CannaNews You Can Use – August 2021
Editor’s Note: Tables in this issue: Federal, Ohio and Ohio decriminalization legislation. Approved OMMCP Devices (alphabetical order). Bullet point summaries: HB 382, ACRACU Initiated Statute, and Federal CAOA.
New bill, new ballot measure, new federal legislation. Signature “time machine” and Sativex for Brain Cancer? Welcome to selected bites of fresh cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a sweet Ohio twist.
· House bills in 2021 = 35 and Senate bills = 13, for a total of 48. Four bills concern House appropriations (highlighted in yellow) with the cannabis inserted as a rider. As measured by House co-sponsors and companion legislation, the furthest along appear to be the American Dream and Promise Act (175 co-sponsors), U.S. Citizenship Act (149), Safe Banking Act (180) and the MORE Act of 2021 (59).
· We Got More!! On July 14, 2021, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) fulfilled a promise by releasing the first draft of U.S. Senate bill to fully legalize cannabis, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). Toward that end, they produced a detailed Discussion Draft. Here is the full language of the bill. Here is a summary of selected points of interest. Comments on the draft should be submitted to: Cannabis_Reform@finance.senate.gov by 9/1/21.
· Rational Appropriations.Far too much cannabis legislation passes as amendments to appropriations bills rather than standalone measures. But these bills are still essential to a workable industry and advancing the cause. From NORML, here is a list of various 2022 appropriations amendments.
· Statewide ballot issue. Remember when we said in June,“Sorry, not this year.” The June 30th deadline to submit petitions for ballot placement in the fall has passed. Thus, NO statewide cannabis measure will up for a vote in the Fall 2021 election. Next year, however, is plausible.
· An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis (ACRAUC). This initiated statute and its 1,000 initial signatures were filed by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) with the Ohio Attorney General’s (OAG) office on 7/27/21. The measure 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).” Unlike any prior cannabis-focused ballot measure – all of which were proposed as constitutional amendments – this citizen-led Initiated Statute would enact Chapter 3780 of the Ohio Revised Code. Here is the Coalition’s press release. Their website is https://justlikealcohol.com/. Here is the initiative’s searchable text in PDF format. And here is one-page bulleted key point list of the proposed statute’s provisions. Several mirror HB 523 that created Ohio’s current medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, on 8/5/21, the OAG rejected the initiative’s summary, effectively halting the effort. Here is the OAG’s rejection letter.
· What is an initiated statute? “If a citizen feels that an issue is not addressed properly (or at all) in the Ohio Revised Code, he or she can … submit a proposed law (statute) to the people of Ohio for a statewide vote.” To do this, he/she writes a petition, collects an initial 1,000 signatures and submits them to the Attorney General who approves its summary as a “fair and truthful statement.” The Ballot Board then certifies the petition as only one proposed law. Copies of the certified petition can then be circulated among Ohio voters to obtain 3% of the votes cast in the last Ohio gubernatorial race (2018: 4,429,582 total votes x 3% = 132,887) , with 1.5% emanating 44 of the state’s 88 counties. The petition and its valid signatures are then filed with the Ohio Secretary of State 10 days prior to a session of the Ohio General Assembly (OGA). That body has four months to enact the petition as law. If it fails to do so, supplemental petitions may be circulated to obtain the same number of signatures in the same manner as the initial pass. The supplemental petition must be filed with the Secretary of State within 90 days of the OGA’s failure to act, but not later than 125 days before the election at which the initiative will appear on the ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, the new law would become effective 30 days after the election. In sum, initiated statutes require far fewer signatures than constitutional amendments, but contain more steps to enact. Source: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/legislation-and-ballot-issues/putting-an-issue-on-the-ballot/initiated-statute/
· H.B. 382. On August 2, 2021, Ohio Representative Casey Weinstein (D-37) introduced HB 382with the short title, “Allow cultivation, possession of marijuana; levy a tax.” This legislation represents the first time that a legal framework for adult cannabis use has been proposed to the Ohio General Assembly. The bill has 10 cosponsors so far. Here is the bill’s full text. Here is a summary of selected points of interest.
· Similarities among the initiated statute (ACRAUC), HB 382 and HB 523. The intent of fielding a ballot issue is sometimes to inspire legislative action as with HB 523, Ohio’s current medical marijuana law, in 2016. All of these measures are somewhat similar but also quite different. Both the initiative and the Act pertain to individuals age 21 and older, both permit home grow of up to 12 plants and possession of 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and both contain social equity provisions. The regulator for both is the Ohio Department of Commerce. They differ (the Act vs the Initiative), however, in taxation (10% excise tax on retailers vs. 10% purchase tax on consumers), in protections (just tenant leases vs. four other protections) and in establishment types. The Act creates a new regulatory scheme, while ballot issue relies somewhat on HB 523. But both give preferences to existing cultivators.
· Signature “time machine.” Recalling thatCOVID-19 stalled in-person signature collection for ballot issues last year, the Sensible Movement Coalition sought permission to gather them electronically. On 7/29/21, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued its final ruling that the Coalition’s case was moot, stating, “Without a time machine, we cannot go back and place plaintiffs’ initiatives on the 2020 ballot.”
· Bridgeport lawsuit. On 7/16/21, intrepid cannabis activist Bill Schmitt, Jr. filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court against the Village of Bridgeport, along with the its mayor, clerk and the Belmont County Board of Elections, for three times failing to accept petitions to decriminalize cannabis within that small Ohio River town. According to the Times Leader, “The village has until Monday to file briefs or evidence in support of their case then Schmitt will have a chance to respond up until the following day. The Supreme Court will then make a ruling or select a hearing date for the case.”
· Sensible Decrim. As of August 1,this productive collaboration between the Sensible Movement Coalition and NORML Appalachia has collected sufficient signatures to place the following cities on the ballot this fall so far: Laurelville, McArthur, Murray City, New Lexington, New Straightsville, and Powhatan Point.
· Patient numbers. There are now 215,874 registered patients in Ohio’s program, about 10,000 more than reported last month. Veterans number 13,477, patients with indigent status 14,876 and those with terminal illness 842 (irrespective of this specific medical condition). There are also 23,472 registered caregivers.
· Recommending Physicians. The number of physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana in Ohio stands at 650. A map of their locations can be found on the website of the Ohio State Medical Board here. A name and address listing in Excel format is here.
· Wave Televisits Goodbye. Beginning September 17, 2021, Ohio’s sick, dying and disabled patients will once again be required to visit personally with their doctors for their initial and renewal medical cannabis recommendations. Physicians and patients were permitted to utilize online telemedicine during the pandemic, but Governor DeWine lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency on June 18, 2021, reverting recommendation procedures to the prior rules after 90 days. Editor’s note: The OMMCP announced in their August meeting that Telemed would be extended until December 31st, 2021.
· Approved vaporizers. Recalling that Ohio law prohibits smoking medical marijuana, the Ohio program places two limitations on devices for vaporizing flower and concentrates: no direct contact with a heating element and no temperatures capable of burning plant material. Thus, the board of pharmacy has crafted a list of compliant devices that includes 45 vaporizers, 26 batteries, 11 grinders, 6 cartridges, 4 chargers and more. The OMMCP list is here and a list of these devices in easy-to-find alphabetical order can be found here. Those interested in having a device added to this list can review submission guidelines here.
· Columbus’ new dispensary! Joining Verdant, Terrasana, The Botanist and Bloom Medicinals is Strawberry Fields, which opened on July 16 at 2950 East Main Street, just east of Bexley. Jimmy Gould of Responsible Ohio fame is the owner and operator. Hereis Strawberry Field’s menu and here is their Facebook page. In June, the four other Strawberry Fields dispensaries in Ohio became the province of Columbia Care LLC.
· Sativex for brain cancer? Sativex, the brand name for a combination of THC and CBD, will be the subject in a clinical trial that will study whether the compound indeed kills glioblastoma tumor cells, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Read the report from the Guardian here.
· BU Law Review.Love to read scholarly articles on cannabis policy? A range of subjects from Interstate Commerce, to Taxation, Banking and Social Equity can be found in this Boston University Law Review here.
· Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee. August 12 @ 10:00 am. Rhodes Tower Lobby Hearing Room, 30 E Broad Street, Columbus 43215. Event is FREE. Announcement is here. Comments can be submitted here.
· Athletes and Cannabis – Live Stream Mini-Conference. August 14 @11am-12:30 pm. Zoom. Sponsored by the Cleveland School of Cannabis. Event is FREE. RSVP here.
· Second Saturday Salon. August 14 @ 7-8:00 pm. Zoom. Monthly event for Ohio’s progressive community sponsored by the Columbus Free Press. Event is FREE. Check the Free Press Facebook page for the Zoom link. Event is FREE.
· Midwest Cannafest Ohio. Sunday, August 29 @ 12:00 pm. Rid-All Green Partnership, 8129 Otter Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44104. Celebrating diversity inclusion and cannabis awareness. Connect and learn from Ohio’s medical marijuana’s industry. $20 fee. Get tickets here.
Tales from the Bizarre
· Needs vs. Weed. Aren’t some people clever with rhymes! Little jingles. Tee Hee Hee. It seems that some U.S. Senators and Congresspersons – mostly Republicans – haven’t left the 4th Grade playground. The bill title “Welfare for Needs Not Weed” appears in over a dozen pieces of federal legislation going back to 2014, including appropriations bills. Essentially, the intent is to bar welfare recipients from using their debit cards to purchase marijuana, except that this is a false narrative according to Snopes. But that’s irrelevant to these schoolboys. Gigging the downtrodden – and cannabis at the same time – is a two base hit and an annual hobby to them. Tee Hee Hee. How about this title for their misbegotten bills instead: “A good job, quality education, health care, child care, mental health care – and medicine – for human needs.”
· 6 [Republican] Senators Who Are Blocking Legal Marijuana for 328,000,000 Americans. In case you were wondering …
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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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