WeedLife News Network
With 135 tons of food seed and a growing amount of hemp fiber imported every year, Sweden has the basis for a strong national hemp industry, stakeholders suggest. But the market can thrive and benefit Swedish companies only if hemp gains wider recognition and rules become clear.
Swedish and international experts will gather online Wednesday, May 5, to talk hemp and soil health, carbon neutral hemp building materials, bio-based textiles and food as they explore the potential for hemp during a one-day event, “Industrial Hemp for a Bio-based and Fossil Free Future.” Organizers said the event will especially showcase the potential for hemp in Swedish agriculture. Registration for the event is free.
Status of hemp
It is legal to grow certified hemp varieties in Sweden under permitting by the Swedish Board of Agriculture. But businesses have suffered raids and other hassles with law enforcement authorities that reflect a lingering ignorance that is holding back the sector in Scandinavia’s biggest market of 10 million consumers.
Hemp barely registers in Swedish agriculture, and the sector has survived only because of court cases that went against the government. Most notable, hemp farmer Ulf Hammarsten received damages from the Swedish state after his hemp crop was repeatedly destroyed by authorities. EU officials found in Hammarsten’s favor in 2003, ruling that national legislation prohibiting the cultivation and possession of industrial hemp was incompatible with the “common organization of markets” under EU law.
150 hemp operators
Modern-era records that date to 2004 show 150 hectares were under hemp in Sweden that year. By 2007, hemp fields had grown to 829 hectares, but then started to decline. A total of 170 hectares were cultivated in 2020, according to government statistics, with estimates that there are about 150 hemp operators in Sweden, most of which are small family businesses
It is fair to say the legal cannabis industry has exploded over the past two decades, ever since the state of California got the ball rolling in 1996 by legalizing medical cannabis, followed quickly by Colorado.
Since then, we’ve seen a total of 36 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all approve comprehensive, fully legal medical cannabis programs.
Colorado was one of the first states to decriminalize cannabis in 1975, then establish legal medical and recreational cannabis programs in 2000 and 2012.
As the nation’s first legal retail market, Colorado has made itself a hub for legal cannabis in both the U.S. and the world, with some of the most influential, creative, and innovative cannabis brands and entrepreneurs residing there.
The legalized cannabis industry has generated hundreds of millions of dollars a year for Colorado. That’s a massive industry for most small countries, let alone a state with a population of 5.8 million.
As the state sees its final few frosts, the buds sprouting in Nick Hice’s greenhouse are yearning to take root in his sprawling Warren County fields.
Every day, the hundreds of tiny tufts of green Hice is cultivating grow a little taller, a little stronger and by the fall, he hopes they’ll make a fruitful harvest. His second Ohio-grown hemp crop.
What You Need To Know2020 was the first year Ohio farmers could plant hemp Hemp must have less than 0.3 percent THC to be legally harvestedIf hemp exceeds the threshold it must be destroyed 191 farmers were a part of the state’s first crop
While Hice only bought his farm, Natural Horticulture, a few years ago, he’s not new to planting or new to Warren County.
“I actually grew up about 10 miles down the road from here and my family had a garden center,” he said.
A bipartisan group of 44 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday calling for a prohibition of federal interference with cannabis activities that are legal under state or tribal law. The letter, which was addressed to the ranking members of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Subcommittee, was signed by dozens of representatives and led by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee, along with Tom McClintock and Eleanor Holmes Norton.
In the letter, the House members wrote that as 2022 appropriations bills are drafted, “we respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state or tribal marijuana laws. We also request that you maintain the current language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws.”
The drafters of the letter went on to note that nearly all of the states have passed some sort of cannabis policy reform, writing that “to date, 48 states have enacted laws that, to varying degrees, relax their prohibitions against the use of marijuana or its components, such as CBD oil. Of those, 36 states have medical marijuana programs, and 17 of those have adult-use programs.”
Respecting The Will Of The People With The Prohibition Of Federal Interference of Cannabis
The representatives added that in most states that have relaxed prohibitions, cannabis policy reforms had been approved by the voters. The letter called on the subcommittee to respect the will of the people by protecting state-legal cannabis from federal prosecution.
The German government is now funding cannabis research on cannabinoid extractions and additives to food. That is a big story.
However, here is the strange dichotomy at play within the German government. Last month, a federal court remanded a hemp tea seller back to a regional one for being out of spec if not a general nuisance. Yet in April comes the news that a Berlin-based company, Becanex, has received just over a quarter of a million euros from the Central Innovation Programme for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ZIM) to develop a cannabinoid-containing emulsion for industrial food production.
