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Delaware Forum Addresses Marijuana Myths and Misconceptions

Dover, DE –  Some of America’s leading non-profit cannabis policy experts convened for a special panel to dispel common myths associated with cannabis as a bill to end prohibition moves towards victory in Dover.  Delaware’s Cannabis Policy Coalition, which includes the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, Delaware NORML, and twenty other local organizations, hosted a myth-busting public forum to address concerns and misconceptions surrounding cannabis and Delaware’s adult-use legalization bill, HB150.  The event featured a lively discussion about DUI, workplace safety, non-medical underage possession and prevention, and several other topics that opponents frequently point to as reasons for lawmakers to vote against legalization. Paul Armentano, national NORML’s Deputy Director and a renowned policy coordinator started off the forum by addressing general concerns about marijuana DUI and road safety: “The reality is, that we all share those concerns. I drive on the same roads, my family drives on the same roads, we all want safe roads,” Armentano said, “We have real world experience – now decade long experience, from states like Colorado and Washington that have changed their adult-use laws, and again, we’ve seen very little change in traffic safety trends that can be attributed to a change in these policies.” Armentano noted, “We know this because we have multiple studies that have tracked motor vehicle accident rates in States like Washington and Colorado, in the years immediately prior to and the years following the enactment of cannabis legalization, and compared those trends to similar states that have not changed their marijuana policies. What we see is that the trends in legal states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California are generally no different than the traffic safety trends in other states that haven’t changed their marijuana laws.” A peer-reviewed study published by the National Institute of Health and American Journal of Public Health reports, “changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.” Shaleen Title is a former inaugural member of the Cannabis Commission of Massachusetts who now serves as Vice-Chair of Cannabis Regulators of Color. Title addressed workplace safety and liability post-legalization this way, “There is no evidence. In fact, I can understand how, perhaps, in the beginning when the first two states were legalizing, there may have been some question as to this point. But at this time in 2021, I really question whether claims like that are being made in good faith, because there is just a massive body of evidence showing none of those effects whatsoever.”  Title, also an attorney, added that one of the previous primary opponents of cannabis legalization in Massachusetts, state Senator Jason Lewis, has now reversed his anti-legalization stance since voters in that Commonwealth legalized cannabis in 2016.  Lewis has since introduced a bill that would prohibit Massachusettts employers from discriminating against employees who consume cannabis after work hours.  On the topic of revenue there’s solid data. Research from Colorado and Washington, the first two states that legalized adult-use cannabis nearly a decade ago, shows that cannabis business is booming. Both states are ranked as a Forbes top five “Places for Business and Careers” while workplace accident claims are decreasing in both states.  A 2019 report issued by Washington State Department of Labor and Industries shows the prices for workers’ compensation insurance decreased three years in a row. The Colorado State Department of Regulatory Agencies reports that “loss costs” component of workers’ compensation premiums saw an 8.5% reduction in 2020, noting that this is the sixth consecutive year in the state without an increase. Armentano urged those with questions to look up the data, “We don’t have to speculate. We don’t have to ask, ‘What if? We can simply look at the states that already have the real world experience with cannabis regulation and see  that the sky has not fallen.  See that their economies have not collapsed. See that politicians and the public have not expressed buyers remorse” No state that has legalized marijuana has returned to prohibition.  Armentano added. “Many of these States economically, like Colorado, are thriving. Public polls show that a greater percentage of the public support these policies today than did when they were initially enacted.  And that’s because these sort of fear mongering claims have never come to fruition.” Dr. David Nathan, a practicing psychiatrist and the founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, rebutted claims made that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ to drug addiction.  “The only way in which cannabis can lead to other drugs is when it is sold with them, and that only happens in illegal markets”, Dr. Nathan remarked.  “In regulated markets, it is sold by itself, it is labeled properly, and people know what they are getting. And when it comes to underage use with  regulated or unregulated markets, when cannabis is legalized in a particular place, it sends the message to our kids that science matters, and that we are creating a legal market distinction between adult-use, which is generally safe, and underage use, which is not.”  Dr. Nathan added that research is showing that states that have legalized have seen a 20-25% reduction in opiate overdoses, noting that there were over 90,000 deaths from drugs just last year, – none of which involved cannabis.  “If you could decrease that percent, that number of 90,000 people by 1% you would do it,” said Dr. Nathan, “If you could decrease it by 10%, you would do it. But if we are talking about 20 or 25% decrease in overdoses, then it’s really a no brainer.”  HB150 passed the House Health and Human Development Committee 10-5, with bi-partisan support, and is awaiting action by the House Appropriation Committee.  University of Delaware polls show a consistent 61% majority public support for legalization, among Delaware residents.   A full recording of the forum can be found here:  Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network is an all-volunteer, citizen-led, grassroots advocacy group. Since 2013 our members have been advocating to remove all criminal penalties for cannabis, initiate criminal justice reforms for those adversely affected by cannabis prohibition, and replace the current illicit cannabis market with a safe, legal, and well-regulated industry.  Press Contact: Zoë Patchell, Executive Director of Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network  (302) 236-6984 

