New Mexico Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization Bill At Committee Hearing

New Mexico Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization Bill At Committee Hearing

[Editor’s Note: Legalized adult-use cannabis could happen in New Mexico. This could be lovely.]

New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on Saturday to discuss a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use.

The legislation would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of cannabis and up to 16 grams of marijuana extracts, permit the cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, establish a regulated commercial cannabis market and expunge the records of those with prior marijuana-related convictions made legal under the bill.

So far, five House members are signed on as cosponsors, including Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D), who is the chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee—the same panel that hosted the hearing.

House Speaker Rep. Brian Egolf (D) said last year that marijuana legalization legislation “would probably pass the House” if it came to a vote. And while the Senate has historically resisted marijuana reform, even lawmakers who are personally opposed to legalization, like Sen. Mark Moores (R), have said they recognize “the political reality that it is here.”

“I want to make sure we have a system that is extremely well-regulated, and the ability to take those revenues and mitigate some of those negative social impacts that marijuana has,” Moores said.

Under the current bill, cannabis sales would be taxed at nine percent, and local municipalities or counties would be given the option to impose an addition three percent tax. Revenue from those taxes would go toward several funds meant to support educational programs, substance use disorder treatment services, job placement and impaired driving prevention, among other services.

“We have the chance to pass an innovative legalization bill that stays true to New Mexican values and what we care most about: the wellbeing of our children, healthy and safe communities, and a stronger economic future,” Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “Cannabis prohibition has fueled mass criminalization and we have an ethical obligation to repair the disproportionate harms inflicted on Latino, Black and Native people.”

A fiscal impact report on the bill prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee projects that legalization would generate $33.9 million in annual revenues for the state by Fiscal Year 2023, with an additional $22.1 million coming in for municipalities and counties.

“This legislation is responsive to the lives of New Mexicans, not solely business interests,” Kaltenbach said. “New Mexicans agree that prohibition of cannabis has failed and we must replace it with a responsible, regulated system that reinvests in our children and communities.”

It remains to be seen whether the bill will ultimately clear both chambers of the legislature, but the chances are markedly improved given the election of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who campaigned last year on a pro-legalization platform.

Grisham voted in favor of several cannabis reform amendments during her time in Congress, and she’s said that a legal marijuana system would bring hundreds of millions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy.”

During her first State of the State speech last month, the governor said she is directing officials to add opioid addiction as a medical cannabis qualifying condition.

New Mexico Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization Bill At Committee Hearing was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

[Editor’s Note: Will Hawaii be the 11th state to legalize cannabis? Either way, come 2021 Hawaii will be THE cannabis destination Or as I like to call it, the #HotPotSpot.]

A Hawaii Senate committee approved a bill on Thursday to legalize marijuana for adults 21 older in the state.

Last week, the Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing and listened to spirited testimony from advocates and opponents of cannabis reform. When the committee reconvened for its latest meeting, they voted unanimously to advance the legislation forward.

“This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that a legislative committee here has moved a legalization bill,” Carl Bergquist, executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH), told Marijuana Moment. “It’s very exciting.”

The bill won’t immediately go to a full Senate vote, he said. It will likely be referred to one or two additional Senate panels before the chamber gets the chance to approve it.

As it’s currently written, the legislation would allow adults 21 and older possess, cultivate and consume marijuana. The government would license facilities to manufacture, test and sell cannabis, which would be subject to a state excise tax as well as a 15 percent surcharge.

The committee announced that the Department of Health, which oversees the state’s medical cannabis system, would be responsible for regulating retail sales, whereas the bill originally called on the Department of Taxation to regulate marijuana.

DPFH recommended including restorative justice elements, such as expunging the criminal records of those with past marijuana convictions, in the bill. It’s not clear whether such an amendment was passed, though, as amendments will likely become publicly available over the next week.

There’s optimism among advocates that the bill will clear the Democratic-controlled legislature. Senate President Ron Kouchi (D) said last month that discussing legalization would be a legislative priority this session, and Senate Majority Leader Kalani English (D) concurred, saying the state has reached a “tipping point” on the issue.

