WeedLife News Network

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

It’s not easy being green, or is it? In honor of Earth Month, cannabis companies look closely at their environmental impact.

An industry revolving around growing plants seems like it would be ‘green,’ but cannabis cultivation and distribution is energy and resource-intensive. Cultivators tend to use hundreds of plastic tubs and fiberglass containers to grow these plants and need to use lots of water and electricity in order to keep an operation running. Legal cannabis production in the United States consumes enough electricity annually to power 92,500 homes for a year, and that number will only increase as the industry expands.

According to the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), indoor cultivation operations utilize ten times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. The nature of growing cannabis is complex and for the most part, incredibly wasteful, but between regulations around cultivation and child-proof packaging, cannabis companies ironically have fairly limited options for “going green.”

To truly make a difference, we must start with restructuring various policies in place. Non-profits in the cannabis space and agricultural world have an eye on this issue and are looking for solutions. The Resource Innovation Institute (RII) is a non-profit organization with a mission to advance resource efficiency to cultivate a better agricultural future. Yesterday, RII released its ‘Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy PrimerFor Federal, State and Local Policy Makers and Regulators’ providing detailed information and guidance on energy and environmental operational matters. This is meant to help policymakers who may want to consider how plant waste can be processed through methods like composting or decreasing the impact on landfills.

Just as changing regulations for a Schedule 1 substance is ongoing, the cannabis industry is also focused today on adopting and advancing new methods and technologies to make a positive impact for the industry’s tomorrow.

Will New York’s Cannabis Law Create Sweeping Changes For Its Hemp Industry?

Slovakia, a member country of the European Union, just became the last nation to formally declare on a federal level that CBD is not psychotropic. As of March 18, the Ministry of Health submitted a formal proposal to legalize cannabidiol, using the United Nations ruling as a guideline.

This is hardly news. After all, CBD was officially reclassified as “not a narcotic” at the European level last fall. This in turn, effectively created an environment within the EU on a regional level, at least for hemp, much like the United States post 2018 Farm Bill. Slovakia is just the last sovereign government to “get the memo.”

Yet the road from here is still far from clear. 

Issues Still at The Table in Slovakia and Other Countries

The fact of the matter is that the debate on the many issues surrounding homogeneity on cannabis regulations across the EU are just getting started. That includes how CBD fits into products consumed by both humans and pets. It also includes much larger issues about the industry on the “consumer” if not “recreational” level.

One of the largest bugbears is how both the plant and individual cannabinoids far from CBD are treated. For example, even hemp is technically listed in the German Narcotics Act. On a regional level, however, there are loopholes about THC-free extracts being added to food. Cross border, these are even more contentious—although to the extent that these have begun to show up in court (including in France last year and Germany just last month), European regulations, where present, have begun to shape conversations at a national level even if they are not decisive.

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In 2018, Michigan voters approved legalizing cannabis for adults age 21 and older, including possession, use, and cultivation. But what about all the people with previous criminal records for the very same activity now deemed legal?

In 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed "clean slate" legislation that created a path for residents to clear many pot-related offenses from their criminal records. And earlier this month, the Michigan Attorney General created a website to help people apply to get the convictions expunged.

However, cannabis advocates like Barton Morris, an attorney at the Cannabis Legal Group, says the law doesn't go far enough.

While misdemeanors like possession and use are automatically expunged under the law beginning in 2023, now-legal activities that were previously considered felonies, like growing marijuana, isn't.

"Growing marijuana is now completely legal — you can grow 12 plants in your basement," he tells Metro Times. "Well, if you were doing that before 2018, you could be convicted of a felony. This law doesn't address that."

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The United Kingdom (UK) has one of the strictest medical cannabis programs out of all of the countries that have legalized cannabis for medical use.

Obviously, the United Kingdom’s medical cannabis program is better than having no medical cannabis program at all. However, it leaves a lot to be desired, much to the detriment of medical cannabis patients in the UK.

The United Kingdom’s medical cannabis policy changed in 2018 to allow medical cannabis prescriptions for situations involving “exceptional clinical need.”

Unfortunately, that policy change has helped very few patients, leaving many to have to seek expensive cannabis therapies elsewhere.

UK’s Expensive Medicine

According to a recent cross-party letter sent by 100 elected officials in the UK to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, only 3 NHS prescriptions have been granted since 2018, which is obviously inadequate.

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New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission held its second meeting Thursday afternoon, but much about the new legal weed industry remains a mystery.

 

The new, five-member commission has lots of authority over the cannabis industry and a four-month deadline to set up its regulations. It will determine when sales can start to people 21 and older, recommend how tax revenue be spent and award licenses to dispensaries, growers and more.

 

As many as 350 viewers tuned in to the meeting at one time Thursday afternoon. The commission did not answer questions, but heard comment from more than 20 people.

 
 

Much of the open meeting Thursday was organizational. The commission discussed adopting interim cannabis lab testing rules from another state as it works out its own regulations. Cannabis must be tested for heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants that could make it unsafe for consumption.

 
 

“It is important to establish an infrastructure for patient safety, for consumer safety and allow third-party laboratories to get into this industry,” said Jeff Brown, the executive director of the commission.

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The Tar Heel State might be mostly comprised of varying shades of blue, but lawmakers there are eager to dabble in some green and legalize cannabis in North Carolina.

A bill introduced this week in the North Carolina state legislature would seek to not only legalize cannabis possession, but also regulate a recreational cannabis industry. 

House Bill 617, which was filed in the legislature on Tuesday, would establish “registration and licensure requirements and procedures governing the operation of cannabis establishments,” would make “possession and use of cannabis for personal use by persons at least 21 years of age lawful within the statutory possession limit,” and would charge the “the Department of Public Safety (Department) with cannabis establishment registration issuance and annual renewal.”

The bill would also create the Office of Social Equity, which The Hill notes would promote “full participation in the regulated cannabis industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition.”

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With nearly a dozen pot policy reform bills currently under consideration in the Texas legislature, Democratic Rep. James Talarico took advantage of the 420 high holiday on Tuesday as an opportunity to promote his recent move to get the ball rolling on Texas cannabis legalization. While the cannabis community was reveling in its celebration of the plant, Talarico turned to social media to share the news of a bill he filed last month.

“Happy 4/20! I’ve filed legislation to legalize cannabis, expunge past marijuana convictions, and use the new tax revenue to fund early childhood education,” Talarico tweeted on Tuesday.

To back up his push for Texas cannabis legalization, he went on to share public opinion data collected by the Texas Tribune in a recent survey, tweeting “this is a popular bipartisan idea. According to the latest polling, 60% of Texans support the full legalization of marijuana. Only 13% said it should be completely illegal.”

The member of the Texas House of Representatives also noted that human beings have been reaping the health benefits of cannabis for more than 3,000 years and that the herb can be used to treat a host of maladies including chronic pain, depression, and addiction. Talarico also posted that the commonly held notion that cannabis is a gateway drug to more dangerous substances has been thoroughly debunked.

“In fact, medical research suggests alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous to our health than cannabis,” he wrote. 

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NORML criticized statements made today by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who reiterated the President’s position that cannabis should be rescheduled under federal law (to Schedule II) rather than descheduled (removed) from the Controlled Substances in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol.

“It is impractical at best and disingenuous at worst for the Biden campaign to claim that rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II – the same category as cocaine– would in any way address the existing inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Rescheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act would continue to make the federal government the primary dictator of cannabis policy and would do little if anything to address its criminal status under federal law. Under such a policy, the majority of states that have legalized cannabis for either medical or adult-use purposes would continue to remain in conflict with federal law.”

The Press Secretary also failed to provide explicit answers to direct questions regarding whether the President would sign legislation into law descheduling cannabis or permitting banks to work with state-licensed marijuana businesses. Yesterday, members the House of Representative passed for the fourth time legislation to explicitly permit financial institutions to partner with licensed cannabis enterprises.

On the political implications: 

The majority of Americans want marijuana to be legally regulated for adults, as is indicated by the following national polls:

Quinnipiac University, April 2021

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There are several locations across Europe where cannabis use is as much part of the culture as French wine and Italian coffee.

In recent years, we’ve seen a huge increase in weed - otherwise known as cannabis or marijuana - becoming legalised for medical use across the board. CBD oil and hemp especially have seen a rise in popularity across markets from skincare to wellness.

While elements of cannabis have their advantages, the science doesn’t work in recreational joint-smokers’ favour. The drug is heavily associated with mental and physical health conditions including psychosis and schizophrenia.

