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Happy 420! Lamenting last year’s largely cancelled “4:20 on 4/20/2020.“ Here are selected bites of fresh cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a sweet Ohio twist. Sources are linked.
Your 420 History Lesson
Happy 50th Anniversary, Waldos! The Origin of 420. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School in California coined the term “4:20” to connote a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop. Calling themselves the Waldos in honor of their “wall outside the school” hangout, the five students (Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich) designated the Louis Pasteur statue on school grounds as their meeting place and 4:20 pm as their meeting time. The Waldos initially called the plan “4:20 Louis,” but eventually shortened it to “4:20”. The term then became a code for getting high unbeknownst to teachers and parents. The Grateful Dead had relocated to San Rafael, and on occasion, a few of the Waldos and band members would hang out together. As a result, “420” pollinated globally among the Dead’s subculture. Steve Bloom of High Times first reported on the term “420” and its meaning in the magazine’s May 1991 issue – thirty years ago! Today, 420 has become ubiquitous as evidenced by thousands of global events to be held in its honor on Tuesday, 4/20/2021 at 4:20. (Wikipedia and the Waldo’s website https://420waldos.com/)
Happy 50th Hash Bash. Michigan cannabis aficionados recently celebrated Ann Arbor’s 50th Hash Bash virtually and in person at the University of Michigan Diag on Saturday, 4/3/2020. Speakers included Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and John Sinclair, whose conviction for two joints in 1972 sparked a protest and hence the event.
We Want More! Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) stated that he will reintroduce the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the U.S. House last year, but stalled in the Senate. On the Senate side this session, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicated that he will bring a legalization bill to the floor “soon.”
Pending federal legislation
o Marijuana 1-to-3 Act. H.R.365. Move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III.
o Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act. H.R.430. Permit veterans to receive benefits regardless of cannabis use.
o Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act. H.R.2588. Permit veterans to use medical marijuana and discuss with physician.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3131, ask to speak with your U.S. Senator or Representative and request their support of these bills.
The States – Legalization Blooms!
· New York. On 3/31/2021,New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill S854A, the Marihuana Regulation and Tax Act “to create a regulated and taxed cannabis industry in New York.”
· Virginia. On 2/5/2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2312 to legalize possession and create a regulatory structure effective 1/1/2024. But via amendments fast tracked by Governor Ralph Northam on 4/7/2021, legalized possession and cultivation were moved up 7/1/2021, although sales regulations could still lag until 7/1/2024.
· New Mexico. On 4/12/2011, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills: HB 2, the Cannabis Regulation Act to legalize marijuana for adult use; and SB 2, Expungement of Certain Criminal Records for prior cannabis offenses.
· Dispensary RFA II. As a pre-420 present, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy decided on 4/19/2021 to expand the number of dispensary licenses in Ohio by adding 73 to join the existing 57 for a hopeful total of 130. RFA II is an application process to be announced in the spring/summer 2021. An overview of RFA II can be found here.
· OMMCP Redux. The same tag team of Ohio legislators – Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-District 29) and Sen. Steve Huffman (R-District 5) who championed the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) in 2016 as members of the Ohio House – are working on a bill to be introduced in August that would “overhaul Ohio’s entire medical marijuana system — including who regulates dispensaries, how growers increase their production and how new conditions get approved.” (Columbus Dispatch, April 6, 2021)
· Program Details. The Advisory Committee for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program met virtually on 3/25/2021. As presented to the Committee, here is a detailed update of the program. Tables include Medical Marijuana Patients by Condition, Dispensary Staff Numbers, Average Plant Material Price, and much more.
· Pests in herbs. Ever wonder what chemicals have been used to deter insects and other pests on your OMMCP purchased products? A list pesticides and herbicides by cultivator courtesy of the Botanist can be viewed here.
· CORRECTION. The March issue of CannaNews listed an incorrect bill number for legislation introduced into the Ohio House by Rep. Terrance Upchurch (D-Cleveland) and Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati). The correct number is HB 210. You can sign a Change.org petition to support this legislation here.
· Sensible Decrim. They’re at it again! One of Ohio’s most prolific and successful advocacy endeavors – the local cannabis decriminalization movement – has collected sufficient signatures to place to “decrim” measures on the fall ballot in Dillonvale, Murray City and McArthur. If passed, these towns would join 22 other Ohio cities that have chosen to decriminalize cannabis up to 199 grams. No Fines, No Time.
· Spring Planting. Julie Doran, who spearheaded the 2019 passage of Ohio’s hemp bill, will be planting again this year, having harvested Ohio’s very first hemp crop last year. Here is a YouTube video of the harvest from Johnny Cannabis: OhioCannabis.com Presents: Ohio Hemp Farm Harvest Tour 2020 w/Julie Doran of Ohio Hemp Farmers Co-op
· ODA on Hemp.Hemp in Ohio is overseen by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The program’s website can be found here, including information on cultivation application process, licensed processors, and a Q & A.
· Higher Standard. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) reintroduced the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act that would redefine hemp as up to 1% THC instead of the highly restrictive and unworkable 0.3%. (April 2021)
· Whopping Support. An April 2021 survey by Quinnipiac University found an incredible 70% of registered voters in favor marijuana legalization. In their first 2012 survey, that number was only 51%. The first Gallup poll in 1969 pegged support at just 12%.
· Zoom Brothers. What do a rapper, a right wing billionaire and a former cannabis incarceree have in common? If you’re talking about Snoop Dogg, Charles Koch and Weldon Angelos, then you mean their new coalition called the Cannabis Freedom Alliance, formed during a recent Zoom call. The group will advocate for removing marijuana penalties and for regulatory frameworks that promote free markets. (Politico, April 6, 2021)
Tales from the Bizarre
· It Didn’t Stay in Vegas. Peter Green found out the hard way that somethings don’t stay in Vegas. The retired games designer legally partook of cannabis in his Las Vegas home and then travelled to Dubai where he was drug tested during an illness. He could now face three years in a United Arab Emirates prison for having “residual marijuana” in his system, weeks after fully legal consumption 8,000 miles away. (Dailymail, April 10, 2021)
· Woke in Kenya. “SMOKING WEED (aka GRASS) is NOT a good idea. I’ve tried it (back in the day) and it was WORSE than anything that happened to HUNTER BIDEN. I ‘toked up’ with some buddies in Kentucky and woke up 4 days later in Nairobi, Kenya. With no idea what happened. DON’T DO DRUGS.” Yep, this is a real Tweet from Greg Kelley of Newsmax on 3/31/2021. OK, everyone: Name that strain!
Mary Jane Borden is an author, artist, activist and cannabis advocate from Westerville, Ohio. During her 40-year career in drug policy, she has co-founded seven cannabis-oriented groups, co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills and given hundreds of media interviews. Her artwork can be viewed at CannabinArt.com and she can be reached at email@example.com.