What’s not clear is whether Gov. David Ige (D) will sign a legalization bill. He’s expressed concerns about running against federal laws, despite the fact that medical cannabis dispensaries already operate in Hawaii in violation of federal law, and has vetoed more incremental cannabis reform legislation in the past.

If legalization is enacted, however, retail sales would begin in February 2021 at the earliest.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Study Reveals Little-Known Trick To Make Marijuana Plants Grow More Bud For Less

Study Reveals Little-Known Trick To Make Marijuana Plants Grow More Bud For Less

[Editor’s Note: Growers: Learn exactly how to increase your cannabis yield while limiting added monetary costs.]

Let there be light!

That’s the basic lesson marijuana growers can take from a new study on how lighting in cannabis cultivation impacts yields—the results of which seem to challenge common industry conventions.

While many indoor growers give their plants around 300 to 750 micromoles of light per square meter per second (µmol/m²s) using either double-ended, high-pressure sodium (HPS) or specialized horticulture LED lights, the researchers found that a simpler and more cost effective lighting setup can result in even greater harvests.

Cannabis crops continue to grow in a linear fashion as lighting is intensified at least up to 1,500 µmol/m²s. And that’s achievable by using high intensity, broad-spectrum (white) lights that cost a fraction of what growers spend on those designed specifically for horticulture.

It’s also more than twice the intensity of a 1,060 watt HPS light, which is “almost universally considered the optimal lighting for growing cannabis.”

For their experiment, the team, which involved personnel from the Greenseal Cannabis Company, grew hundreds of plants and kept all other conditions like temperature and soil composition constant. But the crops were exposed to different types of light and light intensity. They discovered that for every additional µmol/m²s that reached the plant, the yield increased by .41 grams.

So when a plant was exposed to an HPS light that delivered an intensity of about 500 µmol/m²s, the total harvest was just under 300 grams. But plants that got 1,500 µmol/m²s from a general purpose LED light produced up to nearly 800 grams.

“The results show that holding all else constant, cannabis yields are primarily driven by the intensity of the lighting, whereas there is little evidence that tuned-spectrum lights have a significant increase in yield versus general-purpose, broad-spectrum lights,” the researchers wrote in the paper, which has not been peer-reviewed or published by a journal.

Of course, the findings raise reasonable questions about the extra costs for electricity to produce such a strong intensity of light. But assuming that .41 grams has a retail value of $2.32—and electricity costs $0.11 per kilowatt hour—the greater harvest more than pays for itself.

“The additional watts required to produce an additional [$2.32] of cannabis would cost about [$0.04].” (These figures have been converted from Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars).

The researchers emphasized that the study focused exclusively on yield sizes and they conceded that it’s possible that using specialized lighting “may improve the cannabinoid profile substantially enough to justify a price premium,” but their results “provide no evidence that spectrum tuning increases yields.”

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Study Reveals Little-Known Trick To Make Marijuana Plants Grow More Bud For Less was posted on Marijuana Moment.

History Of Alcohol Prohibition Suggests Advantage For States That Legalize Marijuana Early

History Of Alcohol Prohibition Suggests Advantage For States That Legalize Marijuana Early

[Editor’s Note: Ten states plus D.C. have legal, adult-use cannabis. Do they have the edge moving forward?]

If the end of alcohol prohibition is any indication, the states that are first to legalize marijuana will have a long-term advantage over late adopters. That’s the key conclusion of a new study published this week.

A team of researchers wanted to know whether the quickness with which states took advantage of the opportunity to allow beer sales beginning in 1933 impacted the long-term health of the industry in each state.

Their study, published in the Journal of the Economic & Business History Society, showed that early adopters had significant short- and long-term advantages over states that ended up legalizing later. And that will likely prove to be the case with the marijuana legalization movement, too.

“In the long run, states that legalize in the earliest stages of this staggered removal of the drug’s prohibition may enjoy an early-adopter advantage with respect to the production and sale of marijuana as they gain a foothold in what may soon become a national (or international) market for the product,” the researchers wrote.

Twenty-one states legalized beer in April 1933, 22 states legalized throughout the rest of the year and the last five states legalized over the course of the following three and a half years. There was an industry-wide consolidation of breweries from 1934 to 1977, but data from the American Breweriana Association showed that breweries were more likely to survive the test of time and also expand in states that were quickest to legalize.

