North Dakota Initiative to Legalize Marijuana Approved for Circulation by Secretary of State

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Friday approved for circulation an initiative to legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older.

Proponents of the initiative must now collect around 13,500 signatures from registered North Dakota voters in order to put it to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 general election. The proposal would legalize the possession, personal cultivation and licensed distribution of recreational marijuana for everyone who is at least 21 years old.

The measure would also seal the records of anyone who’s been convicted of a marijuana-related crime that would be made legal under the initiative.

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Bermuda Senate Approves Legislation to Decriminalize Cannabis, Sending it to Governor

Just days after the Bermuda House of Assembly overwhelmingly approved legislation to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, the Senate has done the same.

The legislation, titled the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act and tabled by Minister of Social Development and Sport Zane DeSilva, will decriminalize the possession of up to seven grams of cannabis for personal use. Given the measure has been approved by Bermuda’s full Congress, it now goes to Governor John Rankin for consideration. Rankin is expected to sign the measure into law.

Under the proposed law cannabis possession up to seven grams would no longer be a criminal offense, though police would still have the authority to seize any cannabis found on a person. Charges could also still be applied if it’s determined that the cannabis was intended to be distributed, rather than consumed for personal use. The minister will also be tasked with determining regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught possessing cannabis.

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First Recreational Marijuana Business Licenses Issued in California

Yesterday California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control issued the first licenses for recreational marijuana businesses, paving the way for legal marijuana sales to begin the beginning of next year.

“This is a great Christmas present,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “Licensing is an inevitable necessity of the modern bureaucratic state. I’m just happy to see the stores open and people be able to walk into a store — any adult including tourists and guests in California — and get cannabis just like they can get alcohol, cigarettes or all sorts of wonderful things in California.”

Altogether 20 licenses were issued to cannabis businesses located throughout the state, including multiple located in San Diego, Lynwood and San Jose. The most – seven in total – are located in Santa Cruz.

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World Health Organization Says CBD Shouldn’t be a Controlled Substance

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) says that current information doesn’t justify cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in cannabis, being a controlled substance.

“There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care”, states the WHO report released yesterday. “Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components. To that end, the ECDD [Expert Committee on Drug Dependence] did an initial review of a cannabis compound called cannabidiol (CBD).”

The report claims that “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. The ECDD therefore “concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol”.

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Bermuda House Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis Possession

Bermuda’s House of Assembly has overwhelmingly approved legislation to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.

The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act, tabled by Minister of Social Development and Sport Zane DeSilva, would decriminalize the possession of up to seven grams of cannabis for personal use. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration. Passage in the Senate would send it to Governor John Rankin who could sign it into law, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it.

Although police would no longer be able to arrest individuals with up to seven grams of cannabis under the proposed law, they could still seize it. The minister would also be tasked with drawing up regulations for substance abuse education or treatment for those caught possessing cannabis.

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Study: Cannabis May Help HIV Patients Keep Mental Stamina Longer

A new study published in the journal AIDS has found that THC can potentially slow the process in which mental decline can occur in up to 50% of HIV patients.

“It’s believed that cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain,” says Norbert Kaminski, lead author of the study which was conducted at Michigan State University. “This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease.”

According to Science Daily, Kaminski and his co-author, Mike Rizzo, a graduate student in toxicology, discovered that the compounds in marijuana were able to act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing the number of inflammatory white blood cells, called monocytes, and decreasing the proteins they release in the body.

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Pennsylvania: Permitted Hemp Crops to Grow From 50 to 5,000 Acres in 2018

Pennsylvania officials plan to increase the number of acres permitted for the cultivation of industrial hemp next year from less than 50 acres to over 5,000, reports 90.5 WESA, a National Public Radio station.

This year marked the first time since the 1930s that farmers in Pennsylvania could legally grow hemp, thanks to legislation approved by state lawmakers in 2016. Although less than 50 acres were permitted for hemp cultivation in 2017, State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the agency plans to increase this 100-fold in 2018, to around 5,000 acres. Redding believes the crop could increase the productivity of existing farmland.

“Research … at Penn State (showed) that you can actually use industrial hemp as a double crop, behind wheat”, said Redding. “I think if that plays out to be real, that is a game changer. You immediately change what options farmers have and you open up new markets.”

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Over $4 Billion in Marijuana Sold in Colorado Since Start of Legal Sales

Effective today, the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) released statewide historical sales data on marijuana sales from January 2014 to present, and will release monthly reports going forward on the seventh business day of every month.

According to this data – dubbed the Marijuana Sales Report – there has been over $4 billion in marijuana and marijuana products sold since legal recreational sales began in 2014. The data shows that this year (up to the end of October) there has been $1,259,861,988 in marijuana sold, just shy of the $1,307,203,473 sold in 2016. In 2015, there was just shy of $1 billion sold ($995,591,255), and in 2014, the first year of legal sales, there was $683,523,739 sold. For comparison, there has been $2,951,855,447.08 in legal marijuana sold in Washington State, though sales there began in July of 2014, not January like Colorado.

According to the CDOR; “The Marijuana Sales Reports show unaudited monthly sales as self-reported by businesses on State sales returns and do not use Metrc® data (the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Marijuana Inventory Tracking System). The Marijuana Tax Data reports show tax revenue collected monthly as posted in the State’s accounting system.”

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New Ohio Initiative Would Legalize Marijuana, Advocates Hope to Place it on 2018 Ballot

Proponents of legalizing marijuana in Ohio have announced a new initiative that would do just that.

Advocates of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment are attempting to put their measure to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 general election. The initiative, described by supporters as a “free market” approach, would allow anyone 21 and older to possess and use marijuana and hemp, while establishing a system of licensed retail outlets and cultivation centers. Home cultivation for personal use would also be allowed.

“If you can own a bar, or make beer, wine or spirits, you will be able to own a marijuana dispensary, processor or cultivation,” says initiative supporters, who need to collect 305,592 signatures from registered voters in order to place the issue on next year’s ballot.

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Federal Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Down in Colorado and Washington, Now Lower Than it Was Prior to Legalization

According to survey data released by the federal government on Monday, the current rate of marijuana use among Colorado and Washington teens is now lower than it was prior to the states legalizing marijuana for adult use.

The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.

The rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds also dropped in Washington (from 9.17% in 2014-2015 to 7.93% in 2015-2016), and it is now lower than it was prior to legalization in 2012 (9.45% in 2011-2012 and 9.81% in 2012-2013).

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