South Korea becomes the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis. A legislative committee in New Jersey advanced marijuana legalization, but it’s unclear if it has the votes to pass. Medical marijuana patients in Louisiana have no way of accessing the drug. Also: More than a dozen marijuana bills have been pre-filed in Texas, of all places. 🌳
South Korea legalizes medical cannabis. The South Korean National Assembly approved amending its federal drug law to allow medical marijuana prescriptions. As the first East Asian country to legalize the drug, the move marks a significant shift in the region. The law is very restrictive — patients will be approved on a case-by-case basis and potency will be capped at “non-hallucinogenic” levels. Still, “South Korea legalizing medical cannabis, even if it will be tightly controlled with limited product selection, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis industry,” said the CEO of a VC firm focused on emerging cannabis markets. “The importance of Korea being the first country in East Asia to allow medical cannabis at a federal level should not be understated.” Marijuana Business Daily
Marijuana legalization takes a step forward in New Jersey. A joint state Senate and Assembly committee approved cannabis-related legislation, including a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana, one that would expand the medical marijuana program, and a third that would overhaul drug conviction expungement. The advancement of the legislation brings legal weed one step closer to reality in the state. While Democrats control the legislature, a number of them have come out in opposition to legalization. It’s still unclear whether the bills have the votes to pass. Governor Phil Murphy has yet to express his support for the legalization bill, despite supporting legalization more generally. The state Senate president said he would not bring the bill for a vote until he has the support of the governor. Asbury Park Press The legalization bill will need 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 votes in the Senate to pass, plus Murphy’s signature. northjersey.com
What are political connections worth in the weed biz? A deep dive into the story of New York medical marijuana company NYCanna reveals how two individuals received shares in the company thanks to their deep political connections, resulting in disagreements and two lawsuits for the company. The two men paid no money for their shares in the business that was eventually sold for tens of millions of dollars. The company settled a lawsuit with a former major shareholder last year over their roles. A second lawsuit against NYCanna was filed this month by a consulting company for breach of contract. syracuse.com The company’s founders are still involved in the cannabis industry — they have a provisional medical marijuana license in Ohio and they are also seeking licenses in Maryland and Pennsylvania. syracuse.com Related: While MMJ licenses are being bought and sold for tens of millions of dollars, the medical marijuana program is still woefully ineffective for patients. Here’s the story of one chronic pain patient, who had to go through a “time-consuming, costly, and infuriating” process to get certified. Filter
Federal court tosses lawsuit from medical marijuana patient. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling to dismiss a complaint from a medical marijuana patient against his employer. The patient sued Charter Communications, LLC after being fired. The federal appeals court found that Montana’s medical marijuana law does not prevent employers from prohibiting their employees from using the drug and that legalization in the state does not override a company’s drug-free workplace policies. HR Dive
The pitfalls of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. In Louisiana, it’s technically legal for Katelyn Castleberry’s two autistic boys to access medical marijuana. The problem? There’s nowhere to access it from, and Castleberry fears it will never become available due to the state’s restrictive rules. “Do I stay in the place I love with my family and make where I live a better place? Or do I go to a place that will allow my sons to live?” she says. While Louisiana’s medical and research-focus approach sounds great in theory, the result is that patients are still waiting for their medicine. “Louisiana seems to be an example of how to over regulate the product… The program is not in the best interests of many of the patients it’s designed to serve,” said one advocate. CNN
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Opposing legalization while profiting off of it. Idaho rep. Brent Crane, the Republican Assistant Majority Leader, is a vice president at his family business Crane Alarms Services. Crane has repeatedly come out against marijuana reform in Idaho and has not voted in favor of any cannabis legislation in his time as a lawmaker, including modest medical marijuana and CBD oil reforms. Meanwhile, the family security company provides services to a cannabis dispensary in Oregon. Crane confirmed that his business provided services to a cannabis company and is aware of the marijuana money coming in because he oversees invoicing. What some are calling hypocrisy, Crane insists is a Clintonesque smear campaign aimed at derailing his bid for the speaker position. Idaho Statesman
