Minnesota Groups Bind Together to Oppose Legal Cannabis

With Minnesota set to become the next front in the battle over cannabis legalization, a coalition of opponents is banding together to keep prohibition in place.

Under the straightforward name of “Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization,” the coalition “consists of the Minnesota Trucking Association, the state’s police and peace officers association and the Minnesota Catholic Conference, a policy arm of the Catholic Church of Minnesota, among others,” according to the Associated Press.

The group of likeminded, anti-pot groups is targeting a bill that passed the state House of Representatives last May. That bill would have legalized recreational pot use for adults in Minnesota, while also expunging previous low-level cannabis-related convictions.  

It also would have created “a responsible regulatory structure focused on developing micro-businesses and a craft market… fund[ed] public health awareness, youth access prevention and substance abuse treatment; provide[d] grants, loans, technical assistance and training for small businesses; require[d] testing and labeling of products; restrict[ed] packaging based on dosage size; and allow[ed] limited home grow abilities,” according to a press release last year from Minnesota Democrats.

But after passing the Democratic-controlled House, the legislation went nowhere in the state Senate, where Republicans hold the majority.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Ryan Hamilton of the Minnesota Catholic Conference said that the “marijuana bill that passed the Minnesota House last session wasn’t a justice bill, it was a marijuana commercialization bill.”

“As we’ve seen from other states that have opened the doors for the marijuana industry, the promises made to justify marijuana legalization rarely come true, particularly for communities of color,” Hamilton said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

The Minnesota legislative session is slated to convene on January 1, and as the Associated Press noted, the bill that passed the state House last May “is technically still alive, though it’s unclear whether Republicans in the Senate will take up the measure.”

The author of that bill, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, is one of the most vocal advocates of marijuana legalization among lawmakers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“The failed criminalization of cannabis has resulted in a legacy of racial injustice that can no longer go unaddressed,” Winkler said in a statement after the bill was introduced last year. “Adults deserve the freedom to decide whether to use cannabis, and our state government should play an important role in addressing legitimate concerns around youth access, public health, and road safety. Veterans and Minnesotans with serious illnesses like PTSD deserve better access to our medical program, which is not working well for most people. It’s time to legalize, expunge, and regulate.”

According to the Associated Press, Winkler “told the Minnesota Hemp Growers Cooperative at an event on Wednesday [that] his goal is to reexamine parts of the bill this session to improve the proposal and attempt to get senators on board,” but he acknowledged its outlook in the state Senate is “up in the air.”

After Winkler introduced his bill in the state House last year, Republicans in the legislature were dismissive. 

Paul Gazelka, the GOP leader in the state Senate at the time, said at the time that he “would not consider legalizing recreational marijuana as a Minnesota priority.” 

Gazelka stepped down as majority leader in September and is now running to challenge Democratic Governor Tim Walz in this year’s gubernatorial race. It could set the stage for legalization to emerge as a dominant issue in the campaign, with Walz a full-throated supporter of ending pot prohibition. 

“I support legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use by developing a system of taxation, guaranteeing that it is Minnesota grown, and expunging the records of Minnesotans convicted of marijuana crimes,” Walz said when he ran for governor in 2018.

The post Minnesota Groups Bind Together to Oppose Legal Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

Is The Underground Cannabis Industry Over?

Cannabis legalization is on the rise and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As the market opens its arms to the world of cannabis, long-time users started wondering about dealers legitimizing their business. When people think about buying weed, images of dark alleyways and secret locations to avoid cops come to mind. Now fast forward […]

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A Beginner’s Guide to Delta-8 Hemp Cigarettes

In this article, we’ll break down what exactly Delta-8 cigarettes are, how they work, which are the best to try and more.

What are Delta-8 Hemp Cigarettes?

Courtesy of TIMBR Organics

Delta-8 cigarettes are similar to traditional cigarettes, but instead of being filled with tobacco, they are made with 100 percent hemp flower. As such, they are 100 percent nicotine free and contain less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC.

Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that can be derived from plants in the Cannabaceae plant family, which includes cannabis and hemp.

It exists naturally and can also be produced by converting CBD or Delta-9 THC via a chemical reaction typically using heat, catalysts, altered pH environments and/or solvents.

Delta-8 THC exists in an “activated” state similar to Delta-9 THC, meaning it does not need to be decarboxylated to feel its effects.

Will Delta-8 THC Get You High?

As a variety of THC, Delta-8 THC will induce some psychotropics; however, the effects are known to be less mild than those impacted by Delta-9 THC.

That said, Delta-8 cigarettes will likely get you high, although the effects will vary from person to person.

In general, users report the following effects when using Delta-8 THC:

  • Mood boost
  • Increased sense of calm and relaxation
  • Reduce impact of aches
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased appetite

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

TIMBR Organics
Courtesy of TIMBR Organics

Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC both exhibit a similar chemical structure. Both cannabinoids feature a double-bonded structure, but the double-bond is located in different points of the chemical carbon chain with each form of THC.

