Oklahoma Proposes Medical Marijuana Changes After Adult-Use Measure Fails

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said last week that he’d seek changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, which leads the nation in the number of dispensaries among all states with regulated cannabis sales. Stitt made his comments following the failure of a ballot measure to legalize adult-use marijuana in Oklahoma that was rejected by 61% of voters in a special election on March 7.

Voters in Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana with the passage of State Question 788 in 2018, making it the 30th state in the nation to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. With low barriers to entry including license fees for cannabis businesses of only $2,500, a fraction of the amount charged by most states, and no limit on the number of cannabis dispensaries, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry quickly grew to become what’s arguably the most robust in the nation. The ballot measure also had few restrictions to qualify for a medical marijuana card, and the number of registered patients now equals nearly 10% of the state’s population. As of November 2022, Oklahoma had more than 2,300 medical marijuana dispensaries, a figure that eclipses the number of gas stations in the state, according to a report from local media.

Medical Marijuana Backlash

But many residents of Oklahoma believe that the fast pace of growth of the medical marijuana industry has outpaced the state’s ability to regulate it. Additionally, the lack of oversight has led to the development of a lucrative illicit industry of cannabis growers who ship their crops to jurisdictions that haven’t yet ended cannabis prohibition.

“There’s enough marijuana, I’ve been told, grown in Oklahoma to supply the entire United States. That’s not what this was supposed to be,” Stitt said last week. “This was supposed to be about medical use in the state of Oklahoma, and it’s gotten way out of control.”

State lawmakers responded last year by passing a bill that put a two-year moratorium on the issuing of new licenses for medical marijuana cultivators, processors and retailers. The state has also put new regulations in place, including a requirement for a seed-to-sale tracking system to monitor the production and movement of cannabis throughout the state. Other new rules include a requirement for cannabis producers to submit water and electricity usage data to state regulators in an attempt to identify businesses that are producing more cannabis than they’re reporting.

Stitt says that the backlash against Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry was largely responsible for the failure of State Question 820, an initiative that would’ve legalized adult-use cannabis. After being denied a slot on the ballot for the November general election by procedural delays and a state Supreme Court ruling, Stitt announced in October that a special election to decide State Question 820 would be held on March 7.

“As I was traveling the state, I knew Oklahomans didn’t want it,” Stitt said. “They were so tired of a dispensary on every single corner.”

State Question 820 was opposed by law enforcement organizations and many of the state’s Republican leaders, including Stitt. Representatives of the state’s agricultural industry and many residents of the state’s rural areas also expressed opposition to the ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis in Oklahoma.

“We’ve seen the negative impact the rapid growth of the unregulated medical marijuana industry has had on Oklahoma agriculture and the rural communities,” said Scott Blubaugh, president of American Farmers and Ranchers. “We’ve seen a rise in farming challenges, and we’ve seen a strain on our rural electric and our rural water utilities.”

Voters Reject State Question 820

State Question 820 failed at the polls in last week’s special election, with 61% of the electorate voting against the measure. The governor attributed the loss to the state of Oklahoma’s existing medical marijuana industry.

“I think Oklahomans had a lot of fatigue around marijuana,” Stitt said. “They clearly do not want recreational marijuana.”

With the fate of SQ 820 now sealed, Stitt and state lawmakers have said that they’ll work to tighten control over Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. But he acknowledged that they must be careful not to infringe on the will of voters who passed the medical marijuana legalization measure.

“Oklahomans have a big heart: that if it’s [cannabis] going to help someone medically, we want that to happen,” Stitt said. “But we don’t believe everyone with a hangnail should be able to get a medical card.”

So far, dozens of cannabis-related bills have been introduced for the 2023 legislative session, including several bills designed to tighten regulations on the state’s medical marijuana industry. Among them is SB 116, which prohibits commercial medical marijuana growers from being located within 1,000 feet of a place of worship. SB 133 excludes marijuana production from agriculture sales tax exemptions, likely raising the tax liability for cannabis cultivators. Another bill, SB 801, rolls back restrictions on local control of cannabis businesses by allowing municipalities to modify their planning or zoning procedures to forbid medical cannabis businesses to locate in certain areas.

