Colorado Marijuana Laws Coming on the 2021 Ballot
Marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but there’s a slew of marijuana-related initiatives on the ballot this year.
Statewide, Colorado voters will decide whether to increase the sales tax on recreational marijuana to fund after-school and tutoring programs for low-income and underserved youth.
Proposition 119, also known as the State Learning and Academic Progress Initiative (Leap), would give families earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a yearly stipend of $1,500 for after-school programs. Supporters of the initiative say the money would help close income-related learning gaps, which have been particularly exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic.
If the initiative is approved, it will raise marijuana taxes from 15 percent to 20 percent. Local governments add their own marijuana sales and industry taxes, so the tax on recreational marijuana would go from 26.4 percent to 31.4 percent in Denver.
The state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, initially supported the initiative. However, they withdrew their support and adopted a neutral stance over oversight issues and a lack of information about how the program would be implemented. In particular, they noted that the program may not be as accessible for rural students and that it funnels money toward private, for-profit programs while doing nothing to fund public schools.
State marijuana proponents oppose the ballot measure, arguing that increasing an already hefty tax on recreational marijuana could push people to the black market, as well as detract from social equity initiatives.
In Denver, voters will decide whether to increase the recreational marijuana sales tax by 1.5 percent to fund pandemic research. Initiative 300 would raise around $7 million annually to fund the University of Colorado Denver CityCenter for research.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposes the initiative. On Facebook, he wrote, “While we continue to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19, adding a cost burden to just Denver voters seems unfair. Let’s rely on our national research institutions to do this work and share the responsibility more broadly than just Denver taxpayers.”
The initiative was sponsored by a Delaware-registered advocacy group, Guarding Against Pandemics. The University of Colorado was not involved in the initiative, and they don’t have any plan on how to use the funds.
Golden, Westminster, and Brighton
Three Colorado suburbs may finally have the chance to open recreational marijuana dispensaries thanks to initiatives on the ballot in Golden, Westminster, and Brighton.
After recreational cannabis was legalized in the state, the city council in Golden placed a moratorium on adult-use marijuana businesses in the city. If voters approve the measure, recreational dispensaries could open their doors. Marijuana cultivation, extraction, or manufacturing facilities would still be off the table.
Similarly, Westminster banned marijuana sales in 2013. However, ballot measures presented by the city council would all adult-use marijuana dispensaries and create a new local sales tax.
Brighton City Council banned marijuana sales after it was legalized in 2012, but this year voters in the city will vote on whether to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries as well as create a 4 percent local sales tax.
This year it’s all about taxes as Lakewood voters weigh in on a special marijuana sales tax that would help fund the city. If approved, local taxes on recreational marijuana would be set at 5 percent, with the City of Lakewood retaining the right to increase the tax up to 10 percent without further voter approval. Currently, Lakewood’s overall sales tax for recreational marijuana is 19.6 percent. The sales tax increase would raise around $2.9 million per year for Lakewood.
Mead, Lamar, and Wellington
Three rural Colorado towns will also vote this November on whether to allow recreational cannabis sales.
In Wellington, Initiative 2B would allow medical and recreational marijuana sales, and Issue 300 would implement a 3.5 sales tax on recreational marijuana purchases.
A voter-backed initiative in Mead could end the prohibition of marijuana sales in the town. A similar measure failed in 2019.
Lamar has two separate ballot initiatives that would end the ban on medical and recreational marijuana sales. Ballot Question 2B would allow marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, extraction, and manufacturing, while Ballot Issue 2A would create a 5 percent local tax on recreational marijuana sales. The city would have the right to raise adult-use marijuana taxes up to 15 percent without further voter approval.
Mountain High Suckers’ Josh Blue a finalist in America’s Got Talent
We wanted to give a shoutout to Mountain High Suckers’ awesome collaborator, Josh Blue.
Josh Blue, a Denver-local and stand-up comedian who happens to have cerebral palsy, advanced to the finals of America’s Got Talent to win third place. Check out Josh’s full lineup of hilarious performances on AGT.
Josh Blue’s appearance on AGT isn’t his first time in the national spotlight. In 2006, he won the 4th season of Last Comic Standing. In 2004, he represented the United States in the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team in Athens, Greece. He’s done several stand-up specials and has made numerous TV appearances, in addition to the 200+ shows he does a year.
Plus, don’t miss Josh Blue’s long-awaited return to Ellen, where he was the first stand-up comedian ever to appear on the show.
Mountain High Suckers was proud to partner with Josh Blue to create Josh Blue’s Dream Suckers. Made with the Blue Dream cannabis, it’s Josh’s go-to strain for medicinal effects.
Josh has been using cannabis and our edibles for years to treat his cerebral palsy symptoms.
“Some edibles, they’ll creep up on you. It takes a while, and you don’t know if it’s working…but with this, within ten minutes, you’re feeling the effects of it.”
Because our suckers are dual-acting, meaning both through your mouth (sub-lingual) and through your bloodstream, they’re also the perfect edible for medical patients with a quick but long-lasting effect.
A long-time cannabis supporter, Josh explained, “We’ve been treating it like it was legal for years anyway, so it didn’t make too much of a difference when they legalized it. It’s really great, though. You don’t need a medical card or anything like that. There’s dispensaries everywhere, and it’s bringing in a shitload of tax revenue. I think a lot more states will start legalizing it.”
Josh also recently started a tour in Missouri where Mountain High Suckers plans to roll out more of our collaborated product: Josh Blue’s Dream.
Mountain High Suckers is extremely proud of Josh’s recent accomplishments on America’s Got Talent and his continued work with the Colorado cannabis community.
Study: Marijuana legalization does not lead to increased youth use
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that recreational and medical marijuana legalization does not lead to increased youth consumption. In fact, researchers found that legalization actually leads to lower youth consumption rates.
