The world is shouting out loud for legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes! From the western skies of the United States to the royal United Kingdom’s and every member in between is deciding whether to make cannabis legal or not.
New Zealanders will be voting on cannabis legalization in a referendum next year. The draft law under consideration would permit people over the age of 20 to legally purchase the drug. The referendum will be held during the 2020 general election, the government announced on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Andrew Little said that the vote would be binding, but it will ultimately be in the hands of the next administration whether they want to enact the legislation or not.
Outline of the leaked cannabis paper for 2020 referendum
Andrew said that the voters would be asked a simple ‘Yes/No’ question on the basis of a draft piece of legislation. Questions in the draft would include some important things that will be considered after the legalisation of cannabis like-
- The minimum age for using and purchasing recreational cannabis.
- Regulatory framework and commercial supply controls, maintaining a balance in cannabis use and sales to licensed premises.
- Marketing reforms about cannabis-based products and their advertising.
- Checks on home-grown and private cultivation of cannabis.
- A public education program to discuss about the safe use of cannabis for medical purposes and reduce the stigma associated with it.
These points were drawn from what seems to be the leaked cannabis paper which will be discussed in the referendum. It outlines the crucial points for discussion and voting, and also talks about the questions that will be asked in the referendum.
Paula Bennett, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson said that the cabinet will consider all the 4 questions laid out in the Cannabis paper, however it seems that irrespective of what option is chosen by the legislative, it will have huge loop holes. These loop holes will need to be filled in and taken care of before they adversely affect the consumers.
The leaked paper is quite light on the details and discusses about cannabis legalization briefly. It doesn’t talk about taxation imposed on marijuana, fiscal revenues related to the drug, consumption and distribution regulation and many other important things.
If the reform fails next year, cannabis legalization would be put on hold for another good amount of years making users wait and patients suffer.
Biggest opportunity for cannabis legalization reforms
Andrew said that the coalition government was committed “to a health-based approach to drugs, to minimize harm and take control away from criminals.” The referendum would bring more clarity on the subject. In fact, it was part of a confidence and supply agreement the Green party negotiated with the governing Labour party.
Green Party MP, Chloe Swarbrick said that the vote presented the “greatest opportunity for cannabis law reform our country has seen in 40 years.” She further added that the draft legislation will outline concise and clear regulatory regime to avoid any potential of a ‘Brexit’ situation because people will know how their actions would change the future course of action and how these changes will be implemented in their lives.
What if a the majority votes are a ‘yes’?
The situation about cannabis legalization is quite dicey in New Zealand, even if the motion gets majority votes to legalize cannabis, it is not imperative that the laws would be implemented right away. It could probably take years before the laws are enacted and come into action.
Andrew said that the voters choice would be binding because all the parties that form up the current government have committed to respect the outcome from the voting. Butthe poll is scheduled to take place during the 2020 election, which means it will be a new parliament that will finally decide whether to legalize cannabis or not. The opposition centre-right National Party has not yet said whether it will honor the referendum for cannabis legalization or not.
After the federal law which created a statutory defense for terminally ill patients to use cannabis without the fear of getting arrested or charged, New Zealand is also on its way to incorporate cannabis in their structure. A majority of ‘Yes’ votes in the next year’s referendum could make New Zealand the first Asian-Pacific country to approve of marijuana for recreational purposes.
US Navy Warns Their Sailors Not to Take CBD
Marines and sailors were told by the US Navy to stop and avoid using CBD and other hemp-derived products.
The US Navy legislation includes a clause that forbids servicepeople from using, ingesting, consuming and applying any cannabinoid preparation that is derived from marijuana or hemp.
Despite the legislation signed by President Donald Trump that removes industrial hemp from the controlled substances list of the federal government, Navy officials still affirm that their members should avoid hemp extracts and CBD products.
There is still a lot of controversy regarding CBD and its legality in the US. The Farm Bill signed last December has made most cannabidiol-containing products legal, although the FDA or Food and Drug Administration has reiterated that CBD-infused food is still illegal in the US.
Navy CBD Ban
A spokesperson for the US Navy stated that the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has not affected in any way the policies of their agency. Despite the law, every product that is derived or made from marijuana or hemp are still very much prohibited.
The Navy stated that hemp-derived products that are commercially available like the CBD oil are not FDA-approved and therefore have no valid claims regarding the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or cure of any illness. They concluded that since the products do not properly list all their ingredients, it is impossible to determine the cannabidiol, THC or other synthetic cannabinoid levels such products may contain.
The agency defines Use as taking any cannabis preparation whether orally ingested, injected intravenously, vaporized/smoked or any other form by which such hemp-derived items may be introduced to the body, which potentially exposes the individual to high psychoactive THC levels.
Risk for Discharge
Navy servicepeople who show positive results for THC tests and other substances that are not prescribed by their doctor could be subject for discharge known as OTH or Other Than Honorable. This label can affect their employment opportunities and benefits as future veterans.
The Navy spokesperson added that every Sailor is responsible for ensuring their diligence in evading accidental or intentional contact with THC or any other controlled substance.
Just last month, police watchdogs from Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board or AZPOST ruled that Arizona cops are allowed to use CBD and hemp-related products.
AZPOST stated on their ruling that the possession or use of over-the-counter CBD-containing products is not related to the illegal possession or use of marijuana, which is a dangerous narcotic drug.
In a report by the Pheonix New Times, it is in AZPOST’s history that OTC CBD use is regarded with the same treatment as in cannabis from a medical dispensary.
In Arizona, cannabis is lawful if used medically, but illegal for recreational purposes.
