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New Zealand to become the first Asian-Pacific Country to legalize medicinal marijuana

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Medical marijuana

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.

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Policy

CBD Sellers Say New CBD Law Protects Consumers

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Cannabidiol (CBD) sellers from Long Island believe that the new state law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will defend consumers from dangerous products by aiding them in making informed choices and purchases.

Users laud CBD for being a therapeutic reliever for anxiety or pain without the psychoactive effect that its cousin marijuana causes.

The legislation passed last December require hemp businesses to test their products and label them appropriately. It also created a state-permitting process for hemp growers, processors, retailers and companies that are planning to sell hemp extracts and other hemp-related products like CBD.

CBD oil and cream are found by users to help in promoting sleep, aside from its alleged pain-relieving properties. However, there is little scientific research to back the claims made by consumers.

The new CBD state law

The newly signed measure allows the Department of Agriculture and Markets management over hemp cultivation, while the Department of Health has direct supervision over hemp extracts. The law will take effect on March 9, after 90 days following the signing of the bill last December 9.

The new legislation does not affect licensed hemp growers immediately. It also does not alter the state policy that prohibits the infusion of cannabidiol to food and beverages, according to a Department of Agriculture spokesperson.

Shop owner Jessica Naissant who sells locally manufactured CBD products like oils, soaps, lotions, and candles fully supports the new law. She believes that CBD is only a micro-dose of cannabis, which means that it does not cause a high that is a widely known effect of marijuana. She further stated that consumers need to know that the CBD products they buy are safe and from credible sources.

Naissant has the company’s products like topicals and oils independently verified by a third-party laboratory. Her shop only stocks CBD products that come with a certificate of analysis, which shows how much CBD is incorporated into the product.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given caution to buyers in September about CBD products that were falsely labeled and contained more or less of what the product claims to have. It was after the agency found out through tests conducted on several products sold in the market today.

Concerns from the market players

Despite the law, some market players worry that the cost of securing permits and tests will block small businesses from successfully entering the industry.

Cuomo’s office stated that the cost of securing state permits is not yet decided. In a statement made by the governor, the state is planning to hold a hemp summit to discuss priorities and policies regarding the CBD industry, which will likely happen in January.

CBD manufacturing company owner and CEO Craig Zaffe said that the law would benefit both sellers and consumers. Zaffe is also the owner of an online CBD retailer, CBDoilsofLongIsland.com. He stated that there are numerous cannabidiol products in the market, but many of them are falsely labeled. Some have misrepresented CBD levels.

Zaffe remarked that credible companies that take the time and effort to produce legitimate products that don’t cut corners are on the losing end of the current market condition. Consumers are also in danger of buying harmful CBD products because of no standard vets for product quality.

ACD Health and Wellness, Zaffe’s company, enlists Colorado-based Botanacor CBD testing laboratory for its products and commissions Oregon farms as its hemp source. Its customers can access lab reports upon request.

Zaffe believes that succeeding in the industry means caring for the people and being ahead of regulations.

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Policy

Former NBA Player Pushes for Lawful CBD Use in the League

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CBD in the NBA

Al Harrington, a former NBA player, attended the Las Vegas MJBizCon, the biggest convention for US cannabis trade, expressed his firm belief that cannabis is a healthy medical option for professional athletes.

Advocates like Harrington have been pushing for leagues to allow cannabis use. As a response, Major League Baseball has recently announced that it will stop testing in the minor leagues for marijuana use.

Harrington’s CBD advocacy

Harrington is the founder of Viola, a cannabis company championing for the use of cannabis to alleviate pain, among other alleged therapeutic benefits. He stated that a player’s day-to-day pain management problems could be answered by cannabis.

He also added that the use of natural options is nowhere near dangerous compared to prescribed pain relievers and opioids after surgery, which are addictive.

Recreational marijuana is now lawful in 11 states, including D.C., and medical marijuana is allowed in 33 states. Harrington, a pro-marijuana advocate, trusts the less psychoactive cannabidiol or CBD will be easier to accept by the NBA.

Harrington along with co-founders Sanford Kunkel, ex-physician of the Indiana Pacers and Joe Abunassar, NBA trainer, established Harrington Wellness. The brand features hemp-derived CBD that has less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound responsible for the high in marijuana.

Harrington believes that 90% of NBA players support cannabis and would be the backing they need to reach their goals. He relayed how cannabis helped him walk pain-free after undergoing 13 surgeries during his 16-year career. After retiring in 2014, he considered coaching but ultimately felt that founding a cannabis company was his calling.

