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Republicans Push for Federal Legalization of Marijuana

Republicans Push for Federal Legalization of Marijuana

Republicans in the senate have introduced a federal legalization bill for cannabis.

Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would federally legalize and regulate marijuana, saying the proposal was necessary to ensure “individual liberty” and protect states’ rights.

Representative Dave Joyce, a Ohio Republican, introduced the proposed legislation to end the longstanding federal prohibition of marijuana along with Representative Don Young, an Alaska Republican.

The bill would remove cannabis from the Federal Controlled Substances list; instruct the government to create a regulatory framework for marijuana similar to the alcohol industry; allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis; and protect financial institutions dealing with marijuana distributors and growers.

“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century,” Young said in a Wednesday statement.

The Republican congressman noted that he is “proud” to represent a state that has already legalized and regulated marijuana.

“This bill takes significant steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans, in addition to finally permitting state-legal cannabis businesses to utilize traditional financial services,” he said.

Joyce released a similar statement, explaining the importance of his proposed legislation.

“With more than 40 States taking action on this issue, it’s past time for Congress to recognize that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate,” the GOP lawmaker said. Joyce said he looks forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to pass the bill.

Feds Announce New Standard THC Dose for Cannabis Research

Feds Announce New Standard THC Dose for Cannabis Research

cannabis research by the government

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced on Friday it was setting the new standard THC dose for cannabis research at five milligrams, Marijuana Moment reports. The requirement took effect immediately.

Inconsistency in the measurement and reporting of THC exposure has been a major limitation in studies of cannabis use, making it difficult to compare findings among studies. A standardized measure of THC in cannabis products is necessary to advance research by providing greater comparability across studies of both its adverse effects and potential medical uses. — NIDA Notice of Information excerpt

NIDA said the five-milligram standard unit was selected following extensive stakeholder input, expert consultation, and a request for information from the general public.

In its notice, NIDA recognized that “the same quantity of THC may have different effects” depending on a number of variables, including the method of administration, other ingredients in the product, an individual’s genetic make-up and tolerance levels, and more. Additionally, the notice clarified that the newly standardized THC unit does not limit the quantity of THC permissible in cannabis research, only the way in which investigators must record and report their work.

While cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, research efforts are difficult but not completely blocked: a 20-year study by the University of Minnesota recently revealed that long-term cannabis use has little to no effects on cognitive abilities, while another recent study found cannabis use to be associated with increased rates of exercise and physical activity.

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama medical marijuana clears state Senate

Alabama lawmakers caved their opposition yesterday and formally approved the state’s medical cannabis legalization bill.

Alabama lawmakers sent a medical cannabis legalization bill to Gov. Kay Ivy (R) on Thursday that will allow qualifying patients to purchase certain forms of cannabis after receiving a doctor’s recommendation, according to the Associated Press.

Although House lawmakers ultimately passed the bill in a 68-36 vote, it was faced by a Republican filibuster, a delay, and finally a two-hour floor debate. The bill then returned to the Senate where it was quickly passed.

Governor spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves.”

Under the law, conditions including cancer, terminal illnesses, chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, and panic disorder will qualify a patient to sign up for the program. The bill will allow patients to purchase pills, skin patches, and creams, but does not allow for the smoking or vaping of medical cannabis products. The legislation was named after Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall, Rep. Laura Hall’s son who died from complications from AIDS.

The bill’s primary sponsor Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who is a former state trooper and state investigator, gave emotional testimony on the House floor.

“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now.” — Rep. Mike Ball

Former state Rep. Patricia Todd — who introduced Alabama‘s first medical cannabis bill in 2013 that would later receive a Shroud Award, an award given to bills deemed the least likely to pass — said she was happy the reforms had finally passed.

“They laughed at me,” she remembered. “I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue.”

Alabama House takes no vote on medical marijuana after 9-hour debate

Alabama House takes no vote on medical marijuana after 9-hour debate

Alabama medical marijuana fails to pass in the House

Republicans in the Alabama House of Representatives blocked a vote tonight on a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax medical marijuana.

The House adjourned at 11:43 p.m. after debating the legislation more than nine hours. They will return at 8 a.m. Thursday.

“I hope and pray that we take up where we’re at and we stay with this until we get an up or down vote,” Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, the House sponsor of the bill, said. “And I think you can see from the votes so far that there is a huge amount of support in this body, bipartisan support.”

