New Mexico Senate Committee Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill Days Before Session Ends

New Mexico Senate Committee Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill Days Before Session Ends

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: New Mexico Senate Committee Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill Days Before Session Ends

[Canniseur: This is just plain wrong. The New Mexico legislature just can’t seem to get its act together on this. The governor wants it, most legislators want it, but now there’s some backroom politicking that has just doomed the bill. Was it a perfect bill? No. Should it have been passed out of committee? Yes. There really is no excuse for this other than politics and laziness.]

A bill that would legalize marijuana in New Mexico suffered a major procedural defeat in a key Senate panel on Wednesday

About two weeks after the body’s Public Affairs Committee advanced the legislation, the Judiciary Committee decided to table it in a 6-4 vote.

With just over a week left before the current short legislative session ends, the bill now appears all but dead.

If approved, the legalization proposal would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers. It also contains social justice provisions such as automatic expungements for prior cannabis possession convictions and funding for community reinvestment. Home cultivation would not allowed. However, the bill does propose decriminalizing the cultivation of up to three plants and six seedlings, making the offense punishable by a $50 fine without the treat of jail time.

“If we pass this bill we will have a mechanism very similar to what we use for other substances that are considered potentially dangerous: tobacco and alcohol” Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D), the bill’s lead sponsor, told the committee prior to the vote to table.

“Does the state of New Mexico want to leave it totally unregulated the way we have now?” he asked members.

But Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D), the committee chairman, spoke against the measure at length. He raised concerns with provisions around labor union influence on the marijuana industry and directing the state to subsidize medical cannabis purchases for low-income patients. He also took issue with the specifics of language allowing people with past drug convictions to obtain licenses.

Before the vote to table, Cervantes repeatedly said he thought the bill was poorly constructed and not ready for consideration, going so far at one point as to tell Ortiz y Pino that he didn’t think the senator knew what was in his own legislation.

While the panel could technically bring a revised version up at its next meeting on Friday, Ortiz y Pino seemed to concede that such a move is unlikely and instead suggested legislative leaders could focus on crafting a new proposal between the end of the current session and the start of the next one.

Even if the bill were to pass the Judiciary panel this week it would still have to then move through the Senate Finance Committee before heading to the floor, after which point it would also need to pass in the House by February 20.

The bill has been a top 2020 legislative goal for for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).

The governor included legalization in an agenda she sent lawmakers last month for the short 30-day session and also discussed the need to establish a well-regulated and equitable cannabis market in her State of the State address.

“Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement following the bill being tabled. “The people of New Mexico have said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it. Poll after poll has demonstrated that New Mexicans want a 21st century economy and want cannabis to be part of it: New Mexicans want more chances to stay here and build a career here; we want justice for those convicted of low-level, harmless cannabis-related offenses; we want an industry with firm and clear regulations that will keep our roads and places of business and children safe.”

The Republican Party of New Mexico expressed skepticism about Lujan Grisham’s legalization plan in a tweet earlier during the committee’s Wednesday hearing.

“The governor has touted this bill as a means to raise revenue and jolt the New Mexico economy,” the post said. “Not true.”

In 2019, the state House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize marijuana and let state-run stores control most sales. The proposal later advanced through one Senate committee but did not receive a floor vote in the chamber. Lujan Grisham did sign a more limited bill to simply decriminalize marijuana possession that lawmakers approved, however.

After legalization failed to advance last year, the governor convened a working group to study the issue and make recommendations.

The panel held a series of hearings and released a report in October that said any legalization bill should include automatic expungements of past records and provisions to ensure equity in the industry for communities targeted by the war on drugs. It also said that home cultivation of marijuana by consumers should either be prohibited or licensed by the state.

In December, the governor’s working group released a poll showing overwhelming public support for cannabis legalization.

”I am disappointed but not deterred by tonight’s committee motion,” the governor said after the Judiciary Committee vote. “The door remains open. We will keep working to get it done. And ultimately we will deliver thousands of careers for New Mexicans in a new and clean and exciting industry, a key new component of a diversifying economy. We will deliver justice to the victims of an overzealous war on low-level drugs. We will protect our medical cannabis program and the New Mexico patients who rely on it for their medicine. I will keep working hard every single day to enact and serve the will of New Mexicans – on this and every other issue.”

