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Wisconsin Gov Signs Bill Making Hemp Program Permanent

Jordan Webber

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Wisconsin Hemp Program - Permanent

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law a bipartisan bill on Tuesday, Nov 26, that will make the state’s 2018 hemp-growing program permanent.

In a statement, the Democratic governor expressed his delight with the signing of the new law.

From textiles, to recycling and bioplastics, to industrial materials, hemp provides endless opportunities to Wisconsin farmers who are looking for new markets to enter, which is why interest in growing and producing hemp in Wisconsin has skyrocketed in the last year,” Gov. Evers shared.

I was proud to sign this collaborative, bipartisan bill into law today to ensure the continued success of our hemp program and the many new opportunities hemp provides to Wisconsin farmers,” he added.

Hemp-Growing Program in Wisconsin

Established in November 2017 via the 2017 Wisconsin Act 100, Wisconsin’s industrial hemp pilot program allows Wisconsin farmers to grow hemp legally for the first time in 60 years. This was then followed by the official launch of the state pilot program in 2018 by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

During its first year, the Wisconsin’s program has shown a record of 347 people who applied for licenses to grow or process hemp and 247 licenses issued to grow hemp. For 2019, the program has witnessed a significant increase in records, receiving a total of 2,227 applications to grow or process hemp and issuing 1,308 licenses to grow hemp and 618 licenses to process hemp.

To date, although the state’s hemp industry still scores shorter compared to other cash crops, many believe that the hemp’s strong growth potential promises tremendous opportunities to local farmers.

This is still an emerging industry,” said one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Republican Rep. Tony Kurtz in a statement. “Still, I believe that Wisconsin can be a leader in hemp production.”

With the new bill, significant changes, mostly technical, will be made to bring the state’s hemp program more in line with the 2018 farm bill. This includes the change in state law to allow for a THC concentration of up to .03% in the bloodstream for people who may be using legal CBD products.

This makes Wisconsin the latest addition to the six other states that have similar laws that allow people to legally have trace amounts of THC in their blood.

To date, although the hemp program has bipartisan support, the position of medical marijuana legalization, as well as the decriminalization of the use of small amounts of cannabis, remains to be unsuccessful in the state.

Cannabis News

Gov’t Holds First Cannabis Hearing, Talks Policy Changes

Jordan Webber

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Cannabis Hearing

Last Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held the first-ever cannabis hearing called ‘Cannabis Policies for the New Decade.’ The hearing was held at the John D. Dingell Room at the 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

Present at the policy hearing were 35 bipartisan representatives from different government sectors. These include representatives and witnesses from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Cannabis Hearing – What Was Tackled

Those present at the meeting tackled existing marijuana policies, its effects of marijuana on health, and the possible steps Congress should take to further research in the field.

According to Forbes, the government division came together to talk about and delve deeper into the current federal cannabis policies in place. This includes implications that may arise from putting marijuana in another category and exploring the possibility of cannabis research.

At the core of the discussion is the confusion between the legalization landscape, primarily because 11 states have already legalization the sale of marijuana, while 22 other states observe their own medical marijuana. This greatly clashes with the substance remaining illegal on a federal level.

In a statement, Republican Representative from Oregon, Greg Walden, said that “The states are way ahead of where we are federally.”

Apart from tackling legalization concerns, the group reportedly touched based on marijuana being tagged as Schedule 1 substance and classified as having no medical use, yet there remains a lack of research on what the drug can provide.

To testify, DEA Senior Policy Advisor Matthew J. Strait from the Diversion Control Division, said, “Much like our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department and the DEA fully support research into the effects of marijuana and the potential medical utility of its chemical constituents.

To support the DEA’s claim,  the Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs and Research of the FDA Douglas Throckmorton shared that the “FDA has an important role to play in supporting scientific research into the medical uses of cannabis and its constituents in scientifically valid investigations as part of the Agency’s drug review and approval process.

Throckmorton continued, saying “As a part of this role, FDA supports those in the medical research community who intend to study cannabis by: 1. Providing information on the process needed to conduct clinical research using cannabis. 2. Providing information on the specific requirements needed to develop a human drug that is derived from a plant such as cannabis.

The meeting lasted for 3 and a half hours, however, the representatives have yet to make a decision nor cast their votes. Proceedings are available for viewing on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce website.

