2021 is coming to a close—and seriously, how did that happen so fast? Since it’s that time of year to reflect on the year that was, these were some of the biggest stories in weed in 2021:
Sha’Carri Richardson was denied the chance to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics because she tested positive for THC. Richardson dominated the women’s 100-meter qualifying race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. However, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) prohibited her from competing after the positive test.
“Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes,” a statement from the USADA said.
Richardson, who had just learned about her mother’s death, consumed marijuana in Oregon, a legal cannabis state. Despite the lack of evidence that marijuana or THC enhances athletic ability and a petition signed by more than half a million people, Richardson could not compete.
Colorado’s Speaker of the House, Alec Garnett (D-Denver), introduced legislation to tighten rules for medical marijuana and marijuana concentrates. The Colorado Legislature passed HB 1317 in June, and Governor Jared Polis (D-Colorado), signed the bill into law in the same month.
A new state tracking system will monitor medical marijuana patients’ purchases to prevent them from buying more than the allowed daily limit. Additionally, the law lowered the purchase limit on concentrates for medical and recreational to 8 grams per day, down from the previous 40-gram limit. For medical marijuana patients between the ages of 18-20, the limit on concentrates was lowered to two grams per day.
Amazon, one of the largest employers in the United States, dropped drug testing for applicants and employees this year.
“We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use. We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident,” the company said in a blog post.
Going one step further, the company said that they would actively lobby Congress to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would legalize cannabis nationally.
This may be the biggest story that wasn’t. We’re at the end of 2021, and there still hasn’t been any movement on ending the prohibition on cannabis or improving access to banking.
Several marijuana legalization and banking bills were introduced in the last few years, including the MORE Act and the SAFE Banking Act. In 2020, the House passed the MORE Act, but it never received a hearing in the Senate. The House passed different versions of the SAFE Banking Act five times, but like the MORE Act, it stalled in the Senate.
One of the sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), said in a statement, “[P]eople are still getting killed and businesses are still getting robbed because of a lack of action from the Senate. The SAFE Banking Act has been sitting in the Senate for three years and with every passing day their unwillingness to deal with the issue endangers and harms businesses, their employees, and communities across the country.”
In states that have legalized adult-use marijuana, youth marijuana use has not increased.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that teen marijuana use decreased after legalization. Researchers analyzed data from 1.4 million high school students between 1993 and 2017 and found an 8 percent decrease in teen use after states legalized recreational marijuana.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) analyzed ten years of data from students in grades 9-12 who reported marijuana use in the previous 30 days. They found that between 2009 and 2019, youth marijuana use has remained essentially unchanged.
“The overall percentage of students who reported using marijuana at least 1 time during the previous 30 days in 2019 was not measurably different from the percentage in 2009…. There was no measurable difference between 2009 and 2019 in the percentage of students who reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property.”
The findings are consistent with prior data concerning youth marijuana use.
Whether it was a year to remember or a year you wish you could forget, 2020 is coming to a close.
Here were some of the biggest stories in weed this year:
Five more states vote to legalize recreational, medical marijuana
While marijuana prohibition is still in effect at the federal level, voters in states across the country continue to push to legalize marijuana.
This November, four states voted to legalize adult-use marijuana, and two states legalized medical marijuana.
In Arizona, voters passed Proposition 207, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Recreational sales are expected to begin in March 2021. Arizonans can grow up to six cannabis plants at home or no more than 12 plants in a house with more than one adult. Additionally, Arizonans with a prior marijuana conviction can petition to have the record expunged as of July 12, 2021.
Voters in the Garden State said ‘yes’ to Question 1, legalizing adult-use cannabis. Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase and possess legal cannabis, subject to rules and regulations that will be overseen by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which already oversees New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.
Montana is so into legal weed that they voted on not one but two ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana.
Initiative 190 legalized the sale and possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants and four cannabis seedlings at home. Recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 20% tax.
Constitutional Initiative 118 amended the state constitution to allow the Legislature to set the age for adults permitted to possess and consume marijuana to 21 years and older.
In South Dakota, voters went all in for legal cannabis, simultaneously legalizing medical and recreational marijuana.
Measure 26 to legalize medical marijuana passed with a whopping 69% of the vote. Amendment A passed with the approval of 52% of voters, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. However, the new law doesn’t kick in until July 1, 2021, so for now, it’s still illegal to possess marijuana in South Dakota.
Mississippians approved Ballot Initiative 65 to legalize medical marijuana in their state. Residents will be able to apply for a medical marijuana card for 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each medical marijuana patient will be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis per 14-day period.