A separate piece of cannabis legislation that would block out-of-state residents from registering for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program was approved by the Senate panel on Wednesday.

Kentucky Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Bill In Committee Vote

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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New Mexico Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill

New Mexico Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: New Mexico Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill

[Canniseur: Will they or won’t they? The Governor wants it. It seems as though a majority of the legislature wants it. Most importantly, the people want it. Will New Mexico do it? It’s starting to get suspenseful. The Senate needs fo vote on it and the governor has promised to sign it. Let’s GO New Mexico!!!]

A New Mexico Senate committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would legalize marijuana for adult use.

With a little more than three weeks left in the state’s short 2020 legislative session, lawmakers are making clear their intent to advance the legalization proposal in a timely fashion.

The bill, which is supported by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee in a 4-3 vote.

Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D) led the introduction of the bill before the committee, testifying that he believes “2020 is the year New Mexico becomes the third state to enact legalization of cannabis through legislative action,” following Vermont and Illinois.

“We know that New Mexicans across the state, from rural to urban centers, are with us on this issue.”

“Bringing an underground market aboveground takes a lot of deliberation, statewide input from community members and stakeholders, ingenuity and learning from other states’ experiences,” the senator, who is himself a medical cannabis patient, said. “The criminalization of cannabis disproportionately harms and criminalizes young people and people of color, sponsors violence and corruption by those who currently exclusively trade in cannabis in the black market. The current situation, our status quo that relies on a black market outside of the medical program, does nothing to curb youth access to cannabis.”

The governor included legalization in her formal 2020 legislative agenda and discussed the importance of establishing a well-regulated and equitable cannabis market in her State of the State address this month.

The day after Lujan Grisham’s agenda was released, lawmakers filed the legalization bill, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers. The legislation also contains social justice provisions such as automatic expungements for prior cannabis possession convictions.

The proposal would not allow home cultivation; however, it does decriminalize the cultivation of up to three plants and six seedlings, making the offense punishable by a $50 fine without the treat of jail time.

Additionally, the bill would eliminate the gross receipts tax for medical cannabis sales, mandate that recreational dispensaries service registered patients and create a subsidy program for low-income patients to access marijuana.

Recreational cannabis sales would be taxed at nine percent, with revenue going toward that subsidy program in addition to a “cannabis industry equitable opportunity investment fund” to support entrepreneurs from communities most impacted by the drug war, a “community grants reinvestment fund” and a workplace training program, among other programs.

According to a fiscal analysis, the state stands to bring in nearly $6.2 million in recreational cannabis revenue in Fiscal Year 2021. By FY20204, that amounts would rise to nearly $34 million. Municipalities and counties would rake in additional revenues.

“Legalizing and regulating will bring one of the nation’s largest cash crops under the rule of law, generating an estimated between 11,000 and 13,000 jobs for New Mexicans in every corner of the state,” Candelaria said.

The legislation must still pass in two other panels—Judiciary and Finance—before it gets a full vote on the Senate floor.

This latest development at the committee-level is the product of months of work from legislators and the governor’s administration. Last summer, Lujan Grisham formed a working group tasked with reaching out to community members and stakeholders, studying various components of cannabis regulation and submitting recommendations ahead of the current session.

The final report, which was released in October, laid out a number of proposed rules and restrictions for a legal marijuana market.

Earlier last year, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize marijuana but it later died in the Senate. Lawmakers did send Lujan Grisham a more limited bill to simply decriminalize cannabis possession, which she signed.

While it’s possible that the current committee-passed legislation will be amended as it makes its way to a full Senate vote, or that companion legislation could be changed in the House, recent polling shows that New Mexico residents are widely in favor of the general policy change. Three-out-of-four residents who participated in a state-funded survey that was released last month said they back legalization.