Lawmakers Pen Letter to Federal Agencies in Light of Growing CBD Industry
A group of US lawmakers addressed a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services or HHS and the Food and Drug Administration heads earlier this week to push for the establishment of regulations for CBD. This is in light of the cannabidiol industry showing great economic potential.
The group led by NY Democrat Rep. Antonio Delgado stated that the potential for a bigger market can affect the pharmaceuticals, paper, textiles, dietary supplements, and other products. Now that hemp and hemp-derived products like cannabidiol are now federally legal following the 2018 Farm Bill.
Delgado, also a member of the House Committee on Small Business, reiterated that the CBD industry also paves way for more employment opportunities and better local economies as more small firms lead the movement.
A hearing was heard by the panel last month to answer the challenges and opportunities for hemp enterprises regarding the federal prohibition framework.
Alongside Delgado are Committee Chairman Nydia Velasquez (Democrat, NY), Rep. Jared Golden (Democrat, ME), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Democrat, NY) and Rep. Dwight Evans (Democrat, PA) who have all signed the message as well. Velasquez introduced another legislation earlier this week that provides insurance coverage for marijuana businesses.
What Lawmakers Wrote
The group collectively signed a letter that said the country’s farmers are looking forward to growing hemp and are awaiting the federal regulatory framework from the US Department of Agriculture. They also stated that businesses are gearing up on responding to consumer demands for hemp and its derivatives like CBD. However, the failure to clarify rules by the FDA confused businesses, consumers and farmers alike.
Ever since the passage of Farm Bill, the FDA and USDA have encountered pressure by different sectors to establish clear regulations. Last month, FDA said a status update will be released after the rulemaking process is fully expedited.
USDA, on the other hand, released a statement that said legal hemp regulations for cultivation will be given out before the planting season for 2020.
Lawmakers further added that the confusion regarding hemp regulation is hindering the growth and development of CBD businesses.
Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said that it may take years for CBD to be allowed in food or dietary supplements without congressional intervention. However, the group has declared that these products are already openly sold in commercial stores, pharmacies, restaurants and other places.
Pushing for More Clarity
The group of lawmakers also said that proper regulations will address the confusion on production, quality, labeling, testing, sale and marketing of hemp derivatives like CBD.
While the letter indicates that the group is appreciative of FDA’s efforts to ensure the public’s safety and guard them against unproven claims of other CBD companies, the hemp industry can’t take years of waiting for the agencies to create policies.
They further requested the FDA to develop benchmark quality standards for hemp and hemp derivatives production to harbor trust and satisfaction from consumers so that the industry can mature into a lawful market.
The FDA is expected by the group to release enforcement guidance and interim final ruling on CBD-infused food and dietary supplements by September 30. This is to pave way for a final and legal rule for such products, especially since the Federal government has recognized the hemp industry, and medical marijuana for some states as legal substances.
CBD Oil Brand Recalled for High THC Level by Irish Government
Dutch cannabinoid oil (CBD) brand EUPHORIA was found to have illegal levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the formulation, causing the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to recall their 10ml preparation labeled “Full Spectrum Oil extra strong 20%”.
Hemp and CBD products are legal as per the regulation of the Irish government; however, the formula should not contain THC of more than 0.2% to be viable for sale.
Said oil brand came from the Netherlands and has a best-before date of 31 August in 2020. Distributors and retailers alike are forced to submit to authority and remove the brand from their displays immediately.
CBD is gaining popularity all over the world and is a steadily growing industry due to respective laws being legislated in a number of countries. However, controversy still can’t escape it since it is closely linked to marijuana and THC, which have potent psychoactive elements that can induce drug dependency.
Cannabis Reception in Ireland
In Ireland, cannabis is still a huge topic for debate for supporters and critics. Some people still doubt its efficacy and the presence of side effects that may prove dangerous for a person’s health. The question mark that follows cannabis is heightened because of this recent turn of events.
The country authorized the sale and use of medical cannabis last 2016, but it was met with opposition from a group of medical practitioners. It’s also a hard feat for patients to acquire such since the government failed to retain a central supplier.
To reconcile their lack in implementation, the Ministry of Health headed by Simon Harris recently signed into legislation the 5-year Medical Cannabis Access Program. It aims to push for cannabis treatment when traditional methods fail, according to Harris.
This initiative is designed to legalize medical cannabis prescription made by doctors for various conditions like chemotherapy-sickness, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Like any pharmaceutical product, patients can now present their Rx to drug stores and be given said medicine.
The program also involves the inventory-building of cannabis products, with Tilray being one of the international cannabis companies to successfully export their medical cannabis products to Ireland.
In relation to their first shipment, Tilray has pledged its commitment to providing for the subsequent demands of cannabis products once approved by the government. Their goal is to be the main supplier of the access program, enabling safe and reasonable access to medical cannabis
The company is currently at dialogue with the Irish authorities to shed some insight on the implementation of the newly penned program.
Unfortunately, Tilray failed to secure a spot in Italian cannabis export.
Cannabis in Neighboring Italy
Italy snubbed Tilray and two other international cannabis companies in favor of Aurora Cannabis (Canada) to fulfill the surprising shortage in production at the Florence facility. Italian Ministry of Defense further revealed that Tilray (Portugal) filed incorrect paper works and missed the set deadline, disqualifying them from the roster.
Albeit Italy’s willingness to pay for medical cannabis (the 400-kg cannabis deal cost them €569,000 (US$638,000), debates are also going over the country on whether low-THC “cannabis light” should be sold legally. The court ruled to ban the sale of such products, but enterprise owners fought back.
While it might be a phenomenal story to follow, Italians still appreciate cannabis products such as the CBD oil as an adjunct to medical treatments. Italy, including the Netherlands and Germany, are still the top three European countries with the strong medicinal cannabis industry.
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