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Amendment X Explained: Colorado’s hemp laws

Amendment X Explained: Colorado’s hemp laws

Hemp was just voted out of the Colorado constitution. What does this mean for hemp farmers in the state?

When Amendment 64 passed in 2012, Coloradans also voted to add the definition of industrial hemp to the state’s constitution. This in turn required legislators to establish regulations regarding cultivation, processing and distribution. Amendment 64 also resulted in the establishment of the Industrial Hemp Regulatory Program in the state Department of Agriculture.

Amendment X changes this completely.

Amendment X

The constitutional definition of Colorado hemp is very similar to current federal law. The original language defined hemp as, “the plant of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed three-tenths percent (.03%) on a dry weight basis.”

The federal definition of industrial hemp is nearly identical to the Colorado hemp laws put in the constitution, but that’s not the main purpose of Amendment X. The goal is to not get left behind.

Keep in mind, the only benefit of the constitutional definition was its protection against federal government, should they change their definition of industrial hemp for the worse, such as lowering the allowable THC limit below .03%.

Keeping Colorado Hemp in the Game

There has been a lot of talk of industrial hemp getting a facelift in the federal law books soon. This could mean the federal definition completely changing, or just being updated. One of the more popular predictions is that the law will change to raise the allowable THC limit to 1% as opposed to the current definition of .03%.

If Coloradans had voted against Amendment X, Colorado hemp would have maintained its constitutional definition, meaning even if the federal government raised the allowable limit to 1%, Colorado hemp farmers would still have to abide by the constitutional law of the state, and maintain .03% or less. This makes the reasons for approving Amendment X rather justified.

What Happens Next?

The people of Colorado have voted to approve Amendment X, taking industrial hemp out of the state constitution, and putting it in line with federal definitions. Should the federal definition change, Colorado laws regarding industrial hemp will change with it. Colorado also has the option to create statutory laws regarding hemp in the state.

This means that Colorado could pass its own law (outside of the constitution) raising the allowable THC limit to 1%. However the state would risk fierce backlash from the federal government, as it would go against federal law. The constitutional definition that is now removed protected Colorado’s hemp farmers from persecution, and some worry now that this decision will open them back up to federal persecution.

What will most likely happen, is not much. Colorado is now in line with most states in the country, and is on par to adjust its definitions as federal law changes. Considering the definition in Colorado’s constitution was the same as the federal definition, there will be little difference noticed by most.

Canada Cannabis Packaging Problems

Canada Cannabis Packaging Problems

Canada cannabis legalization is already facing some problems. One is the amount of plastic packaging.

For every gram of Canada cannabis sold there can be as much as 70 grams of packaging waste, according to some of Canada’s first cannabis customers.

The amount of plastic, cardboard, foil and wrap that’s being used to package and market cannabis seems excessive to many.

“It’s really shameful,” said Remi Robichaud of Moncton. “Being a coastal province, they should do something about the amount of plastic that goes into our ocean.”

Canada cannabis packaging excess

Robichaud says a friend of his used a food scale to compare the weight of a gram of cannabis purchased at Cannabis NB to the 70 grams worth of plastic, foil, and packaging that it came in.

“Seeing the amount of plastic being used for such small quantities, it’s really shameful.”

In Nova Scotia, the issue is similar, according to Greg Mac who purchased his cannabis from an NSLC store.

“I think the packaging is pretty excessive,” said Mac.

“Look at what comes with one gram of weed — you’ve got a cardboard box that comes in a bottle. That bottle is sealed with more plastic. And you open it up and see how much weed actually comes in the bottle and you think “Wow, there’s a lot that’s going on there.”

Mac purchased four grams of cannabis then shared a photo online of the excess plastic bottles, wrappings and cardboard that was used to package it.

That photo was shared hundreds of times resulting in many voicing their displeasure with what they consider to be excessive plastic packaging.

“I’ve been buying from medical dispensaries for two years now,” said Mac. “And all I ever get is Ziploc bags of different variations. And that’s always been pretty good for me.”

