Dominican Republic Banned Cannabis Themed Music & Media

While story after story comes in about the relaxing of regulation against cannabis, this isn’t true to all places, or at least, not in the same time frame. In some places it’s actually gotten worse. Read on to learn more about how the Dominican Republic views cannabis, and a recent move that actually banned music and media related to the plant.

The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the continent of South America and Mexico, and south of the United States. It shares its land mass with Haiti, which takes the west side, while the Dominican Republic is on the east side. To its direct east is the island nation of Puerto Rico, and to its west in the Atlantic, are the islands of Jamaica, Cuba (north of Jamaica), and the Bahamas (north of Cuba. Together, these islands, along with other smaller ones, make up the Caribbean Islands.

As of 2022, the country was home to approximately 10.7 million people, with Spanish as the national language. This is because the Spanish took over the island from the native Taíno people in the late 1400s when Christopher Columbus first landed in that area, making the Colony of Santo Domingo the first colony established by Spain in the new world area. Spanish rule finally came to an end in 1821 when the Dominican people declared their own independence. The island wasn’t split into halves until 1697, when the French claimed the west side, which became Haiti.

In the Caribbean region and Central America, the Dominican Republic has the largest economy according to the US government and World Bank, and is the most visited country in the island region. It’s the 7th biggest economy of Latin America in general. It actually holds the fastest growing economy in the Western Hemisphere in the last 25 years, growing at an average rate of 5.3% between the years of 1992 – 2018. Main industries include construction, manufacturing, mining, and tourism. Its beautiful beaches and industry of resorts, makes it a well-known destination.

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Dominican Republic cannabis laws

To put it bluntly (all pun intended), the Dominican Republic is not about weed. The plant is 100% illegal in the small island nation. The law Drugs and Controlled Substances came into effect in 1988 with the creation of The Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, and the passage of Law 50-88, which deals with the regulation of narcotic drugs. In 1997, the National Unit for the Prevention of Drug Abuse was established to oversee the implementation of drug law. The unit operates under the Ministry of Health.

The law illegalized the possession of all amounts of the drug; though when it comes to cannabis, different amounts are regulated differently. In the Dominican Republic, possession of cannabis is split into three categories based on amount. The penalties for each category are fixed and go as follows:

1-20 grams: Category 1 – This comes with a minimum prison sentence of six months, along with $1,500 Dominican pesos in fines. The maximum sentence for this amount category is two years in prison, and $2,500 Dominican pesos in fines. This is considered recreational use.

20 grams – 1 pound: Category 2 – It’s generally assumed that offenders caught with this amount are dealers or distributors. For this category, the minimum sentence is three years in prison, along with $10,000 Dominican pesos in fines. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison, and $50,000 Dominican pesos in fines.

One pound plus: Category 3 – The final category is for the largest amounts, and is the harshest. Once more than a pound is reached, its automatically considered drug trafficking, and comes with a minimum sentence of five years in prison, with $50,000 Dominican pesos in fines. The maximum sentence is 20 years jail time. The maximum fine is established by the value of the contraband, or the trafficking operation itself. It is no less than this value, with $50,000 Dominican pesos as the minimum amount.

For hash, the numbers are different. Category 1 is up to five grams, Category 2 is between five grams and ¼ pound. And Category 3 is for anything over ¼ pounds. The same association of recreational, distributor, and trafficker, apply at the three levels.

Drug laws Dominican Republic

But then it kind of throws away everything above by saying that a law was added in 1995 that states that once its considered that the person in question is intending to sell what they possess (whatever the amount), that it can’t be considered recreational, and must be considered trafficking. Which can invalidate the first two categories for any case, and bring on massive consequences for small amounts.

Is this still the case?

Finding the current drug laws for the Dominican Republic is not that easy, as the Organization of American States (OAS), the source used by most other articles on the topic, no longer displays the page with the above information. Nor does any other site that I could find, aside from the digitallibrary version I connected. In fact, under the ‘Policy on Drugs’ section under the Dominican Republic for the OAS, there is nothing.

This is where others linked to before, and implies that the aforementioned policy is possibly not applicable anymore. Although without a formal replacement policy, its hard to know what punishments there are. So while some aspects might have changed, I can’t verify this, and the above punishments technically stand.

In 2019, the OAS, via the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), put out the Evaluation Report on Drug Policies for the Dominican Republic. Though the report doesn’t go over legal repercussions for cannabis use, it does talk about other drug policy. The Dominican Republic instituted the National Strategic Drug Plan 2016-2020 several years ago. According to the report, this drug plan “adopts a human rights perspective, gender approach and social inclusion.”

It goes on to explain that “Local governments have been transferred responsibilities for implementing drug programs or interventions through formal agreements and coordinated work with local governments in the provinces,” and that these repercussions are related to how individual locations choose to handle them. This indicates that punishments for some crimes might be assigned only by local jurisdiction, and not by federal policy; but this is not completely clear.

The report continues that “For this purpose, the CND has an office focused on promoting, coordinating, training and providing technical support on drug-related issues to local governments and stakeholders through the Demand Reduction Directorate and the Planning and Development Department.”

Cannabis laws in Dominican Republic
Cannabis laws in Dominican Republic

What other important point does the report make in regards to how crimes are punished? “The law of the Dominican Republic does not provide for alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenses. In such cases, the current legislation is applied.” This also implies that the above mentioned punishments for anything over recreational use, might not stand.

It goes on, “The country does not have special courts and tribunals for low-level drug offenses. However, a court-supervised drug treatment (TSJ) pilot project, based on conditional suspension of the proceeding, has been under way in the National District since 2015.”

The reality is, its hard to know if the report is indicating that higher level possession cases are not bound to the given law. It might simply be pointing out that recreational use should be more flexible. But it also implies that individual locations have some amount of authority. For this country, as it is with many others, its hard to know exactly what’s going on. For that reason, though there is question, its best to assume the stated law is still in play.

Did the Dominican Republic really ban cannabis music and media?

Indeed it did at the end of 2022, which indicates that even if it looks like there was progress, there kind of wasn’t. On December 2nd, 2022 it was reported that the country actually updated Law 50-88 to “extend the prohibition on inciting the consumption of drugs and controlled substances through songs, clothing, and other means of dissemination”. This includes music, clothing, or anything else that in any way positively promotes cannabis consumption.

