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New Bill To Legalize Marijuana In Mexico Will Be Debated This Week, But Activists Aren’t Happy

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Mexican senators circulated a draft bill to legalize marijuana over the weekend, with committees set to debate and potentially advance it on Wednesday.

The 228-page document lists a series of proposed regulations for a legal cannabis model.

It would allow adults 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Individuals could grow up to 20 registered plants as long as the total yield doesn’t exceed 480 grams per year. Medical patients could apply to cultivate more than 20 plants, however.

Personal possession would be capped at 28 grams, but possession of up to 200 grams would be decriminalized.

The Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, a decentralized body established under the measure, would be responsible for regulating the market and issuing licenses for marijuana businesses.

The bill proposes a 12 percent tax on cannabis sales. Some tax revenue from those sales would go toward a substance misuse treatment fund.

Public consumption would be permissible, except is spaces designated as 100 percent smoke-free.

Hemp and CBD would be exempt from regulations that apply to THC products.

“Currently, the results of the imposition of the prohibitionist model have not been encouraging,” the legislation states, adding that the war on drugs has caused more harm that good, other substances are more dangerous than cannabis and various countries are pursuing legalization.

However, it also includes a series of penalties for violating rules concerning marketing, distribution and other activities. Those penalties would consist of warnings, fines, temporary or permanent loss of licenses and community service.

The circulation of this draft proposal comes one week after President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador indicated that the administration’s focus is on medical cannabis reform, rather than adult-use legalization.

However, comprehensive reform has been a main focus of legislators over the past year. After the Supreme Court ruled in late 2018 that the prohibition of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional, lawmakers got to work drafting a wide-ranging bill.

That legislation was approved by Senate committees last year ahead of the court’s October deadline, but before it headed to a floor vote, legislators requested a deadline extension, and the court granted it. Now they must end prohibition by the end of April.

Although Sen. Ricardo Monreal 脕vila of the ruling MORENA party tweeted that lawmakers “keep listening to all the voices” who are sharing input on the legislation, this latest bill is largely consistent with the previous, committee-approved version. That’s disappointing to reform advocates, who urged senators to revise the measure to enhance social equity provisions, provide protections for cannabis consumers and ensure that market empowers domestic farmers, especially those most impacted under the drug war.

Zara Snapp, a legalization activist with the Instituto RIA and the coalition #RegulacionPorLaPaz, told Marijuana Moment that “there are very, very few changes in the actual substance of the text.”

“We don’t see the changes that we would need to see in order to really support this process,” she said. “It’s very disappointing. It’s disappointing that they’re not taking into account the changes that [other] senators are also asking them to make because I know it’s not just us. I know that there are more that would like to see these changes, and they’re simply ignoring them.”

“I hope they don’t fast-track this through but rather take the time to make the changes,” she added. “Make the changes. It doesn’t have to be that difficult.”

Oregon Advocates Launch Drug Decriminalization And Treatment Ballot Campaign

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

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Idaho Medical Marijuana Activists ‘Likely’ To Seek Signature Gathering Relief After Court Ruling

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A campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho is preparing to potentially collect signatures again, as they are likely to seek the same relief that a federal court recently granted a separate campaign that found its petitioning efforts crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The judge said activists behind Reclaim Idaho, which is pushing an initiative on school funding, can start collecting signatures in-person and electronically for 48 days starting July 9. While the Idaho Cannabis Coalition wasn’t involved in that case, they feel the ruling will apply to them and they’re actively monitoring the situation.

“We are in the process of working with the local medical marijuana campaign to assess whether Judge Winmill鈥檚 order provides a route for the medical marijuana initiative to still qualify for the November ballot,” Tamar Todd, legal director for the New Approach PAC, which is lending support to the state cannabis effort, told Marijuana Moment.

“The medical marijuana campaign is similarly situated to the Reclaim Idaho campaign and will likely ask for a similar extension of time and permission to collect signatures electronically from the Secretary of State, and if necessary, from the District Court,” she said. “I don’t know the exact timeline as there are a number of moving pieces but it will be quick.”

