Legal Marijuana Sales Delayed in Canada

Despite Canada’s longstanding plan to begin legal marijuana sales in July, a Canadian official has conceded that they won’t actually begin until August, maybe a little later.

As recently as last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was insistent that it was still on track to begin legalization in July, which has been the plan for quite a while now. However,  Health Minister Ginette Petitpas said Thursday that this simply won’t happen, and sales aren’t going to begin in July. Instead, sales are likely to begin in August, or potentially shortly thereafter. The change in time-frame is based on the Senate’s updated timetable for considering the issue, which has already been passed by the House of Commons.

Petitpas Taylor says that provincial and territorial governments need eight to 12 weeks following senate passage and royal assent (final approval) to prepare for legal marijuana sales. This means that there won’t be enough time to begin sales in July. However, it looks as if September should be the latest that sales start, unless things are pushed back once again.

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Netflix Cancels Disjointed, Exemplifying that People Are Over Stoner Stereotypes

The marijuana-focused Netflix series Disjointed has been cancelled, and it has only itself to blame.

Disjointed had everything going for it. It’s a marijuana-themed show in an era where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes in dozens of states, and its usage is quickly losing its stigma and becoming more and more mainstream. It had Netflix as a platform, which allows for more creative freedom than most cable networks. It was created by Chuck Lorre, who also created The Big Bang Theory (which has been one of the most popular shows for years), and David Javerbaum, a former head writer for the Daily Show. To top it all off, the show was able to cast Kathy Bates in the lead role as an LA-based dispensary owner; Bates has won two Emmy Awards, and has been nominated over a dozen times dating back to 1996.

Despite having all this going for it, the show failed to make it past season 1. Netflix recently announced that the show has been cancelled after a 20-episode initial run (10 episodes released in August, followed by 10 more in January). Given Netflix doesn’t release viewer counts for their shows, there’s no way of  knowing if it was cancelled more for a lack of viewers, or for its poor critical reception (it has a score of 43 on Metacritic and 23% on Rotten Tomatoes). What is clear, is that there simply wasn’t a large enough appetite for the type of comedy that Disjointed offered, which too often relied on the “dumb stoner stereotype”.

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Pensylvania Medical Marijuana Sales Now Underway

The legal distribution of medical marijuana began today in Pennsylvania, with six dispensaries opened throughout the state (and 81 planned to open in the coming months).

The new law, which officially took effect today, allows certified patients to obtain their medicine legally for the first time. Six out of the 10 dispensaries that have been approved to operate have opened their doors, and up to 81 more dispensaries are expected to open across the state over the next few months. Nearly 4,000 patients are certified to purchase medical marijuana products at these locations, and more than 13,000 are awaiting approval to participate in the program. This stage of the implementation process is taking place ahead of schedule, less than two years after Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 16 into law.

“Seriously ill Pennsylvanians will be able to get relief earlier than expected thanks to the diligent efforts of regulators and operators,” said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project who helped lead the medical marijuana effort in the state legislature. “There is still a lot of work to be done before implementation is complete. We are hopeful that the medical marijuana program will continue to be refined and improved to ensure patients have safe, reliable, and affordable access to their medicine.”

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Kentucky Senate Votes 93 to 2 to Urge Federal Government to End Hemp Prohibition

A Kentucky resolution that urges the U.S. Congress to legalize industrial hemp has been passed by an overwhelming vote in the state’s Senate.

Kentucky House Concurrent Resolution 35 was approved yesterday through its third and final reading in the Senate by a vote of 93 to 2.

The resolution states that the “General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky urges the United States Congress to take action by enacting legislation that:

(1) Encourages large-scale commercial cultivation of hemp by removing it from the list of controlled substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act;

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Berkeley Council Votes Unanimously to Become a Sanctuary City for Marijuana

Berkeley’s Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution making the city a sanctuary city for marijuana.