That is interesting enough, if not mildly contradictory in a way that is common in the weed biz. It is even more interesting to understand that the federal government program behind this is no less than the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy—which is as about as central to German economic investment in the future as you can get.
It is easy to categorize this development in the big bucket of the times they are a’changing—and at a rather rapid pace. But the cannabiz is not an industry, and will not be one for a long time, where it is possible to treat even hemp “just like” any other plant. Even beyond the THC discussion.
The German Government Is Beginning to Accept Hemp
Despite the vast opposition it’s getting from the GOP, the Minnesota House of Representatives is moving a measure forward that would legalize recreational cannabis. The bill, titled HF 600, just cleared its ninth House committee this week.
“A bill that has had to make it through this many committee stops? I can’t think of one,” said DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler about the lengthy journey the bill has been on so far.
Next up, the plan is to have the full House vote on HF 600 in May, which will mark a historical moment, as this is the furthest a bill of this kind has ever made it in the state. However, there is still concern about the Minnesota Senate, as it is Republican-controlled and has prevented cannabis bills from moving forward in the past. But Winkler is hoping to move forward with support from both sides of the aisle.
“We are harming people through our prohibition of cannabis, and it is not a legitimate use of the criminal justice system to do that when large majorities of the public think it should be a safe, legal product,” he said.
And this may not be such a far-flung dream, as HF 600 also has support from the Minnesota ACLU. Julia Decker, who represents the organization, said the bill will be a great way to address racial disparities in law enforcement, as Black Minnesotans are more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white residents.
The Montana legislature passed a House bill on Tuesday to implement the recreational marijuana legalization initiative passed by voters in the November election. The measure, HB 701, was passed by the Montana House of Representatives with a vote of 67 to 32 after being approved previously by the state Senate. The bill is now headed to the office of Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who is expected to sign the legislation.
House Bill 701 implements Initiative 190, an adult-use cannabis legalization measure that was passed by Montana voters in last year’s general election. The measure is one of three bills drafted to enact Initiative 190 that were approved by the House earlier this month.
HB 701 Nearly Failed Before Passage
Only House Bill 701 was approved by the Senate, but only after being heavily amended in the upper chamber of the legislature. Republicans in the House rejected the amended version in a vote on Monday, in part over the allocation of cannabis taxes to conservation efforts as directed by Initiative 190.
At that point, the bill was on the verge of being assigned to a conference committee where House and Senate lawmakers would address differences in their respective versions of the legislation. However, Rep. Mike Hopkins, the sponsor of HB 701, was able to convince his fellow Republicans to bring the measure back to the House floor for another vote.
The Texas House gave initial approval on Wednesday to a bill that would expand the state’s medical cannabis program to include those with chronic pain, all cancer patients and Texans suffering from PTSD.
House Bill 1535, by Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who authored the bill establishing Texas’ initial medical cannabis program in 2015, would also authorize the Department of State Health Services to add additional qualifying conditions through administrative rulemaking, instead of the Legislature needing to pass a law to expand eligibility.
Currently, patients eligible include those with terminal cancer, intractable epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism or an incurable neurodegenerative disease. The House must give the bill a final vote, and then the Senate will consider the bill, before it can be sent to the governor to be signed into law.
When hemp was legalized in 2019, the medical cannabis program was rendered mostly moot — with legally permissible cannabis treatments only being marginally more potent than over-the-counter CBD oils or tinctures.
The bill would also raise the THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, cap from 0.5% to 5% and make it possible for those in Texas’ medical cannabis program to have access to much higher doses than currently available. THC is the psychoactive compound which produces a high. The National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws doesn’t recognize the state's current program as a true medical marijuana program, instead labeling it a “medical CBD” program because of its emphasis on cannabidiol, derived from hemp and containing only traces of the psychoactive compounds found in cannabis, over THC for medicinal use.
The only way Senate Democrats have been able to bypass Republican opposition so far this year and move forward with its agenda is through budget reconciliation.
Cannabis advocates are still waiting to see the bill that the Democratic Senate has promised to throw down in an effort to legalize marijuana at the federal level. They are excited about the possibilities. After all, the Democrats have control of Congress this year, so getting marijuana matters pushed through should be a piece of cake. Only that’s not entirely true.
There are still immense challenges in getting any cannabis reform measure through the halls of Congress this year, and some of the roadblocks for legalization begin with the Democratic party itself.
Photo by Darren415/Getty Images
Although Democrats have majority rule in the U.S. Senate, it is only by a slim majority. This means they will need every bit of support from their own part, not to mention some backing from Republicans to get any pot-related measure beyond a discussion. A marijuana bill would need 60 Senators to sign off on it to beat the filibuster, an old Senate rule that demands a super majority on controversial issues.