An open secret

Michele Roberts, National Basketball Players Association executive director, sees a policy change in the league following the upcoming presidential elections. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also relayed the willingness of the league to reevaluate the ban after reviewing medical marijuana. The NBPA Anti-Drug Program currently bans CBD and other marijuana-related products.

Antonio Harvey, a former NBA player, reaffirms that players don’t use cannabis because of its addicting property. He said athletes typically use it to cope with pain from playing the sport. Harvey now has his cannabis company, Terra Mater Cannabis.

Harrington was introduced to CBD back in 2012 and later used THC, for which he was open about smoking weed up to his final career year. He even had a cannabis greenhouse in Denver.

Isaiah Thomas, a Wizards guard, stated that players using cannabis isn’t a secret even if he does not use it himself. He said that other players talk about using it all the time. Even GSW Coach Steve Kerr also claimed to have smoked marijuana two times for extreme back pain.

Harvey has already secured 17 endorsement commitments from other retired athletes for his edible THC-dosed product, Legend.

Moving forward

Harrington has been in talks with NBPA regarding a possible team-up with his cannabidiol brand. Roberts is aware of the trend and sees the league be more amenable to CBD, which does not violate federal laws.

Roberts stated that the league and NBPA are on the same page regarding the amendment of current rules on cannabis. There is no aversion, Roberts adds, but the need to eliminate the possibility of jeopardizing the players.

Then secretary-general Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy discouraging prosecutors from interfering in states where marijuana was legal. The impending threat from the Justice Department has shelved the talks in the league regarding the removal of the cannabis ban. Roberts pointed out that the decision to stop testing for marijuana might progress, but it will not be anytime soon.

Medical professionals acknowledge CBD as a pain management option other than opioids. The most recent fatal opioid overdose incident happened earlier this year when Tyler Skaggs, 27-year-old Los Angeles pitcher, died from oxycodone and fentanyl. CBD, on the other hand, is not addictive.

Peter Grinspoon, Harvard Medical School faculty associate and Doctor for Cannabis Regulation board member, stated how CBD should be allowed for athletes since it is a safe alternative than the “junk” the players typically use.

However, CBD is yet to be officially recognized by the FDA as a treatment for many health conditions.

Harrington still believes that the partnerships he builds with outspoken players from the four major leagues can change the sport and lives of the athletes.

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Policy

2020 to Bring Changes for Ohio CBD Users After First Run in 2018

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Key players involved in Ohio’s Hemp Program like state regulators, farmers and patients expect an eventful 2020.

CBD users who are registered under the state’s highly-regulated Hemp Program and use medical marijuana to cure pain and other medical conditions are in for some significant changes in the market. Competition might become stiffer as new entrees join the cannabidiol craze, adding to the products in store shelves that started to flourish since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed.

Hemp program in Ohio

The 2018 Farm Bill was passed by the federal government in December 2018 and indicated states to establish their respective hemp programs to ensure compliance, as confirmed to Jen Lynch, Ohio Hemp Association President.

According to Lynch, the association coordinated with Ohio lawmakers to create a program that would enable CBD businesses to survive and thrive in the expanding market.

Senate Bill 57, drafted earlier this year, was signed by Governor DeWine last July, successfully passing it as state law.

The bill worked to create a system that allows the Ohio Department of Agriculture to hand out licenses and monitor growers of hemp. It also gives control over businesses that work to extract cannabidiol from raw plants and how such products are to be sold to patients.

CBD products cultivated and made in the state are legal to carry across state lines, as opposed to the products created under the Medical Marijuana Control Program of Ohio.

Executive director David Miran of the Ohio Hemp Program stated that new markets would open up to cultivators and processors from the state. These markets can be found outside Ohio.

Changes in the market

The hemp program was most successful in 2019, and it looks to grow more in 2020 as the licensing process for hemp cultivators will start early next year.

Before the legalization of hemp through the Senate Bill 57, however, News 5 has revealed that some stores unlawfully sold CBD products in Ohio. Some CBD oil brands were displayed on store shelves last May even when the Board of Pharmacy indicated that these products are only to be distributed through state-run dispensaries.

Terri Gerhardt, Ohio DA Food Safety chief, said that while the program was established, it lacked funding. He further stated that the department wasn’t able to move accordingly because it had no money.

It was only recently that DA secured funding for CBD testing, which is bound to be initiated early in 2020.

Additionally, farmers will commence planting hemp on their farm lots starting in 2020. Some farmers told News 5 that there might be some changes, including equipment, to ensure that they are ready to handle hemp crops. However, trade negotiations that threaten revenue from soybeans and corn could be a convenient time for farmers to grow hemp instead.

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