Cannabis Heroes of History: How Robert Randall Beat the U.S.

When we think of the legalization of cannabis, it is not a short, concise, or simple story. And each step forward has been the result of some kind of governmental policy change due to changing opinions, or legal consequences as the result of a person’s actions. In this article we’re going back to the re-introduction of medical cannabis in America, which all started in the 70’s with Robert Randall, when he beat the U.S. in court.

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Who is this guy?

There really wasn’t anything terribly special about Robert Randall for the first part of his life.  He was born in 1948 in Sarasota Florida, and attended the University of South Florida as a political science major starting at age 19, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in speech and a master’s degree in rhetoric. During this time he started to realize issues with his vision. He would see halos with different colors around lights, his vision would get fuzzy, and he experienced white-blindness – or achromatopsia, a form of color blindness that makes it difficult to distinguish any colors at all. Randall did go to the doctor to investigate these vision issues, but due to his age, he was told it was a result of stress.

After he graduated from university, Randall moved to Washington, DC where he took up as a cab driver. Around 1972, he realized that if he closed his left eye, he was no longer able to read out of his right eye. It didn’t matter if the writing was close up to his face, or several inches away. This time when he went to an ophthalmologist, he was finally given the diagnosis of glaucoma.

There is no cure for glaucoma today, which means there sure wasn’t any back then. Not only was Randall given this diagnosis, but he was told he would go fully blind in three to five years. As with most conditions with no real workable treatment, glaucoma sufferers are generally put on medications to try to preserve eyesight for as long as possible. Then and now, such medications are associated with pain, chronic fatigue, kidney issues, and more. Randall was thoroughly unhappy with the situation.

What is glaucoma?

glaucoma

Before getting farther into Randall’s story, let’s take a look at his affliction to get a better idea of what he was suffering from. Glaucoma is the name given to a number of eye conditions that specifically target and damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve sits in the back of the eye and is responsible for the transfer of visual information from the retina of the eye, to the vision center of the brain, which is does through electrical impulses. The optic nerve itself does not make sense of the information coming in, but rather acts as a vital link in the chain, passing on information to the brain where it can be deciphered.

It’s like a waiter writing down your order at a restaurant and then taking it back to the kitchen where the chef can decode it to prepare the meal. Imagine what would happen if the waiter hurt his leg and could only limp back and forth. Or if he disappeared altogether. There would be no way to get the information from the eaters, all the way to the chefs. It suffices to say that a well-functioning optic nerve is necessary for good vision.

One of the ways glaucoma damages the optic nerve, is with abnormally high pressure. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in those 60 years of age and older, and while it does usually target older generations, it can occur at any age.

I can actually account for this myself, having had high eye pressures nearly my entire life (also affected by the thickness of the cornea, or in my case, the thinness of the cornea). My grandfather was nearly completely blind when he died with glaucoma a couple years ago, my uncle was just as lucky as Robert Randall, being diagnosed in his college years, and my mother actually required holes drilled in her corneas to relieve the pressure. It does say quite a bit for modern medicine that my mother and her brother have not lost their vision…yet. Loss of vision from glaucoma cannot be recovered. Most people with this affliction lose their vision gradually, and often problems aren’t realized until way too late.

There are two types of glaucoma, they are defined by the angle created by the iris (the part of the eye with color) and the cornea, which is the outer layer that covers the eye. Open-angle glaucoma refers to when the iris is in the right place, but fluid is kept from appropriately exiting, creating a build-up of pressure. Kind of like having a clogged drain. In closed-angle glaucoma, the iris itself is usually misshapen or damaged, causing it to be squeezed against the cornea. This also blocks the ability for moisture to leave, allowing for a build-up of pressure. Open-angle is substantially more common.

If you are concerned you might have an eye issue like glaucoma, please consult your family physician or a specialist. Some basic warning signs to be aware of:

Open-angle – patchy blind spots in central or peripheral vision, in one or both eyes. Tunnel vision when advanced stages are reached.

Closed-angle (narrow-angle, acute-angle) – intense headaches, eye pain, blurry vision, halos around lights, eye redness, nausea and vomiting.

glaucoma and cannabis

And now back to Robert Randall

Robert Randall had smoked marijuana before, and remembered that it had helped with eye strain previously. Around 1973 he realized that smoking cannabis did, indeed, help his eyesight. In fact, remember those halos he was seeing around lights? He found that smoking cannabis helped eliminate them. He found such relief from cannabis that he eventually started growing it himself to cut down on costs. In early 1975, marijuana plants were found on his back porch, and in August of that year, he was busted for simple possession of cannabis. At this time, cannabis was 100% illegal for recreational or medical use in the U.S., and not one state had a medical marijuana policy. The use of cannabis had been outlawed since the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

Randall decided to fight back. He went in front of the court and presented a medical defense that even his lawyer was not behind, stating that smoking marijuana helped to minimize his suffering from glaucoma. This was a completely novel claim at the time. But Randall persevered, finding research conducted through UCLA that supported his claim, and going through a litany of tests to prove his point.

The United States vs Randall

There are plenty of landmark cases in U.S. legal history, and this case is certainly one of them. In 1976, Robert Randall went up against the US federal government using a medical necessity defense for his use of marijuana. Through the case it was found that according to the original diagnosing doctor, Doctor Fine, that the drugs being used to treat his glaucoma were completely ineffective by 1974 due to increased resistance.

Once on trial, he became a participant in experimental programs led by Dr. Hepler who worked for the US government. Dr. Hepler testified in court that Randall was not being helped by the medications, and that surgery was a dangerous idea as it could result in immediate blindness. In fact, the main result of the medical tests was that marijuana smoke did reduce his visual problems, and had a beneficial effect on his overall condition.

The court ruled in Randall’s favor as it found he met all the requirements for a necessity defense, and that he had not caused his own blindness. Judge James A. Washington of the D.C. Superior Court stated when Randall beat the U.S. “…the evil he sought to avert, blindness, is greater than that he performed.” When Robert Randall beat the U.S., he became the first person in the U.S. since 1937 who could legally smoke marijuana. And not just smoke it, but have it provided to him by the U.S. government. Something that continued until his death on June 2nd 2001 due to AIDS complications.

Around the same time that Randall beat the U.S. in court and the charges were dismissed, Randall’s attorneys were successful in petitioning the FDA to have him participate in a research program that would allot him 10 joints a day. This was fine, though Randall often complained about the quality of the government marijuana, claiming it tasted metallic and that street cannabis was better. Then in 1978, his eye doctor moved states and Randall was abruptly dropped from the program. So, what did he do? In 1978 Randall successfully sued the U.S. government to be included in the program once more! Yes, Randall beat the U.S. government again. In fact, this means Randall beat the U.S. government twice. First defensively, and then offensively.

Since then…

marijuana activists

Randall wasn’t just out for himself, he became one of the leading cannabis activists of the time. He travelled around lecturing – even risking his own ability to access cannabis, as well as pushing for legal change. Between 1978-1980, he was an instrumental aide in enacting 30 different laws throughout the States that recognized the medical benefits of cannabis, and also helped establish programs to provide medical cannabis access to patients. Most were never actually active though as the federal government fought hard to close them.

In 1981 he founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, a non-profit which pushed for greater legal freedoms when it comes to medical marijuana. He even drafted legislation for the 97th congress for the fair and compassionate use of medical marijuana. Hearings were never heard on it, but it did attract 110 co-sponsors including a young Newt Gingrich.

In the 1990’s he began focusing more on AIDS, likely because of his own situation of being diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He established MARS – the Marijuana AIDS Research Service to help those with AIDS obtain cannabis for medicine. Hundreds of patients went to access this service, and though it was initially approved by the government, it was abruptly closed, even though requests had been given the okay. This left a lot of sick people with no means for legal, useful, cannabis medication, and public outrage over it led to different states eventually offering up ballot measures. It’s what helped drive California to pass Proposition 215 in 1996, becoming the first state to have an instituted medical marijuana program (which came well after Virginia allowed medical use in a drug bill, but never put it into action).

Randall also authored six books, one of which was about his plight. Co-authored with his partner Alice O’Leary, the book is entitled Marijuana RX: the Patients Fight for Medical Pot. He died in 2001 in the same city he was born, Sarasota, Florida. He was 53 years old.