It is estimated that as many as 75% of the world’s population has played in sports leagues at some point during their lifetime.
Sports competitions, for better or worse, play a huge role in the everyday lives of the international community.
Prior to the pandemic, sporting events were some of the largest gatherings in the world, and that’s virtually guaranteed to be the case after the pandemic is over.
With that in mind, it’s a really, really big deal when a major sports league updates its cannabis policy, which was recently the case with the National Football League (NFL).
No More Off-Season Cannabis Testing
Historically, the NFL has had one of the harshest cannabis policies out of the major international sports leagues.
With recreational marijuana now legal in New York State, schools are figuring out how to address and change their curriculum on the subject.
“We’ve known this was coming and for lack of a better word starting to armor up, because we know this is going perhaps just from what we've seen in other states where there is legalization this might have an impact for our teens,” Greece Central School District Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator Stephanie Rago said.
The recent legalization of recreational marijuana has school districts concerned that now it's legal, there may be more use in teens.
“Just the methods and the different actions that are available for marijuana use which could be appealing to teens,” Rago said.
Rago says that after vaping swept over schools across the country the district implemented a multi-step vaping intervention learning program that they are considering doing the same with marijuana.
The Coast Guard has set the 2021 minimum random drug testing rate at 50% of covered crewmembers because positive results crossed the 1% threshold for the third straight year. This contrasts with an earlier six-year stretch when the rate held at 25%.
“Intoxicated operations pose a serious threat to life, property and the environment in the maritime commons,” the Coast Guard said in a Federal Register notice published today. “As such, the minimum random drug testing rate is intended to deter and detect illegal drug misuse in the maritime industry.”
The agency did not give the amount over 1%.
Employers must submit test data for each calendar year by mid-March of the following year. Since 2018, mariners in safety-sensitive positions have been tested for semi-synthetic opioids in addition to marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates such as heroin.
A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Louisiana advanced from a House committee Tuesday for the first time ever after three Republicans on the panel agreed to move the measure forward for a wider debate.
Mandeville Republican Rep. Richard Nelson's House Bill 524 to legalize weed cleared the House Criminal Justice Committee on a 7-5 vote and advances to the full House.
A second bill by New Orleans Democratic Rep. Candace Newell to decriminalize marijuana (House Bill 243) also cleared the committee Tuesday.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Louisiana with efforts to expand that program also gaining momentum. Last week the full House approved a bill by Pro-tem Tanner Magee, R-Houma, to add smokable marijuana to the state's medical program.
Nelson said he would have been voted least likely to carry the banner for legalizing recreational pot in high school, where he was an Eagle Scout and valedictorian.
Canada has already legalized pot; Mexico is likely to legalize it soon. The U.S. must not fall behind.
President Biden is not there yet. Neither are Republicans in Washington. But the wave of momentum toward nationally legalized cannabis only continues to mount. It is time lawmakers in the Capital get on board with what a majority of the American citizens they represent want.
There are signs of progress. The U.S. House recently passed a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, the first of its kind. When Democrats won control of the Senate this year, the change paved a potential path for legislation in that chamber as well. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this month he intends to soon introduce a federal cannabis legalization bill.
Photo by Fokusiert/Getty Images
At the state level, the pace of acceptance is escalating. November ballots in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota all approved the legalization of recreational use – though South Dakota’s law is currently held up in the courts. More states are following suit this year, including New York, where legalization was signed into law in March.
Should draft legislation clear the final hurdles in the next few weeks, Morocco could become the second Arab country to legalize cannabis. Lebanon was the first in 2020.
According to various international agencies, including the UN and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Morocco is one of the world's largest producers of cannabis and the biggest supplier of illegal by-products such as hashish that are bound for the EU. Legalizing cannabis for medical and industrial purposes could have a positive impact on around a million subsistence farmers, mostly in the north of the country.
The law has become one of the most divisive topics in the run-up to Morocco's national elections in September. It is hard to know whether the draft law will pass, Khalid Mouna, an associate anthropology professor at Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, northern Morocco, told DW. Mouna studies cannabis-grower communities. "The project is still up for debate in the first chamber and it is being weaponized by political adversaries," he said.
'Behind the government'
Cannabis legalization has been suggested before in Morocco. Mouna said that had mostly been a tactic to gain the support of voters in deprived cannabis-growing areas.
This time could be different, said Tom Blickman, a researcher on international drugs policy for the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute. "I think it's serious because the initiative comes from the government, and behind the government is the palace," he said, referring to the Moroccan royal family. "Previous proposals came from the opposition."
