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

Senate Dems ready to introduce cannabis bill, hearing scheduled next week

 

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had said that the marijuana reform bill would be introduced before the August recess.

With Congress set to break for its traditional August recess––and with this year’s midterm elections drawing nearer––Democrats in the Senate finally appear ready to introduce a bill that would end the federal prohibition on pot.

The Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism has scheduled a hearing for next week that is titled, “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms.”

The chair of the subcommittee, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), has taken a leading role in crafting the Senate’s cannabis reform legislation.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Bloomberg had reported previously that Senate Democrats intended to introduce the bill this week.

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GOP video warns of cannabis being laced with fentanyl despite studies saying otherwise

 

The Senate GOP Doctors Caucus released a warning video announcement on Thursday alerting about the dangers of a powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl. The group of physicians, who are also senators, released this public service announcement to inform Americans about the gravity of the current situation in the U.S. (Benzinga)

“Fentanyl is killing over 200 Americans each and every day,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

"Unfortunately, many Americans who have died from an overdose didn’t even know they were taking the deadliest drug our nation has ever seen." 

Other senators and members of the Caucus include Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), John Boozman (R-AR), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). 

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People busted for weed in the U.K. could lose passports under proposed rules

 

‘Swift, Certain, Tough’ drug conviction rules could be coming to the U.K., according a White Paper Document published by the Home Office.

Think twice about smoking a doobie while traveling in the U.K. People in England and Wales could be subject to stricter punishments, including risking losing their passports or driver’s licenses under new rules recently proposed. But some people are worried it’s a thinly-veiled attack on the middle class.

The White Paper document—titled “Swift, Certain, Tough New consequences for drug possession”—was published by the Home Office in July. People charged with drug-related crimes could risk losing their passports and driver’s licenses as the U.K. government ramps up efforts to “tackle the scourge of substance abuse in society.” The Home Office is the government department responsible for immigration, security, and law & order.

Offenders in England and Wales would be subject to a “three strikes”-style system. The system breaks up offenses into three tiers. The Telegraph reports that it’s going to impact the nation’s middle class the most—leading to bans from nightclubs over random drug convictions. And that’s just the beginning: losing a driver’s license and a passport could come next.

The three-strikes system in general is a sentencing structure designed to deter crime faster, but is decried by advocacy groups.

First, anyone caught with illegal drugs would be forced to pay for and attend a drug awareness course, and if they fail to comply, they would receive an increased fixed penalty notice or face prosecution. Second-time offenders would be cautioned, ordered to attend an additional drug awareness course, and face mandatory, random drug testing for a period of up to three months.

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Minnesota’s surprising and unique path towards possible marijuana legalization

 

The dosage of THC that the GOP legislature approved for edibles is much lower than normal, at up to 5 mg per package. But it’s still legal, nonetheless.

In a decision that came as a surprise to many in the state, Minnesota passed legislation that legalized some lower potency hemp-derived THC edibles. As we previously reported, this new bill now allows businesses to sell edible and drink packages with up to 5 mg of hemp-derived THC in the state.

This new decision has some people confused, but it also has unintentionally launched a program that might show what a recreational marijuana program would look like in Minnesota. While the state has legalized medical marijuana, this new edible law is giving Minnesota citizens a taste of how the state would look with legal marijuana. Who knows, this small but incremental measure might even prove to be a new gateway for other states if all goes well.

The dosage of THC that the GOP legislature approved, to be clear, is much lower than normal, at up to 5 mg per package. For context, “Recreational states have defined potency thresholds in edibles, limiting THC to 50 or 100 mg per package and 5 or 10 mg per serving depending on the state,” according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which also determined there are many cases where the potency in edibles was sometimes inconsistent with what packaging suggested. In theory, one package of these lower dose edibles would equal somewhere close to one normal dose edible in another state. 

The THC in question also comes from a slightly different source than most states. It is derived from legal hemp plants rather than THC-rich marijuana, but they share the same chemical makeup. This means that while the plants being used are of the legal hemp variety, the THC is essentially the same. when you look at the chemical makeup of the edible, the THC is essentially the same. (See: Cannabis, Marijuana And Hemp — What Is The Difference, Exactly?)