Conclusion

Robert Randall’s name is not one of the more well-known when it comes to legal antics or cannabis, yet he proved himself to be one of the most important figures in the re-establishment of medical marijuana. As medical legalization policies sprout up all over the world, and as medical cannabis was just rescheduled according to the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Substances, perhaps we should take a minute to give a little thankful appreciation to one of the heroes that helped make it happen. So thank you Robert Randall, for having the intelligence, motivation, and drive to beat the U.S. in court, and for fighting to help those in need.

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References

Why Using THC Is Good for the Eyes
Cannabis and Schizophrenia – Not a Testable Hypothesis

Cannabis Falling from the Sky in Israel
Can CBG Be The Answer To Treating Glaucoma?

Prop 65 Warning on California Cannabis Products Opens the Floodgates for Next Nobel Prize Winner? Will Legal Synthetic Cannabinoids Take Over Cannabis Industry?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Lebanon Legalized Medical Cannabis, 1st in Arab World
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
How Green Is Ireland When It Comes to Cannabis Regulation?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020.  The best delta-8 THC deals, coupons and discounts.
As Medical Cannabis Industry Booms, China Remains Quietly on Top Virginia and Cannabis, Setting the Record Straight The World’s First Fully Stable and Genetically Uniform Cannabis Hybrid Seeds
Can You Be Allergic to Cannabis?

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Finally! CBD Is Not Dangerous Drug, Says Israel

More and more countries have been loosening their policies when it comes to the non-psychoactive component of cannabis – CBD (cannabidiol). With a new amendment waiting for final approval, Israel says CBD is not dangerous, and is expected next week to remove it from its Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

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When it comes to cannabis, Israel is not the most lax country when it comes to regulation. However, this undermines the fact that Israel is about the most far ahead when it comes to medical research concerning cannabis. With the help of Raphael Mechoulam, whose work was roundly ignored for decades, and who in the more recent environment of cannabis acceptance has now been lauded for his work, Israel has been the world leader in cannabis research. This did not stop the drug from being completely illegal recreationally, with no personal use laws until only the last couple years. Now, in a move that shows its ready to play catch-up for real, Israel not only is discussing plans for a recreational legalization, but is set to remove CBD from its list of dangerous drugs, with the expectation that CBD products will soon be lining supermarket shelves.

Current Israeli cannabis laws

Israel only instituted a decriminalization policy for cannabis in 2019, which affords personal use rights for small amounts in the home. The term ‘small amounts’ was defined by the Anti-Drug Authority as 15 grams. Public use and possession still results in a fine of 1000 NIS, or $307 (by today’s conversion), though this is a vast improvement from what it was before, when offenders could be required to pay as much as 226,000 NIS, or $69,479 (by today’s conversion). The 1000 NIS is just for a first offense, and doubles with the second offence, and turns into a criminal act on the third. This comes with the loss of a drivers’ license and/or gun as well. Minors under the age of 18 who reject a treatment program when caught, can still be subjected to jail time.

cannabis legalizations

Like pretty much anywhere in the world, selling and supply crimes are illegal, and offenders can find themselves with 20-year prison sentences. This can be increased to 25 years in the case of extenuating circumstances, like selling to a minor. Cultivation is technically illegal, but also seems to fall into gray area. According to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, growing can carry up to 20 years. In 2017, the publication Cannabis made public that there had been an order issued which stated that growing small amounts for personal use would only be seen as a minor violation. This was meant to be a way to separate large-scale, and small-scale growers. However, this order was obviously never meant to be public, and when Cannabis put out the news, the response from law enforcement was that no change had legally been made.

When it comes to medical, Israel legalized medicinal use in 1999, this coming 3-4 decades after the initial release of groundbreaking studies into the medical attributes of cannabis. First it was limited to terminal patients with cancer or AIDS, until the law was updated in 2007 by the Israeli Ministry of Health, which broadened the scope of the program to allow more ailments to be treated with cannabis. In 2019, a bill was introduced to allow the exportation of medical cannabis internationally.

So, what’s the deal with CBD?

While it almost seemed like CBD was going to get an international pass when the UN recently voted on cannabis rescheduling measures, the result was only a removal of cannabis from schedule IV, with no further clarification on CBD. Even so, Israel is treating it as if that clarification was made, saying CBD is not dangerous, and does not need to be treated like it is.

In 2016 it was first brought up in Israel’s Knesset to remove CBD from Israel’s list of dangerous drugs, where it has been since 1973. Notice how this article is being written now and not in 2016, as it is only just now up for removal in 2020. While plenty of CBD products are sold in Israel, this removal would open up use even further. In August of this year, the Minister of Health approved the removal of CBD from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Next week, the Knesset Health Committee is expected to give the final approval for this to go into effect. Assuming this happens, regulation of CBD will then fall under the Ministry of Health’s Medical Cannabis Unit. The Ministry of Health had been investigating the idea of removing CBD for years, with Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish working to accelerate the pace to move things forward. Kish has been working on this for quite some time, along with bringing down the price of medical cannabis in Israel.

Once CBD is officially removed, it means the compound can be added to any number of regular products found on supermarket shelves including toothpaste, chocolate bars, beauty products, supplements, and almost anything else that the compound can be squeezed into. In fact, any cosmetic or food produce will be able to contain CBD, so long as the THC content is .3% or lower – which is more in-line with US standards than European standards, even though Europe is Israel’s biggest export market target. The EU, of course, is in its own quest to possibly raise the approved THC content allowable in products to .3% as well. The final wording of the amendment defines cannabis as the entire cannabis plant, including roots, but excluding oil extracted from seeds, or finished products with a THC content not exceeding .3%.

cannabis products

Another thing to understand about this amendment is that it’s not all about CBD. It includes every cannabinoid that’s not THC, so long as the product or preparation still adheres to the no more than .3% THC policy. This means that other psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN (cannabinol), will also be able to be freely used. THC would remain the only compound listed in the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, meaning that according to Israel, CBD is not dangerous, and neither are other non-THC cannabinoids.

It should always be remembered when reading a story like this, that the final approval has not actually been made. Next week, when the Knesset Health Committee gets together, it will discuss the issue. If it agrees that CBD is not dangerous, then it can officially make the approval of the amendment. So, while it does seem like Israel is taking a straight shot to making this happen, it’s not a done deal, and technically, doesn’t have to be. Interested parties should keep a watch on the news (and this site) to find out the outcome next week.

What does this mean for Israel?

Obviously, it gives the ability for wider use of CBD, which many find to be useful for a variety of medical issues. But, like always, it goes well beyond helping citizens get more CBD in their lives.

According to consulting firm Deloitte Israel in a report from September 2019, the Israeli market for CBD, including cosmetics, dietary supplements, and food and beverages, stands to be worth $300-475 million within the next five years. The estimation is that Israel will be able to attain and hold about 1.5% of the total global CBD market share by 2025, which should be approximately $30 billion by that time. The industry is also expected to open up about 8,000 new jobs for Israelis.

By 2025 it’s expected that cannabis cosmetics will account for about 15% of all cosmetic sales globally. By 2026, its expected that nutritional supplements containing CBD will generate $345 billion in just the US, with Israel seeing approximately $120-150 million in revenue accordingly from that time period, in that field. In terms of foods and beverages containing CBD, its expected that in five years from the start of the policy, that the market will bring in $18-36 billion a year for Israel.

CBD is not dangerous drug

Right now, Europe is Israel’s biggest export country target, and by the end of this year, Europe is expected to have approximately €8.3 billion in revenue from CBD product sales. This is expected to increase to about €13.6 billion a year by 2025. The largest market within Europe for CBD sales is Germany, which is expected to bring in €1.8 billion in sales by the end of the year. The UK (though not a part of the EU anymore) is the second biggest market in the region, and is expected to bring in €1.7 billion in CBD product sales by the end of this year. While its totally possible for some of these numbers to be off (in fact, I guarantee you, they will be), they do show the basic parameters of what can be attained in these industries, what can be expected as far as growth, and the potential of a country like Israel to pull in a huge chunk of the action.

One last note on Israeli cannabis reform. The country may actually be starting to lay the foundations for recreational legalization, potentially within a year, with Canada as the basic model for regulating an adult-use market.