Due to the unique formation of Delta-8 THC, it’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is slightly different from Delta-9 THC.

While Delta-9 THC binds directly to certain cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, Delta-8 does not offer the exact same reaction. As a result, Delta-8 is known to produce less intoxicating effects than Delta-9; however, additional research is required to fully understand this comparison.

TIMBR Organics
Courtesy of TIMBR Organics

To date, Delta-8 THC is legal in most states. Because Delta-8 is a form of THC but not necessarily the same thing, the cannabinoid lands in a bit of a legal grey area. It is important to note as well, the bulk of Delta-8 THC you find is derived from hemp, including Galaxy Treats, which is federally legal as long as the hemp-derived product contains less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC.

In spite of the fact that the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp derivatives, including Delta-8 THC, some states have tried to restrict Delta-8 THC. Therefore, it is important to check out the laws in your state. Another thing to keep in mind, you can find some Delta-8 products that are derived from traditional cannabis, which are definitely not legal in all states. 

TIMBR Organics
Courtesy of TIMBR Organics

When shopping for hemp cigarettes, it’s important to only purchase from a trustworthy company that uses the highest-quality, U.S.-grown hemp plants and thoroughly tests their products with a third-party lab to ensure they are compliant and pure.

If you’re looking for such a product, then look no further than TIMBR Organics Delta 8 Hemp Smokes.

Made from the highest-quality, US-grown hemp plants, TIMBR Organics Delta 8 Smokes contain 40mg of Delta-8 THC in every cigarette. 

All TIMBR Organics products, which includes hemp cigarettes, hemp flower, hemp pre-rolls and more, are rigorously tested using the highest level of testing standards possible and lab reports can easily be accessed on the “Lab Reports” page of their online store.

In addition, TIMBR Organics is a trusted, industry-leading brand with hundreds of reviews from verified customers that offers affordable prices, fast, free shipping options, convenient online shopping and world-class customer support.

If you’re interesting in giving TIMBR Organics Delta 8 Hemp Cigarettes a try, head to TIMBROrganics.com and use code “HIGH25” to enjoy free shipping and 25 percent off your entire order.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Delta-8 Hemp Cigarettes appeared first on High Times.

This is Why Two-Gram Vapes Are Becoming the New Industry Standard

As the hemp and cannabis industry’s progress in legalization has rapidly developed across America, its products and supply chain as a whole has swiftly followed suit. This is due to the blossoming of the Green Rush in 2012, which brought new laws and a massive bloom to the industry, enabling more research into our favorite flower and other alternative cannabinoids like delta-8 THC.

This green bloom also created a more robust industrial and economic cannabis machine, allowing for more saturation of manufacturers, farms, and products to emerge all across the board. This meant more THC products, at a better price, for everyone. And who doesn’t want that?

So naturally, our buddies at the extraction labs and cultivators around the nation have worked their magic and found ways to create higher quality products at a more rapid pace for a better price. Proving to be mutually beneficial for the industry and consumers alike.

For example, in a matter of three years, the cost of some concentrates has dropped nearly 500 percent—making delta-8 vapes and disposables the forerunners of the concentrate market. Creating an economic opportunity for companies to develop a more significant disposable device that holds twice the amount of concentrate for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, this goes for all concentrates, but as a great example of progressive legality and product availability, delta-8 has been held in high regard and should be mentioned specifically.

Now, when they’re talking about delta-8, they’re not talking about the unregulated snake oil you can purchase at your local gas station. No, they’re talking about the real-deal Holyfield, full-panel lab-tested, euphoric, powerhouse type of stuff—you know, the clean and potent concentrate that actually gets you high.

But, of course, if delta-8 doesn’t even scratch the surface of your psychoactive threshold, then let’s face it, you’re probably on some Cheech & Chong, Seth Rogan, Snoop Dogg, God mode type level of tolerance where dabs or diamonds should be your preferred ticket to cloud nine anyway. But for the rest of the population, especially those in states still closed off to traditional marijuana, the standard of a bigger and better delta-8 disposable vape will be a godsend to both rookies and veterans alike.

Read on to see why two-gram disposables vapes will be the new norm in the future and why bigger, in this case, is definitely better.

Courtesy of Delta Munchies

With the seemingly inevitable legalization of cannabis, the Farm Bill of 2018 has paved the way for the integration of more and more legal cannabinoids to enter the game. And leading the way of this legal renaissance has been delta-8 THC and their most sought-after device, the disposable vape.

Now, with most states open to delta-8, manufacturers have had free reign to develop a bigger, better, and more affordable device for consumers on the legal market. That means a more affordable disposable that carries a longer psychoactive capacity, available to ship safely, legally and discreetly to your front door.

That being said, there are hundreds of different disposable vapes out there, and their life span can vary from vape to vape for many reasons, such as how often you hit them and for how long. But on average, a one-gram disposable will last you around 350 draws, assuming your draws are around two seconds each.

