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Virginia Governor Approves Medical Cannabis Flower Bills

Virginia Governor Approves Medical Cannabis Flower Bills

medical cannabis flower was just legalized in Virginia

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation, House Bill 2218 and Senate Bill 1333, amending the state’s medical cannabis access law to allow for the production and dispensing of botanical cannabis products. The measure takes effect July 1, 2021 and products are anticipated to be available as early as September.

Under the state’s existing medical marijuana law, licensed cultivators were required to process cannabis into non-herbal formulations, such as oils and tinctures. The new measure expands the pool of legal products to include those composed either of “cannabis oil or botanical cannabis.”

NORML’s Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director for Virginia NORML, praised the legislation. “Medical cannabis flower remains the most popular formulation among consumers and among older consumers in particular. Limiting patients’ options to extracted oral formulations is not in their best interests. Botanical cannabis contains more than 100 distinct cannabinoids, many of which act synergistically with one another, producing an effect many scientists believe is necessary in order for patients to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit.”

Medical cannabis dispensaries began operating in Virginia in the fall of 2020.  If the pending legislation is approved, dispensaries are anticipated to have medical cannabis flower available for registered patients as early as September 2021.

An operational improvements bill, House Bill 1988, was also signed by Governor Northam, to ensure patients in hospice and other residential facilities are able to access medical cannabis, and makes permanent improved telehealth allowances adopted during the public health crisis.

Separate legislation seeking to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and license its retail sale awaits action by Governor Northam, who continues to offer his public support for the legislation, which is backed by 68 percent of Virginians.

New York Legal Cannabis on Verge of Passing

New York Legal Cannabis on Verge of Passing

new york legal cannabis could be legal soon

The Legislature is on the precipice of passing a measure legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana in the Empire State, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Tuesday.

Lawmakers are likely to reach a cannabis consensus and act on a stand-alone bill as soon they address lingering concerns about traffic stops and safety, Stewart-Cousins acknowledged.

We are extremely close. We have reached a little bit of an impasse right now and it has to do with impaired driving,” the Yonkers Democrat said during a video news conference. “We’re trying to figure a way forward so there can be some understanding of safety.”

At issue is whether to continue to treat driving while impaired by marijuana as a misdemeanor or a traffic infraction.

Earlier in the day, Sandra Doorley, Monroe County District Attorney and president of the state’s district attorneys association, outlined some of the qualms coming from law enforcement.

“The classification of driving under the influence of cannabis as a traffic infraction would send the message to the driving public that driving while impaired is no big deal and will be treated the same as a speeding ticket,” Doorley said. “Further, driving while impaired by marijuana obviously endangers all of our residents and visitors.”

Democrats in both the Senate and Assembly dropped marijuana from their budget proposals this week, an indication that lawmakers are nearing a deal on long-stalled efforts to allow New Yorkers to legally spark up.

Past attempts to approve pot have repeatedly gone up in smoke due to discrepancies over revenue, local opt-ins and expungement of past pot arrests. While Gov. Cuomo has included legal marijuana in his own budget proposals the past two years, he and lawmakers have failed to see eye to eye on equity and the allocation of revenue.

Lawmakers have sought to spend a lion’s share of the tax revenue on minority communities where the state’s drug laws have been disproportionately enforced, while Cuomo has sought greater state control of the funds.

 
New Massachusetts bill would legalize cannabis lounges

New Massachusetts bill would legalize cannabis lounges

Cannabis lounges could be legal as soon as 2022 in Massachusetts

Buying legal marijuana has become a convenient reality in Massachusetts but finding someplace to legally smoke it is a different story.

A bill aims to address that predicament by authorizing licensed cannabis lounges.

State Sen. Julian Cyr, who represents the Cape and Islands, proposed the bill that he believes is a practical concept.

Cyr told Boston 25 News the current situation is comparable to the state allowing liquor stores but banning bars. He said it makes sense for the state to come up with a solution that would give marijuana users designated places to legally smoke or consume cannabis.

