WeedLife News Network
Farmers and researchers across Ohio are learning some of the most basic agricultural information about hemp after the state’s first year of legal cultivation.
Unclear growing conditions coupled with unpredictable market forces mean even if farmers successfully grow a crop they sometimes don’t know much about, processing it into products that consumers can buy could be prohibitive to running a business.
“[Hemp] grows well in Ohio,” said Sano Ti Amo co-owner Karen DeLuca. “We had great success in our field even though it was an experimental field, but you need a place to take it.”
When it comes to the North vs the South in America, there is usually a pretty evident divide when it comes to social issues. From abortion to religion in schools to drugs, the South is generally slower to adopt new policies. In the case of cannabis and the south, a lot of change has happened in the last few years, signaling a massive shift in overall public perspective.
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Sometimes change comes slow to the South, and this is evident from resistance to legalized abortion, pushing religion being taught in schools, letting go of slavery (let’s not forget that one), and the decriminalization and legalization of different drugs. But even those slow with the pickup, eventually come around. Whether it’s the changing of society through new generations being born, or the insertion of new information that changes minds. Whatever the case here, and as highlighted by the last election, how cannabis is viewed in the South, has seen much change and improvement in the last few years.
The last US election, and what is the ‘South’?
The last US election was quite the circus, with a persistent battle that continued after results were in, as to who actually won. As it stands, Joe Biden was officially sworn in to the white house in January, effectively ending that conundrum. But perhaps bigger news than a post-election presidential standoff, is the inclusion of several more states when it comes to cannabis legalization. In fact, for the first time, it became evident that cannabis is no longer shunned in the South, with new laws reflecting this change in perspective.
It wasn’t just the South that saw these changes. Four new states became legal for cannabis recreationally: Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and New Jersey. On the medical front, South Dakota (pulling double duty) and Mississippi joined the ranks of the legal for medical use group. Of all these states to change policy, the one that stands out the most, is Mississippi.
Democrats will still need to work closely with Republicans to garner enough support for legal weed. But divisiveness will make that difficult.
Democratic Senate leadership has vowed to legalize marijuana at the federal level in 2021. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden announced earlier this week that they will soon introduce legislation to end marijuana prohibition nationwide. This is precisely what cannabis advocates hoped would happen when the Democrats took control over the Senate and knocked Mitch McConnell down a notch.
Now all the Democrats have to do is hold a few hearings, shuffle some papers around and vote on a cannabis-related bill, and marijuana will be as good as legal in the eyes of the U.S. government, right? It’s more complicated than that.
One of the main problems in getting anything marijuana-oriented through Congress this year is the Democrats really don’t have the power to get it done. Sure, Senate Majority Leader Schumer has made some media appearances and discussed how marijuana reform is a priority for the Senate, but that doesn’t mean much. Any bill the Democrats put on the table might not have the votes required to pass. The Senate is evenly divided this session, with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaker. This means that Democrats will still need to work closely with Republicans to garner enough support for legal weed. But divisiveness will make that difficult.
And then, there’s Mitch McConnell and his gang of cronies. Even though McConnell is no longer the majority leader, rest assured he can still cause problems for marijuana legalization. You might recall hearing a lot of noise recently about a filibuster. It’s a rule that allows Senators to engage in lengthy debates to stall or prevent legislation with majority support from passing. McConnell has fought like a dog to keep the Democrats from squashing the filibuster this year, and rightfully so. It’s the only way he can still control the Senate as minority leader. For now, the filibuster lives. And it will need to continue living if Democrats expect to get anything accomplished.
A Maine lawmaker is proposing changes to the state’s marijuana advertising rules following complaints that the current system is too restrictive and subjective.
Proposed by Rep. Colleen Madigan, D-Waterville, “An Act To Amend the Law Regarding the Advertising and Marketing of Adult Use Marijuana” would create an appeal process for businesses found in violation of the state’s marijuana advertising rules. Despite the title, Madigan said in an interview Thursday, the bill, which is still in draft form, would apply to both medical and recreational businesses.
