Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone’s holiday season was tremendous and that you are all as excited as we are about what 2019 will bring for the movement to legalize cannabis nationally. I am so happy to be bringing you our first broadcast of 2019 and I am delighted that our first story of the year is about the end of hemp prohibition. It is an incredibly meaningful event for furthering the complete legalization of the Cannabis sativa plant nationally. Senator Gardner out of Colorado even tried to push The STATES Act through as an add on to the The First Step Act at the very end of the year to try and take advantage of the momentum. Canada legalized adult-use marijuana last year and Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed the illegality of marijuana consumption as unconstitutional. These are all incredibly positive events for marijuana reform heading into 2019, so let’s get started.
Industrial Hemp is Legal Nationally After 81 Years of Prohibition
The end of hemp prohibition occurred on December 20th, 2018 when the president signed the 2018 Farm Bill which included The Hemp Farming Act. in 1937 the Marihuana Tax Act made industrial hemp illegal to grow and sell, so that is a total of 81 years of senseless prohibition on the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana. Hemp is likely to become a major cash crop here in the United States as it can be used as a textile, food and fuel source, as well as a source of cannabidiol or CBD. CBD products are likely to become much more widespread nationwide now as the FDA is also working on finding a way to make interstate commerce of hemp based products legal as well. There are still restrictions in place on hemp such as limitations for advertising, but that is to be expected. It is a massive step in the right direction that all hemp advocates over the years should be patting themselves on the back over. Senator Mitch McConnell spearheaded the addition of the Hemp Farming Act as a part of the 2018 Farm Bill, but he is only recently converted as a hemp advocate and still backs the illegality of marijuana.
The First Step Act and What It Means for the Social Injustice of Marijuana Prohibition
On December 21st, 2018, the day after the president signed the 2018 Farm Bill, he signed The First Step Act. This bill reduces the sentencing for those in federal prison convicted of nonviolent crimes including marijuana related offenses. There are over 181 thousand federal inmates versus the over 2 million people in prison nationwide, and hundreds of thousands of them are in for marijuana related crimes. So, the bill is called The First Step Act for a reason, there is still a lot of work to be done. Thousands of inmates serving time in federal prison for marijuana related crimes should be granted clemency with the passage of this criminal justice reform bill. The social injustice of marijuana prohibition may be the most important reason to legalize cannabis. In Florida voters chose to allow around 1.6 million convicted felons the right to vote again and officials in cities like Seattle and San Francisco have worked hard at expunging the records of people convicted of cannabis related crimes now that their states have legalized recreational marijuana. Senator Cory Gardner even tried to slip an amended version of his and Senator Warren’s STATES Act into The First Step Act, but it did not end up being added. One way or another, it is another step forward for marijuana reform.
The United Nations Delayed their Decision About the Scheduling Status of Marijuana
The World Health Organization is part of the United Nations and back in April of 2018 they requested that all participating nations submit feedback on whether marijuana should be rescheduled, including the United States. They were set to make their findings public and to decide whether to reschedule or completely deschedule marijuana while in Vienna in December, but delayed their decision citing that they needed more time to review their findings. It is tentatively expected that they will make their decision sometime in March of this year. Should the United Nations deschedule marijuana, it would free up industrialized countries that have legalized marijuana, like Canada, to export cannabis around the world without violating international drug treaties. It would also probably make other countries more comfortable with the idea of legalizing cannabis and taking advantage of the economic opportunity it will provide. It will certainly give the United States one more reason to consider legalizing cannabis and removing it from the Controlled Substance Act. The World Health Organization descheduled CBD last year.
What Is Already Happening For Marijuana Reform So Far In 2019
Today was actually the start of the first legislative session of 2019 and already the House of Representatives is pushing the CARERS Act again. This bill, should it pass, would allow states to create laws around medical marijuana programs without interference from the federal government. It would also allow physicians in the VA healthcare system to issue medical marijuana recommendations to veterans. Pennsylvania lawmakers are also now pushing a bill that would legalize adult-use marijuana in their state, and in Florida the final decision on revoking the ban on smoking medical marijuana will begin on Monday in appeals court. Florida Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis will be sworn in on Tuesday and his lieutenant-governor has indicated that DeSantis may remove the state from an appeal on a judge’ decision that would allow more businesses to become involved in the business of medical marijuana.
Our Managing Editor’s Visit to a Massachusetts Adult-Use Marijuana Dispensary
The managing editor for The National Marijuana News, Richard Lowe, visited the Cultivate dispensary in Massachusetts during the holiday break. Massachusetts is the first east coast state to begin the commercial sale of recreational marijuana, which began back on November 20th, and Cultivate is one of the first two dispensaries to open. He stood in the cold for well over an hour in Leicester (Lester), Massachusetts, where Cultivate is located. You can read all about his continued tour of marijuana dispensaries around the country on TheNationalMarijuanaNews.com by searching for his article, “A Tour of Marijuana Dispensaries, Cultivate in Leicester, Massachusetts.” As of right now, weed is expensive in Massachusetts, an eighth costs $60 and a pre-rolled gram is $19, well above the nation’s average. But, none of the patrons at Cultivate seemed to mind all that much, they were just happy to be able to buy legal weed.
Well that is it for this week everyone. Please remember to check out our instagram, Twitter & Facebook pages @NationalMJNews and our YouTube Channel, The National Marijuana News. Have a great weekend everybody and check out more great stories at TNMNews.com. This is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News.