The proposal, put forth by Mayor Jesse Arreguin along with two councilmembers, prohibits all local officials and city employees from assisting federal officials in the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

“I believe we can balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration,” says Mayor Arreguin. In a tweet made after the council’s vote, Arreguin said the move was in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “misguided crackdown on our democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis.”

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New Hampshire Committee Passes Legislation to Allow Annulment of Marijuana Convictions

Legislation that would allow for the annulment (invalidation of) of charges related to possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana has been passed 14 to 4 by its initial committee. 

House Bill 1744, filed by Representative Robert Cushing along with 12 bipartisan cosponsors, was given approval today by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The proposal states that; “Any person who was arrested or convicted for knowingly or purposely obtaining, purchasing, transporting, or possessing, actually or constructively, or having under his or her control, 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana or less where the offense occurred before September 16, 2017 may, at any time, petition the court in which the person was convicted or arrested to annul the arrest record, court record, or both.” This is made possible by a law that took effect on September 16, 2017; which decriminalized the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana.

Going into specifics, the measure’s official text clarifies the process for annulling a marijuana conviction:

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Two Missouri Committees Approve Measure to Legalize Hemp

Legislation to legalize industrial hemp in Missouri has been given overwhelming approval by two House committees.

House Bill 2034, filed by Representative Paul Curtman (R), was approved last week by the Standing Committee on Agriculture Policy with a vote of 10 to 1. Today, the bill was passed by the Rules- Legislative Oversight Committee by an 8 to 1 vote. The proposal will now be up for a vote by the full House of Representatives, where passage would place it before the state’s Senate.

According to its official summary, “This bill exempts industrial hemp, which is defined as Cannabis sativa L. containing no greater than 0.3% THC, from the definition of marijuana and the list of controlled substances. In addition, it is legal for any person who has received an industrial hemp license to grow, harvest, cultivate, and process industrial hemp.”

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Virginia Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty, Allow Marijuana Expungements

Legislation that would reduce the penalty for, and allow for the expungement of, first time marijuana possession charges has been passed by Virginia’s full Senate.

marijuana terminologyThe Senate voted 38 to 2 today to pass Senate Bill 954, which was filed by Senator Tommy Norment (R). The measure “Reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana to a fine of not more than $500”, whereas currently such a charge can result in up to 30 days in jail. The bill also provides that a first offense for possession of marijuana is eligible for expungement, given the individual charged pays a $150 fee (which would  go to the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic Fund)

Senator Norment says that although the measure is far from perfect and isn’t as large of a law change as he’d prefer, it still “makes a substantial step forward.”

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Trump Administration Names Jim Carroll as New Drug Czar

The Trump Administration has named White House deputy chief of staff Jim Carroll as the nation’s new drug czar.

Drug czar is the unofficial title for the director of the ONDCP.

Drug czar is the unofficial but often used term for director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). According to CNN, Carroll was named deputy director of the ONDCP on Friday, a position he will retain until confirmed by the Senate as director.

“We have full confidence in Jim to lead ONDCP to make significant strides in combating the opioids crisis, reducing drug use, and coordinating US drug policy,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a public statement. “Fighting the opioid crisis and drug addiction is a priority for this administration. We greatly appreciate Jim for his counsel and leadership during his tenure at the White House and look forward to the future contributions he will make in this new role.”

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Over $1.5 Billion in Legal Marijuana Sold in Colorado in 2017

According to data released by Colorado’s Department of Revenue, there was $1.51 billion in legal marijuana and marijuana products sold in 2017.

The $1.51 billion sold is an increase over the $1.3 billion sold in 2016. In 2015 there was $995 million sold, and in 2014 – the first year of legal sales – $683 million in marijuana was sold.

According to the new data, which was released today, there was $1.09 billion in recreational marijuana sold in 2017. As for medical marijuana, licensed dispensaries sold $416 million worth. These sales resulted in roughly $250 million in new taxes for Colorado.

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