Conclusion

For a country with more cannabis research, knowledge, and expertise than any other place in the world, it’s about time for Israel to be a bit more forward thinking. Luckily, the last few years have shown that Israel can not only play catch-up in terms of regulation and legalization, but is still capable of essentially dominating the field.

It should also be noted, that the amendment that will remove CBD – and all other non-THC cannabinoids – from the list of dangerous drugs, will also lower the price of cannabis medicines by as much as 50%, and make it far easier for doctors to issue prescriptions to patients for cannabis medications.

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Resources

It’s Not Your Parents’ THC – Welcome Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester
Canadian Hemp Acreage and Export Value Up More Than 20%

India’s Bhang Loophole, and the Question of Legalization
Interview with Raphael Mechoulam: The Father of Cannabis Research

Canadian Study Says Cannabis Worse Than Alcohol Best Deal Of The Year – $9.99 Delta 8 THC Vape Cartridges
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Time to Vote: Will WHO Cannabis Recommendations Be Accepted?
Prestigious Harvey Prize, a Predictor of the Nobel Prize Goes to Raphael Mechoulam
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Lebanon Legalized Medical Cannabis, 1st in Arab World

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020Cannabis Election Results –Why Israel Is (and will continue to be) A Global Leader in the Cannabis Industry Best hemp flower deals
Current CBD Deals And Exclusive Offers
Israeli Researchers Work on CBD-Based Treatment for COVID-19

Customize Your Cannabinoids – Now You Can Mix’ N’ Match
Cannabis Falling from the Sky in Israel Best Delta-8 THC Deals, Coupons and Discounts.
Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote
EU Beat France, CBD Legal Throughout EU

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New Bill: Colombia Will Legalize Cocaine?

The push and pull of the cannabis legalization issue can be seen all over the globe, with a recent UN vote officially legalizing cannabis for medical use. But what about cocaine? Is the medical value of cocaine coming back into play? A current bill is making its way through the Colombian government that says Colombia will legalize cocaine.

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Colombia and cocaine have gone together like peanut butter and jelly since Pablo Escobar started using old cannabis trafficking routes to move the white powder out of Colombia, and to the rest of the world. Now, with a new bill moving its way through Colombian government, its looking like there’s a good chance Colombia will legalize cocaine.

A look at the history of cocaine

When it comes to cocaine, the main story that we all know starts in the middle of the 70’s with Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, however cocaine has been used for much longer than that. In fact, in South American countries like Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, locals have been chewing on coca leaves for thousands of years to get their mildly stimulating effect. This allowed workers to suppress their appetites and work longer hours.

When the Spanish came to South America, they wanted to send their spoils back home, and employed the locals to work long hours digging up gold and silver, for which they enforced the use of coca leaves. At this time, the leaves themselves were not being taken anywhere as they couldn’t maintain through the journey back to Europe. For this reason, use stayed local for quite some time.

coca leaves

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that German chemist Albert Niemann was able to isolate the active compound of the plant which he renamed ‘cocaine’ in his 1860 published finding. Niemann didn’t get to do much more work with the drug as he died the following year from damage to his lungs caused by experimenting with mustard gas as a weapon for war.

A few years later, in 1863, Corsican chemist Angela Mariani created a mixture of cocaine and wine which was sold as a medicine for the treatment of anemia, pain, as an appetite suppressant, and stomach stimulant. He called it Vin Mariani. This concoction gained notoriety all over the world, and led to the creation of many different – yet similar – products containing cocaine.

One of the many copycats was US pharmacist John Pemberton who made his own wine and cocaine mixture. When the Ku Klux Klan demanded that alcohol be banned in Atlanta in the mid-1860’s, Pemberton came up with a new idea, and replaced the alcohol in the drink with soda water, a mixture he called Coca-Cola. Yes, for anyone not in the know, Coca-Cola did, in fact, once contain cocaine. Before it had to be taken out of the beverage upon growing health concerns in the early 1900’s, Pemberton had reformulated the drink to have 7.2mg of cocaine per ounce. In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act put forth regulation for the cocaine industry, which essentially ended it for many decades, apart from people using it like rich Hollywood stars.

The more recent cocaine story

And now back to the story we’re all familiar with, although how it started might not be as familiar. Even before Pablo Escobar came on the scene, the road was already being paved for a new cocaine boom. The New York Times published an article in 1974 which stated cocaine was “a good high achieved without the forbiddingly dangerous needle and addiction of heroin.”

This was followed up by a book written by journalist Richard Ashley, which failed to find negatives associated with cocaine apart from those related to not having common sense. Even Newsweek Magazine published illustrations of high-class folks doing lines of cocaine.

And perhaps all this helped Escobar to do his thing. By using old cannabis trafficking lines, Escobar built up a trafficking network to move cocaine out of Colombia, inciting a massive and violent drug war. This war exploded in 1975 when in retaliation for the seizure of 600kg of cocaine by law enforcement, the cartel took out about 40 people in one weekend, known after that as the ‘Medellin Massacre’. It’s thought that at the peak of its existence, the Medellin Cartel was bringing in approximately $60 million per day in profits. What really allowed the cartel to take off, was its partnership with Carlos Lehder, a marijuana smuggler who showed Escobar and his partners Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, and the Ochoa brothers, how to use small planes to fly the cocaine directly into the US. While much coca is grown in Colombia, at that time, the majority was being imported from Bolivia and Peru, and only processed in Colombia before being trafficked out.

cartel violence

One of the factors that led to Escobar’s downfall and death, was competing cartel, the Cali Cartel which started operations only a year after the Medellin Cartel, in 1977, and which is said to have worked with the government to bring Escobar down. This cartel started as a kidnapping ring, and then focused its earnings into trafficking, starting with marijuana, and moving onto cocaine. While Escobar is still the biggest name in cocaine history, the history of cocaine didn’t stop with his death. It was carried on by the Cali cartel, the Norte del Valle Cartel which operated from the early 90’s till around 2012, the North Coast Cartel which operated from the late 90’s till around 2004, and a number of smaller groups with more specific, compartmentalized jobs, that have operated in conjunction since then.

One last thing to remember about the history of cocaine, according to the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Substances 1961, though cocaine is in schedule I, it’s also schedule III, making it perfectly legal internationally for medical use:

“III – Preparations of substances listed in Schedule II, as well as preparations of cocaine”

The trade

Two of the things that are extremely hard to pin down, are how much money exactly is earned (though this is much easier), and how many people die (and have died), as a result of this trade. In terms of the latter, when questioned about it concerning a line that came up from an episode of Narcos, Elizabeth Zili, the former DEA head of intelligence in Colombia affirmed that no hard numbers exist saying “I really couldn’t give you a number, but it was extremely high. We never totally trusted the statistics we were getting from the [Colombian] government. One never does, no matter where you are.” Even if hard numbers for death tolls can’t be confirmed, that thousands of people have died since the 70’s as part of the trade is generally not argued.

When it comes to the former point on how much is earned, (and how much is used), here are some basic stats. One kilo of cocaine is produced by processing about 125 kilos of coca leaves. This production costs a local drug lab approximately $137.50. Once the leaves are turned into actual cocaine, the value goes up to $2,269. This same amount can garner a profit of about $60,000+ in America, and more internationally, with the value going as high as $235,000 in a place like Australia.

Pretty much all the cocaine in the world comes from Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, with Colombia providing about 70% of it in 2018. About 4% of the world’s population (or 300 million) have used cocaine in their lives, with approximately 18.1 million people using the drug in 2018 alone. As of 2018, approximately 169,000 hectares of land are being used for growing coca in Colombia, and about 130,000 families survive by farming it.

Will it be legalized?

Obviously, the title of this article isn’t about history, but the future, and the question of whether Colombia will legalize cocaine. In an effort to curb the drug trade, different avenues have been tried like eradicating plants by spraying chemicals on them aerially, forced crop substitutions so that farmers can maintain income, and decriminalization. None of it has worked. One of the bigger steps taken though, was the decriminalization of all drugs in 1994, including hard drugs like cocaine. Now, in a further effort to curb trafficking, the Colombian government might take this decriminalization one step further with a bill saying Colombia will legalize cocaine.