After November’s election, 15 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis, and 35 states have legalized medical marijuana.
Europe’s Highest Court Rules that CBD is Not a Narcotic
The future of the CBD market in Europe is set to expand with a ruling from the European Union’s (EU) highest court that CBD is not a narcotic. According to the ruling, CBD “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”
Before the ruling, many CBD products in the EU existed in the grey market that allowed cannabis to be sold for agricultural purposes.
The ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit in France against a company that makes CBD oil from whole hemp plants. Only the fiber and seeds of hemp plants containing less than 0.2% THC could be used commercially in France.
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.
Marijuana Dispensaries Essential Businesses During COVID-19
In March, COVID-19 upended our lives and temporarily shuttered businesses across the country. Marijuana dispensaries were among the businesses deemed essential.
After stay-at-home orders were issued in Colorado, recreational marijuana dispensaries converted to online pre-orders and curbside pickup. While Gov. Jared Polis (D) said that recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries were “critical” retail businesses, the process wasn’t without hiccups.
In contradiction to the governor, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) deemed recreational marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores non-essential. Several hours later, Denver officials walked back the decision after hordes of Denverites rushed to stores to stock up.
Pandemic marijuana sales consistently break records
Maybe people just needed a way to cope, or maybe they had more free time—whatever the reason, marijuana sales records broke records month-over-month this year.
Colorado dispensaries sold $192,175,937 worth of marijuana in May, about 11 percent higher than the previous sales record of $173.2 million set in August 2019. Colorado cannabis sales were up 29% from April and up 32% as compared to May 2019.
Adult-use marijuana sales amounted to $158,102,628 during June, the first time that more than $150 million worth of recreational cannabis had been sold during June.
Marijuana sales hit an all-time high in July at $226 million, and for the year, more than $1.63 billion in cannabis products have been sold in the state.
On December 4, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Under the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, cannabis would be decriminalized and removed as a scheduled substance.
The MORE Act would expunge federal marijuana convictions and create a reinvestment program to support individuals most impacted by the War on Drugs. A 5% federal tax on cannabis would go toward services such as job training, legal aid, and literacy and health education programs.
Rep. Ed Blumenauer (D-OR), who has long advocated for marijuana legalization, said that the bill is “going to make a huge difference for people all across America as Congress starts to catch up to where the American public is.”
“There’s a whole range of things that the MORE Act fixes,” Blumenauer said. “But most important is it stops this failed war on drugs that is so unfair to Americans of color, particularly black and brown. It will stop the federal interference with research. It’ll allow this emerging market to thrive, make it possible for more people to participate and be able to get on with their lives.”
The bill passed by a vote of 228 to 164, with 222 Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent voting in support.
At a press event following the bill’s passage, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said that this “really is a moment for racial justice. We know that this year has put inequality and systemic racism to the forefront of our attention, and there’s no better way to close out this year than to really begin to atone for the destructive policies brought on by the failed war on drugs.”
The House might be as far as legalizing marijuana goes for now, however. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Majority Leader, is against ending cannabis prohibition. McConnell, also known as the Grim Reaper when it comes to killing legislation, is expected to block any marijuana bills from getting a vote in the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
Recreational marijuana officially lit in Michigan
On Dec. 1, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow recreational marijuana sales.
On the first day of sales, the state’s three licensed retail marijuana shops generated more than $200,000 in cannabis sales and an estimated $36,000 in tax revenue.
“The consumer demand was off the charts,” said Rick Thompson, who serves on the Michigan NORML board. “Each of the provisioning centers had lines out the door and around the block. Most had police officers on hand to ensure people were safe from traffic.”
Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2018. Sales were originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2020, but the state moved up the date in an effort to reduce black market sales.
1,400 of Michigan’s 1,800 cities and townships do not allow marijuana sales. Detroit has delayed recreational sales until Jan. 31.
Adults 21 and older can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower, including up to 15 grams of concentrate.
Marijuana Industry Daily projected that marijuana sales in Michigan are expected to reach $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion per year when the market reaches maturity.
Illinois to ring in the new year with legal adult-use cannabis
Jan. 1, 2020, will mark the beginning of more than just a new decade in Illinois as the state’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries are set to open on New Year’s Day.
Illinois was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than through a voter-approved ballot initiative.
“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy—a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said. “Legalization of adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”
In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill that allows adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis. In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis, the new law includes provisions to expunging prior marijuana convictions and the creation of social equity programs.
