The EU’s highest court has ruled that CBD is not a narcotic because “it does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”
The ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit in France against a company that makes CBD oil from whole hemp plants. In France, only the fiber and seeds of hemp plants containing less than 0.2% THC can be used commercially.
The EU court ruled that France’s law banning the use of whole plant hemp-derived CBD went against the EU’s law on the free movement of goods.
“The national court must assess available scientific data in order to make sure that the real risk to public health alleged does not appear to be based on purely hypothetical considerations,” the court ruled.
“A decision to prohibit the marketing of CBD, which indeed constitutes the most restrictive obstacle to trade in products lawfully manufactured and marketed in other [EU] member states, can be adopted only if that risk appears sufficiently established,” the court wrote.
While individual countries can ban the free movement of goods for things like narcotic drugs, the court’s ruling means that those rules don’t apply to CBD.
Plus, as the court cited in their ruling, France has not banned synthetic CBD, which has the same properties as plant-derived CBD—making the prohibition of plant-derived CBD inconsistent.
The court’s decision could potentially open up the legal CBD market in Europe. Many CBD products currently exist in the grey market under rules that allow cannabis to be sold for agricultural purposes. Regulations about cannabis edibles and CBD have been stalled and in limbo, but the court’s decision could reopen a pathway to selling CBD edibles as food in Europe.
“With today’s ruling, CBD companies can expect a clearer route to achieving compliance across the EU. The harmonization of cannabinoid regulations could finally become a reality,” wrote the UK-based Association for the Cannabinoid Industry.
Colorado may have regulated marijuana like alcohol, but since marijuana was legalized, there’s been a double standard when it comes to cannabis and booze. State law prohibits employers from firing employees for “lawful off-duty activities,” like drinking alcohol. Employees who over-indulge during the Superbowl, for example, can go into work the next day and talk about their bender without losing their jobs. Not the case when it comes to marijuana.
House Bill 20-1098, introduced to the Colorado legislature by Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora), would explicitly include marijuana use as a “lawful off-duty activity.”
“I can’t believe we’ve had this much oversight and lack of protection for someone who’s using medical marijuana, or recreational, which is something that is legal in Colorado,” Melton told Westword. “Especially since we’re supposed to regulate marijuana just like alcohol. But [alcohol users] are not in the same type of jeopardy as someone who’s using marijuana. I feel like it’s kind of almost discriminatory to say someone can drink alcohol but not smoke here.”
At many companies in Colorado, an employer can fire an employee for testing positive for marijuana, even if they’re not high at work. After recreational marijuana hit retail stores in 2014, the issue came up in 2015, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the Dish Network was within their rights to fire an employee who tested positive for pot. The employee, Brandon Coats, a paralyzed medical marijuana patient, was fired for marijuana use off the job.
“We’ve revised the language a little, and it’s now about employee protection for lawful activity,” said Ashley Weber, the director of Colorado NORML. “We’re not really looking for any special treatment just for cannabis users…We offer these protections for alcohol, so we’re not asking for any special treatment.”
The bill would likely not apply to federal employees who work in the state, at least as long as marijuana remains illegal federally.
“Our hope with this bill is that Colorado will set an example in rewriting employee handbooks about how they’re going to treat the firing of their employees, and what is grounds for being able to be fired,” Weber said. “We can’t go back and undo what has already been done, but we can move forward in how we’re creating this language.”
The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will have their first hearing on the bill on February 5.
Senators urge FDA to speed up CBD regulation
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and five other senators are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue guidance on CBD within 90 days.
“Consumers need and deserve guidance. So do manufacturers and hemp growers. That is why I am calling on the FDA to establish a regulatory framework as it has promised to do for these products,” said Blumenthal.
Hemp-derived CBD was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, but since then, the FDA hasn’t issued any rules for cannabis companies selling CBD products.
“Consumers rely on the FDA to conduct timely and appropriate oversight of new and emerging ingredients, and guidance from the FDA would also help manufacturers to develop safer, more effective, and more credible products for consumer use,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the FDA. “The market for CBD products is rapidly outpacing the FDA’s current regulatory efforts, and your agency clearly must expedite its efforts to promote accuracy and transparency within the CBD industry.
Along with Sen. Blumenthal, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) signed the letter addressed to the FDA.
Teen cannabis use in Washington declined after legalization
One of the arguments against legalizing marijuana was that it would increase teen drug use, but in Washington and other states that have ended cannabis prohibition, the opposite is true.