This essentially means a two-gram disposable, as you would expect, carries a tank capacity of 700 draws for a much longer life span per device, taking you further than the smaller device ever could. In marathon terms, that means with a two-gram delta-8 vape at your “disposal,” you’ll initially be the Lance Armstrong of your very own cannabis Tour De France, but this time “doping” is legal. 

A Price Point that Benefits Consumers

If you’re anything like Snoop Dogg, that means getting high is one of your favorite pastimes, but you also have your mind on your money and your money on your mind. We all know that getting high and staying high is no cheap task. However, with concentrate prices falling dramatically as more and more legal states open up, manufacturers can create disposables with more oil that are much more cost-effective.

Now we’re at a beautiful point where it makes economic sense for companies to create a larger capacity device capable of seeing you through a blissful, psychoactive journey, all the while ensuring that you’ll make much fewer stops at banks and ATMs along the way. 

As of January 2022, the average one-gram delta-8 disposable sells for $40, while the average two-gram disposable sells for $50. That means for an extra $10, you’ll receive a whole extra gram. To put this into even more perspective, for every two extra-large disposables you purchase, you’ll be saving $60.

This means you can buy an extra one-gram vape with the money you saved and still have $20 leftover, which can go towards gas, munchies, or even your next high-time adventure! If you’re already smoking one-gram delta-8 disposables, making the upgrade to a two-gram device should be a no-brainer.

Two-Gram Vapes
Courtesy of Delta Munchies

Reducing Waste with Discretion and Convenience

Ah, yes, discretion. Any pothead should have this word in their repertoire or vocabulary, especially if you’ve been partaking since the early days when legality was not on the side of your everyday smoker. Nowadays, especially compared to the old times, you could say the millennial and gen-z generational stoner has been spoiled by progressive cannabis laws, and by no means is that a bad thing.

In fact, there should be more freedom of smoke all around the nation! But even if marijuana or delta-8 is legal in your state, there are still many reasons for discretion, especially if you’re in a setting that involves people who might not share the same love for cannabis, or maybe you’re in a location that’s shrouded with responsibility, like around underaged kids or in a work environment. 

With discretion should come convenience. In this case, they go hand-in-hand. One-gram vapes are already the most suitable inhalation product on the market for their compact size, pre-filled chamber, long-lasting battery, and portability that makes them functional for use in any setting. So, does that mean bigger isn’t better? In this case, when they say “bigger,” they’re not talking about the device’s actual size but the capacity of what it holds.

Most two-gram disposable vapes are only 30 percent bigger, relative to the physical size of traditional one-gram vapes—still making them compact, discreet, and portable. This means they also take fewer materials to create, essentially reducing waste and the ecological footprint—allowing the environment to take a slight breather.

Two-Gram Vapes
Courtesy of Delta Munchies

The Bottom Line

Whoever said two is better than one definitely nailed it on the head. With the evolution of the cannabis industry and legality opening up as the days go by, it finally makes economic sense for companies to introduce two-gram disposable delta-8 vapes into the market. Opening the door for consumers to gladly reap the benefits of a compact, safe, user-friendly device for a fraction of the cost.

Companies like Delta Munchies are leading the way to re-vitalizing the free spirit of cannabis nature with their fun and educational approach to alternative cannabinoids. They’re currently offering a buy 2 get 1 free deal for their revolutionary two-gram vapes. Click here to learn more. 

The post This is Why Two-Gram Vapes Are Becoming the New Industry Standard appeared first on High Times.

Legacy Cannabis Operators Shunned From Billion Dollar Industry

Legacy cannabis operators are the ones who bore the brunt of prohibition and paved the way for a new, legal market to flourish; one worth billions and one that has been unwelcoming, at best, to these industry OGs. Cannabis activists and many longtime business owners are pushing for the inclusion of legacy brands in the world of legalized pot. Otherwise, states are missing out on billions of dollars annually as illicit sales continue to thrive, even in recreational markets.  

The cannabis industry has changed a lot over the last few years, but fundamentally, we all want the same thing: progress, although that could have varying meanings for different people. For more articles like this one, and for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products, remember to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter. Also save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!

What are legacy cannabis operators?  

Legacy operators are the trailblazers who started their cannabis businesses before it was legal, and are much more in-line with ‘stoner culture’ and history. The term can refer to business owners who run “grey market” dispensaries that have not yet become legally compliant, or street dealers who continue operating the same way they have been for decades. 

While some legacy operators have no intentions of going legit, an overwhelming majority say they would if the process wasn’t so expensive and permeated with red tape. With so many different and constantly changing regulations to adhere to, and startup costs in the hundreds of thousands, it’s no surprise that legality is out of reach for many.  

Take De’Shawn Avery from New York, who has been selling flowers for years and claims he “provided a very in-demand product when there was no product.” Before legalization, savvy entrepreneurs like Avery were a community staple that many of us were very grateful for; after legalization, they began to worry about the future of their businesses and what their roles would be in the new industry.  