The next step for the bill was a state Senate committee hearing April 22, through which, according to NORML, the bill passed. HB 21-1090 was initially introduced by Democrat Alex Valdez, and if it gets signed into law, it will raise the possession limit for individuals up to two ounces. It will also allow former cannabis offenders who had low-level possession and cultivation charges to try to clear their records.
So far, it passed 45 to 19 in the House and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Valdez feels it will make it all the way through.
“It should come up fairly quickly, given the fact that it was pretty free of controversy,” Valdez said. “I think marijuana issues are generally starting to be non-partisan, but we got some of the more conservative folks to vote for it, too, which really shows.”
Cannabis businesses have transformed from clandestine ventures to glossy lifestyle brands in a matter of years, thanks to an evolving regulatory and business landscape.
The majority of states now have some form of legalized cannabis, whether for medical or recreational use. The 2021 U.S. cannabis market is valued at $33 billion, according to an analysis by market research firm Grand View Research. That number is forecast to balloon to $84 billion by 2028. These trends indicate a fertile environment for seeding a new cannabis venture.
But while the cannabis world continues to expand, the industry remains overwhelmingly white and difficult to break into for people of color and LGBTQ individuals. A 2017 survey from Marijuana Business Daily found that 81% of cannabis business owners and founders were white. The proportion of Hispanic/Latino owners and founders was 5.7%, while 4.3% were Black, and just 2.4% were Asian.
To help spur greater diversity, here’s how people of color and LGBTQ individuals can spark their careers in cannabis.
Cannabis has been both a weapon against and a balm for racial minorities and LGBTQ individuals.
Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin announced on Tuesday that blanket pardons would be issued for cannabis convictions going back more than 30 years, giving up to 15,000 people even more reason to celebrate on 4/20. And in another move by state leaders to mark the high holiday, the Alabama Democratic Party called on lawmakers to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use.
In a statement from Woodfin, the mayor noted that Birmingham kicked off a Pardons for Progress program in 2019 that was designed to make it easier to have past cannabis convictions pardoned and the records sealed. But those eligible for pardons were required to apply for the relief and only nine convictions have been cleared since the program’s inception.
Under the new plan announced by Woodfin on Tuesday, closed cases from 1990 through 2020 that resulted in a conviction for misdemeanor marijuana possession charges will be automatically pardoned. Cases still pending before the court would have to be closed before a pardon could be issued. The pardons, however, will not result in a reduction or refund of any fines or fees paid to the court.
Woodfin noted that the new campaign for justice was being initiated in an effort to address the disproportionate impact of convictions for minor marijuana offenses.
“Here’s why we’re doing this—no one should be held up by a single past mistake,” Woodfin wrote in a statement from the mayor’s office. “No one should be denied job opportunities or freedoms due to missteps from the past. No longer will these residents be bound to their past. They deserve a chance to be part of our workforce, to provide for their families, and to achieve success on their own. That new life starts rights here, today, with forgiveness and redemption.”
The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that the first cannabidiol (CBD) products—23 various capsules, oils and flavored tablets—have been validated to continue through the "novel food" application process.
FSA will update the list on a weekly basis until it completes it, which it plans to do in June. The agency notes that “validation is not the same as authorisation” and that it is not endorsing the products’ sale.
The companies with products on the list so far are Pureis; and 4MP Technologies, which co-applied with Cannabis Pharma s.r.o. and CBDepot.
The classification of CBD as a novel food means that each product will need to undergo safety studies. It follows a decision from the United Nations Commission for Narcotic Drugs ruling that the cannabinoid is no longer a narcotic drug, as Hemp Grower previously reported.
“This is about bringing the CBD industry into compliance with the law,” FSA Chief Executive Emily Miles said in a statement. “Consumers need to be able to trust that these products are safe and are what they say they are. Companies were given until the end of March to submit their applications for safety assessment. Those who haven’t done this should take their products off the market.”
As more states across the country legalize marijuana, some students at LSU have asked when marijuana will be legalized recreationally in Louisiana.
A bill drafted by Rep. Candace Newell to decriminalize marijuana possesion and distribution was presented to state legislators on April 12, resulting in the bill being referred to the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.
There is good news for interested parties, and that is the legalization process could potentially start soon. The bad news is that there’s still some hurdles to overcome before the state gets there.
Digital advertising junior Joshua Garibaldi said that if the legalization of marijuana could bring benefits to the state, then he would support it.
"If it were to be legalized, it would need a lot of restrictions," Garibaldi said. "I personally don't use marijuana so I don't see a benefit for it being legalized, but if it could help Louisiana's economy then possibly."