 

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Cannabis News

Thailand North Opens its First Cannabis Clinic

Jordan Webber

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Cannabis Clinic Now Open in Thailand

As the Ganja Festival 2020 is approaching, a second full cannabis clinic in Thailand just recently inaugurated in Chiang Mai last January 15, 2020. The cannabis clinic is located at the Nakornping Hospital at the Mae Rim district in Chiang Mai.

Following Thailand’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2017, the country is now highlighting varying cannabis-based treatments and medications.

Located in Thailand’s northern province, the healthcare center is expected to provide treatments for a wide range of diseases, including Parkinson’s. Methods that will be administered in the said center will focus on both traditional and modern approaches using cannabis.

Cancer and Alzheimer’s will also be treated via the use of cannabis, notes the ASEAN Economist.

Meanwhile, individuals suffering from body pains, neurosis-derived tremors, paralysis, insomnia, and migraine are also urged to seek treatment. Per the report released by the Bangkok Post, 22 people have enlisted as patients upon the clinic’s opening. Patients that have registered include those suffering from insomnia, paralysis, as well as those suffering from cancer and needing palliative care, notes Coconuts.

In a statement, Anutin Charnvirakul, the public health minister said, “At least five groups of illnesses can be cured, or relieved, by marijuana extracts.”

The healthcare center will have 125 medical staff in total. Of this number, 39 are doctors while four are traditional Thai medicine practitioners.

Charnvirakul continues to say that the Chiang Mai clinic “will be one of the 37 under the fourth phase of cannabis-based medical service expansion” in the country. The Chiang Mai clinic is reportedly the second one that has been opened in the country, with another stand-alone clinic having opened a week earlier in Nonthaburi.

More Cannabis Clinics to Open in Thailand

The ASEAN Economist reveals that 77 clinics are slated to be opened in total, one for each province of Thailand. Meanwhile, around clinics and health centers that have been operating in 2018 since the country changes its law to allow the production and consumption of medical marijuana.

Upon opening the first marijuana clinic in Bangkok, Dr. Prasert Mongkolsiri, director of the public hospital said, “Marijuana could be an answer. At least the patients’ quality of life is improved.”

The initiative is supported by the Public Health Ministry, whose cannabis supplies come from Kasetsart University. The university supplies approximately 2.2 tons of cannabis to the Public Health Ministry in partnership with Natakorn Thasnas, Kasetsart University’s cannabis research director.

The clinic is only open from 1 in the afternoon until 4:30 on Wednesdays.

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Cannabis Legalization

Proposed Bill in Colorado to Protect Marijuana-User Employees

Jordan Webber

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Colorado Lawmakers Propose Law to Prevent Businesses from Firing Marijuana-Users

Two Colorado lawmakers had proposed to pass a law preventing businesses from firing employees who use cannabis outside of their work hours.

The HB20-1089, which was introduced by Democratic Rep. Jevon Melton of Aurora, prohibits employers “from terminating an employee for the employee’s lawful off-duty activities that are lawful under state law.

If passed, the bill will override a decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015, which upheld the decision of the company Dish Network in firing its employee, Brandon Coats, after the latter failed a random drug test in 2010.

While Coat’s use of marijuana is considered legal under the state law, the Court ruled that the decision to fire Coat is valid as the state’s “lawful activity” statute is only limited to activities that are legal under both state and federal level. Since marijuana use remains to be illegal at the federal level, this prevents people from recognizing the practice as a lawful activity.

It was just a glaring gap that we have here in the statute, especially when we’re supposed to regulate marijuana like we are with alcohol,” commented Melton. “If someone’s able to drink while they’re at home and on their free time, as long as they’re not coming into work intoxicated, then they’re not penalized with their employment.”

Proposed Bill  – What’s in it?

Under the bill proposed by Melton, “lawful activity” will be defined as those that are legal under the state law. This would make the use of marijuana a lawful activity, thus preventing employers from firing workers that engage in the said activity.

Melton’s bill is currently supported by fellow House Democrat Rep. Jonathan Singer of Longmont, who claimed that terminating workers over their legal marijuana use negatively affects the poor and that the state should “wipe the slate clean” for those who use the drug.

In 2012, voters approved the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in Colorado. However, despite the amendment, employers can still fire workers who are to be caught using cannabis on or off their work hours.

“We’re really not creating a new law. This law has been on the books when it comes to alcohol and tobacco use; we’re just expanding,” Melton explained. “The way it’s written now, it’s broad enough to cover anything the legislature would legalize in the future. We didn’t want a future legislature to come back and revisit this when they legalize something else.”

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