Bill to Repeal Federal Prohibition Filed By Two Republican Lawmakers

Representatives David Joyce and Don Young have introduced legislation to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby repealing the federal prohibition of cannabis and making states the primary regulators of the plant. The bill, entitled the ‘‘Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act,’’ deschedules marijuana from the CSA and creates explicit safe harbors so that licensed cannabis businesses can bank with financial institutions. Other provisions in the measure allow military veterans to access state-legal marijuana programs; direct the National Institute of Health (NIH) to facilitate more expansive research into cannabis and its effects; and direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and the Department of the Treasury to promulgate regulations pertaining to labeling and regulating of cannabis in a manner that would be  “similar” to alcohol. You can contact your lawmakers in support of this bill using the NORML Action Alert here.  The introduction of this legislation marks the first Republican-led effort to repeal federal marijuana laws. Representatives Young and Joyce are Republican co-Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, along with Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee.  Last year, members of the US House of Representatives advanced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (HR 3884). The vote was the first time that a chamber of Congress had ever voted in favor of legislation to repeal federal marijuana prohibition. Representative Young voted in favor of the bill while Rep. Joyce voted against it. The bill passed 228-164, with all but six democrats voting in favor and only six Republicans supporting the bill.  Commenting on the introduction of the new bill, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “It is our hope that more congressional Republicans will follow the lead of Representatives Joyce and Young, as well as the American people, in supporting a repeal of the failed and senseless policy of federal marijuana criminalization by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.” Upon introduction, Congressman Young said, “For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century. As Co-Chair of the Cannabis Caucus and Representative of a state with legal adult-use cannabis, I am proud to help introduce the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act. This bill takes significant steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans, in addition to finally permitting state-legal cannabis businesses to utilize traditional financial services.” Congressman Joyce said, “With more than 40 States taking action on this issue, it’s past time for Congress to recognize that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate. My legislation answers the American people’s call for change and addresses our States’ need for clarity by creating an effective federal regulatory framework for cannabis that will help veterans, support small businesses and their workers, allow for critical research and tackle the opioid crisis, all while respecting the rights of States to make their own decisions regarding cannabis policies that are best for their constituents. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill signed into law so that we can enact sensible and meaningful cannabis reform that will improve lives and livelihoods.”

California update: Hemp regulation bill remains a political hot potato dividing industry

This story first appeared at Marijuana Business Daily. Two bills in the California Legislature that would establish a new regulatory framework for hemp-infused goods – including CBD-laced foods and drinks – are poised to become law this year, which could jump-start the state’s nascent hemp industry and potentially give marijuana businesses an opportunity to expand into a federally legal crop. But few in the hemp and marijuana industries are happy, and the bills are likely to be amended. Assembly Bill 45 and Senate Bill 235 – which are identical and moving along parallel paths – have the support of Gov. Gavin Newsom and many legislators, sources told MJBizDaily.

Tilray, Aphria complete blockbuster merger

Once-rival marijuana producers Tilray and Aphria completed their mega-merger, the new company announced Monday, forming one of the biggest diversified marijuana, hemp and beer companies in the world. The new company will operate under the Tilray corporate name, with shares trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TLRY.

