WeedLife News Network
Contenders span the country, from the Northeast to the Southwest as well as some of America’s more conservative states.
American cannabis reform momentum could propel several states to pass legislation this year. Last year saw five states pass ballot initiatives, emboldening the belief that more reform efforts are on the horizon this year.
Violet Cavendish, communications manager at the Marijuana Policy Project, said that 2020 was another banner year for the reform movement. She added, “The clean sweep of state-level legalization victories in November reflects that this is a policy that Americans are in favor of, regardless of political affiliation.”
Several states are already lining up to be part of the cannabis reform class of 2021. The possible contenders span the country, from the Northeast to the Southwest as well as some of America’s more conservative states.
Adult Use Is In Play For Virtually The Entire Northeast And New England
Practically the entire eastern portion of the U.S. is in play this year. Despite its current legislative struggles, numerous sources consider New Jersey’s passed ballot initiative to signal the remaining Northeast holdouts to enact legislation. Even as it is held up by state lawmakers once again, neighboring states seem to see the writing on the wall.
Legalizing recreational marijuana will swiftly add hundreds of good-paying jobs, with room for significant growth, and much-needed tax revenue to the Mid Hudson, local cannabis growers said last week, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo refloated the idea.
Cuomo, who opposed recreational marijuana until December 2018, reiterated support for state legalization recently.
He said doing so could create jobs and generate $300 million-plus in tax revenue.
The governor addressed the topic in his recent State of the State address-related news releases and speeches.
Local cannabis industry participants’ enthusiasm for Cuomo’s proposal comes as Green Thumb Industries, a Chicago-based, publicly traded, national producer and retailer of cannabis goods, announced plans Thursday for a $150 million production facility in Warwick.
The pandemic has hit economies hard and halted even the most prosperous companies in their tracks. Yet, in the often paradoxical world of business, some industries have emerged from the crisis in a favourable position and cannabis is one of them.
2020 has ultimately been a breakthrough year of progress for the cannabis industry, as countries around the world have advanced legislation on the drug and invested heavily in the research and development of cannabis-based products. In particular, America’s presidential election turned out in favour of cannabis, with Joe Biden stating he will seek to reform cannabis legislation in the US. This intention has seen a rapid rise of cannabis businesses on the stock market, with a rush of investment into the sector on the back of the Democrat’s win.
Major pharmaceuticals have taken notice of the increasingly lucrative emerging industry and are eagerly financing their move into the space. More ambitious investors are even looking towards newer parts of the sector, such as the emerging synthetic market – whereby CBD is produced artificially in a lab, much like the majority of vitamins in today’s market.
New CBD production techniques such as synthesis and yeast fermentation can produce purer CBD without violating UK law through the presence of other illegal cannabinoids, and also avoid the risk of contamination with pesticides and soil-based compounds.
As states report cannabis sales numbers for 2020, record highs continue across the country. It’s become a billion-dollar business for several states, blowing out levels that states had estimated when originally planning legalization.
Billion Dollar Club
The Colorado Department of Revenue reported that cannabis sales in the state passed $2 billion in sales from January – November 2020. Plus, December hasn’t even been added to the total sales figures. Despite the pandemic, the state has continued to break records. Steve Lopez, CEO, The Green Solution (Colorado) said, “With over $2 billion in sales from January through November 2020, we’re continuing to see Colorado break sales records through the pandemic. We debuted over 50 self-serve kiosks at our 21 retail locations across the state last year, and credit high sales to the innovation and creativity in our industry, as well as the measures we’ve implemented to prioritize staff and customer safety.”
Adult-use cannabis retailers in Massachusetts have now tallied more than $1 billion in gross sales, according to information reported in the state’s mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system, the Cannabis Control Commission. At the close of business on October 30, the aggregate data reported in Metrc by 80 retailers reached $1,000,521,905. What makes this even more impressive is that the state program is basically only two years old.
A bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Virginia and set the framework the potential billion-dollar industry got its first hearing before state lawmakers Tuesday morning.