 
 

So why have some places decriminalised it?

Well, the fact is when it comes to mind-altering substances, weed is one of the softer drugs. It’s believed to be on a par with alcohol (which is completely legal across the continent for those with legitimate ID). So rather than wrack up the bills and time associated with criminal offences, in some countries there’s more of a ‘we’d rather you didn’t, but if you must’ mentality.

Let’s find out where those places are.

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

At our recent Emerge Virtual Cannabis Conference & Expo, transformative thinkers and innovators voiced their insight on diversity, expungement, and prison reform to hundreds of eager virtual attendees.

The event hosted several prominent speakers from the industry, boasting a powerhouse assembly of cannabis enthusiasts.

Hemp and cannabis culture is all about community; it’s a space where everyone deserves representation.

As the demand for cannabis continues to grow, many revolutionary leaders within the industry, including Andrew DeAngelo, Wanda James, Steve DeAngelo, and others have been fighting for change within the hemp space to better reflect the inclusive nature of the plant. 

Wanda James

James is the CEO of Simply Pure and the first African American woman to own a dispensary in Colorado.

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Aside from the many negative impacts of illegal grow operations (banned insecticides, illegal diversion of stream water, unchecked chemical runoff), legal operations can also pack a devastating environmental punch.

With both 420 and Earth Day (4/22) being celebrated this week, there’s an opportunity to take a good, hard look at the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry as well as legislative responses to those challenges.

Resource use and extraction, air and water quality, and waste management are just a few of the environmental issues confronting indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cultivation operations. Worth a staggering $61 billion, the cannabis industry is profiting heavily from its current practices, so it stands to reason that legislators are looking to heightened restrictions, green incentives, and higher permitting and licensing fees to offset some of the environmental costs of production and manufacturing.

Photo by Matteo Paganelli via Unsplash

Aside from the many negative impacts of illegal grow operations, including the use of banned insecticides, illegal diversion of stream water, and unchecked chemical runoff, legal operations can still pack a devastating environmental punch. Soil degradation increased load on water and energy infrastructure systems, and carbon and volatile organic compound emissions from terpenes all have scientists, activists, and lawmakers scrambling to make sure the cannabis market’s booming profits don’t come at the expense of planetary health.

sustainable cannabis

Allowing drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth to be produced and sold legally would create an inevitable financial boon for state and local governments. But that doesn’t mean it’s the smart move.

It’s hard in this day and age not to support the legalization of marijuana. In fact, most do. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that 69% of Americans believe the herb should be given a spot on the ranks of legitimate commerce, just like alcohol and tobacco.

They’ve heard the tales about how cannabis has therapeutic benefits, it’s safer than alcohol, it creates tens of thousands of new jobs and provides a huge boon to struggling economies. Now they’re learning about social justice, and how part of eliminating racism in the United States is through cannabis reform. After all, cannabis wouldn’t have been outlawed in the first place if not for a frightened nation of bigots. Failing to support the legalization of cannabis in 2021 means, well, that you might not be a good person. And nobody wants that label. They’re all scared the cancel culture will come for them next.

So it’s full steam ahead for legal weed. The Democratic-controlled Congress is even talking about trying to push a bill through this year that will legalize the leaf nationwide. If that happens, more states could pass similar laws, giving way to the likelihood that marijuana, a plant that has been mostly associated with the downtrodden of society, will be grown and sold legitimately. This is what cannabis advocates have been fighting for since the early days of High Times Magazine. But there are still enough naysayers out there that think this legalization business is a bad idea. They believe the nation has been scammed into believing that weed is safe, and they are convinced that the efforts to eliminate prohibition in the US aren’t going to stop there.

“This has been a very, very savvy and coordinated campaign,” former New York Times reporter and award-winning novelist Alex Berenson told Fox Nation’s Tucker Carlson Today. “Not just about cannabis but really about all illegal drugs, that’s been going on for 25 years now that has won. It has won on cannabis and they are pushing psychedelics.”

how serial podcast changed marijuana crime laws in ohio

A bill that would expand access to medical cannabis in public schools in Colorado was passed by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday and is now headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. The measure, Senate Bill 21-056, was approved by members of the House with a vote of 57 to 6. Under the bill, children with complicated medical conditions would be able to receive cannabis-based medicines from school personnel while on campus.

