WeedWorthy News Network

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

A New Jersey court on Wednesday ruled that the state wrongly rejected medical marijuana licenses for several companies and said the system used to rate applicants lacks transparency and creates confusion in the small and competitive marijuana industry.

A three-judge appellate court vacated the 2018 decision to award six licenses for new medical marijuana companies and remanded it to the health department to come up with a new rating system.

 

While the decision does not necessarily overturn the current medical marijuana license holders who have invested millions in building and opening dispensaries, it could give others a second shot down the road. And it could lay the groundwork for a more transparent licensing process.

 

It comes as many have criticized the state’s licensing system as too restrictive, resulting in just 12 medical marijuana licenses to serve some 97,000 patients.

 

“We hope that the department will follow what the governor has said, in terms of, we need to get more of these places out there,” said Stuart Lederman, an attorney who represented Bloom Medicinals of PA.

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The health permanent secretary said the government plans to allow use of most parts of cannabis and hemp plants in food and cosmetics on Wednesday.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit said the Narcotics Control Committee resolved on Tuesday to exclude the leaves, branches, stems, trunks, bark, fibre and roots of cannabis and hemp from the government’s narcotics list.

This would not include shoots, including flowers, which have high drug content.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would draft a new public health regulation to this  effect. The public health minister would then approve it and the new regulation would take effect when the Royal Gazette publishes it, he said.

Dr Kiattiphum said use of hemp seeds and seed extract, as well as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), at a maximum 0.2% content, will also be included .

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After one failed treatment after another, Sharlene Hernandez was at a dead end.

Her 10-year-old autistic son wasn't speaking, barley eating and would play with and spread his feces around the house. Nothing was helping her child.

One day, a friend in a similar situation recommended THC via a doctor's prescription. Willing to try anything, Hernandez went for it.

ON EXPRESSNEWS.COM: Taylor: Pot legalization makes way too much sense to ignore

“We were just at a loss and I don’t know what it was about the THC, but it has helped so much,” said a tearful Hernandez.In eight months, her son has started speaking cognitively on his own, eating again and rarely plays in his diaper.

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Commissioners seem ready to close out a bumpy policy-setting process next week with a vote to adopt new regulations that would reshape the legal marijuana industry to include a home delivery aspect, but that decision could give way to a legal challenge in short order.

Through an attorney, some existing marijuana retailers recently threatened to sue the Cannabis Control Commission if it votes to adopt its latest set of industry rules on Monday, as is expected. Though the new regulations affect the entire marijuana industry, the provisions that would allow a new class of licensees to deliver marijuana to customers at home have drawn the most controversy.

"Put simply, the Commission's adoption and implementation of the Proposed Regulation would be in direct contravention of its own governing and enabling statute which clearly and unambiguously states that only Marijuana Retailers, as defined in the statute, are permitted to deliver cannabis products to consumers," Howard Cooper, an attorney with Todd & Weld LLP, wrote in the letter earlier this month.

Cooper added, "Given the clarity of the law here, please understand that our clients will have no choice but to challenge the Commission's Proposed Regulations in court if adopted. We write in hope of avoiding a legal dispute."

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As the old adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, Try, try again. After suffering a close defeat in 2016, Arizona’s new recreational cannabis law passed with 60% of the vote on November 3, 2020. So, if you’re an entrepreneur or weed enthusiast, what happens next and what should you do to prepare for the coming opportunities in Arizona? In this post, we give a quick overview of what was passed in Arizona and some of important parts of the new law to consider, as well as a short checklist of issues to consider.

Although typically referred to as Proposition 207, the new law’s name is the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (“Act”). The new law legalizes the possession of certain amounts of marijuana for those 21 years of age and older. And, in some instances, those with prior (or pending) marijuana convictions can move to have their records expunged. Not a bad add-on!