State officials say this SeaWeed Co. logo violates rules against using images of people or animals to sell cannabis products. Courtesy of SeaWeed Co.
According to rules for the state’s newly opened adult-use and long-running medical marijuana markets, packages or labels depicting humans, animals or fruit are prohibited, as are packages or labels that would “reasonably” appear to target or appeal to anyone under the age of 21.
Furthermore, the rules prohibit advertising or marketing of cannabis products “that is attractive to persons under 21 years of age … including images and items commonly marketed toward individuals under 21 years of age.”
More than a dozen other medical cannabis-related bills have been introduced this legislative session. They include:
• Senate Bill 145, which would authorize the manufacture and distribution of cannabis seeds and cannabis clones by medical cannabis dispensary licensees, was combined with Senate Bill 254, which would allow dispensaries to distribute cannabis propagules and cuttings to authorized patients and caregivers, and was passed with amendments, including a cap on the number of clones or cuttings. It next needs to secure a hearing before the Committee on Judiciary.
• Senate Bill 629, which would allow primary caregivers and qualifying out-of-state patients to enter restricted areas within a medical cannabis retail dispensary, was passed with amendments. It next needs to secure a hearing before the Committee on Judiciary.
• Senate Bill 1139, which seeks to increase the patient registration fee by $10 starting in 2022, from the current $35 for in-state patients and $45 for out-of-state patients, was passed with amendments. The measure would also fund three full-time positions via the medical cannabis registry and regulation special fund. It next needs to secure a hearing before the Committee on Ways and Means. A companion bill in the House, HB 985, has yet to be scheduled for the first of three committee hearings.
• House Bill 477, which would increase the allowable number of production centers and retail dispensing locations per dispensary license and authorize the Department of Health to allow a licensed dispensary to purchase medical cannabis or manufactured cannabis products from another licensed dispensary to ensure ongoing qualified patient access, will be taken up by the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Homelessness today. A companion bill in the Senate, SB 1332, has yet to be scheduled for the first of two committee hearings.
If you're looking for a case study in standing steadfast against an ever-growing wave of change, look no further than our neighbors to the east. Idaho, once again, is making clear that it is closed to cannabis.
On Jan. 29, the State Affairs Committee of the Idaho Senate approved by a 6-to-2 party-line vote a resolution that would amend the state's Constitution and essentially bring into place an outright ban on the legalization of cannabis and other controlled substances within the state. That vote moves the resolution to the floor of the state Senate for consideration, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.
As a constitutional amendment, the resolution will need to pass by a two-thirds vote in both the Idaho Senate and House, and then be approved with at least 50 percent of the vote on the 2022 ballot. Should it jump all of those hurdles, the new law would supersede any legalization efforts that may find themselves alongside it on the ballot in 2022.
This is nothing new for Idaho. In March 2013, mere months after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize cannabis, the Idaho Senate approved a resolution stating that the Legislature was committed to never, under any circumstance, allowing cannabis legalization in the Gem State.
That said, it could also be just another bit of bluster from the Idaho Legislature, which just two years after stating its uncompromising opposition to cannabis, in fact, voted to legalize cannabis in a very specific form. Idaho lawmakers approved legalizing CBD oil for the treatment of epilepsy in 2015 — though, then-Gov. Butch Otter vetoed that specific legislation.
A three-judge appellate court panel heard arguments Tuesday in a case that has stalled the expansion of the New Jersey’s burdened medical marijuana program.
But the court must still issue a decision before the state can reopen its review of licenses that a lawsuit put on hold in late 2019.
The case involves eight rejected medical marijuana applicants from a round of licensing the Department of Health opened in 2019. The applicants in question lost out due to technical issues with their applications or because they had insufficient documents to show the town they wished to operate in approved of the business.
But they argue the department incorrectly rejected their applications during its first round of cuts and should reconsider them along with 146 others still in the running.
“The entire purpose of this undertaking is to ensure a merit-based review so that the best and most qualified applicants are awarded licenses to serve the patient population,” Joshua Bauchner, one of the attorneys representing the appellants, said during the hearing, which was held remotely.