If signed into law by Polis, the bill would help students access medical cannabis in public schools by requiring school districts to create policy “for the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine by school personnel.” The Senate bill would also protect school personnel who elect to administer cannabis medicines to student patients, who must have a doctor’s treatment plan on file with the school. Cannabis medicines used by students under the measure must be in a non-smokable form.

Teen cannabis activist Alexis Bortell, who was instrumental in the bill’s passage, shared the news of the House vote in a Facebook post on Monday. Now 15, Bortell moved to Colorado with her family at the age of nine so she could obtain cannabis medications to treat her intractable epilepsy. In her social media message, Bortell also shared a statement she made to state lawmakers, in which she testified about the frustration she experienced trying to enroll in a school that would allow her medicine to be stored on campus.

“You can imagine my disappointment and anger when I learned that I wouldn’t be able to attend high school in person due to my medical needs,” Bortell testified to lawmakers. “I was denied admission to both high schools I applied to (the only ones accessible to me) because neither school would allow my medical cannabis to be stored on school grounds or allow a school nurse/staff member to give me my medicine when I needed it.”

Bill to Expand Access To Medical Cannabis In Public Schools Cleared Colorado Senate Last Month

At a Senate Education Committee hearing in February, parents of medical cannabis patients explained the difficulties they face administering medicine to their children because of the restrictions on medical cannabis in public schools. Some parents noted they had to leave work to medicate their child on school grounds. Others said they opted to keep their children in remote learning because it was easier to administer cannabis at home. 

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Tuesday felt like a party outside Nature's Treatment of Illinois in Galesburg, as the business and customers mark the unofficial holiday 4/20, celebrated annually on April 20th.  

Customers say celebrating the holiday, especially in the second year of legalized recreational marijuana in Illinois, is important to them. 

"It's just having fun, chilling with people and having a good time," Customer Tyshawn Hightower says. 

"It makes me happy because marijuana has helped me a lot, with a lot of things I'm going through," Customer Martha Taylor says. 

It's the dispensary's first time open on April 20th because their grand opening was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live music, food trucks and sales were available throughout the day in celebration of 4/20.

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Out of all the major couriers, United States Postal Service had the latest cutoff date before the looming vape ban goes into effect. But here we are, the time has finally come and we’re now just shy of a week before we can no longer order vape products with the same ease and low prices that we’ve grown accustomed to.

At least they let us have 420, right? Already, Fedex, UPS, and a few other delivery services have began regulating the shipment of vape products under the new PACT Act, and the USPS is set to join them in about 1 week. As part of the amended PACT (Prevent All Human Trafficking) Act, the deliver of “ENDS” products directly to consumers will be prohibited or very strictly regulated.

The term ENDS stands for Electronic Delivery Nicotine Systems, but the term is used loosely to include “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device,” including “an e-cigarette; an e-hookah; an e-cigar; a vape pen; an advanced refillable personal vaporizer; an electronic pipe; and any component, liquid, part, or accessory of a device described [above], without regard to whether the component, liquid, part, or accessory is sold separately from the device.”

USPS was last to follow suit, but come April 27th, they will be amending their regulations as well. If a courier decides to continue shipping vape products, they will be required to pay extra fees as well as checking ID and getting signatures at the time of delivery. It’s a very costly waste of time, so most companies are choosing to avoid dealing with these products altogether.

With no major carriers willing to move vape products, businesses are now stuck navigating both the new PACT Act requirements and finding a new way to ship their products.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called 4/20 an "unofficial American holiday."

The top Democrat made his case to "end the federal prohibition on marijuana."

April 20 is usually a day weed users celebrate the recreational drug.

As weed users across the country celebrate April 20 on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer marked the occasion as an "unofficial American holiday" and made his case for marijuana legalization.

"Today is what you might call a very unofficial American holiday: 4/20," the top Democrat said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "It's as appropriate a time as any to take a hard look at our laws that have over-criminalized the use of marijuana and put it on par with heroin, LSD and other narcotics that bear little or no resemblance in their effects either on individuals or on society more broadly."

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The Democrats are working to follow through on campaign promises from the 2020 election as it relates to cannabis legalization or decriminalization. 

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bipartisan bill to protect banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. The passing of the legislation represents an important step forward and we will be monitoring the trend from here. 