The study found that in states where recreational marijuana had been legal for two years or more, there was an associated decrease in marijuana use.
According to researchers, “medical marijuana law (MML) adoption was associated with a 6% decrease in the odds of current marijuana use and a 7% decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use.”
The study further concluded that “estimates of the association between the opening of the first recreational dispensary and marijuana use were qualitatively similar” Meaning, that there’s a clear link between the first marijuana dispensaries opening and a decrease in teen use.
The overall association between legal recreational marijuana and marijuana use among adolescents was “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
Critics of marijuana legalization often cite concerns about increased youth marijuana use in support of prohibition or more restrictive cannabis laws.
Researchers analyzed data compiled from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 1993 to 2017 in ten medical or adult-use states.
The JAMA results are consistent with other studies on youth marijuana use after legalization. Earlier this year, a federal study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (CNES) found that states that have legalized adult-use marijuana did not see an increase in either youth marijuana use or availability.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019 produced the same findings.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported…that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes.”
Additionally, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of adolescents admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues has fallen in states with legal adult-use marijuana.
Colorado governor says Congress should tackle marijuana banking before legalization
Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter to the sponsors of a cannabis legalization bill, asking them to consider passing marijuana banking and tax reform first.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator John Wyden (D-OR) are co-sponsors of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). The bill aims to deschedule marijuana and promote social equity.
In his letter, Polis urged the senators to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act before the CAOA.
“I am thrilled that you are bringing forward a long-term, comprehensive solution that deschedules cannabis while enhancing social equity pathways. I hope that you will first focus your efforts on the two biggest barriers to the success of the cannabis industry: banking and IRS Code Section 280E (280E). Legislation to address these issues has more bipartisan support than ever before and can be passed in the short-term as you continue to work on the details of the CAOA.”
Access to banking has been a challenge for the cannabis industry from the beginning. The SAFE Banking Act would protect banks working with the cannabis industry from being penalized or violating federal anti-money laundering and illicit finance laws.
“The cannabis industry is simply too large to be prohibited from banking opportunities, and the Senate must remedy this harm by bringing this measure up for a vote in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs immediately.”
“Congress has the power and traction to address these inequities in the near-term while continuing to refine the CAOA, and I encourage you to efficiently take any opportunity to pass legislation concerning banking or 280E,” the governor wrote.
Polis cautioned the lawmakers against too high of a tax rate in the CAOA.
“It is critical that the tax level is not so cost prohibitive that it undermines the federal legal cannabis systems both already in place and being developed in emerging regulated cannabis states,” he wrote.
“I encourage the bill sponsors to carefully consider the federal excise tax rate so as not to set it so high that it would supplant much needed and relied upon state and local taxes. We should regulate cannabis similarly to alcohol; so it is appropriate for the bill sponsors to continue to look to the alcohol taxation framework for guidance on setting the appropriate tax rate for cannabis.”
The letter was sent in response to a public comment request from the senators who drafted the CAOA.
Senate Approves Cannabis Research as Part of Infrastructure Bill
Researchers could have access to retail cannabis as part of the infrastructure bill passed in the Senate last week.
What does marijuana have to do with infrastructure? Well, nothing, sort of. The provision included in the bill would require the US transportation secretary to develop a public report on the risk of cannabis-impaired driving within two years. As part of creating that report, researchers would have access to high-quality cannabis from state-approved dispensaries.
Scientists studying marijuana have been limited to notoriously poor-quality cannabis from the government-run research facility out of the University of Mississippi. The provision in the infrastructure bill would enable researchers to study the actual marijuana that people are consuming.
Additionally, the public report must include advice to lawmakers on how to set up a “national clearinghouse to collect and distribute samples and strains of marijuana for scientific research that includes marijuana and products containing marijuana lawfully available to patients or consumers in a state on a retail basis.”
In states that haven’t legalized either medical or recreational marijuana, this clearinghouse would ensure scientists’ access to high-quality cannabis from dispensaries in legal states.
If the new marijuana reform rules pass, states with legal medical or recreational marijuana would be required to develop programs to “educate drivers regarding the risks associated with marijuana-impaired driving” and “to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from individuals driving motor vehicles while impaired by marijuana.”
Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) sponsored the marijuana reform amendment that was included in the infrastructure bill.
“Colorado led the way on marijuana legalization,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “The federal government needs to catch up by lifting outdated restrictions on the scientific study of cannabis so we can prevent driving while high.”
The Senate approved the infrastructure bill containing the marijuana reform provision by a 69-30 vote. Next, the bill will go to the House for approval before heading to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
New Colorado Regulations: CBD, Medical Research & Social Equity
New hemp-derived CBD regulations in Colorado
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has finalized state testing requirements for hemp. The new regulations take effect on October 1 and include all hemp-derived goods intended for human consumption, including hemp-infused CBD products.
“We don’t want to burden the industry,” Jeff Lawrence, CDPHE director of environmental health and sustainability, told Westword. “But what we’ve learned is that there are things in hemp products that we obviously need to be considerate of. Since the inception of hemp, Colorado has been a leader in this industry. This will provide some better guidance.”
Testing will screen for things like pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.
Hemp-infused products like foods, drinks, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, and pet products will be subject to the new testing requirements. Industrial hemp products like textiles, fuel, and building materials, are excluded from the testing requirements. Hemp-derived smokable products, including those with modified cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC, are also excluded from the new regulations.
“Ultimately, this is a public-health issue. In 2018, when, statutorily, these products were allowed, we said it would be treated like every other food and dietary supplement requirement,” Lawrence said.
DEA-approved medical marijuana research facility coming to Denver
A Denver-based marijuana research and cultivation firm received approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to begin federally-approved medical marijuana studies.
The research license will allow MedPharm to study all of the molecules known to be made by the cannabis plant—more than 400 so far. The company will also be studying the interaction between phytocannabinoids and different brain cells.