“If we don’t address it, it’s going to become a really big headache for law enforcement and for business owners in places like Provincetown or near Fenway,” Cyr said.

Cyr said the concept particularly applies in areas that attract a lot of visitors. His district includes Provincetown. The tourist destination on the tip of Massachusetts is home to three dispensaries, and more are set to open there soon.

“I think of folks getting off the ferry, going to a dispensary and then really being faced with a conundrum that they’re not able to use the substance anyplace legally,” Cyr explained. “So, you got a problem of people ducking into alleyways, going to the beach, really creating a nuisance.”

If the bill passes, it would start as a pilot program. Licensed cannabis lounges would only be authorized in a maximum of six communities. The state would potentially consider expanding it further based on feedback from local leaders, residents and businesses.

“In those communities, I think it benefits everyone to have a place where people can gather and consume cannabis,” said Mike Ross, former Boston city councilor and attorney. “I think people have to start thinking of it and get ahead of it.”

Communities in several other states, including Colorado and California, have already moved forward with permitting social consumption venues.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the bill proposed by Cyr to move through the Massachusetts legislature. He predicts the earliest it will see traction is in the second year of the legislative session in 2022.

Areas With More Marijuana Dispensaries Have Fewer Opioid Deaths

Areas With More Marijuana Dispensaries Have Fewer Opioid Deaths

States with legal cannabis have seen decreases in opioid related deaths

Increasing access to marijuana dispensaries is associated with a significant reduction in opioid-related deaths, according to a new study.

“Higher medical and recreational storefront dispensary counts are associated with reduced opioid related death rates, particularly deaths associated with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl,” the paper, published on Wednesday in the British Medical Association journal’s BMJ, concluded.

It’s a finding that “holds for both medical and recreational dispensaries,” the study says.

Researchers looked at opioid mortality and cannabis dispensary prevalence in 23 U.S.states from 2014 to 2018 and found that, overall, counties where the number of legal marijuana shops increased from one to two experienced a 17 percent reduction in opioid-related fatalities.

Increasing the dispensary count from two to three was linked to an additional 8.5 percent decrease in opioid deaths.

Further, the study found that this trend “appeared particularly strong for deaths associated with synthetic opioids other than methadone, with an estimated 21 percent reduction in mortality rates associated with an increase from one to two dispensaries.”

“If consumers use cannabis and opioids for pain management, increasing the supply of legal cannabis might have implications for fentanyl demand and opioid related mortality rates overall.”

“While the associations documented cannot be assumed to be causal, they suggest a potential association between increased prevalence of medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries and reduced opioid related mortality rates,” the researchers wrote. “This study highlights the importance of considering the complex supply side of related drug markets and how this shapes opioid use and misuse.”

This is far from the first piece of research to draw a connection between legal cannabis access and reduced harms from opioids. Multiple studies have found that marijuana effectively treats conditions like chronic pain for which opioids are regularly prescribed, and surveys show that many patients have substituted addictive painkillers with cannabis.

“Cannabis is generally thought to be a less addictive substance than opioids,” the new study says. “Cannabis can potentially be used medically for pain management and has considerable public support.”

“Our findings suggest that increasing availability of legal cannabis (modeled through the presence of medical and recreational dispensary operations) is associated with a decrease in deaths associated with the T40.4 class of opioids, which include the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl,” it continues. “This finding is especially important because fentanyl related deaths have become the most common opioid related cause of death.”

Earlier this month, a separate study determined that medical cannabis use is associated with significant reductions in dependence on opioids and other prescription drugs, as well as an increase in quality of life.

Read the full story from Marijuana Moment

Thailand in green rush as government pushes Thai cannabis as cash crop

Thailand in green rush as government pushes Thai cannabis as cash crop

Thailand cannabis could become a major economy booster

BURIRAM, Thailand (Reuters) – Thais flocked to a cannabis exhibition as interest and demand in the plant surges after the government unlocked hemp use in food and cosmetics in the latest move to promote a new cash crop.