Ball was referring to procedural votes on the bill today that passed by wide margins. But the final vote did not come tonight.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said tonight as he left the chamber that the House would return to the medical marijuana bill Thursday morning. McCutcheon said he expects there will be a vote Thursday.

The speaker said the House on Thursday will also consider the bills to allow a lottery and six new casinos in Alabama. Those bills were approved in a committee Tuesday. The key bill in the three-bill package is a constitutional amendment that would require approval by voters in November 2022.

The final vote on medical marijuana never came tonight because a handful of lawmakers made repeated trips to the mic to delay it. McCutcheon said there was not enough support to pass a petition for cloture, which would have cut off the debate. The Republican majority has used cloture petitions to end Democratic filibusters during this session, but in this case would have been shutting off a filibuster by Republicans.

Still, the medical marijuana bill is closer than ever come to becoming law. It has passed the Senate three times but has never come up for a vote in the House.

Several Republican lawmakers opened the debate today by expressing staunch opposition to medical marijuana, saying it would move the state in the wrong direction and they were surprised it was being considered in Alabama.

But the bill cleared a procedural motion that was necessary for the debate to continue. The vote was 69-31. Another procedural vote passed 71-20. The debate continued after that until the House adjourned.

The legislation would set up a system to regulate the production and use of medical cannabis products from the cultivation of the plants to the sales of products at dispensaries.

Doctors could recommend medical marijuana for more than a dozen symptoms and conditions, including chronic pain, nausea and weight loss from cancer, seizure disorders, PTSD, muscle spasms from certain diseases, and others.

The bill, by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, has already passed the Senate. Melson, a physician and medical researcher, said the 69-31 procedural vote was a strong sign that the House would pass the bill tonight.

“I have no doubt that it’s going to pass if it’s given a vote,” Melson said.

Massachusetts to allot 70K acres for cannabis, hemp production

Massachusetts to allot 70K acres for cannabis, hemp production

Massachusetts hemp gets ok for land use

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources released updated guidance on Wednesday making way for more than 70,000 acres belonging to its Agricultural Preservation Restriction and Farm Viability Enhancement programs to be used to grow cannabis and hemp.

The APR program was established in 1977 and offers to pay farmland owners the difference between fair market value and the agricultural value of their farms in exchange for permanent deed restrictions which preserve farmland for agricultural use in the future, according to the department website.

The Farm Viability Enhancement Program, in turn, provides business and technical assistance to established farmers through grant funding, in exchange for signing an agricultural covenant on the farm property to keep it in agricultural use for a five-, 10- or 15-year term, per the state website.

Under the new guidance released last week, both hemp and cannabis production will now be allowed on APR and Farm Viability Enhancement lands, so long as the land in question isn’t federally funded, because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.

Although the DAR did not say how many APR lands are beholden to federal restrictions, the guidance noted nearly all recently acquired APRs were purchased with federal financing.

Still, the new guidance effectively opens options for APR farmers interested in adding or transitioning to the cannabis and hemp markets.

“The department looks forward to working with APR and Agricultural Covenant landowners and the farming community on the implementation of this new interpretation and has prepared the following guidance,” the department said in its announcement.

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Delta 8 THC banned in Vermont
Vermont regulators have officially categorized hemp-based Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farms, and Markets (AAFM) informed all registered hemp cultivators that Delta-8 THC products are not regarded as legal hemp products in an email sent out last Friday, April 23.

With this statute, Vermont joins 12 other states that have categorized the manufacturing and sale of Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law; Delta-8 THC has also been banned in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.

On their website, Vermont AAFM clarifies the state’s position further by acknowledging that hemp plants naturally produce Delta-8 THC in trace amounts. However, products with intoxicating levels of the cannabinoid are created using isomerization, which synthetically converts CBD to THC.

The Vermont Hemp Rules state that, “A processor shall not use synthetic cannabinoids in the production of any hemp product or hemp-infused product” (6.3). With this rule, the manufacturing, labeling, or sale of any Delta-8 product in the state of Vermont would violate state law. As such, anyone who distributes, uses, or possesses one of these products may face criminal penalties in the state.

Many CBD retailers have seen great financial gains due to the recent proliferation of Delta-8 throughout the states. This clarification may heavily impact their newfound revenues.

Meanwhile, the hemp industry in Alabama recently praised lawmakers there after they pulled an amendment proposal that would have categorized Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC as controlled substances.

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