Don’t forget that Arizona passed another initiative in 2010 that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and that’s still good law too. So, now consumers and patients will both have access to marijuana products in Arizona, although certain differences will remain between those who have a medical “card” and those who are simply purchasing marijuana for their own pleasure. One example is the amount of cannabis an individual may legally have – those with medical cards will be able to own more cannabis than those who are using for recreational purposes only. Also, licensees may now be owned by for-profit, publicly held companies, as opposed to nonprofit entities only.

As part of the Act, Arizona will now allow producers and manufactures of marijuana products to have their products tested by independent, Arizona-based labs (and because labeling must be accurate, testing is imperative). This is a new and exciting opportunity for those interested in the sciences, marijuana and guarantying safe and effective products in the Arizona marketplace. Although start-up costs could be significant with procuring the necessary testing equipment, the potential profits may be worth the investment. There are a few incubators in the Phoenix area, which could be potential locations for start-up companies (depending upon space availability, zoning laws, etc.).

Those wishing to pursue a new license may have to wait a little bit. While there is an “early applicant” period (which runs from January 19, 2021 to March 9, 2021), it’s limited to entities currently licensed as medical dispensaries, with a few other exceptions. Once the early applicant period ends, the State will issue additional licenses on a random basis. There are caps in place for the number of new licenses that will be issued by Arizona, which are based on the number of pharmacies in any Arizona county.

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Prohibitionist forces in three states have filed lawsuits to block cannabis legalization initiatives that were approved by voters in this month’s election. Legalization measures appeared on the general election ballots in five states this year, and all were approved by a majority of voters.

In Montana, 57% of voters approved Initiative 190, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Attorneys for the group Wrong for Montana, which campaigned against the initiative, filed a suit claiming that the measure is unconstitutional because it allocates money from recreational cannabis taxes for specific purposes. Under the state constitution, appropriating money is the sole responsibility of the legislature. The group also opposed the wording of the ballot measure prior to the election.

“I’m a little dissatisfied at the process between the secretary of state and the attorney general to allow non-factual stuff to be set as a fact,” said Steve Zabawa, treasurer for Wrong for Montana. “And then not to look in the Montana Constitution. It’s black and white that a ballot initiative cannot appropriate the money.”

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Initiative Challenged

In Mississippi, the city of Madison has filed suit against Initiative 65, a measure legalizing medical marijuana that was approved by 73% of voters. The city alleges that the failure of the state legislature to update the requirements for the gathering of signatures to place initiatives on the ballot should invalidate the measure. The suit was filed only days before the election, and the state Supreme Court has set a December date for a hearing in the case.

Attorneys for the original petitioners of the initiative argued earlier this month that if the Supreme Courts agrees with the plaintiffs in the case, “it would have to invalidate the vote of 74% of Mississippians who supported Initiative 65 and hold an entire section of the Constitution inoperative, while drawing into question past constitutional amendments by initiative.”

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New Jersey made its way back in headlines when legislative Assembly committees in the state Senate advanced a bill to regulate legal cannabis within state lines and bring the new state industry to life. 

Of course, the last time New Jersey was being lauded for their recreational cannabis progress was earlier this month, when residents voted to make cannabis legal. Now, the state is faced with a task. Before legal cannabis can become a reality, regulatory processes must be there to keep things operating smoothly. 

Now, the Assembly Appropriations Committee has voted 7-4 to pass on A21, a plan to enforce and regulate social use. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee passed S21, a mirror of A21, 8-4. In both Committees, the legal language was cleared to pass. 

A few things were already set in stone in the state’s cannabis code, including making the substance legal for those 21 and over. According to the new law, those of legal age could use and possess cannabis, a state commission can be formed to oversee the sale of cannabis. Now, the race is on to establish a way to regulate recreational cannabis. 

“We’ve got to get this done by the end of the year,” the legislation’s lead sponsor, Sen. Nick Scutari (D), was quoted as saying at the Assembly panel hearing regarding the bill. “If we don’t, we’re going to run into a myriad of other problems.”

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We have a presumptive new Administration entering the White House in January, despite the fact that the current Administration continues to mount legal challenges concerning the sufficiency and legitimacy of the 2020 election. However, none of these legal strategies appear to be meritorious and most importantly none have proven to bear any fruit.