If all goes according to the governor’s plan, a final legalization bill will be delivered to her desk by the end of the session—and upon her signature, New Mexico would likely become the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

That said, lawmakers in states across the U.S. are eyeing cannabis reform this year, and a marijuana legalization bill advanced in a New Hampshire House committee earlier on Tuesday.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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U.S. Military Reiterates That CBD Is Off Limits To Service Members

U.S. Military Reiterates That CBD Is Off Limits To Service Members

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: U.S. Military Reiterates That CBD Is Off Limits To Service Members

[Canniseur: CBD??? The DOD really doesn’t know what its military is up to do they? Does DOD even know what CBD is or does? I’m thinking no they don’t. Since it’s impossible to determine if someone has partaken of a CBD product, they would have to do random testing of members of the military. There’s no other way to tell and even then…]

The Department of Defense (DOD) is reaffirming that CBD is off limits to service members, regardless of the federal legalization of hemp and its derivatives.

In separate posts published this month, the U.S. Air Force and Military Health System said that while CBD products have become abundant since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and can be found on store shelves throughout the country, military policies remain unchanged such that enlisted individuals cannot partake.

Part of the rationale is that cannabidiol is still unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is in the process of developing rules for the compound. Until then, there’s a risk that CBD products may be unlabeled and, in certain cases, contain concentrations of THC that could show up in a drug test, which would be a “career-ender,” Col. Stacey Zdanavage said in a notice.

“Hemp products, including CBD oil, are becoming one of the latest hypes. I can’t check out at a convenience store without seeing a display next to the cash register,” Zdanavage said. “Members need to continue to be cognizant of the product ingredients they ingest.”

Maj. Paul Luongo said Air Force members are “subject to severe disciplinary action” if they test positive for THC, and that includes “the possibility of being reduced in rank after receiving non-judicial punishment or involuntary separation from the Air Force.”

“Airmen are responsible for what they put in their bodies, and trusting a faulty label or using CBD for certain health benefits may not overcome the presumption of wrongful use if discovered during a lawful search,” he said.

Erin Karschner, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic toxicologist, said another area of concern is potential drug interactions with CBD and whether “adverse effects may occur after using CBD, particularly when CBD products are used for long periods of time.”

The DOD and Air Force previously issued a notices stipulating that members are prohibited from using even hemp-derived CBD, but they’re far from the only federal bodies that have taken such steps since the compound was legalized.

Last year, NASA warned that CBD products could contain unauthorized THC concentrations that could cost employees their jobs if they fail a drug test. The Navy reminded their ranks that they’re barred from using CBD no matter its legality. The Coast Guard said last year that sailors can’t use marijuana or visit state-legal dispensaries.

It wasn’t initially clear if the federal updates on cannabis policy for workers were being coordinated. But it was later reported that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued guidance to federal agency drug program coordinators last year that outlined concerns about THC turning up in CBD products, which seems to have prompted the various departments to clarify their rules.

It’s not clear what prompted the new military warnings issued this month, but the message is clear: Service members who use CBD are taking a big risk.

“Bottom line, even if legal on the state level, and even if the label of the CBD product states there is no THC content, CBD use remains prohibited for military members,” Air Force Capt. Marcus Walker said. “Current Air Force policy prohibits all marijuana derivatives, including hemp. If they use it, they risk a positive result for THC on a drug test, and as a result, they could ultimately face administrative or criminal action.”

NFL Says ‘Hype’ Over CBD Isn’t Backed By Science

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

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Company Gets Trademark For The Word ‘Psilocybin,’ Frustrating Decriminalization Advocates

Company Gets Trademark For The Word ‘Psilocybin,’ Frustrating Decriminalization Advocates

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Company Gets Trademark For The Word ‘Psilocybin,’ Frustrating Decriminalization Advocates

[Canniseur: Here’s a perfect example of how far behind the USPTO is when it comes to names that are in the public domain. Psilocybin is a common name for a variety of mushroom that induces a psychedelic reaction. It’s like trying to trademark the word ‘air’, which obviously isn’t trademarkable. So why even bother? Because someone sees a potential to make some money?]

As psychedelics reform efforts pick up across the U.S., there’s an increasing weariness among advocates about the potential corporatization that may follow.