The fact that it is hemp derived, but still THC, and the fact that it is lower dosage but relatively unrestricted means that this new edible law might give Minnesotans a fairly realistic glimpse into the future of legal weed in the state. “Overall I think it’s a way in which Minnesotans are going to be able to check out what it’s like to have legal products being sold on shelves in a non-gray market,” Kurtis Hanna, a local lobbyist for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

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Biden says he’s ‘working on’ bill to release cannabis inmates

President Biden, returning to Washington after a trip to the Middle East, told reporters that no one “should be in prison for the use of marijuana.”

President Joe Biden reiterated his belief that no one should be behind bars for using cannabis, saying Sunday that he is working on legislation to help fulfill that campaign promise.

Biden, returning to Washington, D.C. following a four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, made the comments to a gaggle of reporters gathered on the White House lawn.

One reporter asked the president if he intended to honor his “campaign pledge to release all the marijuana inmates in prison.”

“I don’t think there should — I dont think anyone in pri- — anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana,” Biden said, according to a White House pool report. “We’re working on the Crime Bill now.”

The brief response represented Biden’s most extensive and explicit comments on cannabis reform since his term began last year.

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NYPD says it will stop testing cops for weed, then reverses course

The New York Police Department announced on Wednesday that it would continue drug testing officers for weed only hours after a memo issued earlier in the day said that most screenings for pot would end.

A New York Police Department memo made public on Wednesday advised officers that they would no longer face drug tests for cannabis, although the department quickly reversed course and announced that screenings for weed would continue while the policy is reviewed.

“The New York City Law Department has directed the NYPD to cease all random, scheduled and pre-employment testing for marijuana,” an NYPD spokeswoman said early Wednesday.

“The Department will continue to administer marijuana screenings to personnel when there is indications of impairment and is reviewing its current policies in light of this directive.”

The memo from the Law Department, which was dated July 11, said that such screenings for marijuana are inconsistent with last year’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which bans repercussions on employees for off-duty recreational cannabis use. After receiving the directive from the city’s Law Department, the NYPD Commissioner for Legal Matters sent a memo to department heads to notify them of the policy change.

“The rationale behind this determination is that there is no test for marijuana that conclusively determines current intoxication, making it impossible to determine by drug test alone whether an employee has tested positive for marijuana because of improper use on the job or use during statutorily protected off-hours use,” reads NYPD the memo.

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Pot gets Senate's attention in long-shot decriminalization bill

 

Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level next week, a person familiar with the matter said, although the legislation faces long odds in the evenly divided chamber.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer worked with Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon on the measure. The senators circulated a draft of the bill last year and made tweaks after feedback from Senate committees. 

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the list of drugs covered by the Controlled Substances Act. States, however, can still maintain and create prohibitions on production and distribution of marijuana.

Pot stocks surged on the news. Canadian cannabis producer Tilray Brands Inc. soared as much as 20% in its biggest jump in four months. Investors surged into other Canadian licensed producers that have been expanding into the US market, including Canopy Growth which surged as much as 11%. US multi-state operators also rallied, with Green Thumb Industries climbing to its highest point in one month.

The sector has been pummeled this year as the glacial pace of US legalization weighs on formerly high-flying share prices. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, also known by the ticker MJ, has plunged 48% this year as investor hopes wane.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the chamber where 60 votes are required to pass most bills. Many Republicans and some Democrats, including Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Jon Tester, have opposed decriminalizing marijuana. 

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Canada: British Columbia delivery options increase access to legal cannabis

British Columbia has permission to deliver non-medical cannabis to consumers through regular mail and other delivery-service providers, through privately-owned cannabis stores.

The Canadian provincial government declared, "the move would provide economic opportunities for stores and put them on a more even competitive footing with the province’s online retail platform operated by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BLDB)." (Benzinga)

The new regulation entered into force on July 8, 2022.

“Private retailers welcome this expanded delivery regime,” said Jaclynn Pehota, executive director of the Retail Cannabis Council of BC.

“This is a significant tool for our members. The government heard our request and responded. Knowing that the government supports and is creating parity within the legal cannabis industry will help retailers thrive and will continue to ensure British Columbians have a choice as consumers,” Pehota added.

