The cannabis landscape is constantly changing as more states move towards passing cannabis laws. From legalizing medicinal and recreational cannabis use to decriminalizing simple marijuana possession, it can be hard to keep up with the evolution of cannabis in the United States and worldwide.
Thankfully, a cannabis round-up makes it easy to keep up with current events. From Texas to Idaho, cannabis is on the lips of numerous state lawmakers as they wrestle with legalization questions. In Connecticut, lawmakers are looking to ramp up their efforts to educate the public about driving while high. Finally, New Mexico has a shake-up as the state’s Cannabis Control Division finds itself without a director again.
Texas Lawmakers Consider Expanding Medicinal Cannabis Again
Lawmakers in Texas move one step closer to revamping the state’s medical cannabis program. The Texas House Committee on Public Health unanimously approved a bill to increase THC limits in medical cannabis and expand the list of conditions that make patients eligible to access medicinal cannabis.
Currently, medicinal cannabis products are limited to 1% THC by weight. If passed, HB 1805 would redefine low-cannabis THC to 10 milligrams. The measure also seeks to increase the list of qualifying medical conditions. Lawmakers want to include chronic pain as a qualifying medical condition. Initially, the Compassionate Use Program only applied to patients diagnosed with epilepsy. Lawmakers eventually expanded the program to include cancer and, more recently, PTSD.
The bill sits in the House Calendars Committee, awaiting a date to be considered by the full Texas House.
Idaho Considering Medicinal Cannabis Bill
One Idaho lawmaker wants to create the state’s first legalized medical cannabis system. Idaho is one of a handful of states where medicinal and recreational cannabis use remains illegal.
House Bill 370 is unique. It is a personal bill that does not follow the traditional drafting practice. Personal bills also bypass legislative committees for preliminary hearings. These bills rarely advance because they circumvent the regular process. However, there is hope this tactic sparks conversations between lawmakers and lays the groundwork for serious cannabis policy discussions.
The bill would legalize low-level THC cannabis for medicinal use for patients diagnosed with AIDS, cancer, wasting syndrome, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Under the proposal, medicinal cannabis could only contain up to 10 milligrams of THC. Additionally, a licensed Idaho pharmacist must provide a patient with cannabis.
Currently, the bill does not appear on any legislative agenda.
Connecticut Wants to Focus on Cannabis Education
Connecticut lawmakers are focusing their attention in a different direction. Connecticut legalized recreational cannabis in July 2021. Today, lawmakers are considering whether to pass legislation to boost education efforts surrounding cannabis and driving.
As in many states with legalized cannabis, possessing marijuana is legal. Driving while high is not. Unfortunately, the effects of driving while high are not as well-known as driving under the influence of alcohol. House lawmakers want to change that.
The proposed measure would require teens applying for a driver’s license to complete a safety course on the effects of marijuana. Some lawmakers want to ensure the bill focuses on education and safety, not vilifying cannabis use. Proponents say the state needs to expand its efforts to educate the public on the effects of cannabis consumption while driving.
Shake-Up in New Mexico as Program Loses Director
New Mexico faces a setback as it loses another Cannabis Control Division Director. New Mexico legalized recreational cannabis in 2021. On June 29th of that year, residents could legally possess marijuana. Sales of cannabis products commenced once the state established a legal marketplace. The state’s Cannabis Control Division regulates and licenses cannabis producers, retailers, and manufacturers.
New Mexico’s current Cannabis Control Division Director, Andrew Vallejos, announced in a brief email to colleagues that he was stepping down and planned to leave the office on March 31st. Vallejos was also running the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. His announcement marks the third leadership change to the division since the department’s creation.
A spokesperson for the department says the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department superintendent will head the Cannabis Control Division for now.
Medicinal Cannabis to Become More Widely Available in Washington D.C.
Federal lawmakers are taking no action on Washington D.C.’s Medical Cannabis Amendment Act, meaning the reforms can become law. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act, signed by Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, expands the legal cannabis industry in the region. The measure eliminates the cap on the number of dispensaries in the district, legalizes delivery services, and allows dispensaries to offer “tastings” in consumption lounge settings.
Washington, D.C. is a district, not a state, so the federal government could intervene, stopping the measure from taking effect. Congress had until March 22nd to interfere with the amendment, which was on the radar of new Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Speaker McCarthy has a spotty record on marijuana legislation, often voting against cannabis reform bills. However, he has previously voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act.
Since Congress failed to act by the imposed deadline, the act became law, making it easier for patients to access medicinal cannabis in the district.
4/20 Blazes in Arizona with the Opening of the First Black Woman-Owned Cannabis Shop
Arizona residents will soon have a new place to shop. Marvina Thomas is the first black woman in Arizona to open a legal cannabis shop. Her storefront opens, appropriately enough, on April 20th in Safford. Currently, Safford only has one licensed marijuana dispensary.
Thomas, a registered nurse, launched a CBD-infused soap business in 2016. She also operates a cannabis outlet in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Although she is no stranger to the cannabis industry, Thomas says she is excited to open a dispensary in Arizona and hopes she can inspire others to make history.
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