There appears to be a dearth of evidence to support these unfounded claims of fraudulent interference and systemic cheating during the 2020 election period. That said, we are destined for a Biden Administration come January 20, 2021. What does this mean for the cannabis industry?

 

Whenever an Administration transitions, there are enormous ramifications on a wide variety of issues. Certainly cannabis is one of those issues. What does a Biden Administration mean for the existing medical and recreational marijuana programs around the country? What does it mean for industrial hemp

Let's start with hemp.

The hemp industry and the farmers who grow the plant have enjoyed strong bipartisan support amongst policymakers in Washington D.C. for the past several years. Hemp is one of those policy issues that unites leaders across party and ideological lines. I would suggest very strongly that this is true for both the hemp and marijuana industry. These issues attract those from both sides of the aisle for a variety of reasons.

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While the Amy Coney Barrett appointment leans the court considerably conservative, it is unlikely to impact the ongoing Green Wave.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Oct. 27 confirmation to the Supreme Court may feel like ages ago after a historic election season complicated by President Trump’s attempts to reverse the results.

Under a month into the role, Justice Barrett stands poised to weigh in on a myriad of pressing issues, including voting rights, the census and the fourth amendment.

Cannabis reform likely won’t be one of those matters, legal experts say.

A Conservative Court Unlikely To Impact Reform Efforts Much

While the Barrett appointment leans the court considerably conservative, it is unlikely to impact the ongoing Green Wave.

US Supreme Court Gambling Decision Works In Favor Of Marijuana Reform

The state Office of Medical Cannabis is continuing to move forward with approving applications for medical marijuana businesses with hopes of having dispensaries open in the spring.

Officials earlier this month approved applications for medical cannabis processors, which will use the plants to create pills, creams and other products for medical use, as well as prepare the plants to be used in a dry leaf form.

“It will be a fairly labor-intensive process,” Office Director Jason Frame said. “They’re using chemical processes and physical processes to extract certain parts of these plants for medicinal use.

While the 10 approved processors have offices in West Virginia, some companies have experience in other areas.

“It makes it more likely to be successful in this line of work,” Frame noted. “Many of them do have experience in this profession in other states.”

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The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled member states must not prohibit the marketing of lawfully produced cannabidiol (CBD).

The case in question was in relation to a situation where parties produced hemp-derived CBD in the Czech Republic that was then imported into France for use in other products. Criminal proceedings were launched against the parties on the basis of a claim that French legislation only allows for the fibre and seeds of hemp to be put to commercial use.

The parties were sentenced to suspended terms of imprisonment of 18 and 15 months, along with EUR 10,000 fines – and appeals were subsequently lodged with the Court of Justice. One of the issues under the spotlight was the court questioned the conformity of French legislation with EU law where CBD is extracted from the whole plant and not just the fibre and seeds (which contain very little cannabidiol).

On this point, it seems the French legislation only applies to listed agricultural products – and unlike “raw” hemp, whole hemp plant derived CBD isn’t among them.

Also coming into play in the appeal was the restriction of trade between member states, which isn’t permitted unless there is a public health risk.

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It’s always interesting when a new location breaks stride and changes laws. We saw it with Thailand in Asia, with Uruguay in South America, and with Lesotho in Africa. With ranging reasons as to why to open these industries, the Arab world has now put forth its own example. As of the spring, Lebanon legalized medical cannabis.

It would be untrue to say that Lebanon is the first Middle Eastern country to legalize cannabis in some form. It’s neighbor to the south, Israel, has been a central location for the study and cultivation of cannabis for decades, pushing through its own medical legalization originally back in the 1990’s. But Israel stands apart from its Arab neighbors when it comes to many beliefs and ideologies, so Lebanon’s entrance into the legal cannabis game is still very much a first for that part of the world.

