Most people inside and outside the industry look at compliance as the price we pay for legal cannabis and think that “oh, once we legalize cannabis on the federal level, compliance will get easier to understand and implement.”
Sadly, that’s not true. Whether cannabis is federally legal or not, compliance is always going to be complicated. It’s also something the cannabis industry needs in order to survive and every cannabis business needs to best serve their clients, whether that’s another cannabis business or a consumer.
Every week there is a lot that goes on in the world of cannabis, and sometimes it can be a little hard to keep up with. The Cannabis Catch Up is a weekly series that collates some of the most important news in cannabis from throughout the week and puts it all in one place.
This week, big news came out of New Zealand as the Government revealed their cannabis legalization bill which will be put to a vote next year. Brazil announced that the country will allow the importation of medical cannabis, hemp banking protocols were eased across America and a federal agency revealed people with minor drug convictions will be allowed to work at credit unions. Read on to catch up on the biggest cannabis news from the past week!
New Zealand Government reveals cannabis legalization bill
Cannabis could possibly be legalized within New Zealand next year if it gains a majority vote. A cannabis legalization bill will be the subject of a voter referendum next year.
Earlier this week, the New Zealand Government released a draft bill stating that “The Government is publishing a draft Bill at this point to ensure that New Zealanders are informed about the direction being taken and the decisions that have been made to date,”
If more than 50 percent of voters approve the legislation, the incoming government will have to legalize cannabis for adult use across the country which is huge!
The draft bill proposes to set an age limit of 20 to purchase cannabis products, it requires all cannabis to be consumed within private residences and licensed facilities, it would mandate investments in public health education campaigns, place restrictions on advertising and create a licensing scheme for cannabis businesses.
In terms of possession limits, individuals will be allowed to purchase up to 14 grams of cannabis per day and cultivate two plants for personal use.
The reason for the early release of the draft bill is to provide the nation with the opportunity to participate in the way the shaping of the bill. Justice Minister Andrew Little said in a press release that “by making the referendum questions and the initial draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill available early the intention is to encourage public awareness and discussion.”
A recent poll revealed that the majority of New Zealanders are actually opposed to legalizing cannabis with 49% against it and 43% supporting the policy change. The percentage of people in support of the change has grown since a poll taken earlier in the year, so hopefully by the time the vote comes around it has grown even more.
The two main objectives of the bill are to firstly “minimize harms associated with cannabis” and to reduce the rates of cannabis consumption through education programs. Additionally, the intention is to eliminate the black market which will reduce the prison population and the risks associated with purchasing cannabis from the black market.
We will be eagerly awaiting the results of the vote and bidding for the legalization of cannabis for New Zealand.
Brazil allows the importation of medical cannabis and the cultivation of industrial hemp
The Brazilian pharmaceutical regulator, Anvisa, approved regulations for the importation of medicinal cannabis-based products although in a separate vote blocked a proposal to allow the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp.
The approved guidelines allow the procedures for manufacturing and importing such products and requirements for prescription, sale and supervision.
A spokesperson stated that products chosen to be imported should be semi-finished raw material and not the actual cannabis plant itself.
Once the new laws are published in the country’s official gazette, the new regulations will officially come into law 90 days after.
Although it is only a small step in the wider scheme of cannabis legalization, it does demonstrate a major shift in the country’s approach to drug laws for a country that has significantly suffered from deadly drug violence.
Anvisa said that cannabis-based products will only be available for sale in registered pharmacies with a prescription.
Hemp banking protocols eased following the crop’s legalization
Federal financial regulatory agencies issued a statement on Tuesday updating banks on the requirements for providing financial services to hemp-related businesses.
The statement emphasised that banks are no longer required to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) for customers solely because they are involved in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
The statement also mentioned that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will issue additional guidelines after further reviewing and evaluating the USDA interim final rule.
Prior to the legalization of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill, financial institutions were required to file suspicious activity reports for any account associated with the crop as it was listed as a schedule I controlled substance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a leader in hemp legalization, stated that “…these new banking guidelines are an important step toward giving hemp businesses the certainty they need. The work doesn’t stop here, however, and more must be done to make sure hemp businesses are treated fairly and allowed to fully realize the legal crop’s potential in our state and nationwide.”
The American Bankers Association (ABA) responded to the updated requirements for hemp-related clients, stating that the regulators’ hemp move has been “long sought” by the financial services industry. They went onto state, “we appreciate the steps regulators have taken today to clarify regulatory expectations for banks, and we look forward to working with them as they develop additional guidance.”
This has since sparked more conversation on the matter of cannabis-related business access to banking. As cannabis is still listed as a schedule I drug under federal law, financial institutions are still required to file SARs for cannabis businesses.
Although, if the cannabis banking bill is passed through the Senate, it’s likely that financial services would eventually see a similar update on SAR reporting guidance for cannabis companies.
Federal agency allows people with minor drug convictions to work at credit unions
A federal agency has stated that people with minor convictions for simple drug possession should be allowed to work at credit unions so long as they meet certain criteria.
Following the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board’s proposed changes to its employment guidance back in July, the NCUA stated on Monday that these changes will be formally enacted.
Stating that “While not discounting the public health implications of illegal drug use and possession, the Board continues to believe covered persons with single convictions or program entries for simple drug possession pose minimal risk to insured credit unions.”
The changes will come into effect on January 2, 2020.
With a federal agency recognising the lingering negative impact of cannabis prohibition, choosing to put an end to it in the context of credit unions is a massive step forward and a giant leap away from cannabis prohibition.