According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control, marijuana use “decreased or remained stable through 2016 among King County students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. Among grade 10 students, the decline in use occurred among males while the rate among females remained steady. Use of alcohol or other substances was four times as frequent among marijuana users as among nonusers.”
Washington saw its first decline in teen marijuana use in 2012, the year it legalized cannabis. The researchers noted that the decline in youth marijuana use after legalization was consistent with trends reported in both Colorado and Oregon.
“Although the relationship between legal adult recreational use and youth use is not well understood, two possible reasons for the observed decline in youth use include reduction of illicit market supply through competition and loss of novelty appeal among youths,” according to the study. “Furthermore, it would be important to monitor the long-term role legalization might play to foster a permissive use environment given observed strong associations with use and individual and family factors that influence youth use.”
Study finds marijuana legalization doesn’t lead to increased crime
A federally funded study published in Justice Quarterly found that violent and property crime rates in Colorado and Washington did not increase after recreational marijuana was legalized. The crime rates stayed close to the average of other states where adult-use cannabis isn’t legal. Plus, since Washington legalized marijuana, burglary rates have actually declined more sharply than in states that haven’t legalized.
“Our results suggest that marijuana legalization and sales have had minimal to no effect on major crimes in Colorado or Washington,” according to researchers. “We observed no statistically significant long-term effects of recreational cannabis laws or the initiation of retail sales on violent or property crime rates in these states.”
Researchers looked at crime rates in Colorado and Washington from 1999 to 2016 and compared the data to 21 non-legal states. The study used crime statistics from the FBI.
“As the nationwide debate about legalization, the federal classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, and the consequences of legalization for crime continues, it is essential to center that discussion on studies that use contextualized and robust research designs with as few limitations as possible,” said Dale Willits, one of the study’s co-authors. “This is but one study and legalization of marijuana is still relatively new, but by replicating our findings, policymakers can answer the question of how legalization affects crime.”
Colorado is launching a new social equity program for cannabis business licenses in 2020. The new licenses will be reserved for low-income demographics and are meant to increase diversity in the cannabis industry, while also providing opportunity for businesses that may not have access to traditional funding and training.
The program is part of an overhaul of the state’s medical and recreational marijuana regulations under Senate Bill 224, which was signed into law earlier this year. Known as micro licenses, the new permits will be limited to applicants from low-income areas identified by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
New businesses granted one of these micro licenses would be required to use the facilities of established marijuana companies as they research and manufacture their own cannabis products. Licensees would be allowed to cultivate, extract, and manufacture infused products, but would not be able to operate dispensaries.
The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) met earlier this month to establish the criteria for applicants.
“People from around the world look to us as an example on how to do things right,” MED director Jim Burack said. “What exactly is this relationship between endorser and accelerator? How do we ensure this business relationship is mutually beneficial?”
While the program is meant to increase diversity in the cannabis industry, marijuana lobbyist Shawn Coleman, who helped write define the new licenses explained, “If you’re white and you grew up in a trailer and your dad went to jail for ten years for selling meth, I can see why you’d think you’d be fit for this. This isn’t exclusive to any certain group.”
Getting established cannabis companies to participate is part of the challenge of the new social equity program. While the details are still being finalized, some of the potential incentives include reduced licensing fees, excise-tax credits, and giving priority designation for licensing transfers and updates.
Seattle Municipal Court judges unanimously agreed to vacate misdemeanor marijuana convictions in the city from 1996 to 2010.
City Attorney Pete Holmes filed a motion in April asking the court to dismiss marijuana convictions “to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color.” The ruling could affect more than 500 people charged or convicted of marijuana-related misdemeanors. The Seattle court doesn’t handle felony cases.
The judges noted in their ruling that of the more than 500 cases between 1996 and 2010, 46% of defendants were African-American.
“Inasmuch as the conduct for which the defendant was convicted is no longer criminal, setting aside the conviction and dismissing the case serves the interests of justice,” the judges wrote.
Washington state legalized adult-use cannabis in 2012. After Holmes was elected in 2010, his office stopped prosecuting marijuana-possession cases.
“We’ve taken another important step to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs, and to build true economic opportunity for all…For too many who call Seattle a home, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity – to good jobs, housing, loans, and education. It created a permanent criminal record that traveled with people their whole life. And we know now that it disproportionately targeted communities of color,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The court expects to have the convictions vacated by mid-November after defendants are mailed notices and given a chance to object or ask for individualized findings. Those who don’t respond will have their conviction automatically vacated.
“While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we will continue to act to give Seattle residents – including immigrants and refugees – a clean slate.”
In a press release, Holmes said that the city should “take a moment to recognize the significance” of overturning marijuana-related convictions. “We’ve come a long way, and I hope this action inspires other jurisdictions to follow suit.”
Earlier this month, New York City dismissed more than 3,000 cases of marijuana smoking and possession charges.
This November, voters in Nevada will consider whether or not to approve the sale of recreational marijuana. The state already has a medical cannabis program, which includes eight specific conditions that qualify patients for a medical marijuana card: cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and conditions that include muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, severe pain or wasting.
Currently, Nevada is one of two states that allow the possession and purchase of medical marijuana from out-of-state residents. Maine recognizes medical marijuana cards from other states as long as the patient has their physician fill out a form for the state regulatory agency. Hawaii will allow qualifying patients from out of state to purchase medical marijuana on January 1, 2018.
Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Rhode Island allow patients from other states to use marijuana, but generally not to purchase it.
Polls in Nevada show widespread support for legalizing recreational marijuana. If approved, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana would be similar to laws adopted in Washington and Colorado, which tax and regulate cannabis like alcohol. Legalization in the Silver State would permit anyone 21 or over to purchase recreational cannabis.
Proponents of the measure believe that legal recreational cannabis could create millions of dollars in tax revenue, as well as saving money spent on marijuana enforcement and prosecution for marijuana-related offenses. Joe Brezny, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, estimates that the U.S. spends about $78 billion in marijuana prohibition efforts.
Tourism is big business in Nevada, but because marijuana is still federally illegal, don’t expect to be able to light up in casinos. Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said, “people who have a gaming license in Nevada are forbidden from violating not just Nevada law, but all other laws, including the laws of other states and federal law.” Casinos cannot currently participate in the medical marijuana industry for that same reason.
Mountain High Suckers is expanding into Nevada in 2016. Look for our THC-and CBD-enriched hard candies at your favorite Silver State dispensary.
Starting June 2, marijuana-infused edibles, extracts and non-psychoactive topical products will be available for recreational sale in Oregon. Medical cardholders in Oregon already have access to marijuana edibles. Since October, marijuana flower, starter plants, and seeds have been available for recreational sale.
The Oregon Health Authority issued a bulletin detailing guidelines for edible sales:
- Retail customers, who must be over 21, can buy one low-dose marijuana infused edible per day at medical marijuana dispensaries that sell to recreational customers. “Low dose” means an edible with no more than 15 milligrams of THC.
- Non-psychoactive marijuana-based topical products, like lotions and balms, that contain no more than 6 percent of THC.
- One pre-filled cartridge or container of marijuana extract per day. This type of product is typically consumed using a portable vaporizer device. The container may not contain more than 1,000 milligrams of THC.
The health authority’s directive expands the sale of the products to the new legal recreational marijuana market. Extracts and edibles sold recreationally are subject to the same 25 percent state sales tax that is applied to marijuana flowers. Agency officials said that residency would no longer be a factor for people who own a marijuana company under proposed rules the commission will take up next month.
A separate state law passed earlier this year removed the original 2-year residency requirement for recreational marijuana licensees. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will begin issuing licenses under this law starting June 2.
Currently, more than 300 medical dispensaries are participating in the state’s early recreational marijuana sales. The OLCC has yet to issue a license for a recreational marijuana dispensary. The agency said it plans to issue its first dispensary licenses in October. By Jan. 1, 2017, all recreational sales will have to take place at OLCC-licensed dispensaries.
While we do not currently sell our products in Oregon, we support legalization and safe medical access to cannabis everywhere.
Recently, Mountain High Suckers products were featured in a BBC News article focused on explaining the legal cannabis market in Colorado to a British audience. The author begins at a Colorado based, cannabis friendly bed and breakfast and is surprised to see the scale of the amount and diversity of cannabis based products.
Other than CLEAR, a UK based cannabis advocacy group looking to legalize cannabis and modernize how its viewed in Europe, cannabis is widely unused and clearly illegal in England and the rest of the United Kingdom. Our local residents may have to forgive the sometimes amazed tone the article takes, but it can also remind us of how much our Colorado legal cannabis industry has accomplished!
Check out the full article on BBC.com here: