Hemp is officially legal in the U.S. Marijuana legalization could be more effective than building a wall to prevent smuggling. Alaska is poised to become the first state to allow on-site cannabis consumption. Also, a medical marijuana patient is suing a school for rescinding its job offer after she tested positive for cannabis. 🌳
Hemp is officially legal. President Trump has signed the Farm Bill, which includes a provision to federally legalize hemp. The crop will be highly regulated though, and the FDA is emphasizing its authority to regulate cannabis products. Axios The FDA said it was looking for “pathways” to legalize commercial sales of hemp-derived CBD products — a booming market that has flourished thanks to a lack of enforcement. The federal agency currently prohibits CBD-infused food products and transporting CBD products across state lines. The FDA adopting a regulatory framework for CBD could open up the market to bigger players that have been reluctant to enter the space. CNBC Here’s a look at how hemp legalization could change the cannabis industry. Marijuana Business Daily
Moves in the House. The U.S. House has passed criminal justice reform legislation known as the First Step Act in a 358-36 vote. Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which would reform sentencing guidelines, among other measures. Politico U.S. rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the next chair of the House Rules Committee, has signed on to co-sponsor senator Cory Booker’s marijuana legalization bill. The Marijuana Justice Act has been praised by drug policy advocates for addressing racial disparities in drug enforcement. That McGovern is co-sponsoring such legislation stands in stark contrast to his predecessor U.S. rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who consistently blocked all marijuana reform measures. Marijuana Moment
The Wall vs. weed legalization. A report by a libertarian think tank found that marijuana legalization in U.S. states not only decreased the amount of marijuana smuggled from Mexico, but also decreased the amount of all drugs smuggled across the border. Previous efforts to combat drug smuggling, like fencing and new surveillance technologies, did not have any meaningful impact on drug seizures at the border. But marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state correlated with a drop in drug seizures by border agents. Big Think U.S. rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) cited similar data in comments to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Gaetz questioned the efficacy of federal prohibition when state-level legalization has reduced drug smuggling. Nielsen said she is “just not familiar” with the report. Marijuana Moment
Alaska set to become the first state to allow social use. Marijuana regulators in Alaska approved rules on Thursday that would allow people to consume cannabis at state-licensed dispensaries. The measure would allow consumers to purchase one gram of flowers or a 10-mg THC edible to use in a “separate indoor or outdoor area that meets specific standards.” Dispensaries would need to get approval from state regulators before allowing on-site consumption. While certain cities like San Francisco have licensed cannabis consumption lounges, Alaska would be the first state to institute such a policy. USA Today The rules include ventilation requirements and would bar consumers from bringing their own cannabis products to the consumption areas. But the regulations must be reviewed by the state Department of Law before they can be finalized. The Associated Press
A fight over marijuana is brewing between NYC’s mayor and NY’s governor. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio finally came out in support of marijuana legalization as his task force convened to study the subject released its report. The report called for local control and criticized corporate interests in the cannabis industry. “The mayor’s anti ‘Big Pot’ stance runs directly counter to the goals the well-financed industry stated in a confidential memo to the governor’s office acquired by Politico.” Politico Meanwhile, governor Cuomo is warning against high marijuana taxes. New York Post
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Medical marijuana patient files lawsuit after job offer was rescinded. A medical marijuana patient who was offered a job at a school in Waterbury, Conn. told her supervisors that she used medical marijuana as part of a treatment regimen for a serious autoimmune disease. They told her it would be OK as long as she had a doctor’s recommendation. But after she tested positive for marijuana during a drug screening, school officials put her on administrative leave. “Although she had done everything by the books and was already officially hired, the school suddenly rescinded the job offer.” Now, she’s suing in hopes of preventing similar situations from happening to other patients. “I followed the protocol. They gave me instructions. I followed them in a timely manner,” she said. WTIC
Now, the banning begins. Now that Michigan voters approved a marijuana legalization law, municipalities are starting to ban marijuana businesses in their communities. Dozens of communities across the state have opted out of having recreational marijuana businesses. Anti-marijuana advocates are helping communities draft such ordinances, predicting many more to pass in the coming year. “Even in communities where voters overwhelmingly supported legal weed, councils are voting to opt out of having businesses that sell marijuana.” Detroit Free Press Related: The Michigan legislature sent a bill to the governor that would make medical marijuana applications easier for business owners with a 10 percent stake or less. Detroit News
Today in cannabis business news… After a Terra Tech investor filed a lawsuit against the company last week, the fight between the two parties is heating up. While the company vehemently denies the dozens of allegations contained in the lawsuit, one company has already backed out of a potential deal after signing a non-binding agreement with Terra Tech. Green Market Report Canadian cannabis M&A deals are on the rise as Aleafia Health said it would acquire Emblem for $173 million in stock. BNN Bloomberg Meanwhile, Canadian cannabis producer Flowr acquired just under 20 percent of Holigen, a Portuguese and Australian cannabis producer. Okanagan Edge
Health Canada releases draft regulations for edibles and extracts. Canadian health officials have released proposed regulations for cannabis edibles and extracts, which will not become legal until next year. Health Canada is proposing 10-mg THC limits on edibles and plain child-resistant packaging. Cannabis topicals could also be required to have child-resistant packaging and be limited to 1,000 milligrams of THC per package. The draft regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days. CTV News
Elsewhere around the world… Government officials in Austria have ordered businesses to stop selling CBD products in food and cosmetics. “Cannabidiol is explicitly included in the EU’s novel food catalog, which means individual member countries may limit the marketing and sale of it without specific authorization.” The move took many by surprise as no new law was passed. The Minister of Health simply put forth a “new interpretation of the existing rules.” Marijuana Business Daily The health secretary of the Philippines urged caution when considering medical marijuana legalization, saying more research is needed. ABS-CBN
Computer Love. Vocal processing can be somewhat divisive. Some decry it as dishonest or fake, others as trite. But at its best, it can augment vulnerabilities and intricacies. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Colorado, average wholesale prices for marijuana rose in the second half of 2018.
- In Massachusetts, a look at the recreational dispensaries in the state.
- In California, OSHA fined a cannabis business $50,470 for safety violations that resulted in an explosion that injured an employee. 16 percent of local ballot initiatives were marijuana related this year. Regulators issued recalls for 29 cannabis companies caught up in a testing lab scandal.
- In Pennsylvania, the governor defends his stance on marijuana legalization. Why the policy would face difficulty in the General Assembly.
- In Utah, government officials are asking the state Supreme Court to reject an emergency petition over a bill that replaced the medical marijuana initiative. The state government received 164 applications for its ‘cannabis czar’ position.
- In Arkansas, medical marijuana dispensary scores were released by alcohol regulators following FOIA requests.
- In Kentucky, the state submitted its hemp oversight plan to federal regulators.
- In Rhode Island, top government officials are coming to terms with marijuana legalization as neighboring states legalize it.
- In Florida, a look at the future of cannabis policy in the state.
- In Illinois, law enforcement groups say more teens are using marijuana.
- In Connecticut, the governor-elect indicated a willingness to continue the criminal justice reform efforts of his predecessor.
Word for Word
“A new, broader grassroots movement is needed — in the spirit of the resistance — demanding that any adult-use negotiations have not only businessmen, but activists, faith leaders and representatives from communities of color in the room and at the table. As we race towards a bright future of legalized marijuana in New York, we cannot continue to leave the most vulnerable in the dark. Any truly progressive marijuana bill should first and foremost help those Dr. King described as, ‘left out of the sunlight of opportunity.'” – Rev. Al Sharpton for NBC News
“What best explains the gender gap in marijuana attitudes is the gender gap in marijuana use. Men (all men, not just white men) report using marijuana more often than women. Once marijuana use is taken into account, there is no gender gap in attitudes toward gender gap in marijuana legalization… Given these findings, we think the gender gap in support for marijuana legalization will eventually start to close. Over the past several decades, both women and men have become more likely to support legalizing marijuana at roughly the same pace, which has kept the size of the gender gap fairly constant. But as marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, using it will likely be considered less risky or deviant and also less immoral.” – Researchers Laurel Elder and Steven Greene for The Washington Post