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Missouri Medical Marijuana Makes Moves

Missouri Medical Marijuana Makes Moves

Over 300 Missouri medical marijuana licenses will be distributed in the state in 2019. Is the state about to pop off?

As of February 7, 2019, more than $3 million medical marijuana license fees have been paid since the state began accepting pre-filed applications a month ago. Over 400 applications have been submitted to the Department of Health since then.

Among those applications, 226 were for dispensaries, 128 were for cultivation facilities and 64 forms for infused product manufacturing.

Missouri Medical Marijuana

Amendment 2 legalizes growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. The state began accepting pre-filed applications in January 2019.

According to backers of Amendment 2, 192 dispensaries will be ready and operational for patients by 2020. The amendment sets up the following fee schedule:

  • Patient fees are $25 per year;
  • Dispensary fees are $6,000 initially, then $10,000 per year;
  • Cultivation fees are $10,000 initially, then $25,000 per year; and
  • Infused-products fees are $6,000 initially, then $10,000 per year.

The state will issue at least 61 licenses to cultivate marijuana, which works out to one cultivator license per 100,000 Missouri residents, according to the amendment. At least 82 licenses will be issued to makers of cannabis-infused products.

On Pace For A Scheduled Start

While patients will be able to begin the application process for their medical marijuana licenses starting June 4th, those who did not pre-file their business applications must wait until August 4th. After all applications are in, the state has until December 31, 2019 to approve the applications.

It is then assumed that the Missouri medical marijuana industry will be launching in January of 2020. The state governor is committed to the will of people and has given his word to allow the medical marijuana industry in the state to progress unhindered. The state is implementing a system similar to Oregon and Colorado’s medical marijuana programs, and it is moving fast just like Oklahoma’s current program.

The state’s speed of implementation is impressive, but citizens have noticed a serious flaw in an interpretation of the amendment.

Not All Is Well

The Missouri medical marijuana program is moving ahead as scheduled, but people have brought up an issue pertaining to the confidentiality of those applying to work in the industry. I.e. the state has not released any information regarding the identities of those applying.

A section in Amendment 2 requires DHSS to “maintain the confidentiality of reports or other information obtained from an applicant or licensee,” but backers of the Amendment are claiming that tis was not the intended meaning.

Backers of Amendment 2 have said that provision of the legal text is not meant to shield the identities of business-related medical marijuana license applicants from public disclosure. And a week ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sued state government over the issue, asking a judge to order DHSS to release copies of documents submitted with the pre-filed fees.

It looks like Missouri medical marijuana in on track. Sure it has hit some speed bumps, but so has every other state legalizing either medicinally or recreationally. Compared to other states, Missouri is ahead of the pack with its timeline.

It seems that the industry in Missouri will be getting off its feet in a year’s time, but it is definitely too soon to say whether the state can stick to their timeline once the applications start flooding in.

Legal Hemp or Illegal Cannabis?

Legal Hemp or Illegal Cannabis?

Legal hemp may have been included in the 2018 Farm Bill, but that hasn’t stopped some serious issues from arising since its passing.

Farmers everywhere rejoiced when legal hemp was signed into the Farm Bill at the end of 2018. But the bill has yet to actually take effect, and it could be another year before federal law surrounding hemp actually takes hold.

This delay hasn’t stopped many from jumping in head first to the hemp industry in an attempt to get ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, state governments aren’t as eager to jump in.

Oklahoma Hemp Bust

In early January Andrew Ross from Aurora, CO was transporting several thousand pounds of what he claimed to be industrial hemp to Oklahoma to Colorado. Ross’ semi-truck was pulled over in Pawhuska after running a red light. 

The officer smelled what he claimed to be cannabis as he approached Ross’ van, at which point Ross told him that they were the security for the semi-truck transporting hemp. Ross was then instructed to open the semi-truck, revealing over 20 bags of the green plant.

After conducting a field test, which tests for any amount of THC, the officer believed the plants to be cannabis and not hemp. However, legal hemp can have up to .3% THC. This has led to a lengthy delay in the case as the local police have had to send the plants to be lab-tested, which was additionally delayed by the recent government shutdown.

