WeedLife News Network

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

Colorado has submitted a revised Hemp Management Plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it says aligns with the Department’s Final Rule.

The USDA’s interim final rule on hemp was published back in late October 2019, followed by a consultation process Colorado participated in. Colorado decided not to submit a revised plan to the USDA until after the release of the Final Rule, which occurred in mid-January. In the state’s opinion, the resulting Final Rule was “vastly improved”, but the Colorado Department of Agriculture will continue to advocate for additional rule revisions with view to creating even more flexibility for producers.

Currently, the state’s hemp program is still operating under provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill, but it can only continue to do so until September this year – so this Plan is a very important document.

“I’m proud Colorado is home to a strong hemp industry and that our state is the leader in the development of industrial hemp,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The revised Hemp Management Plan gives Colorado’s hemp producers a realistic way to expand operations while also ensuring that testing is in place.”

According to the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) report released in April, the state hosted approximately 13 percent of all hemp acres registered and planted in the USA in 2019, the most of any. While hemp acres planted has dropped off since, there are plenty of parties currently registered for cultivation in the state – this listing is 109 pages long.

It was back in 2012 when Colorado’s citizens voted to pass Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution, which contained a directive to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp. Legislation adopted the following year delegated the responsibility for establishing registration and inspection regulations for hemp cultivation to the CDA.

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Can you imagine a place where over 300,000 voters overwhelmingly pass a law only to have 7 governing elites overturn it with a bogus lawsuit? 

Welcome to Mississippi. 

 

In a stunning turn of political events, the Supreme Court of Mississippi has overturned the will of the voters and thrown out medical cannabis legalization in a state known for its hospitality. I guess that only applies to non-cannabis patients in Mississippi. People with terminal cancer, kids with severe epilepsy, adults with MS, and countless others suffering from addiction to chronic pain will be left behind and forgotten once again. The legislature must act as a check and balance on an extremist court, and restore the will of the voters once and for all. They must exercise their constitutional authority and moral duty by acting now. 

It’s a well-known medical fact that cannabis helps extend life for children with severe epilepsy. These kids and their families deal with daily life that no one can imagine as hundreds of seizures inflict untold suffering on these children. Many die young as the toll of the disease wears their poor bodies down. Access to affordable medical cannabis is often the only hope for these families; many have migrated to states like Colorado and California to gain access and help their kids. They deserve better from their leaders in Mississippi.

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Senate Democrats just don’t have enough of a majority to use the budget reconciliation process to their full advantage this year.

There has been some discussion over the past couple of months that Senate Majority Chuck Schumer might employ some clever finagling to bypass the 60-vote supermajority requirement to push through a comprehensive marijuana reform bill. As it stands, an old rule known as the filibuster is in the way of Schumer securing the votes necessary to make legal weed a reality. But if he could wrap it up in a budget reconciliation proposal, there’s a chance it would pass with a simple majority.

If the term budget reconciliation sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the only way Democrats have been able to get anything accomplished in the past few months. The budget reconciliation process allows the Senate to pass bills with a simple majority (51 votes), basically moving a bill through the upper chamber without Republican support. This is how they passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill, despite Republicans throwing a fit about how it would cripple America.


Photo by Harold Mendoza via Unsplash

The problem with this tactic, however, is the controlling party can typically only use it once per fiscal year.

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Alfredo Pascual: Hello, and welcome everyone. My name is Alfredo Pascual; I am vice president of investment analysis at fast forward innovations. And today, I will be moderating this panel with Tjalling Erkelens, CEO of BEDROCAN, and Alex Agius Saliba, member of the European parliament. And let’s start by letting Tjalling and Alex say a couple of words about themselves and how they ended up involved in the cannabis industry or policy in the case of Alex.

Tjalling Erkelens: Thank you very much, Alfredo. Yes, my name is Tjalling Erkelens, CEO and the founder of BEDROCAN. BEDROCAN is one of the older companies, and we have a strong European focus.

Since 2003, we are contracted by the Dutch ministry of health to produce high-quality cannabis for medicinal purposes. So we’re doing that for 18 years already now. One of the core things of the company is that we always say we do work for patients, and we do work at the highest quality levels.

Standardization is one of those quality legs under the stool. But also having your certificates right, so GMP and all that kind of quality assurance things are taken care of in our company. That’s who I am.

Alfredo Pascual: Thank you, Tjalling. Alex?

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When it comes to cannabis hash, one country in Northern Africa stands above all other nations, Morocco.

This country is the largest exporter of hashish worldwide, which has been the case for many years, with a lot of that hash going to Europe.

Cultivating cannabis, manufacturing it into hash, and selling it domestically or internationally is illegal in Morocco, although that obviously hasn’t stopped farmers from doing it.

A recently adopted measure will finally change that, at least in some instances.

Lawmakers Pass Bill 13.21

Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior crafted a measure (Bill 13.21) that would finally legalize and regulate the production of cannabis.

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While California led the charge to legalize marijuana, more precisely defined as “cannabis” under state law — I know, it’s confusing — the state has also repeatedly failed to forge a legal path for hemp-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD).

Following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released an FAQ entitled, “FAQ – Industrial Hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) in Food Products” (emphasis added by the CDPH), which provided that hemp, including CBD, could not be added to any kind of ingestible product like foods, beverages, dietary supplements, or animal products. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t, and still isn’t, any state law that actually prohibits adding hemp or CBD to finished products intended for human consumption. Instead, the CDPH adopted the federal FDA position.

Although the FAQ did not expressly say so, it was clear from its reading that the CDPH treated hemp-derived ingestible products adulterated under the state’s Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law (the Sherman Law), the state equivalent of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act  (FDCA). In fact, local agencies, like the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, later issued their own statements, which expressly categorized these products as adulterated, ostensibly confirming the CDPH’s unexpressed position.



Therefore, without going through the proper rule-making process, the CDPH effectively banned hemp-derived consumables, a policy that local agencies proceeded to enforce.


Could California be on the brink of decriminalizing psychedelics? A proposal aiming to do just that passed a major legislative hurdle on Monday, as it was approved by the state Senate.

The legislation now moves to the California General Assembly. Senate Bill 519 “would make lawful the possession for personal use, as described, and the social sharing, as defined, of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), by and with persons 21 years of age or older,” according to the text of the bill, which was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener.

In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, Wiener trumpeted the bill’s passage in the state Senate as a “big step for this legislation and the movement,” as well as a step toward “a more health and science-based approach and to move away from criminalization of drugs.”

He also thanked supporters for helping promote the legislation.

In an interview with local television station FOX40 last month, Wiener said that, regardless of what one thinks about drugs, “the question is ‘Should we be arresting and jailing people for possessing and using drugs?’ And I think the answer is absolutely no.”

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Kentucky-based hemp company GenCanna has filed a lawsuit again hemp processor Vertical Wellness, alleging that the company reneged on a contract to dry up to 12 million pounds of hemp, reports Law360.

GenCanna allegedly asked Vertical Wellness to pause the drying operations in November, as the company had filed bankruptcy and was in the process of selling its assets to MGG Investment Group.

GenCanna alleges that Vertical Wellness initially complied but then resumed drying operations at its Cadiz, KY facility in December without the company’s permission.

GenCanna maintains that the contract gave them an option to halt processing, while Vertical Wellness says the agreement was based on GenCanna’s desire to have the hemp processed by the end of 2020.

In a statement to Law360, J. Smoke Wallin, CEO of Vertical Wellness, said GenCanna and MGG breached the contract and called the lawsuit “completely frivolous.”

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If nine out of ten Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for adults—and according to a Pew Research poll conducted in April, they do—this begs an obvious question: Why hasn’t Congress passed federal marijuana legalization?

 CQ-ROLL CALL, INC VIA GETTY IMAGES

 

The country’s closest brush with national cannabis reform was last December, when the House of Representatives for the first time approved a legalization bill with a floor vote. As expected, the milestone was symbolic: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (or MORE Act) did not receive a hearing in then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate. (The fact that its sponsor was then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), the vice-president elect, probably didn’t help.)

With Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House—and with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer an avowed legalization supporter, will things be any different, or better? On Friday, House Democrats on Friday reintroduced the MORE Act, which would remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, wipe certain marijuana-related offenses from individuals’ criminal records, and steer money towards individuals and communities hurt by the War on Drugs.

DC Marijuana Justice

More than 100 additional recreational marijuana dispensaries will be coming to Illinois under a bill approved by state lawmakers last week. The measure, HB 1443, received nearly unanimous approval from the state Senate on Friday after being passed by a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Passage of the bill in Illinois clears the way for the issuance of licenses for 75 adult-use cannabis dispensaries that were scheduled to be awarded in May 2020 but were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure also includes provisions to support social equity applicants in the selection process for 110 additional retail cannabis dispensary licenses. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the legislation, according to media reports.

“As a state that values making our laws reflective of our diverse communities, we must ensure that social justice is at the center of everything we do—and today, that means building upon our work of passing the most equity-centric cannabis law in the nation,” Pritzker said last week after the bill was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives.

The bill is designed to rectify controversies with the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which legalized the use and sale of adult-use cannabis in Illinois. More than 900 applicants had vied for the 75 licenses that were supposed to be awarded in May of last year. But when only 21 applicants received a perfect score on their application and qualified for a lottery to issue the licenses, the process was put on hold by state officials.

Two Cannabis License Lotteries Upcoming in Illinois

Since that time, applicants have been allowed to correct their applications and submit them to be rescored. Under HB 1443, 55 new licenses will be awarded through a “Qualified Applicant Lottery” open only to those who scored 85 percent or higher in the application process for the original 75 licenses, allowing those who did not receive a perfect score another chance at receiving approval.

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Fiji’s capital Suva has been in and out of Covid lockdowns over recent weeks, and my Netflix got a workout. I watched a TV show called “Cooked with Cannabis”. Admittedly there were a few baked hippies, but the cooking was good. Jokes aside, the show revealed the sophisticated and lucrative global cannabis industry, projected to grow to an extraordinary US$90.4 billion internationally by 2026.

Watching the show also got me thinking about Fiji’s economy as the country fights through a second wave of the pandemic via containment measures and a vaccination drive. Fiji has taken an almighty hit. GDP was slashed to approximately $4.3 billion in 2020, with growth falling by 19%, according to the International Monetary Fund. Foreign tourists have vanished, all non-essential businesses have been forced to close, and the much mooted Pacific travel bubble is likely to be off the cards for the immediate future. With national debt levels soaring, a nasty storm is brewing.

Fiji needs to diversify its economy away from a reliance on tourism. Despite the government’s best efforts to provide relief through food ration deliveries and a $90 emergency payment to families affected by Covid, these well-intentioned initiatives have arguably fallen short. Many people complained that calls to the food-ration hotline went unanswered, or the deliveries never arrived, while the need for Fijians to provide tax details in order to claim the relief payments meant those in the informal sector were all but left behind.

That’s where cannabis presents an opportunity.

A cannabis industry in Fiji would not be limited to growing the crop. A whole value-add supply chain could be created.


Sources have confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is committed to trying to push through a more global legalization bill before pivoting to a smaller bill like the SAFE Banking Act.

The saga of cannabis legalization at the federal level is ongoing, as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives continues to pass sweeping legalization bills that (to date) have gotten little traction in the divided U.S. Senate. (Link). The result has heightened speculation throughout the cannabis community, as activists, entrepreneurs and those with cannabis convictions wait for the federal government to act.

And while it’s impossible to say precisely what a final cannabis-reform bill will look like, those in the know (like the publishers of an unidentified cannabis-newsletter, for example) have gleaned some interesting things from the smoke signals coming from Capitol Hill.

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images

Chuck Will Have a Lot to Say

As Politico recently wrote, “Chuck Schumer really likes to talk about weed.” (Link). Indeed, cannabis reform has become the cause celebre of the senior Senator from New York, as he continues to advocate for a sweeping legalization bill that could include everything from criminal justice reforms to provisions allowing plant-touching companies to access the U.S. capital markets.

Will Chuck Schumer’s Latest Plan To Go Over GOP Heads Help Cannabis Reform?

When states first began to “experiment” with the legalization of marijuana, lawmakers, state officials, and everyone else, for that matter, were eager to see how selling legal weed would pan out.

On the one hand, naysayers wanted to judge whether the socioeconomic cost of legalization was worth the tax dollars the market would surely drive into state and local coffers. At the same time, advocates stood waiting for a “told ya so” moment, when they could show the nation that a legitimate pot market would not lead to a drug-addled society. Years later, the results have been mixed.

However, a new study in the journal Addiction attempts to shine some light on the legalization of recreational marijuana. More specifically, it shows what can be expected to happen with illicit drug markets in states that pass recreational marijuana laws, and it is interesting, to say the least.

For starters, fully legal marijuana, subject to state regulations and taxes, appears to make black market pot products more affordable. Researchers found a 9.2% drop in the price of street weed in places with recreational marijuana laws on the books. In some cases, lower quality bud experienced a price decrease of 19.5%. The “prediction,” as the study calls it, is that marijuana legalization is creating less demand for black market weed and therefore driving down the prices.

 

Still, real life tells us that legalization is fueling the black market in a lot of ways. This is especially true in states like California, where illicit pot operations still outnumber the legal ones. The legitimate market has also increased black market dealings across state lines. Law enforcement in prohibition states continue to report more increases in marijuana seizures all the time.

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed a pardon for a former ophthalmologist from Delaware County who grew marijuana as medical treatment for his dying wife.

Paul Ezell was charged after his wife died when leftover plant clippings were discovered. He was sent to jail in 2014 and served six months before being released for good behavior. But as a result of his conviction, he wasn’t able to practice medicine.

Prior to his conviction, he had a clean record – apparently, not even a speeding ticket.

“He lost his wife, his career, everything,” said Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. “Today, Dr. Ezell can start to rebuild his life. Cases like his illustrate why we must end marijuana prohibition before it destroys one more life.”

Mr. Ezell’s daughter is a nurse – and she also lost her licence due to related charges.

These are not isolated cases – there are many people who have been previously convicted in relation to medical marijuana in jurisdictions where it is now legal. Even with changes in laws, the stain remains, interfering with lives long after the jail term or other penalties have been served or paid. While a subsequent pardon is better late than never, the collective suffering is a tragedy.

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As the first European country to legalize cannabis, Luxembourg has called on other European countries to relax their drug laws, specifically cannabis production and consumption. According to the European state, the continent’s drug policy has not worked over the last few decades, and forbidding everything made it more attractive for people to find new ways of skirting laws.

The country’s relaxed laws will see residents over 18 years old able to buy cannabis for recreational use starting from 2020. The state will establish a cannabis agency to regulate all production and distribution. What’s more, minors between ages 12 and 17 will not face criminal charges if caught in possession of five grams or less of the drug. However, those who break the law will receive harsh penalties.

Other European countries like Switzerland are following suit by making access to medical cannabis easier. Luxembourg will join other countries like Canada, Uruguay, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, and up to 33 American states in legalizing medical cannabis use.

The move flaunts the UN convention on the narcotic rugs control that commits signatories to limit the exclusive medical and scientific production, manufacture, trade, employment, and possession of hard drugs.

Why Countries are Saying Cannabis is Okay

Several things have led different countries worldwide to relax their hard stance on cannabis use for medicinal and recreational purposes. The primary reasons include:

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Studies that show no links between legal cannabis programs and marijuana use by young people should be encouraging news for advocates and those who are wary of cannabis.

A new batch of data shows that despite marijuana earning its legal status in several U.S. states, young people aren’t exactly getting their hands on the stuff any easier. This data adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates that legal marijuana doesn’t make it more likely for teens to consume it.

Marijuana use in teens and young adults is a serious concern, one that has been correlated with higher odds of developing a dependency on the drug and of developing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and psychosis.


Photo by Eliott Reyna via Unsplash

The data came from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and was submitted by high schoolers between the years 2009 and 2019. The analysis demonstrated that there was not a significant change or increase in the percentage of students who consumed cannabis within the past 30 days.

Vaping THC Can Be Riskier For Teens Than Smoking It, Study Shows

Is marijuana legalization about to go federal? Congressional leaders took the massive and potentially historic first step on Friday, when they introduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act of 2021, or “The MORE Act of 2021”.

The stated purpose of the MORE Act of 2021: “To decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.” 

The legislation was brought by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the longtime Democrat from New York, along with members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The significance of the proposal can’t be overstated. If it passed, it would end the federal prohibition on marijuana—something a growing number of cities and states across the country have already done. 

“Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep up with this pace,” Nadler said in a statement. “I’m proud to reintroduce the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.”

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Delta-8 THC had a good run. People made money, customers were happy, and it all seemed legal to boot. Like all good things in life, states and the DEA are doing everything in their power to ensure that delta-8’s run comes to an end. Let’s talk about why.

For those of you who may not have been paying attention, delta-8 is one of many, many cannabinoids in cannabis (marijuana and hemp) plants. Unlike CBD, it gets you high. It’s not usually present in high volume in cannabis, so it’s usually derived by converting hemp CBD through chemical processes, and can’t be legally derived from marijuana under federal law.

In theory (or, more accurately, according to the literal text of the federal 2018 Farm Bill, if you care about little details like “what the actual law is”) hemp-derived delta-8 THC should be considered legal under present federal law. But the DEA apparently didn’t get that memo.

Late last year, the DEA issued an interim final rule (IFR) that says that all synthetic cannabinoids are Schedule I narcotics and illegal. Never mind that delta-8 is most commonly derived from a hemp plant and that the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives because, well, the DEA apparently thinks it’s as dangerous as heroin. We wrote quite a bit on why the DEA was just wrong around the time the IFR was published, and generally stand by that opinion.

Surprisingly, the DEA didn’t see eye to eye with the entire industry. It even put delta-8 on its “Orange Book” of controlled substances. I won’t get into too much more detail on the status of federal delta-8 law, as my colleague Nathalie Bougenies recently did just that a few months back.

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The fate of legalization will largely hinge on the ruling Socialists. The government, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, has demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm for even medical cannabis legalization.

On May 13, the health committee of Spain’s Congress of Deputies approved a proposal to create a subcommittee that will consider other countries’ experiences with medical cannabis. The subcommittee’s findings could pave the way for medical cannabis legalization in Spain. According to a recent poll, approximately 90% of Spaniards would favor such a move.

Spain currently lacks a medical cannabis program at the national level. Two cannabis medications, Sativex and Epidiolex, have been approved by the regulator, but only for specified ailments; use to treat other conditions must be approved by a medical tribunal, subject to variations among localities. Moreover, costs can be prohibitive.

Photo by Henrique Ferreira via Unsplash

Spain Moves Toward Medical Cannabis Regulation

From jobs to tax revenue to commercial real estate, the marijuana industry has a large – and growing – impact on the broader economy in the United States. The total U.S. economic impact from marijuana sales in 2021 is expected to reach $92 billion – up more than 30 percent from last year – and upwards of $160 billion in 2025, according to analysis from the newly published MJBizFactbook.

To measure the industry’s economic impact, MJBizDaily analyzed similar industries and applied a standard multiplier of 3.5 on projected recreational and medical marijuana retail sales. The numbers are a best guess because the marijuana industry’s structure is somewhat unique because it encompasses agricultural, manufacturing and retail activity.

The economic impact of the marijuana industry is not the same as supply-chain revenues that are often used to estimate the “total size” of an industry. Rather, the economic multiplier paints a picture of the impact the industry has on the broader economy. In this case, for every $1 consumers and patients spend at retail locations, an additional $2.50 will be injected into the economy, much of it at the local level.

That impact comes directly from the day-to-day needs of workers in the cannabis industry, including spending on life’s necessities such as housing, transportation, entertainment and more. Marijuana businesses, consumers and patients also pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local taxes that are used to fund state and local government activities, including schools and roads.

In addition, real estate receives a boost from new retail, manufacturing and agricultural businesses moving into an area or established companies expanding, increasing broader demand for commercial properties. Cultivating and manufacturing marijuana can require large investments in equipment and technology that boost not only the local economy but also areas throughout the U.S.

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