A bit about Lebanon and cannabis policy

Cannabis is illegal in Lebanon to possess or use. There are no personal use laws so even small quantities are considered a criminal offense. Regulation of the system and punishment is done through the Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances Law 673, which states that any narcotic use without a medical prescription is subject to a prison sentence of three months to three years, along with a fine. Individuals are permitted a certain amount of leniency if not involved in the drug trade, and showing of generally good character.

Sale and supply crimes are illegal. Offenders found guilty of these crimes face heavier sentences than for possession and use, and do not qualify for any sort of leniency. Personal cultivation is also illegal, with no individual-use amount applicable. Cannabis seeds are not legal in Lebanon and cannot be bought, sold, or possessed.

When it comes to CBD, Lebanon makes no differentiation between the cannabis plant, and the individual parts, like cannabinoids CBD or THC. This makes CBD just as illegal as a standard marijuana plant, regardless of the lower THC content. For this reason, it is illegal to sell or use the oil in Lebanon, although the country’s recent medical legalization could certainly change how CBD is used there.

Lebanon legalized medical cannabis

If conservative states like South Dakota and Mississippi are relaxing their marijuana policies, will politically purple North Carolina be far behind?

Legalization initiatives triumphed in elections across the country this month, and those hoping North Carolina will follow suit have tempered expectations. While they see promise in a notable endorsement from the state, they know marijuana laws don’t change easily in the Tar Heel State.

Last week, the N.C. Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice recommended decriminalizing possession for up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana.

The task force, created by Gov. Roy Cooper and led by the state’s top law enforcer, Attorney General Josh Stein, cited data showing North Carolinians of color are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession.

Holding small amounts of weed would still be a civil offense, but charges would no longer appear on criminal records. The task force also suggested studying the effects of legalizing the drug altogether.

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The USDA recently approved funding for the National Industrial Hemp Council ($200,000) through the Market Access Program (MAP) of its Foreign Agricultural Service. Namely, the funding is aimed at supporting the hemp export market for the US.

The National Industry Hemp Council (NIHC) is an advocacy group promoting the hemp industry’s development through marketing and networking resources. One of its many goals is to place the US as a key exporter and a major player on the global hemp scene. 

The organization’s Senior VP for Trade and Marketing, Kevin Latner, commented that they were grateful for USDA’s vote of confidence and naming the NIHC the industry leader of the industrial hemp sector.

Latner also added that this recent announcement made it clear that NIHC was a trusted partner of the USDA for hemp food, feed, and fiber, as well as CBD brands looking to expand overseas.

The grant is expected to reinforce hemp marketing activity overseas, which may include paying for marketing efforts, funding trade missions, and other promotional activities. 

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A New Jersey Assembly voting session that had been scheduled for Monday and was to include a measure setting up the new recreational marijuana market has been canceled, Speaker Craig Coughlin said Friday.

Coughlin, a Democrat, said it was clear the legislation wouldn't get final approval because of differences between his chamber's bill and one in the Democrat-led Senate.

“The Assembly’s approach for producing fair and responsible legislation is to be thoughtful and deliberative,” he said in a statement.

Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.

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Montanans voted to legalize recreational marijuana earlier this month, but there are still hurdles to overcome before people without medical marijuana cards can head to the pot shop.

I-190, one of the two initiatives that legalized recreational marijuana in the state, may still be changed by the Montana Legislature during the upcoming 2021 session, and a lawsuit has been filed in Helena District Court to challenge the constitutionality of the initiative.

But as it stands, marijuana is set to become legal in Montana on Jan. 1. Even though weed becomes legal to possess, use and grow for personal use on Jan. 1, it will be a while until recreational shops will open. The Montana Department of Revenue will begin accepting applications from existing medical dispensaries to open recreational dispensaries by Oct. 1, 2021, and those existing dispensaries will have 12 months to apply for licensing before it opens up to the general public.

That means that the first recreational dispensaries open in the state will likely be operated by medical dispensaries that are already around and part of Montana’s medical marijuana program. According to New Approach Montana, the group behind the initiative, those shops will probably begin opening in the spring of 2022.

