MedicateOH is honored to partner with The Columbus Free Press to reprint their cannabis articles.
Selected bites of cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a legislative flavor and sweet Ohio twist. Sources are linked.
· We Got More!! Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on 5/28/2021. Here’s a synopsis from last year. This bill passed the U.S. House in December 2020 but stalled in the Senate. On the Senate side this session, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) states that he will bring a legalization bill to the floor“ soon.”
· Congress.gov. Want to know what cannabis bills have been introduced into the U.S. Congress? Check out this site by searching on “cannabis,” “marijuana,” “marihuana,” or “hemp.” The current legislative session is labeled “117th Congress (2021-2022).”
· Tip! Laws written decades ago frequently used “marihuana” [with an ‘h’]; rarely the term “cannabis.”
· Pending Federal Cannabis Legislation. Here’s a list of all U.S. House and Senate bills that have been introduced in 2021 as of 5/26/21 using the four search terms. Findings:
o House bills = 25 and Senate bills = 10, for a total of 35.
o Topics cover immigration, veterans, land remediation, recycling, banking, insurance, gun rights, research, federal housing, infertility, Small Business Administration and, of course, decriminalization.
o Five bills with similar titles and content have been introduced into both chambers, suggesting that they are companion House/Senate versions. They include: citizenship for essential workers (H.R. 1909 & S. 747), CLAIM Act for insurance coverage (H.R. 2068 & S. 862), Safe Banking Act (H.R. 1996 & S. 910), Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act (H.R. 2588 & S. 1183) and direct the VA to conduct cannabis clinical trials (H.R. 2916 & S. 1467).
· Will President Biden sign?Remember the Democratic Party Platform for 2020 that read, “Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level”? Now, apparently White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki won’t commit.
· Call the Capitol Switchboardat (202) 225-3131, ask to speak with your U.S. Senator or Representative and request their support of these bills.
· Alabama. On 5/6/2021, the state legislature enacted SB 46 to legalize medical marijuana, and in so doing, joined 35 other stateswith such laws. The program will contain familiar featureslike qualifying conditions and recommending physicians, but neither smoking nor vaping will be permitted.
· Mississippi. The state’s voters passed a medical marijuana ballot issue last fall with an amazing 74% of the vote. No matter. Thanks to a lawsuit about a long-known glitch in the process, the measure is DOA, thanks to the State Supreme Court.
· Montana. This state’s Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit filed against last fall’s successful ballot issue to legalize adult use marijuana. Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation implementing the measure into law on 5/28/2021.
· Pending Ohio Cannabis Legislation. Only three bills are under consideration by the Ohio General Assembly.
o H.B. 60. Introduced by Rep. Juanita Brent (D-12) and Rep. Bill Seitz (D-30), this bill with 14 cosponsors will do what the Ohio Medical Board would not– place Autism Spectrum Disorder on Ohio’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The bill received its third hearing on 5/11/2021.
o H.B. 210. Co-Sponsored by Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-10) and Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-33), this legislation would allow for “the cultivation and possession of marihuana” and “expungement of certain marihuana convictions.”The bill has neither sponsors nor hearings since introduction on 3/16/2021. Here is it’s text. [See “Tales from the Bizarre”]
o S. 25. Sponsored by Senator Theresa Gavarone, would add enhanced penalties for certain drug offensesthat occur near addiction services providers and would prohibit defrauding drug tests. Fortunately, has no cosponsors.
o By the Numbers(as of 5/24/21)
§ Total number of medical marijuana recommendations (260,775), which includes registered patients (186,590), veterans (12,139), caregivers (20,902), indigent status (13,268), terminal (945) and unique purchasers (149,489 – number revised downward due to change in methodology).
§ Total pounds of the plant sold: 40,475 (since program inception)
§ Total product sales: $344 million (see historical sales here)
o New qualifying medical conditions: Arthritis, chronic migraines and complex regional pain syndrome are covered under “pain that is either chronic or intractable.”
o Register as a Veteran. Here’s how step-by-step.
o Want to know what’s going on with the program? Join its mailing list here. Be sure to check “Medical Marijuana Control Program.”
o The 53rd Certificate of Operation was awarded to Firelands Scientific at 2300 University Drive, Huron.
o Cresco Labspurchased four Verdant Creations dispensaries in Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Newark and Marion, changing their names to Sunnyside. Verdant in Columbus remains the same.
o Ohio’s operating dispensaries:
§ PDF list compete with phone number is here.
§ Interactive Ohio map is here.
§ Spreadsheet with designated representative is here.
· This productive collaboration between the Sensible Movement Coalition and NORML Appalachia accounts for cannabis decriminalization in 22 cities covering 2.1 million Ohioans or about 27% of the state’s adult population. Beginning in 2016, decrim measures have been passed in Ohio’s largest cities like Cleveland and Columbus (by city councils) and smallest villages like Jacksonville and Trimble (by ballot issue).
· Statewide ballot issue. Sorry, not this year. The deadline for submitting 442,958 valid signatures (double that) of registered Ohio voters is 6/30/21. Plus, COVID-19 thwarted not only signature gathering for decriminalization measures, it also stalled placement of adult use cannabis on the statewide ballot.
· DEA Ends Cannabis Monopoly. For the last 50 years, the sole source of cannabis for pharmaceutical research came from the University of Mississippi; for 45 of those years, Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly directed the program. The product, however, “was found to genetically group with Hemp” instead of “commercially available” cannabis. In 2016, the DEA announced its intent to expand the number of legal marijuana growers but sat on that promise until 5/14/2021 when an unnamed number of applicants received notification of their approval. An expansion of DEA licensed growers should increase the number and quality of cannabis research studies.
· Standard THC. Scientists love standards – numbers for cross comparison. On 5/10/2021, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Cancer Institute directed their funded researchers to “report their findings from clinical research on cannabis using a standard unit of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of 5 milligrams,” noting, “standard unit is not a limit, nor any kind of recommendation for consumption that would apply to consumers or to dispensaries; it is simply a unit of measure to help facilitate cannabis research.”
· Edibles dosing chart. Here is an application of the 5mg standard by Dr. Dustin Sulak in Leafly.
· Five Decades of Marijuana Decriminalization. Produced by staff at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (part of the OSU Moritz College of Law), this report explores the variations in marijuana decriminalization across the country over ten year span. Its comprehensive dataset can be found here.
· Marijuana Legalization and Expungement in Early 2021. By Collateral Consequences Resource Center and Drug Enforcement and Policy Center Staff and published in the Spring 2021, summarizes the groundbreaking criminal reforms enacted this year as part of marijuana legalization. Read the report here and check out its infographic here.
· Hemp for Hunger: A Benefit Event. Saturday, June 5 @ 12-5:00 pm. Carolina Hemp Company, 5212 N. High St., Suite A, Columbus, OH. The event is FREE. Needed donations: Non-perishable food, Clothing, Personal Hygiene Items, Camping Gear, Bedding.
· Social Equity 2.0 Series – Expanding Horizons. Wednesday, 6/9/2021 @ 1-2:30 pm. Zoom. Panel discussion about healing the harms of past prohibition and the War on Drugs. Sponsored by the Drug Policy and Enforcement Center. The event is FREE. Register here.
· Second Saturday Salon. June 12 @ 7-8:00 pm. Zoom. Monthly event for Ohio’s progressive community sponsored by the Columbus Free Pressover Zoom. Event is FREE. Check the Free Press Facebook page for the Zoom link.
· Virtual ComFest. The Columbus Community Festival has gone virtual for the second year: June 25, 26 and 27th. Event is FREE. Check their Facebook page for details.
Tales from the Bizarre
· Life for Pot. Bucking the movement toward expungement of cannabis convictions and legalization in general,the Mississippi Court of Appealson 5/11/2021let stand Allen Russell’s life sentence for possessing marijuana– roughly one ounce. (Reason, May 13, 2021)
o Sign a Change.org petition here to DEMAND that Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves commute this egregious life sentence.
· Where in the World Is H.B. 210? It’s missing! Gone! Hidden. Or it appears that way. This is the bill that would legalize marijuana, err marihuana in Ohio. Yes, it exists, but no, it can’t be found by searching the Ohio General Assembly’s website (as of 5/29/2021) using those two terms, as you see here. What’s going on? Who ya gonna call? How about the most honorable and most intrepid Ohio Rep. Juanita Brent? Stumped her, too. But the question remains, where in the world is H.B. 210, and why is it AWOL? Waldos want to know.
Associated Files: Pending Federal Cannabis Legislation – 5-19-21.pdf
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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