On June 23, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill gave the state two options: either allow electronic signature gathering for 48 days or simply place the Reclaim Idaho initiative on the ballot regardless of the signature requirement. The state chose neither and proceeded to request that the ruling be stayed.

The judge denied the state’s request to stay the order, so the signature gathering for the school funding campaign can proceed on July 9. The state has since filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to challenge the lower court’s ruling.

鈥淭he district court order severely and unquestionably disrupts Idaho鈥檚 election,鈥 the state deputy attorney general wrote in the motion.

The deadline to submit 55,057 signatures to qualify the cannabis initiative passed on May 1, shortly after聽the group announced it was suspending petitioning activities because of the health crisis and the stay-at-home social distancing measures the state enacted. The cannabis campaign said it has about 45,000 raw signatures on hand at this point, and they’re confident that can fill the gap if they get the deadline extension and electronic petitioning option.

Under the proposed measure, patients with qualifying conditions could receive medical cannabis recommendations from physicians and then possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants.

While advocates say passing medical marijuana in one of the remaining states without such policies on the books would be a victory for patients in its own right, it could also have outsized federal implications. A House-passed bill to protect banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses from being penalized by federal regulators is聽currently sitting in limbo in a Senate committee聽chaired by a senator who represents the state.

Creating a medical marijuana program in Idaho, which is one of small handful of states that don鈥檛 yet even have limited CBD laws, could put additional pressure on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) to move the financial services legislation in Congress.

Summer Dreams Of Marijuana-Infused Slushies Are Melted By Oklahoma Regulators

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Summer Dreams Of Marijuana-Infused Slushies Are Melted By Oklahoma Regulators

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Bad news for Oklahoma medical marijuana patients trying to beat the summer heat with a marijuana-infused slushy: State regulators say the icy beverages 鈥渁re unlikely to meet requirements set forth in Oklahoma statutes and rules鈥 for cannabis products.

As the weather heats up, THC-infused slushy machines have been popping up at more and more Oklahoma dispensaries. Made by companies such as Glazees, which offers flavors such as watermelon and blue raspberry, the THC-infused drinks sell for about $12-$15.

But despite their popularity with some patients, regulators say the slushies fail to comply with a number of state rules, such as a requirement that products be packaged in child-resistant containers. Dispensaries themselves also 鈥渁re not allowed to alter, package, or label products,鈥 regulators said.

State rules further require that all medical marijuana products be tested in their final form. 鈥淚n this instance, the finished product is the slushy mixture to be dispensed to patients/caregivers, not the syrup,鈥 regulators said. 鈥淚f water, ice, or any other substance is added to the product, additional testing is required to ensure the product is safe for consumption and final-product labeling is accurate.鈥

Regulators didn鈥檛 specify how adding water or ice to cannabis products could affect consumer safety, however.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) issued the update on Thursday in what it called a 鈥渟lushy-machine guidance鈥 memo. The office said it had received 鈥渕ultiple inquiries regarding the processing and dispensing of marijuana-infused slushies on-site at medical marijuana dispensaries.鈥

The memo was silent, however, on the likelihood of enforcement. As of Friday morning, slushiesstill appeared on menus for some Oklahoma dispensaries.

It鈥檚 not the first obstacle encountered by Oklahoma marijuana businesses, which began popping up across the state voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2018.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed a wide-ranging medical cannabis expansion bill, which would have allowed out-of-state residents to obtain temporary licenses, permitted licensed businesses to deliver marijuana to customers and eliminated jail time for for first-time possession convictions. But Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) then vetoed the bill, and lawmakers didn’t hold a vote to override the action.

Oklahoma activists also filed a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure in December, but it鈥檚 unlikely the campaign can gather enough signatures to put the measure before voters this November. Their signature-gathering was largely delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and only last week did the state Supreme Court rule that the campaign could initiate petitioning. Supporters now have about 90 days to gather nearly 178,000 signatures from registered voters.

