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

Medical marijuana is nearing reality for thousands of Georgians suffering from serious health conditions as state officials sift through applications for growing licenses and lawmakers recently paved the way for pharmacies to become dispensaries.

A program years in the making to regulate the cultivation, extraction and distribution of low-grade marijuana oil is set to award licenses to six groups from among 70 applicants later this spring or early summer.

Patients in Georgia will only have access under state law to oil extracts containing small amounts of marijuana’s active ingredient called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

 

Once selected, the winning six applicants will have 12 months to open a maximum five dispensaries each and start providing medicinal low-THC oil to nearly 19,000 patients signed up on a state registry, according to state law and data from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Cultivators could start providing THC oil to patients much sooner than the year-long time limit based on applicant projections, said Andrew Turnage, executive director of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission tasked with overseeing the program.

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Marijuana legalization has been a boyhood dream come true for Keith Fort, a recently retired stage manager for live events who said he’s glad Chicago finally joined the ranks of other weed-friendly cities he’s visited.

“Fifty years I’ve waited for legalization. I’m 66 years old,” he said.

Fort, a veteran of scores of music concerts and festivals, said he enjoys the variety and potency of products at his local dispensary, especially sweet now that he’s turned over his stage production management business to his son.

“When I first started smoking in Virginia in 1969, there was a young man who got 20 years in jail for possession for half a joint,” he said. “It made me leery for my entire life — I’ve been a criminal my entire life. As of January 1st last year, I am no longer a criminal.”

 

Legalization has begun to melt away decades of fears, said Fort, who had joined a demonstration against big-money dispensaries muscling out would-be minority owners outside the Sunnyside dispensary in Wrigleyville this week.

Tyrone F. Muhammad, executive director of Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, left, speaks with local resident Keith Fort on April 12, 2021, in front of Sunnyside marijuana dispensary in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Muhammad and others hosted a demonstration against big-money dispensaries muscling out would-be minority owners.

The cannabis community and the DEA have long been at odds over the unjust War on Drugs, and it’s rare that any appointment to this agency provides a glimmer of hope.

President Biden nominated Anne Milgram as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the White House announced on Monday, April 12.

If confirmed, Milgram will report directly to Biden’s pick for Attorney General (AG), Merrick Garland, who was confirmed by the Senate on March 10. Both Garland and Milgram have mostly refrained from commenting on cannabis legalization in public, but they have not actively attacked cannabis, which is a step up from Trump-era appointees including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in 2018 rescinded the Cole Memo after years of publicly criticizing any form of cannabis reform.


Photo by Don MacKinnon / Stringer via Getty Images

The DEA, created in 1973 under President Nixon, is a federal law enforcement agency serving under the U.S. Department of Justice tasked with implementing and enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. The agency is responsible for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations and plays a major role in determining how substances are scheduled. It is no surprise that the DEA — the agency at the helm of the War on Drugs — has long been at odds with cannabis legalization and reform. It is a welcome surprise, however, to have a leader of the agency who might change its tune.

everything you need to know about the deas refusal to declassify marijuana

Wisconsin has been pushing for legal cannabis, but it looks like now, those hopes may be gone. The Senate leader has stated this week that they will not be making moves to legalize, as there is not enough support from Republicans to back it up.

“We don’t have support from the caucus. That’s pretty clear, that we don’t have 17 votes in the caucus for medicinal purposes or recreational purposes [to] legalize it,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said regarding the decision.

LeMahieu is personally against the measure as a Republican, and in general, while some Republican senators support cannabis, there is not enough support across the board to be able to move forward.  

“I think that discussion needs to be done at the federal level and not have some rogue state doing it without actual science behind it,” LeMahieu said.

Currently, Republicans control the Wisconsin Senate at a rate of 20-12, soon to be 21-12 when Representative John Jagler, based in Watertown, joins the Senate after winning his special election. For this reason, it is difficult for things like COVID relief and regulation, legal cannabis, and other partisan issues normally backed by Democrats to be passed.

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The road to legalizing cannabis in Mexico has been full of twists, turns, and in some cases dead ends as the deadline approaches soon.

Near the end of 2018, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a ruling in which cannabis prohibition was deemed to be unconstitutional.

As part of the ruling, the Court set a one-year deadline for lawmakers to pass a legalization measure to implement the ruling and to set up a regulated adult-use cannabis industry.

The initial deadline was not met due to political issues, a second deadline was not met due to the pandemic, and a third deadline was also not met due to the pandemic.

Yet another deadline was granted by the Court, and it appears that lawmakers will fail to meet the latest deadline which expires at the end of April.