And it wants to go further. A few days after that amendment passed, another one entered the debate. This second bill, if it passes, would, according to the article in Dominican Today, prohibit “all types of music, publication, publicity, propaganda, or programs distributed through traditional media, social networks, or any other means that contain auditory, printed, or audiovisual subliminal stimuli and messages that encourage the consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs and controlled substances.”

You read that right, it includes social media, meaning even the personal communications of a person in their social world, could be subject to punishment via this article, which would amend Article 36 of Law 50-88. Currently, though Article 36 prohibits drug promotion, its less specific, and doesn’t account for sanctions. These new articles (which are nearly the same) involve anything so much as alluding to drugs, which realistically can get messy, as it seems to outlaw (and want to increase the outlaw) on things that might not actually be directly related.

Dominican Republic banned anything related to drugs
Dominican Republic banned anything related to drugs

It also indicates that any of this media and clothing that speaks of cannabis reform, is also banned. Which means there are now infringements in the political world of drugs, and on free speech in general, which goes against instituted measures to protect this right. Anything from a statement online, to a shirt promoting legalization, to a personal social media post, could land a person in hot water. Talk about the antithesis to progress!


Right now we’re in a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ scenario in terms of the Dominican Republic and cannabis. While the country made minor updates to drug policy that kind of look like a loosening of regulation, or a further consideration of the people; these latest legal pushes tell a different story. And its not a great one, either. Let’s hope there’s a plot twist coming.

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Wisconsin Republicans Express Support for Legalizing Weed

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are now “close” to supporting legislation to legalize medical marijuana, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said last week. Support for legalizing medical cannabis signals a change in stance for Republican legislators in Wisconsin, who last year opposed a medical marijuana bill that was supported by Democrats including Governor Tony Evers.

LeMahieu, who has opposed liberalizing Wisconsin’s cannabis laws, told reporters that he believes a medical marijuana bill could be passed by the state’s lawmakers this legislative session. But he noted that the success of the proposal would depend on having a bill that restricts the use of medical marijuana to patients who are experiencing serious chronic pain.

“Our caucus is getting pretty close on medical marijuana,” LeMahieu told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday. “A lot of our members, who are maybe at a point where they can vote for it now, they just want to make sure it’s regulated well.”

“We don’t want people going in because their back hurts and getting medical marijuana,” he added. “It needs to be cancer pain, you know — prescribed.”

Change In Republican Stance

LeMahieu’s comments indicate a significant change in position for Republican leadership in the state Senate. Both LeMahieu and former Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have been vocally opposed to legalizing marijuana. In 2021, LeMahieu said he would not support legalizing medical marijuana unless the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved cannabis as a prescription drug. 

But opposition to medical marijuana legalization has not been unanimous among Republican state lawmakers in Wisconsin. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, also a Republican, has shown support for legalizing cannabis for medicinal use. Although a spokesperson did not confirm that Vos supports Republican efforts this year, LeMahieu said that he thinks the proposal “could be” supported by Assembly Republicans in 2023.

Republican state Senator Mary Felzkowski said last week that she plans to reintroduce legislation that would create a medical marijuana program that is tightly controlled by the state. Under the proposal, only cannabis preparations such as tinctures, liquids, pills, and topicals would be legalized for use by patients in the state-run program.

At a hearing on the previous bill in April 2022, Felzkowski said that she became interested in medical marijuana in 2014 after going through treatment for stage 4 breast cancer. She noted that the drugs she was prescribed to fight her cancer caused excruciating pain that could only legally be relieved with highly addictive opioids. 

“We are actually having those conversations right now — I can’t talk in for-sures, but will be reintroducing the bill,” Felzkowski said.

Last year’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin died in the state legislature after failing to gain the support of Republican lawmakers. The bill was also opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society, which cited a lack of research to support using cannabis medicinally.

“Until science can determine which elements in grown marijuana are potentially therapeutic and which are potentially harmful, any ‘medical’ marijuana program is at best a pale imitation of true medical therapies developed through scientific research,” Mark Grapentine, chief policy and advocacy officer for the medical professionals trade group, wrote in a memo to Felzkowski in April.

Strong Support For Cannabis Reform In Wisconsin

But public support for marijuana policy reform is strong in Wisconsin. A Marquette University Law School poll published in October showed that 64% of Wisconsinites support legalizing cannabis for any use, while a separate survey conducted in 2019 showed that 80% are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. 

Democratic state lawmakers in Wisconsin have so far led the drive to legalize marijuana in the state. Evers, who has long supported cannabis policy reform as the state’s governor, plans to include a legalization proposal in the state budget for this year, just as he did in 2021.

“Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support a path toward legalizing and regulating marijuana like we do alcohol while ensuring folks can access the life-saving medication they need,” Britt Cudaback, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement. “As Gov. Evers indicated on Tuesday, he’s looking forward to working together with legislators on both sides of the aisle this session to find common ground on this important issue.”

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard has led several proposals to legalize marijuana from Wisconsin Democrats that have been thwarted by Republican lawmakers. She said that she looks forward to seeing the details of the medical marijuana legalization proposal from Senate Republicans. 

But Agard said that she disagrees with selecting “winners and losers” whose chance of using medical marijuana depends on what kind of pain is arbitrarily included as a qualifying condition to participate in the program.

“I will always be a champion for full legalization of cannabis in Wisconsin,” said Agard. “I know that’s what a majority of people in our state want and we know the most dangerous thing about cannabis is that it remains illegal.”

The post Wisconsin Republicans Express Support for Legalizing Weed appeared first on High Times.

Cory Booker Says Mitch McConnell Is Blocking Cannabis Bills

Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey says that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to marijuana policy reform and is blocking cannabis bills from being approved by his Republican colleagues. Booker said that McConnell’s opposition is preventing the passage of marijuana legislation in the upper chamber of Congress before the end of the year, after which control of the House of Representatives will switch to the GOP. 

Cannabis policy reform advocates had hoped to be able to pass meaningful reforms during the current lame-duck session of Congress before control of the House Representatives passes to the Republican Party. But Booker said that McConnell’s opposition to reforms including restorative justice for those harmed by decades of marijuana prohibition and a bill that would allow the legal cannabis industry access to banking services is influencing the stand taken by other GOP senators.

“They’re dead set on anything in marijuana,” Booker told NJ Advance Media. “That to me is the obstacle.”

The Republican party will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the new session of Congress next year after gaining a slight majority in last month’s midterm elections. Cannabis policy reform is not likely to be a legislative priority for GOP leaders, who have been less enthusiastic about marijuana legalization than their Democratic counterparts. If cannabis policy reform advocates do not pass a bill before the end of the year, the change in House leadership makes progress on the issue a long shot for at least the next two years.