The bills will be considered during the 2023 legislative session that ends on May 26.

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Illinois Extends Craft Grower Deadline

Regulators in Illinois have extended the operational deadline for some craft cannabis growers in the state. 

The state’s Department of Agriculture said that its administrative rules “allow for craft growers to receive an operational extension for good cause shown, at the Department’s discretion,” and as such, it “has granted an operational extension to all craft grower license holders due to a number of factors, including ongoing Covid-19 impacts and supply chain issues.”

Under the state’s adult-use cannabis program, a “craft grower license allows the holder to cultivate, dry, cure and package cannabis,” according to Illinois Cannabiz Attorneys, which offers a primer on the license:

“To apply for this license, one must submit a completed application to the Department of Agriculture. The amount of cannabis a license holder can grow is limited by square footage. A craft grower may have up to 5,000 square feet of canopy space for marijuana plants in the flowering stage. It should be noted that this space only includes the space occupied by the plants and does not include any aisles or walkways in between the plants. This amount may be increased over time in increments of 3,000 square feet based on the department’s determination of market need, capacity, and the license holder’s history of compliance. The largest space that will be allowed by the Department will be 14,000 square feet for plants in the flowering stage.”

The Department of Agriculture said that it had “previously authorized an operational deadline extension for 2021 Craft Growers which required them to become operational by March 1, 2023,” but that it “is now authorizing an additional extension applicable to all 2021 Craft Growers, extending their operational deadline to February 1, 2024.”

Legal adult-use cannabis sales took effect in Illinois in 2020, the result of a bill signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker the previous year.

“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said at the time. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”

The state hasn’t looked back ever since. In his “state of the state” address last month, Pritzker said that marijuana legalization “has created more than 30,000 jobs since 2020, and Illinois is home to the country’s most diverse cannabis industry and some of the largest companies.” 

In January, Pritzker’s administration touted a record-setting year for cannabis sales in 2022, saying that “adult use cannabis dispensaries sold $1,552,324,820.37 worth of product, an increase of more than 12% from 2021 and 131% from 2020, the first year cannabis sales were first legally allowed in Illinois.”

“When I signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law in 2019, we set out on an ambitious goal: to create the most equitable and economically prosperous cannabis industry in the nation. Our data from 2022 shows that we are well on our way towards making that idea a reality,” Pritzker said in a statement in January. “Not only did we break our previous sales record by more than 12% with a total of more than $1.5 billion, we also saw the first of our social equity adult use cannabis dispensaries open their doors for business—paving the way for an even stronger 2023.”

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Nevada Releases Bulletin for Products Affected by Unapproved Pesticide

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) recently issued a public health and safety bulletin on Jan. 19 regarding the use of an unapproved pesticide. “The CCB was notified that the following cannabis and cannabis products had been treated with an unapproved pesticide, Ethephon, at Clark Natural Medicinal Solutions, LLC,” the CCB explained in its bulletin.

Currently, there are no illnesses reported, according to the bulletin.

The pesticide was applied sometime between July 23, 2021 and Jan. 5, 2023, and the CCB instructs consumers to check the labels of the cannabis they purchased (which includes flower, shake or trim, and pre-rolls). “All cannabis products properly sold by a licensed cannabis sales facility should have a product label on the packaging,” the CCB wrote. “The name of the cultivation facility which grew the cannabis and the harvest date can be found on the label, typically near the top.”

The CCB also put together a list of products that may have been affected by the pesticide, including more than 117 edibles, 41 infused pre-rolls, and more than 200 concentrates, sold at 104 dispensaries.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ethephon was discovered in 1965 and registered as a pesticide in 1973. “Ethephon is a plant growth regulator used to promote fruit ripening, abscission, flower induction, and other responses,” the EPA states. “Ethephon is registered for use on a number of food, feed and nonfood crops, greenhouse nursery stock, and outdoor residential ornamental plants, but is used primarily on cotton. Formulations include formulation intermediates and soluble concentrates/liquids.”