Packaging mandate

On its website, Health Canada mandates that Canada cannabis “be packaged in an immediate container that is tamper-evident, child-resistant, prevents contamination and keeps cannabis dry.”

It also states that “regulations would require that the immediate container be opaque or translucent. Products could have both an inner and outer package, but every package would need to be labelled in accordance with the proposed requirements.”

It also states that each order of cannabis include an informational document developed by Health Canada that includes health and safety information.

​Robichaud argues cannabis packaging could be made of glass, instead of plastic, and reused, similar to how craft beer producers use “growlers, “or glass jugs that can be refilled with beer.

Mac agrees and says being able to bring back enough plastic bottles for a discount of their next purchase would be smart in an age where companies and governments around the world have pledged to reduce their own plastic waste and even ban the plastic straw.

“It’ll give somebody an incentive and is the smart way to go about it,” said Mac.

Read the original story on CBC News.

Check out our Canadian Cannabis Legalization Guide!

Canada Legalization Guide: Things to know

Canada Legalization Guide: Things to know

It’s October 17th. Canadian cannabis is now fully legal. And it’s a big deal.

What makes the legalization of Canadian cannabis so important is that Canada hasn’t just decriminalized cannabis like some states in the US and other countries. They fully legalized it.

That makes Canada the second country in the world (behind Uruguay) and the first G7 country to legalize the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis.

Being a first-world country with a very large economy, it’s fair to say that all eyes will be on the nation up north to determine the viability of widespread cannabis legalization. While big business and governments are watching for success, we the people get to enjoy legal, Canadian cannabis anytime we visit the Great White North.

But before you grab your jacket and head to Ontario, here’s the essential information to know about Canadian cannabis legalization.

Where to buy legal Canadian cannabis

Each province in Canada is different when it comes to how cannabis will be sold. In some, consumers can only buy their cannabis from the government through an online store. Other provinces will have privately owned and operated dispensaries opening their doors to Canadian cannabis lovers.

For now, it would appear that most cannabis sales starting out will be through the government. Quebec now has 12 government-run dispensaries open, with government employees taking up the positions of budtenders. Saskatchewan will have 51 privately owned stores, and Alberta will have 17 as well as online sales through the government.

What’s the legal age for Canadian cannabis?

In the majority of provinces the legal age for cannabis consumption is 19. Quebec has their current legal age at 18, but will most likely raise the age to 21 in the near future.

Just like alcohol, supplying cannabis to minors carries a heavy offense, with up to 14 years in Canadian prison.

How much can I buy?

This one is simple enough. Country-wide, Canadian cannabis consumers will be allowed up to 30 grams (just over an ounce) of legal cannabis. Since Canada will not be allowing the sale of edibles or concentrates for another year, there is no need for a policy like that of Colorado.

Colorado’s policy allows consumers to purchase one ounce of flower per day, or the THC equivalent. That means that instead of an ounce of flower, a Colorado consumer could instead get 8 grams of concentrates or 800mg of edibles, roughly the equivalent THC of an ounce of dry flower.

Where can I smoke?

Similarly to how age limits in provinces are set, so are the local laws regarding consumption of Canadian cannabis. Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta will allow people to smoke cannabis wherever cigarette smoking is allowed. This makes streets and parks fair game in Ontario, but British Columbia has blocked smoking in parks or community beaches.

Halifax will actually have designated smoking areas on municipal properties that consumers can find through a Google Maps-esque website with green smoking signs signifying the safe zones. While there aren’t any legal cannabis clubs for social consumption, there have been many operating in the black market for years.

Vancouver and Toronto are a couple of Canadian cities known to have thriving cannabis cafes and lounges that fly under the radar. So for most, the enjoyment of legal Canadian cannabis will be at home or a friend’s in a private setting.

If you live in Canada, there’s more to know about growing you own cannabis, driving high and criminal records that you should read up on. And while you enjoy that tasty, legal, Canadian cannabis, tune into the new episode of The Real Dirt Podcast!

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

Refugee Squirrels Wreak Havoc on Cannabis Farmers

Refugee Squirrels Wreak Havoc on Cannabis Farmers

400,000 acres burned in California this year from wildfires. In those fires, squirrels lost their nuts.

Hundreds of thousands of refugee squirrels have made their way up north from Southern California to escape the fires, finding new homes in the many cannabis farms in the area. As funny as it sounds, it’s bad.

What these squirrels do is nothing short of murder…plant murder.

The refugee squirrels problem

While most are happy that the squirrels are safe from danger now, many aren’t so thrilled with where they have taken up. Mainly on cannabis farms.

Climbing on the plants, breaking off branches when they climb, and even chewing on the cannabis plants is making the  refugee squirrels a not-so-welcome guest in the Emerald Triangle. But this is a new problem, with no well-known solution.

This is where the problem comes in. Mites, aphids or other small critters are easy enough to deal with, every grower has to deal with them at some point. But no grower has ever really had to deal with squirrels, let alone so many.

Desperate times

Farmers in NorCal have resorted to pellet guns and small arms in so instances to eradicate the squirrels. There are still too many refugee squirrels to get rid of them all.

Compared to other small rodents growers might have to deal with, the sheer amount of squirrels sent there by the forest fires is too much for most to handle. Some have lost their entire crop to the influx of squirrels.

It’s rough in the Emerald Triangle right now. Nut-starved, weed-hungry squirrels are wreaking havoc on farmers all over, and a lot are still trying to figure out how to deal with them.

Will there be a war? Who knows. Maybe the squirrels will realize they like nugs more than nuts. Let’s hope not.

Hear more on the new episode of The Real Dirt! Part 3 of the Harvest Special addresses the squirrel issue, talks trimming and more.

California Legalization: farmers stand up!

California Legalization: farmers stand up!

California cannabis farmers: We have been fighting for cannabis legalization for 80 years. On paper it is finally coming all over the country and the world.

Some of the most restrictive places in the country like Arkansas and Nevada have embraced legal cannabis. Colorado has pioneered the legalization and regulatory environment.

We have literally paved streets that haven’t been fixed in years, and millions and millions of dollars are going to the school systems in association with cannabis sales. On the surface, it appears that the tide is changing. We need to check the tide chart.

The fight is not over. Throughout every single legal state there are county representatives, the board of supervisors, mayors, sheriffs, parent groups and political organizations that are quietly applying pressure to the regulated cannabis movement. Just because the governor or your state representative or your voters change the laws on cannabis regulation does not mean that cannabis is legal commerce in your state or town.

California cannabis legalization

Specifically throughout California, the cannabis legalization movement is being challenged by regulatory agencies and special interest groups. While the good farmers of America are tending their crops, back room deals and political pressure will make it difficult to operate a regulated legal business.

On the surface the cannabis regulatory environment has been successful in Humboldt County. A common stat that is used is that we have 20% of the licensing in the state. These are all temporary licenses and not permanent ones. I believe many of these temporary license holders will not be able to gain a permanent license.

There are absolutely political forces against the cannabis grower to be successful.

Regulation roadblocks

One of the first struggles in legalization is between the policing agencies. The sheriff, the police and Fish and Wildlife have all been responsible for policing the cannabis industry in the past. Many of these people have embraced new cannabis regulations. But there is an old guard that does not agree with government and voter passed laws.

They are the ones who are out to get us.

It isn’t paranoia. These are just facts. We’re not playing cops and robbers anymore, however many people in the policing arena still want to play that game. Environmental and neighborhood groups that are in the minority are speaking up against cannabis legalization. In our current 2.0 designation for new cannabis operations, many outrageous restrictions have been inserted into these new laws.

Unrealistic zoning designation and industrial controls are currently being placed on the cannabis industry.

Is it discrimination?

I spoke recently with Steve Lazar of the Humboldt County Planning Department, and he feels that cannabis is not like other crops and should be treated totally different.