The government held a convention in Buriram province in northeastern Thailand over the weekend to educate the public on cannabis use and promote businesses. People were able to taste hemp-based noodles, ice-cream and drinks.

Hemp plants are a variety of cannabis that have higher concentrations of CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

“Ganja (marijuana) is the rising star to bring our good quality of lives and money back in our purses as good (economy) as before and even better,” said Withid Sarideechaikoo, director of Buriram public health and organiser of the Cannabis 360° event, referring to the plant’s local name.

“It will bring good quality of lives to us and to the country.”

Thailand has been pushing cannabis as a cash crop and state drug maker the Government Pharmaceutical Organization has said it would buy a kilogram of cannabis with 12% CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient, for 45,000 baht ($1,500).

A group of seven individuals could form a village enterprise and seek government permission to grow hemp.

Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised marijuana for medical use and research in 2017 to boost agricultural income.

“It is in Thais’ mindset that delicious noodle soup with beef should added with ganja,” said noodle shop owner Sitthichan Wutthiphonkun.

“This thing (cannabis) will not only boost our restaurant business, but it will drive the whole economy. People will want to try it from food to cosmetics.”

(Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng, editing by Ed Osmond)

Original story from Yahoo Finance

New Mexico legalization bill moves into the Senate

New Mexico legalization bill moves into the Senate

Will New Mexico legalization happen in 2021?

“It being exactly 4:20 (p.m.), we go to House Bill 12,” Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, quipped Friday, Feb. 26, to begin the debate over legalization of marijuana.

Hours later, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed marijuana legalization for the second consecutive time in a 60-day session. HB 12 passed on a 39-31 vote Friday, a wider margin than the two-vote victory in 2019.

It now moves to the Senate, which will have more than three weeks left in the session to consider the bill. The 2019 bill reached the Senate Finance Committee with two days left in the session, but never made it to a vote of the full Senate.

New Mexico legalization bill

HB 12 would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana to those age 21 and older. It is estimated that by the third year, sales would produce more than $44 million in state revenue and nearly $24 million in local revenue.

A new state agency called the Cannabis Control Division would be created to regulate the new industry. It would also take over management of the existing medical marijuana program and establish cannabis education and training programs that are required under the bill.

The law would allow consumers to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis plant and up to 16 grams of extract each day. They would also be allowed to grow their own plants. There would be a limit on how many mature plants a private person could have, but no limit on commercial growers.

Local governments would be able to regulate conditions, such as hours of operation or store location, but would not be allowed to pass a local ban. There would be an 8 percent excise tax that would go to the state, and local governments would have the option of an additional tax up to 4 percent.

There is also a provision in the bill for expungement of past criminal convictions for offenses that would be legal under the new law. But there would be new penalties for those selling to or employing anybody under the age of 21.

Revitalizing local economies

In the fiscal impact report on the bill, the state Economic Development Department estimates that nearly 1,600 new jobs would be created if the bill becomes law. But it also notes that many of the provisions of the bill are in direct violation of existing federal law.

“We are embarking on the creation of a brand new multi-million-dollar industry,” sponsor Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, said. He described marijuana legalization as a snowball rolling downhill, with 14 states now included and more joining every year.

But Martinez said his motivation was not the money that could potentially be made in both tax revenue and tourism, but rather stopping the harm that has been done to minority communities by the enforcement of marijuana laws, both in the Albuquerque neighborhood where he grew up and along the southern border.

“When you get to the core of why I’m doing this, it’s because I have seen the faces of the people who have most been impacted by this fake and terrible and un-winnable war on drugs,” he said.

Martinez said HB 12 would protect the existing medical marijuana program, ensure equity and diversity in the new industry and set tax and licensing rates that would generate new revenue but still allow local entrepreneurs to participate.

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