Legalization

Colorado: Cannabis Tax-Funded Program Awards Scholarships Totaling $420,000

Cannabis Tax-Funded Program

Each of the recipients will be getting $2,000 for the 2017-18 school year

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation (PHEF) and Pueblo County Commissioners have awarded scholarships totaling $420,000 for the 2017-18 school year. The program, believed to be the world’s first cannabis tax-funded scholarship program, will award approximately $2,000 of it to 210 students on June 20.

The scholarship, which was made possible through cannabis revenue, raised an additional $50,000 by utilizing grant-matching from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

Global: Uruguay and Canada Moving Forward on Cannabis Legalization

International Cannabis

Canada and Uruguay currently honor the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Uruguay‘s Ambassador to Ottawa, Martin Vidal, is working with Canada on the implementation of global cannabis regulations. To do so, Canada and Uruguay must comply with three United Nations drug control treaties, since they honor those treaties.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational cannabis by July 2018.

California: Legal Cannabis Potentially a $5-Billion Boon to Economy, Study Finds

Cannabis Boon

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

With the passage of Proposition 64, California’s looming legal recreational cannabis market could total more than $5 billion in annual sales, according to a study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

The university’s study, which was contracted by the the state’s Bureau of Marijuana Control, forecast that legal recreational sales will make up 61.5% of California’s total cannabis market and legal medical cannabis about 9%. About 29% of all cannabis consumers may stay in the illegal market.

United States: Attorney General Sessions Asked Congress To Allow DOJ To Prosecute Medical Cannabis Providers

Jeff Sessions

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

According to a recent letter to Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections within The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a bill which has significant bipartisan support in Congress.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment protections prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

Connecticut: After Partisan Feud, Recreational Cannabis Bill Tabled Without a Vote

Connecticut Cannabis

In Connecticut, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the state could raise $61 million per year under this proposal, beginning in the 2018-19 fiscal year

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Tuesday, the Connecticut House of Representatives debated the legalization of recreational cannabis use for 90 minutes without a vote. The bipartisan debate had heated dialogue as lawmakers argued the bill.

“We’re going to get left behind,” Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam said, noting that nine states currently have legalized marijuana and several others have debated such action in recent years.

United States: Federal Appeals Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

Court Quashes States’ Attempt To Halt Colorado’s Recreational Cannabis Law, Allows RICO Suits

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel for 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court’s dismissal of Nebraska and Oklahoma's attempt to overturn Colorado’s recreational cannabis law, according to the Denver Post.

Global: Uruguay Becomes First Country To Allow Open Cannabis Use

Uruguay Cannabis

Uruguay has never criminalized personal possession of drugs, and a 1974 law allowed judges to determine whether a given case of possession was personal or commercial

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In August 2014, Uruguay legalized the formation of growing clubs, a state-controlled marijuana dispensary regime and created a cannabis regulatory institute. A new law makes the South American country the first in the world to sell the herb over the counter.

There was a gray area in the law where consumption was legal but cultivation was not, so every time a marijuana-grower was taken prisoner it was reinforcing the message that the only place to obtain access to a legal substance was on the illegal market.

Rhode Island: Legislative Allies Propose Incremental Cannabis Legalization

Rhode Island Cannabis

Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater announce a proposal to legalize possession of small amounts of cannabis on July 1, 2018, and establish an advisory board to provide recommendations to the General Assembly on regulating sales and cultivation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The compromise legislation would legalize possession of an ounce or less for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018 and establish a six-person advisory board comprised of two state officials selected by the governor, two state senators, and two state representatives to study outcomes of legalization in other states.

Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott Vetoes Social Cannabis Bill, Offers ‘Path Forward’

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

MONTPELIER, VT. - Gov. Phil Scott announced Wednesday he is vetoing a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont, but offered “a path forward” for passing it later this year. He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.

Vermont: Cannabis Regulation Bill Reaches Governor's Desk

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Governor Scott has until Wednesday to sign or veto S. 22, the bill to legalize cannabis in Vermont for adults over 21 before it automatically becomes law

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The Vermont Legislature sent its cannabis regulation bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Scott this past Thursday, initiating a five-day countdown during which Scott will have to decide whether to sign the legislation, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

If passed, the measure would allow possession of up to an ounce, two mature plants, and four immature plants, starting in July 2018. A commission would develop a proposal to tax and regulate cannabis for the Vermont Legislature to consider next year.

United Kingdom: Liberal Democrats Add Marijuana Legalization To Platform

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Liberal Democratic leaders in the United Kingdom announced Friday that they plan on pushing for marijuana regulation and taxation as part of their political platform. Research by the liberal Democrats revealed that 87,247 police caseloads related to cannabis were opened in 2015, equaling an estimated 1,044,180 police hours and £31 million (more than USD$40 million) in enforcement, the Independent reports.

“The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market,” the manifesto states. “Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.”

Marijuana is a Class B substance in the U.K. and possession carries a five-year jail term. Dealers can be sentenced to up to 14 years.

The party's plan would legalize cannabis use for adults 18 and over, would limit THC content, and would require that all marijuana products contain CBD. The party says that "skunk" (marijuana that has been bred to remove most, or all, CBD) is responsible for harming the “mental and physical health” of youth.

“The current approach is a disaster for young people…There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength,” the party contends. “‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.”

New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

Florida: Lawmakers Fail To Reconcile Medical Marijuana Implementation Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida lawmakers failed to enact legislation this legislative session establishing rules for the implementation of Amendment 2, a voter-initiated measure that legalizes the use, production, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment was approved in November, passing with the support of more than 70 percent of voters.

