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Home Grow. Ohio: Adult Use or Medical Only?  Unions. Hemp Acreage. Killer Kush.

Selected bites of fresh cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a legislative flavor and sweet Ohio twist. Sources are linked.

Home Grow – 15 Reasons Why

Read Mary Jane’s Free Press feature article for February here!

“There’s a lot of talk about freedom these days. Freedom of speech.  Freedom of choice.  Freedom of association. Why don’t these freedoms apply to cannabis? If Americans are guaranteed freedom and liberty, growing six harmless plants should be permissible.”

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 Federal Legislation 

(See Federal Cannabis Legislation Table.)

  • 117th Congress (2021-2022): House bills = 43 and Senate bills = 15, for a Total of 58.
  • Safe Banking Act (H.R. 1996S. 910). This Act would prohibit federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions that provide services to cannabis businesses. It was attached in December 2021 as Amendment 9to the National Defense Authorization Act, which approves defense expenditures. Final version of that appropriations bill, however, excluded safe banking. On 12822, Safe Banking Act sponsor U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter filed another banking amendment to the unrelated America COMPETES Ac(H.R. 4521). That Act in President Biden’s words would, “reinvigorate the innovation engine of our economy to out-compete China.” For the sixth time in history, the House passed the safe banking on 2422 as amended in the Act; for the second time in a year, the Senate will consider canna-banking coupled with an amendment. Rep. Perlmutter is not seeking reelection.
  • MORE Act 2021. (H.R.3617) This adult use bill, introduced once before by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on 93021 by 26-15, but no action has occurred since then. Co-sponsors increased to 105. Here is Rep. Nadler’s statement to mark the introduction.
  • Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAO).  On 71421, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) released a Discussion Draft of a U.S. Senate bill to fully legalize cannabis that received 1,800+ comments. Senator Schumer recently stated that he’s aiming for an April (20th?) introduction of his bill.

Here is a February 10th letter from Senators Schumer, Booker and Wyden that requests their colleagues’ input, guidance and advice on drafting the bill.

>  Here is the full draft of Senator Schumer’s original bill.

>  Here is a summary of key points of interest in the above draft.

> Here is an analysis from the Tax Foundation that includes state level tax rates on adult use cannabis.

  • States Reform Act (H.R. 5977). Introduced by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) on 111521,will “amend the Controlled Substances Act regarding marihuana,” by specifically striking “marihuana” and “Tetrahydrocannabinols, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp.” Grandfathers in state cannabis licensees. The corporate giant Amazon has endorsed this bill. Unfortunately, Rep. Mace is being “primaried” in her South Carolina Congressional District by other endorsed candidates.

Here is H.R. 5977’s text.

Here is a policy statement about H.R. 5977.  

Here is video of Rep. Mace’s press conference.

  • Other New federal bills. H.R. 6665 (Rep. Pingree, Chellie D-ME-1) on 21822 to promote the production of hemp and hemp products. H.R. 4521 (Rep. Johnson, Eddie Bernice D-TX-30) on 2422 to amend COMPETES Act with provisions from the Safe Banking Act.
  • Other lists of 2021-2022 federal cannabis legislation. This year-end report includes lists of cannabis bills that have been introduced and passed during the 2021-2022 legislative sessions. Here is another Cannabis Legislative Wrap Up for 2021 from Brownstein.

 Ohio – Ballot Initiative

The measure now goes before the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) that has four months to pass it. If the legislature fails to act or amends the current text, the campaign can collect another 132,887 signatures (really, closer to 250,000) between 6/1/22 and 7/6/22 for placement on the fall ballot (1/18/22).

When enacted as Chapter 3780 of the Ohio Revised Code, the new law would, “authorize and regulate cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, home grow, and use of adult use cannabis by adults at least twenty-one years of age (‘adult use consumers’).”

While the OGA is statutorily obligated to consider the initiative, both Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) and Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-12) have deemed it a non-starter. Calling it “a mistake,” DeWine has already said he will  veto any bill to legalize marijuana in Ohio. Huffman stated much the same, “I don’t want anybody to misunderstand my position … I’m not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it.”  

Campaign finance reports for the RMLA covering 2021 were released at the end of January. The group received $1,295,000 in contributions and spent $1,087,207.50, leaving $207,792.50 on hand. Clearly, the largest contributor was the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project at $690,000. The balance of $605,000 was given by five major cultivators: ATCPC of Ohio (Klutch), Battle Green Holdings, Buckeye Relief, Riviera Creek, Standard Wellness and Firelands Scientific. As might be expected, the bulk of the expenditures – $1,050,000 – went to Advanced Micro Targeting in Dallas, Texas, for “Petition Management,” aka signature gathering. Forty transactions worth $7,775 paid Wright-Patt Credit Union bank fees. The campaign also incurred $94,490 in debt, principally owed to JVA Campaigns and Battleground Strategies.

> Here is the initiative’s searchable text in PDF format.

>  Here is one-page bulleted key point list of the proposed statute’s provisions.

>  Here are the RMLA’s 2021 campaign contributions, here are its expenditures and here are its debts.

Ohio – Legislation 

See Ohio Cannabis Legislation Table and Ohio 2021-2022 marijuana bills.

  • S.B. 261. Introduced by Ohio Senator Stephen Huffman (R-5) on 11921, with the short title “Revise the medical marijuana law.” Among other provisions, the bill would enlarge cultivation areas, add qualifying medical conditions, increase number of forms, raise THC level, permit advertising, create a division of marijuana control, and remove the pharmacy board. With six co-sponsors, passed the Senate on 121521. It moved to the House on 122221. The House Government Oversight Committee held a hearing on 21721 at which Senator Huffman gave proponent testimony.

>  Here is the bill’s original language, here is the Senate version and here is Mary Jane’s Guide to SB 261.

>  The Legislative Services Commission has produced this bill analysis.

>  For the purpose of opposition research, here and here are testimonies by opponents.

>  The bill passed the  Senator Huffman championed HB 523, Ohio’s medical marijuana law as representative in the Ohio House.

  • H.B. 60.  Introduced by Representatives Juanita Brent (D-134) and Bill Seitz (R-30) on 2321 with the short title “Authorize medical marijuana for autism spectrum disorder.” Voted out of Health Committee on 1/25/22 after fifth testimony hearing. Passed House by 73-13 on 3/2/22.

>  Read an autistic patient’s compelling testimony here.

>  Read the bill’s legislative text here, its analysis here and its fiscal notes here.

Add your name to a Change.org petition in support of cannabis and autism (H.B. 60) here.

  • H.B. 210, H.B. 382 and H.B. 498 adult use cannabis bills. The former two have been introduced by Democratic lawmakers (Reps. Upchurch, Denson, and Weinstein) and the latter by Republicans (Reps. Callender and Ferguson). None have received requisite sponsor testimony hearings.
  • Other 2021-2022 marijuana bills: H.B 203 (raises the urine and blood levels for being “under the influence). H.B. 356 (changes marijuana possession penalties from felonies to misdemeanors). Both have received sponsor testimony.

Decrim

  • Sensible Decrim. This productive collaboration among Bill Schmitt, Jr., the Sensible Movement Coalition and NORML Appalachia have collected thousands of signatures to place decriminalization initiatives on the ballot. As a result, marijuana decriminalization of up to 200 grams with no fines or time now covers 2,199,834 Ohioans in 29 Ohio cities, or 28% of Ohio’s adult population. This number will increase by almost 30,000 if decrim passes in Kent, Ohio, where a recount found sufficient signatures to place the measure on the ballot in the upcoming November, 8th election. NORML Appalachia is targeting McArthur, Laurelville and Shawnee for its next signature drives.

OMMCP (Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program)

(As of 2/21/22) Total sales since inception: 82,955 lbs. of plant material; 7,412,143 manufactured product units; and $724.5 million in product sales. The average price of plant material for 110 oz (or 2.83 grams) is $26.04. During January 2022 alone, around $4.2 million of plant material alone was sold each week. Here is a table of total products sold by week and form since May 2021. Here is historical sales since the program’s inception through 22322.

  • New cultivators. Farmaceutical Rx, LLC in East Liverpool attained its Certificate of Operation as a Level I cultivator. The company also operates a processing facility. The provisional licensee list has grown by two with the addition of RiteGene Technologies, LLC and Appalachian Pharm Products, LLC. An easy-to-read list in alphabetical order by level and cultivator name is here
  • New dispensaries. On 91521, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced the addition of 73 new dispensaries, increasing the number from the initial 57 with certificates of operation to a total of 130.Two hundred companies submitted well over 1,000 applications, many of which are multi-state operators (MSOs). On 12722, the Ohio Lottery Commission held a drawing to begin the process of selecting the winners, using a random number generator to assign unique number and rank order to each app. With the Commission’s ordering, the pharmacy board will then evaluate the applications to determine eligibility. The dispensary district with the most apps was Northeast-2 (Cleveland area) with 208 for 7 possible licenses. It was followed by Southwest-4 (Dayton area) with 186 apps for 4 licenses. In contrast, Southwest-7 (Greene, Madison and Fayette counties) received only one dispensary application. The pharmacy board is silent on when provisional licensees will be announced.

> Here is a list of all applicants by dispensary district and name.    

The lottery drawing list is here in PDF format and in Excel spreadsheet format, here.  

Application Instructions, along with the number of new dispensaries per district, are here.

>  Here is a Q & A about the application process.

In Other News

  • Courage in Cannabis, an anthology of inspiring stories written by heroes,has achieved Amazon Rank of #1 New Release, #1 Best Seller in Herbal Remedies and International Bestseller. This compilation, by eighteen diverse authors who share how cannabis changed their lives, can be purchased in paperback and online formats from Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble, as well as from various authors on the Courage in Cannabis website. The book will soon be released on Audible.
  • Americans for Safe Access released their annual 2021 State of the States report that evaluates various medical marijuana programs across the country. Ohio received a “B” grade. Lack of “noncommercial cultivation” and reciprocity with other states downgraded the rating.  
  • The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in the OSU Moritz College of Law has published some very interesting tables. Here is one that compares Ohio’s proposed Adult Use measures and here is another that compares the medical marijuana bill SB 261 to its 2016 predecessor HB 523. This research paper, “Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market,”was composed by the Center’s Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence, Shaleen Title.
  • Cannabis is #1 Employer! That’s right. According to the 2022 Leafly Jobs Report, “428,059 full-time [direct and indirect] jobs [are] supported by legal cannabis as of January 2022. Last year, the cannabis industry created an average of 280 new jobs per day.” That represents a +33% growth rate over 2021, despite the pandemic.  
  • USDA Hemp Acreage and Production Survey. For the first time ever, the United States Department of Agriculture has published a survey of hemp farming in the U.S. Findings indicate that 50,000 acres of land in American are dedicated to hemp, its value topping $800 million in 2021.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW-1059) has unionized cannaworkers at the Curaleaf-owned Herbology dispensary in Newark, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.  The vote by workers was 8-2 with pay and benefits being the issues.

Mary Jane’s Library

Find the Source Tables for Mary Jane’s Guide in this one easy-to-use list. Documents are in PDF format.

Tales from the Bizarre

Killer Kush. Countless cannabis connoisseurs count Kush their favorite strain. It’s considered to be a potent Indica that originated in the Hindu Kush mountains west of the Himalayas. There’s Afghan Kush, Vanilla Kush, OG Kush, Purple Kush and now killer Kush, literally. According to Project CBD, ‘Kush’ Scare Hits West Africa. The BBC recently reported, “Kush – a cheap new illegal drug, is ravaging communities in Sierra Leone …  young people killing themselves or harming themselves and others.” Sounds like Reefer Madness, doesn’t it? Or does it? In truth, herbaceous substances intended to resemble natural cannabis, but treated with synthetic cannabinoids or other chemicals have a taken human toll for years. Effects include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, bleeding complications and sometimes death. The culprit, as always, is the War on Drugs that makes Kush illegal in the first place and then secondly criminalizes it to the point where dangerous substitutes become attractive to the poor and desperate. How dangerous is Kush? Only as deadly as humanity makes it.

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Author

  • 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 maryjaneborden@gmail.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. […] Mary Jane Borden – Writer, activist, and co-founder of the Ohio Rights Group, Borden’s work is woven into the very fabric of Ohio cannabis. In 2010, she founded Ohio Rights Group, a 501(c)(4) non-partisan organization that advocates for the rights of Ohioans to make medical, therapeutic, and industrial use of cannabis. Her thorough reporting of cannabis at the Columbus Free Press (pen name “Mary Jane’s Guide”) for more than 20 years has kept Ohioans informed on developments in the cannabis industry. You can read Mary Jane’s Guide each month at MedicateOH.  […]

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