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Cannabis Legalization

Florida Legislator Proposes Marijuana Decriminalization of Specific Amounts

Daniel King

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Marijuana Decriminalization

While Floridians are anticipating the legalization of recreational marijuana through a ballot initiative, the state still has a long way to go when it comes to decriminalizing the plant. According to Florida Phoenix, different municipalities in Florida have policies pertaining to marijuana, some loosening their laws, while some are stricter.

This is why Broward Country Representative Shevrin Jones proposed the decriminalization of the plant depending on the amount possessed by a citizen. The proposal suggests that individuals carrying 20 grams or less of marijuana on the person should have less criminal penalties.

This would also apply to cannabis products with 600 milligrams or less of the psychoactive ingredient, THC.

The current law states that individuals caught possessing marijuana on their person will be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalty will be a maximum of 1 year in prison and $1,000 in fines.

Jones’ proposal would make possession of certain amounts a non-criminal misdemeanor. For juveniles, first charges involving less than 20 grams of marijuana or 600 milligrams below of THC will be given a “civil citation or prearrest diversion.”

Marijuana Decriminalization – Impact on Communities of Color

In a written statement, Jones said that this move aims to restore justice especially to communities of color. Jones added that the current laws and the “broken criminal justice system” has negatively and disproportionately affected people of color.

He remarked that Floridians are also negatively impacted by the current marijuana laws and the current state of the criminal justice system. People who have marijuana-related misdemeanors on their records have difficulty getting employment, housing, and financial aid. It even affects their chances of improving their immigration status.

Jones view this impact as an injustice, pushing him to fight for the passage of the bill. He said that the oppressive nature of the current system “[caps] people’s potential in life.” With the bill, he believes that “communities [can be] more equitable and safer.”

Meanwhile, recreational marijuana in Florida is on its way as activists have been fighting to include this issue on the 2020 ballot. Support for this initiative has been overwhelming, especially with a petition by advocacy organization Regulate Florida garnering over 76,000 signatures. A poll also revealed that 65% of Floridian voters support legal and responsible marijuana use.

However, the process for this petition will be going through various obstacles including a review from the Florida Supreme Court and the requirement of more than 766,200 verified signatures.

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Cannabis Legalization

Marijuana Breath Analyzers to Make Possible Appearance by 2020

Jordan Webber

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Marijuana Breath Analyzers

Marijuana breath tests are slated to come out in the latter part of 2020. According to news sites, these roadside breath analyzer tests will determine if drivers have smoked marijuana within the past three hours.

Numerous firms are taking strides towards providing products for this endeavor. Some companies involved in this industry include Hound Labs from Oklahoma and SannTek from Canada.

Hound Labs will be creating a dual breath analyzer that can determine the presence of both alcohol and cannabis.

Mike Lynn, a co-founder of Hounds Labs, reveals that their company currently rolls out tests to gauge whether an individual has used marijuana within a three-hour time frame. In a statement to the Sacramento Bee, Lynn states they “had to completely create the device. It’s like looking for [a certain] 25 grains of sand on a beach a mile long.” Creating the devices necessary for immediate detection posed problems for Hound Labs, saying the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds are significantly lower compared to alcohol, making it difficult for the substance to be easily identified.

The same technology is currently being employed by SannTek nanotechnology engineer Noah Debrincat.

Hound Labs worked closely with the University of California at San Francisco for further research, with input and assistance coming from Dr. Kara Lynch, a pathologist whose expertise lies in looking for sample cannabis molecules.

Both companies have reportedly used their creations to test whether employees are complying with the current workplace rules and regulations.

Reason for Using Marijuana Breath Analyzers

The creation of these devices comes as more and more individuals in different states gain access to medical and recreational marijuana. In a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 15 million Americans drove even under the influence of cannabis, notes Newsweek. Studies from the Hound Foundation, the research arm of Hound Labs, say with the drug five times more powerful compared to the past 50 years, individuals who smoked these are more likely to get into a car accident.

Despite making great leaps in the field of technology, it appears that police and other similar agencies are reluctant to use devices, especially when there’s a huge financial undertaking at stake. Dino Lawson, Madera Police Chief, said “I think it’s interesting technology, but we don’t want to be the first to jump on it.” However, Janelle Dunham, the public information officer from CHP, said they are “always interested in testing and evaluation new and emerging technology.”