Unless lawmakers convene a special legislative session to address the issue, Department of Health staff will be responsible for establishing regulations for the program. Those rules are due by July 3. The amendment calls for the program to be operational by October.

Mexico: Lawmakers Approve Legislation To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Mexico have approved the legalization of medical marijuana products. President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has spoken in favor of the measure, must sign it to make it official.

The measure authorizes the Health Ministry to design regulations for the use, importation, and production of pharmaceutical products derived from CBD-dominant/low-THC cannabis. Presently, CBD-infused products may be imported into the country on a case by case basis.

The personal possession of up to five grams of cannabis was decriminalized by Mexican lawmakers in 2009. President Nieto proposed legislation last year to increase this threshold to one ounce.

In 2015, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-drug laws should not trump individuals' rights to grow and consume marijuana for their own personal use.

Nevada: Retail Marijuana Sales Begin In July

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana dispensaries in good standing with the state of Nevada will be able to begin retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults on July 1. They will be able to apply for "early start" licenses on May 15. The rules were approved by the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday in a 6 to 1 vote.

Last November a majority of voters passed the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market.

Criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana were eliminated in Nevada effective on January 1, 2017. Initially, provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of marijuana were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Several other states which have passed laws to legalize adult-use marijuana, such as Maine and Massachusetts, have made moves to delay the implementation of legal adult-use marijuana laws.

Washington, DC: Congress Reauthorizes Protection For State Medical Marijuana Programs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs are safe for now as Congress has approved spending legislation which the President has signed into law that reauthorizes language protecting those programs. But the President issued a signing statement expressing his personal opposition to the measure, saying that those provisions could interfere with his constitutional authority. Signing statements are often issued by presidents, but they do not carry the weight of law.

Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to "prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." That language is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, passed in 2014.

State-sponsored hemp programs were also reauthorized, thanks to a similar amendment.

Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, 2017; at that time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire.

Forty-six states presently acknowledge the therapeutic use of marijuana and various marijuana-derived products. Thirty states recognize hemp as an industrial crop.

Colorado: New Cannabis Sales Record Set In March

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado set a new record in cannabis sales in March, with a total in combined medical and recreational sales of $132 million, according to state Department of Revenue figures outlined by the Cannabist. March was the tenth consecutive month that had sales totaling more than $100 million.

Adult use sales made up $93.3 million of March’s record-breaking sales, while medical cannabis sales totaled $38.4 million.

Andrew Livingston, director of economics and research for the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, estimates that by the end of the year Colorado’s sales could reach $1.6 billion.

At ten months into the state’s fiscal year, licenses and application fees for medical cannabis businesses have fallen 8.5 percent, and 25.4 percent for retail businesses, according to the Department of Revenue. Miles Light, an economist with the Marijuana Policy Group, said the decline “shows that fewer new firms are entering and… sales should be tapering off or declining.” However, he was surprised that sales “continue to grow so quickly.”

“We are not surprised that almost all of the sales growth is in the retail marijuana space,” he said.

Delaware: Bill Approved By Legislative Committee For Legalized Adult-use Marijuana, Moves To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to create a taxed-and-regulated marijuana market in Delaware has passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee and will now move to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation would regulate and tax cannabis “in the same manner as alcohol,” allowing adults to purchase marijuana products, but makes no provisions for growing at home.

State Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said she believes the measure will pass the House, which will likely take up the legislation after the legislature’s June recess.

“The numbers that we’re getting, about $22 (million) and $25 million on the conservative side that’s just off the sale,” Keeley said in a WMDT report. “If we actually look at this as an economic driver it makes perfect sense.”

Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a supporter of the measure, spoke out about it recently at a Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting.

“Education is suffering," she said. "Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.”

The measure would allot 20 percent of tax revenues collected from legal cannabis sales to go to the Department of Education.

California: Attorney General Becerra Vows To Fight Feds On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would “probably be the 1 millionth person in line” to fight Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tried to crackdown on California's legal marijuana industry in a recent interview with Politico.

“Cannabis is last century’s argument. We’re beyond that,” Becerra said in the interview. “I suspect if you took a real quick poll here, I bet if we took a poll, who has got cannabis, it’d be pretty — you don’t have to raise your hand, but you know what I’m saying.”

The former Democratic Congressman admitted that he had tried it “at a younger time” when asked by reporter David Siders about his own marijuana use.

“So then it was illegal?” Siders asked the Attorney General.

“I also drive over the speed limit periodically, so,” Becerra responded.

The federal budget includes an amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana regimes and hemp programs but it does not include language preventing a crackdown on recreational programs. Donald Trump recently included a statement in an omnibus spending bill that could allow him to ignore the amendment.

“I would love to see Jeff Sessions come to California and tell us we’re not going to move forward on cannabis,” Becerra said. “Something tells me that it’s not gonna happen.”

Vermont: Legislature First To Pass Marijuana Legalization Measure

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's legislature has approved a bill that would legalize marijuana possession and small grows for adults and would create a Marijuana Regulation Commission that will draft legislation for a tax-and-regulate system.

The passage of this bill makes Vermont's legislature the first one to approve ending marijuana prohibition.

If Republican Governor Phil Scott signs the bill, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to two mature and four immature plants beginning on July 1, 2018.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a report from The Hill. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

The measure was a compromise between the House -- who passed their own bill last week to legalize possession and small grows -- and the Senate, who passed a tax-and-regulate measure last week.

The Hill reported that the governor has not indicated whether he will sign the measure and has previously said cannabis legalization was not “a priority.”

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