The EPA also states that Ethephon can potentially cause severe skin and eye irritation “but otherwise is “moderately acutely toxic.”

The CCB also stated that testing facilities do not currently test for Ethephon specifically. “There is no reason to believe the cannabis sales facilities or cannabis testing facilities had any knowledge of the use of this unapproved pesticide; Ethephon is not on the list of pesticides the testing facilities must look for, and their test methods are not set up for detection of Ethephon.”

According to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, updated as of August 2022, there are 86 pesticides that are not legally prohibited to be used on cannabis plants. This varies from minimum risk ingredients such as cinnamon, garlic oil, or zinc metal strips to registered pesticides, such as myclobutanil, where “tolerance is monitored.”

Previously, the CCB has only issued a few safety bulletins such as this one. One bulletin was issued in 2020, which addressed failed microbial testing. Three were issued in 2021, involving more failed microbial testing, incorrect THC potency testing, and products that were unable to be verified as tested. Two bulletins were issued in 2022, pertaining to unverifiable testing and mislabeled products.

In addition to these bulletins, the CCB awarded the final licenses for consumption lounges in Nevada in December 2022, half of which were designated for social equity applicants. Funding for consumption lounges were initially approved in August 2021, with regulations approved by legislators in June 2022, such as safety protocols, staff training, and location restrictions. Now, consumption lounges are “likely to open before Summer 2023,” states the CCB.

One judge issued a ruling last year asking that cannabis be removed from the Schedule 1 category of the Controlled Substances Act. In September 2022, Judge Joe Hardy ordered the Nevada Board of Pharmacy to remove cannabis from its current schedule designation, because cannabis has been recognized in the Nevada constitution as having medical value. “The constitutional right to use marijuana upon the advice of a physician does establish that marijuana has an accepted medical use and treatment in the United States,” said Hardy.

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Weed’s Tissue Culture Moment Has Arrived

Whether it’s for orchids, berries, or bananas, plant tissue culture has been widely used in agriculture for nearly 40 years to produce uniform and disease-free stock. But when it comes to cannabis, this technology has only emerged within the last few years as scientists working with weed cracked the code of what the plant wants to reproduce successfully at a small scale. Joining in the fight against one of pot’s primary foes, hop latent viroid disease, cannabis tissue culture is a new path forward towards preserving the genetics of one of the most diverse botanicals on the planet. And, while cultivators have been able to get their hands on tissue culture-grown cuts for about eight years, tissue culture clones were made available to the public for the first time through Node Labs at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022.

“Cannabis is a very tissue culture resistant plant. There are certain plants that are that way,” says Lauren Avenuis, CEO of Node Labs, explaining why it took so long for the technology to become viable for cannabis. “So, like avocados, grape vines, they just don’t like to go into micropropagation. They don’t like that kind of replication. And since cannabis is an annual plant, it likes to grow from a seed, flower, and die.”

The scientists working with Node, a small lab located within an unassuming red barn in rural Petaluma, California, spent years studying tissue culture before discovering the methodology that made stem cell technology for cannabis work. Now that they have, their facility houses an impressive bank of cannabis genetics. It causes a few snickers when I say it aloud, but being inside a room filled with shelves devoted to tissue culture clones, each in their own container, reminds me of being in a pet store aquarium. All the plants are growing within a clear jelly-like substance derived from seaweed called agar, allowing their whole root structure to be seen. They are tiny terrariums that hold the story of pot’s past, present, and future.

Courtesy Node Labs

Chief Science Officer Chris Leavitt walks me through the procedures at Node by explaining that plants, unlike humans, do not have an awareness of their entire body.

“[Plants] are a colony of cells that are attached to each other,” Leavitt says. “So if a stem is receiving all the like sap that it would be getting normally in the agar, it doesn’t even know that it’s not still attached to the plant. You can grow plant parts in tissue culture in a way you cannot grow outside. You can grow a dissection of just a leaf or just a stem… you can really break the rules of typical plant growing by having it in that setting.”

