Hey Everyone, Todd Denkin here again with you to bring you the top marijuana news stories of the week on July 27th, 2018. First off, our team here at TNMNews is coast-to-coast this week for you our followers. Our team is at the NCIA Cannabis Business and Summit Expo in San Jose, California and also the CannaCon Convention in Boston, Massachusetts this week. Keep your eyes open for interviews with some of the major influencers and entrepreneurial pioneers in the cannabis industry. These are the people affecting change in cannabis law reform in their respective states and taking on the risks of starting a cannabis business. If you have considered getting in the legal business of marijuana, there is a lot to learn from these pioneers. We are here to spread awareness and help you better understand the quickly growing cannabis industry. Now, let’s get started.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Marijuana Data Collection Act
The top story of the week is the introduction of a new marijuana bill in the House of Representatives. Representative Tulsi Gabbard out of Hawaii, along with a large bipartisan group of reps, introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act this week. Our team here at TNMNews.com actually met with one of Representative Gabbard’s aids, Patrick (Ko-Tsel) Koetzle, at the NCIA Lobby Days event in Washington D.C. back in May. He mentioned that he was working on crafting a bill for Representative Gabbard about data collection concerning cannabis legalization and asked for feedback. And a few months later, here it is. If passed, the bill would force the federal government to start collecting a wide array of data on the impacts of marijuana legalization across the country, such as where tax revenue generated from cannabis sales is going, who exactly are becoming medical marijuana patients and for what, who and at what rate people are being arrested, convicted and incarcerated for marijuana possession and how cannabis legalization is impacting employment. It is no small task as marijuana laws vary significantly from state to state. Regardless, it is a necessary step for the federal government to consider legalizing cannabis nationally.
New Jersey’s Tough Time with Marijuana Legalization
Let’s talk about what is happening on a state level lately. Starting with New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has had a real tough time pushing his agenda to legalize adult-use cannabis. He campaigned hard on the legalization of recreational marijuana and is focused on following through on his promise. However, he is facing a lot of push-back. The New Jersey Attorney General told all of the municipal attorneys in the state to hold off on pursuing any further marijuana offenses until September 4th, virtually decriminalizing cannabis for the rest of the summer. But, Governor Murphy is facing the same problem most of the northeast is facing when it comes to legalizing cannabis. A large portion of both democrats and republicans are still worried that legalizing cannabis could lead to the deterioration of communities. It is an extension of the gateway drug argument and people like State Senator Ronald Rice is worried pot stores will open in his district making available all sorts of crazy things in his opinion like marijuana cupcakes and cannabis sex toy oils. It is a blind perception, but it is prevalent throughout the state making legalization efforts very difficult.
Oklahoma is Taking Its Medical Marijuana Program Seriously
We recently reported that Oklahoma voters approved State Question 788 last month which legalized the most permissive medical marijuana program in the country, making it the 30th state to do so. Governor Mary Hallin was quick to sign off on the 270 page model released for statewide medical marijuana but then some amendments were pointed out to her that virtually killed the bill. She immediately turned around and rescinded those amendments which would have put a ban on smoking medical marijuana, forced all dispensary managers to be licensed pharmacists and would not have allowed a dispensaries to open up within 1,000 feet of a church, which is nearly impossible in Oklahoma. All of those amendments have been removed so now there are no THC Limits, delivery is okay, there is no ban on smoking, patients will be allowed to have guns and grow their own marijuana at home. There will be a 7% excise tax which will fund Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program and 75% of the surplus goes to a general fund for public schools.
Texas is Opening Up to Marijuana Too
And finally, let’s talk about Texas. A state that was as far away from legalizing marijuana ten years ago as Jeff Sessions is to smoking a blunt. But, in 2015 Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Compassionate Use Act which gave patients with intractable epilepsy access to CBD products. At the Texas Republican convention this year, attendees added decriminalizing cannabis to the GOP agenda. Democrats have been pushing for full marijuana legalization since 2012. Obviously the GOP has the majority of the support of Texas voters but cannabis is becoming a conservative issue as well. Especially when marijuana legalization is looked at from a states rights perspective, republicans seem to be open to backing cannabis. The STATES Act recently introduced in Congress by Sen. Gardner out of California is built around the 10th Amendment. While full adult-use legalization is unlikely in the near future for Texas, keep your eyes and ears open for a more talk from Texas politicians about marijuana in the upcoming elections. The first logical step for Texas would be creating a more permissive medical marijuana program that would allow many more patients access to medical marijuana and not just CBD but the full spectrum flower. If Texas can open up to marijuana legalization, then any state can.
That’s all for this week folks. Keep watching for more stories and interviews from the NCIA Cannabis Business and Summit expo in San Jose and the CannaCon Convention in Boston. And, don’t forget to follow our culture consultant, Christine Sclafani, on her new instagram page @Xtine.tnmnews. Have a great weekend everybody, this is Todd Denkin with the TNMNews.com.