Marijuana Legalization Measures Gaining Momentum in Several States


Lawmakers in several states have recently moved forward legislative proposals to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana-related activities. Here is a look at where some of these efforts currently stand.

LEGALIZATION

New Hampshire: By a margin of 209 to 147, House members voted late last week in favor of House Bill 481, which legalizes the possession and cultivate of personal use quantities of cannabis by adults, and establishes a licensed system of commercial production and retail sales. The measure awaits action in the Senate and faces opposition from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has pledged to veto any legalization bill, “regardless of what the language looks like.”

New Mexico: Members of the House voted 36 to 34 in favor of HB 356, which establishes a system of licenses, state-run marijuana retailers. Members of the Senate have until March 16 to act on the bill.

Vermont: Members of the Senate last week passed SB 54 by a vote of 23 to 5. The measure expands existing law to permit the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 or older. The measure now awaits action from members of the House.

DECRIMINALIZATION:

Hawaii: House members approved HB 1383, which removes criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to three grams) and expunges past criminal convictions. The measure now heads to the Senate.

New Mexico: Members of the Senate on Tuesday voted 30 to 8 in favor of SB 323, which reduces possession penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis to a $50 fine and no criminal record. It now goes to the House for further action.

OTHER REFORM BILLS

Florida: Senate members this week overwhelmingly approved legislation, SB 182, to lift the ban on the smoking of medical cannabis and/or the possession of herbal formulations of the plant. House members are expected to address the measure on Wednesday.

New Mexico: Members of the Senate overwhelmingly (33 to 2) passed SB 406 to expand greater medical access and to limit discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere against qualified patients. It now awaits action from the House.

Virginia: Legislation is before the Governor to expand the pool of health professionals who can approve cannabis therapy to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The measure, SB 1557, also permits qualifying patients access to a broader spectrum of products containing both plant-derived CBD and THC.

West Virginia: Legislation (HB 2538) to facilitate banking access for the medical cannabis industry is awaiting action from the Governor. If signed into law, it mandates that the “Commissioner of Financial Institutions shall not prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair a financial institution from providing services to a person or entity involved in a medical cannabis-related business.”

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Federal Agencies Weigh In on Legal Status of Hemp, CBD


WASHINGTON, DC — Representatives from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) testified last week with regard to federal efforts to regulate domestic hemp production and the sale of certain hemp-derived CBD products.

In December, Congress enacted legislation removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

In Congressional testimony last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the Department is working to create federal hemp regulations by 2020. Under the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, US states that wish to license commercial hemp cultivation must submit their plan to the USDA. However, the agency is not reviewing any state-specific plans until it has finalized its own federal regulations.

In separate testimony, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Congress that the agency is considering various pathways to regulate hemp-derived CBD products, but cautioned that the process could take “two, three, [or] four years.”

The Commissioner has previously stated, “[I]t’s unlawful under the FD&C Act (US Food Drugs and Cosmetics Act) to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.”

That announcement led to regulatory agencies in several states pulling certain CBD-infused products from the retail market.

The FDA director told Congress that the agency will soon announce the formation of a “high-level working group” to begin addressing the issue, with public meetings beginning in April.

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State-Licensed Marijuana Businesses Employ Over 200,000 Full-Time Workers


SEATTLE, WA — The state-licensed cannabis industry gained over 64,000 new employees in 2018, and now employs over 200,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by Whitney Economics and the online content provider Leafly.com.

The report, entitled Cannabis Jobs Count, identifies some 211,000 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis sector. This total increases to 296,000 jobs when ancillary employers are also included.

By comparison, 112,000 Americans are estimated to currently work in the textile industry, while only about 52,000 people are employed by the coal mining industry.

“[T]he legal cannabis industry remains a substantial and unrecognized engine of grassroots job creation,” authors concluded. “In fact, cannabis job growth is proceeding at double digit rates in many states despite being overtaxed locally and heavily penalized at the federal level.”