Avery, and generations of other legacy dealers, fear they don’t fit the modern-day archetype of a cannabis businessperson. “It’s usually not Black people or people with records who are favored when it comes to money-making opportunities,” he pointed out.

And he’s not far off the mark for thinking that way. A few states have started to keep information on demographics within the cannabis industry and a study conducted by Marijuana Business Daily found that only 4.3 percent of cannabis companies are owned by African Americans, 5.7 percent were Hispanic/Latino owned, and 2.4% were owned by Asian Americans. That leaves 87.6 percent of pot business that are white-owned, most of which are also male-owned companies.  

To make matters worse, in most states people with prior felonies face additional restrictions when applying for cannabis business licensing. So, let’s say a legacy operator gets arrested on felony drug possession charges, then cannabis becomes legal in their state the following year. Despite having experience in the industry, existing clientele, and the perfect opportunity to transition from working in the shadows to being a legitimate business owner; they would have to wait 3 to 10 years before they could legally apply for a license. At that point, all the other businesses in their area would be already established, have possibly stolen some of their customers, and it would be even more difficult to get a foot in the door. 

The cannabis industry is definitely more inclusive than others, but often, still holds on tightly to that ‘old-boys club’ mentality that can make women, minorities, and those longtime legacy operators feel shut out.  

Looking West 

For a perfect example of the struggles faced by cannabis legacy operators, let’s take a quick look at what has been going on in California since the state passed proposition 215 and legalized medical marijuana back in 1996. At that point, the industry was still small and totally fringe. Most residents did not even know that cannabis had been legalized medicinally for so many years, and there were only a small number of dispensaries scattered throughout the state. 

By the time I turned 18 (in 2008) and was able to get a ‘medical card’ (which was shockingly easy and practically every pothead I knew had one), the industry had become very recreational. “Dispensaries”, or retail pot shops, were popping up everywhere. I once bought weed from a guy who was running his “dispensary” out of a detached garage on is property in the middle of Victorville, a small town in the high desert on the way to Vegas.

That “anything-goes” state of the industry led to the eventual passing of Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized the possession and recreational use of cannabis for anyone 21 years of age or older. A lot of the businesses operating under the original medical regime, or under the table as many were, could not meet all the demands of operating in the new legal market, and thus, were forced to shut down or continue running illegally.  

One of the biggest issues, aside from the exorbitant costs of licensing, were local moratoriums and that zoned only certain areas for cultivation, retail, and other cannabis operations. By July 2021, still just 31 counties and 181 cities (out of 58 and 482, respectively) allow any type of marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions.  

 “We voted for a law, and we are blocked at the local level,” says Andrew DeAngelo, a long-time California cannabis activist, industry consultant, and co-founder of legacy dispensary chain, Harborside Collective. “There are big counties that are known for growing weed where it’s banned,” he adds. 

States are losing billions 

This excessive regulation, greed, lack of consultation or legal help, and over-taxation has resulted in an estimated loss of up to 75% of potential cannabis revenues in some markets. In California, for example, data firms peg the number at around $5.6 billion dollars lost to the illicit market every year, that’s just over one half of the market’s total value in the state.  

It’s the only state so far that has seen recreational sales shrink following legalization. And the massive busts of illegal businesses rage on as high taxes and insane operating costs drive up prices, which are then passed on to the consumer. Instead of paying more money for crappier product, many people just stick to buying it from their dealers or illegal dispensaries that charge less and don’t pay taxes.  

Not to mention the convenience of buying from dealers, who have traditionally operated on a text-and-delivery or text-and-pickup basis. Even with a growing number of drive-throughs and delivery services, it’s still so much easier to buy from your local plug sometimes.  

A ‘less-than-welcoming’ industry  

The B2B side of the cannabis world is just like any other industry, and to be successful, you’ll need to be familiar with all the legislative and business jargon that comes with a billion-dollar industry. In cannabis, things can be much more complicated as far as regulations and business dealings are concerned; so the list of topics you’ll need to know, at least at a base level, can get quite expansive.  

“I’ve had to educate myself tremendously just to make sure I can speak the language that these people are speaking,” says Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers, a family of weed brands from cultivation to retail that previously operated a delivery business prior to legalization. “So, if I’m in a meeting and they’re talking about 1031 Real Estate transfers, I know what 1031 Real Estate transfers are.” 

The ultra-capitalistic environment coupled with constant oversight and regular contact with law enforcement and state/local governments, fosters an environment that feels stuffy, tense, and inhospitable – especially for anyone who has faced their own legal turmoil over cannabis, and still cannot fully trust those powers that be.  

Nomenclature: Legacy market vs black market  

Much like the politicized issue of the words “marijuana” vs “cannabis”, there is an ongoing debate about replacing the term “black market” with different phrases, one of which is “legacy market”. Black market doesn’t apply solely to cannabis, it refers to any economic activity that happens illegally.  