My tour at Node starts in the pre-fab clean room where the media, the agar, is mixed within an autoclave, a device designed for sterilization. This room is also where the other tools used for the tissue culture process, such as scissors and jars, are sterilized. I put on a second set of surgical booties before heading into the growth chamber and transfer room, where I watch the hot agar being dispensed into the same clear plastic containers I see in the bulk food section of my local grocery store. Within this room, the air quality is at ISO 8, a measure that contains a thousand specks of dust within a cubic yard that is also used in electronic and medical manufacturing. All the sterilization and air cleanliness ensure no contamination enters the lab.

“One of the things that we do here is we clean plants,” says Luis Mautner, Node’s director of propagation. “Cleaning plants is a process by which you take a plant from the outside world and you run it through a process that we developed here. We select the plants that do not have any issues associated with them like pathogenic bacteria, fungi, fusarium being one of the ones that affects the cannabis industry very much. Also, we index for HLVd, which is hop latent viroid.”

Mautner started working with cannabis after a career in tissue culture that included work with the berry company Driscoll’s and tropical ornamental plants such as peace lilies. He says the clear media is used because it’s diagnostic and shows when things should not be growing on the plant.

Next, we enter another room where shelves store cannabis plants in various stages of growth. There are also shelves containing some other plants Node is testing for research, including wine grapes and the cutest tiny Tempranillo.  

To start work with Node, clients provide 10 clone stems from a cannabis plant to form what Mautner calls a bouquet. The clones are broken down to the cellular level because cannabis has a strong affinity for endogenous contaminants within its stem, Leavitt explains. The scientists at Node cut the clones down to one part, the meristem, a type of tissue in plants that houses stem cells, or cells from which all other types of cells develop.

“What we’ve found is when you have the meristem dissection, you can avoid that,” Leavitt says.

“What you’re basically doing is taking [the cannabis clones] down to essentially the stem cells of the plant,” Avenius adds. “So you’re eliminating all of the epigenetic, all of the genetic toggles related to stress or environment. You’re getting [the plant] down to its pure expression, its genetics, and then also removing essentially all the vascular tissue. So you’re just getting a brand new pure example and sample of that cannabis plant that we can now grow into tissue culture free of any other influences and then see its pure genetic expression.”

When cut down to the meristem, the clones are only about half a millimeter to a millimeter in size. Once the plants grow bigger and start looking like cannabis plants instead of little blobs, they are tested for HLVd. HLVd is a widespread pathogen in cannabis clones that causes growth stunting and reduces the plant’s ability to produce trichomes. Leavitt explains that HLVd is like skin cancer in that it can affect one part of the plant, but not another. This is another reason tissue culture has been such a valuable tool in combating the virus because it reduces a plant to its most basic elements.

After the plants have passed the extensive screening process, they are grown to about 3 to 4 inches and are used to fill the bank, the system in which Node keeps cannabis genetics within a genetic library. 

“These two refrigerators play a huge role in the large genetics cannabis market,” Avenius says as I eye Node’s genetic bank, containing work from cannabis breeders like Sherbinski and Masonic as well as companies like Cannarado, Connected, and smaller growers like Sonoma Hills Farm, which banked its Pink Jesus

The seed bank aspect of the company ties into the beginnings of Node Labs. Node was founded in 2018 after Felipe Recalde, CEO of Compound Genetics and Node co-founder, lost his genetic library of cannabis cultivars and his home in the Tubbs Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California’s history that tore through Santa Rosa in 2017. Recognizing everyone around him had also lost their mom stock, Recalde saw tissue culture as the future for genetic preservation. He’d been experimenting with faulty kits for tissue culture since 2010. Still, it wasn’t until he partnered with Leavitt, who had been working on using tissue culture to preserve endangered species, that he saw that tissue culture could be viable for cannabis. Nowadays, genetics are stored within the lab and at a place offsite to serve as an additional backup against a disaster like a fire. 