Unfortunately, during this time, two of the four who were arrested — Ross and one other in the van and another two in the semi-truck were arrested in total — have remained in prison since they couldn’t afford bail. They most likely won’t be released until the conclusive results of the tests come back.

Legal Hemp In Oklahoma

Industrial hemp was legal in Oklahoma before the Farm Bill was signed. This means that the hemp Ross claims to be transporting, is perfectly legal in the state. But that isn’t the problem here.

The issue is that law enforcement and government officials alike cannot confidently judge the difference between “legal hemp” and “illegal cannabis”. When field tests will always say cannabis if there is any trace of THC, no police officer can realistically judge a situation in which they smell what they think is cannabis, even if hemp smells exactly the same.

A similar issue has arose in Idaho, where there are no such hemp laws on the books, and the government is in no hurry to abide by the new Farm Bill.

Biggest Bust In History (?)

Law enforcement officials are saying it could be the biggest cannabis bust in state history. If it is cannabis that they found in the back of Dennis Palamarchuk’s semi-truck, that is.

During a routine highway semi-truck safety inspection, the conducting officer smelled strong odor of what they suspected to be cannabis. Much like Ross’ story, the truck statement claimed that the 31 bags in the truck all contained industrial hemp. However, since this happened in Idaho, where there are no laws on the books regarding hemp at the state level, it has caused more problems.

legal hemp bust in oklahoma and idaho

Over 6,000 pounds of hemp that supposedly tested positive for THC. The amount of THC has not been specified.
Photo courtesy of Idaho State Police

According to the Farm Bill, states that do not have hemp laws on the state level have two options. Propose a plan to the federal government for their own hemp laws that still stay within federal guidelines, or follow federal law on the state level. Idaho has neither submitted a plan nor assumed the laws put forth in the Farm Bill as of yet.

This means that whether or not Palamarchuk was transporting hemp or cannabis is irrelevant. In Idaho, both are currently still illegal. Thus, Dennis was arrested for trafficking, and as it stands, police have seized over 7,000 pounds of what they consider to be cannabis. While testing positively as hemp may help Dennis legally, it appears that there is little to be done for him in this situation.

What Happens Next?

These two separate but similar issues have highlighted serious problems in law enforcement’s ability to recognize and distinguish differences between now federally legal hemp, and illegal cannabis. Current technology does not allow police officers conducting a normal stop and search to confidently judge the results of a field test.

As laws change, state governments will have no choice but to follow federal law in some manner and allow transportation of industrial hemp. How the states will enforce this while keeping hemp separate from cannabis is yet to be seen. If these two busts are any sign of things to come, however, we have a long way to go.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Rundown

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Rundown

In June of 2018, Oklahoma surprised the country. The state voted to legalize medical marijuana.

Oklahoma medical marijuana State Question 788 was passed by the majority of people in the state, allowing the people to consume, grow and if licensed, sell medical marijuana.

The program is run by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), in conjunction with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to ensure regulatory oversight. Compared to other medical marijuana states, the Oklahoma medical marijuana program is pretty progressive.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Laws

Submitted as State Question 788, the people of Oklahoma passed a new section of law to be added to the Oklahoma Statutes. Section 420 of Title 63 permits an individual to posses a state issued medical marijuana license.

An Oklahoman with a medical marijuana license is allowed the following:

  • To consume marijuana legally
  • To possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana on their person
  • To possess 6 mature marijuana plants
  • To possess 6 seedling plants
  • To possess 1 ounce of concentrates
  • To possess 72 ounces of edibles, and
  • To possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana in their residence.

However there were also changes to how possession of marijuana is handled in general. Being in possession of up to an ounce and half without a medical marijuana license is punishable by a $400 fine and a misdemeanor, if the subject can provide a medical condition. How strictly this will be enforced is yet to be seen.

Individual and Business Licensing

Licenses for both Oklahoma medical marijuana patients and businesses are obtained through a straight forward application process. The applications are easily accessible on the OMMA page of the Oklahoma government website. It costs $200 for an individual to apply for a medical marijuana license, and only $20 to apply for those on Medicare and Medicaid.