“Access to the diversity of chemicals produced by cannabis has never been greater, and we are excited to unlock the medical potential of these compounds,” said Dr. Tyrell Towle, MedPharm’s director of chemistry and research.
Although MedPharm is licensed to grow medical marijuana for research purposes at the city and state levels, they’re still waiting on the DEA to approve federal licensing. That means that the company won’t be using its own marijuana for research. Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only federally licensed medical marijuana research supplier.
Colorado Cannabis Business Office focuses on social equity
Governor Jared Polis announced the creation of a new office aimed at supporting cannabis businesses and promoting social equity.
The Cannabis Business Office (CBO) was created as part of a bill passed earlier this year. $4 million was set aside for the program for the 2022-’23 fiscal year from the state Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
According to the CBO, the office will:
- Provide loans to social equity licensees for seed capital and ongoing business expenses;
- Offer grants to social equity licensees to support innovation and job creation and organizations that support marijuana businesses to be used to support innovation and job creation of social equity licensees; and
- Support cannabis business owners with technical assistance, prioritizing social equity licensees who have been awarded a loan or grant through the program.
“This office will offer tools like technical help and improve access to money for businesses. Where the federal government has fallen behind, Colorado will lead. Colorado is, and always has been, the best place to live, work, grow and sell cannabis,” Polis said in a press release.
July Cannabis Roundup
Surgeon General supports marijuana decriminalization
During an interview with CNN, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said that he thinks it’s time to stop incarcerating people for marijuana.
“When it comes to decriminalization, I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don’t think that serves anybody well.”
Murthy was commenting on new draft legislation to repeal federal marijuana prohibition introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week.
“In terms of our approach to marijuana, I worry when we don’t let science guide our process and policymaking and as Surgeon General that’s my role, is to work with policymakers who work with members in the community and the general public to help people understand what science tells us and where you gaps, to help fill those gaps with research and with honest inquiry.”
MMJ patient sues Governor Polis over new medical marijuana regulations
In June, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 1317, which added a host of new restrictions to the state’s medical-marijuana program.
Under the new law, physicians must prescribe a THC dosage amount and method of consumption and refer the patient for medical and mental health reviews. In addition, all medical marijuana purchases must be entered into a new tracking system, and patients are limited as to the amount of medical marijuana concentrate they can purchase.
Proponents of House Bill 1317 said the legislation was aimed at curbing youth use of marijuana concentrates.
“The reality is that it’s too easy for Colorado’s youth to access high-potency marijuana when they shouldn’t be able to, and we don’t have the full picture of how these products impact the developing brain,” Garnett said at the bill signing. “This law will help educate consumers about high-potency cannabis, and it will advance critical research that will give us a better understanding of how high-potency products impact developing brains,” said House Speaker Alec Garnett, who introduced the legislation.
However, medical marijuana advocates feel that the new law adds unnecessary hurdles for patients and physicians.
Benjamin Wann, a nineteen-year-old medical marijuana patient who uses cannabis to treat seizures, is suing the governor over the new restrictions. Wann and his parents, Amber and Brad, say that the governor and legislators failed to include the medical marijuana community in their policymaking.
“Polis didn’t have a conversation with us. We reached out, and had a rally in front of his office after it passed. I don’t know of anyone in the community who he had a conversation with, especially those of us who just passed that other bill,” Brad told Westword.
The Wann family was with the governor on May 6 as he signed a bill into law that expanded medical marijuana access to underage patients in public schools.
“We’ve seen a roller-coaster effect over the years with Benjamin having seizures. People keep saying [marijuana] is so bad for the developing brain, and here’s Benjamin, and we’ve literally seen him flourish and grow from it,” Amber said.
Denver receives first marijuana delivery application
In April, the Denver City Council passed a bill to (finally) allow marijuana delivery and consumption lounges in the city. Now, the City of Denver has received its first application for a marijuana delivery permit.
“We are kind of accustomed to getting everything delivered. Our groceries, our medicine, our clothing, our basic needs. So now this is just one thing we can deliver and provide that type of service,” said Dooba owner Karina Cohen.
The same restrictions that apply to purchasing cannabis in a dispensary will apply to the new delivery service. Cannabis delivery will only be available to a residential address to a person with a valid ID. Purchases will be limited to one ounce of flower, 8 grams of concentrate, or edibles containing 800 milligrams of THC.
The war on drugs wages on at the Olympics
Instead of cheering for U.S. track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson later this month during the Tokyo Olympics, Americans won’t be able to see the 21-year-old compete at all.
Richardson dusted the competition in the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. However, following her qualifying race, Richardson tested positive for THC. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the positive test disqualified her from competing—despite zero evidence that marijuana enhances athletic ability. Plus, Richardson used cannabis in Oregon, a state where it’s legal.
“Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes,” a statement from the USADA said.
Richardson was banned for 30 days, which means she’ll miss the 100-meter race in Tokyo. There was some hope that she would still run during the women’s 4×100-meter relay, but she wasn’t on the roster released by USA Track and Field (USATF).
“First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability — and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track,” a statement from officials at USATF said.
“While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games.
There has been widespread criticism of disqualifying Richardson, including a petition signed by more than half a million people to allow Richardson to compete.
Members of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties sent a letter calling on officials to reverse the ban.
“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension. Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on,” the letter read. “The divergent treatment of recreational alcohol and marijuana use reflects obsolete stereotypes about cannabis products and a profound misunderstanding of the relative risks of both substances.”
Amazon Drops Marijuana Testing for Employees, Supports Legalization
Amazon announced that it supports nationwide cannabis legalization and will no longer test most job applicants for marijuana use.
“We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use. We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident,” the company said in a blog post.
Additionally, the company said they would actively lobby Congress to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would legalize cannabis nationally.