I’m pretty sure we all call this discrimination. To treat one group of people differently than you treat another people. Or in this case to treat one business differently than you treat another business. If a hog farm, chicken farm or dairy farm has certain regulations then those are the type regulations the cannabis industry should have. They should not be any easier or more restricted than any other agricultural product.

I’ve seen this type of attitude for years. While good cannabis folks are working hard, toiling away in their businesses and being successful, they were still judged by neighbors and peers for having an easy life. We’ve all heard, “I should just grow a ton of weed and everything will be OK.”

Those of us that have done this know how hard that statement is, and that you deserve any payment associated with your hard labor.

Time to take the reigns

I’m here to say if we want a legal, functioning cannabis system in Humboldt, the farmers are going to have to step up!

You are going to have to embrace your neighbors and talk to them. You have to bring up the conversations about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, because many of them still have this projection that you’re a mega diesel grow dumping crank oil into the creek.

We have to come out of the dark and tell people what we’re doing.

Ganja farmers need to realize how to be political and call up your representatives at the local and state level. Whether it is a board of supervisors or the school board or the Waterboard it is time for us to come out of the darkness and be the leaders that we are. To all the outlaws out there who are bucking legalization, I want you to think back to how it used to be before 215. It will go back to that.

Without a 215 defense the whole cookie crumbles. In the past all you had to do was have your script and maybe some scripts of other patients and you could grow as much as you wanted. If interdiction showed up they would take everything and maybe you would receive three years probation. This is all going to change, and it’s going to change rapidly. I do not want to see my friends or family in jail again over cannabis regulations and laws.

The time is now. Your phone is already in your hand, so call up your local representative and express concerns. The Board of Supervisors knows the importance of cannabis farmers. They will listen.

The Profit bob Marley said it best, “get up stand up, stand up for your rights,” and now is the time to stop singing and start doing.

Massachusetts Legalization Lags

Massachusetts Legalization Lags

Massachusetts legalization supposedly when into full effect on July 1st. Why aren’t there any dispensaries?

The first of July marked what should have been the first day of recreational cannabis sales in the state of Massachusetts. Yet, almost a month later, there isn’t a single dispensary that has opened its doors for business.

At this point, there is one dispensary that has been given permission to open already, Cultivate. However, the owner of Cultivate has said that they are not putting a hard date on when they will be opening. This isn’t all their fault though, as a lot of the blame falls on the local jurisdictions in the state.

Local roadblocks

Over 200 towns ands counties have blocked Massachusetts legalization, with the only chance of letting up coming in the form of extremely high payments from legal cannabis businesses and other attempts to blockade the industry. Additionally, despite the legal market officially opening on July 1st, Cultivate didn’t get their license to grow recreational cannabis until the 12th.

If that isn’t enough explanation of the delay in Massachusetts legalization, add the fact that the first recreational cannabis testing facility won’t be licensed until the end of July. Every producer in the state must have their cannabis tested before it can go to the shelves, yet they won’t even be able to send it to a facility until August at the earliest.

Massachusetts legalization process lagging

Another reason for the current Massachusetts legalization lag is the delay in application reviewing and approval by the state’s cannabis commission. According to recent reports, the commission is currently reviewing 29 applications, with another 39 applications still waiting to be reviewed.

While some counties have banned submitting applications altogether, others that allow submissions are still moving slow to send them in for review. So who is really to blame for the delay? Government of course! But not just the state government, it’s the local governments too.

Delay after delay

Suffice to say there won’t be any recreational cannabis sales happening in Massachusetts in July. The owner of Cultivate, which is set to be the first dispensary to open since Massachusetts legalization took effect, says that they won’t be opening until September at the earliest. This is disheartening to say the least.

As a progressive state, it is a surprise to see state and local government drag their feet so heavily in Massachusetts. Some states just take time however, and Massachusetts certainly isn’t the exception. We can only hope that as they move further into legalization, state and local governments will adjust and recognize the potential profit to be had by allowing Massachusetts legalization to proceed uninhibited.

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