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Mexican Senate Report Lays Out Marijuana Legalization Considerations

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Mexico’s Senate released a report this week that lays out general considerations for lawmakers to keep in mind as the country moves toward legalizing marijuana for adult use.

The report doesn’t make explicit recommendations, but instead details how various jurisdictions around the world have approached regulating cannabis sales.

The document looks at standard considerations in designing post-prohibition models for marijuana, such as product labeling, age restrictions for sales, THC limits, how to manage retail cannabis shops and what methods of consumption to allow.

“The focus should be on ensuring that the minor populations do not have legal access to consumption,” the report says, referring to underage people, adding that it is important to make the health consequences of illegal consumption “widely known,” according to a Google translation from the original Spanish.

There’s also a section dedicated to the need for restorative justice in marijuana legalization legislation.

For example, the Senate summarized a separate 2018 report from the Global Drug Policy Commission and wrote that a priority in transitioning to legalization should be the “interests of people and communities engaged in illegal non-violent activities due to poverty, marginalization or lack of opportunities, and those people who were more negatively impacted by the current punitive efforts of application of the law on drugs.”

The same earlier commission report indicated that a strongly regulated legal market would pose the lowest risk to public health, as opposed to prohibition, decriminalization or unregulated legalization.

Via Global Drug Policy Commission.

Another important consideration concerns the illicit market, and how the government must “establish a balance between the supply of products, their quality, power and price to reduce the risk of developing, in parallel, a black market.”

Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst with the Transform Drug Policy Foundation聽in the UK, who is cited frequently in the legislative report, told Marijuana Moment that “it’s welcome to see the Mexican Senate are engaging in some of the wider international thinking on how to regulate cannabis.”

“It’s important they learn from whats worked and not worked in the U.S., in particular seeing the potential risks of an overcommercialised model where profits can be prioritised over public health,” he said.

The new report offers a timely preview of the kinds of debates that Mexico’s government will have in the months ahead, as legislation to create a commercial marijuana market proceeds. There are currently three legalization bills before the Senate.

“Today, the nation has taken the decision to change,”聽Olga聽S谩nchez聽Cordero, now the country’s secretary of the interior, said last year after introducing a legalization bill as a lawmaker. “We don鈥檛 want more deaths. It will be a major contribution to bringing peace to our beloved country.”

Separately, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled last year that the country’s prohibition of marijuana consumption was unconstitutional鈥攁 ruling that has ignited calls for legislative reform and regulation.

World Health Organization Recommends Reclassifying Marijuana Under International Treaties

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Politics

White House Drug Officials Say Legal Marijuana Is Up To States

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Two top federal drug officials, including the White House drug czar, recently said that marijuana legalization should be left up to states.

The comments stand out coming from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which has historically played a central role in defending blanket federal prohibition.

Jim Carroll, the Trump-appointed drug czar who directs the administration’s drug policies, told Fox 59 reporter Kayla Sullivan that he considers legalization a states’ right issue. He added that he’d like to see targeted education campaigns concerning cannabis use during pregnancy and underage usage as well as research into impaired driving.

It’s a particularly notable position given that federal law stipulates that the drug czar is required to “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” listed as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, including marijuana.

Even if Carroll’s remarks arguably don’t directly violate that statute, they are significant in that he doesn’t seem to have taken the opportunity to proactively oppose state legalization efforts when asked by a reporter.

Anne Hazlett, senior advisor at ONDCP, also weighed in on cannabis legalization on Wednesday, telling CentralIllinoisProud.com that marijuana legalization is “a state decision.”

鈥淢arijuana is an ongoing challenge that is being addressed in many of our states,鈥 she said. 鈥淭his is a state decision, and we would like to see additional research done so that these decisions being made at a state level are being made in a manor that is fully informed.鈥

Though the comments from Carroll and Hazlett seem to reflect an evolving understanding of the federal government’s role in imposing prohibition on the states, the ONDCP director has previously made clear he’s not enthusiastic about the burgeoning legal market.

During a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing in May, Carroll raised concerns about THC potency in marijuana products, saying “the marijuana we have today is nothing like what it was when I was a kid, when I was in high school.”

“Back then the THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes you high, was in the teens in terms of the percentage,” he said. “Now what we鈥檙e seeing is twice that, three times that, in the plant.”

He also said that more research is needed and that the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the Department of Health and Human Services are “working hard to make sure that we understand the impact of legalization of marijuana on the body.”

Federally Funded Journal Exposes How Marijuana Prohibition Puts Consumers At Risk

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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New Industry-Backed Marijuana Legalization Measure Filed In Florida

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Another measure to legalize marijuana has been filed in Florida鈥攁nd this one is being spearheaded by a major industry stakeholder, the multi-state dispensary chain MedMen.

Make It Legal Florida鈥攁 political committee that was registered earlier this month and is chaired by Nick Hansen, MedMen’s director of government affairs in the Southeastern U.S 鈥攆iled the 2020 ballot initiative on August 6.

The campaign shared language of the measure, which isn’t yet available on the Florida Department of State elections division site, with Marijuana Moment.