5 strategies for making cannabis-infused beverages

This is the fifth installment in an ongoing series offering tips and advice for marijuana and hemp extraction companies. The fourth installment is available here. Cannabis activists have been saying for decades that the plant should be regulated like alcohol. Now science is helping to make cannabis act like alcohol, too. Extraction scientists and formulators are racing toward faster and cheaper ways to make cannabinoid molecules – which are naturally hydrophobic and therefore impossible to dissolve in water – suitable for incorporating into drinks. Cannabis binds readily to fat but not to water, which explains why people have long incorporated THC into buttery baked goods such as brownies. Alcohol, on the other hand, is water-soluble, so it’s commonly mixed into drinks but less so into foods.

Rep. Perlmutter: Let’s Make Legal Cannabis Work Better

Ed Perlmutter is a member of Congress representing Colorado’s 7th District Just one week ago, the SAFE Banking Act passed once again in the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming, bipartisan support by a vote of 321 to 101, with every Democrat and the majority of Republicans voting in support. As the lead sponsor of this legislation, I am appreciative of the tens-of-thousands of messages that NORML members from around the country have sent to their lawmakers in support of my bill. As you likely already know, this bill would allow state-legal cannabis businesses and their employees to access the banking system. This will get cash off the streets and into the financial system which is built to root out fraud and illicit activity. It is my hope the SAFE Banking Act will lead the way for Congress to take up other cannabis reforms and better align state and federal laws. The U.S. cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, with the current value estimated at $17.7 billion, a substantial amount of which remains unbanked. As of January 2021, the legal cannabis industry supports 321,000 jobs across the country. Over the 2018-2028 period, job growth in this market is projected to climb 250%, the fastest rate for any sector in the U.S. Banking this cash will increase safety for the industry and give banks and credit unions more capital to lend during the economic recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of necessary reforms, thousands of legal cannabis businesses and their workers across the country will continue to face a serious public safety risk. Congress has the ability to protect them and should do so immediately. There are many other marijuana issues that need to be addressed but passing the SAFE Banking Act is a critical element of cannabis reform which cannot wait.  While we continue to build the support needed for more comprehensive reform, I hope that you will join me in asking the Senate to follow the lead of the majority of American voters and the U.S. House and swiftly pass the SAFE Banking Act to save lives and protect our communities. Thanks for your support,Ed PerlmutterRepresentativeColorado’s 7th District

US House passes marijuana banking reform that includes hemp provision

Read more about the marijuana provisions in this bill at Marijuana Business Daily. Hemp advocates are cheering a U.S. House vote this week to clear banking hurdles for marijuana operators. But they’re hoping the measure known as the SAFE Banking Act is amended in the Senate to clarify a provision that mentions hemp. The bill, which passed the House 321-101 Monday with strong bipartisan support, was the first major piece of marijuana legislation to be approved by the new Democratic-controlled Congress.

US House Passes Bill To Normalize Adult-Use Cannabis Commerce

The SAFE Banking Act would improve the safety of legal marijuana marketplaces and foster more entrepreneurship in the emerging legal industry Members of the House of Representatives voted today in favor of a stand-alone piece of legislation, The SAFE Banking Act, to remedy the ongoing inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws. In a vote of 321-101, House members approved HR 1996, The SAFE Banking Act, which would create a legal safe harbor for financial institutions to engage in business relationships with state-licensed and regulated cannabis companies.  “For the first time since Joe Biden assumed the presidency, a supermajority of the House has voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “However, the SAFE Banking Act is only a first step at making sure that these state-legal markets operate safely and efficiently. The sad reality is that those who own or patronize the unbanked businesses are themselves criminals in the eyes of the federal government, which can only be addressed by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances.” To date, over 40 percent of Americans reside in a jurisdiction where transactions involving the sale of cannabis have been approved under state law, and the majority of Americans live in a state where medical cannabis sales are permitted. Why NORML Supports Passage of HR 1996: The Safe Banking Act: Federal law currently defines all marijuana-related endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, virtually no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards, or provide loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs.  In this environment, the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar cannabis industry must operate largely on a cash-only basis, which makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. This ongoing federal prohibition also places the safety and welfare of these businesses’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities. For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “yes” on The SAFE Banking Act. A version of this bill first passed the House of Representatives on September 25th, 2019. Subsequently, it was included multiple times in various COVID relief packages that the House approved in the previous Congress. Ultimately, however, the language was not included in any of the enacted COVID stimulus bills.  What’s Next? Commenting on the next steps, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “Today’s vote is another important mile marker on the road to repealing federal prohibition, yet much more action must still be taken by lawmakers in both chambers. In the Senate, we are still waiting on a comprehensive proposal promised by Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden and in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which was approved in the previous Congress — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.”

