by Travis C | Nov 17, 2022 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Science & Technology
The first ever standalone cannabis bill to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk. The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act passed through the House in July of this year, and was unanimously passed in the Senate on November 17.
The bill’s passing is the first time a standalone cannabis bill has been passed through Congress.
Under the bill should it pass, researchers would be able to obtain cannabis samples from sources besides the University of Mississippi. The university is currently the only federally approved source for cannabis specifically for research purposes.
Cannabis itself is not fully legal medically or recreationally in Mississippi, with CBD usage permitted for medical purposes. Recreational cannabis possession still carries civil penalties including fines and potential jail time.
Additionally the bill would require the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to assess the availability of cannabis for research and allow doctors to discuss the potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis with patients. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will also be required to study the benefits and harms of cannabis.
The passing of this bill could be seen as convenient timing following President Biden’s recent announcement of expunging and releasing roughly 6,500 individuals in federal prison for cannabis possession. In that same announcement, Biden encouraged the DHHS to review the current scheduling of cannabis for potential adjustment.
As it stands, cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law which means it has no accepted medical value, is at high risk of causing addiction, and is on par with other substances like heroin, bath salts and MDMA.
Should Biden sign the bill into the law, which seems likely, it would become even easier for the DHHS to review the potential benefits of cannabis which can influence their decision to reschedule or even de-schedule the plant altogether.
by Travis C | Oct 10, 2022 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Editorial, Industry News, Legalization, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana, Politics
Biden’s cannabis executive order is making waves across the industry and culture, but what does it really mean?
Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will release those convicted of federal cannabis crimes from prison. There is no doubt that the move is a major step for this administration and the country as a whole.
Many were quick to jump on the excitement of the announcement. Many were under the impression that this order would impact thousands of people wrongfully convicted of minor cannabis crimes. In one sense this is true.
Upon further inspection, however, some are beginning to question the impact that Biden’s cannabis executive order will truly have.
The Biden Cannabis Pardon
Biden’s cannabis executive order will pardon nearly 6,500 people who were convicted of cannabis possession at the federal level. The key word here is “federal”.
For reference, there are over 40,000 individuals currently in prison for cannabis-related crimes across the US. Another comparison would be Colorado, where Governor Jared Polis has pardoned over 4,000 individuals for possession of two ounces or less.
Illinois has cleared nearly 500,000 conviction records for cannabis related crimes since 2019, with over 20,000 individual pardons in the same time period.
In other words, compared to what individual states are already doing, Biden’s cannabis pardon looks relatively minimal. But let’s go back to the word “federal”.
The reason Biden’s cannabis pardon executive order is so huge is actually because it’s only impacting federal cannabis prisoners. This marks the first time that a mass pardon for cannabis-related crime has been announced at the federal level.
Biden’s cannabis pardon, while only applying to a select group of individuals, shows a great step forward toward this administration following through on its campaign promises.
On the campaign trail, Biden supported reclassifying cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. In addition to the announcement regarding cannabis pardons, he also asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to review how marijuana is scheduled, or classified, under federal law.
Biden also urged states to consider pardoning individuals for cannabis crimes at the state level.
Biden Cannabis Executive Order Leaves Many Out
Due to the selective nature of Biden’s cannabis pardon executive order, there will still be an additional 3,000 people who have been convicted of higher level federal cannabis crimes who do not get out. And as said earlier, the 40,000+ in state prisons for similar crimes are unaffected by the order.
While Biden encouraged state governors to take action and pardon individuals in their state, some states like Texas have already said that they will not be pardoning anybody.
Switching cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 may also not be the positive change many are hoping will move us closer to legalization. Schedule I drugs (where cannabis currently sites) are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Schedule II drugs (where cannabis may move) are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are still considered dangerous according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Drugs listed as Schedule II include vicodin, oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin. In other words, if the drug is not typically supplied via prescription from a doctor, possession is still illegal.
Cannabis moving to Schedule II may look like a good deal, especially for medical cannabis patients. However the implications that such a move could have on recreational cannabis industries are debated.
The federal government has thus far respected state’s choices to legalize cannabis recreationally, so it is to be expected that it would maintain that discretion even with the changing of federal law. I.e. the federal government will potentially recognize medical cannabis as legal should the scheduling change, while allowing states to keep recreational laws if they so choose.
When the government federally legalized hemp in 2018 under The Farm Bill, states still had the option to set their own laws regarding hemp. Some chose to still ban its production outright, while others made additional restrictions on top of the federal government’s actions.
What Comes Next
Overall the action by President Biden should be viewed positively. While it is not impacting as many people as we would all like, it is a major step for the federal government to acknowledge that simple possession of cannabis should not be a federal crime.
The action marks a step in the right direction for a government that has fought legal access to cannabis for nearly a century. Nobody should expect federally licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in their town anytime soon, however.