The selling of illegal products, of course, is a black market activity. But selling legal products in ways that are not prohibited also classifies. Like buying cigarettes in one state and selling them in another, for example. Cigarettes are legal in every US state, but because tobacco tax codes vary so much, you cannot legally buy cigarettes in Arizona and go sell them in California for a profit.  

The idea has been floating around that using the phrase “black market” is outdated and culturally insensitive. Danielle Jackson (Miz D), a Vancouver-born artist, advocate and entrepreneur, was one of the first to say publicly that “legacy market” should be used over “black market” when describing pre-legalization cannabis businesses. Her comment got overwhelming support from the audience.  

Many are tweeting in agreeance, such as Jennifer Caldwell , partner and technical lead at Cannabis License Experts, who added that, “To me, the term ‘black market’ implies a negative connotation of illegality and illegitimacy. Whether people are growing illegally or not is a complex topic at the moment.” 

Moving forward

Seeing how much money is on the line, legal states are beginning to offer incentives to make the transition more seamless for legacy cannabis operators. In California, in addition to the $100 million bailout, Governor Newsom has suggested expungement of cannabis-related convictions as well as an extension to allow licensees that have missed the deadlines to transition; albeit at high costs and great inconvenience, still. Other states are taking similar steps to ensure these business owners – the true backbone of the industry – are less excluded.

With legacy dealers, the experience can be a very mom-and-pop, tight-knit atmosphere, so word of out is key to the growth of these businesses. When big businesses come and take over all the available retail locations, cultivation spaces, and advertising channels, there’s little room left for any small businesses to make a name for themselves.  

“We’ve seen in lots of other states that big pharma, big tobacco, alcohol and large companies are all prepared to move in and just take over right away,” says New York State Senator Liz Krueger. “We don’t want that to be the story in New York. We want the story to be small mom-and-pop community-based businesses starting and growing and expanding…[and] we want people who are selling in the communities that they live in, in the illegal market and out of the illegal market.” 

“We don’t need anybody that’s coming in here just for the financial aspect,” added Edgar Cruz, CEO of cannabis brand Ekstrepe, based out of Long Beach, California. “We all understand that this is a cash cow now. What we need is support for our communities to make sure that we are included in this kind of cultural-based industry.” 

Final thoughts  

This is a lesson that every state or country considering legalization needs to take note of. Despite the financial success of the legal cannabis industry, we need more education and resources, and less taxes and regulatory red tape to harness the untapped knowledge, connections, experience, and economic wealth that exists in the legacy market. Otherwise, consumers will continue shopping in illicit markets, states will lose millions, and legalization will have done little more than prevent people from getting arrested for pot possession in certain areas.

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Legacy Cannabis Operators Shunned From Billion Dollar Industry appeared first on CBD Testers.

Quebec To Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Cannabis Purchase

Buying cannabis in Quebec will require a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a directive issued by the province’s government last week. Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on January 6 that customers purchasing marijuana at government-funded stores must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. The health minister said that an effective date for the vaccine mandate to purchase cannabis would be determined by government officials once all citizens have had a chance to receive a third shot of the vaccine. Dubé encouraged those who would be affected by the measure to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.

“If the unvaccinated aren’t happy with this situation, there is a very simple solution at your disposal,” Dubé said at a press conference covered by Fox Business. “It is to get vaccinated. It’s free. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, stay home.” 

Quebec Rolling Out Vaccine Passport System

The new directive expands a vaccine passport system that requires three shots. Currently, those aged 50 and older can access a booster shot by the government, which plans to expand eligibility for boosters to all adults as soon as next week.

The vaccine mandate for cannabis applies to government-funded or state-owned businesses known as crown corporations that sell marijuana or alcohol. According to a report from CTV Montreal, Yann Langlais Plante, a spokesperson for the Société des alcohols du Québec (SAQ), told reporters that the organization’s retailers would enforce the new vaccine requirement “as we have done with all other efforts deployed since the beginning of the pandemic.” 

Dubé’s comments were similar to those made by French President Emmanuel Macron only two days earlier. In an interview, Macron said that he wanted to make life as difficult as possible for those who still have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this—to the end,” Macron told the newspaper Le Parisien on January 4, as translated by the BBC.

The French president added that the government would not resort to harsher measures, such as forced vaccinations or arrests, but access to public places would be limited for the unvaccinated later this month.

“I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison,” he said. “So we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”

Opposition Says Quebec Government Has ‘Lost Control’

Quebec opposition leader Dominique Anglade of the Liberal Party said that the administration of the province’s premier, François Legault, was making decisions based on politics instead of science and argued that the government has “lost control.”

“All of this is creating a lot of anxiety in the population, and François Legault is nowhere to be seen this week,” Anglade said after Legault failed to attend a press conference last week.

François Vincent, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s vice-president for Quebec, is against expanding the vaccine passport system to include additional retail businesses. He noted that companies already facing personnel shortages and difficulties hiring would bear the brunt of enforcing the vaccine mandate.