To apply for dispensary, commercial growing, or processing permits, one must pay an application fee of $2,500. The requirements for obtaining these three business licenses are the same:

  • Applicants must be 25 or older
  • Applicants applying as an individual must show residency in the state of Oklahoma
  • All applying members, managers and board members are Oklahoma residents
  • An applicant can show ownership of non-Oklahoma residents, but that percentage of ownership cannot exceed 25%
  • Applicants must be registered to conduct business in Oklahoma
  • Applicants must disclose all ownership
  • Applicants with nonviolent felony convictions in the last two (2) years, or applicants with any other felony conviction in five (5) years, inmates or anybody currently incarcerated is not qualified for a license.

In addition to these requirements, retailers must submit monthly reports to the Department of Health to keep track of weight sold, revenue and taxes. Commercial growers are restricted to only selling cannabis wholesale to licensed retailers. Growers will also submit monthly reports, detailing monthly yields, amount harvested in pounds, drying or dried marijuana on hand, amount sold to processors, amount of waste in pounds and more. However, there is no limit on the amount of cannabis a licensed grower can grow.

Processors are no different, and much submit a monthly report detailing the amount of marijuana purchased, amount of waste and wholesale sales to the Oklahoma Department of Health.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Applications

As of December 2018, over 22,000 people have been approved for personal Oklahoma medical marijuana licenses, 785 dispensaries have been licensed, and there are more than 1,200 licensed commercial growers and 270 licensed processors in the state. It hasn’t even been a year since Question 788 was approved, and Oklahoma is already kickstarting its medical marijuana industry.

Growers are pumping out close to 50 pounds a month already thanks to the regulation’s strict deadlines included by the people of Oklahoma that forced the state to accept applications within 60 days of Question 788’s passing. The state has already brought in $7.5 million from registration fees, and now that dispensaries have opened, the 7% sales tax will begin getting collected for additional revenue.

Is Oklahoma Ahead of The Curve?

Oklahoma medical marijuana has taken off more quickly than any other state program in the country. Less than 6 months after being passed, growers are growing, dispensaries are selling, and the people of Oklahoma are buying.

It’s possible that Oklahoma may be moving too fast. With no limit on how much a licensed grower can produce, the state may end up facing a similar issue to Oregon. Having too much marijuana and not enough people to buyl it might result in a collapse of the marketplace as the price of medical marijuana drops.

However as a medical marijuana program as opposed to Oregon’s recreational market, Oklahoma medical marijuana will be more strictly regulated by the Department of Health, which will hopefully push growers toward quality over quantity. 

At the rate the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry is moving, it won’t be long before we see the first results of the new industry. 

New Year, New Industry

New Year, New Industry

2018 was a big year for the cannabis industry. 2019 is poised to change the industry even more.

The cannabis industry grew on a global scale in 2018. Not just in the United States, but around the world. More places are starting to accept cannabis as medicine and recreation, with even more planning to get on board in 2019.

While there are plenty of small or local changes to cannabis in the US, here some of the biggest changes in the cannabis industry that came in 2018.

Canada Legalization

Canada legalization of cannabis was a major victory for the industry in 2018. The government of Canada legalized the recreational use of cannabis across the entire country, with local governments still being able to limit the law. 

However compared to legalization within some states of the United States, Canada legalization is run entirely by the government instead of private businesses. All licensed grows, manufacturers and retailers are government run. This has had a split impact on the industry as a whole in Canada.

While access to cannabis has become much easier — consumers can order cannabis online, for delivery, directly from a government website — supply currently cannot meet demand, causing backorders, long delays, moldy and stale product, and other problems.

The biggest problem Canada legalization has adversely caused is an increased use of the private market. If they government can’t supply its people but says it can be the only source, people will go to the private market to get the products they want without the long delay and risk of bad product.

Farm Bill and Industrial Hemp

difference between hemp vs cannabis CBD

At the end of December 2018, Donald Trump surprisingly signed the Farm Bill of 2018, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Among many other adjustments to the agricultural industries in the US, the farm bill also separated the definition of industrial hemp to be different from that of cannabis.

