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Switzerland to legalize cannabis use and cultivation

Switzerland to legalize cannabis use and cultivation

Switzerland cannabis legalization has passed

Switzerland has moved closer to a legal cannabis market, an article by local news outlet Blick said on Tuesday.

According to the report, The Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States (SGK-S) has carried out an investigation on cannabis, concluding that current laws should be updated. Their findings and recommendations for new legislation were supported by forty members of the National Council, who signed the initiative, giving the proposed reform backing from across the Swiss political sphere. As a result, the bill, which will allow the production, cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis, was passed by a vote which ended nine votes to two in favor.

The new regulation was launched by the SGK-S’s National Councillor for Bern Centre, Heinz Siegenthaler with a parliamentary initiative which states “cannabis should be regulated in Switzerland in order to control the cannabis market for better youth and consumer protection”. The bill goes on to say that “the cultivation, production, trade and consumption of cannabis containing THC to be reorganized by law in accordance with the recommendations of the Federal Commission on Addiction (EKSF).”

Specified within the bill are ways to control the production and trade through the use of state bodies, with particular attention paid to the protection of minors, quality control and the availability of information.

Another important intention of ending prohibition is to make an impact on the cannabis black market by allowing the cultivation of plants at home for personal use.

Although cannabis will remain illegal until the new bill comes into force, Switzerland has been working towards a regulated cannabis market for some time. Earlier this year leafie reported the country was planning to launch a recreational cannabis trial involving 500 participants as a means to collect data on the impact of a fully legal recreational cannabis supply chain.

It is estimated that around 500,000 adults in Switzerland consume cannabis. The country has already removed criminal prosecution for small scale possession as of 2012. Anyone caught with less than 10 grams will not be prosecuted, but instead will face a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (£78). The country also allows the sale of ‘light’ cannabis, containing no more than 1% THC, which can be legally bought over the counter from tobacco stores.

Washington DC Marijuana Laws Could Be Changing

Washington DC Marijuana Laws Could Be Changing

If the current Washington DC marijuana laws confuse you, you aren’t alone.

If you went to Washington DC today in search of cannabis, you might struggle to find it. Despite Washington DC marijuana laws allowing the possession, cultivation and consumption of cannabis for recreational use, there isn’t a single retail recreational cannabis store where you can legally purchase cannabis.

Cannabis is still attainable in DC just like most places in the country without legal access to cannabis, but the methods can vary with different levels of success.

Washington DC Marijuana Laws

Washington DC legalized cannabis nearly seven years ago in February 2015. While the legislature legalized everything necessary to begin the process of opening up a retail cannabis industry, there was one major roadblock.

Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican, included a rider in the bill that including language preventing DC from implementing any sort of recreational cannabis industry, by not permitting district funds to be used for the process. In other words, Washington DC is unable to have a recreational cannabis industry because they are currently not allowed to fund a regulatory commission, establish licensing processes and design a regulated industry framework.

So while Washington DC marijuana laws resemble that of every other state that has legalized cannabis, there is still no legal industry. With all that said, finding weed in DC is relatively easy these days thanks to a thriving grey market.

The law in DC permits any one person to give any cannabis they have or have grown to any other person as long as they do not charge for it, as selling cannabis is currently illegal under the rider. This has led to the creation of a gift/donation system that has helped bloom a massive underground industry in DC.

This can work in various ways; from “donating” $40 for a T-shirt in a hydroponic store and being “gifted” a few grams of cannabis, to full-blown delivery services where you donate for a single sticker (that happens to cost about $200) in exchange for a gift box with cannabis flower, edibles and cartridges. Unfortunately for the consumer, this market is still completely unregulated since it is being done through a loophole in the bill’s language.

Consumers constantly run the risk of over paying for low quality cannabis from a shady shop or service, and there are so many different delivery services, finding one that doesn’t rip you off can be a real challenge. But that could be changing thanks to a new adjustment to the Senate budget proposal for 2022.

Washington DC could have legal cannabis for sale soon

Washington DC marijuana laws are particularly complicated due to the nature of Washington DC itself. It is considered the Capitol of the country, but it is not actually a state or a city, and its Mayor is also the Governor, among other peculiarities. Due to the nature of how DC works, it creates complications when the district has differing opinions on legislation compared to the federal government that is housed there.

When Joe Biden released his 2022 budget proposal it still included the Harris Rider, leaving many advocates disappointed. The Democrat president has expressed consistent opposition to cannabis legalization on the federal level. However the House voted to remove the rider back in June, and now the Senate Appropriations Committee seems to be moving that sentiment forward.