It’s expected to be a boon for the state. A study from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research report predicted that the 20% tax on recreational marijuana will bring in over $200 million in tax revenue between 2022 and 2026. The tax on medical marijuana is now 4%.

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In an industry driven by greenbacks, cannabis business stakeholders and supporters are banking on two pending federal bills and one new state law that would allow them access to traditional financial accounts without having to look over their shoulders.

Because even with 33 states now making cannabis legal, the federal government does not, leaving many banks heavily regulated by the U.S. government, on the sidelines. This is despite companies at least in the Golden State paying taxes to both the state and the federal governments, while also staying open as an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis. Many in the industry call the double standard a hypocrisy.

Banks and credit unions are seeking protections from repercussions from the federal government because they’re bound by the Controlled Substances Act that makes it illegal to handle cannabis deposits.

Some banks and credit unions are willing to do so.

Community First Credit Union in Santa Rosa chose to go out on a limb last year and dedicate the extra time and staff to manage a few dozen accounts for cannabis businesses. No accounts involve lending.

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If Joe Biden wants to keep his promise to be a President for all Americans, pushing for marijuana decriminalization or better yet, legalization is a good place to start.

Election Day 2020 is in the books and it appears that marijuana is the biggest winner of the 2020 election. Every marijuana-related initiative won. Joe Biden also won after running on the idea of healing a divided nation.

Marijuana legalization may be one of the few issues that Biden can use to garner support from both Republicans and Democrats, it was a perfect score. Here are the key results:

Arizona. Voters approved Arizona Proposition 207 to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21, enact a tax on marijuana sales, and require the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services regulate the industry.Montana. Voters approved Montana Initiative 190 to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults over 21, impose a 20% tax on marijuana sales, require the Montana Department of Revenue to regulate the industry, and allow for resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.Mississippi. In Mississippi, voters considered two initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and approved the most permissive option in Initiative 65 which allows the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of 20 specified qualifying conditions.New Jersey. Voters approved New Jersey Public Question 1 which amends the New Jersey Constitution to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21 and legalizes the cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana.South Dakota. Voters approved both Amendment A to legalize marijuana and Measure 26 which legalizes medical marijuana.

Photo by Fokusiert/Getty Images

According to a post-election Gallup poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization. Here is how that support breaks down along party lines.

Congress May Be Forced To Consider Nationwide Marijuana Legalization Now That 68% Of Population Supports It

The marijuana legalization debate moved into the mainstream of Virginia politics this week when Gov. Ralph Northam announced he’ll propose legislation in January allowing recreational use of the drug.

As lawmakers begin to seriously consider what a legal marijuana market might look like in Virginia, here’s a preview of some of the looming policy decisions identified by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission, which recently released a 200-page report on the issue.

1. Should past weed convictions be expunged?

Uneven enforcement of marijuana laws has been a primary driver in the push for legalization here. The report’s authors found Black Virginians were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than Whites despite using the drug at the same rates.

Many states that have already legalized the drug have also allowed expungement of past convictions that are no longer crimes, namely simple possession by an of-age adult, and Virginia’s study concluded that expunging past convictions would go far to address racial inequality associated with marijuana enforcement by lifting barriers to employment and housing.

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Soaps, deodorant, beard oil, pain relievers, lotion, hand sanitizer and an anti-anxiety tincture for pets.

The array of products Grant McCabe creates using oil extracted from hemp he grows on a Marlboro farm to sell in his Beacon shop, The Leaf, could soon have an imprimatur: New York-certified.

Last month, the state Department of Health unveiled proposed regulations governing how the plant is processed to extract cannabidiol oil (CBD) and other cannabinoid substances from its leaves and flowers. The proposals would set standards for products sold by retailers, including food and drinks.

But the regulations also would ban the sale of the smokable flower, or bud, of the plant, which retailers say is where they make most of their profits.

Although it’s part of the cannabis family, hemp is low in THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces its high. Demand has soared for products containing its substances, especially CBD, which marketers claim can alleviate a range of health problems, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain.

hemp