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Historical First: Ohio Cannabis Legalization Bill Introduced by Lawmakers

Historical First: Ohio Cannabis Legalization Bill Introduced by Lawmakers

ohio cannabis legalization bill introduced

Ohio lawmakers on Friday formally introduced a bill to legalize marijuana possession, production and sales—the first effort of its kind in the state legislature. This comes as activists are pursuing a separate ballot initiative that would effectively force the legislature to consider similar cannabis reforms.

Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D) filed the legislation, weeks after circulating a co-sponsorship memo to colleagues to build support for the measure.

The 180-page bill would legalize possession of up to five ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow them to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use. It also includes provisions to expunge prior convictions for possession and cultivation activities that are being made legal under the measure.

A 10 percent excise tax would be imposed on marijuana sales, with revenue first going toward the cost of implementation and then being divided among municipalities with at least one cannabis shop (15 percent), counties with at least one shop (15 percent), K-12 education (35 percent) and infrastructure (35 percent).

“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” Weinstein said in a press release. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”

The state Department of Commerce would be responsible for overseeing the program and issuing cannabis business licenses.

 

Individual municipalities could restrict the type and number of marijuana that operate in their area. The bill specifically states that the state’s existing medical marijuana program would not be impacted by the establishment of an adult-use market.

“This bill is much needed in Ohio, and it’s time for Ohio to become a national leader in marijuana decriminalization and legalization,” Upchurch said. “This bill is more than just about legalization, it’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about healthcare! The time is now, and I look forward to getting this done in a bipartisan fashion.”

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) is likely to oppose the effort given his record, but activists have effectively demonstrated through local initiatives that voters in the state broadly support enacting a cannabis policy change.

A newly formed organization called the the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) is also actively collecting signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would separately force lawmakers to consider taking up legalization legislation once a certain signature gathering threshold is met.

More states impose cannabis potency laws

More states impose cannabis potency laws

states are imposing cannabis potency restrictions and taxes

In addition to THC limits, some states are likely to adopt potency-related taxes.

Many states have already established or are planning to establish new laws for the legal cannabis industry based on the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in products.

In 2020, Illinois imposed a potency-related tax for all marijuana sales, followed by New York this past March. According to ABC News, Vermont plans to limit the amount of THC in products when the state opens up its legal cannabis market in 2022, with the percentage of THC in any amount of recreational pot set at 30% for flower-form marijuana and 60% for concentrates.

Virginia’s new legalization law aims to give the state’s future Cannabis Control Authority the power to establish THC limits in recreational products and put a cap on THC in medical marijuana. Currently, in states where it’s legal, marijuana is taxed on the established sale price or weight. But with the new laws in Illinois and New York, more states are likely to follow their lead and adopt potency-related taxes on recreational sales.

‘Recriminalization’ at play?

While these changes in state laws are aimed at discouraging the production and sale of highly concentrated cannabis products, the idea of calculating taxes based on potency is getting some pushback. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), this is a type of “recriminalization” of sorts. “[The] consumer demand for [high-potency] [cannabis] products is not going to go away, and recriminalizing them will only push this consumer base to seek out similar products in the unregulated illicit market,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2021, cannabis potency has quadrupled over the past two decades, while the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40%.

Clearly, many states are taking this increase in cannabis potency as a serious issue. In fact, some states have already begun limiting the amount of THC milligrams contained in a single serving and packaged cannabis products, while others have prohibited the use of high-potency cannabis altogether. Whether these practices help effectively reduce the production, sale or harmful use of products containing high THC levels remains to be seen.

Denver gives first cannabis transporter license to felon who trafficked plant

Denver gives first cannabis transporter license to felon who trafficked plant

first cannabis transport license issued in Colorado

Two days after Denver issued its first-ever cannabis delivery license to a dispensary, the first transporter license was granted to a company whose co-founder suffered legal consequences for trafficking the substance decades ago.

Ari and Karina Cohen, co-founders of the cannabis transportation company Doobba, were awarded the license Thursday.

Applicants who qualify for Denver’s social equity designation are the only ones who can apply for cannabis transporter permits until July 1, 2024. After that, licensed cannabis stores can conduct their own delivery services.

Established cannabis stores must obtain a delivery license and they must contract with a transportation license holder until the July sunset date.

Ari qualified as a social equity transporter because he was convicted of a cannabis-related felony about 30 years ago, Karina confirmed.

“Our business model is to partner with very specific dispensaries,” she said. “Our biggest thing in this whole journey is to end cannabis prohibition.”

Colorado law specifies social equity applicants must meet one of three criteria as well as have at least a 51 percent ownership of the company.

