New hemp-derived CBD regulations in Colorado
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has finalized state testing requirements for hemp. The new regulations take effect on October 1 and include all hemp-derived goods intended for human consumption, including hemp-infused CBD products.
“We don’t want to burden the industry,” Jeff Lawrence, CDPHE director of environmental health and sustainability, told Westword. “But what we’ve learned is that there are things in hemp products that we obviously need to be considerate of. Since the inception of hemp, Colorado has been a leader in this industry. This will provide some better guidance.”
Testing will screen for things like pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.
Hemp-infused products like foods, drinks, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, and pet products will be subject to the new testing requirements. Industrial hemp products like textiles, fuel, and building materials, are excluded from the testing requirements. Hemp-derived smokable products, including those with modified cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC, are also excluded from the new regulations.
“Ultimately, this is a public-health issue. In 2018, when, statutorily, these products were allowed, we said it would be treated like every other food and dietary supplement requirement,” Lawrence said.
DEA-approved medical marijuana research facility coming to Denver
A Denver-based marijuana research and cultivation firm received approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to begin federally-approved medical marijuana studies.
The research license will allow MedPharm to study all of the molecules known to be made by the cannabis plant—more than 400 so far. The company will also be studying the interaction between phytocannabinoids and different brain cells.
“Access to the diversity of chemicals produced by cannabis has never been greater, and we are excited to unlock the medical potential of these compounds,” said Dr. Tyrell Towle, MedPharm’s director of chemistry and research.
Although MedPharm is licensed to grow medical marijuana for research purposes at the city and state levels, they’re still waiting on the DEA to approve federal licensing. That means that the company won’t be using its own marijuana for research. Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only federally licensed medical marijuana research supplier.
Colorado Cannabis Business Office focuses on social equity
Governor Jared Polis announced the creation of a new office aimed at supporting cannabis businesses and promoting social equity.
The Cannabis Business Office (CBO) was created as part of a bill passed earlier this year. $4 million was set aside for the program for the 2022-’23 fiscal year from the state Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
According to the CBO, the office will:
- Provide loans to social equity licensees for seed capital and ongoing business expenses;
- Offer grants to social equity licensees to support innovation and job creation and organizations that support marijuana businesses to be used to support innovation and job creation of social equity licensees; and
- Support cannabis business owners with technical assistance, prioritizing social equity licensees who have been awarded a loan or grant through the program.
“This office will offer tools like technical help and improve access to money for businesses. Where the federal government has fallen behind, Colorado will lead. Colorado is, and always has been, the best place to live, work, grow and sell cannabis,” Polis said in a press release.
Instead of cheering for U.S. track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson later this month during the Tokyo Olympics, Americans won’t be able to see the 21-year-old compete at all.
Richardson dusted the competition in the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. However, following her qualifying race, Richardson tested positive for THC. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the positive test disqualified her from competing—despite zero evidence that marijuana enhances athletic ability. Plus, Richardson used cannabis in Oregon, a state where it’s legal.
“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 was banned for 30 days, which means she’ll miss the 100-meter race in Tokyo. There was some hope that she would still run during the women’s 4×100-meter relay, but she wasn’t on the roster released by USA Track and Field (USATF).
“First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson’s extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability — and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track,” a statement from officials at USATF said.
“While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games.
There has been widespread criticism of disqualifying Richardson, including a petition signed by more than half a million people to allow Richardson to compete.
Members of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties sent a letter calling on officials to reverse the ban.
“We urge you to reconsider the policies that led to this and other suspensions for recreational marijuana use, and to reconsider Ms. Richardson’s suspension. Please strike a blow for civil liberties and civil rights by reversing this course you are on,” the letter read. “The divergent treatment of recreational alcohol and marijuana use reflects obsolete stereotypes about cannabis products and a profound misunderstanding of the relative risks of both substances.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that they would not be making changes to the allowable THC limit for legal hemp. While the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress legalized hemp, it came with the requirement that THC content must be under 0.3%, and any hemp found to exceed that amount must be destroyed. The USDA says that it’s up to Congress to make changes.
“The Farm Bill set forth these requirements,” Bruce Summers, acting administrator of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, said on a call with reporters. “Any changes to these requirements require legislative action.”
“To go from 0.3 to one percent would have to be a statutory change,” he said. “In other words, Congress would have to take action. We couldn’t do that by regulation.”
While the THC limit will remain the same for hemp, the USDA is open to other changes to their rules. The USDA says it will use the 2020 growing season as a chance to “test drive the interim rule to help guide any adjustments that are made in the final rule.” After the 2020 harvest, the USDA will open a second public comment period before final regulations are set. The interim final rule will expire Nov. 1, 2021, after which the USDA will then deliver the final regulations.
One potential change could involve the disposal practices for “hot hemp.” Hemp that tests above regulated THC levels cannot be sold and must be destroyed. According to Summers, “there’s probably some flexibility there, and we hope to get some additional guidance on that out shortly.”
