White House approves USDA hemp regulations
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in the US, creating an overnight demand for CBD-rich and hemp-based products. But without federal oversight, many farmers have struggled to understand what they can and cannot do.
Monday morning, in its first attempt to bring more clarity to one of the most trendy developments within the cannabis industry, the White House approved the USDA’s hemp program interim set of regultations. The rules detail standard hemp industry growing practices, THC limitations, banned chemicals, and a regulatory framework for disposing of crops and unwanted material. An official 180-page document detailing a full set of rules and regulations is expected to be released to the public in November.
With official guidelines, federal regulators can now approve individual state regulatory plans – which have already rolled out in a handful of states, like Kentucky and Illinois.
Montana advocates announce new legalization group, backed by leading national cannabis reform groups
Advocates hoping to bring prohibition to an end in Montana announced a new coalition this week, New Approach Missouri, which has already received over $3M in pledges from D.C.- based political action committees like New Approach, and the Marijuana Policy Project.
The groups goal is to create a ballot-initiative path to legalize adult-use cannabis by 2020, with dispensaries open as soon as 2021.
“We’re confident that we’re going to be on the ballot,” told Pepper Petersen, political director for New Approach Montana to the Missoula Current. “I’m very confident that we’ll be able to pass this initiative.”
While MMJ has been legalized in the state since 2004, the program has remained largely limited, due to a restriction of licensing and a low number of qualifying conditions. If an adult-use program becomes legal, experts predict it could generate more than $30M in new tax revenue for the state.
Decriminalization initiatives heat up in Wisconsin and Ohio
The decriminalization of cannabis may not bring in the large investments or rapid job growth that adult-use or MMJ markets can create, but what it can do is create a more fair criminal justice system which no longer punishes civilians for non-violent, low-level cannabis possession. Cannabis possession charges disproportionately impact people of color, and can be detrimental to career opportunities and socioeconomic upward-mobility.
In the Midwest, both Ohio and Wisconsin are pushing closer to achieving statewide decriminalization, with county wide ballots beginning in Ohio Nov. 5th and a new social equity bill sponsored by popular democratic officials in Wisconsin.
Officials from both states share similar talking points on cannabis reform, often highlighting the potential missed opportunities and negative impacts prohibition continues to have on their constituents.
“How many more people have to be lost before we actually get the courage to do something about it?” said Rep. David Crowley, of Milwaukee in a recent interview with USNews.
Midwestern states without robust MMJ or adult-use markets like Illinois and Michigan, are expected to only ramp-up their cannabis reform efforts heading into 2020.
Cannabis lobbying hits record high
With a slew of historic achievements, it’s been a year to remember for the cannabis industry, and the benchmarks aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
This week, officials in D.C. released quarter 3 reports for political lobbying, revealing a record breaking total for the cannabis industry ($3.77 million), already surpassing its previous record in 2018 ($2.76 million).
The resurgence of the US SAFE Banking act, which remains stalled in the Senate, largely attributed to the increase of spending as it was the first time that a federal cannabis-reform initiative received majority support from both sides of the aisle.
With the increase of spending in D.C., pro-cannabis lobbyists and policy writers are beginning to receive more invites to the table, potentially leading to future reform that could impact research, and future laws in the US.
“There’s definitely an attitude change that I think is certainly informing the policy maker’s comfort level with making decisions that are in favor of the industry,” stated Melissa Kuipers, a contract lobbyist.