Republican Representative Brian Mast of Florida, the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said that cannabis policy reform is consistent with traditional Republican values, but McConnell has failed to take a leadership role on the issue.

“It’s not something that he’s historically been interested in moving or seems to be interested in moving right now,” said Mast. “He should. Just as much as Republicans have been out there arguing states’ rights over Roe v. Wade for the last several months, this is just as much of an issue.”

Hopes For Reform Hinge On SAFE Banking Act

Cannabis policy reform is currently largely focused on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would ease access to traditional financial services for regulated marijuana businesses. Provisions of the bill have been passed by the House of Representatives seven times since 2019, but the measure has failed to gain the approval of the Senate. Most recently, language from the SAFE Banking Act was included in the House version of an annual defense spending bill, but the cannabis provisions were left out of the version released last week.

For the Republicans, bipartisan negotiations on cannabis policy reform are being led by Senator Steve Daines, with the goal of drafting a bill that includes restorative justice provisions championed by Booker while gaining the support of enough GOP senators to be approved in the Senate, where 60 votes from the nearly evenly split body of 100 lawmakers are needed to advance most legislation. 

“The senator is doing everything he can to get this bipartisan bill across the finish line this year for the sake of public safety,” said Rachel Dumke, a spokeswoman for Daines’ office.

But Booker thinks that opposition to marijuana policy reform from McConnell, who has been a leader in hemp legalization, is making his fellow Republicans hesitant to support the SAFE Banking Act or a comprehensive legalization bill.

“The caucus is clearly divided but the people in power in their caucus are clearly against doing anything on marijuana,” Booker said.

Cannabis advocate Justin Strekal, the founder of the marijuana policy reform political action committee BOWL PAC, said that he is hopeful that provisions of the SAFE Banking Act can be attached to an upcoming must-pass omnibus spending bill currently being negotiated in Congress. If the cannabis policy reform measures are part of a larger bill, which would fund the federal government through September of next year, Republican senators could vote for the bill without being forced to openly “defy Mitch McConnell in front of him,” Strekal said. 

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Breaking: Maryland and Missouri Vote to Legalize Cannabis

Voters in Maryland and Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana in Tuesday’s midterm elections, bringing the total number of states that have legalized cannabis for use by adults to 21. Ballot measures to legalize marijuana failed to win a majority of votes in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, however, with voters in those states instead opting to maintain nearly a century of cannabis prohibition. 

Maryland Approves Question 4

In Maryland, voters approved Question 4, a referendum that amends the state constitution to legalize marijuana and directs the state legislature to pass legislation to regulate commercial cannabis activity. With 82% of the votes counted on Wednesday afternoon, Question 4 was on its way to approval with nearly two-thirds (65.5%) of the vote, according to data from The New York Times. Troy Datcher, the CEO of California-based The Parent Company (TPCO), said that he is encouraged by the passage of Question 4 in Maryland, noting that the measure mandates expungement for eligible cannabis convictions and includes resentencing provisions for other offenses. He also noted the high level of support for legalization in the state. In July, TPCO, the home of Jay-Z’s luxury cannabis brand Monogram, announced that it would be entering Maryland’s medical marijuana market through a partnership with Curio Wellness. 

“The fact that Question 4 garnered more support than any adult-use cannabis ballot measure in the country’s history speaks to the shared support that Americans of all political stripes have for moving past the unjust cannabis laws that have criminalized Americans for nearly a century,” Datcher said in an email to Cannabis Now. “Tuesday’s vote also reflects the massive potential of adult-use legalization to stimulate Maryland’s economy, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for its residents and generating considerable tax revenue for the state.”

Missouri Voters Say Yes To Legalization

In Missouri, Amendment 3 was projected to be approved by voters, tallying more than 53% of the votes on Wednesday afternoon with 89% of ballots counted. The successful amendment to the state’s constitution legalizes the possession, use, sale and delivery of marijuana for personal use and sets a 6% tax on commercial cannabis sales. Additionally, the amendment includes provisions for the expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions. Jeffrey M. Zucker, vice chair of the Marijuana Policy Project board of directors and president of the consulting company Green Lion Partners, praised the work of activists who campaigned to make legal recreational marijuana part of the state’s constitution.

“It is an exciting time for the people of Missouri as their state legalizes adult-use cannabis,” Zucker said in an emailed statement. “I am in awe of the hard work that cannabis activists have done in Missouri, and I look forward to seeing how both established medical marijuana dispensaries and new players in Missouri’s regulated cannabis industry grow and begin to thrive over the coming months.”

With the approval of the cannabis legalization measures, Maryland and Missouri have become the 20th and 21st states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. Mason Tvert, communications adviser for the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente Sederberg LLC, noted that in addition to ending the criminalization of cannabis, the successful ballot measures in Maryland and Missouri will spur economic development and create new jobs.

“With legal cannabis in these two states comes new economic opportunity. Expansion of the regulated cannabis market will result in new businesses, more jobs, and significant tax revenue,” Tvert wrote in an email. “There is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to implementing the new law and ironing out all the rules. Marijuana-related policy discussions will become the new norm in state and local governments, much like we see with alcohol. Ending prohibition is just the beginning.”

Three States Decline To Legalize Weed

Despite the strong showing for cannabis policy reform in Maryland and Missouri, voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Arkansas voters said no to Issue 4, with more than 56% of the electorate voting against the measure. In South Dakota, cannabis legalization initiative Measure 27 only garnered 47% of votes, with 53% voting against it. And in North Dakota, where voters approved a 2020 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana that was invalidated by the state Supreme Court, voters declined to repeat their previous approval of reform. Measure 2, which would have legalized the possession and use of cannabis for adults, received the approval of 45% of voters, with nearly 55% voting against the measure.

Other Races Bode Well For Continued Reform

Although marijuana legalization measures were only on the ballot in five states on Tuesday, other races in this week’s midterm elections are likely to foster progress on cannabis policy reform efforts. In Minnesota, control of the state Senate was won by Democrats, giving the party control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. With the new majority in the Senate, lawmakers are likely to advance legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis, according to a report from Marijuana Moment.

“We are excited about the prospects for full legalization, but Minnesotans who want to see legalization will still have work to do,” said Maren Schroeder, coalition director for the MNisReady Coalition. “We’re optimistic that we’ll get it across the finish line in 2023.”

In Pennsylvania, voters elevated Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, an outspoken advocate of cannabis policy reform, to the US Senate, where he will be a new voice for progress on the issue at the federal level. Voters also selected fellow Democrat Josh Shapiro as governor over Republican Douglas Mastriano, who characterized recreational marijuana legalization as a “stupid idea,” according to a report from Marijuana Moment. Tracey Kauffman, founder and chairperson of cannabis consulting firm Cannaspire, says that the results in her home state of Pennsylvania indicate a willingness among voters to support candidates who are in favor of cannabis policy reform.

“Yesterday was a huge victory for cannabis in Pennsylvania. Both John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro support legalizing adult-use cannabis and expungement, so hopefully we will see swift changes in our state,” Kauffman wrote in an email. “I would like to see a cannabis task force organized so we can analyze key learnings from how our neighbors in New York and New Jersey have approached legalization and translate them into what will be successful in Pennsylvania.”

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) lauded the approval of cannabis legalization measures in Tuesday’s election, noting in a statement on Wednesday that in addition to the successes in Maryland and Missouri, marijuana decriminalization measures were passed by voters in several cities located in states that maintain prohibitions on adult-use cannabis, including Texas and Ohio.

“While this year’s mid-term elections may not have been a ‘clean sweep’ for reform advocates, our momentum continues unabated,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said in a statement from the advocacy group. “Are we in a stronger place today than we were yesterday? Of course we are. Two more states, Maryland and Missouri, have wisely elected to legalize and regulate cannabis — policies that will expand the freedoms and civil liberties of over 7 million Americans. In addition, voters in cities across this country — including over 400,000 Texans — acted to end the senseless and counterproductive policy of arresting and prosecuting those who possess and use cannabis.”

The post Breaking: Maryland and Missouri Vote to Legalize Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Pardon, Elections, And Why Weed Should Be Legal By Year’s End

Oh, I mean it. And it’s not much of an option at this point for the US government, not if it doesn’t want to be buried in lawsuits, or look incredibly weak. Between a sweeping pardon with no legal change, and five states with ballot measures, all of which could pass; weed will have to be legal incredibly soon in the US, and likely by year’s end. Read on to understand why.

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But…will weed really be legal by the end of the year?

Okay, so I can’t actually see into the future, but when the pieces are put together, they tell a compelling story. One which has been playing out in front of us for years already. Between ballot measures, and legislative measures, 19 states have recreational legalizations, and nearly 40 have medical policies. Outside of that, nearly every state has some amount of a decriminalization policy. And why shouldn’t they? No one dies from weed.

Yet for this sweeping understanding that there aren’t dangers, and there are benefits; the US government has essentially been sitting around with its thumb up its butt, trying to tell us time and time again why we should be wary of the wacky weed, and repeatedly arresting people for nothing more than a joint. Imagine that, a huge and powerful government that can’t seem to understand basic principals that everyone else seems to get. Are they really that dumb?

No, of course not. Anyone who calls their government or elected officials dumb, is probably the dumb one; but that doesn’t mean that government actions always look smart to those watching. The government responds to corporate payments, and we know this. With all the information out there about payments from oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and so on, even expecting the government to respond to its citizens needs, is off base. Maybe that’s how it should be, but hundreds of millions+ coming into government representative pockets says otherwise, and we just have to know that.

Corporate payments

Corporate interest payments are quite compelling, as implied by how much policy revolves around these industries (opioids are legal but cannabis isn’t…hmm?) So it says quite a bit that these payments can no longer substantiate the illegal cannabis situation. In fact, its a massive indication of the power of the people, that the federal government is changing its stance, even with all that pharma and oil and gas money coming in to stop it. How much does the plastics industry want hemp? Not even a little! But the people want it so much, that it’s coming anyway. Weed is actually an indication of how strong we can be.

The current situation is an interesting one, certainly not planned on by the government. Planned or not, though, the situation now requires a decent and speedy response, and that response should come by year’s end. And really, it has to, or really soon after. That part isn’t speculation, and there are two reasons why.

#1 reason weed should be legal by year’s end: the pardon

If a pardon comes as an individual act for a crime, it doesn’t say anything for the crime in general, just for the person getting the pardon. Anyone else that committed the same crime previously, at the same time, or in the future, still faces all penalties. It doesn’t stop a crime from being a crime, it just helps out a single person, for whatever reason its offered. This was represented in the spring, when President Biden pardoned one cannabis conviction, and commuted the sentences of eight other cannabis offenders.

What happens when everyone who ever did a crime in the past gets pardoned for it? Isn’t that like saying it was never supposed to be considered a crime? And what happens when this is done, but with no legal precedent to stop future arrests and convictions for the same actions? Mayhem, perhaps? Or maybe just a bunch of lawsuits, and immediate case-dropping.

That’s the situation we’re in. Sounds sticky for a government that just indirectly admitted wrongdoing, but didn’t feel like updating laws immediately to correspond. On Thursday, October 6th, President Biden issued a sweeping pardon for ALL federal simple possession of cannabis cases ever tried in the US (for US citizens or permanent residents). All convictions for this particular crime, will be erased, with certifications given out. But the laws of prohibition still exist. And that means new people can get arrested and convicted for a crime everyone else got pardoned for. Want to guess on the lawsuit potential?

Biden did state that something must be done soon, but that’s nonspecific. Soon could mean in three years. Of course he had to say something, but that statement still doesn’t stop law enforcement from arresting more people now. Plus, not only has the government indirectly admitted wrongdoing, but its not offering compensation to anyone, while still leaving the door open for new arrests. It’s an insanely precarious situation. And one that highlights the discomfort the US government faces in this situation, which it now must expedite an answer for, because if its own action.

weed convictions
Weed convictions

One last point, the pardon doesn’t release anyone from prison. According to the government, no one is in federal prison for simple possession. The government is only collecting fines. While in 2019 alone there were over 500,000 simple possession arrests, “The White House estimates that about 6,500 people nationwide have federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana on their records since 1992.” Over 500,000 arrests in just one year (close to 29 million since 1965), and 6,500 convictions in almost 30 years? That’s a painful discrepancy, and points to this as a money industry for the government.

Sounds like law enforcement arrest literally anyone. And how many of those arrested are paying the fine, without a conviction? I can’t find any numbers for government revenue from cannabis fines, it seems that information is kept out of the press. Possibly because of how big that number is, and its mismatch with conviction numbers? This pardon doesn’t cover new arrests or convictions, and the numbers for those it helps sound uncomfortably small considering the number of arrests each year. However, convictions or not, the arrests roll in, and in huge numbers. Now, each new one is a new liability.