Some of the work Node does is private client services of storing the genetics, but some companies like Connected Cannabis Co. also have certified genetics available for licensing. The consistency of the tissue culture clones one receives from Node Labs ensures that brands that operate in many states, like one of the lab’s partners Khalifa Kush backed by rapper Wiz Khalifa, can provide standardized, consistent flowers across the country. Node’s primary partnership with Compound Genetics allows the lab to grow clones to flower for clients to test. The minds at Compound Genetics grow plants from seed in their San Francisco facility and phenohunt to provide the best clone selections for their clients. The process at Node gives the genetics an authentication that does not occur if someone obtains a clone cut from a friend.  

The future of the tissue culture industry is not in creating a million plants to order, but instead holding genetics and delivering mother plants that growers can multiply through traditional propagation, Leavitt says. 

“The main functionary of [tissue culture] here is not in micropropagation. It’s not to get you 50,000 plants in one go,” Leavitt explains of the difference in tissue culture techniques in cannabis versus traditional agriculture. “It’s germplasm storage, which is the fancy term in the agriculture issue of holding genetics, genetic banking.”

Another indication of the future of cannabis propagation occurring at Node Labs is the process of in vitro phenohunts or growing seeds within the agar jelly within test tubes. Node takes a tissue culture from small plantlets the seeds produce and grows those plants out, saving time for cultivators because if they like the results, the tissue culture already exists.

Plantlets / Courtesy Node Labs

“It allows us to save a lot of time, but it also means that when we pop that seed and then we take that clone and put it out, we already have some of the advantages of tissue culture the first time we grow,” Avenuis says. “As an immature plant, it hasn’t been exposed to any viruses or pathogens. And then it has some of the unique morphology that you get from tissue culture plants. They tend to have higher vigor, higher yields, better stem strength. So you’re already seeing a better-performing plant from the very beginning.” 

Leavitt points out an example within the lab, Gastro Pop #5, a cross of Apples & Bananas and Grape Gas which was developed in-house via an in vitro phenohunt. 

“That Gastro Pop #5 over there, the plants in this lab have never seen microbial fungus and bacteria in their entire life,” Leavitt says. 

If someone finds an outstanding cultivar they are in love with, a six-month process to get a tissue culture clone could stunt the excitement, he explains.

“With that process, in vitro, we could have the excitement of smoking the joint and going ‘This is the one’ and going, ‘Cool, it’s here at the lab’ at the same time,” he says.

An in vitro phenohunt is how Sherbinski and Compound created Tribute, a cross of Gelato #41 and Apples & Bananas. Look out for future collaborations between Compound Genetics and Tiki Madman and Compound Genetics and Green House Seed Company

At the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022, Compound was able to offer “bare pulse” tissue culture clones of their newest offerings. These came without the agar jelly because the clones are more transportable that way. The bare pulse part comes from the fact that they are bare root or stored without soil around the roots. The bare pulse clones can be planted in a chosen medium and become a mother plant to power a grow with consistent genetics.

“We love this as the next gen of clones,” Avenuis says.

Bare pulse / Courtesy Node Labs

The whole process of tissue culture clones is an exciting new frontier for cannabis, one which I was able to experience firsthand when Recalde gifted me a tissue culture clone at a social gathering. I took the test tube, filled with a clone held in suspense within what I’ve since learned is agar, home and grew it out into a plant. At the time, I didn’t know that tiny plant contained within a test tube had the mighty makings to power a brand.

Read more about Node Labs in the upcoming Science & Technology issue of High Times Magazine.

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Zimbabwe OKs First Medicinal Cannabis Sales

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe said on Tuesday that it is now accepting applicants from cannabis and hemp producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, and retail pharmacists, the latest move by the southern African country to shift away from tobacco.

As Bloomberg reported, cannabis will be offered as “complimentary medicines given to patients,” marking the “first time” that Zimbabwe has permitted cannabis to be sold.

The authority spelled out a host of conditions for applicants, advising that they must submit both product samples and “certificates of analysis from an accredited laboratory specifying the quantities of the active moieties of cannabidiols and any traces of tetrahydrocannabinols as part of the information in the dossier.”