California (67,000 jobs) led the country in cannabis-related employment, followed by Washington (47,000 jobs), and Colorado (44,000 jobs).

Commenting on the findings, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “The federal government needs to deschedule marijuana to allow states to better and more fully benefit from the economic growth engine that is the legal marijuana industry. Further, state regulators need to ensure as this sector expands its economic benefits are shared by all, including and most especially by those who suffered most under the failed policy of criminal prohibition.”

Full text of the report is online. Additional economic data is available via the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy.”

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Justice Department Urged to Take “Immediate Action” on Pending Federal Marijuana Grow Applications


The Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, DC. (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Psychological Association (APA) is urging US Attorney General William Barr to review more than two-dozen pending applications for federal marijuana grow licenses.

In a letter dated Wednesday, February 27, the association urged the Justice Department to “act immediately” on 26 applications pending before federal officials — applications which were initially submitted to the agency over two years ago.

Currently, the sole federally licensed producer of cannabis for clinical research is the University of Mississippi. The University has held the exclusive license for more than four decades.

In August 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration announced in the US Federal Register that the agency was “adopting a new policy that is designed to increase the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act to grow (manufacture) marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States.”

The agency said that the policy change was necessary because the existing system provides “no clear legal pathway for commercial enterprises to produce marijuana for product development.”

Last year, however, former DEA director Robert Patterson testified to Congress that the agency believed that approving additional applicants would likely violate international anti-drug treaties. Patterson said that DEA could not move forward granting any new applications until the Justice Department clarified the issue.

In its letter to the newly appointed Attorney General, APA CEO Arthur C. Evans urged the Department “to take immediate action on the existing pool of cannabis grower applications so that the United States scientific community can continue to expand the study of both the harmful and potential therapeutic effects of cannabis and its derivatives. … Without access to an expanded range of cannabis products engineered under FDA-approved Good Manufacturing Practices, scientific research cannot hope to keep pace with the ever expanding recreational and medicinal cannabis marketplace.” The APA represents nearly 120,000 researchers and clinicians.

The longstanding federal prohibition on privately licensed cannabis producers exists despite a 2007 ruling by the DEA’s own administrative law judge striking down the ban because it was not “in the public interest.” Although that ruling ordered DEA to lift the ban, the agency failed to do so.

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They have more mental health issues than those who use opioids alone — ScienceDaily


A researcher from the University of Houston has found that adults who take prescription opioids for severe pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression and substance abuse issues if they also use marijuana.

“Given the fact that cannabis potentially has analgesic properties, some people are turning to it to potentially manage their pain,” Andrew Rogers, said in describing the work published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Rogers focuses on the intersection of chronic pain and opioid use, and identifying the underlying psychological mechanisms, such as anxiety sensitivity, emotion regulation, pain-related anxiety, of these relationships. Rogers is a doctoral student in clinical psychology who works in the UH Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and its Substance Use Treatment Clinic.

Under the guidance of advisor Michael Zvolensky, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor of psychology and director of the lab and clinic, Rogers surveyed 450 adults throughout the United States who had experienced moderate to severe pain for more than three months. The study revealed not only elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, but also tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sedative use among those who added the cannabis, compared with those who used opioids alone. No increased pain reduction was reported.

Importantly, said Rogers, while the co-use of substances generally is associated with poorer outcomes than single substance use, little work has examined the impact of mixing opioids and cannabis.

Opioid misuse constitutes a significant public health problem and is associated with a host of negative outcomes. Despite efforts to curb this increasing epidemic, opioids remain the most widely prescribed class of medications. Prescription opioids are often used to treat chronic pain, despite the risks, and chronic pain remains an important factor in understanding this epidemic.

Cannabis is another substance that has recently garnered attention in the chronic pain literature, as increasing numbers of people use it to manage chronic pain.

“There’s been a lot of buzz that maybe cannabis is the new or safer alternative to opioid, so that’s something we wanted to investigate,” said Rogers, who said the idea for the study evolved from a conversation with Zvolensky. Rogers was studying opioid use and pain management when they began discussing the role of cannabis in managing pain.