“The strategy is to get people to get vaccinated, but you’re asking the private sector to do the job without giving them the tools,” Vincent said.

Despite the pushback, Cheryl Milne, a constitutional lawyer and executive director of the Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, said that the vaccine requirements would likely survive any potential challenges on legal grounds. She noted that buying cannabis in Quebec would still be available to the unvaccinated from privately-owned retailers that are not required to enforce the mandate. 

“Obviously, they’re thinking they need to step up pressure on people who are refusing to be vaccinated,” Milne said. “It’s untested at this point, but so far the courts, when looking at vaccine mandates or restrictions on liberty rights such as travel, have mostly sided with the provinces, who are trying to ensure vaccine compliance or public health measures to stop the spread of the virus.”

Amir Attaran, a professor with both the faculty of law and the school of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, agreed with Milne, noting that there are no laws preventing the Canadian government from requiring most members of the public to be vaccinated.

“The governments in Canada have yet to lose a lawsuit” about vaccine mandates, Attaran noted. “As long as they set up a mechanism whereby persons having a medical or religious reason not to vaccinate are accorded reasonable exemptions, then they’ve demonstrated fundamental justice.”

The post Quebec To Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Cannabis Purchase appeared first on Cannabis Now.

California Governor Expresses Support for Marijuana Tax Reform

California Governor Gavin Newsom indicated on Monday that he is open to making changes in the state’s taxation of the legal cannabis industry and urged local governments to allow legal cannabis companies to operate in their jurisdictions. After releasing a state budget proposal for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the Democratic governor told reporters that regulatory changes could support California’s legal cannabis industry while curbing the illicit market.

“It is my goal to look at tax policy to stabilize markets; at the same time, it’s also my goal to get these municipalities to wake up to the opportunities to get rid of the illegal market and the illicit market and provide support and a regulatory framework for the legal market,” Newsome said at a press conference on Monday, and added, “We have a lot of work to do in this space and this year I’m looking forward to working directly with the legislature on reforms.”

Last month, dozens of activists and licensed cannabis operators sent a letter to Newsom warning of a potential collapse of California’s regulated cannabis industry. The group argued that high taxes are making licensed businesses unprofitable and promoting competition from illicit operators. 

In the budget proposal, the Newsom administration projects that the state will collect $787 million over the 2022-2023 tax year, which represents a decrease of about $34.2 million compared to the 2021 state budget. The budget estimates that of the cannabis tax revenue raised, approximately $595 million will be available to fund substance abuse treatment, environmental remediation of illicit cannabis cultivation operations and activities related to public safety.

The proposed budget notes that the Newsom administration supports cannabis reform and plans to work with the state legislature to amend California’s tax policy. The administration also plans to continue developing a grant program “that will aid local governments in, at a minimum,  opening up legal retail access to consumers.”

“We’ve plugged in budget components on the basis of an estimate in January of $787 million, so any reforms need to consider the impacts to those categories of funding and investments, how that gets offset, and we augment that support,” Newsom said when asked to clarify the language in the budget proposal. “It should consider different components of the industry, and reformers have been offered a plug-in, and so I’ll just leave it at that except to say there was intention by having that language in the budget.”

California Budget Funds New Regulatory Proposals

The budget proposal allocates $13.6 million dollars to fund several proposals for the state’s Department of Cannabis Control, including $5.5 million to develop a unified single licensing system for future cannabis business licenses and the transition of existing licensing data. In addition, $2.2 million will be spent to create a data warehouse to store the department’s data, processes, and procedures to maintain data integrity, as well as data displays and visualizations for the DCC website. Another $6.1 million will fund a multi-year consumer awareness and safety education campaign.

Blake Schroeder, CEO of San Diego-based Medical Marijuana, Inc., applauded the budget’s investment in cannabis data and licensing systems. But he criticized the overall reduction in cannabis spending, saying “it’s a shame that funds that would typically ensure more public and environmental safety in the industry are being cut.”

“Cannabis has been wrongly deemed the ‘Wild Wild West’ many times before, but there are still safety precautions, and consequences for illicit operators, that must be enforced,” Schroeder wrote in an email to High Times. “We are excited by the state’s renewed commitment to cannabis awareness programs, as this is a large part of our mission as well.” 

But Danielle Dao, founder and co-CEO of California-licensed cannabis operator Eco Farm Holdings PBC, criticized the amount spent on regulators and called for cannabis tax funds to be spent to prop up licensed operators struggling with competition from the illicit market and local bans on cannabis commerce.

“Attempting to operate a cannabis business while 60 percent of the state is comprised of counties that have banned cannabis or created lengthy multi-year processes for licensure reflects a failure from the state to enact a functional supply chain,” Dao wrote in an email.

Before the California budget is finalized, state lawmakers will also submit a proposed budget this spring. Lawmakers will then hold a series of budget policy committee hearings before drafting the final budget bill, which must be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor to become law.