The applicant must have lived in the state for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated as an opportunity zone or disproportionate impacted area; or they, a parent, guardian, sibling, spouse or child were arrested, convicted or subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a cannabis investigation; or the applicant’s yearly income the year prior did not exceed 50 percent of the state’s median income.

She said Doobba has been talking to at least three cannabis companies about partnering with them for delivery services, and the company will start with two drivers.

Cohen said she’s not sure when her company will finalize a contract with a dispensary, but that she hopes to do so within the next couple of weeks.

She also said Doobba intends to help other social equity applicants navigate the licensing process because “it can be confusing.”

“Ari and I both have a lot of business acumen, and we want to pay it forward and help others stand up and be successful,” Cohen said.

Strawberry Fields received the first delivery permit for a licensed cannabis business on Tuesday, and representatives said they have been in talks with Doobba.

THC-O Acetate: Will it replace Delta 8 THC?

THC-O Acetate: Will it replace Delta 8 THC?

What is THC-O Acetate and is it like Delta 8 THC?

As more states begin banning and regulating Delta 8 THC, manufacturers are looking for alternatives to skirt the rules. Bring in THC-O Acetate.

Before we dive into the latest designer cannabinoid that aims to replace Delta 8 THC as it becomes banned in several states and regulated in some others, let’s briefly run through what Delta 8 THC is itself.

All cannabinoids, from CBD to THC and beyond begin as CBGA. Because of the shared molecular structure of cannabinoids, manipulating them is simpler than it may seem. While Delta-8 is relatively new, producers have been using these methods to manipulate cannabinoids for a long time to find exotic new cannabinoids.

While Delta-8 THC exists in a wide range of cannabis strains, it is in minuscule, trace amounts. To extract and purify Delta-8 from raw plant material with less than one percent of the targeted cannabinoid is unprofitable. This is why producers have begun converting other, more prevalent cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-9 THC into Delta-8.

Through a synthetic isomerization process, CBD is combined with a solvent to create Delta-8 THC. This is why the most popular products are vape cartridges and gummies. Cannabis cannot produce enough Delta-8 on its own.

Why Delta 8 THC is being banned

If you read the above section and started thinking, “That sounds pretty similar to those designer cannabinoids like spice that hurt a lot of people”, you would be on the right track. That is why over a dozen states have already banned Delta 8 THC.

Due to grey areas in the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp and all of its derivatives (besides Delta 9 THC), producers of Delta 8 believe they technically aren’t breaking any laws. However unlike CBD which was immediately popular and thus regulated by the FDA for safety, Delta 8 has had no such treatment.

In 2020, the DEA released a set of rules for hemp production in the country. This ruling states that any naturally occurring tetrahydrocannabinols in the hemp plant that has a Delta 9 THC percentage below .3% is not a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act. In other words, it would seem like Delta 8 in the clear.

However the DEA also includes that for synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols (like Delta 8 which is created synthetically), the concentration of D9 -THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances. In other words, maybe Delta 8 is not so in the clear.

For the states that have already banned Delta 8 THC, it seems the easiest solution to a product that the FDA and DEA have made no mention of regulating. For producers however, THC-O Acetate is the solution.

What is THC-O Acetate?

While Delta 8 THC occurs in low concentrations in cannabis that must be extracted and isolated, THC-O Acetate — commonly called ATHC or THC-O — is not naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and can only be made synthetically.

THC-O is a man-made cannabinoid produced by using specific chemicals to acetylate THC. Acting as a metabolic prodrug for THC itself, THC-O works in the same manner as heroin does as a metabolic prodrug for morphine. That alone is enough to rub many cannabis users the wrong way, especially whole plant advocates.

THC-O Acetate can also be made from Delta 8 THC, so in states where it has been banned and producers may have a bulk supply of Delta 8, it can be converted relatively easily. And what truly makes THC-O so popular is the effects users feel.

Traditional THC Molecule:

Delta 9 THC vs THC-O AcetateTHC-O Acetate Molecule:

What is THC-O Acetate and is it safe?

A better high than Delta 9?

According to user reports and the little science behind it, THC-O Acetate has been shown to be two to three times stronger than Delta 9 THC. You read that right. THC-O can be 300% more potent than traditional Delta 9 THC.

Users have claimed that THC-O Acetate is a much more introspective and psychedelic experience compared to Delta 9 or Delta 8 THC, which is likely due to the extreme potency. Similarly to Delta 8 THC, THC-O can only be made through isolation, which means most products will be either a vape cartridge or edibles.

While for most, normal Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC does the trick just fine and taking such a concentrated product would be excessive, there is a real appeal for medical applications of THC-O Acetate. For some, traditional Delta 9 doesn’t provide enough relief from pain, anxiety or other issues.