While major politicians continue to describe cannabis as a ‘gateway drug’, the tide of public opinion is turning. In fact, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, two-thirds of Americans agree that cannabis should be legal across the country.
This isn’t the first time where laws have lagged behind public sentiment, it was only recently that the majority of the country favoured same-sex marriage yet the laws forbid it. Although, the law soon became reflective of the public’s wants and it was finally legalized. Will the same happen with the legalization of cannabis?
There has been a steady increase in the amount of people who support cannabis legalization whether that be medically or recreationally. The amount of U.S. adults who oppose legalization has fallen from 52% in 2010 to only 32% today.
These numbers are incredibly promising and have left us wondering what the reason behind this sudden rise in support for cannabis legalization is and what prevented their support in the beginning.
We delved into three powerhouses that hold an incredible amount of influence over the masses; the media, religion and the government, to see how these influences originated and how they are beginning to shift.
According to a study taken out by The Conversation, it is the media that holds the greatest influence over the public’s shift in opinion. According to their study, support for legalization began to increase after the news media began positioning cannabis as a medical issue rather than a political one.
The New York Times was used as a case study looking at cannabis-related articles published between 1983 and 2015. They found that just before the support for cannabis legalization began to increase, there was also a sudden increase in medical related cannabis articles.
Most cannabis-related articles published within the 80s were in the context of drug trafficking and linked to other schedule I drugs like cocaine and heroin. In the 90s, cannabis-related articles started being framed in the context of the plants medical uses. And by the late 90s, cannabis was rarely discussed in the context of drug trafficking and abuse. During the shift in the media’s portrayal of cannabis, the public’s support for cannabis legalization began to rise demonstrating a clear correlation between the two.
We may not realize it, but the media holds a particularly strong influence on the views and values of the human population, which can have its pros and cons. Their influence can be used to inform or it can manifest from a place of complete fiction, leaving the masses to think and feel a certain way about a topic based on false claims spread by the media.
These collective opinions entwined with falsified influence from the media can have detrimental effects, like the sorry story of cannabis prohibition. The media spread misleading and often false claims about the plant, influencing society to feel negatively despite the true benefits of cannabis.
It’s no secret that many conservative religions are wholly against cannabis, associating it as a sinful indulgence or a tool of the devil. Although cannabis was accepted and widely used within ancient religions, most contemporary religions have developed a very different stance on the plant, and for years condemned the use of it.
Although, this may be changing for the better. A 2016 study by the conservative Christian polling organization Barna Group found that among practising christians, around 34 per cent actually favoured cannabis legalization.
This may not sound like a large amount, but considering the strict and conservative nature of the religion it is quite impressive. Many young people of faith are now beginning to accept and encourage the health benefits of medical cannabis.
Back in 2018, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked the Utah Legislature to legalize medical cannabis. Mary Stephens, the church’s director of community and government relations stated “we would like to get a solution that will help alleviate pain and suffering for the residents of our state…”
Despite the church’s opposition of recreational cannabis, their support of medical cannabis is still incredibly progressive for a religious organization.
Progressive leaders are also attempting to enlighten other Christians as to the health benefits of cannabis. Leaders like California pastor and author, Craig Gross who started Christian Cannabis, a company that wants to educate and engage the faithful on the issue.
The company has a blog and podcast used to enlighten other Christians on the health benefits of cannabis. The brand will also be releasing a line of cannabis products labelled pause, purpose, peace, persevere, praise, pain and people. The products are for the people’s “specific, integrative healing and wellness needs.” Each product is tailored to help with the specific needs of people whether they’re seeking peace, relief from pain, concentration etc. The products come in different forms such as a cbd balm, cannabis-infused mints or pens.
The website asks, “What if Christians were to begin understanding how something like cannabis could be used in beneficial ways to support their lives?”
The negative influence of political propaganda
The Pew Research Center survey discovered that the majority of Millenials (those born between 1981-1997), Generation X (born between 1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) supported legalization of cannabis use.
Although, members of the Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945) were the least supportive, with 64 percent opposing cannabis legalization.
When looking at the government’s efforts to demonize cannabis during the Silent Generations upbringing, it is easy to understand these figures.
In fact, in the context of cannabis prohibition calling them the Reefer Madness Generation would be more fitting considering the heavy influence they received from political propaganda. When the film Reefer Madness was released in 1936, it fuelled the hysteria spread by the government around cannabis.
The film centres around innocent high school students who are lured into trying cannabis. The effects of it apparently result in a hit-and-run accident, manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations and a descent into madness.
The fictional film supported the word of the government and continued to influence the generation despite being based on a myriad of lies.
The bottom line
It is promising to see that American’s stance on cannabis legalization is beginning to change for the better. Whether it is the media, a shift in religious views, or a decrease in negative political propaganda; Americans are finally beginning to accept and embrace the benefits of cannabis. As they say, the proof is in the pudding (or the Pew Research Center Survey).
Research from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and University of British Columbia determined that those who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but don’t use medical cannabis are far more likely to suffer from severe depression and suicidal thoughts than those who had used medical cannabis over the past year.
Yet because cannabis is still listed as a Schedule I drug in the United States, millions of veterans who rely solely on their VA (Veterans Administration) healthcare benefits are not able to access cannabis treatment for their PTSD, even in states where cannabis is legalized.
The VA’s website still labels cannabis as harmful to veterans stating that cannabis “use for medical conditions is an issue of growing concern.” It continues “there is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD. In fact, research suggests that marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.”