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Second Petition to Legalize Cannabis Proposed in Oklahoma

The new year has brought a second bid to legalize cannabis in Oklahoma.

A petition to get a legalization initiative on the state ballot for Oklahoma this year was filed to the local secretary of state’s office on Tuesday, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.

The latest campaign is being driven by an Oklahoma woman named Michelle Tilley, who spearheaded a failed effort to get a legalization initiative on the state’s ballot in 2020.

“This is an effort that started several years ago but has grown,” Tilley told the newspaper in an interview. “We have a broad coalition of Oklahomans—small business owners, small growers, users and criminal justice reform people, as well.” 

The paper reported that the proposal “details a framework for adult-use cannabis, seeks to impose a 15 percent excise tax on recreational cannabis sales and includes a criminal justice element that would make the new law apply retroactively, which would allow some drug offenders to have their convictions reversed and records expunged.”

The upshot is that voters in Oklahoma could see two cannabis legalization measures on the ballot come November. 

That is because a separate petition to legalize pot was filed with the Oklahoma secretary of state back in October. 

Filed by a group called Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, the first proposal is similar to the one brought by Tilley and company.

Both would legalize weed for adults ages 21 and older, and both would levy a 15 percent tax on cannabis sales and both contain social justice provisions that would pardon and expunge previous low-level pot convictions.

“A lot of this is stuff that has been advocated for by a lot of folks in the community and industry over the last three years, and I don’t see it’s going to make it through the legislative process any time soon,” Jed Green, an organizer of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, said at the time his group’s petition was filed.

“Until we pass recreational (marijuana legalization) we will not be able to truly bring stability to our program. Legalization prevents diversion,” he continued. “Folks have been and are going to use marijuana. Have been for decades. It is in the best interest of our state to get ahead of the curve on this issue. We must put this issue to rest.”

But there are some notable distinctions between the two campaigns, as The Oklahoman explained.

Perhaps most significantly, Tilley’s proposal, which would appear on the ballot as State Question 820, “proposes statutory changes to existing state law,” and if it were to be approved, “the governor and state lawmakers could modify the recreational marijuana laws through the legislative process,” according to The Oklahoman.

The proposal offered up by Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis, by contrast, would amend the state constitution and, thus, could only be further changed by voters.

The Oklahoman reported that Tilley’s campaign has won the support of “New Approach PAC, which is based out of Washington, D.C., and has spent millions supporting marijuana legalization campaigns in other states.”

Green said that his campaign has been driven by Oklahoma voters.

“Our effort is the homegrown effort, and this petition (SQ 820) is the corporate cannabis effort,” he told The Oklahoman.

The newspaper laid out the state of play for both campaigns. 

“The signature requirement to qualify constitutional petitions for the statewide ballot is nearly double that of statutory changes,” according to the report. “Supporters of SQ 819 will have to collect 177,957 signatures in 90 days, whereas proponents of SQ 820 will have the same time period to collect 94,910 signatures to qualify for a statewide vote.”

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South Dakota Lawmakers Prepare Dozens Of Cannabis Reform Bills

Only weeks after the South Dakota Supreme Court struck down a cannabis legalization initiative passed by voters, state lawmakers will consider more than two dozen bills to reform cannabis policy during the new legislative session beginning this month.

Legislators have already filed at least 38 bills for the legislative session that begins this month, according to media reports. Of them, at least two dozen of the bills tackle policy pertaining to medical marijuana or adult-use cannabis. 

Medical Marijuana Bills up for Consideration

Many of the bills coming before the legislature were drafted to implement Initiated Measure 26 (IM 26), a ballot measure to legalize medical cannabis passed by voters in the November 2020 election. Rollout of the state’s new medical cannabis program has begun, with the first medical marijuana identification card being issued by the state in November 2021. Local governments have started to license medical cannabis dispensaries, although the state has yet to issue any cultivation licenses.

IM 26 gave the legislature the authority to pass legislation necessary to implement the measure. Last summer, a legislative Marijuana Interim Study Committee held three meetings to draft legislation to enact provisions of IM 26. Republican State Rep. Fred Deutsch, a member of the committee, said that some of the legislative proposals make minor amendments to the language in the ballot measure.

“I look at all the bills coming through the state Senate as ‘clean up bills,” Deutsch told reporters recently. “They are the result of the summer study, and are pretty much just low-hanging fruit, that is how I think of them. All of them passed by large numbers (in committee.)”

Deutsch noted, however, that the proposed bills retain the spirit of the ballot measure approved by the electorate.

“I want to provide voters the opportunity to have the medical marijuana program that they voted for,” Deutsch said. “A robust, medical program.”

One of the proposals, Senate Bill 10, requires medical marijuana patients to present identification when the purchase cannabis at dispensaries. Senate Bill 16 revises criminal statutes to allow for medical marijuana activities legalized by IM 26, while Senate Bill 18 revises the rule-making authority for medicinal cannabis.  