“And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act)—federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities. We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” according to Amazon’s blog.
Support for legalization and dropping drug testing for employees is a huge change for the second-largest private employer in the U.S. Prior to this announcement, the company disqualified people who tested positive for marijuana use from employment.
For example, in March, the company was sued by a man who said that the company reversed a hiring offer because of marijuana use—testing prospective employees for marijuana has been banned in New York City.
The Drug Policy Alliance expressed support in a statement in response to the policy change.
“Drug testing has never provided an accurate indication of a person’s ability to perform their job, and yet this incredibly invasive practice has locked out millions of people who use drugs—both licit and illicit—from the workplace.”
However, the advocacy group urged Amazon to go further by ending all drug testing and supporting policies that promote equity for people of color.
“We implore Amazon and other employers to let this be the starting point and not the goal post. This change can and should be the catalyst to a much larger move—ending drug testing for all drugs—that would ensure a more just and equitable future for millions of people, especially Black, Brown and Indigenous communities who have been disproportionately impacted by these policies.”
Youth Marijuana Use Shows No Increase With Legalization
According to a federal study, states that have legalized adult-use marijuana have not seen an increase in either youth marijuana use or availability.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) analyzed ten years of data from students in grades 9-12 who reported marijuana use in the previous 30 days. They found that between 2009 and 2019, youth marijuana use has remained essentially unchanged.
“The overall percentage of students who reported using marijuana at least 1 time during the previous 30 days in 2019 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2009…. There was no measurable difference between 2009 and 2019 in the percentage of students who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property.”
The findings are consistent with prior data concerning youth marijuana use.
Despite the claim by cannabis opponents that marijuana use among teens would increase with legalization, the data tells a different story. In 2009, before the first recreational dispensaries opened, 21 percent of high school students reported cannabis use within the previous 30 days. In 2019, with recreational cannabis legal in 17 states, 22 percent of students reported recently using marijuana.
The percentage of high school students who use marijuana has remained consistent both before and after statewide cannabis legalization.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found similar results.
“Youth marijuana use has not significantly changed since legalization, but the way youth are using marijuana is changing. In 2019, 20.6% of youth said they use marijuana compared to 19.4% in 2017. More youth are now vaping marijuana — 10.6% in 2019 compared to 5.1% in 2015. Dabbing rose from 4.3% in 2015 to 20.4% in 2019,” according to a press release.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that teen marijuana use decreased after legalization. Researchers analyzed data from 1.4 million high school students between 1993 and 2017 and found an 8 percent decrease in teen use after states legalized recreational marijuana.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported…showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes.”
Colorado Lawmakers Want to Reduce Access to Medical Marijuana Concentrates
Colorado’s Speaker of the House, Alec Garnett (D-Denver), has introduced legislation that would create more stringent rules for medical marijuana patients and marijuana concentrates.
House Bill 1317 would require a review of a patient’s mental health history before a physician could recommend medical marijuana. That recommendation would have to include a prescribed THC potency level and daily dosage.
Additionally, a new state tracking system would monitor medical marijuana patient’s purchases.
Instead of being packaged and sold by the gram, marijuana concentrates, aka dabs, would be packaged in single doses no larger than 0.1 grams. Medical purchases of cannabis concentrates would be limited to 8 grams per day for patients 21 years and older. Medical marijuana patients between the ages of 18 and 20 would be limited to purchasing 2 grams of concentrate per day.
It’s not clear what data is driving the lawmaker’s desire to regulate marijuana concentrates and medical cannabis further. There has been an uptick in marijuana concentrate usage among teenagers from 2017 to 2019, but overall, marijuana usage rates in Colorado have remained flat in Colorado since legalization. Additionally, enrollment for Colorado’s medical marijuana program has fallen in recent years. It’s uncertain what impact the new legislation would have on patient access or the medical marijuana program as a whole.
“We have been at the table for months to produce a balanced policy measure, and we very much appreciate that the conversation has shifted to a more evidence-based approach to cannabis regulation,” according to a joint statement from the Marijuana Industry Group and Colorado Leads. “The cannabis industry has always supported youth prevention efforts and strict regulations that keep marijuana out of the hands of teenagers. That’s why we support an even more robust tracking system that limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrate 18- to 20-year-olds can purchase, as well as other provisions that make it harder for teenagers to obtain marijuana illegally.”
The new state system proposed under HB 1317 tracking the purchasing data of medical marijuana patients has raised both privacy concerns and fears about how that data could be used against minority communities.
Hashim Coats, executive director of Black Brown and Red Badged, a coalition of Black and Brown cannabis business owners, told Westword:
“The current draft legislation has serious racial bias implications and racial blind spots, particularly in the areas that address data collection and research,” he says. “We are supportive of some important provisions of this bill, [but] we are unfortunately still incredibly concerned about the racial tone-deafness and exclusion of Black voices from the discussion, which any legislation of this nature should include, and that the bill at this point has yet to strike the right balance.”
HB 1317 will have its first hearing in the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee on May 18.
Mountain High Suckers Ranked Among Best CBD Lollipops
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Check out some of our recent reviews:
Our Straw-Nana lollipop was rated well by Weed Republic for its quality CBD, low dosage, and unique and incredible flavor.
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Incredible Edibles recommended Mountain High Select for newbies to cannabis edibles. “If you’re just starting out with CBD lollipops, this is a good option to start with as each lollipop comes with only 6 mg of CBD. They’re also economically priced.”
Remedy Journey rated both our Mountain High Select CBD lollipops and our THC & CBD-infused Mountain High Suckers as having the best flavor selection of any cannabis-infused lollipop.
Mountain High Select is “one of the oldest names in the cannabis industry. The team believes in keeping everything simple yet powerful and effective,” said Ask Growers. “What’s more special is that the products come in a wide range of flavors, aromas, and uniquely crafted delicacies. The experienced users love indulging and stocking up on most of the products from this brand.”