Colombia will legalize cocaine

In 2019, a bill was introduced by Colombian senators Feliciano Valencia and Ivan Marulanda as a new way to fight the war on drugs. The proposed legislation revolves around the idea that Colombia will legalize cocaine, and is a cocaine use and regulation bill which would move control of cultivation and production to the government (and away from cartels). The bill doesn’t specify a ban on exportation of the drug, but focuses more on cutting financing to cartels, just like Uruguay did with its legalization for recreational cannabis. It would also push for more scientific research into it. This bill comes about a year after the introduction of a bill for the legalization of cannabis recreationally.

To say that there is opposition to this bill is an understatement, but its not an impossibility. It also would NOT be the first country to do it. Back in 1988, Bolivia did the very same thing, passing Law 1008 which legalized the cultivation of coca and instated a regulated industry. This, of course, did not stop the US from trying to eradicate fields, and even led to Operation Naked King, a DEA sting operation as late as 2015 targeting Evo Morales, the Bolivian president who drove the DEA out of Bolivia in 2008. Not only is there opposition, but as Bolivia shows, the US makes such a move a rather risky one, and calls into question whether there is a possibility at all that Colombia will legalize cocaine.

To shed more light on the current Colombian initiative, it wouldn’t just set up a regulated, government-run industry, it would actually require the government to buy all the coca grown, for redistribution for medical purposes. The idea would be for the government to buy the coca at market prices. If it seems like this would be incredibly expensive, consider that this move would cost Colombia approximately 2.6 trillion pesos ($680 million USD), whereas eradication programs actually cost four trillion pesos ($1 billion USD) annually. It’s essentially cheaper if the government buys it, rather than destroying it. This allows farmers to keep their businesses while bringing them into a legal market, and cuts down on deforestation by farmers in attempts to hide crops. The government would then provide raw materials to different industries for the production of baking flour, foods, teas, and other medicinal products.

To be clear, because of the decriminalization in 1994, personal use of cocaine, is actually legal, although a 2018 decree does give law enforcement the ability to confiscate it.

Conclusion

Getting people on board to accept cannabis legalizations has been an arduous task. This can be seen in the rejection of the removal of cannabis from schedule I of the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Substances, which just failed recently. So, the idea of selling the legalization of an even harder drug is no easy feat. Perhaps it is lucky for Colombia that Bolivia went first.

I tend to think that when these initiatives come up, they mean something, even if they originally fail. I don’t know if this bill will pass, but chances are that if this one doesn’t, the next one will. There is a drive and motivation to change how the industry works, to redistribute the cash flow, and to actually use the drug more efficiently. Just like with cannabis legalizations, it isn’t always the first effort that works, but once the idea has been initiated, you can be 99% sure that there will be a follow-through eventually. I’d say at this point, Colombia will legalize cocaine, its just a matter of when.

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Resources

Guam Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Asks Citizens to Help
New Zealand Voted NO to Cannabis Legalization

Is Croatia Trying to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Luxembourg Likely to Be First EU Country to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Time to Vote: Will WHO Cannabis Recommendations Be Accepted?
Let the People Choose: Will Kiwis Vote to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Paraguay Grows it, Brazil Takes it… Will New Cannabis Laws Change Anything?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020Cannabis Election Results – Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon?
Current CBD Deals And Exclusive Offers
Mexico Still Waiting on Its Promised Cannabis Legalization

Best Delta-8 THC deals, Coupon and Discounts
How the Cannabis Industry is Saving Small Towns Across America
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
California Cannabis Delivery Lawsuit: “It’s NOT a win” For the Industry

The post New Bill: Colombia Will Legalize Cocaine? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote

Well, it might be a small step forward in the fight for cannabis legalization, but the recent UN vote on WHO recommendations only saw one positive measure taken. While being removed from schedule IV, cannabis remains schedule I according to the UN.

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If you read most of the headlines, you’d think there was a massive step forward taken today in the fight to legalize cannabis, or at least have it taken seriously for its medical properties. But if you read a little closer, the end result is really not as great as it originally sounds to be. Yes, cannabis might no longer be schedule IV of the Single Convention, but it’s still sitting pretty at the top of both scheduling treaties.

UN drug scheduling

In 1961, negotiations were made between different countries of the world to come up with a treaty called the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances. Ten years later, yet another scheduling set was presented, this was called the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. These two treaties set basic guidelines for the international legality of certain drugs, but leave individual countries to come up with their own policies, though they must keep in line with the treaties (or, at least, they’re supposed to). As of 2018, 186 governments had signed the Single Convention on Narcotics treaty, though this does not give all of them the ability to vote.

Cannabis Remains Schedule I

The following are the two treaties, and their scheduling groups, prior to the vote:

Single Convention on Narcotic Substances:

  • I – Addictive drugs with a high risk for abuse (group contains cannabis and heroine).
  • II – Medical substances with a low risk for abuse.
  • III – Preparations that are made from substances in schedule II, and those that use cocaine.
  • IV – The most dangerous drugs listed in schedule I, these are considered very harmful and with no substantial medical or therapeutic value. (This group contains cannabis).

Single Convention on Psychotropic Substances:

  • I – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a high risk of abuse, and which are considered to have no substantial therapeutic value. This group includes THC (but not the whole cannabis plant).
  • II – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have only a low to moderate therapeutic value.
  • III – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have a moderate to high therapeutic value.
  • IV – Substances which pose a minor threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have a high therapeutic value.

What were the recommendations?

WHO – or the World Health Organization, is the arm of the UN which is responsible for global public health measures. In 2019, after the WHO Expert Committee’s 41st meeting, a few different recommendations were made about how cannabis is scheduled. A vote was originally postponed in spring of 2019 by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs when it met for its 62nd meeting. This was to make sure that voting countries had more time to prepare and understand the information at hand. It was postponed again earlier this year, with a new date set for today.

While the WHO can make recommendations to the existing treaty, actually amending it is done by the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The recommendations given by WHO concerning cannabis, were as follows:

medical marijuana
  • 5.1 – Remove cannabis and cannabis resin from schedule IV of the Single Convention.
  • 5.2.1 – The addition of Dronabinol (and stereoisomers) to schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.2.2 – If previous recommendation is adopted, the removal of Dronabinol (and stereoisomers) from schedule II of the 1971 Convention.
  • If 5.2.1 is adopted, the addition of THC to schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.4 – Remove cannabis extracts and tinctures from schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.5 – The addition of a footnote in schedule I of the Single Convention to ‘cannabidiol preparations’, which reads, “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2 per cent of delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control.”
  • 5.6 – “Add preparations containing dronabinol, produced either by chemical synthesis or as preparations of cannabis that are compounded as pharmaceutical preparations with one or more other ingredients and in such a way that dronabinol cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health, to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.”

A thing to notice before getting into the outcome of the recommendations… If someone thought there was a chance of getting cannabis completely out of there, this would be very much mistaken. Even in the best case scenario, THC would still be schedule I in the Single Convention, and that would keep it in the same class as heroin.

The vote

As stated before, there are 186 countries that have signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances treaty. However, this does not give them all voting rights. The vote took place in Vienna, and consisted of 53 member countries that had the right to vote.

In short, only one recommendation was taken, 5.1, the removal of cannabis and cannabis resins from schedule IV of the Single Convention, opening it up for legal medical use. That means cannabis remains schedule I according to the Single Convention, and leaves THC in schedule I of the 1971 Convention. Essentially, all that really happened is that it opened the door more for the medical industry, which had really become a necessity considering how many countries were already breaking code. This vote might be touted by the press as a major win for the cannabis industry, but in reality, it’s more of a blow. This was a chance to really change how the plant is used, and the only thing that happened is that a formal clearance was given for what is already going on.

As far as the one measure that did pass, the vote was extremely close, highlighting, I suppose, why the other measures failed. It passed with a vote of 27-25 with one abstention.

cannabis vote

Implications

There really aren’t many, to be honest. While many headlines blare news about the UN making cannabis officially a ‘less dangerous’ drug, that didn’t really happen because in reality, cannabis remains schedule I. In fact, the only thing that happened is the UN played catch-up with what is already going on, and what is not likely to stop. If the UN hadn’t passed that measure, it would officially make every country with a medical program in violation….which they technically already were. That one recommendation was a save-face for the UN, and since medical cannabis has been implemented all over the globe despite both conventions, it didn’t really matter anyway. It also means there isn’t going to be a drastic change. Individual governments are still tasked with making their own drug laws, with places like China reinforcing that it will maintain its tight restrictions.