In a new text of legislation released by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a budget proposal to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2022 is presented, which among other measures, purposely fails to include the Harris Rider.

The legislation also contains several other cannabis provisions, including to continue an existing protection for state medical marijuana laws, call on the federal government to reconsider policies that fire employees for cannabis, criticize the restrictive drug classification system that impedes scientific research and encourage the development of technologies to detect THC-impaired driving.

It is very common for legislators to attempt and slide in additional changes to legislation in most cases, but also regarding cannabis. Some advocates blame this practice for why a lot of cannabis legislation does not pass, saying that if legislators focused on one issue at a time that has more broad support, they would see more success.

A long fight may be ending

It is too soon to say if the final Budget Proposal will be approved, and more changes could occur before it is. The fight to change Washington DC marijuana laws has been long and fraught with disappointment.

The latest proposal appears to be a large step in the right direction, with House and Senate support for removing the rider. The 2022 Budget Proposal has a deadline of December 3rd, with Democrats eager to get everything finalized before then. However it is still unclear whether the spending panel or full Senate will take up the new revised proposal before then.

Yet again, the further progress of cannabis legalization depends on the slow moving legislature, notorious for “extending” deadlines as an excuse for just missing them. Only time will tell the future of cannabis legalization in Washington DC now.

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.

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

rhode island cannabis legalization being considered by house

On Tuesday, the RI House of Representatives Committee on Finance examined legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, with legislators and the public showing strong support for the bill and contemplating how it could be improved. The proposal in the House differs from the Senate’s recently passed, similar legislation in a number of key areas, including automatic expungement for past cannabis offenses and oversight and impact fees to be paid to municipalities where retail stores open.

“I try to take input from a lot of the stakeholders in the cannabis world,” said sponsoring representative Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence). “Patients, caregivers, cultivators, existing compassion centers and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. I try to take everyone’s input and compromise the best piece of legislation that I can for a legal, adult-use, recreational cannabis program.”

 

The legislation, if approved in the House and signed into law, would legalize cannabis in the state, allowing possession up to one ounce by individuals over the age of 21. It also allows for home grow comparable to neighboring Massachusetts, with adults being able to grow up to 12 plants, with six active plants at any given time.

Fifteen recreational cannabis licenses would be made available if the legislation is approved, with five of those being designated for equity applicants. Three of the licenses would go to the state’s three existing compassion centers and seven new licenses would be up for grabs, with one of those slots set aside for a co-op business.

“We can work on the number of retail [licenses],” said Slater. “I’m open to adjusting that number. I think it’s important.”

“What I’ve found is that we have people, small businesses, our constituents, investing their money and there was no market for them,” he continued, speaking to the state’s expansion of medical marijuana access in recent years. “They got their licenses, they paid their fees, they did all the right things and I feel that we oversaturated the market and I don’t want to do that again.”

Last week, the RI Senate passed similar legislation, though Slater said his bill bears some significant differences.

The first, said Slater, is that past cannabis-related offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, would be automatically expunged if the legislation is approved. The Senate bill also offers expungement for past cannabis offenses, though that bill lays out a process to apply for expungement. Further, Slater’s bill would not create a five-member cannabis control commission as in the Senate’s version, but would leave oversight to the state’s Department of Business Regulation.

“My bill leaves the regulation to DBR, which has been doing a good job to authorize and promulgate regulations to effectuate the legislation,” said Slater.

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Passed by Senate

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Passed by Senate

Rhode Island cannabis legalization bill passed in Senate

The Rhode Island Senate approved legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults on Tuesday, marking the first time either chamber of the state Legislature has voted on a bill to legalize cannabis.

The proposal was introduced by longtime proponent Sen. Joshua Miller, a Cranston Democrat who chairs the chamber’s Health and Human Services Committee. It now heads to the state House of Representatives.

House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, has said the Democratic-controlled Legislature will likely end up taking up the question on how to structure a legal cannabis industry in a special session later this year.

Gov. Daniel McKee has his own plan for legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis, but legislative leaders didn’t include it in their proposed $13.1 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year.

Miller’s proposal would impose a 20% tax on cannabis sales, create an independent cannabis control commission to license and oversee cannabis operations, and allow for home cultivation. It would also create a “Cannabis Equity Fund” to help cannabis businesses from disadvantaged communities.

McKee’s proposal would have the state Department of Business Regulation oversee the industry and ban home growing cannabis, among other differences.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for adults over the age of 21, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.