The USDA listened to suggestions about how to regulate the hemp industry. How proposals to legalize cannabis by Democratic candidates benefit the industry. Florida repeals its ban on smokable medical marijuana. Also: Food, beverage, and Wall Street execs get in on the marijuana business. 🌳
The USDA considers hemp regulations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture listened to stakeholders suggestions about how the federal government should approach hemp regulations. THC-level testing, inter-state transport, and the legal status of CBD were among the chief concerns that experts brought up. Several also questioned the 0.3 percent cap on THC — “this is something we definitely have to revisit,” said one researcher. Others expressed concern for small farmers, Native American tribes, minorities, and veterans. Cannabis Wire Although Congress legalized hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA has been tasked with establishing federal regulations and reviewing state hemp plans. Marijuana Moment Related: One main concern for hemp regulations in California is cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana farms. Some counties have already banned hemp cultivation due to cross-pollination concerns. North Bay Business Journal
Democratic 2020 candidates side with cannabis industry. Democratic hopefuls for the 2020 presidential race have mostly all jumped onto the marijuana legalization bandwagon. But federal legalization proposals all benefit the industry, while “the less profit-driven legalization alternatives available — haven’t gotten much attention.” Here’s a look at other types of legalization models that would move away from creating something similar to the tobacco industry. “Presidential candidates might consider yet another alternative: promising to end federal involvement in policing marijuana only in states that operate a retail monopoly themselves.” The Washington Post Related: The cannabis lobby has tripled its spending in Colorado in the past five years. The industry is counting on governor Jared Polis in this key legislative year. Colorado Sun
Florida passes repeal of smokable medical marijuana ban. The Florida House voted 101-11 to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana. The measure previously passed unanimously in the Senate and will now head to governor Ron DeSantis’ desk. “I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters,” tweeted DeSantis. The bill increases the amount of medical marijuana that doctors can order for patients and also requires doctors to submit patient data for research. Orlando Sentinel “I don’t know about you all but I’m liking this guy so far!” said John Morgan, the attorney who sued the state over the ban on medical marijuana smoking. Cannabis Wire
Beto joins the 2020 race. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke is officially joining the race for president. Here’s a look at how his political career was propelled by his fight to reform drug laws during his time on the El Paso City Council. The Intercept In his first event after announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke called for federal marijuana legalization. “We can free ourselves from the distinction of being the country that imprisons more of its fellow citizens than any other country on the face of the planet, and guess what? By and large, they do not look like this room. They are browner and blacker than most of America,” he said. The Washington Times
Today in criminal justice news… Stanford researchers have compiled the most comprehensive data on traffic-stop data. “The results show that police stopped and searched black and Latino drivers on the basis of less evidence than used in stopping white drivers, who are searched less often but are more likely to be found with illegal items.” NBC News A look inside the movement against releasing booking photos that fuel the online mugshot industry. Slate New York City has cut back on bail, significantly decreasing its jail population in the past few years. “New York’s lower reliance on bail hasn’t led to defendants not showing up in court. The city’s return-to-court rate is 86 percent versus about 75 percent nationally.” The Marshall Project
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Storing weed in the freezer helps preserve THC. Researchers in Italy found that storing cannabis in the freezer helps prevent the degredation of THC into CBN. “Freezing is the best storage condition to avoid the reduction of the cannabinoids content over time,” wrote the researchers, while refrigeration reduced the degradation. “The authors point out that their findings could be important for forensic purposes. With their methods, they write, law enforcement may be able to figure out what the THC concentration might initially have been in degraded marijuana. On a more basic level, the research could also help consumers better plan how to store their cannabis.” Marijuana Moment