One implication that does come out of it is that CBD will not be any further clarified. CBD oil is often in gray area because it can’t easily be produced without some trace amount of THC. Recommendation 5.5 would have shed some further light on the situation, but it was roundly rejected along with the other measures, leaving CBD to stay in the gray.

Conclusion

Some might find this to be a win for the cannabis industry, and the fight for legalization, however, I see this as a major loss. This vote shows how many countries are still in favor of unnecessarily harsh regulation, and resistant to new information, or change. This vote goes to show just how far behind much of the world is.

One of the interesting things about a vote like this, is that its obviously going to leave some people (or countries) unhappy with the outcome. The UN functions because countries buy into it, but no one ever said they had to. It’s just like the issue of Brexit. If too much is pushed, countries might very well leave. If not enough is done, a different set will be angered. I wonder if the UN might have lost members if the vote had gone differently. For now, anyway, cannabis remains schedule I, and who knows when that will change.

Thanks for dropping by CBDtesters.co, your #1 spot for all cannabis-related news. Stop by frequently to stay in the know, and sign up to our newsletter so you never miss a beat!

Resources

Guam Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Asks Citizens to Help
New Zealand Voted NO to Cannabis Legalization

Is Croatia Trying to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Luxembourg Likely to Be First EU Country to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Time to Vote: Will WHO Cannabis Recommendations Be Accepted?
Let the People Choose: Will Kiwis Vote to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Paraguay Grows it, Brazil Takes it… Will New Cannabis Laws Change Anything?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020. Cannabis Election Results – Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon?
Current CBD Deals And Exclusive Offers
Mexico Still Waiting on Its Promised Cannabis Legalization

Best Delta-8 THC deals, Coupon and Discounts
How the Cannabis Industry is Saving Small Towns Across America
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
California Cannabis Delivery Lawsuit: “It’s NOT a win” For the Industry

The post Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote appeared first on CBD Testers.

Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon?

In the last few years, Colombia has been shaping up its legal cannabis policies, legalizing medical cannabis and quickly joining the global medical cannabis market. Now, new legislation climbing its way through Colombian Congress, means that recreational cannabis in Colombia is one step closer to becoming a reality.

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Colombia and drugs in general

Before getting into the specifics of cannabis law in Colombia, and whether recreational cannabis in Colombia will happen, it’s important to understand the situation that Colombia is in with its drug trade.

The first thing to know about Colombia and drugs, of course, is that Colombia is the biggest global hub for cocaine production, and has been for quite some time. It’s estimated that in 2019, approximately 70% of the cocaine consumed in the world, came from Colombia. It’s also estimated that in that year, approximately 18 million people consumed the drug worldwide. Because of the constant infiltration of law enforcement, most of the coca grown in Colombia is grown in more remote areas. Law enforcement, for its part, has been attempting to eradicate fields over the years, by enforcing crop substitutions and even spraying toxic chemicals over fields where coca plants are rumored to be grown. Despite these efforts, its estimated that in 2017, 1,379 tons of cocaine were produced in the country. Efforts of law enforcement to stop the trade cripple the 130,000 families that subsist from farming and selling coca.

To give an idea how much money is made off the cocaine industry, it takes about 125 kilos of coca to produce one kilo of cocaine. This costs a local drug lab about $137.50. Once this is converted into actual cocaine, the value is increased to $2,269. Once it gets to where its going, that same kilo can bring in approximately $60,000 in revenue in a place like the US, or even more in other locations. This is a massive trade in Colombia, and its led to massive amounts of violence.

Colombia cocaine trade

When looking for the ‘all told’ measure of this violence, it’s extremely difficult to find actual death tolls. While there are a few random and varying numbers out there, none of them are direct or verifiable, and while we are all aware of the tremendous destruction of this trade, no one seems to be able to say how destructive. In fact, when questioned about it in light of the Netflix drama Narcos, and a statement made on the show about one kilo of cocaine costing six lives each, former DEA head of intelligence in Colombia, Elizabeth Zili stated, “I really couldn’t give you a number, but it was extremely high. We never totally trusted the statistics we were getting from the [Colombian] government. One never does, no matter where you are.”

The same BBC article did some math to try to figure out if the six people per one kilo made any sense even in 1992, and found the number to be extremely high, even when looking at total global deaths. It established at that time a Colombian murder rate of approximately 80 per 100,000. Even though the murder rate has been cut in half since that time, Colombia still has one of the higher murder rates with approximately 25 murders for every 100,000 people in 2019. This can be compared to the US where the rate in 2018 was 5 per 100,000.

But the funniest part about all of it? These massive cocaine trafficking networks that have been used over the years, started as pathways for the trafficking of – you guessed it – marijuana. In fact, prior to its foray into cocaine, Colombia was providing the majority of cannabis to the US in the 70’s.

Colombia and cannabis

When it comes to cannabis, much like Uruguay, Colombia has been a bit more lax than other places, but a lot of this has been directly to combat issues of drug violence. In general, cannabis is illegal for commercial sale and use, however, unless a person is committing a major cannabis crime, the punishments aren’t that dire. In 1994, around the time of Pablo Escobar’s death, Colombia decriminalized both the personal use and possession of cannabis and other drugs. This was further expounded on in 2012 when it was established that a person could have up to 20 grams without being prosecuted. It was even expanded on further with a Constitutional Court ruling in 2015 which then allowed personal cultivation of up to 20 plants.

In 2018, this was gone back on when president Ivan Duque put forth a decree saying cops could, in fact, confiscate even small amounts of cannabis, and while this didn’t apply criminal penalties to offenders, it did institute a fine of up to 208,000 pesos. It also put a ban on people being able to carry small amounts of cannabis, something that the Constitutional Court already ruled was okay. Consequently, the following year (2019), the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that parts of Duque’s decree were unconstitutional. This didn’t get rid of the cops being able to search and confiscate drugs, but it did mean no consequences for up to 20 grams as related earlier by the Constitutional Court ruling.

Sale and supply crimes are most certainly illegal, and having more than 20 grams is considered possession with intent to sell. The maximum prison sentence is up to 20 years, surpassing the punishment for a rape.

Colombian drug war

If it needs to be said, being caught trafficking any drug in Colombia is going to get you in some pretty hot water. Here’s the basic breakdown for what’ll happen to you if you’re dumb enough to transport illegal substances across borders:

  • 10+ kg of cannabis, 2 kg of cocaine, 60 grams poppy-based drugs (like heroin) = 10-30 years in prison.
  • 1000+ kg cannabis, 5kg cocaine, 2 kg poppy-based drugs (like heroin) = 23-30 years in prison.

Medical marijuana and how to get in on it

At the very end of 2015, President Juan Miguel Santos signed legislation for a regulated medical cannabis market. He stated, “This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, cannabis plants and marijuana.” On July 6th, 2016, Colombian Congress approved law 1787 to create a regulatory framework, which was itself enacted in 2017 through Decree 613. While much is written about the investment opportunities that have been opened up through this, the ability to actually obtain cannabis medications for locals seems to be hindered by supply issues, misinformation, and limitations in development and research. The four licenses that can be applied for to enter the legal medical cannabis market are the following:

  • Manufacture of cannabis derivatives – Allows the production of cannabis-derived products for use and scientific research domestically, and for exportation. Interested parties can check details and pricing here.
  • Use of cannabis seeds – Allows sale and distribution of cannabis seeds, as well as use for scientific purposes. Check links for details and pricing.
  • Cultivation of psychoactive cannabis – Allows the cultivation of cannabis as a crop, the production of cannabis derivatives (along with the first license mentioned), use for scientific purposes, storage of cannabis, disposal of cannabis, and production of cannabis seeds. Details for this license can be found here.
  • Cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis – Allows the production of cannabis seeds for planting, the manufacture of derivatives, industrial uses, and for scientific purposes, as well as storage and disposal. If interested, check for details here.

So…what’s the deal with recreational?