Although our legal system’s claim to legitimacy depends on the public’s perception of fairness and equity in the decision to arrest, debate persists as to whether the police are racially discriminatory when enforcing drug laws.
Evidence supporting this view emanates from the observation that Blacks are arrested for drugs in numbers far out of proportion to their numbers in the general population, especially for less dangerous types of drugs such as marijuana.
The Black arrest rate for marijuana possession in 2010 was 716 per 100,000 compared to 192 per 100,000 for whites.
Although it is readily acknowledged that Blacks are arrested for marijuana possession in numbers far out of proportion to their numbers in the general population, there’s disagreement about what this situation exactly means.
Some maintain that racial disparity in arrests for marijuana possession results from racially biased drug enforcement practices. Black citizens, according to this perspective, face a higher probability of arrest for marijuana possession because the police view them as having a greater proclivity than whites to use and sell drugs.
In a move that gave local cannabis watchers—and many dispensary owners—a serious case of whiplash, the Arizona Department of Health Services gave the green-light to recreational pot sales late last month, catching a lot of people in the industry off guard.
Harvest Enterprises, Inc., founded by CEO and Tempe native Steve White, had the first-ever Arizona adult use sale in its Scottsdale location and Harvest became the first Tucson-area dispensary to sell recreational marijuana, with patients waiting in line for hours outside the midtown outlet at 2734 E. Grant Road, on opening weekend.
Harvest’s opening came after the AZDHS allowed recreational cannabis sales to begin, letting dispensary owners know adult-use recreational sales can move forward as soon as licenses are approved and dispensaries are set up to handle both aspects of the market.
“This has been really surprising and gives an opportunity for us to have a conversation about how we don’t say a lot of good things about government,” White said. “But this is really a bang-up job by the
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas announced a proposal on Monday that would legalize medical marijuana to raise the revenue required to expand the state’s Medicaid program. Under the proposal, nearly 200,000 state residents who do not currently have health insurance would gain eligibility for coverage.
“After nearly a year of challenges brought on by COVID-19, we need to use every tool at our disposal to protect the health of our workforce and our economy,” Kelly said in a statement from the governor’s office. “Getting 165,000 Kansans health care, injecting billions of dollars and thousands of jobs into our local economies, and protecting our rural hospitals will be critical to our recovery from the pandemic. By combining broadly popular, commonsense medical marijuana policy with our efforts to expand Medicaid, the revenue from the bill will pay for expansion.”
Obamacare Includes Medicaid Expansion
Under the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Congress authorized an expansion of the Medicaid program to provide health insurance for more low-income families, with the federal government covering 90% of the cost and the states responsible for 10%. Kansas is one of 12 states who have not implemented the expansion, with leaders of the GOP-led legislature citing the costs of the program.
“You have heard many of the comments coming from the opposition have been [that] we can’t afford it,” Kelly said in a press conference on Monday. “We have just designed a bill that pays for itself and more.”
“There’s never been any good argument against expansion other than we can’t afford it,” she added.
In virtually every corner of Earth the cannabis reform movement is making strides.
Sure, only 2 countries have legalized cannabis for adult use (Uruguay and Canada).
However, several nations have legalized cannabis for medical use.
At least two countries, Mexico and Israel, are expected to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2021, and this year will no doubt see several countries move forward with implementing medical cannabis reform.
With momentum for cannabis reform seemingly increasing across the globe, there is one country that may be moving in the opposite direction.
THREE people were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison in Tunisia for using cannabis and this verdict has ignited public debate in the country to the point of causing Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi to react on February 1.
The conviction for the consumption of cannabis has sparked a heated debate in the country around its legislation. The judgment, handed down on January 20 by a court in Kef (north), “does not relate only to the consumption of narcotics but also to the use of a sports field for the consumption of drugs,” specified on January 31 to the AFP.
A spokesman of the court, Mohamed Faouzi Daoudi said Tunisian law provides for a severe penalty for the consumption of narcotics in the public space, citing “law 52 and chapters 7 and 11”.