“Any Hemp-based CBD product applications that do not meet the criteria above may not be approved for distribution, and will be confiscated,” the Medicines Control Authority warned. “Further, sellers may be prosecuted for selling unapproved complementary medicines.”

Zimbabwe legalized medical cannabis in 2018, making it among the first countries in Africa to do so.

The policy was motivated by economic realities. Long the country’s leading export, tobacco sales have fallen worldwide, forcing farmers and lawmakers in Zimbabwe to rethink its approach to agriculture.

Zimbabwe brought in $819 million in revenue from tobacco last year, according to Bloomberg, although the expected “demand for cannabis is projected to continue to grow while tobacco [the country’s] output globally may decline 15% by 2030.”

Industry leaders have encouraged the country’s tobacco farmers “to plant cannabis so that a quarter of their income comes from the plant by 2025,” Bloomberg reported.

In 2019, Zimbabwe abolished its ban on cannabis cultivation, which set the stage for the country’s farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp to export. That same year, the country issued the first license to a medical cannabis company to begin cultivation.

Last year, according to Bloomberg, Zimbabwe “exported 30 tons of industrial hemp to Switzerland last year, its first foray into the European market.”

In May, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa commissioned a $27 million medical cannabis farm and processing plant to be run by Swiss Bioceuticals Limited in West Province, Zimbabwe.

“This milestone is a testimony of the successes of my Government’s Engagement and Re-engagement Policy. It further demonstrates the confidence that Swiss companies have in our economy through their continued investment in Zimbabwe. I extend my profound congratulations to the Swiss Bioceuticals Limited for this timely investment in the medicinal cannabis farm, processing plant and value chain, worth US$27 million,” Mnangagwa said in the announcement of the plant, as quoted by Business Insider.

Mnangagwa has been a vocal booster of the country’s medical cannabis program, often saying that Zimbabwe is “open for business” to the industry.

Business Insider reported at the time that Mnangagwa “also urged other investors with permits to quickly operationalize their permits and licenses for the benefit of the economy in general and people in particular.”

“I challenge other players within the medicinal cannabis sub-sector to speedily set up their enterprises, focusing on value addition and beneficiation. It is disappointing that since 2018, only 15 out of the 57 entities issued with cannabis operating [licenses] have been operational,” Mnangagwa said, as quoted by Business Insider.

Mnangagwa urged investors to “follow [Swiss Bioceuticals Limited’s] lead and open their business to support the mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ and be ready to generate foreign currency generation for the country.”

With experts forecasting the global cannabis industry to be worth $272 billion by 2028, Reuters reported that Zimbabwean officials have said “the country wants at least $1 billion of that — more than it currently makes from its top agricultural export tobacco.”

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Texas Ag Commissioner Voices Support for Medical Pot Access

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller published an editorial on Friday calling for improved access to medical marijuana in the state, writing that state leaders should “lead or just get out of the way if we cannot formulate effective cannabis policy for Texas.”

In the letter, which Miller posted to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s official website, the commissioner noted that he advocated for the legalization of hemp in the state and is now responsible for regulating hundreds of hemp businesses. He wrote that he also supported the development of products for medical use including hemp oil, which are improving the lives of Texans everyday when other medicines have failed. Miller added that he would improve access to medical cannabis in the next year. In 2015, the state legalized the use of low-THC cannabis products as a treatment for epilepsy, adding additional qualifying medical conditions in 2019 and 2021.

“It is my goal next year to expand access to the compassionate use of cannabis products in Texas so that every Texan with a medical need has access to these medicines,” Miller wrote.

Cannabis Enforcement Mire in Bias

In his editorial, Miller noted that the history of cannabis prohibition and enforcement in the United States has been riddled with bias and values not consistent with professed American ideals. He also noted that cannabis policy decisions have often been made based on misinformation and emotion rather than reality and that the government should only make things illegal “for a powerful reason or set of facts.”

“As I look back, I believe that cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not from medical science or the analysis of social harm. Sadly, the roots of this came from a history of racism, classism, and a large central government with an authoritarian desire to control others. It is as anti-American in its origins as could be imaginable,” Miller wrote. “Today, in the 21st century, this must end. We must start with a new chapter and a new attitude about the use of cannabis – especially when it comes to its potential medicinal benefits.”

Miller, a Republican, noted in his message that 39 states “including politically conservative states such as Oklahoma, Utah and Florida” have passed measures to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. More than a dozen others “including conservative western states like Arizona, Montana and Alaska, have legalized commercial cannabis sales” for all adults aged 21 and older.

“While I am not sure that Texas is ready to go that far, I have seen firsthand the value of cannabis as medicine to so many Texans,” Miller wrote.

Mixed Messages from Texas Republicans

The Republican leadership in Texas has not expressed a consistent stance on cannabis policy. While campaigning for re-election in January, Governor Greg Abbot said that Texas prisons should be reserved “for dangerous criminals who may harm others.”

“Small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with,” said Abbot.

But Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is one of the state’s most vocal cannabis opponents.

“The Lt. Governor has made it pretty explicitly clear that he is not on board for lessening the state’s drug laws around marijuana,” Joshua Blank, research director for the University of Texas Austin’s Texas Politics Project, said earlier this year. “But I think like any other public figure, if pressure continues to mount, especially within his own party, there’s no reason he can’t change his mind.”

Noting that four out of five Texans support the compassionate use of cannabis, Miller called on Abbot and the state’s lawmakers to increase access to medicinal cannabis during the next legislative session.

“It is time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature and others to come together and set aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we have been, where we are going and what role government should properly play,” Miller concluded. “We owe it to our fellow Texans, especially those who are suffering, to lead or just get out of the way if we cannot formulate effective cannabis policy for Texas.”

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Thailand to Give Away 1 Million Free Cannabis Plants for Home Cultivation

Let the planting begin. Thailand’s government leadership signaled optimism regarding the country’s recent shift in medical cannabis reform with a massive plant giveaway.

Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he will offer households 1 million cannabis plants for free in a May 8 Facebook post. Furthermore, beginning on June 9, Thailand residents will have the freedom to grow “as many cannabis plants” as they like in their own homes for medical purposes, according to Charnvirakul.

The Nation Thailand reports that the homegrown cannabis must be grown for medical purposes. Licensing will not be required for home cultivation, unlike commercial cannabis and hemp companies in the country.

“This will enable people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht [$288,846,200 per year] in revenue from marijuana and hemp,” Charnvirakul said. “Meanwhile, people can showcase their cannabis and hemp-related products and wisdom and sell their products nationwide.”

Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize medical cannabis in 2018. In 2020, the Cabinet in Thailand has approved amendments to the country’s narcotics act which would allow for private production and sale of medical cannabis. Last January, Thailand also became the first country in Asia to legally allow cannabis.

Licensed companies in Thailand can sell hemp products with less than 0.2 percent THC—a tad bit more strict than the 0.3 THC limit imposed on hemp in the United States.

While home cultivation of medical cannabis will have few restrictions, large cannabis-related businesses must request permission to operate from the Thailand Food and Drug Administration, he added.

People who grow commercially without first obtaining permission from the government will face a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($577.76). People who sell commercial cannabis without a license face a fine of up to 300,000 baht ($8,665.76) or three years in jail, or both.

The intention is to redefine cannabis as a “household crop,” and it’s the latest maneuver in Thailand’s plan to transform cannabis into a cash crop.

About one-third of Thailand’s entire labor force works in agriculture, according to The World Bank.

The Free Market in Thailand

Charnvirakul added that he wants to allow entrepreneurs and businesses to compete freely in Thailand’s cannabis market.

After legalizing medical cannabis in 2018, the country reportedly saw its own “Green Rush,” primarily composed of infused edibles, drinks, and cosmetics companies with a big focus on hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD as well as terpenes. This took place after the use of hemp-derived ingredients were approved for use in edibles and cosmetics.

Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels and Resorts told Benzinga that it is a destination for medical tourism, when asked about the country’s latest developments.

Businesses such as Chopaka, OG Papers, and Bloom discussed the blossoming cannabis community in Thailand. “The new market is interesting,” entrepreneur Kitty Chopaka told High Times in March, representing a terpene-infused gummy company. “Because we’re in Asia, many people are curious but don’t want to get high.”

Despite the new focus on medical applications, cannabis is well-known in the country for recreational purposes as well. Legendary Thai Sticks have been supplied on and off to the U.S. since the Vietnam War. Only the finest sativas were chosen, tied with silk to bamboo or hemp stalks, and rolled in hash oil (or opium). Reportedly it was the highest quality weed around in the 70s. The modern equivalent might be a strong canna cigar. According to Danny Danko in 2015, Thai Sticks fell out of favor years ago as some farmers in the lowlands of Thailand were forced to switch from the cultivation of the country’s stellar sativas for more profitable poppy plants.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Mexican lower house delays vote on cannabis bill to 2021-sources (Reuters)

// House Approves Marijuana Research Bill Days After Voting To Federally Legalize Cannabis (Marijuana Moment)

// Marijuana has grown to become Maine’s most valuable crop (Portland Press Herald)

These headlines are brought to you by Pall Food & Beverage, makers of professional filtration solutions for cannabis oil processing. If you need technology to clarify cannabis oil, to remove color, and to detect pathogens, look no further than Pall!

// Canada Will Let Health Care Professionals Legally Use Psychedelic Mushrooms Health Minister Says (Marijuana Moment)

// BofA: Global Cannabis Market Currently Estimated At $186 Billion (Deep Dive)

// Canopy Growth’s Martha Stewart CBD Line Scores First Nationwide Retail Deal (Nasdaq (Motley Fool))

// Ontario to license cannabis stores faster as authorizations surpass 300 (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Eastern Cannabis Markets Continue to Show Strong Growth in October (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Anchorage recreational marijuana sales a bullish indicator of Alaska’s growing market (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Seven In Ten Americans Back Expunging Marijuana Convictions New Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Esteban Lopez/Flickr

Friday, April 17, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 17, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Judge upholds Massachusetts ban on recreational cannabis sales (Leafly)

// FDA Shifts Its Covid-19 Stance on Vaping Smoking Impact (Bloomberg News)

// Canopy Growth exits cannabis cultivation on three continents in major international pullback (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!

// Greenbits Raises $23 Million Despite Tight Capital Conditions (Green Market Report)

// Hemp Farmers Make Double the Salary of Average Agricultural Workers Study Says (Merry Jane)

// Cresco Labs Continues To Dominate Illinois (Green Market Report)

// USDA Approves Hemp Plans For Florida Kansas And Three Indian Tribes (Marijuana Moment)

// VA Should Let Doctors ‘Verbally’ Recommend Medical Marijuana Amid Coronavirus Lawmakers Say (Marijuana Moment)

// MedMen creditor seeks to seize cannabis firm’s former execs’ homes (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Arizona Dispensary Firm Gives Away Free Weed to Patients Having Hard Times (Phoenix New Times)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Charlon/Flickr

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Aurora Files New Offering, Does Reverse Split To Avoid NYSE Delisting (Green Market Report)

// How the coronavirus crisis is reshaping the cannabis industry for the long term (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Colorado Governor Asks Congress To Let Marijuana Businesses Get Coronavirus Aid Funds (Forbes)

These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!

// Growing hemp is a new option for struggling Florida farmers. Licenses go online soon. (Miami Herald)

// Marijuana retailers recruiting Mass. attorney general in quest to reopen (Taunton Daily Gazette)

// Could Sanders Convince Biden To Back Legal Marijuana With New Joint Working Group? (Marijuana Moment)

// Nevada’s Planet 13 cannabis firm ends $10 million deal to enter California (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Cannabis producer Hexo raises CA$46 million in public offering (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Massachusetts marijuana commission member stepping down (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Cresco Labs Expanding Local Workforce to Hire Displaced Workers; Providing Extra Support to Employees in Response to COVID-19 (New Cannabis Ventures)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr