New legislation aims to reform federal cannabis laws. Famers and states are eager for hemp regulations but the feds say they will approach the issue “very judiciously.” The Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval to a marijuana regulation bill. Also: How the Ford Transit resolved a big problem for the cannabis industry. 🌳
On federal cannabis reform. U.S. rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) re-introduced a bill that would protect Native American tribes from federal drug enforcement if they choose to legalize marijuana. It would also allow doctors with the Indian Health Services to make medical marijuana recommendations. Marijuana Moment Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) Marijuana Justice Act pits “him against Democratic pragmatists and the cannabis industry members who have spent millions on lobbyists” who support the STATES Act, which doesn’t go as far as Booker’s proposal. Cannabis Wire U.S. rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has re-filed three pieces of legislation aimed at promoting social justice in the cannabis industry. One of them is the House version of Booker’s Senate bill. Marijuana Moment
On federal hemp regulations. “Farmers and state officials are eager for the Agriculture Department and FDA to lay out the regulatory road map” for industrial hemp and CBD products. “Hemp lawyers want speedy answers from USDA about insurance, organic certification and banking services.” Politico But it doesn’t look like they’re going to get speedy answers. The agriculture secretary said his agency is going to move “very judiciously” on hemp regulations and warned people not to get their hopes up about the potential economic impact of the hemp industry. “[The] USDA must develop regulatory plans for certification, land use, testing and disposal of hemp. Only once those plans are in place, the department says, will it begin reviewing state regulatory proposals that will allow farmers to legally grow the crop.” Marijuana Moment
Vermont Senate gives preliminary approval to marijuana bill. The Vermont Senate voted 23 to 5 to approve a bill that would legalize a commercial market for cannabis in the state. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill again on Friday before sending it to the state House for consideration. The bill would tax marijuana sales at 10 percent. WCAX The margin of the first Senate vote is a veto-proof majority. But the House speaker has expressed reservations about commercial cannabis sales. Marijuana Moment Related: Meanwhile, despite New Hampshire’s House approving a marijuana legalization bill, it didn’t pass with a veto-proof majority and the governor has vowed to veto the bill if it comes across his desk. Concord Monitor
Another effort to legalize in N.J. A bi-partisan pair of anti-legalization lawmakers are proposing putting marijuana legalization on the ballot for voters to decide. “Let’s allow the public to become educated before they make a determination of whether or not this is what they really want,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, who is co-sponsoring the proposal. But it’s unclear whether the proposal has the support of the legislature and the governor. nj.com The proposal doesn’t tackle the issues of regulating a marijuana market. Meanwhile, ballot questions in the state “are typically one of two things: Proposed constitutional amendments or bond issues. Schepisi’s proposal is neither. Nevertheless, Schepisi said she’s confident the question could legally get onto the ballot.” Politico
Despite change in law, Colorado schools still won’t administer MMJ. Colorado’s legislature overwhelming approved a measure to allow school staff to administer medical marijuana to students. The measure was aimed at easing burdens on parents, who were previously required to travel to school to administer the medicine themselves. But despite the new law, only one school district out of 178 in the state have implemented a new policy to allow school personnel to administer the medicine. And that policy only applies to CBD-only medical cannabis products. “That’s an issue for the majority of students who need multiple cannabinoids,” said the mother of an MMJ patient who pushed for the bill. The problem seems to be with the Colorado Association of School Boards, which has advised schools not to adopt the new policy. Westword
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Former Idaho AG says he was wrong about mandatory minimums. The chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and former attorney general for the state says he was wrong about mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. “Things have changed and we were wrong,” he said during a House committee hearing on the issue. “He doesn’t think mandatory sentences are deterring any drug trafficker from doing business in Idaho.” But law enforcement groups in the state disagree, and are working to kill the bill. Boise State Public Radio
Hawaii is very liberal, just not on marijuana policy. “Hawaii is among the bluest of states.” But it does have a track record of moving slow on social issues like gay marriage and now marijuana policy reform. Half of the Democrats in the state Senate have co-sponsored legislation to legalize marijuana. But other legislative leaders and government officials oppose moving so fast on legalization. While a Senate committee advanced the legalization bill earlier this month, it faces a deadline in another committee “and indications are it won’t” pass. The Associated Press
Study contradicts Illinois medical cannabis companies. A medical cannabis industry group is fighting to monopolize cannabis cultivation if the state legalizes adult-use, arguing that existing medical marijuana producers would be able to meet demand in a recreational market. But a new study commissioned by state lawmakers found that “current growers could meet only 35 to 54 percent of demand if recreational marijuana were legalized.” A co-author of the study said that supply shortages could end up strengthening the black market. Chicago Tribune
In cannabis business news… Armored trucks that service banks must be federally licensed and are prohibited from transporting marijuana. “In order to transport both pot and cash, a new niche of the armored car industry has emerged. It largely uses Ford Transits and similar models… that weigh under five tons, thereby avoiding federal oversight so long as they do not cross state lines.” Quartz Excessive cannabis packaging regulations are taking a toll on marijuana businesses and the environment. Vice A legal battle between the co-founder of Drizly and the current CEO revealed that the alcohol delivery app has plans to enter the Massachusetts marijuana market. Boston Business Journal How the cannabis industry is taking cues from the fashion industry. Fashionista Cannabis execs are trying to get the TMX Group to loosen restrictions on investing in the U.S. cannabis industry. BNN Bloomberg
Elsewhere around the world… A political party in Thailand is the first major party in the country to advocate for legalizing adult-use marijuana. The Bhumjaithai party is campaigning on the issue ahead of next month’s elections. Reuters In Ireland, medical cannabis is being legally prescribed to 16 patients. “They must get a special license renewed every three months.” The Independent The parliamentary Health Committee of Belgium has approved the creation of a cannabis agency that would oversee the production of medical marijuana. Brussels Times Cannabis use in Finland is on the rise, according to a survey by the federal government. Forty-two percent of respondents supported decriminalizing marijuana. YLE
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, marijuana regulators are moving cautiously on allowing social consumption.
- In Michigan, the Union Township Board of Trustees voted to re-introduce an ordinance to prohibit marijuana businesses.
- In Oklahoma, the House passed a medical marijuana regulatory bill, sending it to the Senate.
- In Indiana, 13 cannabis-related bills are essentially dead for the session.
- In Louisiana, regulators gave permission for the medical marijuana cultivator to move its plants into a permanent facility.
- In New York, 63 percent of New Yorkers support legalization, according to a poll commissioned by a medical cannabis trade association. A look at different cannabis tax proposals for the state.
- In South Dakota, a Senate committee advanced an industrial hemp legalization bill, despite the governor’s objections.
- In Wisconsin, the governor’s budget provides support for industrial hemp programs.
Word for Word
“Some farmers in central India are on high alert as flocks of wild parrots are tearing into their poppy plants for opium… The parrots wait until the farmers cut the poppy pods to help them ripen, which exposes latex that is rich in morphine. The birds have also learned to be stealthy, swooping silently down into the poppy fields without making any sound. The farmers say that the parrots have become so addicted to the opium that they must be on guard nearly all the time to prevent the birds from eating the seeds and getting high.” – Chrissy Sexton for earth.com