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Mississippi medical marijuana bill introduced

Mississippi medical marijuana bill introduced

mississippi medical marijuana bill introduced into state senate

After months of debate and back-and-forth, lawmakers in Mississippi have finally produced a bill to implement a new medical cannabis law in the state.​

After months of speculation and hand-wringing, the Mississippi Legislature is set to take up a medical marijuana bill in the Senate as soon as Thursday, lawmakers said.

Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, filed the long-awaited bill late Tuesday afternoon. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann referred the 445-page bill to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee for review.

Wednesday afternoon, the bill was passed by the Senate public health committee. Should it pass the Senate, it would head to the House and then to the governor.

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn said at the start of the legislative session medical marijuana was not a top priority of his. Bryan’s committee held two hearings over the summer about what a proposed medical marijuana bill would look like in Mississippi.

Gov. Tate Reeves said in June 2021 he would call a special session of the legislature if the House and Senate could agree on a bill.

In September, Gunn and Hosemann announced their two chambers had reached an agreement, but Reeves never called a session, objecting to portions of the bill. A draft version was made public in September, and lawmakers worked to address most of Reeves concerns.

Austin to Vote on Cannabis Law Enforcement Reforms

Austin to Vote on Cannabis Law Enforcement Reforms

Austin cannabis reform vote happening in May

Residents in Austin, Texas will have the opportunity to vote on cannabis enforcement reforms in May.

Voters in Austin, Texas in May will vote on ending the enforcement of low-level cannabis offenses and no-knock raids by law enforcement, KXAN reports. The City Clerk’s Office on Monday qualified the ballot measure, known as the Austin Freedom Act.

Last year, the City Council approved a resolution prohibiting Austin police from spending city funds on lab tests to distinguish hemp from THC-rich cannabis in personal possession cases – a move meant to end arrests and fines for low-level cannabis possession.

Advocates submitted the petition signatures to officials last month. At the time, Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, said the 2021 resolution had already changed how the city police enforce cannabis laws and he didn’t “really see the point” of the initiative. He indicated that Austin police don’t make arrests for “low amounts” of cannabis.

Mike Siegel, political director of Ground Game Texas, which is backing the campaign, said the initiative would codify that “current informal policy.”

Everything to know about Connecticut cannabis license options

Everything to know about Connecticut cannabis license options

Connecticut cannabis license types

After a meeting of the Connecticut Social Equity Council (SEC) in the first week of January, regulators have announced that the Connecticut cannabis license process will begin in February.

The legislation which legalized cannabis in the state has a condition in its copy that the Connecticut cannabis license process could not start until the SEC approved a technical assistance plan for the cannabis industry. The approved plan will include outreach and providing resources to people interested in participating in the legal cannabis market.

Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) announced on Twitter that they will begin accepting applications for certain adult-use cannabis establishment licenses in 30 days. The DCP also will announce the specific number of Connecticut cannabis licenses will be available for each establishment type.

Each cannabis license type will be released for applicants at different times. This time frame is planned for February to the final week of March, and will operate under two lottery systems.

The first lottery will be specifically for social equity applicants, who will have first access to applications on February 3rd. To be a social equity applicant there must be at least 65% ownership or control of the business by individuals who “meet the income and residency requirements for a social equity applicant outlined in the law,” DCP said in a press release.

Individuals who fall under the “Disproportionately Impacted Areas” category have the option to pay $3 million and skip the lottery system altogether.

The other Connecticut cannabis license lottery is for general applicants. These license types include retailers, micro-cultivators, delivery services, transporters and more. From February 3 to March 24 there will be a 90-day application period with each license being released at a different period throughout the process.

Connecticut cannabis license types and application dates

The DCP released every Connecticut cannabis license type and how many applications will be available for the general and social equity lotteries. Here are the various types and how many licenses will be released.

Disproportionately Impacted Area Cultivator: February 3, 2022 (non-lottery)

 

Retailer: February 3

6 general licenses, 6 social equity licenses

Micro-cultivator: February 10

2 general licenses, 5 social equity licenses

Delivery Service: February 17

5 general licenses, 5 social equity licenses

Hybrid Retailer: February 24

2 general licenses, 2 social equity licenses

Food and Beverage: March 3

5 general licenses, 5 social equity licenses

Product Manufacturer: March 10

3 general licenses, 3 social equity licenses

Product Packager: March 17

3 general licenses, 3 social equity licenses

Transporter: March 24

2 general licenses, 2 social equity licenses

In a DCP press release, Commissioner Michelle Seagull said, “This work by the Social Equity Council is a critical step in the licensure process for the emerging Adult-Use cannabis market in Connecticut and will be instrumental in ensuring the equity goals established in the law are met.”

Seagull explained that the initial number of available Connecticut cannabis licenses is not meant to be a cap, but,”a starting point for opening the adult-use cannabis market in an effective, measured and thoughtful way,” she said.

Despite legalization, California black market still thriving

Despite legalization, California black market still thriving

Californa black market cannabis

Lake County has some of the largest acreages in permitted cannabis grows in California. Yet, despite a legal market, illegal grows are unfairly undermining the profitability of lawful cultivators.