Now we wait on the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice to review the scheduling. There has not been any timeline given on how long it may take.
by Travis C | Sep 16, 2022 | 420 Culture & Travel, 420 News, Blog, Broscience Mythbusters, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Culture, Editorial, Marijuana
Another day, another THC analog cannabinoid product!
What is HHC?
Like other THC analog products like Delta 8, HHC does not occur naturally in concentrations large enough to be consumed directly. Instead it is made through an extraction process similar to how a margarine manufacturer hardens vegetable oils.
Through hydrogenation, hydrogen atoms are added to the chemical structure of THC using some type of catalyst like nickel or palladium. With the addition of high pressure, the double bond chemical structure of THC breaks down, replacing one half with hydrogen. This preserves the cannabinoid’s potency and effects.
In other words, HHC is made through a chemical process that converts THC, which is also how Delta 8 and other cannabinoids are made.
HHC vs THC
Like Delta 8 and THC-O, HHC is very comparable, though slightly less potent. However users report the same effects as when consuming THC, like euphoria, increased appetite and increased heart rate.
Some HHC users place HHC somewhere in the middle of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, claiming HHC is more relaxing than stimulating. Due to its molecular structure, HHC also still holds many of the beneficial aspects of the cannabinoid.
However because HHC is not regulated, there are no reliable studies to confirm any of the effects or potential health benefits.
Is HHC Legal?
Just like other THC analogs like Delta 8 and THC-O, HHC is technically legal due to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp on the federal level. Under federal law, as long as a cannabis plant has a THC content of .3% or less it is considered hemp.
However through extraction and chemical processes like those mentioned above, THC analogs are created from federally legal hemp. And because they aren’t technically Delta 9 THC, they aren’t regulated under the Farm Bill.
So while HHC is legal to buy and consume, it is completely unregulated. With products such as this, it is not uncommon for bad actors to get into the market to make a quick buck without taking into the account the safety of their products and consumers.
Where to find HHC
Because HHC is not a licensed THC product, you won’t see it a legal medical or recreational cannabis dispensary. You are most likely to find HHC products at gas stations and smoke shops where you see Delta 8 and other analog products.
When shopping for HHC or any other analog THC product, do a little research on the product before purchase. Confirm that the brand actually has a website. See if they offer lab test analyses of their products which can confirm the potency that they claim.
If you see any product that is branded as a name-brand knockoff like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, etc., avoid it. Aside from the obvious legal implications of stealing a company’s trademark, these products are in most cases not legitimate. They count on consumers seeing a brand they recognize and thinking it looks cool to sell plain gummies with nothing in them, or vastly misrepresented potencies.
Next time you hear someone asking “what is HHC?”, now you’ll have the answer! Always be careful when buying any sort of “cannabis products” from a non-licensed retailer.
In several state where cannabis is already legal medically, recreationally or both, THC analogs like Delta 8 THC have already been banned. Other states have chose to regulate them like Delta 9 THC and make them available only through licensed retailers.
by Travis C | Aug 16, 2022 | Blog, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization, Marijuana, Politics
Insa, a Massachusetts based cannabis company, has received the first provisional cultivator license for recreational cannabis in Connecticut. The company, with operations in three states currently, was able to obtain the license through a social equity process.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection which issued the license confirmed that the company passed the required background checks and paid $3 million in fees to receive the license. The 14-month provisional license gives the company time to hire employees, establish a business plan and build out their cultivation facility.
Insa currently operates three recreational cannabis dispensaries just over the border in Springfield, Massachusetts. If their final license is approved, Insa will have the ability to operate over 15,000 square feet of cultivation space.
16 social equity applications were approved overall out of 41 total applicants. This process was not held under the lottery format of other non-social equity licenses.
Connecticut’s cannabis law defines a disproportionately impacted area (i.e. social equity applicant area) as a U.S. census tract in Connecticut that has a higher historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses, or an unemployment rate greater than 10%.
Of the 16 approved applicants: two live in Bridgeport; five in Hartford; one in Manchester; one in Middletown; three in New Britain; one in Southington; one in Stamford; and two in Waterbury. However these applicants must still undergo their background checks before they receive provisional licenses like Insa.
Illinois implemented a similar social equity platform when the state legalized cannabis in 2020. It has led to a slew of issues regarding insider connections and big players coming in to beat out local businesses.
by Travis C | Jul 22, 2022 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Culture, Legalization, Marijuana, Politics
Senators Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer and Ron Wyden have introduced a bill that would legalize and regulate cannabis at the federal level.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) is a comprehensive legislation that would end federal cannabis prohibition by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The CAOA would also empower states to create their own cannabis laws; ensure federal regulation protects public health and safety; and prioritize restorative and economic justice.
The bill was initially introduced as a discussion draft in 2021, and after receiving over 1,800 comments, the senators made adjustments and additions to the bill before introducing it this to the chamber this week.