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No Big 420 Events, but Cannabis Fans Can Still Celebrate in 2021
Well, it was another pandemic 4/20. While the smoke-outs and festivals were, for the most part, put on hold again this year, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to celebrate in cannabis. Here’s a roundup of some of the marijuana-related news that we’re looking forward to:
If it seems like the marijuana industry has been trying to get access to banking for forever, well, you’re not wrong.
Although states continue to legalize marijuana at a steady clip, federal law prevents banks from doing business with the cannabis industry.
The American Bankers Association has been lobbying in support of the SAFE Banking Act, legislation that was introduced last year.
“Banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict.”
This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow banks to open their doors to cannabis companies in legal states. The SAFE Banking Act passed the House in a 321-101 vote.
Despite a false start in 2019, there’s hope that the bill has a real chance of passing in the Senate with this new Congress. However, some Democrats favor bypassing piecemeal legislation and going for comprehensive change—nationwide cannabis legalization.
The Push for Nationwide Marijuana Legalization
While there’s already legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances—including the MORE and STATES Acts—Democrats are planning on unveiling legislation that is a “unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are the lead authors of the legislation, which Democrats promise will be introduced any day now.
While we don’t have many details beyond the bill legalizing marijuana nationwide, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that the legislation will address social equity, banking protections, and prioritization for small businesses.
Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use marijuana, making cannabis consumption legal for more than a third of Americans. As cannabis is legalized state-by-state, it’s a matter of “when” not “if” marijuana will be legalized in the United States.
Denver Weed Delivery
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. While states like California have had marijuana delivery since state legalization, it’s been a long time coming in Colorado. Although the state green-lit cannabis delivery in 2019, municipalities have been slow to opt-in.
However, that’s all about to change in Denver this summer. This week, the Denver City Council unanimously approved a bill to allow dispensaries to hire third-party vendors to deliver weed to Denverites. The bill also removes Denver’s 220-store recreational marijuana dispensary cap. Any new cannabis dispensaries or marijuana delivery services will have to meet the state’s social equity criteria.
Mayor Michael Hancock (D) is expected to sign the bill, and cannabis delivery in Denver could start by late summer.
New York Governor Signs Cannabis Legislation Legalizing Marijuana
New York state has legalized adult-use marijuana, becoming the 15th state in the country to end cannabis prohibition.
In addition to legalizing recreational cannabis, the legislation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law last Wednesday will expunge the records of people with a previous marijuana conviction.
“This is a historic day in New York — one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis.”
Keep in mind that marijuana sales won’t start immediately, as the state needs time to establish a regulatory framework. The first cannabis sales are expected to begin in 2022.
Under the new law, adults can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate and cultivate up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants. Social consumption sites and weed delivery will be permitted.
Tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales will go towards education, a community grants reinvestment fund, and a drug treatment and public education fund. The state estimates that legalizing marijuana will create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs in the state.
New York’s neighbor, New Jersey, legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year.
“We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis,” Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “More than two-thirds of Americans believe it’s time to end prohibition and this move represents the latest example of elected officials joining the chorus of support for legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults.”
New Mexico’s Governor to call special session for marijuana legalization bill
The New Mexico Legislature ended their 60-day legislative session Saturday without hearing a bill to legalize marijuana. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that she would call a special session on the issue before the end of March.
“We’re going to have a special session in a week or so. We’re going to get cannabis because I am not going to wait another year,” the Governor said. “We’re going to win it, and it’s going to have the social justice aspects that we know have to be in the package.”
HB 12 passed the state House of Representatives in February, and the Senate was scheduled to hear the legislation on their last full day in session. However, as the legislative session ended on Saturday, it was clear that the Senate didn’t have time to hear the bill.
In a joint statement issued by the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque) and Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) supported the Governor’s announcement of a special session.
“We need to legalize adult-use cannabis tonight or in a special session. It’s now up to the Senate to have a vote. House Bill 12 puts forward New Mexico’s best opportunity to establish a multi-million-dollar industry with a framework that prioritizes social justice and equal opportunity for our communities. The Governor has made a commitment to sign a bill that represents our shared principles, and we welcome any avenue to do so. New Mexico is ready.”
If the Senate passes HB 12, it will allow the sale of recreational cannabis to adults 21 and older starting in April 2022.
“I believe legalization will be one of the largest job-creation programs in state history, driving entrepreneurial opportunities statewide for decades to come,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to get the job done right.”
If the Senate passes HB 12 during a special session, it will head back to the House for final changes before going to the Governor for her signature.
March Cannabis Roundup
Colorado Weed Delivery
While delivery is legal in Colorado for recreational and medical marijuana, fewer than a handful of municipalities have opted into the service.
The Colorado Legislature legalized marijuana delivery in 2019, with a staggered rollout for medical marijuana in 2020 and recreational marijuana in 2021. However, only Superior and Aurora have opted into recreational delivery, and Longmont and Boulder allow medical marijuana delivery.
However, a bill from House Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso) proposes changes to the marijuana delivery program that would add additional hurdles for marijuana businesses. If the bill were successfully passed, it would require a minimum number of days and hours of in-store operation—at least five days a week and five hours a day. The bill would also prohibit dispensaries from allowing customers to use pre-paid accounts.
The bill currently doesn’t have any co-sponsors.
Mexico Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana
Mexico is one step closer to ending marijuana prohibition after lawmakers approved a bill that would legalize cannabis for recreational, medical, and scientific uses.
Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the bill by a 316-to-129 vote. Next, the bill will head to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass before being sent to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is likely to sign the legislation.
If marijuana is legalized in Mexico, it will enable adults 18 and older to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. Small farmers and commercial growers could apply for a license to cultivate and sell marijuana.
Record employment in cannabis as the marijuana industry grows
According to the 2021 Leafly Jobs Report, the cannabis industry now supports more than 321,000 full-time jobs.
According to the report, there are “more legal cannabis workers than electrical engineers. There are more legal cannabis workers than EMTs and paramedics. There are more than twice as many legal cannabis workers as dentists.”
More than 77,000 jobs were added in 2020—a doubling of the previous year’s job growth–but the report states that diversity in cannabis is still an issue.
While Black Americans represent 13% of the population, only 1.2% to 1.7% of cannabis companies have Black ownership.
The pandemic has been hard on the U.S. economy and jobs. Outside of the cannabis industry, the economy shrank by 3.5%, and the unemployment rate almost doubled, leaving nearly 10 million Americans without work.
The pandemic has also affected marijuana sales. In 2020, Americans purchased $18.3 billion worth of cannabis products, a 71% increase over 2019.
Lawmakers, marijuana organizations urge Biden to issue marijuana pardons
Thirty-seven lawmakers signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to issue a general pardon for all federal, nonviolent marijuana offenses.
In the letter, Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) wrote that a mass pardon is a racial justice issue and “until the day that Congress sends you a marijuana reform bill to sign, you have a unique ability to lead on criminal justice reform and provide immediate relief to thousands of Americans.”
The lawmakers reminded Biden that past presidents have used the pardon power for marijuana offenses.
“This is not a partisan issue; every President since George H.W. Bush has exercised their pardoning power for cannabis offenses. There is legal and scholarly support for the use of a blanket pardon on the War on Drugs.”
Issuing pardons for federal cannabis charges would fulfill a promise that Biden made during a Democratic primary debate.
“During your campaign, you committed that you would “automatically expunge all past marijuana convictions for use and possession,” the letter states. “Therefore, we urge you to grant executive clemency for all nonviolent cannabis offenders. We look forward to working with you and the incoming Attorney General on quickly making this a reality.”
Marijuana reform and advocacy groups, including NORML, the Minority Cannabis Business Association, and the National Cannabis Industry Association, also reminded President Biden of his campaign promises in a letter sent on Presidents’ Day.
“President Biden, we urge you to clearly demonstrate your commitment to criminal justice reform by immediately issuing a general pardon to all former federal, nonviolent cannabis offenders in the U.S. In addition, all those who are federally incarcerated on nonviolent, cannabis-only offenses for activity now legal under state laws should be pardoned and their related sentences commuted.”
Without pardons, the harm done during the war on drugs continues to impact communities of color disproportionately, reform advocates say in the letter.
“Criminal histories related to cannabis can be particularly harmful for individuals, despite the change in laws in many states. Convictions can seriously limit job opportunities, housing, and educational options. Long after a person has gone through the legal system, the baggage of the war on marijuana continues to undermine that person’s life and diminish their prospects. It is past time for the harm to stop.”
Other signatories of the letter sent by lawmakers include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Luis Correa (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Democrats move to legalize marijuana nationwide in 2021
Democrats announced earlier this month that they plan to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis federally.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ron Wyden (D-Or) said that they would push not only to end marijuana prohibition but will also focus on social equity and restorative justice.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs,” said Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ron Wyden (D-Or) in a joint statement.
The senators said that they expect to unveil the legislation “in the early part of this year” that is a “unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
Hearing from marijuana advocacy groups and stakeholders in the cannabis industry will be part of drafting the legislation. Last week, the senators held a virtual roundtable with representatives from NORML, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Veterans Cannabis Coalition, and Students from Sensible Drug Policy, as well as the National Cannabis Industry Association and the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA).
“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority,” the senators said.
In 2020, the House passed the MORE Act, which sought to deschedule cannabis, expunge marijuana convictions, and create reinvestment programs in communities most impacted by the war on drugs. Unfortunately, the bill never received a hearing in the Senate.
“Last year, we moved heaven and earth to get a bill passed through the House with key criminal justice and restorative justice provisions, but Mitch McConnell blocked consideration,” said Earl Blumenauer (D-Or) in a statement. “Now, new Senate leadership is prepared to pick up the mantle.”
Support for ending cannabis prohibition has come a long way since Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in their states in 2012. As of this year, 15 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized weed. According to a Gallup poll conducted last November, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization.
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Legalization – About These Markets
In 2018, voters in Missouri were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, passing Amendment 2 with 65 percent approval. It was a watershed moment for a state that had traditionally opposed marijuana use. The amendment to the state constitution allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for ten qualifying medical conditions and patients can cultivate up to six plants.
Medical marijuana sales are just starting to ramp up in Missouri. During the first week of 2021, the state saw the first sales of edible marijuana products. Plus, there’s the possibility that voters could weigh in on legal recreational marijuana as early as 2022.
Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. Like Missouri, Oklahoma generally opposed marijuana legalization—in 2016 they joined Nebraska in an attempt to sue Colorado over legal weed. However, in 2018, public opinion had shifted enough that a medical marijuana initiative passed with a 57% to 43% margin.
In 2020, medical marijuana was booming in Oklahoma. Residents bought a record amount of medical marijuana, increasing tax collections by more than 25%. The Oklahoma Tax Commission received $9.8 million in state taxes in April.
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Slow rollout for medical marijuana in Missouri; state lawmaker pushes to legalize recreational marijuana
It has been a slow start for medical marijuana in Missouri. In 2018, voters approved Amendment 2, allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for qualifying medical conditions.
Since then, not a whole lot has happened. 372 Missouri-based medical marijuana businesses have received licenses from the state, but only 43 have received approval to operate as of December 31 of last year. Twenty-two approvals have gone to retail medical marijuana dispensaries, while 13 approvals have been granted to cannabis cultivation centers. More than 700 potential marijuana businesses that didn’t receive licenses have active appeals.
