordination between the Cannabis Control Division and law enforcement agencies to better track possible criminal histories of cannabis operators that might disqualify them from working in the industry. The bill also proposes allowing those with a liquor license to also obtain a cannabis business license, although it would still prohibit both types of licenses at the same establishment. 

New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ben Lewinger told NM Political Report that “The chamber supports the fixes the bill is trying to make to the Cannabis Regulation Act.”

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An inside look at the humanitarian crisis within illegal marijuana grows

As local law enforcement makes one illegal marijuana bust after another they’re also finding human victims at the grow sites themselves. Law enforcement has confirmed much of the illegal cannabis activity in our region is from international cartels. But it’s not just the plants, money, and weapons that local, state, and federal officials are after.

It’s a plant that makes a lot of profit. But it also has a dark side. We’re talking marijuana and it’s not the legal kind.

“As the number of these operations has grown, the number of workers has grown as well, which increases the propensity for this to take place,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer. SAC Hammer oversees the Homeland Security Investigations operations in the Pacific Northwest.

Law enforcement agencies, both local, state, and federal are finding illegal grow operations with human trafficking. But what happens when officials find human trafficking victims?

The Department of Homeland Security said many of these trafficking victims aren’t documented. The agency said they are often brought here from Mexico, China, or Eastern Europe. Many of these victims are afraid of talking to law enforcement for fear of retaliation.

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Mississippi House approves amended medical marijuana bill — here’s what’s in it

When, or if, the Senate approves the changes and Gov. Reeves signs the bill, the program regulating and selling cannabis to registered patients will kick off later this year.

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed an amended version of the Senate’s medical marijuana bill on Wednesday, lowering the amount of cannabis a patient can purchase each month.

What Happened

The measure was approved on a 104–14 vote. The changes addressed concerns raised by Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who repeatedly called for lawmakers to lower the amount, Marijuana Moment reported.

The legislation allows patients to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or 1 gram of cannabis concentrate) daily, with a maximum monthly limit of 3 ounces. The maximum monthly amount of cannabis that can be purchased passed by the Senate was 3.5-ounces.

Rep. Lee Yancey (R), who chairs the House Drug Policy Committee, and who has been working with the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R), expects that the legislature will increase the amount in the future.

“When I got involved in this bill, I said, ‘How can we build a wall around this program, so the people who get it are the people who need it the most, and only the people who need it the most?'” Yancey said.

“This is not for everybody out on the street. This is not for a bunch of kids. This is for hurting people with debilitating conditions.”

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2 California men found with nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana in camper in Alabama

Two California men were jailed in Alabama after police said they found almost 1,000 pounds of marijuana worth nearly $3 million hidden in a camper just off Interstate 20.

An officer saw a camper running off the road while exiting the highway Tuesday morning, news outlets reported. The officer stopped the vehicle outside a store and the men agreed to a search, police said.

Officers found 953 pounds of marijuana wrapped in plastic hidden throughout the camper, authorities said.

“There actually wasn’t a square inch of storage space in the vehicle, whether it be the undercarriage or inside the vehicle, that wasn’t stuffed with marijuana,” Police Chief Paul Irwin said.

Quan Xu, 32, of Mountain House, California, and Huaitian Li, 27, of Los Angeles were jailed on trafficking charges with bail set at $1.5 million each. Court records were available to show whether either man had a defense lawyer.

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Marijuana legalization is an uphill battle

Weed isn’t going away.

This leafy green plant has been popular in the US since the 17th century. Demand for rope, clothing and sails resulted in a thriving hemp industry for over two centuries. Eventually, imports met this demand, but tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, remained in over-the-counter medication well into the 19th century.

As you may already know, pot’s fall from grace came after the Mexican Revolution, when Mexican immigrants flooded into the southern U.S., bringing recreational cannabis use with them. Dubbed “the Marijuana Menace,” anti-drug campaigns did their best to associate cannabis with the distrusted immigrant population. By the 1920s, over half of the U.S. had banned its use.

In 2015, almost a century later, North Carolina lawmakers finally rescinded their prohibition on commercial hemp production. While the NC hemp sector is still relatively new and relies on farming subsidies to compete with cotton in the textile industry, new farms crop up every year.

Unfortunately, THC-rich cannabis hasn’t received such amnesty, despite a wealth of bills proposing its legalization.

Last summer, I attended an event hosted by the Wake Libertarian Party. During this well-attended seminar, NC House Democrat Alison Dahle answered questions regarding her recently proposed House Bill 617, which would provide sweeping legalization for adults at least 21 years of age to own and use marijuana in NC. It also included an outline for regulating a commercial cannabis market and criminal justice reform, including expunging criminal records for drug crimes made legal by the bill.

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DSPD uncovers pounds of marijuana and thousands of dollars during traffic stop

A late night traffic stop by the Denham Springs Police Department led to the seizure of 5.35 pounds of marijuana and more.

A little before 10:30 p.m., on Tuesday, January 18, officers stopped an SUV. Along with marijuana, officers found a “‘dab’ pen, two THC Cartridges and $4,060,” according to the Denham Springs Police Department.

DSPD apprehended the driver who now faces these charges: (create list below)

Possession with the intent to distribute sch.1 drugsLicense plate light required
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