“The 722 breweries that were chartered in 1933 survived an average of 9.93 years, while the median brewery survived 4 years,” they wrote. “In 1950, when the number of breweries in the United States had fallen to around half of its 1935 number, 24.8 percent of the breweries chartered in 1933 were still in existence.”

Breweries in states that legalized just one year later weren’t so fortunate. Those 463 breweries survived an average of 4.9 years—and half had closed by the end of the year.

“Whether this can lend insight into the potential long- and short-term outcomes from the staggered state-level legalization of marijuana is worthy of discussion,” the researchers concluded.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) weighed in on that discussion recently. Recognizing the short-term economic benefits of the state’s legal marijuana system, which was one of the first to be implemented nationally, the governor joked that he’d “love other states to go slowly so that we can continue to see all these benefits for Colorado.”

Marijuana tourism has given the state “a lot of extra business,” he said. But as the study indicates, those short-term gains could be sustained for decades, giving Colorado a leg up as the legalization movement continues.

The rapid adoption of legal cannabis programs has also put pressure on states where legalization has yet to be realized. That’s especially true in the densely packed northeast, where governors of several states have cited reform efforts in neighboring states as a motivating factor to push forward with legalization legislation.

“Things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said earlier this month.” We’re not an island, in fact. Like it or not, we’re going to be incurring public safety and public health expenses because it’s legal in Massachusetts… And I think it is time for us to put together our own regulatory and taxing framework.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who previously said the timing wasn’t right to legalize in the state, said efforts to legalize in New York and New Jersey have changed his mind.

The decision to legalize in New York didn’t emerge in a vacuum, either. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the “facts have changed” when it comes to legalization because there are surrounding states where it’s “no longer a question of legal or illegal.”

“It’s legal in Massachusetts. It may be legal in New Jersey,” Cuomo said. “Which means for all intents and purposes it’s going to be here anyway.”

As the new study shows, those states that get ahead of their neighbors in legalizing cannabis first stand to potentially benefit over a long period of time.

History Of Alcohol Prohibition Suggests Advantage For States That Legalize Marijuana Early was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Scientists Used Marijuana Consumers’ Urine To Produce Electricity

Scientists Used Marijuana Consumers’ Urine To Produce Electricity

[Editor’s Note: This certainly put a smile on my face. The many miracles of cannabis never cease to amaze.]

Marijuana might be more powerful than you think.

In a new study, scientists were able to successfully remove cannabis metabolites from the urine of consumers—and generate electricity in the process.

The experiment involved microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are bio-electrochemical tools that put chemical compounds and select bacteria together to produce electricity. Some hope that MFCs will soon become a viable source of alternative energy, while others have focused on the instrument’s ability to break down harmful compounds in water.

Turkish researchers found that putting synthetic and real urine that contains THC metabolites in an MFC produced both effects: 60 percent of the metabolite COOH-THC was eliminated while at the same time generating electricity.

“Untreated urine samples pooled from drug-free male donors produced 0.35 V of peak electricity in the fuel cells,” the researchers wrote. “When the urine samples were replaced with those from cannabis users (containing 170 ng/mL of COOH-THC), the maximum voltage of 0.23 V was achieved.”

Via Bioresource Technology Reports.

Synthetic urine infused with the cannabis metabolite produced slightly higher levels of electricity.

When the metabolites from marijuana enter wastewater (treated or untreated), surface water or tap water, it can create oxidative stress that makes it harder for aquatic organizations to break down toxic substances, the researchers said. And because conventional wastewater treatment doesn’t adequately eliminate these metabolites, the 60 percent success rate of the MRF in this study could represent a breakthrough.

“Thus, optimized MFCs with an accurately established microbial community could offer an efficient solution to this critical issue,” the team wrote in the paper, which was published this month in the journal Bioresource Technology Reports. “Moreover, although in small levels, voltage generation provides an added-value that could be used to power certain applications in the treatment plants.”

“The results showed that MFCs can be used for treatment of cannabis metabolites found in human urine to prevent contamination of natural ecosystems with these resilient and toxic metabolites,” they said.

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Scientists Used Marijuana Consumers’ Urine To Produce Electricity was posted on Marijuana Moment.

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