Due to its potency, many believe that THC-O could be a great beneficial medicine for those who want to use cannabis but need a more concentrated dose that isn’t easily attainable through traditional consumption. With that said, THC-O Acetate is treated similarly to Delta 8 currently.

That means in states where Delta 8 has already been banned, you may be unable to have THC-O products delivered, or find them at smoke shops. However since there is so little information on THC-O, few states actually know about it, which means distributors may be able to get away with it for a while.

Is THC-O Acetate the new designer drug?

Of course for now it is too soon to say if THC-O is likely to end up in a similar grave to Spice or K2. These were synthetically created cannabinoid products that ended up hurting a lot of people, leading them to be banned across the country. However the way these products skirted the law was by minutely adjusting their chemical makeups every time one was banned.

Because the government would ban specific makeups of these products, small adjustments made them different products technically. It is always possible, being a fully synthetic creation, that THC-O befalls a similar fate. In grey markets, profits typically rise above safety. As competition grows, just like Delta 8 became more widespread, the same will likely happen to THC-O Acetate.

Producers will try to create stronger and cheaper versions of the drug, the latter effort being that which leads to danger. We all saw what happened when illicit market vape cartridge producers tried to cut costs by including Propylene Glycol and Vitamin E Acetate in their products. This resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations and even deaths.

With any grey or black market cannabis products, it is always on the user to ensure they are getting a safe and reliable product. If demand for THC-O Acetate grows enough, you can bet there will be a market for it.

However as a non-natural cannabinoid, THC-O isn’t measured with most testing methods used for cannabis currently. While some have claimed to created a reliable process for measuring THC-O, nothing has become the standard. Due to this it might be a while before there are truly reliable providers of THC-O products, but that hasn’t stopped consumers before, and likely won’t this time around either.

Denver grants first cannabis delivery license

Denver grants first cannabis delivery license

colorado cannabis delivery
Ever had one of those lazy days where you don’t want to get off the couch, even to buy cannabis? Soon, you won’t have to.
Strawberry Fields, a marijuana cultivation company with five Colorado dispensaries, including one at 3453 S. Yosemite St., was awarded Denver’s first cannabis delivery license Tuesday.

“I think it’s going to open up a lot of different avenues and outlets, more availability for our (medical cannabis) patients and consumers,” said Ethan Shean, chief retail operations officer for Strawberry Fields.

The service will not be immediately available, however.

Retail cannabis outlets must contract with companies that have obtained a cannabis transportation license, and none of those have been issued, although city officials told BusinessDen those applications could be approved within the next couple weeks.

Shean said the ability to deliver products will help Strawberry Fields connect with homebound medical cannabis patients and to people who have limited transportation.

“That is part of the inclusion that we want,” Shean said. “The customers and the patients who may not have access to come to one of our locations could be patients who rely on public transportation. We want to be accessible and convenient.”

Strawberry Fields opened in 2010 as a medical dispensary before adding recreational sales when it became legal in Colorado. The company is in communication with a few people who have applied for cannabis transportation licenses, Shean said.

State law governs how much cannabis can purchased per day, which is up to one ounce of “flower” per person or eight grams of concentrate with more than 800 milligrams of THC.

The city of Denver will only allow people who qualify as a “social equity applicant” to apply for medical and retail cannabis transportation licenses until July 1, 2024. Transporters can contract with multiple cannabis stores for their services. Deliveries must take place between 8 a.m. and midnight.

Existing retail and medical cannabis stores must contract with transportation licensees until July 1, 2024. After that, licensed dispensaries will be able to conduct deliveries themselves.

California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

california department of cannabis control

Five years after California legalized recreational marijuana, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law aimed at simplifying how the state regulates the growing industry.

The new law creates a single Department of Cannabis Control, consolidating enforcement, licensing and environmental oversight that had fallen under three different departments.

Industry representatives praised the change, which Newsom first proposed in January 2020.

We “are excited to see the consolidation,” said Lindsay Robinson, the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, representing over 400 licensed businesses across the state. “We see this as a big win for the industry.”

The Department of Cannabis Control will now take over responsibilities from the Bureau of Cannabis Control under the Department of Consumer Affairs, CalCannabis under the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch under the Department of Health.

Cannabis companies had often expressed difficulty navigating three different agencies with varying protocols and processes, according to Robinson.

“I think that having all of this housed under one agency is going to help with communication, it’s going to help with transparency and hopefully with process time for applications too,” Robinson said.

The department will also manage California’s track-and-trace system, following the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the legal supply chain.

The Newsom administration wants to make it less likely someone will choose to operate in the illicit market, Christina Dempsey, the Acting Deputy Director for the DCC, told The Sacramento Bee by email.

Robinson called the licensing of California’s cannabis industry when voters approved recreational cannabis use in 2016 a “behemoth project” from the start.

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