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Cannabis Legalization

Pennsylvania Rep Files a Bill to Allow Recreational Marijuana in State-Run Liquor Shop

Jordan Webber

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PA Bill to Allow Recreational Marijuana on Liquor Store

A lawmaker from Pennsylvania introduced a bill on Wednesday, Oct 2, that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana and allow cannabis to be sold in over 600 state-owned liquor stores.

David Delloso, a Democratic state representative, introduced House Bill 1899, which allows individuals aged 21 and above to legally possess and consume marijuana. Under the bill, sales of cannabis will be limited to businesses licensed by the state. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would be responsible for administrating the production and sale of marijuana at the state-controlled stores.

“What I’m afraid of is, without this bill, if we don’t sell cannabis in the state stores, big corporate interests throughout the United States are going to come to Pennsylvania and they’re going to put corner stores up,” Delloso said. “They aren’t going to provide family-sustaining jobs, and all the profits are going to leave Pennsylvania.”

The medical marijuana in the state has been approved last April 17, 2016, with 17 initial qualifying medical conditions.

Economic Benefits to Pennsylvania

According to Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center, over 18, 000 new jobs could be produced once recreational marijuana is to be legalized within the state. The bill also proposes that retail sales of cannabis be taxed at 19%, which could generate around $581 million per year for the state in new tax revenue.

“As an administrative agency tasked under current law with responsible, effective, and efficient regulation of the sale of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania, we generally leave policy discussions regarding the future of this agency up to the General Assembly and the Governor,” said press secretary for the Liquor Control Board, Shawn Kelly. “If, however, a new law presents the PLCB with additional or different duties and responsibilities, we would adapt accordingly.”

With the said measure, individuals convicted of possession of marijuana would have their criminal record expunged while inmates currently confined for such offenses would be released.  Employers would also no longer be able to fire or discipline employees if a drug screening shows the “presence of a nonintoxicating level of cannabis.”

“It is time for us to not just have a conversation but sit down and really look at details on how we can do this in Pennsylvania understanding that the support is there, the revenue will be there for us and we could do a lot of good things with those resources,” added State Rep. Jordan Harris, (D) Philadelphia County.

To date, the House Bill 1899 has been raised to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

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Cannabis Legalization

Australia allocated $3m Fund for Medical Cannabis Research

Stacey Wellington

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AU $3m Fund for Medical Cannabis Research

The Australian Federal Government allocated A$3 million (US $2.03 million) for medical cannabis research in the country. Greg Hunt, the Australian health minister, made the announcement last Sunday, October 6, 2019, alongside Grease star Olivia Newton-John in a wellness walk held in Australia.

Research in the field aims to address the growing number of cancer patients within the nation and the potential ability of cannabis to provide relief and cure to these patients. The research will build upon existing studies to gauge the effectiveness of the plant in pain management and its potential side effects on users.

The government’s decision to fund research comes as more than 11,000 patients have been approved for medical marijuana use.

In a statement, Hunt said that “there have only been a limited number of well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis, and we need to increase the evidence base to support medical professionals.” In line with the safety and security measures observed by the Australian government and its healthcare institutions, individuals who are given access to cannabis medication are required to only obtain these from accredited medical professionals.

Despite more than 10,000 individuals being given access to medical marijuana, the Grease star voiced her disappointment for other patients and individuals having little to no access to cannabis. She said “I’m a great proponent of it, for general health, for pain, for sleep, for anxiety. I really believe it is important in my journey”. Olivia Newton-John had been diagnosed with cancer, and she has admitted to using cannabis to manage her pain.

Newton-John spearheaded the annual Wellness Walk and Research Run held in Melbourne, Australia. The actress supported the event in the hopes of raising awareness about the plant and the wealth of benefits and possibilities that could come from using it. In a statement, the Grease actress said “they’ve discovered it hasn’t caused all the problems that people are afraid of. People need to let go of that old hippie thing,” when asked about the lack of advancement and accessibility of medicinal marijuana in the nation.

ACT Cannabis Law

While the Australian federal government is providing funding for medicinal cannabis research, recreational use is still largely prohibited on a federal level. However, through the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), six states and two main territories have filed to legalize the recreational use of the plant.

The ACT Law is slated to start on January 31, 2020, with some of its provisions conflicting with the current laws in place.

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