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Louisiana Governor Says Cannabis Legalization ‘Is Going To Happen’

Louisiana Governor Says Cannabis Legalization ‘Is Going To Happen’

Louisiana cannabis legalization is coming according to the governor

Just a day after a bill to legalize marijuana in Louisiana stalled in the state legislature, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said on his live radio program Wednesday that cannabis legalization “is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

“In the past, as a legislator and as governor, I’ve been opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana,” the governor said on the monthly program, Ask the Governor. “I will tell you, I have come to believe that it is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

Edwards stressed that while he isn’t yet endorsing legalization—he declined to take a position on pending legislation in the House—he wants to “make sure that we do it right.”

“I suspect you’re going to see a lot of interest and studying the other states and making sure that we have a clear path forward,” he said. “One of the things that I’ve always said is that before we do it here, we need to make sure we study and learn all the lessons to be learned.”

“I think there’s a growing number of people who are sort of where I am,” the governor continued, “not quite comfortable yet but understanding that we’re likely to get there.”

Last month, in a pivot from his years of quickly dismissing questions about legalization, Edwards said that he had “great interest” in a marijuana bill that had advanced out of a House committee just hours earlier. That proposal, however, hit a speed bump on Tuesday after the full House of Representatives rejected a complementary tax measure.

Despite the setback for legalization broadly, numerous other cannabis-related bills have been advancing in the conservative state this session. The House last week approved legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, which is now awaiting Senate consideration.

A separate House-passed measure that is also before the Senate would give the state’s existing medical marijuana patients access to cannabis flower and permit them to lawfully smoke it. Currently patients are able to vaporize cannabis preparations via a “metered-dose inhaler,” but they cannot purchase whole-plant flower and smoking is not allowed.

Edwards proactively brought up both of those measure in the radio appearance on Wednesday, suggesting he is closely tracking them and is potentially open to signing the proposals if they reach his desk this session.

DEA may allow companies to grow cannabis for scientific research

DEA may allow companies to grow cannabis for scientific research

DEA cannabis may be getting better for scientists

After years of delay under the Trump administration, the federal government is preparing to award the first new licenses for cultivating cannabis for scientific research, giving U.S. marijuana operators a crack at entering a business that has been dominated by the University of Mississippi for more than 50 years.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration late last week signaled it would award the licenses soon by issuing a “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA) to “a number” of organizations that applied for the opportunity, according to an agency news release. The move will allow greater research into marijuana and its potential medicinal properties. That, in turn, could spur more doctors to recommend medical cannabis, which likely would boost sales.

“We expect to receive our registration number this afternoon,” said Dr. Steven Groff, founder of Groff North America in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, one of three entities that on Friday received an MOA from the DEA.

The recipients are supposed to review the MOAs and return them to the DEA with comments or suggestions. Groff already returned its MOA, and two other recipients told MJBizDaily they’d return their paperwork in the coming days or weeks.

Besides Groff, at least two other organizations confirmed they’d received an MOA:

  • Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona.
  • Biopharmaceutical Research Co. (BRC) in Castroville, California.

A DEA spokesperson declined to answer if any other MOAs were issued. It’s also unclear when, or if, the DEA intends to issue more MOAs.

“This has the potential to create a renaissance of cannabis research for decades,” Dr. Sue Sisley, president of the Scottsdale Research Institute, said in a phone interview. Sisley, a longtime cannabis advocate, has been studying marijuana’s potential therapeutic benefits.

George Hodgin, the CEO of BRC, echoed Sisley, saying in a phone interview: “This is a massive regulatory step.”

Currently, the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, is the only institution in the United States with DEA permission to cultivate cannabis for federally approved research, having been awarded its license in 1968.

Critics complain that the cannabis grown there doesn’t reflect what’s being sold in the marketplace today.

To expand the number of entities with federal licenses for cultivating marijuana for research, the Obama administration announced an application process in its final year. Nearly 30 businesses, research institutes, universities and other entities applied.

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.

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