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Republicans aim to restrict Oklahoma medical marijuana industry

Republicans aim to restrict Oklahoma medical marijuana industry

Oklahoma medical marijuana industry would be restricted under new legislation

Republicans in the Oklahoma House are unveiling a package of new restrictions on the medical marijuana industry.

The 12-point plan includes a standardization of lab testing and equipment, more inspections of grow facilities, separate licenses for marijuana wholesalers and stringent new reporting requirements for electric and water usage by growers. One proposal would also make the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a stand-alone agency, not a division of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

“If you’re an illegal operator in Oklahoma, you’re time is up,” said Rep. Scott Fetgatter, an Okmulgee Republican and a member of the House Republican working group on medical marijuana.

The marijuana industry has been booming in Oklahoma since voters in 2018 approved one of the most liberal medical programs in the nation. It’s easy for patients to obtain a two-year medical license, and nearly 10% of the state’s population is now authorized to buy and use marijuana. Unlike other states, there also are no restrictions on the number of dispensary or grow licenses, and the low cost for entry into the industry has led to a flood of out-of-state pot entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the boom.

South Carolina medical marijuana bill approved by Senate

South Carolina medical marijuana bill approved by Senate

South Carolina medical marijuana bill

A South Carolina medical marijuana bill pre-filed in late 2020 has finally been approved by the Senate, and will now go on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Compassionate Care Act was passed in the Senate on its third reading February 10. Initial passage was expected a day prior following a bipartisan vote to advance the bill, however Thursday’s voice vote means the legislation will be formally transitioned to the other body.

Passed through the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in March 2021, the bill was blocked by a lone senator who prevented it from reaching the chamber floor. Republican Sen. Tom Davis has been the driving force behind the Compassionate Care Act, and doubled his efforts following the blockage in 2021 to get it across the finish line.

The state’s Governor Henry McMaster, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that it is still too soon to comment on the proposal. “This is on that’s going to depend on a lot of things,” he told a local station. McMaster added that he would be waiting for the final version before deciding whether or not to sign off on it if the bill hits his desk.

As it stands, the current bill would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be prohibited. Simply possessing the plant form of cannabis could be punished as a misdemeanor.

Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis include cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, autism, nausea in homebound or end-of-life patients, muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The bill would also allow access for patients with “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.” An example of this would be severe or persistent pain.

If the South Carolina medical marijuana bill were to pass and be signed into law, purchases of medical marijuana would be subject to the state’s 6% sales tax. Local jurisdictions would also be able to levy an additional tax. The state also has plans to handle dispensaries differently as it stands currently.

Rather than traditional dispensaries that are found in other states, the South Carolina medical marijuana bill calls them “pharmacies” instead. This is because the sites would be required to have a pharmacist on the premises at all times, and the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy would oversee business regulations.

Those with felony drug convictions would be barred from participating in the industry for 10 years under the Compassionate Care Act. In an effort to prevent a multi-state operator takeover, the state would also give priority to in-state businesses when the time for licensing comes.

The initial rollout would approve 15 cannabis cultivators and 30 processing facilities. A cannabis pharmacy will be licensed for every 20 pharmacies in the state, and five testing labs and 4 transport licenses will be given out.

75% of tax revenue collected from South Carolina medical marijuana sales would go into the state’s general fund. An additional 10% would go to drug abuse treatment services, 5% to state law enforcement and the rest will be diverted to cannabis research and education.

A February poll found that voters approve of South Carolina medical marijuana by a five to one ratio. Rep. Davis said last year that if the legislature didn’t advance the reform, he’d propose a bill to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters through a referendum.

Mississippi medical marijuana legalized by Governor

Mississippi medical marijuana legalized by Governor

mississippi medical marijuana legalized

Mississippi is legalizing medical marijuana for people with debilitating conditions such as cancer, AIDS and sickle cell disease.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the legislation Wednesday and it became law immediately. It could be months before the first marijuana dispensaries open.

“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis,” Reeves wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all the societal and family ills that that brings.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states and four territories already allowed the medical use of cannabis. Mississippi becomes the 37th state.

“For all the people who are touched in some way by a loved one or someone they know who benefits from medical cannabis, this brings their quality of life back,” said Ken Newburger, executive director the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, a group that pushed for legalization.

A majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in November 2020, and it would have allowed people to buy up to 5 ounces a month. The state Supreme Court invalidated it six months later by ruling that the state’s initiative process was outdated and the measure was not put properly on the ballot.

The state House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, passed the final version of Senate Bill 2095 last week.

The new law will allow patients to buy up to to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, up to six days a week. That is about 3 ounces per month. It sets taxes on production and sale of cannabis, and it specifies that plants must be grown indoors under controlled conditions.

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.

Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Prevent Infection By Covid-19 Virus

Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Prevent Infection By Covid-19 Virus

cannabis can help with covid-19

Compounds in cannabis can prevent infection from the virus that causes Covid-19 by blocking its entry into cells, according to a study published this week by researchers affiliated with Oregon State University.

A report on the research, “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants,” was published online on Monday by the Journal of Natural Products.

The researchers found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA, can bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection, potentially offering new avenues to prevent and treat the disease.

“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers wrote in an abstract of the study.

The study was led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center in the College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, in collaboration with scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University. Van Breeman said that the cannabinoids studied are common and readily available.

“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” van Breemen said, as quoted by local media. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans.”

Cannabinoids Effective Against New Variants

Van Breemen added that CBDA and CBGA blocked the action of emerging variants of the virus that causes Covid-19, saying that “our research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.”