Governor Ralph Northam (D) has publicly backed the effort, which as currently written would allow sales to those 21 and older starting in January 2023.
Although many lawmakers and activists expect the legislation to pass this year, what the regulatory framework looks like will be hotly debated in the weeks to come.
Though SB 1406 is far from a finished product, the measure sponsored by state Senators Louise Lucas, Adam Ebbin, and Joe Morrissey, all Democrats, includes several broad reaching provisions currently:Consumption for personal use would be allowed for those 21 and olderA set number of licenses would be issued for cultivating and retail salesThe state would tax sales at a rate of 21-percent, plus local taxes, and the existing sales tax, which could reach 30-percent totalThe majority of the revenue from sales would go to early childhood education, a newly formed “Cannabis Equity Reinvestment fund” to invest in communities of historically targeted by drug enforcement, and substance abuse prevention programsCities and counties would have a say into whether or not to allow recreational useCriminal records for those with convictions of certain marijuana related offenses would be expunged
You can read the full bill as it is currently constructed here.
“Our neighboring states have made efforts to address unjust marijuana laws, and it’s time for us to do the same,” said Senator Karen Tallian.
It has been said that Indiana will be one of the last states to legalize marijuana. The state is run by a bunch of holy-rolling Republicans who believe weed is the root of all evil. And they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around marijuana being good for the people and the state’s economy.
Therefore, as long as the ultra-conservative beast continues to bed down in the Capitol, weed isn’t going to make any headway. However, some state lawmakers plan to hold the anti-pot goons accountable in the next session. They aren’t asking for full-blown legalization — like neighboring Illinois and Michigan — just the elimination of criminal penalties for those caught in possession.
Indiana Senator Karen Tallian recently introduced legislation aimed at decriminalizing marijuana statewide. The bill, which is similar to others she’s supported over the years, would allow those caught in possession of up to two ounces to be dealt with through a ticket rather than the criminal justice system.
As it stands, Hoosiers caught in possession of any amount of cannabis can be convicted of a misdemeanor, punishable with up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $1,000. If they have as much weed as Tallian believes should be decriminalized, they can be slapped with a level 6 felony and do as many as two and a half years in jail and pay up to a $10,000 fine.
An advisory group is recommending new taxes on marijuana sales to raise millions of dollars that would be used to improve diversity and help disadvantaged groups succeed in the industry.
Data collected by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency in December show that only 3.8% of those with an ownership interest in licensed recreational marijuana businesses in Michigan are Black and only 1.5% are Hispanic or Latino, according to an agency report
The voter-approved Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act of 2018 directed the agency to create a plan to "promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities."
The agency's Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup released its recommendations Tuesday aimed at improving access to capital for Black and brown businesses, along with technical, educational and other forms of assistance. Implementing some recommendations would require action by the Legislature.
The agency "is committed to making Michigan the model agency in the country, including being a leader on diversity, equity and inclusion in the marijuana industry," the report said.
The plan includes using tax revenue to help fill the state's nearly $4 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year. However, the CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association told FOX Business that it could go up in smoke if taxes are too high.
“We definitely want to make sure that taxes are not so prohibitive that it pushes the market back underground,” Aaron Smith told Kristina Partsinevelos. “I hope that we can come to a place where it’s taxed in a manner that it’s somewhat similar to alcohol.”
Health Canada has recently been receiving suggestions for revising its cannabis product regulations. Now it must decide what changes to make.
One priority should be giving producers more packaging and labeling flexibility. This could help businesses build their reputations and help consumers find suitable products. It would also better support federal cannabis policy, as existing rules inadvertently encourage higher potency while sidelining other aspects of quality.
Current packaging regulations restrict each cannabis container to a single non-fluorescent color. It cannot have any photos or images beyond one small brand logo.
— Le Parisien Infog (@LeParisienInfog) December 20, 2020
"As interior minister and politician I cannot tell parents who are fighting for their children to give up their drug addiction that we are going to legalise this shit," he said back in September, adding: "And yes, I am saying shit."