“Since federal legalization of non-medical cannabis, we have continued to look for ways to support the cannabis industry in our province while providing safe and accessible options for British Columbians,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

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S.C. primary victory has proven that cannabis is good politics

Many were surprised in November when Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina took the bold step of introducing the States Reform Act. This Republican, who has been rated as a principled conservative by groups such as Americans for Prosperity, American Conservative Union and Heritage Action, was leading again by introducing a comprehensive bill to restore state rights regarding cannabis. This bill directly advances core conservative goals of shrinking the size of the federal government, giving patients more choice in their medical treatment and standing up for our veterans.

But Mace would have a very long spring just a few months later. She earned the ire of former President Donald Trump, and he enthusiastically endorsed her opponent for the GOP primary in South Carolina. And she had become the first target for defeat by the newly constituted Super PAC Protect Our Kids, founded by the cannabis prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

It was a seemingly intelligent move on SAM’s part. Mace has been an outspoken and effective advocate for ending federal cannabis prohibition. SAM incorrectly assumed that being a policy champion on this issue might be enough to turn some voters away. And since it looked like Mace may have an irreparable falling out with her state party over the issue, SAM could swoop in with a small digital buy and then claim that embracing cannabis reform is toxic for the Republican primary. Things seemed to be lining up for SAM as Mace’s Republican challenger launched a campaign with the rhetorical (and lame) question: “What is she smoking?”

Mace, for her part, did not back down on the issue. On the campaign trail, she made the case several times for how legalization would help Americans, including our nation’s most vulnerable — veterans coping with the invisible wounds of war. In an interview with Yahoo News, Mace said, “Veterans’ issues are near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to make sure that, when I was crafting this bill, I included those protections. … When they come home from war, they have a lot to reconcile emotionally and physically, and cannabis can be a healer, it can be a lifesaver for many of those men and women in uniform.”

Mace was politically savvy to realize that embracing cannabis reform is a net positive in the eyes of many voters, regardless of party. Polling conducted by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation earlier this year found that 63 percent of Republicans surveyed support states’ rights to decide the status of cannabis at the state level. And the gift keeps on giving. What was a net positive for the primary is a massively popular issue for the general election — a candidate’s support for ending the prohibition on cannabis appears to attract voter support across the political spectrum.

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Why China will never legalize cannabis

Will the world’s global superpower ever legalize marijuana? It seems unlikely not, even though it’s extremely ironic that some of the oldest evidence of weed consumption has been found in China.

China, a global superpower in the world, a country responsible for numerous inventions that have helped save humankind, is now living in a dystopian nightmare that has eerily too many similarities with George Orwell’s famous book, 1984.

In fact, internet users in China aren’t even allowed to type “1984” in social media, and copies of Orwell’s dystopian novels are banned. The novel is set under a fictional regime of constant state surveillance and censorship. The citizens in the book are carefully monitored by “Big Brother” and are made to practice “double think” and only talk in a state-controlled language known as “newspeak.” Talk about double standards.

An article by Brookings discusses how visualization and police informatization is driving Chinese surveillance systems. The communist government has numerous methods of collating massive volumes of data on its over 1.4 billion citizens: from surveillance cameras in the streets to medical history, e-commerce, travel, WeChat, and more, the repressive nature of its surveillance tactics feel like a huge step backward.

On top of that, they place a strict focus on “focus personnel”, who are citizens that are deemed by the government to undermine social stability, or people petitioning the government.

Naturally, the communists have a strict stance against drugs – and all kinds of it. According to the Chinese government, all kinds of drugs pose a serious hazard which is why they take drug control seriously. While Chinese society has, just like many other countries, also suffered from the ills caused by deadly street drugs such as methamphetamine – as well as heroin and fentanyl.

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Cannabis prohibition in France over the past 50 years has disproportionately punished its Muslim minority

In recent years, France has come closer to ending its national prohibition of cannabis, which has been in place since 1970.

The rise of “CBD cafés,” the growing public calls for an end to drug prohibition and an ongoing medical marijuana pilot program signal that, in the near future, France – the European Union’s leading cannabis-consuming member state – may legalize cannabis.

But as a scholar of the centuries-old links between cannabis and colonialism, I know that the movement to legalize the drug has largely ignored the groups most impacted by France’s historical war on drugs, which, as in the U.S., has disproportionately targeted ethnic and religious minorities.

France’s hidden war on drugs

Evidence suggests that cannabis prohibition over the past 50 years has disproportionately punished France’s Muslim minority.

About one-fifth of current French prisoners were convicted for drug offenses, according to the French Ministry of Justice – a rate comparable to that of the United States. Nearly all of them are men.

There is no demographic breakdown of this population, because the French credo of “absolute equality” among citizens has made it illegal since 1978 to collect statistics based on race, ethnicity or religion. But sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, who studies France’s prison system, has found that roughly half of the 69,000 people incarcerated today in France are Muslims of Arab descent.

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The fight for medical cannabis in Indonesia

Whether it is by pending court challenge, legislative change, or religious ruling, the impetus behind medical cannabis reform is cresting in Indonesia—and the campaign is being spearheaded by mothers.

Moms for medical cannabis reform is a powerful political and legal concept. Such campaigns have managed to change cannabis laws all over the world—from the United States and the U.K. to Israel and now, apparently, Indonesia.

In what many, both domestically and globally, are calling a potential bellwether case that could flip other Asian and Muslim countries into at least the medical reform column, a group of mothers in Indonesia have filed a lawsuit that is now pending a Constitutional Court decision. The crux of the case is the plaintiff’s request to exclude cannabis from the country’s Type 1 narcotics list (which corresponds to the global Schedule I regulation imposed by U.N. mandate). The proceedings in the two-year long case ended in March after judges heard the testimony of nine experts (including one from Thailand) and after reviewing a wide variety of scientific reports on the medical efficacy of cannabis.

There is no time frame for the court to reach their decision. Beyond this, patients would then have to wait for the government to issue new regulations.

The laws against cannabis use in Indonesia are some of the toughest in the world. The death penalty is not unheard of for cannabis offenses. That said, the country has been wrestling with cannabis reform for the last several years. In 2020, the government declared cannabis a “medical plant” but this was subsequently reversed by the Agriculture Ministry.

Simultaneous political and religious momentum in Indonesia

The most encouraging thing about this case is that the Constitutional Court is not the only national or authoritative body now reconsidering the legality of medical cannabis use.

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Bill Clinton hails ‘very encouraging’ CBD clinical trial

A study on the effectiveness of CBD as a potential pain reliever has gotten the attention of former President Bill Clinton.

The clinical trial, conducted by researchers at the NYU Langone Health and Baptist Health/Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, found that an orally absorbed tablet containing cannabidiol (CBD) “safely managed pain after minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery, and did not produce side effects sometimes associated with CBD use, such as nausea, anxiety, and liver toxicity.”

Researchers randomly sorted 99 participants across the two study sites, NYU Langone and Baptist Health in Jacksonville, “between the ages of 18 and 75 into a placebo group and a group receiving oral-absorbed CBD,” who were “prescribed a low dose of Percocet, instructed to wean off the narcotic as soon as possible, and to take the placebo/CBD 3 times a day for 14 days after the surgery.”

“On the first day after surgery, patients receiving CBD experienced on average 23 percent less pain as measured by the visual analog scale (VAS) pain score compared to patients receiving the placebo, highlighting that in patients with moderate pain, CBD may render a significant benefit,” the researchers wrote in their analysis.

“On both the first and second days after surgery, patients receiving CBD reported 22 to 25 percent greater satisfaction with pain control compared to those receiving placebo. Further analysis also showed that patients receiving 50 mg of CBD reported lower pain and higher satisfaction with pain control compared to patients receiving placebo. No major side effects were reported.”

The results of the study were presented in March at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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Police dog helps to catch three men in £50k cannabis bust

A police dog helped to catch three men after officers found around £50,000 worth of cannabis in a vehicle.

Officers were on patrol yesterday afternoon (July 10) when they spotted a vehicle around junction 31A of the M6, believed to be connected to drug supply.

They signalled for the vehicle to stop in Fulwood, with the driver pulling over before suddenly running off.