#2 reason weed should be legal by year’s end: the election

Yup, it’s that time of year again. The time when our overlords actually grant us the ability to have a say in things. And this time around, five states are putting it directly to voters to decide the fate of cannabis legality. While it should be six states, Oklahoma is being a bit of a jerk, and allowing technical system issues to outweigh allowing the measure, essentially putting it on the people, that its governance couldn’t get its stuff together appropriately. It is meant to be scheduled for 2023 or 2024, but shouldn’t be necessary by that point.

Five states do have approved ballot measures, all came in with way more signatures than needed, and all are likely to pass. In fact, one already did, two years ago. South Dakota passed a ballot measure during the 2020 elections to legalize cannabis, and its governor Kristi Noem, took it away. That state is up again and looking to right a wrong, along with North Dakota, Arkansas (which had to have its Supreme Court intervene to allow the measure), Maryland, and Missouri, which already has the bill written and ready to go.

The first thing to notice here is that these ballot measures are offered in states that just a couple years ago were not thought of as states that promoted cannabis legalization. That’s how much and how quickly things have changed. It’s not just states like California, New York, and Oregon, it’s now reaching into the south. Four out of five of these measures are for southern states, an area that was previously a stronghold for prohibition until very recently.

The second thing of note is just how much some governments are trying to deny making the change, like South Dakota’s legalization taken away. And Arkansas needing its Supreme Court to shoot down the State Board of Election Commissioner’s rejection of the ballot, even after all hoops were correctly jumped through. Yet, South Dakota is back at it, and Arkansas has its measure. And that says a huge amount too.

Ballot measure for legal weed
Ballot measure for legal weed

If all five pass, that’s 24 states, plus DC, and half of the physical population. And that’s just recreational. Let’s remember, the US government holds cannabis as Schedule I, meaning all medical programs and decriminalization measures, also go against federal policy. There are now almost 40 medically-legal states, and very few states without some form of decriminalization. That’s a lot of going against the federal government. How much does a federal mandate mean, when all its states go against it? According to Bloomberg, 74% of the population already live where they can legally access cannabis.

Truth is, even if just three pass (which will likely happen), it makes for bad optics for the federal government, and all five could go through. Should the federal government not immediately pass a new legal measure or drop prohibition laws, it then only represents 50% of the country (in terms of recreational), and is quickly headed toward the minority, with the majority of its states and territories already opposing legal measures (including all legalizations). No government wants such a weak position. Making it the second reason we can realistically expect weed to be legal by year’s end.


No, I can’t say it for sure. It could take longer, but the reality is that it can’t take that long, not with the standing situation. While I find it odd how little the legal disparity of allowing a pardon, but not changing laws to prevent more arrests for the same thing, is mentioned in the press; this is most certainly an issue, and a reason for extreme expedition of an actual legal change. Maybe Biden just wants to wait for elections, when the reality of being outnumbered, can no longer be denied. Between the two events, my money is on weed being legal by the end of this year.

As an aside, it doesn’t technically have to be legalized. It can be decriminalized to balance out the pardons and the states in contrast, or a personal use amount set. While these things can be done instead, the overall climate of the country dictates that a legalization – and the ability for a taxable market, is probably the end result.

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Just What Is Joe Biden’s Marijuana Policy?

It’s unfair and inaccurate to say that nobody likes President Joe Biden. After all, his disapproval rating is “only” 55.6% according to the most recent FiveThirtyEight analysis—but that’s cold comfort. Along with the increasing number of Democrats so disenchanted that they think Biden should only serve one term, it’s undeniable that the forty-sixth president has also deeply disappointed and angered drug-policy reform advocates, as well as most anyone connected with the marijuana legalization movement and/or the cannabis industry.

All this was true before last Thursday, when WNBA star and erstwhile Russian league player Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, her punishment for the cannabis oil cartridges discovered in her luggage at a Moscow airport during a February search. In a statement, the president condemned the situation as “unacceptable” and demanded Griner’s release—and then was greeted by an avalanche of blowback from cannabis advocates.

They (rightfully) pointed out that you can still receive a lifetime prison sentence for cannabis possession in America, and that beyond a throwaway one-line quote in July, Biden hasn’t done anything to advance federal cannabis policy reform in his 18 months in the White House.

But is it fair to hate on Joe Biden for not breaking the Constitution (and opening himself up to hostile Supreme Court challenges) for not legalizing cannabis, something law experts recently told Cannabis Now he almost certainly cannot do? 

Maybe not, but at the same time, observers contacted for this article struggled to identify a coherent White House drug-policy reform policy—and could name several setbacks and disappointments that preceded any Griner-related hypocrisy. 

Less Talk, More Action Needed

In July, six progressive US senators asked the president to start moving on granting promised clemency to nonviolent cannabis prisoners—and by the end of the month, all the White House could muster was some version of, “We’re working on it.”

“We’re not getting what we need at the federal level, at all,” said Justin Dye, chairman and CEO of dispensary chain Schwazze, which has locations in Colorado and New Mexico. “I think the Biden Administration and the Democrats had a real opportunity over the last two years to get something done and win over a number of voters in favor of cannabis—and they didn’t do that.”

And when the White House has done something on weed, it’s usually bad. Lobbyists and members of activist circles in Washington D.C. pointed out some unforced errors, such as purging the White House of low-level staffers who committed the crime of honest and copped to smoking cannabis on questionnaires during his first few months in office—and then following that up with a 2022 directive discouraging employees from even owning stock in publicly-traded cannabis companies. All that makes some wonder whether Biden even truly wants to decriminalize, and whether that wasn’t just a campaign line cooked up to shut up progressives whose preferred candidates endorsed legalization.

“Does he really believe in decriminalization? Nobody really knows,” said one national-level observer, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely. 

A Familiar Stalemate

At the same time, expecting Biden to solve the legalization question is to fail Civics 101. After all, making and changing laws (that would include the Controlled Substances Act) is Congress’s job

“We’re waiting for Congress to put legislation on his desk—after all, that’s the way things are supposed to work,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. NCIA advocates for smaller businesses, and has been waiting in vain for the Senate to pass a version of the banking reform bills that have repeatedly passed the House of Representatives. 

“I couldn’t imagine a world in which that isn’t signed into law,” said Smith, who added that in most worlds—including ours—even modest cannabis policy reform would be an enormous nonpartisan win. 