In a bit of good news for medical marijuana patients in the state, edible marijuana products went on sale for the first time in Missouri during the first week of 2021. While production is expected to be slow until more cultivation centers and retail dispensaries are licensed, it’s still a step forward for medical cannabis in Missouri.
Another first for Missouri is the Republican state lawmaker who wants to legalize recreational marijuana.
“We spend more time and more law enforcement resources going after marijuana smokers than all the other drugs combined,” said Rep. Shamed Dogan (R). “Ten percent of the arrest in the state of Missouri right now are from marijuana possession.”
Dogan hopes legalization will bring more revenue to the state and eliminate the black market.
“I think alcohol prohibition taught us that trying to prohibit something this way, the way we’ve gone about marijuana prohibition, it backfires,” Dogan said.
Dogan plans to introduce a constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 30, during the 2021 legislative session. If lawmakers approve the amendment, residents could vote on legal recreational marijuana as early as 2022.
Dogan’s legislation doesn’t directly address racial inequity, but he does support clearing previous marijuana convictions.
“And it automatically lets out of prison anybody that is still serving a prison term for marijuana-only offenses and then expunges from your record if you have a non-violent marijuana offense,” Dogan said. “If you are currently incarcerated [for more than] a marijuana offense, so if you have a marijuana offense, but you also committed a robbery, you don’t get out.
2020: Cannabis Year End Recap
Whether it was a year to remember or a year you wish you could forget, 2020 is coming to a close.
Here were some of the biggest stories in weed this year:
Five more states vote to legalize recreational, medical marijuana
While marijuana prohibition is still in effect at the federal level, voters in states across the country continue to push to legalize marijuana.
In Arizona, voters passed Proposition 207, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Recreational sales are expected to begin in March 2021. Arizonans can grow up to six cannabis plants at home or no more than 12 plants in a house with more than one adult. Additionally, Arizonans with a prior marijuana conviction can petition to have the record expunged as of July 12, 2021.
Voters in the Garden State said ‘yes’ to Question 1, legalizing adult-use cannabis. Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase and possess legal cannabis, subject to rules and regulations that will be overseen by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which already oversees New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.
Montana is so into legal weed that they voted on not one but two ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana.
Initiative 190 legalized the sale and possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants and four cannabis seedlings at home. Recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 20% tax.
Constitutional Initiative 118 amended the state constitution to allow the Legislature to set the age for adults permitted to possess and consume marijuana to 21 years and older.
In South Dakota, voters went all in for legal cannabis, simultaneously legalizing medical and recreational marijuana.
Measure 26 to legalize medical marijuana passed with a whopping 69% of the vote. Amendment A passed with the approval of 52% of voters, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. However, the new law doesn’t kick in until July 1, 2021, so for now, it’s still illegal to possess marijuana in South Dakota.
Mississippians approved Ballot Initiative 65 to legalize medical marijuana in their state. Residents will be able to apply for a medical marijuana card for 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each medical marijuana patient will be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis per 14-day period.
After November’s election, 15 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis, and 35 states have legalized medical marijuana.
Europe’s Highest Court Rules that CBD is Not a Narcotic
The future of the CBD market in Europe is set to expand with a ruling from the European Union’s (EU) highest court that CBD is not a narcotic. According to the ruling, CBD “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”
Before the ruling, many CBD products in the EU existed in the grey market that allowed cannabis to be sold for agricultural purposes.
The ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit in France against a company that makes CBD oil from whole hemp plants. Only the fiber and seeds of hemp plants containing less than 0.2% THC could be used commercially in France.
The EU court ruled that France’s law banning the use of whole plant hemp-derived CBD went against the EU’s law on the free movement of goods.
Marijuana Dispensaries Essential Businesses During COVID-19
In March, COVID-19 upended our lives and temporarily shuttered businesses across the country. Marijuana dispensaries were among the businesses deemed essential.
After stay-at-home orders were issued in Colorado, recreational marijuana dispensaries converted to online pre-orders and curbside pickup. While Gov. Jared Polis (D) said that recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries were “critical” retail businesses, the process wasn’t without hiccups.
In contradiction to the governor, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) deemed recreational marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores non-essential. Several hours later, Denver officials walked back the decision after hordes of Denverites rushed to stores to stock up.
Pandemic marijuana sales consistently break records
Maybe people just needed a way to cope, or maybe they had more free time—whatever the reason, marijuana sales records broke records month-over-month this year.
Colorado dispensaries sold $192,175,937 worth of marijuana in May, about 11 percent higher than the previous sales record of $173.2 million set in August 2019. Colorado cannabis sales were up 29% from April and up 32% as compared to May 2019.
Adult-use marijuana sales amounted to $158,102,628 during June, the first time that more than $150 million worth of recreational cannabis had been sold during June.
Marijuana sales hit an all-time high in July at $226 million, and for the year, more than $1.63 billion in cannabis products have been sold in the state.
U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Marijuana
On December 4, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Under the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, cannabis would be decriminalized and removed as a scheduled substance.
The MORE Act would expunge federal marijuana convictions and create a reinvestment program to support individuals most impacted by the War on Drugs. A 5% federal tax on cannabis would go toward services such as job training, legal aid, and literacy and health education programs.
Rep. Ed Blumenauer (D-OR), who has long advocated for marijuana legalization, said that the bill is “going to make a huge difference for people all across America as Congress starts to catch up to where the American public is.”
“There’s a whole range of things that the MORE Act fixes,” Blumenauer said. “But most important is it stops this failed war on drugs that is so unfair to Americans of color, particularly black and brown. It will stop the federal interference with research. It’ll allow this emerging market to thrive, make it possible for more people to participate and be able to get on with their lives.”
The bill passed by a vote of 228 to 164, with 222 Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent voting in support.