Today in cannabis science… GW Pharmaceuticals saw positive results for its Phase 3 clinical trials on CBD drug Epidiolex for children with Dravet syndrome. The study saw a 46 percent decrease in seizures for patients on a 20 mg dose and a 49 percent decrease for those on a 10 mg dose over a 14-week period. (All subjects continued taking their other medications.) GW’s shares were up on the news. Investor Place A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists identified the genes responsible for THC and CBD production in cannabis plants. The researchers say that identifying the genes will make it easier to manipulate the levels of cannabinoids in plants. The Toronto Star Researchers found that cannabis diverged from Humulus plants 27.8 million years ago. Humulus plants produce the hops that are used to make beer. Marijuana Moment
Cannabis in Canada. A month after Canada introduced legal cannabis sales, marijuana arrests and seizures have spiked on the New York side of the border. Buffalo Business First Supply shortages in the country have led marijuana retailers to some pretty desperate measures. The country’s largest private marijuana retailer has a team of five people watching for new inventory 24/7. “At 3:30 in the morning all of a sudden $4,000 worth of inventory is made available yet in seven minutes it’s drawn down, meaning that other big competitors are doing the same thing,” said its CEO. Bloomberg The Canadian military and police are continuing their marijuana eradication efforts, prompting one Liberal Member of Parliament to call for an end to a multi-million-dollar operation to destroy marijuana plants. Vice
Elsewhere around the world… Why Massachusetts’ marijuana law could serve as a template for the U.K. Vice The justice minister of New Zealand says his considering “one big series of referenda at the next general election” in 2020. The issues that voters would be weighing in on are marijuana legalization, euthanasia, and the Mixed Member Proportional voting system in its Parliament. Newshub.co.nz A delegation of senior Jamaican government officials visited an Israeli cannabis lab. The Jerusalem Post Junta leader and prime minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government may use Article 44 to tackle cannabis patent problems. Article 44 gives the PM absolute power and has been criticized for being draconian and even worse than martial law. As Thailand is deliberating a medical marijuana bill, cannabis-related patent applications have been filed in the country by foreign firms. The Nation
Word on the States
- In Michigan, the marijuana legalization law will take effect Dec. 6 as election results were certified.
- In Texas, more than a dozen marijuana bills have been pre-filed for next session.
- In Utah, advocates expressed skepticism over the compromise medical marijuana deal.
- In North Carolina, some state lawmakers are meeting this week to talk marijuana legalization.
- In Connecticut, Democrats are prioritizing marijuana legalization next session.
- In Indiana, a look at efforts to reform marijuana laws in the state.
- In Arkansas, companies that lost out on licenses filed complaints that the winning firms violated state rules.
- In Ohio, a local credit union confirmed that it is offering limited banking services to the cannabis industry.
- In Kentucky, medical marijuana and hemp could be a boon for small farmers.
- In New Mexico, medical marijuana patients are struggling to get jobs.
- In Oklahoma, regulators are under fire for removing MMJ licensee information.
- In Colorado, Denver is waiting for state law to change to allow for safe injection sites.
Word for Word
“Number one, we’re not going to create problems for people. So let’s talk about marijuana, misdemeanor marijuana. Certainly, first-time offenders, we’re not going to even prosecute those. But if they come back, we’ll start doing assessments to figure out if there’s anything going on health-wise. Maybe there’s some other substance, maybe it’s alcohol, maybe it’s heroin, maybe it’s meth. A person could be caught with marijuana but have a meth addiction, they just didn’t have it on them at the time. So obviously, you would want to refer those people to some type of treatment service. If we solve the meth problem, we solve life’s problems for them. You likely will get a person who can hold a job, who can get back with their family—they’ve probably lost them because of the addiction. You put a healthy person back into the community.” – Dallas County district attorney-elect John Creuzot, D Magazine
“India’s new-found love for ayurveda, its ancient medicine system, may help mainstream marijuana in the country. On Nov. 25, the Central Council For Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, a research body under India’s AYUSH ministry of traditional medicine, announced positive results from the first clinical study in India on the use of cannabis as a restorative drug for cancer patients… Ayurveda, the ancient medicine system developed in India, recommends small doses of cannabis to treat several ailments, from meningitis to anemia. India’s stringent anti-marijuana laws also technically allow for medical research, but such use has been non-existent until now.” – Kuwar Singh for Quartz