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New York and New Jersey Push for Pot Legalization

Jordan Webber



Cannabis Legalization

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he is endorsing the weed decriminalization in the state. Cuomo said he wants to sign a bill legalizing recreational weed in the state within the first few months of his third term. Some analysts estimated that marijuana could generate around $1.7 billion in revenue.

Cuomo also ordered the New York State Department of Health to analyze the benefits and risks of recreational marijuana. The study will include marijuana legalization’s effects on health, criminal justice, and the economy of the state.

Cuomo’s announcement follows a recent recommendation by law enforcement agencies in New York City to legalize low-level cannabis offenses which have affected minorities.

As for New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, he was eager to sign the legislation for legalizing weed in the state in 2018. But state lawmakers have been debating on the bill, especially on specific concerns such as safety of motorists. States that have decriminalized weed have seen a spike in traffic accidents. While state legislators offer to train police officers to spot weed-intoxicated drivers, they are unsure if increasing the number of these experts would translate to safer roads after legalization.

Washington Plans to Pardon Weed Convicts

Meanwhile, on the West coast, Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently announced he plans on pardoning thousands of people convicted of small-time possession of marijuana. Inslee’s plan comes more than six years after Washington state legalized cannabis use for adults.

The governor announced during his speech at a cannabis industry conference in SeaTac, near Seattle, that he is thinking about expediting the process allowing about 3,500 people to apply for a pardon without the need of hiring lawyers or going to court.

Applicants as far back as 1998, can fill out a form for the pardon of marijuana sentences on the Inslee’s website.

Other states allow expunging marijuana convictions, but this legal proceeding has been tedious. The process requires a lawyer or court appearances. Some cities have simplified the method of clearing convictions following Washington’s and Colorado’s lead in decriminalizing recreational weed use since 2012. City governments of Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco are clearing old cannabis convictions all at once. Meanwhile, new legislation in California orders prosecutors to erase or reduce around 220,000 weed convictions.

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Arts Culture

Chinese Tombs With Cannabis Traces Found

Stacey Wellington



Chinese Tombs found with Cannabis Traces

Researchers in China have discovered traces of cannabis from tombs hailing from western China. According to CNN, the first directive evidence found about the use of cannabis can be traced back to a 2,500-year-old tomb. This is considered as the first clear and known evidence of humans using cannabis.

Strong Evidence

The Atlantic reports that researchers from China and Germany found braziers as the strongest evidence of humans using this plant. These braziers, also known as wooden incense burners, reportedly contain high levels of THC from cannabis.

The team of scientists were able to identify the sample obtained from the burners through vaporizing a sample. Afterwards, The Atlantic states that the scientists painstakingly separated its components and classified the level of chemicals found within the compounds.

Wooden brazier found at Jirzankal Cemetery with traces of Cannabis | © Xinhua Wu

Apart from finding burners at the Jirzankal Cemetery, researchers were also able to dig up human bones. The origins of the human bones point to individuals coming from a variety of places, including Pamirs that were previously part of the Silk Road.

Such findings led the scientists to link cannabis to these individuals, with individuals suggesting that these plants may have been traded in the Silk Road.

Besides burners, the team successfully retrieved numerous artifacts. These include wooden bowls and plates, glass beads, harps, pieces of silk, and pieces of skulls and human bones, reports the New York Times.

Discovery of Different Uses of Cannabis

Compared to more modern uses of marijuana, the traces of cannabis found at the Jirzankal Cemetery were found to contain higher traces of THC, the psychoactive compound. Based on the report released by BBC, it appears that ancient individuals put marijuana leaves on top of hot stones and inhaled the smoke.

BBC notes that the high altitude of the region resulted in marijuana plants naturally producing plants with higher THC levels.

Apart from these suggested uses, scientists suggest that marijuana leaves were used for burial ceremonies as a means to communicate with souls or the divinity. The Atlantic reports that burning these plants also served as a vessel to safely guide and move the deceased towards the afterlife. The news site also mentions that cannabis may have been used to alter the mind and talk with divine entities.

Given the high levels of THC found in these plants, marijuana may also be used for deodorizing corpses.

The study of this tomb and its connection with marijuana was published in the journal of Science Advances, notes the New York Times.