That’s why many found it alarming when a California-based company announced on Thursday that it had successfully trademarked the word “psilocybin,” the main psychoactive constituent of so-called magic mushrooms.

Psilocybin™ is a brand of chocolates that do not contain the psychedelic itself but are meant to “begin educating, enlightening and supporting the community in upgrading their inner vibrations in order to get everything they want of their time here on earth,” according to a mission statement.

Soon after founder Scarlet Ravin shared news of the trademark on LinkedIn, advocates raised questions and concerns: What does that mean on a practical level for other psilocybin organizations? Why should one brand get exclusive rights (to a certain legal extent) to the scientific name of a natural substance?

The reality of this particular trademark is more nuanced than it might appear at first glance. While it’s true that the company was granted the distinction by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it’s specifically for educational materials and it’s listed on the supplemental register, rather than the principal register, which means it would be incumbent upon the brand to prove that it has earned distinctiveness of the mark if the issue went to court.

“It’s certainly good for her business to have that mark, but I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be somewhat weak,” Larry Sandell, an intellectual property attorney at Mei & Mark LLP, told Marijuana Moment. He added that this example is “indicative that people are trying to stake early claims to IP.”

“Even if they might be somewhat overreaching, people see a potential new market here and they want to stake out their ground,” he said. “It’s a big next space that people are anticipating a legal market. Maybe it’s where cannabis was five to 10 years ago.”

Despite those legal limitations, reform advocates view the trademark as emblematic of a bigger issue—that someone would presume to take ownership of a substance that’s at the center of a national debate on whether or not to criminalize individuals for using it.

Kevin Matthews, who led the successful campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver last year and is the founder of the national psychedelics advocacy group SPORE, told Marijuana Moment that he didn’t doubt Ravin had the right intentions—to promote education into the substance—but he said the decision to trademark is nonetheless questionable.

“This being an open-source movement, trademarking the word psilocybin, in some ways it feels like—although I don’t think this is her intention—it’s lacking perspective,” he said. “Does that mean we can’t use psilocybin as SPORE because we’re an educational non-profit and she’s a for-profit branded company? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. She needs to let go of the trademark.”

Ravin said that her goal in trademarking psilocybin was to prevent the substance from being becoming the next cannabis, which she said has been corrupted from its “true spiritual, medicinal benefit” and turned into a corporate commodity.

Via Psilocybin.

“Knowing that psilocybin is going to be next [to be legalized] I feel strongly guided by the deepest part of my heart to really offer a sense of education of what could be when you take such a strong, beautiful medicine and to give people an education platform here and now to let them know what’s coming, how to receive it, how to get the most benefit from,” she told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview.

“We paved the way for this being a medicinal offering and not a consumer, recreational shitshow. That was our intention,” Ravin said. “The only way that we are going to have access to mainstream consumers is by having some sort of trademark on the word so that we can use it for something that’s not what it actually is.”

“With this being something that we can now put into market with a box of chocolates that has no psilocybin in it, but as you can already see, it creates a platform for discussion of what the beauty of this plant can do,” she said. “Me and my movement and my team, we don’t own the word. We’re not going to ever sue anyone who also uses the word—we’re opening a doorway for ourselves and anyone that wants to see this educated upon so that we can hit people who are unfamiliar with it now with downloads to actually have this be a safe, successful psychedelic transition.”

Asked to react to criticism about the trademark from advocates, Ravin said “we’re all here to follow spirit guidance to show love and light, and the visions I had of doing what we’re doing now was based upon breaking boundaries and breaking perceptions and allowing people to have an opportunity to sink into being one unit.”

“Yeah, it might be coming out, we might be using the platform of psilocybin. We can use any platform to do this,” she said. “We can use any platform to come together as a whole, and the longer that people sit in duality and say, ‘oh now she’s going to have a stronger voice than me is just looking at something not through their heart,’ it’s looking at it through ego and judgement.”

“The more that we describe what we’re doing, the more people I think will start to feel our unity and we’ll be able to move together as a stronger force than pointing fingers and trying to separate one another,” she said. “Those days are done.”