What should be noticed is that Colombia is not the most stringent country when it comes to cannabis laws, and has been updating at quick speeds to allow for more freedoms. So, what about the final legalization for recreational cannabis? While it’s not quite there yet, it really doesn’t seem to be far off, with legislation already starting to make its way through the channels of government. Here’s what’s going on right now in terms of recreational cannabis in Colombia:

recreational cannabis

1st initiative for recreational cannabis in Colombia – Approved on September 16th by the first committee of the Lower House by a vote of 18-17, allowing it to move forward in the Lower House. It was, unfortunately, not able to make it past the next debate in the Lower House, and is being shelved for now. This initiative was led by opposition legislator Juan Carlos Lozada, and if it passes (in the future) it would amend Colombian Constitution article 49 which currently states, “the carrying and consumption of narcotic or psychotropic substances is prohibited unless prescribed by a doctor.” The amendment would therefore have lifted this ban and legalized cannabis for recreational use, and would actually be in line with previous rulings of Colombia’s highest court, the Constitutional Court. To become law, the bill faced eight debates, four each at the Lower House and Senate. It did not make it through this time around, but I keep it here to show what has been happening, and what could come up again in the future.

2nd initiative for recreational cannabis in Colombia – This includes 38 lawmakers led by center-right and opposition parties, initiated by two senators, Gustavo Bolivar and Luis Fernando Velasco. This bill aims to regulate the production and consumption of marijuana, in essence creating a legal framework for its recreational use. The initiative does expressly ban marijuana use for minors, its promotion and advertisement, as well as establishing specific sites for adult use. In order to become law, this bill must be approved by the end of next year, but as it is a separate bill and not an amendment to an existing law, it only requires four debates to pass. The first debate had been set for end of October, moved to Mid-November, but doesn’t seem to have happened yet. While governments have been moving slower in light of the Coronoavirus pandemic, the bill is still very much alive. Those pushing this bill point out how Uruguay diverted around 40% of business from cartels, established 500 jobs, and received €100 million in investments by 2018. They have also pointed out how prohibiting consumption has never led consumers to not be able to access the drug.

Conclusion

Uruguay had a similar problem to Colombia, though not nearly as intense. In order to cut down on the black-market trade of cannabis, it legalized it and established a government-run system to regulate it. Colombia has already done a lot to limit drug violence, decriminalizing many drugs in an effort to thwart it, and the cartels that promote it. A recreational legalization would certainly go in line with this, and I expect that if the current bill doesn’t pass, the next one to be introduced will. It might very well be that with Uruguay, Mexico’s impending legalization, and recreational cannabis in Colombia likely following suit soon, south of the border will be the place to go for legal marijuana.

Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your #1 spot for all cannabis-related news. Come, stop by regularly to stay in-the-loop, and sign up to our newsletter so you never miss a thing!

Resources

Germany Rejected Its Recreational Cannabis Bill
New Zealand Voted NO to Cannabis Legalization

German Cannabis Flower Market is Ready to Explode
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Legal for a Day – The Mahashivaratri Festival and Nepal’s Changing Cannabis Laws
Will Mexico Become Biggest Legal Cannabis Market?
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Paraguay Grows it, Brazil Takes it… Will New Cannabis Laws Change Anything?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020. Cannabis Election Results – Why Israel Is (and will continue to be) A Global Leader in the Cannabis Industry
Mexico Still Waiting on Its Promised Cannabis Legalization
How the Cannabis Industry is Saving Small Towns Across America
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

The post Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Lebanon Legalized Medical Cannabis, 1st in Arab World

It’s always interesting when a new location breaks stride and changes laws. We saw it with Thailand in Asia, with Uruguay in South America, and with Lesotho in Africa. With ranging reasons as to why to open these industries, the Arab world has now put forth its own example. As of the spring, Lebanon legalized medical cannabis.

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It would be untrue to say that Lebanon is the first Middle Eastern country to legalize cannabis in some form. It’s neighbor to the south, Israel, has been a central location for the study and cultivation of cannabis for decades, pushing through its own medical legalization originally back in the 1990’s. But Israel stands apart from its Arab neighbors when it comes to many beliefs and ideologies, so Lebanon’s entrance into the legal cannabis game is still very much a first for that part of the world.

A bit about Lebanon and cannabis policy

Cannabis is illegal in Lebanon to possess or use. There are no personal use laws so even small quantities are considered a criminal offense. Regulation of the system and punishment is done through the Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances Law 673, which states that any narcotic use without a medical prescription is subject to a prison sentence of three months to three years, along with a fine. Individuals are permitted a certain amount of leniency if not involved in the drug trade, and showing of generally good character.

Lebanon legalized medical cannabis

Sale and supply crimes are illegal. Offenders found guilty of these crimes face heavier sentences than for possession and use, and do not qualify for any sort of leniency. Personal cultivation is also illegal, with no individual-use amount applicable. Cannabis seeds are not legal in Lebanon and cannot be bought, sold, or possessed.

When it comes to CBD, Lebanon makes no differentiation between the cannabis plant, and the individual parts, like cannabinoids CBD or THC. This makes CBD just as illegal as a standard marijuana plant, regardless of the lower THC content. For this reason, it is illegal to sell or use the oil in Lebanon, although the country’s recent medical legalization could certainly change how CBD is used there.

As far as industrial hemp

Prior to new legalizations this year, it was illegal to grow hemp at all in Lebanon, although this didn’t stop it from happening. The Bekaa Valley is the center of the hemp region, which provides rich, healthy soil for cultivation. Over the years the Lebanese government has worked hard to eradicate the hemp fields of the region, which has had an incredible monetary impact on local farmers, forcing many into poverty. Despite these efforts, cannabis is still grown en masse, with cultivation mainly controlled by powerful clans and Hezbollah, which has caused much conflict over the years between farmers and police. As of just a few years ago, the UN cited Lebanon as the 3rd biggest world supplier of cannabis resins.

The legal framework changed earlier in the year when Lebanon legalized medicinal cannabis, including the now-legal farming of cannabis for medical use.

Now legal for medical use

In 2018, Lebanon’s house Speaker, Nabih Berri reported to US ambassador Elizabeth Richard, that Lebanon was in preparations to begin legal cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use. The idea of legalizing cannabis in Lebanon gained a bigger following after the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. sent the Lebanese government over 1,000 pages of economic recovery information which included creating a legal cannabis market.

Lebanon parliament

On April 21st, 2020, Lebanon legalized medicinal cannabis, when legislators approved a law that allows the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medicinal use. Hezbollah representatives provided opposition to the bill, which was still able to pass anyway, as allies of Hezbollah – including President Michel Aoun, and Speaker Nabih Berri – were still in support of the legislation. Of course, Hezbollah’s reasons for opposing the legislation probably have to do with the group’s current control of much of the cannabis cultivation in the country, particularly the Bekaa region, and the possibility of having a chunk of its revenue stream diverted to the government. Criminal organizations don’t usually appreciate these legalizations.

It bears pointing out that Lebanon legalized medical cannabis during the most globally locked-down period of the Coronavirus pandemic. While other governments were temporarily closing-up shop, or tabling cannabis legislation for the future, Lebanon was getting it done, showing, if nothing else, a very strong desire to really make this happen.

What did McKinsey & Co. say?

McKinsey & Co. is a global management firm, which in 2018 gave a longer than 1,000 page macroeconomic report to the Lebanese government which focused on ways to make short-term gains in order to stabilize a politically unstable, debt-ridden economy. McKinsey & Co. made several recommendations for ‘quick wins’ in different areas like wealth management, tourism, and construction, but of more interest was the company’s recommendation to legalize the already buoyant cannabis industry of the country, and turn it into a legal export. The recommendation did make international headlines when it was first presented, but political infighting and the inability to form a functioning government eight months after the previous election, led to delays.

The report was actually made public to the media the following year, when Economy and Tourism Minister Raed Khoury, released it in an effort to regain waning attention on the matter. While it didn’t get as much attention the second time around, a clearer picture was put out to the public of a country in very dire need of help, fraught with economic mismanagement, with deficits in every sector. One of the revelations of the paper, for example, showed a GDP slip from 9.2% in the years of 2006-2010 to 1.3% over the next seven years.

cannabis medicine

The report offered a total of 160 initiatives. These initiatives were based mainly on reinvigorating the five sectors that were acknowledged as being most-likely to help jump-start the economy, including: tourism, financial services, industry, agriculture, and knowledge economy. The recommendations provide for the projected addition of approximately 200,000 jobs in these sectors, and $11 billion incrementally added to the GDP by 2025.