This illegal market that voters sought to eradicate with cannabis legalization is quickly eroding the permitted industry and threatening public safety. Amounting to an estimated 80% of all cannabis sales in California, the market is saturated with low-cost illicit product. Cannabis cultivators are unable to compete.

As the underground economy thrives, so does criminal activity and environmental harm.

Rural counties with land and industry prime for cannabis cultivation are at the front lines of this battle, including those in the Sacramento region. During a time of limited staffing and competing priorities, local governments require increased state funding for enforcement.

The path for the legal industry is already challenging. Growers face a long permit process, including extensive state-mandated environmental review and higher taxes intended to help monitor and ensure public health and safety.

Distribution is also affected by the struggles of the state’s licensed retail outlets, which must compete with illegal retailers that similarly flourish due to limited enforcement resources.

Unencumbered by these obstacles, illicit growers and suppliers can sell product at half the cost and distribute them nationally. The negative impact to residents and the environment from this activity is significant.

A 2020 raid on illegal cannabis grows in Lake County resulted in the seizure of over 51,000 plants and the discovery of 40 state Fish and Wildlife violations. This included storage of chemical pollutants near waterways and usage of underage labor. Stories like these are echoed across the state, with illegal grows linked to violent crime, environmental damage and wildfire.

California cannabis companies warn of being at ‘breaking point’

California cannabis companies warn of being at ‘breaking point’

California cannabis companies are struggling to operate under the state's strict regulations and high taxes
California’s cannabis industry is at a “breaking point.”

That’s the warning coming from 27 people who represent growing operations, dispensaries, retail outlets and industry organizations who want Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to reduce taxes on cannabis.

The group issued an open letter to state lawmakers Friday and posted a petition on Change.org, which as of Monday morning had more than 750 signatures.

“It is critical to recognize that an unwillingness to effectively legislate, implement, and oversee a functional regulated cannabis industry has brought us to our knees,” the letter said, noting that the industry’s past reform pleas have failed. “We have collectively reached a point of intolerable tension, and we will no longer support a system that perpetuates a failed and regressive War on Drugs.”

The group issued its warning more than five years after California voters approved Proposition 64, allowing for the legal growth and sale of marijuana and other cannabis products for recreational use. Such sales began statewide on Jan. 1, 2018.

What the industry wants is a tax break, a lifting of the cultivation tax that growers have to pay as well as a three-year break from excise taxes. It also wants to see more retail shops open up throughout California; the state allows local municipalities to decide whether to allow for local sales.

“Excessive taxation, which compounds across the supply chain, makes our product 50% more expensive at retail than the illicit market. This has created an illicit market that is currently three times the size of the legal market,” the letter said.

The current framework is “rigged for all to fail,” the letter said.

“We need you to understand that we have been pushed to a breaking point and we will not remain on our knees. We will not stand for political interests to the detriment of our own livelihoods, the health of our citizens, the prosperity of our families and the state of California’s economy,” it said.

Newsom’s office issued a statement in response to the industry’s plea, saying that the governor sees the need for cannabis tax reform as well as other changes.

Malta becomes first EU country to legalize cannabis

Malta becomes first EU country to legalize cannabis

Malta has become the first EU country to legalize cannabis
Adults will be allowed to carry up to seven grams of cannabis and grow four plants at home, but smoking it in public or in front of children will remain illegal.

Several other nations have similar plans; Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland being three other EU countries considering legalization. While cannabis use and possession is permitted under certain circumstances in the Netherlands, cannabis isn’t officially legal.

Malta’s parliament voted to legalize cannabis on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 with 36 members voting in favor and 27 against.

Equality Minister Owen Bonnici said the “historic” move would stop small-time cannabis users from facing the criminal justice system. A legal cannabis industry would also “curb drug trafficking by making sure that users now have a safe and regularized way from where they can obtain cannabis”.

However, Malta’s opposition Nationalist Party voted against the new law, claiming an increase in illegal market sales will be the result.

In October the group’s leader Bernard Grech — who initially supported the new law — warned it would “only lead to the strengthening of the illegal market, with organized crime taking advantage,” according to The Times. Opponents have already called on Malta’s president, George Vella, not to sign it into law, which is the final, ceremonial stage.

Under the new law anyone carrying more than seven grams, but less than 28g could be fined up to €100 ($112). The punishment for smoking in public will be a €235 ($265) fine, and those smoking cannabis in front of anyone younger than 18 could be fined up to €500 ($560).

Associations will be set up to distribute the seeds to cultivate cannabis or the consumable version itself in order to regulate how much someone buys. A person can only be a member of one association.

The Malta cannabis law also includes support for minors who are found with cannabis. They will be recommended a care plan or treatment as opposed to facing arrest or criminal charges.

While the EU’s smallest member state, Malta is likely to be the first of a number of nations changing their cannabis laws after the UN last year reclassified cannabis to recognize its therapeutic uses.

Several countries in the EU have decriminalized cannabis for recreational or medical use under certain conditions including Spain and Italy more recently. Switzerland also has plans to implement a legal cannabis industry in the future, and Germany’s new government has announced plans to legalize the plant as well.

As the shifting narratives and stigmatization surrounding cannabis are broken down thanks to more scientific research and studies into cannabis that have been hindered for decades, more countries are beginning to recognize the potential therapeutic and recreational benefits of cannabis.