Police Dog Harv, who sprang into action and caught up with the man a short time later.

The vehicle was searched, and around £50,000 worth of cannabis was found.

The man – aged 29 and from Newcastle - was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class B drugs and he remains in police custody.

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What cannabis lounges could mean for the future of weed consumption

It is likely that many more laws will be implemented before cannabis lounges take off in a major way in other states.

There is something special about a lounge experience. An intentionally designed atmosphere for strangers to meet in order to enjoy ambience and interaction is something most of us took for granted before quarantine hit. The world is back open and so are your favorite bars and cafes. In fact, there might even be a cannabis-infused meeting place coming to a community near you.

As we previously reported, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board recently approved a measure that will allow cannabis consumption in lounges. While Alaska was the first state to approve cannabis lounges, Nevada, and specifically Las Vegas, along with some California cities, seem to have big and immediate plans for this new frontier. It is almost as if cannabis entrepreneurs are looking to take the buzz and nostalgia of Amsterdam’s weed cafes and explode them into modern American times. 

This effort may prove to be a huge new growth market, and even a shift in how Americans view and consume their weed. While this is all exciting news, there are a lot of unanswered questions about how to run and regulate a marijuana consumption lounge. If this is the future of marijuana, how will states safely take this concept to the mainstream?

Marijuana lounges are a relatively new idea in the US in the scheme of things. For context, Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, and Alaska legalized consumption lounges in 2019. But as more states legalize marijuana and are hungry for a piece of this new enterprise after lockdown, there is a growing interest in cannabis lounges.

“The politics of pot lounges are changing along with shifting social mores around the substance,” wrote Politico, which interviewed Larry Scheffler, the co-CEO of a proposed cannabis lounge in Las Vegas. And this isn’t the boutique corner cafe you might think of when you think of a weed lounge, unless you are picturing a space fit with a giant 5-inch-deep splashing pool.

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Senators Klobuchar and Smith, join Booker, Warren, Sanders and others in push on Biden for cannabis legalization

Last week, a group of six U.S. senators urged the Biden administration to use its position and remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 substances under federal law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-ORE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Edward J.Markey (D-MA) sent the urging letter on Wednesday, asking the administration to “use its existing authority to (i) deschedule cannabis and (ii) issue pardons to all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.” (Benzinga)

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MIN) and Tina Smith (D-Min), while not being a part of this group that signed and sent the letter to President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said they are also backing recreational marijuana legalization and commuting sentences of non-violent offenders, reported Minnesota Reformer.

 “I support the legalization of marijuana on the federal level and believe that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders. We must also take steps to expunge prior non-violent convictions,” Klobuchar stated.

Klobuchar previously ran for president in 2020, and prior to serving the Senate, she was Hennepin County attorney for two terms, in charge of the state’s biggest team of prosecuting lawyers.

Smith seems to be on the same page with all these politicians fighting for the same cause – legalizing the plant. Her spokeswoman, Lexi Byler, stated, “Sen. Smith believes that marijuana should be legalized, and that cannabis should be removed from the nation’s list of illegal controlled substances. She also supports expunging non-violent marijuana convictions.

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When will the price for medical marijuana go down in Ohio?

Within a minute of one another are two Cincinnati medical marijuana dispensaries — Sunnyside (formerly Verdant Creations) at 5149 Kennedy Avenue, and Verilife, at 5431 Ridge.

When interviewed in 2019 by WVXU, Verilife customers had high hopes prices would come down since an increasing number of dispensaries were popping up in Southwest Ohio.

It’s unclear if they’ve seen much of a decrease in price, and plenty of people are still driving to surrounding states where it’s cheaper. But that might be changing.

The city of Monroe will have four dispensaries after recently being awarded three more provisional licenses.

The Journal News reports two of the provisional licenses in Monroe were granted to Shangri-La Dispensary Ohio and one to Deaver Ohio.

Strawberry Fields opened in the fall of 2019 in Monroe. It’s now called Columbia Care.

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Ontario police seize cannabis worth $61 million

Estimated 45,000-plus illegal pot plants and eight metric tonnes of processed weed confiscated.

The Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET), led by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), seized $61 million in cannabis, equipment and property during searches of two greenhouse sites and two residences.

Announced on July 7, the OPP reports the large-scale cannabis processing and production facilities raided on June 28 near Kingsville, Ont. contained thousands of cannabis plants and piles of bags filled with dried flower, per the Windsor Star.

All totalled, the ongoing investigation revealed an estimated 45,000-plus illegal marijuana plants and eight metric tonnes of processed weed, CTV News Windsor reports.

Members of PJFCET, a team created to enforce cannabis laws by dismantling organized crime and illegal cannabis trafficking, also confiscated equipment and property linked to the illegal operation believed to be worth more than $300,000.

A short video of images posted by the OPP on both Facebook and Twitter shows the outside of the greenhouses, what looks to be hundreds or thousands of plants flanking a concrete walkway on the inside of a greenhouse, an open tabletop of thousands of cannabis buds surrounded by plastic bags of suspected weed, open, wooden shelving units that look to be housing seedlings or saplings, row upon row of garbage bags and bags and a bin on the floor surrounded by stray cannabis.

Charges have not yet been laid and the OPP’s investigation is continuing.

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Hemp industry pushes back on Virginia’s delta-8 crackdown

The plans of Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration to crackdown on the sale of certain psychoactive products like delta-8 hit a wall of resistance from the hemp industry at a Thursday meeting of a new task force. Critics of the plan argue the rules were rushed, unenforceable and would spark legal challenges.

“We wake up one morning and we find out that we may be in breach of the law,” Maurice Robinson, owner of Greener Things store in Charlottesville, told state officials on a new hemp task force in Richmond.

“And that's unsettling to a lot of us.”

Officials with Virginia’s Department of Agriculture warned the hemp products were untested and potentially unsafe, citing more than 2,300 calls to national poison control centers related to the products from Jan. 1, 2021 through Feb. 28. A single case resulted in the death of a minor, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

The first meeting of the workgroup highlighted convoluted  state laws governing cannabis products. Legal marijuana can only be purchased from a handful of state-approved medical dispensaries. But products chemically derived from the hemp plant, like those marketed as delta-8 or delta-10, still can get users high and are now widely available in Virginia stores. The names refer to compounds — cannabinoids — found in trace amounts in Cannabis sativa plants. The products are created by chemically converting the cannabidiol found in hemp extracts into delta-8 or delta-10.

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Is California’s cultivation tax cut too little, too late?

Businesses respond to California’s cannabis cultivation tax cut which took effect last week.

After four years of exhaustive efforts, California leaders eliminated the cultivation tax along with other changes, providing some bit of respite for cultivators. But does the plan just move money around, and is it even close to enough to save struggling farmers?

California Governor Gavin Newsom released his 2022-2023 revised budget on May 13—most notably containing the much-needed tax cuts. On June 29, Assembly Bill No. 195 passed in the Senate by 34-0, and the California Assembly voted 66-0 in favor of the bill. The bill took effect immediately following the signature of Newsom, providing the legal cannabis industry some much-needed temporary tax relief, which began July 1.

The state’s cultivation tax at over $161 per pound was scrapped and money was reallocated: Cannabis excise rate will remain at 15% for three fiscal years—but may be increased after July 1, 2025. Equity licensees will be able to retain 20% of the excise taxes they collect to reinvest into their businesses. They will also be eligible for a $10,000 tax credit. It also includes $40 million in tax credits, of which $20 million will go towards tax credits for storefront retail and microbusinesses, and $20 million for cannabis equity operators. The bill allows qualified businesses to claim tax credits of up to $250,000 for qualified expenditures beginning in the 2023 taxable year. It also adds additional enforcement tools against the illicit cannabis market.

Hardly a long-term solution

Doug Chloupek, CEO and founder of Juva Life, faced many of these tax woes as a manufacturing permit holder in California. When Newsom proposed his revised budget back in May, Chloupek said the cannabis cultivation tax cuts failed to fix several key problems. Keep an eye on those excise tax rates in the next three years, for instance.

“​​It’s slightly better than a three-card shuffle and a nice little pretty Band-Aid on its surface,” Chloupek tells High Times.

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