On social media, using the hashtag in Arabic “#prison-no, change 52”, many users protested against the verdict and called for a demonstration.
The director of the regional office of Amnesty International, Amna Guellali, described the decision made by the courts as “unacceptable” rejecting “all the [prison] sentences issued concerning the consumption and possession of narcotics”.
“This shows what can happen when politics override the will of the people and causes a stalemate in the rollout of voter-favored programs,” says one industry expert.
Four of the five states that passed cannabis-centric ballot initiatives on Election Day 2020 have since run into hurdles.
The pathway from ballot question to implementation has only been smooth for one of the five states to pass measures recently — Arizona. Adult use sales began on Jan. 22, with many medical dispensaries expanding to adult use to accommodate the newly opened market.
The Copper State sets a new bar by opening its market just a couple months after passing an initiative. Lawmakers from the other four states, however, are stalling the process.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued a January executive order showing that she ordered a lawsuit to overturn the adult use portion of its result
An influential group of Minnesota legislators is renewing a push to legalize recreational marijuana this year, as more neighboring states allow and reap the financial windfall from legalized cannabis sales.
"The ability for Minnesotans to drive across the border to get cannabis is going to increase significantly," House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said at a news conference on Monday. "People are willing to drive to Wisconsin in order to buy fireworks. They're sure as heck going to drive to South Dakota to get cannabis."
Fifteen states, including South Dakota and Illinois, have voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and supporters in North Dakota are trying to get legalization on the 2022 ballot.
Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate remain opposed, saying the state is facing far more serious problems with the COVID-19 pandemic, balancing the budget and reopening schools. "I would not consider legalizing recreational marijuana as a Minnesota priority," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. "Just because it's legal, doesn't mean there aren't consequences. We're just starting to learn about legalization's adverse effects in other states like Colorado and Washington. There is no reason to rush this in Minnesota without learning more."
A Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll a year ago found that 51% of registered Minnesota voters support legalizing the drug.
Exciting times have arrived in Arizona’s cannabis industry! The Arizona Department of Health Services (the “Department”) (1) released final interim rules for recreational licensees, and (2) issued new recreational licenses. As noted by Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jaeger, the marks the fastest transition from voter approval to sales implementation of any state that has legalized marijuana to date.
Specifically, on January 22, 2021, the Department issued 86 new licenses for adult use or recreational use marijuana (CLICK HERE for the list). By happenstance, I drove by the Harvest dispensary in North Scottsdale on Friday (January 22), and the lines were literally around the building! So, it appears that recreational sales have started out strong in Arizona.
The Department also released final interim rules for adult use establishments in January 2021, that were effective as of January 15, 2021 (CLICK HERE to view the regulations). Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Department released a redline of the regulations that show the changes from the draft rules to the interim final rules. However, I will discuss a few of the more important changes below.
It’s worth noting too that the Department did not make changes to certain rules notwithstanding public requests to do so. For example, certain commenters requested that the license fee be reduced for initial licensees. The Department decided to stick with its original proposal, so the initial licensing fee remains a pretty steep $25,000.
One change made to the rules is with regard to the financial conditions that must be satisfied by a licensee. Under the draft rules, the applicant had to demonstrate it had “at least $500,000 in funds available” and a financial institution had to provide evidence of same within 60 days of the application. Under the interim final rule, while there is still a requirement for at least $500,000 in available funds, there are now a few other requirements. A.A.C. R9-18-303(A)(6).
“The ability for Minnesotans to drive across the border to get cannabis is going to increase significantly,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “People are willing to drive to Wisconsin in order to buy fireworks. They’re sure as heck going to drive to South Dakota to get cannabis.”
However, while democrats and cannabis advocates keep pushing, and 51 percent of registered voters in the state support legal cannabis, the republicans, who control the Senate in Minnesota, are mainly anti-cannabis.
“My main concerns are the unintended consequences of recreational pot similar to the concerns we all have about tobacco, drinking, or prescription drug abuse,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. We’re just starting to learn about legalization’s adverse effects in other states like Colorado and Washington. There is no reason to rush this in Minnesota without learning more.