Before the bill was signed, hemp and cannabis were under the same definition, with a sub-definition of hemp being any part of the cannabis plant with less than .3% THC. However, as sub-definition, it was still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The farm bill separated industrial hemp from the traditional cannabis definition, and created a federal definition of industrial hemp, being the same definition as before, but off of the controlled substances list. This has opened up the possibility for a massive hemp and CBD industry to develop.

While it’s too soon to say where the industry is headed — it will most likely be a year before the new bill takes full effect — the Farm Bill and legalization of industrial hemp means big things for the future of the cannabis industry.

First Year of California Legalization

california legalization needs to be controlled by farmers

California has a population with over 10 million more people than the second place contender, Texas. It was expected for the legalization of cannabis in California to expand the already developed marketplace in the state to great new bounds. However the new laws in place have had almost the opposite effect.

The cannabis marketplace in California was already the biggest in the country, despite the majority of growth occurring in the private market. It was inevitable, then, that the new, legal market would work its hardest to eradicate this competition. 

Extremely limited licenses available to the highest bidder resulted in hundreds of farms and private operations having to shut down, simply by not being able to afford a legal license. This was the case for a large portion of the cannabis community in California, opening up the door for larger companies with more capital interests to enter the market.

With the biggest companies buying as many licenses as possible, the OGs of the industry are left with little options. Either continue to operate in the private market and hope to get a license before getting caught, or leave the industry in California. 

It’s been a tough year for a thousands of growers across California, and 2019 most likely won’t prove to be much different. Despite its flaws however, California will still be a huge legal cannabis marketplace, and most likely surpass all other states, with the end result being the eradication of the private market entirely in the state.

An Eventful Year

2018 was a year full of surprises. Colorado passing Amendment X, The Farm Bill, California’s industry revelations and more. This year had its ups and downs, it’s issues that split the community, but overall the industry is in a better place than it was a year ago.

More states have legalized both recreationally and medicinally, cannabis is more acceptable in social culture than ever before, and more people are learning about the lies they were told during the drug war movement. Some are already saying 2019 will be the year of weed, while others think the bubble is bound to burst any day now.

We’ll just wait and see what’s in store for cannabis in 2019!

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Hemp vs Canabis CBD

Hemp vs Canabis CBD

If you’re familiar with CBD and its medicinal benefits, you may be wondering how to get it, or even more so, where it comes from in the first place.

If you have no idea what we mean when we say CBD, check out our starter guide to CBD explaining the basics.

CBD is most commonly found in industrial hemp and cannabis plants. But is there really a difference between the two? It isn’t so much that CBD from hemp is better or worse than CBD from cannabis, but how hemp is grown compared to cannabis makes a big difference.

Hemp vs Cannabis

Traditionally, Hemp is grown on an industrial scale, hence the name industrial hemp. Plants grow closer together, forcing them to grow up instead of out.

In contrast, cannabis is grown more spaced out which allows the leaves and flowers to fan out and gain potency. While hemp is mainly used for its stalks in uses from making paper to clothing, cannabis is bred much differently.

The biggest difference between hemp and cannabis is the THC content. Hemp is grown to have minimal THC. To legally be considered hemp, that amount must be no more than .3%.

Cannabis on the other hand is usually grown to have as much THC as possible in order to provide its maximum psychotropic effects, AKA the “high”.

Hemp Legality

So, a hemp plant with a THC content of .5% would be considered psychotropic cannabis and therefore federally illegal. This is despite the fact that such a low THC content would have little to no effect on the average person.

In fact, industrial hemp was made legal in 2009 by the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. But if you couldn’t guess by the name of the bill, this only applies to industrially grown hemp.

This “legal” hemp was only permitted for use by research facilities or higher education research. So unless the hemp was being grown on an industrial scale for the sole purpose of higher education research, hemp was still illegal.

However in December of 2018 the Agricultural Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, was passed by the House, Senate and President Donald Trump. This new farm bill changes the definitions of industrial hemp.

This means that hemp will no longer just be grown for research purposes, but an actual commercial marketplace can be established.

Hemp CBD vs Cannabis CBD

Now that hemp has been legalized, the already blurred lines separating hemp CBD and cannabis CBD from a legality standpoint have become even more blurry. However this is actually good for the consumer.