“Make it Legal Florida is proud to present a ballot initiative that will legalize the safe, adult use of marijuana,” Hansen said via email. “Public opinion is on our side, and the time to act is now. Florida voters on every side of the aisle overwhelmingly support this initiative and at Make it Legal Florida, we are committed to ensuring Floridians have a chance to have their voices heard.”

The proposed constitutional amendment would legalize the possession, use, transportation and retail sale of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older. Medical marijuana dispensaries in the state would be permitted to sell marijuana to adults. The initiative doesn’t mention a licensing system to establish separate recreational shops, though the legislature will likely enact more detailed regulations consistent with the constitutional amendment’s text should it pass.

It also requires cannabis products to be “clearly labeled and in childproof packaging” and prohibits advertisements that are targeted at those under 21.

There鈥檚 also no mention of a home cultivation option, which is something that many advocates regard as a necessary civil liberties component but that some industry players have resisted or actively opposed.

A medical cannabis industry association based in New York faced backlash from advocates earlier this year after it was reported that it sent a document to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) recommending that the state prevent consumers from growing their own marijuana at home. MedMen was among the companies listed as members of the association at the time, though a representative later told Marijuana Moment that the business supports giving adults the right to grow their own cannabis.

The new Florida language is “currently being reviewed by the Florida Division of Elections to ensure the petition is in the proper form and we are awaiting their approval, per the usual process,” a spokesperson told Marijuana Moment.

It’s not clear to what extent MedMen will be funding or running the campaign, but the cannabis company appears to be taking a more active role in legalization efforts this election cycle.

In Arizona, an adult-use legalization measure filed at the beginning of the month is also reportedly being backed by MedMen, as well as other existing medical cannabis companies in the state.

Make it Legal Florida will be competing against at least one other campaign that’s working to legalize cannabis in Florida. Sensible Florida, another advocacy group, announced last month that it had collected enough signatures to prompt a state Supreme Court review of the ballot language. It’s collected about 80,000 signatures so far.

To qualify for the ballot, the campaigns聽will have to gather a total of 766,200 valid signatures. If an effort clears that hurdle, passing a constitutional amendment requires 60 percent support from voters.

“Floridians are ready to legalize marijuana,” Ben Pollara, a political consultant who worked on 2014 and 2016 medical cannabis measures in the state, the latter of which was enacted, told Marijuana Moment. “If this measure makes it on the ballot in 2020, it is almost certain to pass.”

Personal injury attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the state’s previous medical cannabis initiatives but only recently expressed interest in contributing to this recreational push, told The Miami Herald that Sensible Florida’s challenge will be raising millions of dollars to push their measure forward, whereas Hansen’s operation is well supported by the industry.

“Last time I did, I was the lone trombone player marching down the street,鈥 he said of his role in medical marijuana legalization. 鈥淭his will be the University of Miami marching band with trumpets and tubas and snare drums. I鈥檒l just be one trombone player, marching with them.鈥

Read the full text of Make It Legal Florida’s marijuana proposal below:聽

Florida marijuana legalizat… by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative Takes First Step Toward 2020 Ballot

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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Defense Department Official Stresses CBD Ban For Military Members

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A Department of Defense (DOD) official is reiterating that military service members are barred from using CBD products despite the legalization of hemp and its derivatives under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the federal government-run Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, said in a call with reporters this week that the non-intoxicating compound is “completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time.”

While CBD products are widely available鈥攊n grocery stores, gas stations and online鈥攖he lack of regulations for these items from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) creates uncertainty about levels of THC in the preparations. And military members who test positive for THC can be punished with an other-than-honorable discharge and the potential loss of other benefits.

“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere],” Deuster said, according to Military.com, which first reported her remarks. “You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it.”

Though the Tuesday press call simply provided clarity on existing military CBD policy, it represents the latest example of DOD interest in preventing the use of cannabis among service members.

The Navy released a notice earlier this month stipulating that “all hemp and CBD products are strictly prohibited for use by Sailors” no matter the legal status. And the Coast Guard said its members aren’t even allowed to visit marijuana shops or use online or delivery cannabis services, according to an order released last month.

That order didn’t specify policy around hemp-derived CBD, but a Coast Guard official told Mililtary.com that if members “have a desire to use a product that may or may not fall into the definition of what’s prohibited, they should seek guidance or use caution.”

Last year, the Air Force wrote in a post that “consumption [of marijuana] is not permitted in any fashion, period.” It emphasized the need to take caution as more states legalize, with one risk factor being your “friend鈥檚 grandma鈥檚 miracle sticky buns” that “might look mighty tasty and get rave reviews at the big shindig,” but could contain THC.

In a memo released in April, the Air Force said that “Airmen are advised against using CBD products” and could face disciplinary action if they use CBD that isn’t the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex.

The Army issued a similar notice in November 2016 that stated service members may not use marijuana, hemp or hemp oil.

Though not a military branch, NASA also sent a warning to its workforce this month that the unregulated nature of CBD products means employees could inadvertently consume THC that could get them fired.

“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Deuster said on the call this week. “[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,”

She added that service members shouldn’t “believe what [the companies] are telling you” about the benefits of CBD.

Navy Bans Sailors From Using CBD Despite Federal Hemp Legalization, New Memo Says

Photo by Sam Doucette on Unsplash.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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