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Governor Vetoes Delaware Cannabis Legalization Bill

Governor Vetoes Delaware Cannabis Legalization Bill

Delaware cannabis legalization vetoed by governor

Delaware Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that he would veto the state Legislature’s historic passage of a bill fully decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Cannabis possession of small amounts has been partly decriminalized in the state since 2015, when the state legislature made possession a civil infraction with a $100 fine. House Bill 371 would go further by removing “all penalties for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, except for those who are under 21 years of age,” as well as eliminating penalties for people over 21 who transfer one ounce or less of marijuana “without remuneration.”

While Carney said that he supports medical cannabis and decriminalization, but claimed “long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns” as his reason for not approving the measure.

Legislators who fought for the bill’s passage are dismayed by the veto. Rep. Ed Osienski (D–Newark) said in a statement that he is “deeply disappointed” with the outcome, “especially since [Carney] could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature, which would have preserved both his personal opposition and the will of the residents and legislators.”

Osienski also said that preventing legalization is not going to stop people from seeking out cannabis illicitly. They will just be punished for it.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D–R.I.) framed Carney’s veto as a stand against Big Tobacco, saying “[t]oday is a win for public health, the citizens of Delaware, and common sense. Political leaders in Delaware have a rich history of standing up to Big Tobacco and marijuana is simply Big Tobacco’s new marketing strategy.”

H.B. 371 was introduced by Osienski in March. It passed in the Delaware House and Senate earlier this month. It was introduced alongside H.B. 372, which would have set up a tax-and-regulate system with licenses for sellers and growers. However, the latter bill was defeated this week by just two votes. If H.B. 371 were to become law without H.B. 372, it’s conceivable that Delaware could develop a “gifting” retail economy similar to the one used in Washington, D.C.

Delaware cannabis law passes Legislature, waits on Governor

Delaware cannabis law passes Legislature, waits on Governor

Delaware cannabis bill headed to governors desk

A bill that would allow personal possession of cannabis for adult-use in Delaware has passed through the legislature. However the state’s governor has already said he does not support cannabis legalization.

Delaware’s Senate gave final approval to the bill legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use in the second week of May. The legislation cleared the Senate 13-7 with the vote holding on party lines.

Sen. Bruce Ennis of Smyrna, a retired state trooper, was the only Democrat joining Republicans in opposing the bill. The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House on a 26-14 vote the week before.

Now the bill heads to the desk of Governor John Carney (D) who has expressed his opposition to legal cannabis in the past.

However he hasn’t spoken specifically on whether he would sign a legalization bill that made it to his desk.

“We’ll review the bill, but the governor’s position hasn’t changed,” Carney spokeswoman Emily David said after the vote.

Delaware cannabis laws currently impose a $100 fine for possession of an ounce or less if the user is 21 or older. The new legislation, if passed, would remove this provision.

Anyone under the age of 21 would still receive a civil penalty for possession, and public consumption and possession of more than one ounce would remain a misdemeanor. While the new bill would legalize possession, consumers would not be allowed to directly sell cannabis to other consumers.

However consumers will be allowed to “transfer” cannabis products between each other legally. Without a regulated industry to go along with it, this bill’s passing would likely lead to a gift/donation industry similar to Washington DC.

Cannabis was legalized in DC in 2015, however legislative barriers prevent a regulated industry from being established. There is now a thriving grey market that operates through a gifting and donating loophole in the law.

A separate bill to establish and regulate a recreational cannabis has also passed through two House committees and is awaiting consideration by the full chamber. Sen. Trey Paradee, the chief sponsor of the bill, has said that he would want his bill which already passed through the legislature to be vetoed should the partner legislation for a regulated industry not make it through as well.

Whether the governor will wait for the partner legislation to pass before deciding on the initial bill or not is yet to be seen. However without a legal industry framework to support it, in addition to the governor’s voiced opposition to legal cannabis, the odds of either bill passing in the near future seem unlikely.

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting could be banned

The underground Connecticut cannabis gifting community could be in for some trouble is legislators in the state get their way.

In a 98-48 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives pushed forward legislation that would fine anybody who host a cannabis gifting event up to thousands of dollars. During the session, others argued that legalizing cannabis in Connecticut at all was a mistake that should be reverted.

Suffice to say there is disagreement in the legislature about the future of the industry in Connecticut, and it is going to have an impact on the industry there.

As it currently stands, cannabis is legal to possess for adults in Connecticut. However recreational cultivation for personal use won’t be an option until July 2023, and there is no regulated industry to speak of in the state.