What comes next?

As we already know, simply passing legislation is not enough. Once passed, a law needs to be implemented, and it needs a regulatory framework to do so. According to officials, the idea is to have a state-run system, with licenses issued to private companies for the farming, production, and sale of cannabis products, through a regulatory authority. No statement has been made on the approximate cost of these licenses, nor has information been released on licensing requirements, or if local farmers will be afforded any protection from larger international companies. The idea is to attract new investments, create a new revenue stream, and raise generated tax revenue, so it’s probably a very sad ‘no’ to the last point.

While Lebanon legalized medical cannabis, it didn’t say much yet about what it means to its own citizens. When a set of laws to govern the industry come out, it will be more clear how the people of Lebanon will benefit from the actual idea of cannabis medications, or if this legalization is really only a vehicle to enter the global medical cannabis market.

According to Alain Aoun, a senior MP in President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, the only reason for the decision is economic motives. He explained to Reuters, “We have moral and social reservations but today there is the need to help the economy by any means.” This attitude might be great for Lebanon’s economy, but it probably won’t do as much to help ailing patients in a medical system.

Conclusion

Sometimes change is good, even when the reason for it isn’t quite what it seems. Some medical legalizations come as the result of wanting to provide medications to sick people. Some, like Lesotho, and now Lebanon, are not only more driven by economic reasons, but possibly only driven by those reasons. In the world of medical cannabis today, the medical cannabis industry and making money off of it, often trumps the idea of how valuable this medicine is, and all the wonderful things it can do. Sometimes change comes through the backdoor. Let’s hope Lebanon really makes the most of this new industry, and that the people of the country get the chance to benefit from it, both monetarily, and medicinally.

CBDtesters is your #1 spot for all cannabis-related news. Come by regularly to stay up-to-date, and sign up to our newsletter so you never miss a beat!

Resources

Germany Leads EU in Cannabis Oil Imports…and Exports
New Zealand Voted NO to Cannabis Legalization

German Cannabis Flower Market is Ready to Explode
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Legal for a Day – The Mahashivaratri Festival and Nepal’s Changing Cannabis Laws
Thailand is 1st Asian Country to Legalize Medicinal Cannabis and Enter Global Market
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Customize Your Cannabinoids – Now You Can Mix’ N’ Match

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020. Cannabis Election Results – Why Israel Is (and will continue to be) A Global Leader in the Cannabis Industry
EU Beat France, CBD Legal Throughout EU
THC Isolate Explained – Everything You Need To Know
Is Lesotho Selling Out Its Own Citizens to Ride the African Green Rush?
Customize Your Cannabinoids – Now You Can Mix’ N’ Match

The post Lebanon Legalized Medical Cannabis, 1st in Arab World appeared first on CBD Testers.

Germany Rejected Its Recreational Cannabis Bill

The people of New Zealand just voted down a measure to legalize cannabis through a referendum. New Jersey just legalized it recreationally also through its own referendum. Germany didn’t put the question to its people, but last month the government of Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill.

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A little about Germany and cannabis

As per the title, recreational marijuana is not legal in Germany. In fact, possessing it at all can garner a person up to five years in prison according to the German Federal Narcotics Act, though conversely, it’s not technically illegal to use it, since there is no stated law against it. If caught with small amounts, offenders are usually put in a program over anything more serious, at least for first-time offenders. The term ‘small amount’ is not very well defined, though, and can mean anywhere from about 6-15 grams depending on where in Germany the possession takes place. Plus, the amount is judged by quantity and potency over actual weight, meaning the THC content helps define the amount in the end.

Sale and supply crimes are predictably illegal, and offenders can receive up to about five years in prison. This sentence goes up from 1-15 years depending on the circumstances of the case. Cultivation on a personal level is also illegal and garners the same punishment as sale and supply crimes.

Germany rejected recreational cannabis

In terms of CBD, while Germany already had been permitting it, the recent decision of the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) in the case of France vs the EU, makes it that much more clear. EU standard has now been found to trump local member state laws when it comes to the import and export of CBD between member states. As per EU standards, Germany does not allow more than .2% THC in CBD oil preparations.

Technically, the medical use of a cannabis drug has been legal since 1998 in Germany when dronabinol was rescheduled. It wasn’t until 2017, however, that Germany further legalized medicinal cannabis. As of 2017, new legislation opened the door for more disorders and sicknesses to be relevant for treatment.

What about Germany’s market?

The thing about Germany is that it already has one of the biggest cannabis markets in the EU, and even in the world, though right now it’s all a medicinal market. In 2019, for example, Germany was the biggest importer and exporter of cannabis oil in the EU. Though the country can’t compete just yet with the US in terms of imports – the US for 2019 imported approximately $893 million worth of cannabis oil making it the clear leader, Germany did get the #2 spot with $240 million worth of oil imported that year. When it comes to exports, Germany led the EU with about $230 million worth of cannabis oil exports, but that was only 4th place in the world. Topping the export list was China, sitting pretty with just under $1 billion worth of cannabis oil exports that year.

Cannabis oil is only part of it. Most of the legal cannabis world still revolves around dry flowers, and Germany just happens to have a massive cannabis flower market as well. And one that is only looking to grow and expand out more. In July, Germany released data on its medical cannabis imports for the first two quarters of the year. While Q1 showed an increase of 16%, Q2 showed a massive 32% increase, and this at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic measures being taken all over the world. To give an idea of what this means via comparison, in 2018, Germany imported about 3.1 tons of cannabis flowers, this was increased to 6.7 tons in 2019, and it looks like it will go much higher than that by the end of 2020. During this time, Germany had such an issue with supply problems that it requested extra cannabis flowers from the Netherlands to help close the gap. Part of the reason for the need for more medical cannabis is simply the increasing number of Germans receiving it as treatment. As of June 2019, about 60,000 Germans were registered with the medical marijuana program in the country, and that number is sure to be way higher by now.

parliament vote

Up until recently, Canada and the Netherlands were Germany’s two biggest and main suppliers of cannabis flowers. However, more recently, it looks like Germany has received flowers from Uruguay (through a secretive back-door move using Portugal to import), and Spain via Linneo, a Spanish cannabis producer. Canada, however, is still the main importer to Germany, with several new companies opening shop in Germany, or planning new exports to the country. To give an idea of how out-of-whack prices have gotten in Germany, consider that the current retail price of a gram of cannabis is about €20. Then consider that this is a medical price, not even a recreational price.

What’s the deal with recreational?

Everything so far should give some idea of how big Germany’s cannabis market is, and how quickly it’s growing. As the biggest market in the EU, it’s not that surprising that the question of a recreational legalization would come up, since, obviously, Germany is pretty okay with use of the plant. However, this sentiment did not come through as a recreational legalization as last month Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill.

Germany has six main political parties. The Left (holds 69 seats and is in favor of legalizing), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (about 152 seats, technically in favor of legalization, but voted with coalition partner instead – the Union, which includes the Christian Democrats led by Angela Merkel), the Union (two parties making up 264 seats, against legalization), the Greens (67 seats, and in support of legalization), the Free Democratic Party (holds 80 seats, but did not vote on the measure), and Alternative for Germany (somewhere in the neighborhood of 89-94 seats, and against legalization).

On October 29th, the proposed bill for an adult-use recreational cannabis market in Germany was firmly rejected in parliament, despite having plenty of support from different factions of Germany’s parliament. One of the big reasons for this is the coalition between the Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. The Union is itself is a coalition between the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (led by Angela Merkel) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria. The Social Democratic Party of Germany, which though technically is in favor of cannabis reform, tends to vote with its coalition partner, the Union. Together they hold enough seats that any initiative will fail without at least some of their support. In this way, by having the two parties paired together, Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill squarely.

recreational marijuana

In a way, the coalition is a strange one. The Union, is known as a center-right party associated with Christian movements. The Social Democratic party is center-left. Technically, the two groups have very different stances, and while they might overlap on some issues, they actually seem quite at odds when it comes to cannabis, making their vote together a bit of a headscratcher. Nevertheless, by being joined together, the Social Democrats voted with the Union making for an unbeatable force.