This comes after Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter (Democrat) sent out letters to gain support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act ahead of the vote. The vote is the first floor action on a cannabis reform bill for this Congress. In 2019, the legislation was passed by the House with bipartisan support and we expect to see a similar response from the Senate. 

Another important development for the legal cannabis movement was reported by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (Democrat) who said that President Joe Biden is already where he needs to be to get a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition enacted into law. Senator Booker said the recent confusion on the president’s position comes down to semantics and we find this too significant.

In a recent interview, Senator Booker said that President Biden’s stance in favor of decriminalization will be enough to advance legislation that he is working on with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York Democrat) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (Oregon Democrat).

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And then, there were 50, with the newly codified Idaho hemp legalization.

On Friday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 126, otherwise known as the “Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act.” Similar bills have passed in state legislatures across the country, ultimately earning the eager signature of their respective governors—a trend that was sparked by Congress’ passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. That bill legalized industrial hemp, paving the way for states to exploit what in recent years has emerged as a cash crop.

With Little’s signature on HB 126, that trend finally came to Idaho, which became the 50th state to legalize industrial hemp

Per the Associated Press, the “new law does not allow selling to Idaho consumers hemp products containing any amount of THC.”

Under the language of the bill, the director of the state’s department of agriculture “must prepare and submit a state plan as expeditiously as possible, but no later than September 1, 2021, to the secretary of agriculture in compliance with the 2018 farm bill and the rules promulgated thereunder.” 

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Colorado's cannabis industry is enjoying an era of prosperity as national attitudes toward marijuana become more relaxed.

Driving the news: 17 states have legalized recreational marijuana sales and pot enjoys its highest popularity ever with 68% of adults backing legalization, according to a recent Gallup poll.

What's next: Congress is discussing legislation to legalize marijuana.

What they're saying: "It's not a done deal, by any means, but it's the closest we've gotten in the last couple years so we are obviously excited about it," said Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands, a Colorado-based marijuana edibles company now in 12 states and expanding to Massachusetts soon.

Why it matters: Federal legalization is the final step in the effort to legitimize Colorado’s marijuana industry.

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Cannabis legalization advocates must be feeling a sense a deja vu. Today, the House of Representatives approved legislation (again) that would provide safe harbor for financial service providers to work with cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state laws. Called the SAFE ACT, (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act, or H.R. 1996, was reintroduced in March by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Warren Davidson (R-OH), and had 177 total cosponsors by the time of the vote. The legislation was approved by a vote of 321-101, including a majority of voting Republicans.

Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project said, “This vote marks a meaningful first step in establishing a more equitable cannabis industry and improves the likelihood that other cannabis legislation will advance at the federal level. Restricting cannabis businesses from accessing financial services creates an unnecessary burden for the industry and limits economic growth. If enacted into law, the SAFE Banking Act would strengthen efforts to increase the diversity of the cannabis industry by providing resources for those with limited access to capital and increasing the chances of success for state-level social equity initiatives. Further, it would protect the 321,000 employees directly affected by the cannabis industry’s lack of access to financial services.”

The SAFE Banking Act previously cleared the House in 2019. The language of the bill was also included in two rounds of COVID-19 relief packages that were approved by the House. This is the fourth time that the House has approved the language of the SAFE Banking Act, initially as the first standalone cannabis policy reform bill ever passed by either chamber of Congress in 2019 and two more times last year as part of pandemic relief packages that were not approved in the Senate.

“We are incredibly grateful to the bill sponsors who have been working with us for the last eight years to make this sensible legislation become law and have shepherded it through the House time and again,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The SAFE Banking Act is vital for improving public safety and transparency and will improve the lives of the more than 300,000 people who work in the state-legal cannabis industry. It will also help level the playing field for small businesses and communities with limited access to capital. It is time for the Senate to start considering the companion legislation without delay.”

Advocates are hopeful that Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will take up the bill in the near future so that it can begin to move through the upper chamber as soon as possible and become law before the end of the year. The SAFE Banking Act would protect financial institutions from federal prosecution for providing banking and other services to cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state law, as well as help address serious public health and safety concerns caused by operating in predominantly cash-only environments. The legislation would improve the operational viability of small businesses by helping them reduce costs associated with lack of access to banking and increasing options for traditional lending that many small businesses in other fields rely upon. It would also mandate a study on diversity in the cannabis industry.

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