The restorative justice aspect of the bill would help undo the decades of harm caused by the failed War on Drugs, ends discrimination in the provision of federal benefits on the basis of cannabis use, provides major investments for cannabis research, and strengthens worker protections. By decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, the CAOA also ensures that state-legal cannabis businesses or those in adjacent industries will no longer be denied access to bank accounts or financial services simply because of their ties to cannabis.
“As more states legalize cannabis and work towards reversing the many injustices the failed War on Drugs levied against Black, Brown, and low-income people, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind,” said Sen. Booker. “With strong restorative justice provisions for communities impacted by the drug war, support for small cannabis businesses, and expungement of federal cannabis offenses, this bill reflects long overdue, common sense drug policy. I am proud to have partnered with Senators Schumer and Wyden to introduce this critical legislation. The support that we have received from committee chairs and outside groups underscores the historic nature of this bill and the urgent need for Congress to pass it.”
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act has several goals, including protecting public health and safety, and prioritizing restorative and economic justice. This would be done by implementing safeguards like track-and-trace and purchase limits on retail cannabis for the former. Expunging federal cannabis convictions and encouraging states to do the same would be an initial step for the latter objectives.
It would be made easier for more individuals to get involved in the legal cannabis industry by expanding access to loans and capital for entrepreneurs, especially those impacted by the war on drugs.
The regulation and taxation of cannabis would be implemented by transferring jurisdiction over cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The regulatory framework would be similar to alcohol and tobacco while supposedly recognizing the unique nature of cannabis products.
By default, federal banks would now be permitted to freely do business with legal cannabis businesses without fear of prosecution from the government. Further, cannabis businesses would actually be allowed to claim tax deductions for business expenses, which currently isn’t an option in most states.
One of the last main objectives of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is to encourage cannabis research which has been severely lacking for decades. The CAOA would require more federal research into the impacts of cannabis on health and public safety.
The bill would also establish clinical trials through the VA to study the effects of medical cannabis on the health outcomes of veterans, compile industry-related data and trends, and establish grants for cannabis research.
For employees, federal drug testing for cannabis would be removed as well as random testing for cannabis. However certain “sensitive categories” of federal employees could still be drug tested. This includes those working in national security, law enforcement and commercial transportation.
Regular industry employees would also get worker protections.
by Travis C | Jul 21, 2022 | Blog, Business, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization, Marijuana
In March of this year the New York Cannabis Control Board (CCB), which oversees the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), proposed a regulatory framework to create and oversee Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licenses.
These licenses will be the first allowing retailers to sell recreational cannabis in New York, outside of tribal lands. However only certain individuals meeting a “justice-involved” standard will be eligible to apply.
OCM officials have said that the state will issue between 100 and 200 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licenses. Plans to release the licenses are currently slated for late 2022 or early 2023.
An “Eligible Applicant” is:
An applicant that has:
a) a significant presence in New York State, either individually or by having a principal corporate location in the state;
b) is incorporated or otherwise organized in the state; or
c) a majority of the owners are residents by being physically present in the state no less than 180 calendar days during the current year or 540 calendar days over the course of 3 years;
An individual, or an entity with one or more individuals, where at least one individual:
a) Is “Justice-Involved,” meanings individuals who were; or had a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent who was; or were a dependent of an individual who was convicted of a marijuana-related offense in New York before March 31, 2021;
b) Provides evidence of the primary residence of the Justice-Involved individual at the time of said individual’s arrest or conviction; and
c) The Justice-Involved individual holds or held for at least two years at least 10% ownership and control of a business that had net profits for at least 2 years, or a qualifying nonprofit.
A nonprofit that is: recognized as an entity pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; intentionally serves Justice-Involved individuals and communities with historically high rates of arrest, conviction, incarceration or other indicators of law enforcement activity for marijuana-related offenses; operates and manages a social enterprise that had at least two years of positive net assets or profit; has a history of creating vocational opportunity for Justice-Involved individuals; has board members or officers who are Justice-Involved; has at least five full-time employees.
Additional requirements include 51% ownership in aggregate by one or more individuals who meets the requirements of (1) and (2). 30% ownership by at least one individual who satisfies (1) and (2) whom exercises sole control of the applicant or licensee.
As for the license itself, the conditional period for which the Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Retail Dispensary Licenses applies will last four years from when the license is issued. An applicant that receives a license must begin operations within 12 months of it being granted.
Cannabis products can only be acquired from authorized entities, and can only be distributed within the state.
The licensee “shall enter into and comply with all terms and conditions of any agreement with any fund approved by the [CCB] and made available by [OCM], including, but not limited to, accepting a dispensary location identified by the fund or office, any loan agreement with such fund, any lease or sublease agreement with the State of New York or its agents, or any other such agreements into which the licensee enters.”
After the Conditional Period, licensees may apply to transition to an adult-use retail dispensary license.