“Hot hemp” is ineligible for federal crop insurance programs, including the two new federal hemp insurance programs the USDA announced earlier this month.
Summers also said that there could be changes to the requirement that testing facilities must be certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Hemp farmers have been concerned that there are too few certified labs, which will cause backlogs and delays in hemp testing.
“It’s something we’ve heard loud and clear. It’s something we’re dealing with and something we’re hoping to have more information out about shortly,” Summers said about the lab shortages.
The Farm Bill gives states the right to submit their own proposed hemp regulations. The Colorado Senate has urged the USDA to loosen some of its hemp regulations.
“As presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture…members, there will not be a hemp industry in Colorado,” said Colorado Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose). “The rules and regulations are so onerous that we as farmers cannot comply, and the state cannot afford to comply.”
The state Senate adopted a resolution in January, pledging their support for regulatory revisions.
“Colorado has been a national leader in developing public policies that support hemp production, protect farmers and consumers, and treat hemp as an important agricultural product and not a controlled substance,” the resolution reads. “The State’s written comments on the interim rule present thoughtful and compelling recommendations on how the USDA’s rules could be improved to allow for greater flexibility and equity in state regulation of hemp production in a manner that protects farmers and consumers and promotes growth of the industry.”
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.
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.
California police carried out multiple raids on illegal marijuana grows Wednesday in an ongoing effort to tamp down on black market cannabis. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department served 80 search warrants in Anza Valley and made several arrests. They seized an estimated 140,800 plants valued at $189 million, along with 3,00 pounds of processed marijuana, 17 rifles, and 10 handguns.
“There are legitimate concerns in Northern California particularly as it relates to illegal cannabis grows. They are getting worse, not better,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.
California has a comprehensive regulatory framework for legal marijuana, and cannabis growers are required to go through a step-by-step licensing process, including background checks. However, 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.
A report from the state Cannabis Advisory Committee found that “Lack of enforcement is creating a thriving environment for the unregulated ‘underground market.”
The problem isn’t just limited to marijuana grows. The state Bureau of Cannabis control has sent 2,842 cease-and-desist letters to cannabis shops operating without state licenses.
“It’s difficult to say how many of those letters resulted in action,” Bureau spokesman Alex Traverso said. “Businesses could shut down and relocate.”
In June, local law enforcement raided five properties in Sonoma County that were producing medical marijuana oil. The owner of the company was using “illegal and hazardous production methods” in addition to breaking a number of city ordinances.
Cannabis is easy to get in the state: 1 in 5 Californians have purchased marijuana from illegal sources in the last three months, and 84% of those people said that they were highly likely to purchase cannabis from the same illicit source again.
In order for a regulated cannabis market to thrive and for consumers to get safe, high-quality cannabis, enforcement of marijuana regulations, and convincing non legal operations to go through the licensing process is essential.
“We believe that this governor is committed to addressing our concerns, and he has a Legislature that is showing their willingness to author bills that will strengthen the regulated market while minimizing the illicit market,” said Josh Drayton, a spokesman for the California Cannabis Industry Association.
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.
Denver has become the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin, more popularly known as magic mushrooms. Early results on election night didn’t look good for Initiative 301, but by the final tally on Wednesday afternoon, the measure eeked out a win by about 2,000 votes.
While I-301 doesn’t legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms, it does make the cultivation and possession for personal use of psilocybin for those 21 and older the lowest possible law enforcement priority for police. Once the mayor signs the initiative, city code will prohibit Denver from using public funds or resources to prosecute people for psilocybin possession. An 11-member panel will be created to analyze the public safety and health impacts of decriminalizing magic mushrooms.
“No one should be arrested or incarcerated simply for using or possessing psilocybin or any other drug,” Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Washington Post. “If anything, this initiative doesn’t go nearly far enough. Given the scientific and public support for decriminalizing all drugs, as Portugal has done successfully, we need broader reforms that can scale back the mass criminalization of people who use drugs.”
Hallucinogenic mushrooms remain illegal to distribute or sell anywhere in Colorado, and use or possession of psilocybin outside of the city and county of Denver remains illegal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy” in the treatment of depression. And other studies have shown that magic mushrooms can be useful in treating PTSD, addiction, anxiety, chronic pain, and depression. Last September, John Hopkins University published a study recommending that psychedelic mushrooms be reclassified as a Schedule IV substance, which is a drug with a low potential for abuse and dependence.
Kevin Matthews, the campaign manager for Decriminalize Denver, which spearheaded I-300, says hallucinogenic mushrooms helped him manage his severe depression.
“It helped me put my life back together,” Matthews said. “It felt like a part of me had been awakened from the depths of the challenging mental state that I had been in.”
Mountain High Suckers was extremely proud to help our friends at the Decriminalize Denver / Denver Psilocybin Initiative by handing out flyers and support materials – every single dispensary we approached gladly accepted and supported us. Huge THANKS to our community for coming together!