Other mayors expressed the same opinion.
With 2017 legislation, Argentina joined the growing number of South American countries to relax cannabis laws. At the end of 2020, that legislation was expanded, and now finally, Argentina allows cannabis self-cultivation for medical use.
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Cannabis in Argentina
Cannabis is not legal for recreational use in Argentina, but small amounts of it were decriminalized back in 2009. In the Arriola decision, which was the result of a court case arising from the arrest of five men, the court determined that small amounts of drugs meant for personal use, that won’t affect or cause harm to anyone else, and which pose no threat of danger, are decriminalized. There is no official amount set for personal use, meaning law enforcement and judges must use their own discretion per case.
Much like Mexico and South Africa, which each have constitutional rulings related to cannabis and the right of an individual to live life as they see fit without intrusion from the government, Argentina’s court ruled that “Each adult is free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state.” The decision was also meant to encourage law enforcement money to be spent on bigger cases, while leaving small-time users to enter treatment programs instead.
Cannabis trafficking is illegal in Argentina and can incur a penalty of 4-15 years in prison. It’s illegal for residents to grow marijuana for commercial purposes.
Last week, our neighbor to the South took a significant step forward in cannabis reform, when Mexico’s health ministry published rules regulating the use of medicinal cannabis. This will hopefully be the first of many major cannabis reform measures in Mexico this year.
The Mexican government issued regulations on their three-year-old medical marijuana program. This is different from the adult-use legislation currently being discussed in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies - the lower house. The April 2021 deadline for legislation legalizing recreational cannabis use still holds.
In 2017, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a mandate to move forward with medical marijuana legalization. That legislation created a void as there were no regulations to go along with it. In 2019, the Mexican Supreme Court mandated that the Regulatory Agencies create medical marijuana rules.
While these regulations are three years overdue, they’re fairly straightforward. The primary focus is on cannabis cultivation both for research and for the manufacture of pharmaceutical or pharmacological products. The legislation allows for public and private research, and it provides quality control measures, including good manufacturing practices.
I spoke with Aurelius Data’s Julie Armstrong who’s excited about the fact that this process requires institutionalized medical data going forward. Mexicans seeking permits for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will need to register with the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA). This will ultimately create a national registry of cultivators.
Another family has come forward detailing how Brexit threatens its ability to acquire life-saving medical cannabis.
Emily and Spencer Carkeet spend £750 (almost $1,300) every month to import high-CBD Bedrolite cannabis oil from the Netherlands to treat their daughter, Clover, who has epilepsy, reports Somerset Live.
The medication has drastically reduced the number of seizures two-year-old Clover experiences, but with U.K. prescriptions no longer valid in the Netherlands following Brexit, the family is just weeks away from its supply running out.
“The government claims to be trying to sort it out, but at the moment, we have about 10 weeks of oil left,” Emily Carkeet told Somerset Live. “We are waiting for a shipment to come in that would last us another three months, but we don’t know if it will arrive.”
According to a report from The Times, there are more than 40 families in the U.K. in the same position.
Missouri lawmakers may resurrect their probe of the state’s beleaguered medical marijuana program.
Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, the new head of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight, said Thursday he is open to continuing the panel’s investigation, which stalled in March.
Taylor, who was a member of the committee last year, said the investigation left unanswered questions.
The program has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies whose bids for medical marijuana business licenses were denied. Complaints have targeted the scoring process and potential conflicts of interest.
Whether Taylor restarts the investigation may depend on whether he feels his questions about the program have been answered, such as through the court system, he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021.
“With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers. USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements.”
Shawn Hauser, partner and chair of the Hemp and Cannabinoids Department at Vicente Sederberg LLP said, “The transition from prohibition to a legal and regulated system takes time, and USDA’s final rule is a historic step forward for hemp in the U.S. Many are justifiably disappointed by the DEA’s continued (and in some ways expanded) role in the agricultural hemp program, but there were also a number of positive improvements. The expanded harvest window, alternative disposal/remediation authorizations, and increase of the standard of negligence to 1% will be critical to building a successful hemp industry, and they indicate the USDA gave meaningful consideration to stakeholder’s comments. We are undoubtedly making progress, and we will continue to work with regulators and through Congress to perfect the regulatory structure for hemp.”
Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations.
A new year means new marijuana legalization bills in the Kansas legislature.
On Wednesday, a medical marijuana bill was introduced with the support of the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association.
Kansas is one of 14 states without legal access to medical marijuana.
Supporters said they are confident enough lawmakers would support the bill if it was voted on. They said the bill would implement a regulated system, making sure the product is safe and tax is collected.
Spencer Duncan, Executive Director of the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association, said he thinks the bill may help boost the economy.
Virginia took one step closer to legalizing marijuana sales Wednesday due to legislation proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam’s team.
Backed by state Sens. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the legislation would allow licensed people 21 and older to sell the drug starting on Jan. 1, 2023.
License-seekers will have five types to choose from: cultivation, processing, distribution/wholesale, retail and testing.
There will be limits, including a possession limit of one ounce of plant material, which is normal for most other states.
An outline of the proposed legislation said there will be a 21% tax on marijuana sales, and localities can add a 3% additional tax on retailers.
The year 2,020 has already ended and Costa Ricans continue to wait for strong answers, due to the pending approval of the bill to legalize the production of Cannabis and Hemp in the country.
These have been difficult days with the COVID-19 Pandemic around the world, where all sectors, mainly the agroproductive, have been affected. The adaptation process has been fundamental, in the case of Costa Rica, the institutions linked to this area have strengthened ties with strategic allies to prevent agricultural production from stopping.
Research has been carried out in favor of the innovation of cutting-edge technologies for agricultural production, this is where the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Renato Alvarado, emphasizes the valuations of different materials of industrial cannabis, with regards to the perspective for the legalization of the crop in the country.
Take into account that the Environment Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica (CR), in the course of the year 2020, approved the substitute text of the legislative project “Law of Cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and of Hemp for food and industrial purposes”.
All the changes were oriented towards the simplification of procedures, the requirements, and formalities for home cultivation for some patients, the granting of incentives to the activity, the definition of requirements for obtaining licenses, as well as a special tax for said activity. Therefore, bill number 21,388 establishes that -the domestic cultivation of Cannabis plants- is regulated.
Adults in Virginia will be able to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use in two years, under a proposal unveiled Wednesday by the governor of the commonwealth.
Under the proposal offered up by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, according to local television station WRIC, adults aged 21 years and older would be able to purchase pot as of January 1, 2023.
Citing a spokesperson for the governor, the station reported that sales of recreational pot would not begin until that day, but implementation “would have a quick timeline of roughly 20 to 22 months after the bill is passed.”
Moreover, WRIC reported that the governor’s proposal “would put limits on possession, no more than an ounce of “marijuana plant material,” and on the concentration of businesses.”
Northam is expected to elaborate further on the proposal during his State of the State address on Wednesday in that capital city of Richmond.
A significant marijuana growing operation was found in Belchertown this week where police officers found hundreds of marijuana plants that violated the legal limit for growing marijuana at home.
The Belchertown Fire Department received a call of a possible house fire and when they arrived at the home on West Street they noticed a significant growing operation allegedly run by two men from out of state.
In Massachusetts, marijuana can be legally smoked and possessed but when it comes to growing the plant, there’s a legal limit. A limit that was well surpassed when Belchertown police and fire discovered a growing operation of more than 800 marijuana plants inside a Belchertown home on Monday night.
It is allowed to have six plants per person with a max of 12 in a household, so if there are two people living in a house they can have 12 plants but if you go above that it’s illegal.
Police arrested two men who were involved in the operation, both men are from Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the plants, police seized $2,500 in cash and a significant amount of growing equipment that covered the whole house.