“The findings highlight a vulnerable population of polysubstance users with chronic pain and indicates the need for more comprehensive assessment and treatment of chronic pain,” said Rogers.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Houston. Original written by Laurie Fickman. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.



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No Correlation Between THC Levels In Blood And Psychomotor Impairment


DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — The presence of low levels of THC in blood is poorly correlated with driving performance, according to driving simulator data published in the International Journal of Legal Medicine.

German investigators assessed simulated driving performance in 15 subjects following the consumption of up to three cannabis cigarettes. Subjects manifested changes in driving performance, such as higher incidences of weaving and an inability to compensate for unforeseen events, for a period of three hours following cannabis administration. After three hours, subjects’ “driving performance and style no longer differed significantly” from baseline performance, authors reported.

Researchers failed to identify any “reliable correlations” in the total quantity of cannabis consumed by participants and their THC blood concentrations immediately afterward, indicating “a considerable variation” in THC’s bioavailability.

Authors also failed to report any reliable relationship between drivers’ THC levels and performance. They concluded: “Consistent with previous studies, a direct correlation between the individual fitness to drive (amount of penalty points) and the THC concentrations … was not found. Therefore, determining a threshold limit for legal purposes based on these values alone seems to be arbitrary.”

Their conclusions are similar to those of numerous other studies finding that THC blood levels are inadvisable and inappropriate predictors of driving impairment.

 Full text of the study, “On the impact of cannabis consumption on traffic safety: A driving simulator study with habitual cannabis consumers,” appears in the International Journal of Legal Medicine. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.”



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Monday, August 12, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News


Entrepreneur Wanda James sits looking at the camera holding a lit joint in dispensary.

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Monday, August 12, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Colorado Tourism Now Has a Pro-Marijuana Influence (Denver Westword)

// Why Did the Feds Spend More on Weed Busts Than Fighting Domestic Terrorism? (Merry Jane)

// Wine, Beer, and Weed: Grass Lands Brings Legal Cannabis to Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco (NBC Bay Area)


Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends over at Eaze.com, California’s top one stop website for legal marijuana delivery. If you live in the golden state, swing over to Eaze.com to see if they are active in your area. With deliveries taking place in less than an hour, it’s never been easier to get legal California marijuana delivery. And of course, if you don’t live where Eaze delivers, you can still benefit from all the useful bits of industry insight and analysis they’ve developed using their properly aggregate and anonymized sales data stream.


// The Newest Pokemon Is Literally a Bong (Merry Jane)

// Grading the Democratic Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: Beto O’Rourke (Canna Law Blog)

// Auditor withdraws cannabis firm CannTrust’s financial report amid controversy (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Surterra gets OK for more medical marijuana storefronts in Florida (Tallahassee Democrat)

// Oakland’s artist warehouses targeted after Ghost Ship, face new threat from pot (San Francisco Chronicle)

// Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative Takes First Step Toward 2020 Ballot (Marijuana Moment)

// Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative Clears Early Hurdle On Way To 2020 Ballot (Marijuana Moment)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
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Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Wanda James



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New Model Ordinances Envisioned to Promote Small Businesses and Inclusivity


This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.

As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.

“The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.

Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be addressed in the age of legalization through policies such as these equity programs and expungement of previous charges. Historically, African-Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union report The War on Marijuana In Black and White (2013) concluded: “[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”

“With this ordinance urban centers across the country will be able to access the economic opportunities created by equity programs and we look forward to supporting that work across the country,” Jason Ortiz, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee and Vice President of MCBA said of their new model ordinance.

You can find the MCBA Model Ordinance to share with your local lawmakers HERE.

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Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization is Closer than Ever


After months of negotiation, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and state lawmakers have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the Garden State.

Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed sensible marijuana reform.

Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

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New York Legislature Signals Support for Marijuana Legalization


In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state.

If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a reality in New York.

Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in support of cannabis legalization in New York.

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