Virginia Lawmakers Announce Plans To Legalize Marijuana, One Day After Decriminalization Takes Effect

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Virginia Lawmakers Announce Plans To Legalize Marijuana, One Day After Decriminalization Takes Effect

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Only a day after a new marijuana decriminalization law took effect in Virginia, top state lawmakers are announcing that they鈥檙e already looking ahead to full legalization.

A group of Democratic legislators on Thursday announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize and regulate a commercial cannabis market in the state. While the measure isn鈥檛 set to be filed until next year, lawmakers framed legalization as necessary in the fight for social and racial justice.

鈥淒ecriminalizing marijuana is an important step in mitigating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, but there is still much work to do,鈥 House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) said in a press release. 鈥淲hile marijuana arrests across the nation have decreased, arrests in Virginia have increased.鈥

Other lawmakers backing the broader legalization push include Sens. Adam Ebbin (D) and Jennifer McClellan (D), as well as Del. Steve Heretick (D).

On Wednesday, the state鈥檚 new marijuana decriminalization policy took effect. The law, approved by lawmakers earlier this year and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), removes criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession. Under the change, having up to an ounce of cannabis is now punishable by a $25 fine and no threat of jail time or a criminal record.

Prior Virginia law punished simple marijuana possession with up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and a long-term criminal record.

鈥淭his bill will prevent low-level offenders from receiving jail time for simple possession while we move toward legalization with a framework that addresses both public safety and racial equity in an emerging market,鈥 Herring said of the new law, which she sponsored in the House of Delegates and Ebbin led in the Senate.

The decriminalization measure also contains a provision to study future legalization. It requires a bevy of executive agencies, including 鈥渢he Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security,鈥 to convene an expert working group to study the matter. That panel’s report is due in November.

A separate legislative agency, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC), is also studying the impacts of possible legalization as the result of yet another resolution approved by lawmakers this year.

Lawmakers said on Thursday that the JLARC report, which is due in December, would inform how they shape legalization legislation they expect to file in 2021.

鈥淓lements of the JLARC study include review of best practices from states such as Illinois that have developed a legal framework, testing and labelling recommendations, and measures to reduce illicit sales,鈥 according to a press release from Ebbin鈥檚 office. 鈥淭he study will also examine how best to provide redress and economic opportunity for communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition, and recommend programs and policies to reinvest in affected communities.鈥

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus doesn’t want to wait for the results of the two reviews, however, and is pushing fellow lawmakers to take up cannabis legalization during a special session in August. In addition, the caucus has said its members intend to file bills to implement automatic expungement, ban no-knock warrants, require courts to publish racial date on people charged with low-level offenses and enact other sweeping criminal justice reforms.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, development director for the legalization advocacy group NORML and executive director of the group’s Virginia chapter, said the organization, which has worked with lawmakers on past reforms, looks forward to continuing to bring evidence-based cannabis policy to Virginia.

鈥淔or far too long, young people, poor people, and people of color have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization, and Virginia must take immediate steps to right these past wrongs and undo the damage that prohibition has waged upon hundreds of thousands of Virginians,鈥 Pedini said. 鈥淚t is time to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults in the Commonwealth.鈥

Ebbin said that despite the meaningful step of decriminalization, the state still has a long way to go.

鈥淭oday Virginia is taking an important first step in reducing the harm caused by the criminalization of cannabis,鈥 he said in a statement. 鈥淭he prohibition of marijuana has failed and the consequence of this failure has been felt overwhelmingly by Virginians of color, but it has not ended. It will only end when it is replaced by a regulated adult-use market that emphasizes equity鈥攎aking whole those who have been burdened most by making sure they have a seat at the table and access to the marketplace. We are looking forward to doing the hard work needed to get this right.鈥

In the meantime, the Senate Democratic Caucus has announced it will pursue a bill during the special session next month to end law enforcement searches of people or vehicles based solely on the smell of marijuana, which critics say is a recipe for discriminatory enforcement. The group also noted that the chamber approved legislation during the regular legislative session that would have expunged certain marijuana charges and convictions, but that those bills didn’t make it to the governor’s desk.

Austin Police Will Stop Marijuana Possession Arrests And Citations

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