Ravin said that once the Psilocybin™ chocolates are ready for market, she plans to contribute 10 percent of profits to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is involved in researching therapeutic benefits of psychedelic substances.

Congressman Backs Ballot Measure To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Therapeutic Use

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Workman.

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Federal Law A ‘Big Deterrent’ To Marijuana Research, Top U.S. Health Science Official Says

Federal Law A ‘Big Deterrent’ To Marijuana Research, Top U.S. Health Science Official Says

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Federal Law A ‘Big Deterrent’ To Marijuana Research, Top U.S. Health Science Official Says

[Canniseur: The cannabis industry needs more research. Lots more research. All the research of cannabis over the past 10 years is elementrary. The elementary research needs to be built upon with more complex avenues of research. More research won’t happen  until the Federal government changes its policies about cannabis and removes it from Category 1. Not even opiates (except heroin) are Category 1. This is during an epidemic of opiate overdose deaths. The only way there will be more research and pertinent research is to get the government to reschedule cannabis.]

The head of the top federal medical research agency said in a new interview that marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug inhibits studies into the plant and prevents scientists from researching the effects of cannabis that consumers are obtaining from state-legal dispensaries in a growing number of states.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed the limitations imposed by the federal drug scheduling system during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers that aired last week, saying that while he shares concerns about the potential health implications of smoking marijuana, research into the risks and benefits of cannabis is being impeded by current policy.

“Frankly, we know far too little about the benefits and risks of smoked marijuana,” Collins said. “There have been very few studies that have actually rigorously tested that.”

The director said scientists are in a “funny place” in the U.S. when it comes to cannabis, noting that in order to use federal funds to research the plant and its compounds, the products must come from a single source: a government-authorized farm at the University of Mississippi that cultivates marijuana that’s been widely criticized for lacking the properties associated with cannabis that’s commercially available in state markets.

“People don’t realize that I run a farm in Mississippi that grows marijuana because I’m required to do so,” Collins said, referring to the facility that’s licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is part of NIH. “But that’s the only source that investigators can use, and it may be rather different than what you could get in one of the states where marijuana is now approved in terms of its constituents.”

“It’s going to be very hard to interpret data about smoked marijuana when the actual nature of the product is vastly different depending on where you got it” with respect to properties like THC and CBD content, he said.

“We’d really like to have studies where you’re studying those compounds in pure form so you can see what they’re doing,” he said. “But again because of various limitations of Schedule I limits, we are not able to do as much as we would like.”

Another “big deterrent” to research is the extensive series of hurdles that scientists must overcome to receive approval to study marijuana, Collins said. Researchers must be cleared by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and also submit an investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration in order to conduct cannabis-involved clinical studies on humans.

The discussion on C-SPAN about scientific limitations came in response to a question about whether the marijuana industry is exerting any influence over federally approved research initiatives. While NIH faced criticism in 2018 over its handling of a study into potential benefits of moderate alcohol consumption because alcohol interests were actively engaging in the study process, Collins said the scientific community is not experiencing that kind of influence from cannabis businesses.

“I would not say at the present time that industry is attempting really to influence a lot of what we’re doing in the marijuana area,” he said, adding that NIH is currently putting about $150 million into marijuana research projects.

Collins and several other federal health officials have previously acknowledged that the Schedule I status of cannabis represents a significant barrier to research.

NIDA Nora Volkow said last year that “the moment that a drug gets a Schedule I, which is done in order to protect the public so that they don’t get exposed to it, it makes research much harder.”

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said that cannabis’s federal scheduling status has presented “some challenges,” which have undermined the agency’s efforts to effectively test vaping products that contain THC amid an outbreak of lung injuries.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is trying to address the research problem concerning the lack of diverse cannabis products available to scientists. In a letter sent last month, 21 members of Congress urged DEA to let researchers obtain marijuana from state-legal dispensaries to more accurately assess the impact of products that consumers are using.

Federal Marijuana Prosecutions Keep Declining In Era Of Legalization, Chief Justice Reports

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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