Recreational Marijuana Bill Filed in State Senate

Republican state Senator Michael Rohl is sponsoring Senate Bill 3, a measure that legalizes the use of recreational cannabis by adults 21 and older. The bill also establishes a system to regulate the production and sale of recreational marijuana.

“(The bill) is a compromise between eight members of the Senate and sixteen members of the House,” Republican Senator Michael Rohl, the sponsor of the bill, explained. “The bill would modernize our criminal code and instruct the Department of Revenue to prepare for adult-use cannabis sales in South Dakota.”

Cannabis advocates including Matthew Schweich, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, say it is past time to legalize recreational marijuana in South Dakota.

“The support we are seeing in the legislature for cannabis reform, which has never been seen before at this level in South Dakota, is a sign that legislators are listening to their constituents,” said Schweich. “They recognize that South Dakota voters are disappointed and angry with the ruling by the state’s Supreme Court on Amendment A.”

Adult-Use Cannabis Ballot Measure Struck Down

Voters also approved Amendment A, a constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis, in the November 2020 election. However, Republican Governor Kristi Noem challenged the validity of the measure on technical grounds and supported a lawsuit to nullify the ballot measure approved by voters.

In November 2021, the South Dakota Supreme Court struck down Amendment A, ruling that the proposal covered more than one legislative subject in violation of state rules governing voter-led ballot initiatives. Chief Justice Steven Jensen wrote for the majority that the ballot measure clearly contained “provisions embracing at least three separate subjects, each with distinct objects or purposes.”

After the court’s decision was announced, Noem took to social media to express her support for the ruling.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision on Amendment A is about,” Noem tweeted on November 24. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law.”

Noem’s views, however, are not in line with those of South Dakota’s voters. A poll conducted in the state last month found that more than half of the voters disapproved of the governor’s handling of cannabis policy, while only 39 percent said they supported her stance.

South Dakota lawmakers return to the state capitol in Pierre on Tuesday, January 11. The governor is scheduled to make her annual State of the State address the same day at noon Central Standard Time.

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New York Governor to Create $200M Cannabis Fund with Social Equity Focus

Using the occasion of her first State of the State address to highlight the plan, New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration said that the new, lucrative industry should consider those living in less privileged areas. 

“New York’s legalized cannabis industry is in development, with the State expecting to issue licenses for adult recreational use. But the rise of what is estimated to be a $4.2 billion industry must create opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities,” the governor’s office said in a handbook detailing her proposals for the coming year. 

Hochul, who became New York’s first female governor in August after her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, resigned amid scandal, gave her State of the State address on Wednesday.

“In support of that goal, Governor Hochul will create a $200 million public-private fund to support social equity applicants as they plan for and build out their businesses,” the handbook continued. “Licensing fees and tax revenue will seed the fund and leverage significant private investment.”

Since taking office, Hochul has been vocal in her desire to get the state’s legal pot program off the ground and running. A spokesperson for Hochul said in August that nominating “individuals with diverse experiences and subject matter expertise, who are representative of communities from across the state, to the Cannabis Control Board is a priority” for the new governor.

In September, Hochul made a pair of appointments to the board of Office of Cannabis Management, which has been tasked with “[creating and implementing] a comprehensive regulatory framework for New York’s cannabis industry, including the production, licensing, packaging, marketing and sale of cannabis products.”

The two positions had been left unfilled, typifying the lack of progress that had been made on the new cannabis law since it was signed by Cuomo last spring.

“New York’s cannabis industry has stalled for far too long—I am making important appointments to set the Office of Cannabis Management up for success so they can hit the ground running,” Hochul said at the time of the appointments.

That same month, Hochul announced that New York lawmakers had finally confirmed the appointment of Tremaine Wright as Chair of New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and Christopher Alexander as Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

“One of my top priorities is to finally get New York’s cannabis industry up and running—this has been long overdue, but we’re going to make up for lost time with the Senate confirmation of Tremaine Wright as Chair of the Cannabis Control Board and Christopher Alexander as Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management,” Hochul said in a statement at the time.

In the handbook put out by her office this week, Hochul’s administration said that the $200 million fund will help the state meet its goal of awarding 50 percent of licenses for cannabis business to “social equity candidates,” which include “individuals from impacted communities, minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs), distressed farmers, justice-involved individuals, and service-disabled veterans.” 

In addition, the administration said that New York will “will create a State-run business incubator to further support equity applicants.”

“While New York has committed to making its cannabis industry more equitable, this action will put that commitment into practice. New York will lead where many other states have fallen short,” the book stated. “The governor is focused on providing more than basic business support and training for our future cannabis entrepreneurs, and this fund will provide direct capital and startup financing to social equity applicants as the State takes meaningful steps to ensuring that New York’s cannabis industry is the most diverse and inclusive in the nation.”

New York officially legalized weed last March, when Cuomo signed a bill into law. While dispensaries likely won’t open their doors until next year, many parts of legalization, including possession and public consumption, took effect immediately.

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