Pot’s Got A Fighting Chance
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last December to federally legalize marijuana, but it failed to garner any consideration by the then Republican-controlled Senate.
Democratic Senate leadership has a plan to legalize marijuana at the federal level at some point this year.
In a joint statement released Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Senator Cory Booker detailed how the Democratic-controlled upper chamber will prioritize federal marijuana legalization in the new Congress. They plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks designed to establish a taxed and regulated cannabis market.
“Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” Senators Booker, Wyden, and Schumer said in a statement. “We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies,” the lawmakers continued. “The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.”
Ever since the Democrats won the majority in the Senate, there has been a lot of speculation on exactly how the course of federal marijuana legalization would pan out. Schumer himself said last week that marijuana reform would be a priority. Still, he stopped short of saying that it would include full-blown legalization.
The Alabama Legislature goes into session tomorrow, but already lawmakers are not shying away from controversial topics. State Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, is bringing back his medical marijuana legislation for 2021.
The legalization of medical marijuana is an issue that Melson brought up in 2019 and in 2020. Both times, the Alabama Senate narrowly passed the legislation and both times, the decriminalization of medical marijuana failed to get out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. This year, Melson’s bill has been pre-filed in the state Senate as Senate Bill 46.
For Alabamians with a medical affliction that they think might be treated with medical cannabis, there are no legal options other than to move to another state. SB46 would create the Compassion Act. It would authorize certain residents of Alabama diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and designated caregivers to be registered and obtain a medical cannabis card, thereby authorizing the patient to use cannabis for medical use.
Under existing law, unlawful possession of marijuana in the first degree is a Class C or Class D felony, and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. Even marijuana legally prescribed by a doctor in another state is a violation of the Alabama criminal code. While dozens of states have legalized medical marijuana, if citizens of those states visit an Alabama beach or to even drive through the state with their legally prescribed medical marijuana, they are committing a crime and could potentially do jail time if caught.
SB46 would tightly regulate medical marijuana from seed to the final end-user:
Lawmakers in New Jersey late last week moved forward on legislation designed to clear up penalties for underage cannabis use.
Characterized as a “cleanup bill,” the legislation “would revise the consequences associated with the underage possession or consumption of illegal marijuana or hashish, or legalized cannabis items which may only be lawfully possessed by persons 21 years of age or older,” after the first attempt at a compromise bill unraveled earlier this month.
That previous bill, according to NJ.com, “fell apart when Black lawmakers came together in opposition, arguing that the penalties it set forth for those under 21 would disproportionately affect Black and Brown youth,” although the follow-up legislation that was introduced last week “is not so different from that prior attempt.”
“The main change on penalties is the lowering of fines those 18 to 20 could face for possessing marijuana,” NJ.com reported.
As for the new bill’s prospects, NJ.com said this: “If the full Legislature passed the cleanup bill, [New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy] could sign it and the two other bills legalizing (S21) and decriminalizing (S2535) marijuana into law together. He has said he cannot sign the other two as is, citing conflicting language that both legalizes possession of marijuana for those under 21 and makes it a disorderly persons offense.”
Quick—name the first cannabis industry unicorn.
If you said Canopy Growth, or GW Pharmaceuticals, or a marijuana company currently in business, you’ve forgotten the amazing rise and fall of Medbox.
The first publicly traded “cannabis company” to exceed $1 billion in value (at least on the exchanges, “real” enough by our rational market’s standards) way back in 2012, Medbox wasn’t a company at all so much as it was a stock-selling scheme as the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered, a hustle that took advantage of irrational hype cycles to bamboozle ill-informed retail investors.
Hmm. Does this sound at all familiar, in early 2021? It’s worth revisiting the Medbox story in the context of the still-ongoing GameStop stock Armageddon, since it’s happening at the same time marijuana legalization, in part inspired by the COVID-19 economic disaster, is having its biggest-yet moment.
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 28: A group of demonstrators are gathered by the New York Stock Exchange ... [+]