What’s next for Germany?

In the wake of the fact that Germany rejected its recreational cannabis bill, it’s hard to imagine what the next step will be. Unlike with a country like New Zealand, it was not the people of the country who voted the measure down, but rather, parliament on its own. This means the people of Germany are not necessarily on board with this decision, and that could mean new measures arising in the near future. It is, after all, already one of the biggest cannabis markets in the world. The step to legalization gets smaller and smaller as Germany gets more and more saturated with cannabis. Personally, I expect something will happen very soon that will tip the balance in the other direction.

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German Cannabis Flower Market is Ready to Explode

Germany has the largest legal medicinal cannabis flower market in the EU, and it’s about to expand out even further. With imports coming from Canada and even Uruguay, the German cannabis flower market is, indeed, ready to fully explode.

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Germany has been growing its medical cannabis market in the last few years. According to worldstopexports for 2019, Germany imported $240 million worth of cannabis oil – or 7.8% of all cannabis imports for the year, making it the second largest importer behind the US. In that same time period, it also exported $230 million worth of cannabis oil – or 8% of the market for the year.

Now, the emphasis is more on cannabis flowers, and Germany sure isn’t slowing down. In July, Germany released data on medical cannabis imports for Q1 and Q2 of 2020. Q1 showed an increase of 16%, while Q2 showed an increase of 32%. It should be remembered that Q2 of 2020 was when the coronavirus was at its worst, and lockdown measures were strictest.

Prior to this year, Germany imported approximately 3.1 tons of cannabis flower in 2018, and 6.7 tons in 2019. During this time, Germany requested additional imported cannabis from the Netherlands to help with supply shortages it was experiencing. The increase this year in imports is related to the rise in new patients in Germany, as well as the addition of new cannabis exporting countries. Approximately 60,000 Germans are registered to use medical cannabis as of June 2019. That number has likely risen substantially since that time.

A little about Germany and cannabis

german cannabis flower market

Possession of cannabis is still illegal in Germany, despite the growth of its medicinal market.  German law does allow for residents to have a ‘small amount’ of cannabis, but this amount is not consistent and can vary between 6-15 grams depending on location. Sale and supply crimes are predicably illegal, with prison sentences of five years or below for more standard cases, or up to 15 for more severe cases. Personal growing of cannabis is also illegal.

On the other hand, medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2017 in Germany, and since that time Germany’s medical cannabis market has become the largest cannabis market in Europe. Up until 2019, supply for this market came strictly from abroad as Germany was not cultivating its own cannabis. Now Germany is working to supply its own market, but still requires imports, en masse, from other countries.

New market for imports

Up until recently, the only suppliers of cannabis to Germany were the Netherlands and Canada. However, Germany didn’t want to be beholden to such a small number of suppliers, and (BfArM), the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, authorized Germany to receive imports of cannabis flowers from other countries like Spain, Portugal, and Denmark. In fact, Germany now works with at least 30 cultivators, which has greatly improved Germany’s supply situation, and greatly increased the German cannabis flower market.

Germany isn’t just looking to European countries and Canada for supply though. In late 2019, Portugal received an initial shipment of 1,000 kg of cannabis flowers (high-THC). The shipment was very secretive in that the final destination for the product, and the buyer, were kept private, while the shipment itself was actually done legally. According to the customs documentation, the exporter was licensed producer Fotmer Life Sciences, and the deal was for $3.2 million including all related costs. The final destination didn’t seem to be Portugal though.

As it turns out, more recent news has pointed to Germany being the final buyer. Apparently, Tilray, a Canadian-based producer which now operates in many countries, started offering Germany high-THC flowers as of September 30th of this year. Tilray’s director of government and public affairs in Europe, confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily that the shipment was indeed grown by a 3rd party in Uruguay, that it was imported through Portugal via Tilray’s subsidiary in that country, processed there, and then shipped to Germany.

importing cannabis

Part of what makes this story interesting is that the supplier – Fotmer Life Sciences, is not EU-GMP certified, meaning it is possible to import non-EU-GMP certified products to Germany through the right avenues. In this case, processing through an EU-GMP certified facility in Portugal made it possible to pass onto Germany. It also makes it look like Germany will go to some interesting lengths to import more flower (maybe particularly high-THC), and that it’s willing to bend the rules to do so.

Who are some of the big players?

Right now, Canada is home to the biggest companies to export to Germany, or run facilities under subsidiary names there. Tilray is a big one, with name value the world over. It operates in Germany along with Canadian-based Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Maricann, Northern Green Canada, and Cronos Group.

One of the newer companies to join the Canadian satellite cannabis team is Aphria, which claimed to make its first shipment of dry flowers to its subsidiary in Germany, CC Pharma GmbH, earlier this month.

Clearly Canada has a good hold on Germany, but imports do, indeed, come from the Netherlands, Uruguay – apparently via Portugal, and Spain, through Spanish producer Linneo, which provides cannabis flowers to Germany as well as Israel and the UK, though under different names. Medical cannabis producers in other countries are also trying to get in on the German cannabis flower market. Producers in countries like Colombia, Australia, Lesotho, Malta, Greece, and Denmark are also looking to get their products into Germany. How much money these companies can make in the future, might create a challenge though.

What about wholesale pricing in Germany?

So, how much does cannabis cost in Germany wholesale? In November of 2019, the German Federal Government agreed to buy no less than 650kg of medical grade cannabis flowers from local cultivators at the price point of €1.5 million per quarter of product. This, in turn, sets a standard for average wholesale pricing at €2.3 per gram. This low price is an indication that medical cannabis companies probably won’t be able to attain the high margins that such companies have been seeing, prior to this designation being made. It also means that theoretically, prices should be kept low for German citizens.

To give an idea of the difference… retail prices for medical marijuana in Germany are as high as €20/gram right now. This is mainly due to a mandated 100% markup by pharmacies, not enough global suppliers that meet EU-GMP standards, and a domestic cultivation license that was only finalized after many delays. The new price point, along with bringing in new exporters, is important in bringing this price down.

price of cannabis

Who will grow domestically?

Three different companies were picked to locally cultivate this cannabis for the government. Aurora Produktions GmbH – a subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis, Aphria Deutschland GmbH – a subsidiary of Aphria, and local Germany-based Demecan GmbH.

Pricing in medicinal markets is generally much lower than recreational markets where larger taxes are added on. But it does beg the question of how enticing the market will be for domestic growers (and importers), if they can’t inflate their costs to bring in more money.

The three companies that won the contracts to grow for the government will provide packaged cannabis flowers to BfArM. The German government has indicated that it will institute an application process for distribution in the future. What this means is that domestic growers and producers won’t be able to actually sell directly to pharmacies, even with established distribution channels. They will instead require a distribution license.

Weirdly, this just slows down domestic products hitting pharmacy shelves, and promotes Germany importing more. The German cannabis flower market, in fact, is expected to continue relying on imports to cover demand, which makes the aforementioned license for distribution for local cultivators…a little strange. Almost like Germany would prefer to import.

Conclusion

Germany’s medicinal cannabis market, and specifically the German cannabis flower market, is getting bigger every day with tons of countries vying to get their products through German borders and onto pharmacy shelves. Germany wants to import so badly, that it even seems to be going through semi-sketchy means, sending non-EU-GMP certified product through other EU countries in order to access more flowers!

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Breaking the stigma: how cannabis got a bad reputation

There once was a time when cannabis was a popular medicinal substance carried in pharmacies across the U.S. and farmers were even given government incentives to grow hemp. Fast forward a few decades, marijuana drug became classified as a Schedule 1 substance. It is the most restrictive category for substances with “no currently accepted medical […]

The post Breaking the stigma: how cannabis got a bad reputation appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Breaking the stigma: Marijuana’s bad reputation

There once was a time when cannabis was a popular medicinal substance carried in pharmacies across the U.S. and farmers were even given government incentives to grow hemp. Fast forward a few decades, marijuana drug became classified as a Schedule 1 substance. It is the most restrictive category for substances with “no currently accepted medical […]

The post Breaking the stigma: Marijuana’s bad reputation appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.