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Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Columbia Care Kicks Off First Cannabis Credit Card

Jordan Webber



Columbia Care Cannabis Credit Card

Columbia Care announced the launch of its National Credit program with its CNC Card.

The medical marijuana company licensed to operate in the U.S. and 15 jurisdictions in the European Union said the launch of the card follows a successful test run in New York in the second half of 2018. The introduction of the card led to an 18% increase in the number of in-store purchases. Moreover, the card also helped boost repeat visits and home delivery orders.

With the card, people in the U.S. can now get a credit card for buying medical cannabis.

From New York, the Columbia Care will offer the program to its Delaware and Pennsylvania markets. Later, the company’s Illinois and Arizona customers can apply for the card. The firm aims to expand the reach of its program to all its locations by the end of 2019.

Cannabis Credit Card

Available initially only at Columbia Care dispensaries, the firm is looking into opportunities for expanding the availability of the card across the country through targeted partnerships.

Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, said the firm aims on expanding the cannabis market in the country. Through the launching of the first cannabis credit card in the country, the company allows consumers and participants in the industry to purchase cannabis products.

He also said the card would act as a starting point of the company’s nationwide growth initiatives, including home delivery, the launching of an e-commerce site, and automatic fulfillment.

In addition to having a tool for an electronic form of payment, CNC cardholders can also be eligible for other benefits including discounts, cash back affinity programs, educational seminars, privileged access to new products and other exclusive offers.

Cannabis Banking Gaining Steam

Aside from having a cannabis credit card, medical marijuana customers may also enjoy the benefits of banking. Earlier this month, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed legislation that kicks off a three-year pilot program wherein cannabis firms could use an online system in sending and receiving digital currency.

Last month, the California State Senate passed a bill allowing financial institutions to offer products and services dedicated to cannabis financial transactions.

If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the legislation, around 900 bank branches in the state would be allowed to handle cannabis cash, California Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg said.

The federal government is also working on protecting legitimate cannabis financial transactions. Earlier this month, a U.S. House committee approved a bill that includes a provision that would safeguard banks serving legal marijuana businesses from getting penalized by federal financial regulators.

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Cannabis News

Nevada Bans Employment Discrimination Against Marijuana Users

Jordan Webber



Nevada Employment Discrimination Law

On Wednesday, June 5, the Governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, officially signed signed AB 132, which prohibits employment discrimination for job applicant just because of the presence of marijuana in a screening test. The said act also authorizes employees to refute the results of a screening tests given certain circumstances.

In a news article published in MERRY JANE, it was explained that although the state legalized the use of weed in the year 2017, many private companies still conform to the strict anti-drug policies for potential applicants. This sparked up a number of problems, especially to job seekers who happened to be cannabis enthusiasts.

“There is nothing in AB 132 that prevents an employer from having a policy prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana at the workplace,” explained AB 132’s lead sponsors, Dina Neal, during a hearing in February. “The bill does not get into violating the [federal] supremacy clause or get into the business of usurping federal law and preventing rights of federal employees.”

Challenges on the Bill

However, despite the passage of the said Act, many believe that marijuana consumers are still yet to face difficulties in getting hired.

During a phone interview with MERRY JANE, Madisen Saglibene, executive director of Nevada NORML and Las Vegas NORML, a non-profit organisation aiming for the legalization of marijuana, said, “It’s still going to be a big problem because there are exclusions for unions.” She is one of the lead supporters of the passing of AB 132 and worked with its legislators.

“The unions employ a lot of people in Las Vegas. And they definitely are not included in this legislation,” she added.

Another problem that the passing of the bill faces concerns the term “safety sensitive.” Many thinks the term is too broad, which could lead to some employers abusing the term’s vagueness to further marginalize those who are using cannabis.

“Some employers would use that and declare everyone they employed is in a safety-sensitive position because they all have access to the cash register or some sharp instrument,” Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said during the February hearing.

With this, lawmakers are currently making efforts to amend the bill and specify what constitutes the said term. Later on, the amended bill included emergency medical professionals, fire fighters, motor vehicle drivers, cops and other professions which job could endanger someone else’s life in case of intoxication.

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