At a press event following the bill’s passage, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said that this “really is a moment for racial justice. We know that this year has put inequality and systemic racism to the forefront of our attention, and there’s no better way to close out this year than to really begin to atone for the destructive policies brought on by the failed war on drugs.”
The House might be as far as legalizing marijuana goes for now, however. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Majority Leader, is against ending cannabis prohibition. McConnell, also known as the Grim Reaper when it comes to killing legislation, is expected to block any marijuana bills from getting a vote in the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
Europe’s Highest Court Rules That CBD is Not a Narcotic
The EU’s highest court has ruled that CBD is not a narcotic because “it does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”
The ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit in France against a company that makes CBD oil from whole hemp plants. In France, only the fiber and seeds of hemp plants containing less than 0.2% THC can be used commercially.
The EU court ruled that France’s law banning the use of whole plant hemp-derived CBD went against the EU’s law on the free movement of goods.
“The national court must assess available scientific data in order to make sure that the real risk to public health alleged does not appear to be based on purely hypothetical considerations,” the court ruled.
“A decision to prohibit the marketing of CBD, which indeed constitutes the most restrictive obstacle to trade in products lawfully manufactured and marketed in other [EU] member states, can be adopted only if that risk appears sufficiently established,” the court wrote.
While individual countries can ban the free movement of goods for things like narcotic drugs, the court’s ruling means that those rules don’t apply to CBD.
Plus, as the court cited in their ruling, France has not banned synthetic CBD, which has the same properties as plant-derived CBD—making the prohibition of plant-derived CBD inconsistent.
The court’s decision could potentially open up the legal CBD market in Europe. Many CBD products currently exist in the grey market under rules that allow cannabis to be sold for agricultural purposes. Regulations about cannabis edibles and CBD have been stalled and in limbo, but the court’s decision could reopen a pathway to selling CBD edibles as food in Europe.
“With today’s ruling, CBD companies can expect a clearer route to achieving compliance across the EU. The harmonization of cannabinoid regulations could finally become a reality,” wrote the UK-based Association for the Cannabinoid Industry.
2020 Marijuana election results
It was a historic night for marijuana legalization in the U.S. four states voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and two states legalized medical marijuana.
Arizonans overwhelmingly voted to pass Proposition 207, legalizing adult-use marijuana. Adults 21 years and older can possess and consume up to one ounce of marijuana. Adults can grow six cannabis plants at home or no more than 12 plants in a house with more than one adult.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services will begin accepting applications for recreational dispensaries in January. It will begin issuing licenses within 60 days–so expect the first recreational sales to kick off in March.
Arizonans with a prior marijuana conviction can petition to have the record expunged as of July 12, 2021. Finally, a 16% excise tax will be added to recreational marijuana sales to fund public programs.
The Garden State will be cultivating a new crop thanks to voters who approved Question 1 on the ballot, legalizing recreational cannabis. Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase and possess legal cannabis, subject to rules and regulations that will be overseen by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which already oversees New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. Recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 6.625% sales tax.
In 2019, legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis in New Jersey was pulled from a vote in the state legislature after failing to secure enough support from lawmakers.
Montana had not one but two ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana, both of which were approved by voters.
Initiative 190 legalized the sale and possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants and four cannabis seedlings at home. Recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 20% tax.
Constitutional Initiative 118 amended the state constitution to allow the Legislature to set the age for adults permitted to possess and consume marijuana to 21 years and older.
New Approach Montana, the group who backed both ballot measures, estimates that legal adult-use marijuana sales will generate $48 million in tax revenue for the state by 2025.
“Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state,” said Pepper Petersen, campaign spokesman for the group.
South Dakota is the first state where voters simultaneously approved legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana.
Voters passed Measure 26 legalizing medical marijuana for people with qualifying conditions with 69% of the vote.
Amendment A passed with the approval of 52% of voters, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and allowing the cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. The South Dakota Department of Revenue will issue licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities, and retailers. Sales tax on recreational sales will be 15%.
Marijuana possession will remain illegal in South Dakota until July 1, 2021.
Mississippians have said ‘yes’ to medical marijuana by approving Ballot Initiative 65.
The Mississippi Department of Health is required to hammer out the rules and regulations for a medical marijuana program by July 1, 2021. Mississippians will be able to apply for a medical marijuana card for 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Each medical marijuana patient will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period. Home cultivation of marijuana is prohibited.
Michigan Governor Signs Cannabis Clean Slate Legislation
On October 12, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed the “Clean Slate” legislation to expand expungement for marijuana convictions in the state. The legislation is a series of seven bills to broaden the criteria for expungements related to not only marijuana but also traffic offenses and other minor crimes.
“This is bigger than criminal justice reform,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said. “This is about economic opportunity and full participation in our economy and our society.”
Michiganders convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses that would have been legal after cannabis was legalized in the state in 2018 can apply to have their convictions erased. Prosecutors will have 60 days to dispute the claim. If prosecutors don’t make a rebuttal, the marijuana conviction will be expunged.
Misdemeanors and felonies not related to marijuana will be cleared with an automatic expungement process.
“During my 2018 campaign for governor, I made expungement of marijuana charges one of my key priorities, and I’m so proud today that we can follow through on that goal,” Whitmer said at a press conference. “For too long, criminal charges have created barriers to employment, barriers to housing, and others for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. These bipartisan bills are going to be a game-changer.”
Michigan will automatically clear misdemeanors seven years after sentencing. Felonies will be removed ten years after sentencing or the person’s release from incarceration, whichever was last. Up to two felonies and four misdemeanors can be automatically cleared.
“You’re in your community, you’re invested in your community, you’re spending time with your family, you’re working, you’re accessing housing,” said State Rep. Graham Filler (Dewitt-R). “We have less recidivism, less victims. This is what happens when you access expungement.”
The laws are set to take effect in April 2021.