What is the current situation for veterans suffering with PTSD?
PTSD is a psychiatric condition that is linked to surviving or witnessing a traumatic life event. The symptoms can include agitation, flashbacks, impaired concentration and memory, insomnia and nightmares and can also increase the risk of substance abuse, depression and suicide.
Over 20 percent of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will experience post-traumatic stress or depression, according to the VA. The current healthcare system isn’t equipped to manage and treat the high amounts of psychological and physical wounds of veterans. The current methods of treating an illness like PTSD are quite limited and often result in little to no improvements and can have devastating side effects.
Conventional treatments for PTSD include anti-depressant, antipsychotic medication and psychological treatments such as Cognitive Processing Therapy or 1-to-1 family therapy.
The concoction of drugs generally has little effect, in fact according to the Psychiatric Times, ‘many patients remain symptomatic and functionally impared despite standard treatments and require alternative interventions.’ This leads to veterans seeking alternative treatment methods, such as medical cannabis.
A 2017 study revealed that one-in-five veterans are already using cannabis to self-medicate a mental or physical condition. It also found that 82 percent of veterans are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis.
With obvious health benefits and strong support from those actually affected by the illness, why are veterans still restricted from accessing medical cannabis?
So why won’t the VA provide medical cannabis to veterans?
Why is it that the VA refuses to accept the fact that medical cannabis may help millions of affected veterans across America?
Well, the biggest reason is the fact that cannabis is still listed as a schedule I drug under federal law. This restricts the VA from conducting research into cannabis as it is restricted under federal law and the VA is a federal Cabinet-level agency. This leaves the department to continue operating under the line of reasoning that cannabis has “no acceptable medical use [and a] high potential for abuse.”
The director of media relations at the VA, stated that her agency is “committed to improving treatment options for veterans and supports research into potential treatment options that may prove valuable.”
However, this would “involve interactions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”
Former VA secretary, Dr. David Shulkin stated that “We can do research at the VA, but unfortunately the barriers and bureaucracy you have to go through are lengthy and painful,” he continued “I can now more effectively articulate the view that Congress is the most likely player to help in streamlining research. And yes, it needs to be done.”
Members of Congress have in fact attempted to allow cannabis access to veterans with no success. Below are a few of the bills that have found no success:
The Veterans Equal Access: This would allow VA health practitioners to recommend medical cannabis as a treatment option for veteran patients and allow them to fill out necessary paperwork to enroll them into state cannabis programs.
VA Medicinal Research Act: To direct the Secretary of the VA to conduct clinical trials looking at the effects of cannabis on certain conditions like PTSD or chronic pain.
What benefits come from treating PTSD with cannabis
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology used data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health to see if cannabis-use modified PTSD or severe depression.
It found that those with PTSD who didn’t use cannabis increased the risk of major depressive episodes among Canadians by roughly seven times and suicidal thoughts by roughly five times.
Well, a leading theory is that our bodies naturally produce molecules called endogenous cannabinoids that fit into special cannabinoid receptors within the brain and body. The endocannabinoid system works to stabilize bodily processes, like regulating the part of the brain that tends to be affected by traumatic experiences.
Brain imaging research revealed that patients with PTSD have an abundance of cannabinoid receptors however lacked endogenous cannabinoids to lock into them. The role medical cannabis could have is to supplement the body with the plant-based cannabinoid like THC which might help the brain processes function normally.
After categorising cannabis users into “no use,” “low risk use” and “high-risk use” the studies findings suggested that the indicators of mental health were improved when individuals were low-risk cannabis users.
Earlier in the year, researchers also completed the first clinical trial of smoked cannabis for PTSD in veterans where 76 veterans were enrolled and treated. The trial was the first FDA-approved trial examining the effects of THC and CBD on the symptoms of PTSD in war veterans and took a decade to complete.
The results are yet to be released in a peer-reviewed biomedical journal before the end of the year. It will be interesting to see the findings and if there is a change in medical cannabis access for veterans.
Strong support for veteran access to cannabis
While federal roadblocks means the prospect of veteran’s access to cannabis from the VA looks bleak, there is strong support from other groups across America.
The Veterans Cannabis Project is one such supporter, the project is fighting to help veterans gain access to cannabis. As it states on their website, “Our message is a simple one: Medical cannabis saves lives, and veterans deserve full, legal access.”
The groups mission is to advocate on behalf of veterans cannabis access, educate policy makers and the public about the benefits cannabis could have for veterans and support veterans with the knowledge they need to understand the benefits of cannabis.
Another group advocating for veteran cannabis access is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) service organization for post 9/11 war veterans.
Lindsay Rodman, executive vice president of communications and legal strategy at IAVA believes the VA’s claims of not being allowed to do research are false and that “They just have to coordinate with other agencies. [They should] just do it.”
Thousands of veterans are suffering from a lack of effective treatments for PTSD and the crazy thing is, we have a solution, they’re just not allowed to use it. We owe it to the ones who served the nation, to allow them access to a plant that can help give a better quality of life to the ones who risked theirs.
Medical cannabis is not, and should not, be a political issue. The longer it is, the more lives will be affected and the further away we will travel from an effective medical solution for veterans and the wider population.
Every week there is a lot that goes on in the world of cannabis, and sometimes it can be a little hard to keep up with. The Cannabis Catch Up is a weekly series that collates some of the most important news in cannabis from throughout the week and puts it all in one place.
This week there was a breakthrough in the use of cannabis for cancer treatment, an Indian state moves to legalizing cannabis cultivation and the Liberal Democrats in the UK released their party manifesto with plans to legalize cannabis. Read on for further information!
Cannabis could help with liver cancer treatment
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that cannabis could play a big role in the delivery of chemotherapy to liver cancer patients.
The method would use a combination of cannabidiol (an active cannabinoid within the cannabis plant) and a low dose of doxorubicin (a chemotherapeutic agent) to directly target malignant cells and bypass healthy ones.
Prof. Alexander Binshtok, head of the Pain Plasticity Research Group at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine and Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences explained, “Most anticancer treatments are not sufficiently specific, meaning they attack healthy cells together with the malignant ones they’re trying to get rid of.”
This is what causes the serious side effects of chemotherapy. The use of cannabis could eliminate these and reduce the suffering of liver cancer patients.
This treatment would be specifically for liver cancer as liver cancer cells express a protein, TRPV2, which when activated, creates a pore in a usually impassable membrane. CBD could be used to open this pore which would then allow a small dose of the drug to be inserted to kill the cancer cells without attacking healthy cells.
Binshtok said as soon as his team are able to prove the concept in a laboratory on animals, it wouldn’t take long to reach humans.
The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is set to legalize cannabis cultivation
Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in India and has recently shared that it will be the second Indian state to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes.
Legal affairs minister PC Sharma said that the cannabis cultivated in Madhya Pradesh will be used to make medicine to treat the pain symptoms of cancer treatment as well as clothes and bioplastic.
India could potentially become a major player in the cannabis industry due to cheap labour and production costs and a desirable climate for growing cannabis.
UK Liberal Democrats launch election manifesto that will legalize cannabis
The Liberal Democrats in the UK recently released their election manifesto, hidden under the Health and Social Care section of the manifesto mentions the legalization of cannabis.
The party’s policy would “help to break the grip of the criminal gangs by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis. We will introduce limits on the potency levels and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.”
The party criticized the ‘prohibitionist attitude to drug use’ of Labour and the Tories’ and believes a cannabis tax could raise 1.5 billion pounds which could be used to fight crime.
Party leader, Jo Swinson stated that “If instead we can regulate the cannabis market, we can raise taxation revenue from that, we can set regulations about the safety of the cannabis which is bought and sold.”
The party would follow a similar model from the US and Canada by legalizing the sale of cannabis through licensed shops.
At Parsl, we have a goal to shift the stigma that currently exists around cannabis. We want to move towards a more positive energy, reflective of a true understanding of cannabis and its effects. We believe a great way to do this is to share the stories of some of the special individuals and businesses doing some pretty spectacular things within the industry. This helps to educate society through sharing the realized potential of the plant and its many possibilities.
On this installment of Parsl’s business spotlight, we delved into a particularly delicious version of realized potential of cannabis; edibles.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Founder and CEO, Peter Barsoom about his budding edibles business, 1906.
1906 is a Colorado based cannabis company specialising in the glorious world of edibles. Although, 1906 edibles aren’t your typical edibles. They go far beyond any gummy bear or brownie simply seeking to get you high.
1906 have designed six tailored mood inducing/reducing edibles for those times you’re looking to get your genius on, have a good night’s rest, get active, get sensual, chill out or simply enter a state of complete bliss. They achieve this by combining ‘socially-dosed cannabis with targeted plant medicines’.
All edibles are made with the highest quality chocolate produced by one of the best artisanal chocolate-makers in America. All their edibles are fast acting allowing you to feel the effects within 20 minutes or less.
Another added bonus is that each edible is carefully considered, containing the optimal amount of CBD and THC to deliver the desired effects with complete accuracy. This helps you avoid the not so glamorous side of edibles when you get a little too high and don’t realize until it’s too late.
1906 is not only seeking to redefine edibles, but to also put an end to the stigma around cannabis and reinstate it to its former glory prior to prohibition as a mainstream medicine. The company is even named after the year of the Wiley Act (also known as the Pure Food and Drug Act) was voted in which effectively began the era of cannabis prohibition.
So it’s no surprise why we were so excited to speak with 1906 Founder & CEO, Peter Barsoom. Read on for a deeper insight into 1906, their grand plans for the next year and Barsoom’s personal view on the stigma surrounding cannabis.
What inspired you to create 1906?
I worked in finance for many years, specifically within highly regulated markets. I got into the cannabis industry because my wife and I were enthusiasts of smoking flower, but we were concerned about the health impacts of smoking, period. Edibles didn’t seem like a viable alternative because they were too unpredictable, they tasted bad, and they had a lot of unhealthy ingredients.
We were also fascinated by plant medicine from Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and other traditions, and then of course, cannabis is one of the most widely-used medicines in history. We saw a major opportunity in the market–to combine the functional benefits of plant medicine with the longstanding benefits of cannabis, and combine those in a healthy, delicious and safe edible. That’s how 1906 was born.
Again, we worried about the health impacts of smoking and wanted better ways to enjoy cannabis. We are among a select few companies focusing on experience-based edibles designed to enhance specific aspects of your life. We are impacting people in pretty simple and yet profound ways. We are there for intimate and vulnerable moments like when they want to sleep, or have better sex, or relax after a hard day, and it’s such an honor to be able to help them in these moments.
What is your most beloved 1906 product? Why?
Our best seller is Midnight for sleep. A combination of plant medicines for sleep, Midnight is an all-natural sleep aid. We know that 70 percent of American adults suffer from some form of insomnia and most consumers are not happy with the currently available sleep aids and pharmaceuticals. As such, we see a very strong, consistent interest in using cannabis and plant medicines for sleep. With Midnight, people sleep better and wake up refreshed without the negative side effects like grogginess of many other options.
My personal favorite 1906 product is Bliss for happiness. Many people enjoy alcohol but don’t like the calories and the hangovers. Formulated with natural plant medicines like Kanna and Theobromine, Bliss gives me all the benefits of a social lubricant like alcohol but without the downsides. Also, Bliss comes in truly outstanding milk or dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Yum.
Do you believe there has been a shift in the stigma around cannabis as more and more states begin to legalize it?
Yes, we are seeing a definite shift but we still have a long way to go.
My favorite part of working in the cannabis industry is the opportunity to change the stigma and innovate for all sorts of people. Many people are scared of edibles because they’ve overcommitted dosage-wise, or gotten a product with poor dosing accuracy, and that’s made them averse to trying again. 1906 is meeting the needs of this consumer through high quality, safe, ultra-consistent, low-dose edibles. We are essentially an alternative to the mainstream of cannabis brands and I love being able to offer that to people, especially women, older people, parents – anyone who can’t afford to be incapacitated or even unsure of what a particular edible or flower will do to them.
However, my least favorite thing about the industry is the continued stigma that still surrounds cannabis and the continued injustices resulting from the prohibition of cannabis, particularly the impact on African-American and Latino communities. We are committed to corporate social responsibility in this regard, specifically targeting employment opportunities for those formerly incarcerated individuals who have paid the heaviest price for a century of cannabis prohibition.
What is the outlook for 1906 in 2020?
We JUST released a new line of products called Drops that are pressed tablets with plant medicines that are portable, zero calories and optimal remedies for health-conscious adults. We’re excited to see those go on sale in dispensaries across Colorado. We just closed a major round of funding that will help us launch in the additional states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan. We also have plans to branch out into new products including beverages and additional forms of edibles.
We are excited to see 1906 grow even bigger in the near future and witness the effects of their influence on the cannabis industry. 1906 products are available at over 200 Colorado dispensaries, so if you’re in the area be sure to get a tasty treat for yourself!
Every week there is a lot that goes on in the world of cannabis, and sometimes it can be a little hard to keep up with. The Cannabis Catch Up is a weekly series that collates some of the most important news in cannabis from throughout the week and puts it all in one place.
This week was quite historical for cannabis as a cannabis legalization bill was approved by the Congressional Committee. Down under in Australia the Government launched an inquiry into the medicinal cannabis industry and research discovered cannabis as a potential treatment option for endometriosis. And Thailand could soon allow households do grow cannabis plants to be sold to the government in hopes to legalize medical cannabis. Read on for further information!
Cannabis Legalization Bill approved by Congressional Committee
On Wednesday, a historical vote was made in America where a congressional committee approved a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition.
The House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in a 24-10 vote. In an encouraging sign it saw a small degree of bi-partisan support with two Republicans (Matt Gaetz and Tom McClintock) show their support for the bill.
The MORE Act, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior cannabis convictions, place a five percent tax on all cannabis related sales with the revenue being reinvested back into communities most affected by cannabis prohibition.
There were concerns from some Republicans that the bill went too far and that it was unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.
This is the first time a congressional committee has backed legislation to decriminalize cannabis at a federal level which is huge in itself.
While it is great that Congress is even talking about ending cannabis prohibition in America, there is still quite a long way to go until cannabis is fully legalized at the federal level.
The Judiciary Committee is only the first committee to have passed the bill, there are still seven other House committees it will need to pass.
It will then need to be voted in the Republican-controlled Senate and since it is ‘…devoid of bipartisan support’ it is unlikely that the majority of Republicans will fully support the bill.
Even if the bill makes it through Congress, it must be signed by the President to become law. Donald Trump has stated in the past he believes it should be left to individual states to decide on cannabis laws, so it seems relatively unlikely that we will see cannabis legalized at a federal level this year.
We will be following any further developments closely and can only hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
The Australian Government launches an inquiry into the medicinal cannabis system
Earlier this month a proposed inquiry by the Greens Party won support in the Senate leading the Australian Government to conduct a Parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of medicinal cannabis.
The greens received support for the proposed inquiry from labor and crossbench senators, allowing the minor party to defeat the Federal Government with 35 votes to 31.
The motion is to be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 12 February 2020. A few of the current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis are as follows:
The suitability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for subsidising patient access to medicinal cannabis products;
Australia’s regulatory regime in comparison to international best practice models for medicinal cannabis products;
The availability of training for doctors in the current TGA regulatory regime for prescribing medicinal cannabis to their patients;
Sources of information for doctors about uses of medicinal cannabis and how these might be improved and widened;
Delays in access, and the practice of product substitution, due to importation of medicinal cannabis and the shortage of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis products;
The significant financial barriers to accessing medicinal cannabis treatment;
To read more about the motions details click here.
The Greens Party leader, Richard Di Natale stated that “It’s been shoehorned into a system that is not fit for purpose, and all that’s achieved is delays, expense and suffering for Australian patients”
He went onto state that “The failure of the current system has led to thousands of patients being denied access to medicine, with many being forced to turn to the black market. Doctors shouldnt be turning away sick people because of the complexities of prescribing cannabis”
“This inquiry will… look into whether doctors have the information they need to prescribe it, and whether patients have access to the medicine they need.”
Australian study found cannabis an effective treatment for pain from endometriosis
Recent research could potentially show cannabis as being an effective method of pain management with one in ten Australian women using it to cope with the pain.
The study surveyed 484 women with surgically diagnosed endometriosis about the self-management strategies they used.
Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory condition where tissue (that is usually found on the lining of the uterus) is found outside of the womb. It affects around one in ten women who are of reproductive age. Symptoms can include painful periods, excessive bleeding, infertility and gastrointestinal symptoms.
There is currently limited options for the pain management of endometriosis, with women still reporting getting pain even after medication and surgery.
13 percent of the women reported using cannabis as a method of pain management and it was rated the most effective.
The respondents who reported using cannabis also reported improvements in other symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, nausea, anxiety, depression and sleep.
Researchers believe well designed clinical trials are urgently needed to determine how effective and safe quality-controlled medicinal cannabis might be in treating the symptoms of endometriosis.
Thailand will soon allow its citizens to grow cannabis at home to sell to the Government
The Thai Government will soon allow all citizens to cultivate six cannabis plants in their homes to sell their home-grown harvest to the government to be turned into medical cannabis. This is all in an attempt to legalize medical cannabis across Thailand.
“We are in the process of changing laws to allow the medical use of marijuana freely,” said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. He continued, “We have high confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the law changes. But there is a process to it.”
Not only will this provide an increase in supplies of medical products, but it will also give locals a crop that could boost their incomes. Anutin proposed the sale of each plant to the government for $2,225. A household could earn $13,350 for selling all six of their plants which is a huge incentive to grow the plants.
Thailand currently holds the biggest, industrial-scale medical cannabis facility in Southeast Asia. Back in September, Maejo University researchers planted 12,000 cannabis seedlings which were provided by the government’s Department of Medical Service.
The upcoming 2020 US Presidential Election is fast approaching and cannabis legalization is looking like it’s getting more airtime than ever before.
With the current climate of federal and state laws clashing when it comes to cannabis law, the next occupant of The Oval Office could have a significant impact on the shape and success of the legal cannabis industry in the United States.
With one of the democratic front-runners Joe Biden recently hitting the headlines with his antiquated ‘gateway drug’ comment we thought it would be good to look at each candidate’s position on cannabis to gain some insight into what it could possibly look like within the next four year?
Current President – Republican candidate
Trump’s stance on cannabis legalization is somewhat unclear, he has expressed support for medical cannabis and stated that, as president, he would allow states to decide whether to legalize cannabis without the interference from the federal government.
While his position on recreational cannabis has remained the same, President Trump completely reversed his own stance on the issue after he was elected. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo, an Obama-era policy that disallowed the federal government to interfere with the states that have legalized cannabis.
The White House press secretary Sean Spicer also told reporters that under President Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Department of Justice would do more to enforce federal cannabis laws on states that had legalized recreational cannabis. He also further defined the President’s position in viewing medicinal and recreational cannabis laws as requiring different considerations.
However, Trump recently stated that if re-elected, he would ‘probably’ support a bi-partisan bill, named the STATES act, that would allow US states to make their own laws on cannabis without federal interference.
While even his very recent history on the topic of cannabis has shown he can change directions very quickly, the Republican co-sponsor of the bill, Cory Gardner, was reported to have introduced the bill only after securing a promise from Trump that he would support it.
Earlier in the year, when asked about the topic of legalization, Trump stated in classically vague Trumpian fashion that “We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision,” he said. “A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.”
So if Trump were re-elected, it seems he has no specific policy positions aimed at making things better for the cannabis industry but things may still improve by the virtue of him not standing in the way of the efforts of others.
Democratic candidate – leading most national polls
Former vice president, Joe Biden, also referred to as “one of the most aggressive drug warriors in Congress” by Mason Tvert (spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project) is wholly anti-cannabis and still under the age-old impression that the plant is a “gateway drug” to other illicit substances.
Not only is Biden currently against the legalization of cannabis, but has been since 1974 where he had an active role in The War on Drugs. Biden assisted in the establishment of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1989 which pushed anti-drug (and specifically anti-cannabis) ad campaigns leading to decades of misinformation about cannabis.
When it comes to his outlook on medical cannabis, it doesn’t get much better. Although Biden supported ending raids on medical cannabis users back in 2007, he still believed that “there’s got to be a better answer than marijuana… There’s got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem.” He has since stated that he does support medical cannabis. Whether this is a strategic move or he had a change of heart is unclear.
In 1989, Biden even criticized then President George H.W. Bush’s anti-drug plan, stating that it was not “tough enough, bold enough, or imaginative enough to meet the crisis at hand”. This poses the question, would the war on drugs take an even stricter turn if Biden were elected as president?
Joe Biden recently spoke at a town hall in Las Vegas where he stated that he will not legalize cannabis because “the truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug.” He went on to say “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
There is currently nothing regarding Biden’s drug policy views on his campaign website so it is hard to know where Biden specifically stands, but from the remarks he has made in public, it doesn’t look promising for cannabis legalization. One can only hope his views have drastically changed since 1989.
Democratic candidate – second in most national polls
Bernie recently released one of the most comprehensive and ambitious cannabis legalization plans out of all candidates running for presidency.
On October 25 at 4:20, Bernie tweeted ‘Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana. Today I am releasing my plan to: Legalize marijuana with executive action, expunge past marijuana convictions, invest in communities most affected by the War on Drugs.’
The plan states that if Bernie gains presidency, he would legalize cannabis in the first 100 days in office with executive action.
The plan is split into two major sections, the first is ‘Ending The War On Marijuana And Undoing Its Damage’ and the second is to ‘Ensure Legalized Marijuana Does Not Turn Into the Big Tobacco’
Ending The War On Marijuana And Undoing Its Damage
The plan acknowledges the discriminatory core of cannabis prohibition and promises that revenue from the legal cannabis industry will be reinvested in the minority communities that were hit hardest by the War on Drugs.
A $20 billion grant program will be created within the Minority Business Development Agency to provide entrepreneurs of colour who are discriminated against when trying to get loans.
Those who were formerly incarcerated will be provided with training and resources needed to start their own businesses and will be guaranteed jobs and free job training at trade schools that are related to cannabis businesses.
Barriers to public benefits will be eliminated. This can include licenses and contracts based on prior records, drug testing requirements and the removal from public housing due to cannabis use.
It also understands that individuals continue to serve unjust sentences for cannabis use under previous laws. The plan states that all previous cannabis convictions at the federal and state level would be reviewed for expungement and/or resentencing based on the California model.
Federal funding will be provided to states and cities to partner with organizations that can help develop and operate the expungement determination process.
Ensure Legalized Marijuana Does Not Turn Into Big Tobacco
Bernie will ensure the cannabis industry doesn’t turn into Big Tobacco by implementing a number of precautions which include:
Incentivise cannabis businesses to be structured like nonprofits
Prohibit products and labels that target young people
Ban any company that has a product that could cause cancer
Prohibit deceptive marketing
Ban any tobacco related corporation from entering the cannabis industry
Granting the federal government regulatory authority to ensure the safety of cannabis products
Democratic candidate – third in most national polls
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and has developed quite a reputation for her belief in modernizing cannabis laws.
Whilst she lacks a plan as detailed as Sanders, she has demonstrated her commitment to its reform through her past contributions in several major pieces of cannabis reform legislation.
This includes the CARERS Act, which was designed to protect medical cannabis patients from federal prosecution and encourage further research into the effects of the plant by obliging the Attorney General and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide more licenses to medical cannabis cultivators and researchers.
The second was the Marijuana Justice Act which seeks to reverse decades of failed drug policy. The Act would remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and expunge the convictions of individuals who have served federal time for cannabis use.
Last year Warren signed onto a legislation that would require VA (Veterans Affairs) to study medical cannabis and has co-sponsored three bills aimed at providing access to banking for cannabis businesses these include the SAFE Banking Act in 2017 and 2019 and the Marijuna Businesses Access to Banking Act in 2015.
She also introduced the STATES Act bill with Republican Senator Cory Gardner, to allow states to make their own laws in regards to cannabis legalization and be safe from Federal interference. The initial impetus for the bill was a reaction to then attorney-general Jeff Session’s decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum that discouraged the enforcement of federal cannabis prohibition laws.
Not only has she demonstrated her commitment to the legalization of cannabis through her actions, she hasn’t been shy of voicing her opinion. During a campaign stop in Iowa in 2018, Warren stated that “it’s just time to legalize [cannabis] nationally” and has made many tweets on the topic…
In July, Buttigieg released a racial justice plan that stated under a Buttigieg administration “…on the federal level, we will eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses…” and the big one, “legalize marijuana and expunge past convictions.”
It goes on to state that “Despite equal rates of use, Black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for using marijuana” and that “Research shows that incarceration for drug offenses has no effect on drug misuse, drug arrests, or overdose deaths. In fact, some studies show that incarceration actually increases the rate of overdose deaths.”
At the Iowa State Fair in August, Buttigieg stated “…When we legalize marijuana-which we ought to do- we ought to have expungements as well for people whose incarceration is doing more harm than the original offense did…”
We are interested to see if Buttigieg will follow through with his plan If he were elected as president in the upcoming election.
As stated in the Douglas plan, “We cannot incarcerate ourselves out of this public health problem.”
Democratic candidate – fifth in most national polls
California US Senator, Kamala Harris , is committed to the legalization of cannabis and believes “it’s time we do the smart thing – the right thing – and ensure any marijuana reform legislation we put on the table adequately addresses the harm caused by the failed drug policies of the past”
Five years later she stated her support for medicinal cannabis and is now advocating for the full legalization of cannabis. Her publicly-stated beliefs have closely followed changes in public opinion with the majority of Americans now in favour of cannabis legalization.
Harris wrote in a book released earlier in the year that “We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it.” she writes. “And we need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”
Senator Harris, along with U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, introduced a comprehensive piece of cannabis reform legislation in July called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
Decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. This will also apply to prior and pending convictions.
Requires federal courts to expunge all prior convictions
Through placing a 5% sales tax on cannabis products an Opportunity Trust Fund will be created for three grant programs
The Community Reinvestment Grant Program
The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program
The Equitable Licensing Grant Program
Allows for non-discrimination protections for cannabis possession
While Harris’ recent push for cannabis legalization is a great initiative that hits all of the pain points for cannabis, when looking at her past beliefs on the topic things get a little concerning. Is the senator simply telling the public what they want to hear in order to be elected president? Or has she genuinely had a change of heart?
With a strong focus on cannabis legalization amongst presidential candidates and many different opinions being represented in the field, the outcome of the election could shape the state of cannabis within America for decades to come.
Drake launches cannabis brand, More Life Growth Company
Rapper Drake recently announced that he will be partnering with Toronto’s Canopy Growth Corporation to release More Life Growth Company. More Life will be “centered around wellness, discovery, and overall personal growth with the hope of facilitating connections and shared experiences across the globe,” according to company reps.
Drake stated in the press release that “The idea of being able to build something special in an industry that is ever growing has been inspiring. More life and More blessing,”
Over 400 California cannabis businesses had their licenses suspended
California recently suspended more than 400 cannabis business permits, which is equivalent to 5% of the state’s legal cannabis supply chain. The suspension of the licenses means the companies affected cannot complete transactions until their licenses are reactivated.
Of the businesses affected, 63 of them were retailers, 61 delivery services, 47 microbusinesses, 185 distributors and 29 transport-only distributors.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) issued the suspensions due to the business’ failure to complete mandatory track-and-trace system training and credentialing.
The BCC believes that all affected businesses have had plenty of time to complete the required track-and-trace steps and to begin uploading their inventory data so that regulators can keep track of the cannabis industry via Metrc’s system.
The licenses will remain suspended until the training and credentialing has been completed.
A breakthrough in the deadly vaping crisis
After 39 deaths and more than 2,000 reported vaping-related illnesses, U.S. health officials have potentially discovered a breakthrough in the outbreak, linking it to vitamin E acetate as a “potential toxin of concern,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vitamin E acetate, is an oily chemical added to some THC vaping liquids, and could potentially be the cause of the deadly outbreak as it was found in every lung fluid sample from the afflicted.
THC was also found in 23 of the 29 samples tested, with officials stating there may be more than one cause of the outbreak. Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director stated that “[They] have a potential toxin of concern from biological samples in patients” and that “[They] are in a better place than [they] were a few weeks ago in terms of finding a culprit.”
Massachusetts maintains ban on vaping products
Massachusetts regulators will maintain a ban on the sale of cannabis oil vapes and devices after ordering all cannabis retailers to quarantine the products on Tuesday. The ban which covers vape pens, vape cartridges, aerosol products and inhalers is scheduled to last until January 25.
Although, there has been talk of Donald Trump considering plans to ban all flavoured e-cigarette products. This may not go through as Trump recently indicated that he may be open to flexibility on the ban after backlash from the industry.
He tweeted that he “Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry together with medical professionals and individual state representatives to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-Cigarette dilemma. Children’s health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!”
The fate of cannabis legalization in Mexico has missed its October deadline and has been put on hold for a later date.
Cannabis was set to be legalized in Mexico by the end of October, according to Marijuana Moment, the Senate leader of Mexico’s ruling party said that the lawmakers should have voted on a bill to legalize cannabis by the end of October.
In late 2018, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that an absolute ban on the recreational use, possession and cultivation of cannabis is unconstitutional and in need of change.
Mexico was looking well along the high path to legalize cannabis by the end of October, so what happened to delay it?
According to Marijuana Business Daily, one of the key holdups to passing the legislation was the external pressure from businesses wanting to take part in the industry. Mexico has been aiming to give license preference to low-income individuals, small farmers and indigenous people. This left bigger corporations wondering how they’ll get a slice of the cannabis industry which could have had an impact on the delay.
What happens next?
The lawmakers have requested an extension to the Supreme Court’s deadline beyond October. According to Senate Majority Leader, Ricardo Moreal, the lawmakers have the intention to discuss, debate and pass the framework for the legislation within the first couple of weeks of November.
Although, as the Supreme Court effectively legalized recreational use of cannabis in 2018, giving lawmakers a year to work out the details, they may not be so keen on delaying it even further.
The good news is, cannabis is still on the path to legalization in Mexico, it is just a little rockier than once thought.
So what would cannabis legalization actually look like in Mexico?
Well firstly, the biggest benefit legalization could bring is the potential reduction of black market activities, although this heavily depends on the effective implementation of the system.
Even in areas where cannabis has been legalized, the black market continues to flourish. California is the perfect example of this, where there are roughly 2,835 illicit cannabis sellers, including storefronts and delivery services. That is more than three times as many illegal sellers as legal ones. Hopefully Mexico can learn from past attempts and implement a more effective system to combat the black market.
With this development in cannabis legalization in Mexico, we thought it would be a good time to look at the history of cannabis within the country and understand what made the plant illegal in the first place.
The use of cannabis in Mexico actually began in Spain during the 500-year Moorish occupation of Spain where the Moors brought hashish (cannabis) and the Maghrebi tradition of kif-smoking to Spain.
Cannabis or as its known in Mexico, Marijuana, was first brought to North America by the Moors and the Maghrebi tradition of kif-smoking. Marijuana entered the New World onboard Spanish galleons bound for New Spain (Mexico). It became popular with both peasants and the higher classes in Mexico. Spain encouraged the use of hemp production in the colony as it was used to make rope and textiles.
During the Revolution, the capital’s newspapers blamed cannabis for inciting revolutionary armies. Despite the lack of evidence to support this claim, people believed it and the war on cannabis began. In 1882, authorities banned the use of cannabis in Mexico City’s military hospital to cut down on fights and other “disasters”. While cannabis wasn’t illegal at the time, these negative associations fed into the regulations created over their trade and use. A decade later, medical professionals pushed for a series of health codes which banned herbs and limited the sale of drugs that were considered dangerous, like cannabis, to professional pharmacists.
And in 1920 the inevitable happened, the production, sale and recreational use of Marijuana was banned which was closely followed by the ban on the export of marijuana 1927.
So it is with great excitement that the plant which travelled the seas to the New World could potentially make a legal comeback in Mexico. The only question we’re left pondering is when? We’ll be eagerly awaiting the verdict straight out of Mexico!