Recreational marijuana will have a graduated tax rate according to the THC content:
- Flower and cannabis-infused products with less than 35% THC will be taxed at 10% of the purchase price
- Cannabis-infused products and edibles with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 20% of the purchase price
- Flower with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 25% of the purchase price
“The most historic aspect of this is not just that it legalizes cannabis for adults but rather the extraordinary efforts it takes to reduce the harm caused by the failed war on marijuana and the communities it hurt the most,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D).
Illinois is the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis.
Massachusetts sells $400 million in marijuana during first year of recreational sales
During its first year of legal recreational marijuana, Massachusetts raked in nearly $400 million in sales despite having only 36 licensed retail shops.
For comparison, during the first year of its recreational marijuana market, sales in Colorado amounted to $300 million with 306 licensed retailers.
Data released from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) shows that daily sales regularly exceed $1 million, and often exceed $2 million. At its current pace, adult-use sales could exceed $1 billion by 2021.
The lack of marijuana dispensaries in the state is something CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman says the Commission is planning to address.
“I have no expectation there will be a retail store on every corner, but we have a lot more geographic expansion to do,” Hoffman said. “That’s the biggest part of our job.”
The CCC has approved an additional 53 provisional licenses for cannabis retailers, with another 166 applications pending.
Mexico’s supreme court orders regulation of medical marijuana
After two years of delay from the health ministry, Mexico’s supreme court has ruled that the agency must issue medical marijuana regulations within six months. Medical marijuana was legalized in Mexico in 2017, but there’s been no movement on regulations, leaving patients’ access to medical marijuana in limbo.
The ruling was in response to a suit brought on behalf of a child with epilepsy who needs medication derived from cannabis to treat her condition.
“Due to the absence of rules regulating the therapeutic use of cannabis, it was impossible for the plaintiff to access treatment based on this substance or any of its derivatives,” the court ruled.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known in Mexico as AMLO, campaigned on marijuana reform and has proposed legislation for both medical and recreational marijuana. One proposal put forward by AMLO’s Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero would establish the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, which would handle cannabis licensing and regulation. The plan would ban marijuana advertising but would allow individuals to grow up to 20 cannabis plants, as well as allow groups to create cannabis cooperatives of up to 150 members.
This isn’t the first time that Mexico’s supreme court has ruled in favor of cannabis. Last year, they ruled that marijuana prohibition infringes on an individual’s right to develop their personality and gave legislators until October 2019 to pass legislation to regulate both medical and recreational marijuana.
2020 could be the year New Zealand legalizes marijuana
New Zealand will hold a referendum on legalizing and regulating cannabis in 2020. Ending cannabis prohibition has been gaining momentum in the country, with even former prime minister Helen Clark urging voters to legalize marijuana.
In an editorial for The Guardian, Clarke wrote, “The time has come for New Zealand to face up to the widespread use and supply of cannabis in the country and to legalise it and regulate it accordingly. No useful purpose is served by maintaining its illegal status. A ‘yes’ vote in the 2020 referendum will be positive for social justice and equity, contribute to reducing the country’s excessively large prison population, and enable those health issues associated with cannabis to be dealt with upfront.”
New Zealand may have a reputation as a laid-back country, but their cannabis laws are definitely not chill. Under the country’s Misuse of Drugs Act, cultivating or supplying cannabis is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and possession can land you a sentence of up to three months behind bars.
Even medical marijuana is highly regulated, with only Sativex approved for the use of treatment of multiple sclerosis. All other medical cannabis is banned without ministerial approval.
Despite hardline cannabis laws, by age 25, 80% of New Zealanders will have tried cannabis at least once–clearly, prohibition isn’t working.
This week, the Helen Clark Foundation released a report with recommendations on cannabis legalization that would include limits on advertising, age limits, and expunging minor cannabis offenses.
“Our solution would be to be much more regulated than places like Colorado because of our experiences with tobacco and alcohol,” Clark said. “You don’t want to create another big tobacco and big alcohol [industry] that’s going to promote things that obviously have some potential for harm.”
Alaskan capital says yes to on-site marijuana edible consumption, outdoor cannabis smoking areas
A city ordinance passed by the Juneau Assembly will allow customers to consume cannabis edibles inside licensed dispensaries as well as smoke in designated outdoor areas. The ordinance was approved 6-2, and an amendment that would have allowed only vaping in outdoor smoking areas failed.
Local cannabis business owner John Nemeth approved of the Assembly’s decision.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” Nemeth said. “It’s something we never thought we’d see here in Juneau and it’s giving people a safe place to consume.”
Medical marijuana could hit shelves in Louisiana next week
It’s been four years since Louisiana lawmakers legalized medical marijuana, and next week patients could finally have access to therapeutic cannabis.
“If there are no problems, no contamination, and we don’t expect any, then hopefully by the end of the week or early next week, there will be products moving to the market. That’s kind of the timetable,” said Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain.
Only cannabis grown at Louisiana State University and Southern University is authorized for use in the state’s medical-marijuana program, and nine pharmacies will dispense cannabis in liquid form. Patients can use liquid cannabis applied as drops under the tongue, or into an inhaler. Louisiana also plans to allow patients access to cannabis oils, pills, and topical applications.
Oklahoma dispensary owners sue Facebook
Seven medical marijuana dispensaries have filed a suit against Facebook for putting them in “Facebook jail” for posting about their businesses. The owners say that Facebook has “a pattern of targeting the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry” and that the social media giant is censoring their business pages.
“Facebook jail” is when a page or profile is temporarily disabled for allegedly violating standards.
The petition claims that “Facebook has an arbitrary, subjective, discriminatory and archaic policy and their policy does not apply to all. It is just random. Or at least it appears to be random. There is no way for an individual or a business to contact anyone within Facebook to get assistance. They hide behind their keyboards and mete out whatever punishment they feel if they find that you have committed an infraction to their subjective community standards.”
The marijuana business owners are seeking a court order preventing Facebook from censoring their bushiness pages, as well as more than $75,000 for the “economic harm” caused by the censorship.
California is launching a new campaign to combat black market cannabis and support the legal marijuana industry.
The campaign, dubbed “Get #weedwise,” is meant to encourage cannabis consumers to buy their marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
“This public education campaign is the first to focus on educating consumers about the differences between cannabis purchased from licensed retailers and that from illegal businesses,” said Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Consumer safety is a big part of the campaign since unlicensed cannabis doesn’t undergo the same safety and quality control process as licensed cannabis retailers. Illegal cannabis is often tainted by heavy metals, mold, pesticides, and even human waste. Unlicensed grows regularly use banned or restricted pesticides, and it’s led to increased pollution and toxic waste.
U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar, who has been a lawyer on multiple marijuana-related environmental damage cases, said many of these illegal grows “are like superfund sites.”
Some of the cannabis plants seized in raids were so toxic that law enforcement officers were sent to the hospital after just touching the plants.
“We believe that this campaign will directly impact consumer safety by clarifying that only cannabis purchased from licensed retailers has met the state’s safety standards, while sending a clear message to unlicensed businesses that they need to get licensed or shut down,” said Ajax.
The black market is a huge problem in California that’s undermining the regulated cannabis market and costing the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. According to New Frontier Data, as much as 80% of the cannabis sold in the state comes from the black market. The company estimated that California’s black market marijuana is worth $3.7 billion, more than four times the size of the legal cannabis market.
“We are going to start having a more aggressive enforcement stance to come after the illegal market,” said Ajax.
The two-year campaign will include $113 million in state funds to enforce state marijuana laws, crack down on illegal cannabis operations, and encourage unlicensed businesses to enter the regulated market. California will spend an initial $1.7 million on a series of ads on social media and billboards to encourage cannabis consumers to check if a shop is licensed at CApotcheck.com.
Since recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in 2014, the state has collected $1.02 billion in tax revenue, according to the latest numbers released by the Colorado Department of Revenue. Adult-use cannabis sales in the last five years have exceeded $6.56 billion. Legal cannabis has created jobs for 41,076 people who work in the industry, and there are currently 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses in the state.
“Today’s report continues to show that Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition. We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation and development for this growing economic sector,” said Governor Jared Polis (D) in a press release. “This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction.”
Colorado and Washington state were the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2012 (with the first recreational dispensaries opening in 2014), but since then 11 other states have fully legalized cannabis as well. That means increased competition from states with larger populations and fewer regulations. Cannabis sales in Colorado have begun to level out, in part due to a decline in medical marijuana sales. In 2018, recreational marijuana sales were up 11%, but medical cannabis sales were down 20%.
Governor Polis told CNBC being the first state to sell recreational cannabis has been an advantage for Colorado, something that he hopes to leverage in the coming years.
“We are always going to be relatively small potatoes on the actual sales. … We are just not going to be as big as states like California or New Jersey. … We want to make sure that 10 years from now, point-of-sales systems, chemistry, genetics — all those pieces — are housed here in Colorado with successful companies that power a multibillion national industry.”
Colorado bomb cyclone causes a spike in cannabis sales
In Colorado, preparing for a blizzard isn’t complete without hitting up a marijuana dispensary. Ahead of the bomb cyclone that hit the state in March, cannabis sales in both medical and adult-use retailers spiked. Medical marijuana dispensaries saw an increase in sales of 27% on March 11, and 25% on March 12. Sale of flower on those days increased by 14% and edible sales increased by 10% above average.
Total cannabis sales saw a 22% increase overall on March 11 and a 4% increase in the average transaction amount, from &62.23 to $64.95. On March 12, sales were up 25% higher, with the average transaction amount slightly increasing from $64.04 to $64.51. Altogether, statewide sales on March 11-12 increased by 21%.
Nebraska legislature nixes medical marijuana bill
Hopes for medical marijuana in Nebraska were dashed after a bill failed to garner enough support from state legislators. Sen Anna Wishart (D) sponsored the medical cannabis bill and agreed to all of the amendments proposed by opponents of the legislation, including prohibiting patients from smoking cannabis or home-growing marijuana plants. Another proposed amendment would have prohibited cannabis edibles, and Wishart said she would have supported that too. Despite those compromises, state senators rejected the bill.
“Honestly, this was my colleagues’ chance to do something, and I was giving them the decision on whether they wanted to take action or not,” Wishart said.
Opponents of the bill argued that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to pressure to legalize recreational cannabis use. They also argued that cannabis remains federally illegal and lacks approval from the FDA.
While the bill was up for debate, Wishart pointed out that cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and supporters of the bill referred to marijuana’s effectiveness in treating conditions like epilepsy.
“Why not just deal with a practical reality, where instead of doing it in the dark, they can go through a highly regulated medical system. Go through a doctor and make the right choice if cannabis is right for them,” Wishart said.
Industrial Hemp, CBD Coming to Texas
Texas lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp production and hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3% of THC. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tracy King (D) and the Senate voted unanimously in favor of it. Next, the bill will head to the House for any amendments and a vote.
King’s bill would task the Texas Department of Agriculture to enact regulations in accordance with the Farm Bill that Congress passed last year, including a licensing and inspection process.
Some senators were concerned that legalizing hemp would be a slippery slope to marijuana use.
“Can this stuff be smoked?” asked state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D).
“No, sir,” said Sen. Charles Perry (R). “I guess you could theoretically smoke it; you’d get no effect from it, and the bill specifically prohibits manufacturing for the purpose of smoking.”
“Nowadays people can smoke anything,” Hinojosa said.
CVS puts CBD topicals on stores shelves in 8 states
The largest drug store chain in the U.S. has started selling CBD products in eight states. CVS is partnering with Massachusetts-based Curaleaf to supply its hemp-derived CBD topicals, sprays, lotions, ointments, and salves. The CBD products are available in 800 stores in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee.
“Anecdotally, we’ve heard from our customers that have used those products that, gee, it’s helped with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC. “So we’re gonna walk slowly, but we think this is something that customers are going to be looking for as part of the health offering.”
New Jersey lawmakers cancel vote on recreational cannabis
Legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis in New Jersey was pulled from a vote on Monday after failing to secure enough support from lawmakers. Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that he had reached an agreement with leaders in the state legislature to legalize recreational marijuana and it seemed like legal weed in New Jersey was a sure thing. However, despite Democrats controlling both the state Assembly and Senate, there ultimately weren’t enough lawmakers committed to a yes vote.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) said in a press conference that he and the governor are committed to passing cannabis legislation. “I may have underestimated the challenge of getting this passed,” Sweeney said. “We’ll be back at this. Anybody who thinks this is dead is wrong.”
On of the provisions of the proposed legislation would have expunged low-level marijuana convictions, and now that the bill won’t get a vote, residents will continue to face arrest and conviction for marijuana possession.
“I know that the biggest loss here is in terms of social justice and racial justice. We arrest 32,000 every year in New Jersey just for marijuana possession,” said New Jersey state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, Roseanne Scotti.
West Virginia passes law to provide cannabis banking
On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a bill that allows banks and other financial institutions to provide services to West Virginia’s medical marijuana industry.
“I will say, adamantly, I am 100 percent against recreational marijuana. But we have a lot of people and families out there who are truly hurting and if medical cannabis can help, we need to do everything we can to make life better for those West Virginians,” said Justice.
House Bill 2538 also created the Treasurer’s Medical Cannabis Fund to allow the state treasurer to collect funds for banking services as well as the Medical Cannabis Program Fund to collect fees related to the medical marijuana program.