For that familiar stalemate, Smith and others blame the intractable United States Senate more than the White House. And anyone keeping score would note that compared to President Donald Trump, whose first attorney general, former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, put the industry on red alert with vague threats to prosecute state-legal businesses, Biden’s approach has at least been lawful neutral. 

He hasn’t interfered with state-legal businesses; he hasn’t sent federal law enforcement after anyone obeying state law; and legalization continues to spread across the United States without any federal interference.

At the same time, Biden has indeed thus far failed to fulfill a campaign promise to decriminalize marijuana and failed to free federal cannabis prisoners (though how many federal cannabis prisoners there are is unclear; as WeedWeek found, it’s probably way less than 40,000; most people in trouble for marijuana in America are punished under state law, which federal decriminalization would likely not affect.)

Maybe pinning hopes on Biden to legalize cannabis by fiat was naive and wishful thinking. Other observers have said that when confronted with a full plate of COVID-19, an infrastructure bill, climate change, and military conflicts in Afghanistan and now Ukraine, Biden simply does not have the time, energy or ability to make strides on cannabis. 

“Criminal justice reform is not a place where the president is going to try to spend political capital,” as Andrew Sidman, a political science professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told PolitiFact.

Joe Biden would not be the first president to fail to deliver on a campaign promise. Guantanamo Bay is still open and there isn’t a wall separating Mexico from the United States, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Still, if Joe Biden does have a clear idea what he wants to do on the extremely popular issue of federal cannabis legalization, he is doing a tremendous job keeping it a state secret—and, unless it’s “do nothing,” he’s also not getting it done.

The post Just What Is Joe Biden’s Marijuana Policy? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

New Analysis of SAFE Banking Act Asks for 10 Amendments to Improve Equity

A paper written by the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC) was published by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law on Aug. 12. The paper, entitled “Not a SAFE Bet: Equitable Access to Cannabis Banking, An Analysis of the SAFE Banking Act,” analyzes the Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE), and includes numerous recommendations for improvement.

Authors Cat Packer, Shaleen Title, Rafi Aliya Crockett, and Dasheeda Dawson state that the SAFE Banking Act isn’t enough in its current form. “But unfortunately, SAFE, as written, is unlikely to result in equitable access to financial services,” they wrote in the study abstract. “This paper summarizes the bill, analyzes why it would fall short of its purported goals, and makes recommendations to improve the bill.”

“SAFE would address only the legal and regulatory consequences potentially faced by financial institutions for providing services to the cannabis industry,” the authors wrote in their executive summary. “Without additional legislative amendments to directly address challenges related to fair and equitable access to financial services, small and minority-owned cannabis businesses that currently have inadequate access to banking services or loans are likely to continue to be denied the full breadth and depth of services offered to others.”

The authors compiled 10 recommendations that could help improve future reform of cannabis banking (check out the full explanation for each recommendation here.) In summary, these recommendations cover a thorough collection of topics of improvement, such as redirecting Internal Revenue Service code 280E funds, expanding requirements for anti-discrimination laws, identifying best practices for federal banking regulators, and much more.

The authors concluded that although a cannabis policy gap has developed, now is the time to address these concerns. “The continued criminalization of cannabis at the federal level, coupled with an increasing number of states authorizing medical or adult-use cannabis activity, has resulted in an ever-widening policy gap between federal and state cannabis laws,” the authors said. “However, due to cannabis’s widely accepted medical use, existing state and local efforts to authorize, license and regulate cannabis for medical and adult-use, and bipartisan support from the American public regarding cannabis legalization, many believe that it is no longer a matter of ‘if’ or ‘when’ this gap will be addressed, but ‘how’.”

Ultimately, the CRCC authors don’t recommend the SAFE Banking Act in its current form unless these topics are discussed. “As such, regardless of whether Congress decides to pass cannabis banking reform as a part of more comprehensive cannabis policy reform or as a standalone issue, Congress should ensure that any legislation related to cannabis banking reform includes explicit provisions that seek to ensure fair and equitable access to financial services for all in the cannabis industry. Until the SAFE Banking Act is amended to include such provisions it should not be considered a safe bet to achieve equity in cannabis banking.”

The release of this paper, along with these 10 recommendations, arrives nearly one month after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, and Sen. Cory Booker filed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act in July. Reports predict that compromises could be made, with the possible release of a bill being referred to as “SAFE Banking Plus.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the CRCC is holding a Cannabis Regulatory Deep Dive to discuss this analysis with all four author contributors, as well as Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of Federal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, who will moderate the meeting. The event will be held via Zoom at 12 p.m. ET.

The post New Analysis of SAFE Banking Act Asks for 10 Amendments to Improve Equity appeared first on High Times.

Why Are Local Governments Sabotaging Hemp Industry?

Hemp has been the enemy to many business sectors for decades, and its illegal status kept it from competition. The 2018 US Farm Bill changed this, re-opening an industrial hemp market. But what should have taken off, hasn’t. What’s most confusing, is that its actually local governments which pose the biggest blockades to the hemp industry thriving. Why would they do this when it means getting in the way of a lucrative industry?

The federal government might have chosen to legalize hemp production in 2018, but local governments have repeatedly made it hard for hemp farmers and the overall market; with incredibly strict, over-bearing regulation. Our 100% independent news publication focuses on stories in the growing cannabis and psychedelics spaces. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for readers to stay updated, and offer tons of deals for a range of products, from smoking devices to cannabinoid products like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC. You can find deals in our ‘best of’ lists, for which we ask you only buy products you are comfortable with using.

Hemp in the US

The history of hemp is a sordid story which reminds us that the US government doesn’t always act for the good of the people, and sometimes in direct contrast to it. Back in the beginning of the US, during colonial times and beyond, hemp was a widely grown crop, used for all kinds of industrial purposes. It was such an important crop, that some colonies like Virginia instituted grow laws in the 1600’s to ensure hemp was grown by local farmers, mostly for use by the military.

During this time, hemp had tons of applications including clothing, paper products, sails and rope for ships, and so on. It was also a main component of many medications starting from the 1800’s, when Dr. William O’Shaughnessy brought it into Western medicine; after researching it in India. Why hemp was illegalized is a great question, and depending on where you look, you can find different answers to this question; some that make more sense than others.

Hemp, and cannabis in general, was used industrially, but rarely smoked for recreational purposes. This changed with an influx of Mexicans in the early 1900’s, who did smoke the plant. This happened around the time that industries started popping up that posed a direct competition to hemp. These included the burgeoning synthetics/plastics industry, run by the DuPont family; and the wood paper industry, with William Randolph Hearst at the helm, who owned a huge newspaper chain, and didn’t want to compete with hemp paper. Between the Mexican association, and push from these industries, as well as the pharma industry; cannabis was illegalized.

The process of prohibition started with 1937’s Marihuana Tax Act, which made it harder for cultivators by instituting more strict licensing requirements. WWII changed this temporarily, and there was a push for hemp farming due to supply issues into the US. This was all quietly shut down by the government post-war, and the case against marijuana and hemp was built even further. It was marijuana, and smoking it specifically, that was essentially used to illegalize the hemp industry, even though that logically makes no sense at all.

Though there was an understanding about the difference between high-THC and high-CBD plants, this information was ignored by the government upon passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which treated both the same. This law put cannabis of all kinds in Schedule I, saying it was so dangerous that it wasn’t even fit for medicine (which it had been in for 100 years on the Western side, and thousands of years on the Eastern side).

The distinction between the two types of cannabis wasn’t officially re-established until a federal court case – HIA (Hemp Industry Association) vs DEA that ran from 2001-2003. This case, and the re-institution of a definition between hemp and marijuana, allowed the entrance of hemp back into the legal market years later with the 2014 and then 2018 US Farm Bills. The latter of which legalized the cultivation and production of industrial hemp products nationally.

Why do local governments get in the way of new hemp industry?

You’d think that legalizing something and setting up a market is an indication that that market is desired. Sure, visually it looks like hemp production is promoted, but in what looks like a passive-aggressive move, local governments continue to set obstacles to the hemp industry, possibly implying that the legalization is more for show. This sounds odd, for sure, but let’s remember that hemp is growing in understanding as a more environmentally-safe competitor to massive, and massive-waste-causing, industries like the paper industry, the plastics industry, the cement and building industry, and even the oil industry. This on top of it already being a threat to pharma companies.

The thing is, all the industries above have corporations and lobbyists that pay greatly into the pockets of congressional representatives on both state and federal levels, making it more than possible that there is quite a large financial push from within, to keep this industry down. Along with this, its place as a ‘cash cow’ has led to insane taxation seeking to squeeze out every penny, to the detriment of the actual industry.

Recently it was reported that the hemp industry in Oregon is in trouble, and that its not about a lack of interest either. Farmers are repeatedly trying to jump through hoops to create these enterprises, and are continually being thwarted by new, and often overbearing, regulation. Governments usually make it easy when they want an industry. Consider the opioid industry, and the multi-billion-dollar lawsuits, which haven’t slowed anything down. Those medications are still sold, with a recent governmental proposal to lower prescribing guidelines…that’s how much their sale is desired. Even the travesty of overdoses hasn’t limited the industry, and that’s a real danger…so why are governments giving hemp farmers such a hard time? And what exactly are the problems?

hemp vs marijuana

How do local governments get in the way of new hemp industry?

What are the tactics used to slow down what should be a skyrocketing industry? Jackson County is one of the biggest cultivation areas in Oregon, and yet in March of this year, state regulators declared a state of emergency for cannabis, which creates a moratorium on new licensing. In fact, by law, when a state of emergency is called, such applications must be denied. The state of emergency announcement acts retroactively, going back to the 1st of the year, and continues till the last day of the year, effectively meaning no new licenses for growing hemp can be given out or used for an entire year.

Why is this happening? What terrible threat is there that now keeps hemp from being grown, as opioids are still widely prescribed and sold? Apparently, the biggest concern is rooting out all those farmers (reported as 53% last year) whose crops exceed the .3% THC maximum. Though this is advertised by the government as something done by sneaky growers cultivating marijuana under the guise of hemp, simply being over the limit can actually imply no more than, say .4% THC, which hardly makes it what they’re saying.

Considering its already known that its hard to stay precisely within these limits, the more reasonable factor is that farmers are just barely missing the mark, and this is a massive excuse to stop production. I mean, again, opioids…everywhere. Still. Even if it’s real marijuana, though the growers might not be sanctioned, it is a legal state. Should this really stymie the entire industry?

The other issue? Unregistered growers. Translation? Growers for which no tax money is collected by the state. Translation? Black market. Let’s remember, the legal cannabis industry can’t compete with the black market past a point, and this means both state governments and the federal government (federal for hemp only) are constantly trying to find, and get rid of, operators in this market. Whereas it really should be obvious by now that this won’t work, apparently, its not. Realistically, if governments want their legal industries to work, they need to stop with the overtaxing (both excise and to consumers), drop overly strict regulation, and stop treating the industry like a cash cow.

Instead, governments have retained their insane, non-working tax structures, and incredibly restrictive regulations, and then do antics like this where they stop the real industry, so they can have more time to find anyone making an illegal buck. Again, is this really an issue that should stop a legal market?

I don’t remember any large clothing manufactures being forced to stop all function until every knockoff vendor was found and put out of business. Does anyone else? Nope? Once again, no danger to consumers. After all, consumers have lived off this black market for the last 100 years. Calling it dirty and unsafe now, is about the dumbest smear campaign, yet that very logic is used to explain why these growers need to go. Translation? Money lost to taxing bodies. Period.

hemp farm

Into the future

Similar issues of regulation and/or high taxes are seen nearly anywhere that hemp (and marijuana) industries exist in the US. Take Washington, for example, where complaints over taxes still exist ten years after the start of the market. Or California, where the market has suffered so badly, that the state is actually overhauling its tax structure in hopes this can reinvigorate it. Hawaii is yet another example, with cultivators in the state fighting against overly restrictive regulation that restricts access to the local market, and requires a painful three-day notice period for crop transport, testing, and inspection.

There are plenty of other factors that also effect the hemp industry, like overproduction. 2018-2019 was a good time for CBD sales, and this led to inflated expectation for demand, which was subsequently not met. Operators jumped in without thought or research, and somehow no one considered it could be nothing more than a fad. This misconception led to a massive amount of overproduction, lowered prices, and a harder time competing. The inflated expectation came from nearly every publication, which all touted unrealistic numbers, based on no experience. Never a good idea.

Right now, a lot of hemp production is geared toward the CBD and cannabinoids market, which in and of itself shows the lack of understanding among growers of applications outside of drug-related or wellness products. Perhaps as actual industrial uses like plastics and paper start to pop up more, the hemp industry will see further invigoration, and a massive rise in production. After all, THIS is what ‘industrial’ hemp is meant for in the first place. And yet even despite this, I have yet to hear of a government promoting these uses.


Why hemp for plastic and paper (among other uses) hasn’t ballooned out exponentially could be related to many things including existing industries that don’t want competition. Perhaps this is why local governments get in the way of the hemp industry, which was just legalized. It should be understood by now that leveraging too-strict regulation, forcing high taxes, and trying to weed out black markets at the expense of legal ones, will never lead to anything good. And though stories abound about the large taxes brought in for cannabis, in states like Massachusetts, one can only wonder what that number would be, if governments stopped trying to sabotage the industry.

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Senate Dems Ready To Introduce Cannabis Bill, Hearing Scheduled Next Week

With Congress set to break for its traditional August recess––and with this year’s midterm elections drawing nearer––Democrats in the Senate finally appear ready to introduce a bill that would end the federal prohibition on pot.

The Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism has scheduled a hearing for next week that is titled, “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms.”

The chair of the subcommittee, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), has taken a leading role in crafting the Senate’s cannabis reform legislation.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Bloomberg had reported previously that Senate Democrats intended to introduce the bill this week.

Whenever the legislation drops, it will represent long-awaited action from a Democratic caucus that has moved methodically on cannabis reform––despite repeated pledges from party leaders that it will get done.

At the beginning of April, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed their own pot legalization package: the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Senate Democrats said they would move forward with their own cannabis reform bill that has been overseen by Booker, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

After previously saying that the Senate would release its own version by the end of April, Schumer said that the bill would likely be introduced closer to the Congressional recess in August.

And after recent suggestions that Senate Democrats might be looking to offer up a more modest reform package, it now appears that they will seek to match the House and end the federal prohibition as well.

Politico reported last month that Schumer “doesn’t have the votes to pass a sweeping marijuana decriminalization bill — despite repeatedly touting his support for ending federal prohibition,” and that “realization is leading Senate Democrats to look for a compromise on weed.”

But Bloomberg reported last week that Democrats will indeed introduce the bill that Booker, Wyden and Schumer have been working on: the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which will also remove pot from the Controlled Substances Act, although it would also give states discretion to establish their own cannabis laws.

Bloomberg noted that “the legislation faces long odds in the evenly divided chamber,” with 60 votes necessary for passage.

The bill faces significant opposition from Republicans in the chamber, and even some Democratic members.

President Joe Biden has long said that he is in favor of decriminalization of cannabis, but not outright legalization––though he has struggled to explain the distinction.

Earlier this week, Biden reiterated his belief that no one “should be in prison for the use of marijuana,” and said that he is working with Congress on a bill to fulfill his promise to release inmates serving time for pot-related offenses.

It is unclear whether he supports either the House’s MORE Act or the Senate’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

Despite the slow-motion progress of the bill in the Senate, Schumer has been unequivocal in his support for sweeping cannabis reform.

“We will move forward,” Schumer told Politico last year. “[Biden] said he’s studying the issue, so [I] obviously want to give him a little time to study it. I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will. But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

“In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, ‘Well what changed?’ Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states—Oregon and Colorado—wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” he added. “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”

The post Senate Dems Ready To Introduce Cannabis Bill, Hearing Scheduled Next Week appeared first on High Times.

Snake Venom and Cannabis: Kenya’s Economic Salvation?

George Wajackoyah, one of four Kenyan presidential candidates in the pending national elections, is proposing to legalize cannabis and raise snakes for their venom to jump start the domestic economy.

Beyond the cannabis play, snake venom is used to manufacture drugs like high blood pressure medication and is used in treatments for blood clots, heart disease and as an antidote for snake bites. On the foreign export market, venom can be sold for as much as $120 per gram. The market for this product is also growing—and expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027.

Wajackoya is a lawyer and a member of the Roots Party which is also advocating for a four day work week. However, it is his esoteric proposals on the cannabis and venom front which is allowing him to make at least a decent showing if not capture votes that might otherwise go to the leading two candidates—a former Prime Minister and the current Deputy President. The cannabis theme alone is pulling undecided voters to his camp. Some expect him to do well enough to force a runoff.

In the meantime, the entire election is getting even more controversial with the barring of Reuben Kigame, a well-known blind gospel singer, from being a candidate at all. Beyond the presidential race, six of the top candidates vying for governorship positions are now facing unwanted scrutiny for allegedly submitting fake academic credentials to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Cannabis reform, in other words, is far from the most controversial topic in Kenyan national politics this year even though it is one of the most internationally newsworthy ones.

The Impact of Cannabis Cultivation in Kenya

Kenya, a country in East Africa bordering Uganda (now exporting high THC cannabis to Israel and Europe), is holding its presidential elections this August. There are several other proposals on the table to help the average citizen, including a $60 a month stipend for Kenyans who are unemployed.

It is primarily known for its Big Five wildlife population, annual wildebeest migrations and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tragically the country is also known for other reasons that are not so breath-taking. The country is considered a lower-middle income economy with about 16% of its population at or below the international poverty line. Beyond this, it suffers from extreme gender and other economic inequality, government corruption and severe illnesses that affect large parts of the population such as HIV, malaria, and pneumonia. Beyond this, the country suffers from a terrible lack of basic infrastructure that leaves about 19 million people (about 35% of the population) without access to clean drinking water.

Kenya is also suffering from direct fallout of the Ukraine War. The conflict has disrupted the supply of wheat, maize, fertilizer, and oil seeds to the country. Wheat prices alone have more than doubled. This may be the reason that as of early this month, the country became one of the top three countries in Africa to receive money from expats working abroad (used to pay for education as well as basic medical and household expenses).

The Worth of African Hemp

While presidential promises are often not all they are cracked up to be post-election day no matter where such contests are held, this may be especially true in Kenya. Here is why. According to U.S. federal data from the USDA, hemp prices can vary dramatically from state to state even in the U.S. For example, in Colorado, hemp sold for $4.09 a pound last year. In contrast, it went for $503 a pound in Massachusetts. That delta is for a product that has now been made legal on a national level.

International sales are equally divergent in price. High quality, indoor grown GMP hemp is a far different beast than hemp grown outdoors. Beyond this, the plants must test clean of heavy metals and pesticides—and below national and regional import countries mandates on THC percentage (between 0.02% and 0.03%).

Bottom line? Snake venom farming may prove to be more lucrative on the international market for the struggling Kenyan economy. But it is clear that cannabis reform is a global topic this year—and likely to show up in elections far from Africa.

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