Intellectual property takes on growing role in cannabis deals

This story first appeared at Marijuana Business Daily. Intellectual property is playing an increasingly important role in cannabis industry acquisitions and other deals as businesses look to get a leg up on rivals by purchasing or investing in companies holding valuable patents, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks. This comes as hemp and marijuana companies seek to increase their value through IP by differentiating themselves from their competitors and making their businesses more attractive for acquisitions and other transactions, according to experts. The importance of IP was highlighted in two recent deals:

Exclusive: Hemp foods are a natural fit in the wellness space, says Manitoba Harvest founder Mike Fata

The wellness trend has taken hold among consumers, creating ample opportunities for hemp entrepreneurs. But what does this trend mean for foods made from hemp grain, and how can business leaders capitalize on consumers’ increasing interest in their health and wellness?

Senators Reintroduce SAFE Banking Act To Normalize Cannabis Commerce

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), along with 27 other members of the Upper Chamber, reintroduced The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the U.S. Senate. Federal law currently defines all marijuana-related endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, almost no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards, or take standard business deductions on their federal taxes.  In this environment, the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar cannabis industry must operate largely on a cash-only basis, which makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. This ongoing federal prohibition also places the safety and welfare of these businesses’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.  For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “yes” on The SAFE Banking Act. You can send a message to your lawmakers in support of the SAFE Banking Act quickly here. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rand Paul (R-KY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). Members of the House reintroduced the bill last week. Last Congress, members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of the bill on September 25, 2019. On two additional occasions, House members re-approved the bill’s provisions as part of broader economic stimulus packages. However, under the control of then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, members of the Senate failed to take up the language. Here are what the bill’s sponsors had to say: “No one working in a store or behind a register should have to worry about experiencing a traumatic robbery at any moment,” said Senator Merkley. “That means we can’t keep forcing legal cannabis businesses to operate entirely in cash—a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering. Let’s make 2021 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees safe.” “Montana businesses shouldn’t have to operate in all cash—they should have a safe way to conduct business,” Senator Daines said. “My bipartisan bill will provide needed certainty for legal Montana cannabis businesses and give them the ability to freely use banks, credit unions and other financial institutions without the fear of punishment. This in turn will help increase public safety, reduce crime, support Montana small businesses, create jobs and boost local economies. A win-win for all.”

How hemp, CBD companies can vet celebrity partnerships to avoid (embarrassing) pitfalls

This story originally appeared at Marijuana Business Daily. When Canopy Growth introduced its CBD drink brand, Quatreau, to the U.S. market on March 2, the Canadian cannabis producer also announced its newest brand ambassador: American astrologer Susan Miller. Ambassadors and celebrity partnerships are familiar terrain for Canopy, already known for its ties with Seth Rogen, Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart. And while Miller isn’t a household name for all, she’s one of astrology’s more mainstream personalities and her celebrity fans include singer Katy Perry and actress Kirsten Dunst. Miller’s @astrologyzone has more than 430,000 followers on Twitte rand 112,000 on Instagram, many of whom are interested in wellness and self-care. And, according to her website, Miller writes for magazines such as Elle and Vogue Japan. But not everyone welcomed Canopy’s association with Miller. Some on social media were puzzled by the choice, questioning the move to align unscientific astrology with cannabidiol’s effects. Miller isn’t the first brand ambassador to raise eyebrows, which could be considered mild criticism compared to others.
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