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An attempt by Idaho Republican leaders to make it impossible to legalize drugs in the state through a ballot initiative failed on Thursday, missing the supermajority support it needed in the House.

The proposed constitutional amendment would have required two-thirds of the House and Senate to approve the removal of a drug from Schedule I or Schedule II. Despite 26 co-sponsors who signed on to the amendment, House GOP leaders failed to garner the 47 votes needed to advance the measure to the Senate.

House members voted 42-28 in favor of the amendment, just short of the two-thirds required. The legislation divided Republicans, several of whom grew emotional as they spoke on the impact of drugs in their families. Many of them centered their debates around medical cannabis or hemp.

 

Several lawmakers who supported the measure on Thursday argued that putting the amendment on the 2022 ballot would give the public a voice on drug policy. Had the Legislature approved the measure, it would have been up for a vote in the 2022 general election.

If the amendment had passed in both chambers, voters potentially could have faced both the anti-drug measure and a medical marijuana initiative that groups are trying to get on the ballot.

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The Mississippi Supreme Court heard arguments this week challenging the state’s overwhelming vote in support of medical cannabis last November but advocates still have their high hopes. 

The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association released a statement following Thursday’s oral arguments that would determine the industry’s fate. If the challenge is successful it would essentially nullify the election night win for compassion in Mississippi. 

The idea behind the challenge is an old law that says you need 20% of your signatures to come from each of the state’s congressional districts. The problem? Mississippi lost a congressional district in 2003 and officials never updated the law. Now the opposition is attempting to use it as a de facto ban on ballot initiatives. 

“The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association (MSCTA) looks forward to reviewing the Mississippi Supreme Court’s imminent ruling on the recent legal challenge to Initiative 65. At its very core, this is a matter of upholding the will of the citizens of Mississippi and their constitutional right to propose and enact amendments through the ballot initiative process,” the statement reads. “The state constitution expressly prescribes certain enumerated rights to the people of Mississippi, and therefore, its provisions should be interpreted in a manner that preserves these rights, not destroys them.”

The wildly high number of 75% of Mississippians voted in favor of medical cannabis for a list of 22 qualifying debilitating medical conditions last fall. To put it in perspective, that’s a 20-point larger victory margin compared to when California passed Proposition 215 in 1996

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Cannabis is now legal in Michigan, but there are some hazy aspects of the new law. Let's clear the air and define what has become legal in the state and what was outlawed in 2020.

Both recreational and medical cannabis are legal in Michigan. The products for therapeutic purposes were legalized in 2008, making Michigan the 13th state that allows it for medical treatment. Cannabis for recreational use was passed in 2018. Its licensed sales started in 2019, and they're expected to grow this year.

 

Each municipality has the right to allow or restrict recreational cannabis sales. Keep this in mind while traveling across the state because many cities put a veto on these sales.

Consumption

Despite marijuana legalization, it cannot be consumed anywhere you want. It should be done in your own residence away from the public. If you smoke it at your friend's house, ask for the host's approval. People who live in a rented apartment should gain permission from their landlord.

Marijuana consumption on public property or public places (e.g., schools, hospitals, parks, cars, and bars) is banned and considered a civil infraction.

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On Monday, New Mexico became the latest state to legalize adult-use cannabis, after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act. Sales are expected to begin before April 2022.

Following a legalization wave led by New York and Virginia, this approval now puts more than 43 percent of Americans living in legal cannabis jurisdictions, according to The Marijuana Policy Project.

“The successful bill signing today of adult-use cannabis legislation in New Mexico would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Lujan Grisham and the tireless support of the State Legislature,” said David Culver, vice president of global government relations at Canopy Growth.

The Bills

Signed bill HB2 allows New Mexicans 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of cannabis, and cultivate six mature and six immature plants at home. The bill also regulates the production and sale of recreational cannabis while including measures to incentivize populations disproportionately impacted by prohibition to enter the industry.

“We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better,” said Gov. Grisham, a strong proponent of cannabis reform.

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State marijuana regulators are reconsidering how they will now run a lottery to decide who wins licenses to operate six additional medical marijuana dispensaries after no business answered a bid solicitation to develop the process. 

"Unfortunately, the state did not receive any responses," Brian Hodge, a spokesman for the Department of Business Regulation, said Wednesday. "We are currently exploring alternative options and still expect to conduct the lottery by later this spring." 

In February the state sought a company to “design and develop the methodology for the random selection process,” that would be held, in public, around May 14. 

The bid proposal said the company would be "primarily responsible for securing all equipment, technology, or other necessary mediums to run the process.” 

It wasn’t immediately clear what alternative options regulators were now discussing. 

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The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has extended the licensure deadline for hemp farms from April 9 to May 28.

The department received multiple requests from hemp farmers over the last few weeks to extend the deadline. Many existing and prospective hemp farmers expressed that they are still experiencing delays in obtaining the necessary land and seeds to plant this spring, ODA told Hemp Grower in an email.

After considering farmers' concerns, the ODA decided to extend the deadline.

Any prospective licensee can download a guide to submit a new application here.

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The change in the presidential administration has focused cannabis businesses on the potential for legalization nationwide.

Running parallel to full federal legalization will be a corresponding regulatory and taxation scheme replacing the current regime of IRC §280E which prohibits anything but the cost of goods sold being deducted from a state licensed cannabis operation’s income statement. 

The evolution of the federal taxation of cannabis started with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which applied tax to marijuana used for medicine.

Historians and critics alike maligned this legislation as an attempt to stop the use of cannabis rather than tax it.

The fines were greatly out of line with any failure in tax compliance — violators were fined up to $2,000 and a potential prison sentence of up to five years, while the actual tax was merely $1 per ounce or $24 per year. 


Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill April 11 authorizing hemp food ingredients to be marketed as commercial feed.

HB 396 could be a significant step forward in opening markets for the developing American hemp grain industry. Key features of the bill include:

• Clarifies hemp seed food ingredients and substances derived from hemp are included in the definition of commercial feed.

• Provides authority for hemp for use as commercial feed for pets and horses.

• Includes feed use with other livestock, effectiveness contingent upon FDA-DVM approval of hemp as an approved additive or defined ingredient in animal food or medicated feed for livestock.

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The decades-long struggle to reintroduce industrial hemp cultivation to Idaho may soon be over.

Idaho is the only remaining U.S. state where hemp continues to be illegal, but perhaps not for long. While a 2019 effort to legalize hemp failed after heavy criticism by police and prosecutors, Idaho’s Senate last week voted 30-5 in favour of a subsequent bill. HB 126, the bill for the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act, had already previously been passed in the House.

The Idaho Farm Bureau welcomed the Senate vote.

“It has taken time, but a responsible, balanced policy that allows for a new industry in the state while also respecting Idaho’s drug policy has been produced,” IFB stated. “It truly has been a team effort with input from many dedicated individuals.”

Just one hurdle remains – will Governor Brad Little sign the bill, which is now on his desk or will be very soon, into law?

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It’s official: the leader of New Mexico just signed a cannabis bill into law, adding to the growing ranks of already legal U.S. states.

The law was signed this week by Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. With this new ruling, those 21 and up will be able to possess cannabis. Home growing will be legal, as will a regulated market that is projected to start in 2022. It will also allow for the expungement of past cannabis records. Those serving time for cannabis may also be eligible for resentencing.

While it’s still exciting that legal cannabis is official, Governor Lujan Grisham was definitely expected to sign. She has worked hard to push for legalization since she first got into office, even going so far as to call a special session to hear a legal cannabis bill. It was the House and Senate that were closer calls, but her signature still makes the New Mexico law official and ushers in a new era.

While New Mexico has had a medical cannabis program since 2007, for a long time, their acceptance of the plant stopped at medicine. Nearby states like California and Colorado have long since implemented recreational cannabis, but New Mexico is just now taking the plunge.

The Changes In New Mexico’s Cannabis Laws

Lujan Grisham claims that cannabis reform will help bring in money to the state and create more jobs to help boost the economy following COVID.

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Despite all of the resistance, the fact is that cannabis legalization is happening right now. State by state, country by country, it’s going global.

When the Biden Administration took the White House, the headlines all clamored that it will be a “good time for cannabis”.

Stocks seemed to echo the sentiment.

Yet, since the administration took office, they fired staffers for admitting they smoked weed in the past, Kamala Harris rolled back her “pro pot stance” to align with the President’s, and now the entire “weed thing” has been put on the back burner.

Photo by Win McNamee/Staff/Getty Images

kamala harris snoop dogg lie is the dumbest political controversy of 2019

More than two years after Michigan voters approved marijuana for adult use, residents convicted of many pot-related crimes that have now been legalized have an opportunity to expunge them from their records.

 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a sweeping "clean slate" package of bills in October that will automatically expunge some criminal records in 2023, while others have to be applied for. On Monday, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced a new website where Michigan residents can learn about how to begin the process expunge the marijuana-related criminal records that require an application.

"Michiganders voted to legalize recreational marijuana use years ago," Nessel said in a statement. "Residents should rightfully be able to eliminate convictions for actions that are no longer considered a crime in our state."

According to the new website, "a person convicted of 1 or more misdemeanor or local ordinance marijuana crimes may petition the convicting court to set aside the convictions if they were based on activity that would not have been a crime after December 6, 2018, when a 2018 voter-passed initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Michigan went into effect."

The website explains the requirements, including a checklist of eligible misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Additionally, a person convicted of one or more criminal offenses including felonies (but not more than a total of three felonies) may petition to expunge the convictions.

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A legislative conference committee has voted to accept amendments proposed by the Attorney General’s Office on House Bill 1045, which relates to hemp growth in the state.

Tara Brandner, assistant attorney general, told the conference committee that her office has seen a misuse of hemp in the state due to a federal loophole in the law.

“The purpose of the amendments is essentially to address the inconsistencies that Delta-8 THC is a legal substance,” she said.

Brandner said the amendment is aimed at cleaning up the federal law to prevent the loophole from being exploited in North Dakota.

The amendment still allows for the agriculture commissioner to determine the level of THC, but changes the definition to total THC rather than a specific compound. Delta-9 THC is the compound found in marijuana, which can get users high. Previously the bill only referred to Delta-9 THC as a regulation level.

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To be clear, the recent court decision is not specifically related to hemp in food, but by clearing hemp tea sellers of trafficking charges, the German court ruling opened a door to allow hemp products in food.

The world of cannabis just got bigger as a German court ruling opened the door for hemp to be used in food. This is as exciting as the advent of delta-8 THC products, and the ability to get the same kind of benefits as standard THC, while experiencing less psychoactive effects, and less anxiety. We can even help you get started if you’re a beginner with this new THC. Check out our awesome delta-8 THC deals, and join in on the excitement!

Germany and cannabis

Before getting into how a German court ruling on drug trafficking could allow hemp in food, let’s take a look at how cannabis is governed in Germany. According to Germany’s Federal Narcotics Act, cannabis possession is illegal and offenders can face up to five years in prison. Use crimes are not specifically mentioned in the Act, and therefore, offenders are usually sent to some kind of program instead of prison, at least for small amounts. In Germany, the term ‘small amount’ is judged not by the quantity held, but the quantity of THC within the product. And different regions of Germany use different amounts to denote this ‘small amount’. Generally speaking, it means in the neighborhood of 6-15 grams.

Cultivation, sale, and supply crimes are all illegal. Most of these crimes can earn an offender up to five years in prison, although supply crimes can go up to 15 years, depending on the specifics of the case. Supplying to minors, using weapons, and/or having very large quantities are some of the extenuating factors that can lead to higher prison sentences.

Germany does have legal medical cannabis. This started in 1983 with nabilone – a synthetic derivative of THC. In 1998, the pharmaceutical THC medication dronabinol was also approved. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that the country instituted a real medical cannabis program, opening the door for more disorders to receive treatment with cannabis medications. Since 1996, Germany has also allowed the legal cultivation of industrial hemp.

German ruling hemp food

Despite being half the size of the legal cannabis market in California, New York is poised to impact the larger industry and culture beyond its state lines and U.S. borders.

Why it matters: Even as cannabis is still simultaneously illegal at a federal level and only somewhat legal in 42 states, New York’s unique global identity and mix of industries will enable changes in perception and business operations, experts say.

Driving the news: New York is now one of 16 states that have passed legislation to legalize recreational use, with many aspects of the law taking effect immediately.

How it works: Retail cannabis sales are expected to begin in 2022, but smoking cannabis in public is now permitted wherever smoking tobacco is allowed locally, and adults can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use.There are currently around three dozen marijuana dispensaries statewide for medical marijuana, and going forward, two new agencies will create and implement new regulations and licenses.The New York Governor's Office expects the industry to create 30,000–60,000 jobs and collect $350 million in annual tax revenue.

What they're saying: New York is one of the most visited destinations in the world, so the state can play “cultural cannabis ambassador that no other jurisdiction has played to date,” says John Kagia, chief knowledge officer of New Frontier Data, a marijuana market research firm.

Going forward in New York, medical marijuana patients can be prescribed treatments for a larger list of medical conditions, which may expand the state's existing operations. Existing medical operators can now also obtain a license to cultivate, process and distribute cannabis — while most other companies won’t be allowed to handle all parts of a recreational transaction

What to watch: Expect an East Coast domino effect.

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