In other words, cannabis is legal. It just can’t be grown recreationally or bought anywhere unless you’re a licensed medical cannabis patient. This has predictably created an underground market for those looking to obtain cannabis for personal consumption without a medical card.

What is cannabis gifting?

Cannabis gifting is by no means a new practice. It also isn’t exclusive to just Connecticut.

For example Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, but still doesn’t have a regulated industry due to barriers put in place by politicians during the legislative process. Now there is a thriving cannabis gifting industry in DC, with small shops tucked away across the city. There you can pay $45 for a sticker and receive an eighth of cannabis as a “gift”.

The donation/gifting method acts as a loophole under most cannabis laws that prohibit the illicit sale of cannabis outside of a licenses retailer. By gifting cannabis instead, it technically isn’t being sold and can’t be prosecuted.

It isn’t difficult to see why politicians would not be in favor of such a practice.

But with the current laws and delays in Connecticut, it was inevitable.

Some legislators are shaping the new bill not as a total restriction on cannabis gifting, but just organized events according to Democrat Rep. Michael D’Agostino.

“For right now, these bazaars are a way around the regulated marketplace,” D’Agostino said. As co-chairman of the legislative General Law Committee, he stressed that the bill would not prohibit true gifting events in which friends or acquaintances exchange or give each other cannabis without commercial transactions.

The legislation was originally proposed in response to events like the High Bazaar. There more than 1,000 visitors paid $20 or so to enter a warehouse in an industrial zone, where dozens of vendor tables would display cannabis in various forms, exchanging cash or other items of value for cannabis products.

Under the bill, those who sponsor these large gifting parties could be fined $1,000 by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and as much as $1,000 by local officials. The legislation isn’t entirely bad however.

The legislation also includes provisions to end the annual fees required of patients in the medical-marijuana program, saving patients about $5 million a year starting July 1, 2023. It would also permit physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions, which would save patients more money and time.

The law also includes provisions strictly limited billboard advertising for cannabis companies, and completely bans it for out of state brands. Lastly, current cannabis cultivators would be allowed to undertake two more joint ventures, and towns and cities that are willing to host cannabis businesses, can now decide which businesses and how many could locate to their area.

Overall the legislation would appear to have more good than bad, with the main negative being the impacts on large cannabis gifting events. Small gathering of friends gifting each other cannabis products will still be allowed without repercussion. Medical cannabis patients will have quicker and more affordable access to their medicine, and in-state retailers will no longer have to worry about out of state competition.

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis dispensaries

When Glen Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia after a heated race in 2021, many cannabis advocates began to question the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. Despite legalizing cannabis for recreational use earlier in the year, the state has yet to get the industry rolling in any real way.

It isn’t uncommon for a state to take more than a year or two to establish their regulatory framework and begin adult-use sales. However in Virginia’s case, cannabis was legalized by a Democrat governor, who was soon replaced by a Republican.

Youngkin holds a different view on cannabis compared to his predecessor, and now those views have begun impacting the future prospects of a recreational cannabis industry in Virginia.

On April 7, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to begin the process of legalizing adult-use cannabis. HB2312 (Herring) and SB1406 (Ebbin; Lucas), introduced by Governor Northam and passed by the 2021 General Assembly, lay out a three year process to legalize cannabis and create a regulatory framework for the sale of the product.

However while a recent General Assembly session saw lawmakers increase accessibility for medical cannabis patients, it failed to expedite Virginia recreational cannabis sales, and added new penalties for cannabis possession. So what happened?

The original bill as previously mentioned included a three-year timeline to implement regulations and framework for a recreational cannabis industry. The latest General Assembly session was voting on whether to shorten this timeframe, which would have expedited retail cannabis sales to this September.

However with the latest amendments to the original bills, it is unlikely that a Virginia recreational cannabis industry will be open by the original 2024 deadline.

Lobbyists influenced Virginia legislators into believing that it is safer for several large corporations to produce the products rather than having hundreds of small batch operations, according to Happy Trees co-founder Josiah Ickes. Happy Trees is a garden store supplying cannabis growers in the state.

“We have all these small breweries in Richmond,” Ickes said. “It would be kinda like if we said: ‘Oh, well look at all these small breweries, they need to go away because we don’t know if they’re creating safe beer.’”

Virginians will still be able to possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower for personal use without penalty. For comparison, in Colorado where cannabis has been legal since 2012, consumers are only allowed one ounce in their possession at a time.

Those who aren’t waiting for a legal cannabis industry to open up also have the option to grow their own cannabis. With the current framework and delay of a recreational industry, it is likely that a gift/donation industry will begin to develop in Virginia.

Coincidentally Virginia borders Washington, D.C., where cannabis is also legal but has no established industry. DC now has a thriving gift/donation industry where consumers will donate a certain amount in exchange for a gift (in the form of cannabis), creating a loophole where technically there isn’t a “sale” of cannabis happening.

There have been plenty of efforts to shut down this grey area industry, but efforts thus far have failed. With a successful market right next door, Virginians are likely to replicate these practices so people can still buy and sell their cannabis without technically breaking the law.

One of the positives to come out of the latest General Assembly meeting was regarding medical cannabis patients and their access to the products they need. Governor Youngkin recently signed new legislation which eliminated the requirement to register with the state Board of Pharmacy before being approved to purchase medical cannabis products.

Would be Virginia medical cannabis patients already have to get a referral from a medical provider in order to get access to cannabis. The latest amendment would appear to be simply removing an unnecessary step for patients.

When lawmakers originally approved the sale of low-concentration THC oil for medical patients in 2019, the Board of Pharmacy issued just 1,377 medical cannabis cards. That number grew to 7,135 in 2020, and ballooned to over 33,000 in 2021. The Board has issued over 10,000 cards from January to April 2022 already.

Brandy, a resident of Richmond, VA began smoking cannabis at age 15. Now 37, she grows plants in her home. Citizens can grow up to four plants legally per household.

Brandy has a state-approved prescription for cannabis to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder, but said she prefers growing cannabis as opposed to going to a dispensary, because it’s cheaper. Health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.

“In Virginia, it really sucks,” Brandy said. “You go in and they have the little half gram carts, and it’s $65.”

With a retail market still not established, Brandy said she prefers growing her own supply versus buying illegally from a dealer.

“This way I know exactly what goes in it,” Brandy said. “It’s all organic product, there isn’t chemicals in it.”

Currently there are only four state-licensed medical cannabis companies that can provide cannabis to patients in five health districts across Virginia. There are still several health districts that don’t have a single dispensary, making patients have to travel long distances to get their medicine.

Limited access, expensive pricing and the lack of a legal industry has put Virginia on a path that is leaving many unsure of the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. One can safely assume that there won’t a regulated, adult-use cannabis industry in the state until at least 2024.

However one can also expect to start seeing some semblance of an underground, grey market cannabis industry develop as consumers find ways to sell and purchase recreational cannabis without breaking the specific rules of the law.

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

history of the word marijuana

The majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization on the federal level. Yet the majority of the country still refers to the plant by much different name: marijuana.

If you walked up to someone in their mid-forties and asked them their opinion on cannabis, there’s a chance they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. However if you asked them if they supported the legalization of marijuana, there’s a higher likelihood of them supporting it than not.

So where is the confusion?

When we have been referring to cannabis as “marijuana” for nearly a century, it isn’t as easy to telling people that the name has changed. But the reality is that cannabis was always, well, cannabis.

Origins of cannabis

Cannabis has been a known and used plant for medicine and recreation for centuries. With use dating back to 8,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, those studying medicine throughout the generations have had plenty of time to learn about the origins of the cannabis plant.

Through these studies, this is where the plant’s name originates. Actually, it has several names for the various types of cannabis that can be found across the globe.

Cannabis Ruderalis (northern/central Asia), Cannabis Sativa (Eastern Europe/Central Asia), and Cannabis Indica (China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Himalayas, Middle East) are the most studied and well known biotypes of cannabis. These are the scientific names for the plant. Notice that none of them have the word “marijuana” or anything close to it in their title.

So if cannabis had held that name for centuries of scientific study, what changed?

The answer to this question is why you should stop using the word “marijuana” when talking about cannabis.

Origins of “marijuana”

The origins of the word “marijuana” or “marihuana” are debated among the cannabis community. But one thing is inarguable; the word is racist.

Cannabis,  AKA hemp, was a major cash crop in the United States for decades, with the government even requiring its production by farmers during the Revolutionary War. Now, why cannabis became illegal in the first place is highly debated.

Many argue that cannabis became illegal because major paper manufacturers and big cotton producers partnered together to phase out hemp as a material for paper. However there is very little historical information to back this up. The more recognized and historically traced reason for the criminalization of cannabis goes back to the introduction of Mexican immigrants to the United States.

Prior to their arrival, recreational use of cannabis was not widely accepted. The plant’s main uses were medicinal and manufacturing. Hash and concentrated forms of cannabis were commonly used by doctors to treat a variety of ailments. The fibers of the hemp plant were great not only for creating boat sails which were vital to the war effort, but hemp was also a vital material in clothing and paper for decades.

However it was when Mexican immigrants arrived and brought their preferred method of cannabis consumption with them that the plant would begin to gain notoriety. Opposed to consuming it in a medicinal form such as a tincture which was common in the country at the time, the immigrants would roll up loose cannabis flower into cigarettes or pack it into pipes and smoke it.

Just like today, immigration of Mexicans to the United States stirred up xenophobia. In the 1930s a man named Henry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotic (now the DEA), made a distinct effort to link cannabis use to Mexican immigrants to stir up fear in the community and build support for prohibition.

Keep in mind this is the 1930s, and alcohol prohibition had already been in effect for almost a decade. So the idea of banning a substance through provoking fear in the public was by no means a new concept.

Anslinger would coin the term “marihuana” to replace cannabis. He chose the word because of its foreign sounding nature that could be attached to Mexican immigrants. But Mexicans weren’t the only victims of Anslinger’s racist campaign against cannabis.

Henry Anslinger held such views on cannabis as, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and, “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.​” One of his most famous quotes is as revealing as we need it to be to recognize the racist intentions of the word “marijuana”:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.​​”

Need I say more?

In the end as we all know, Anslinger’s plan would be a success. In 1937 the United States passed the Marihuana Tax Act which would be the basis for criminalizing the plant nationwide in the years to come.

After the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 went into effect, the Bureau of Narcotics arrested Moses Baca for marijuana possession. Baca was a Mexican-American and was the first victim of the federal government’s war against drugs.

It’s time to move on

To make a long story short, the only reason the word “marijuana” even exists in the first place is because of racism. And that same racism has fueled the drug war that has plagued the United States for decades, with that word being at the forefront of the campaign.

Does this make everybody who calls cannabis marijuana a racist? Of course not. Don’t attribute malice to that which can be explained by ignorance.

It’s not like the history and prohibition of cannabis is taught the same way prohibition of alcohol is in high school. Politicians don’t want to talk about the dark, tattered history of the plant and why it became illegal in the first place. Anybody who wanted to know the history of cannabis had to seek it out themselves, and in most cases still do!

Let’s not forget that cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, all because of the racist campaign Henry Anslinger started in the early 20th century. Well, we’re in the 21st century now, and it is time to move on from the outdated, racist terms used to describe a plant that thousands use as medicine and recreation.

It isn’t snobby to call cannabis by its proper name to combat the decades of racism its former helped promote. It isn’t elitist or trying to be cool to use the proper terms for a plant that the majority of us want to be legal.

How can we expect legalization of cannabis when we can’t agree on what to call it?

Detroit to finally permit recreational cannabis sales

Detroit to finally permit recreational cannabis sales

Detroit cannabis sales to be allowed now.

Four years after legalization and following several months of hurdles, recreational cannabis will finally be available in Detroit soon.

Detroit’s City Council voted 8-1 on April 5 to allow the sale of adult-use cannabis to begin in the city. City Council president James Tate, a sponsor of the legislation, has said that the new ordinance will be equity-driven with a focus on assisting minority Detroiters to become business owners.

“This is providing the best opportunity possible for equity applicants and Legacy Detroiters to compete for these licenses,” Tate said recently at a public hearing on the ordinance. “For me, it’s important for us to strategically go in and identify how this industry can and should go in Detroit” instead of a more “shotgun” approach where whoever wants a license gets one.

This ordinance will have a major impact on the Michigan cannabis industry. Being the largest city in the state, Detroit has been missing out on millions in tax revenue that other cities have been collecting.

The state brought in nearly $250 million in tax revenue in 2021 without Detroit’s help. Over five million citizens live within the Detroit city limits, making up over half of the state’s entire population.

To say that recreational cannabis in Detroit will have an impact on the statewide industry would be a massive understatement.

According to Michael Elias, CEO of Michigan-based cannabis company Common Citizen, the passage of the adult-use ordinance is a “monumental win for Michigan’s largest city” and “will help create new job opportunities and contribute to the Motor City’s ongoing comeback.”

“This is a huge milestone for Detroiters and those in surrounding communities who have been seeking access to adult-use cannabis since voters approved recreational cannabis in 2018. At Common Citizen, we look forward to providing our safe, high-quality cannabis products to adult-use customers in addition to our patients at our Detroit location,” he added, in conversation with Benzinga.