Food, beverage, finance execs join the cannabis industry. Executive chair of alcohol giant Constellation Brands took a big leap into the cannabis space when Constellation Brands invested into the Canadian cannabis industry. Now, many others are following. CNN Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz joined Aurora Cannabis as a strategic advisor. Aurora shares jumped 12 percent on the news. CNBC Former Goldman Sachs managing director Andrew Pucher has joined Tilray as chief corporate development officer. Marijuana Business Daily The CEO of SodaStream, which was acquired by PepsiCo last year for $3.2 billion, is joining the board of cannabis tech firm Seedo. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… The New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association says that it expelled MedMen from its organization in the wake of a lawsuit that detailed its top executives making racist, sexist, and homophobic comments. But a spokesperson for MedMen said that “as far as we are concerned, we remain in the association.” Marijuana Business Daily Comedian Chelsea Handler is investing in cannabis media company Civilized. Benzinga Cannabis entrepreneurs are wary of copycats. Forbes Tycoon video game Weedcraft Inc will launch on April 11. Eurogamer
Cannabis in Canada. Sales of cannabis flower in Canada declined in January compared to the previous month while inventory levels rose, according to data from Health Canada. It was the first such decrease in sales since the country’ legalized recreational use. BNN Bloomberg The first indigenous-owned cannabis producer in the country hopes to start sales in June. Marijuana Business Daily About two dozen workers for the Ontario Cannabis Store are unionizing under the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, becoming the first unionized workers in the province’s cannabis industry. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… A Swiss court ruled that cannabis flower sales will be taxed at 25 percent, the same rate as tobacco. Cannabis flowers with less than 1 percent THC have been widely available in the country since 2017. Bloomberg Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe got the first cannabis license in the country. Marijuana Business Daily There are more than 43,000 licensed cannabis consumers in Uruguay, according to a new report on the industry. Cannabis clubs and pharmacy purchases are growing, while the number of home cultivators has plateaued. Cannabis Wire / Newsletter
Word on the States
- In Ohio, a new bill would legalize industrial hemp.
- In Massachusetts, cannabis regulators heard calls to reduce the red tape for businesses during a listening session. An Acton MMJ dispensary shut down over violations plans to reopen on Wednesday.
- In Colorado, lawmakers consider allowing marijuana deliveries.
- In Missouri, the House passed a bill to expunge cannabis convictions for medical marijuana patients, sending it to the Senate.
- In Oklahoma, the state Senate passed 17 medical marijuana regulation bills.
- In Arkansas, a Senate committee approved a bill to discourage medical marijuana edibles that appeal to children.
- In New York, both the Assembly and Senate included marijuana legalization in its budget proposals.
- In Florida, the governor and clemency board consider early release for “White Boy Rick.” Cocoa Beach votes to decriminalize marijuana.
- In New Jersey, the Brick Township Council voted unanimously to ban marijuana businesses.
Word for Word
“Jefferson grew hemp both at Monticello and his other plantation, Poplar Forest, but it was primarily used (along with flax and cotton) to make clothing. Other founding fathers, including George Washington, grew hemp and Americans were legally bound to grow the plant during the colonial period and the early republic. But there is no record of Jefferson ever smoking the plant. The National Constitution Center, an institution devoted to the U.S. Constitution, tackled some of the most popular myths about the Founding Fathers and marijuana and noted that if Jefferson or others at the time did attempt smoking hemp, they likely didn’t experience euphoria because of its low levels of THC.” – Samantha Putterman for PolitiFact
“I’m just glad that it’s becoming legalized because of what it means for the justice system. No one should be sitting in jail for selling weed, and for giving easier access to people who need it…. But I also have complicated feelings about legalization. I’ve been watching what’s happening and it’s just more corporate America bullshit. They’re going to put small farmers out of business, potentially… It’s alarming to me to see all these people who are just about the bottom line. They don’t really care about the history or the culture or the experience behind cannabis. To think about the little guy not having a business after having risked so much, or all the people whose livelihoods have been put on the line suddenly because of the corporatization of legalization—that part is dismaying.” – Co-creator of High Maintenance Katja Blichfeld, Gossamer