Hemp traditionally carries more CBD, whereas cannabis carries more THC. Through crossbreeding of low-THC cannabis strains with high-CBD hemp strains, new strains are being created that look, smell and taste like regular cannabis, but have .3% or less.

Soon, hemp flower will look identical to cannabis flower, and more people will start to consume high CBD flower as much as THC flower. Industrial hemp for now will still be grown mostly on large scale for mass production of CBD medications derived from the whole plant. 

The reality is hemp and cannabis are the same plant, they have just been bred in different ways. Now that hemp is legal, the two will start to merge again, and we might even see some new breeds start to appear. It’s an exciting time to look into hemp.

2018 Farm Bill Explained

2018 Farm Bill Explained

The 2018 Farm Bill has passed the House and Senate. After Trump signs, Industrial Hemp will be federally legal.

UPDATE: This article was written just before Trump’s signing. The article has now been updated to reflect the new status of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill has been signed by Donald Trump and passed into law, making Industrial Hemp federally legal. You might be thinking that it already was legal due to the 2009 Farm Bill, but not in the way you think.

This new bill (legally titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) differs from the 2014 Farm Bill in a few ways. The biggest difference being the new definition of Industrial Hemp being added.

2014 Farm Bill

Five years ago, the 2014 Farm Bill was passed, which defined Industrial Hemp as, “the plant Cannabis Sativa L., and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3% (on a dry weight basis).”

The 2014 bill also distinguished between marijuana and hemp for the first time. The laws enacted by the 2014 Farm Bill allowed for the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes, as part of an agricultural program, or as permitted by state law.

Also allowed under the previous bill was the study of the “marketing of Industrial Hemp”. The vagueness of this clause allowed states to set up agricultural pilot programs that also permitted commercial sales of industrial hemp. However, interstate commercial activity is not expressly permitted under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill changes that too.

2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill drastically alters the current legal landscape governing Industrial Hemp production in the United States.

First, the 2018 Farm Bill defines “hemp”as any part of the plant, “including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not,” with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. The 2018 Farm Bill also amends the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) to exclude “hemp” from the definition of “marihuana.”

The 2018 Bill also creates a specific exemption in the CSA for THC found in hemp. These expanded definitions and corresponding exemptions from the CSA could also apply to imported hemp. Meaning the new bill will allow for the importation and exportation of industrial hemp to and from the United States.

Unfortunately those convicted of a felony involving a controlled substance are barred from participating in any hemp program established under the 2018 Farm Bill. While lawmakers were hopeful that this would be revised in the final version of the bill, it appears that it wasn’t.

Federal Regulation of Industrial Hemp

The 2018 Farm Bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (“AMA”) to allow for federally-sanctioned hemp production under the authority of the USDA. This means the USDA is now the sole federal regulatory agency overseeing hemp production in the United States.

However, states will be able to submit their own proposals to the USDA for state-regulated programs. These programs must stay within the confines of the USDA requirements, including:

  • a practice to maintain relevant information regarding land on which hemp is produced in the applicable jurisdiction;
  • a procedure for testing THC concentration levels of hemp produced in the applicable jurisdiction;
  • a procedure for the effective disposal of products produced in violation of the statute;
  • a procedure to comply with the statutory enforcement procedures;
  • a procedure for conducting annual inspections to verify that hemp is not produced in violation of the statute; and
  • other practices or procedures as the Secretary of Agriculture considers to be appropriate and consistent with the statute.

Should a state decide not to submit a plan for its own regulatory procedures, that state can simply apply for licensure directly through the USDA. In states with approved plans, all those participating in the program must adhere to the state laws that are established.

In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill explicitly states that “nothing in this title authorizes interference with the interstate commerce of hemp.” As such, the 2018 Farm Bill will open up clear legal pathways to interstate transport in the United States. 

The 2018 bill also requires the USDA to conduct a study within 120-days of enactment to determine the economic viability of the domestic production and sale of hemp.

With the 2018 Farm Bill now signed and passed into law, it’s a matter of time before the hemp industry explodes. However, the 2014 Farm Bill will remain in effect until a solidified plan is established by the USDA, which will most likely take a year. 

So don’t expect to see hemp products popping up at your local grocery store any time soon.

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