Weekly News in Cannabis and HempMexico takes center stage this week with plans for full legalization, UK professor urges physicians to embrace cannabis, an investor and philanthropist gives financial aid to further cannabis research in the US.
Mexico Plans for Legal Adult-Use Cannabis
In 2017, Mexico joined the more than 40 nations who legalized medical cannabis, and now it appears, Mexico may be the next country to join Canada and Uruguay in federal legalization for adult-use as well. An article in the Marijuana Moment stated Mexico could see full legalization as early as October of this year.
Last year, the Mexican Supreme Court decided banning access to cannabis was unconstitutional and told the Senate to make the necessary amendments. As such, the nation’s leaders are expected to finalize legislation during the recess period which runs from May 1st until August 31st of this year.
Noting Canada’s legalization efforts, and staggering growth in various states, Mexican officials are ready to move forward with regulation, leaving the US as the only remaining North American country without legal cannabis. Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, stated in a press release earlier this month, “Mexico will also demonstrate regional leadership, and take an important step toward reforming the misguided policies that have caused such devastating harm in recent decades.”
Former UK Drug Advisor Compares Cannabis to Penicillin
An article out of High Times this week highlights comments made by a renowned professor of Neuropsychopharmacology in the United Kingdom. After losing his job as UK’s chief drug advisor for criticizing UK drug policy, David Nutt is now publishing articles advocating for medical professionals to “embrace cannabis like penicillin,” and referring to the extensive use of penicillin without clinical trials due to necessity.
In an article for BMJ, Nutt stated, “About 70 years ago another natural medicine came into the medical arena,” he said, speaking about penicillin. “This was welcomed enthusiastically by UK doctors even though there had been no placebo-controlled trials of its efficacy because it was seen to fulfill a major clinical need.”
Investor Gives $9m to Harvard, MIT for Cannabis Research
Cannabis research got a financial boost this week thanks to Harvard and MIT alumnus, Charles R. Broderick, an early investor in Canadian cannabis. Donations totaling $9 million are earmarked for research in neuroscience and biomedicine at the two schools. According to the Harvard Gazette, the research is intended to “unravel the biology of cannabinoids, illuminate their effects on the human brain, catalyze treatments, and inform evidence-based clinical guidelines, societal policies, and regulation of cannabis.”
“I want to destigmatize the conversation around cannabis — and, in part, that means providing facts to the medical community, as well as the general public,” Broderick stated for the Gazette.
Texas Reduces Penalties for Possession… Or Not
Meanwhile, Texas legislators took advocates on a roller coaster ride this week. Headlines announced significant progress on a bill to drastically reduce penalties for cannabis possession and remove criminal penalties for the offense. The high compromised and amended House Bill 63 reduced the penalty for possessing an ounce or less to a fine but didn’t actually decriminalize the substance.
Yet, despite bipartisan support in the house with a 103 to 42 vote, by the time the weekend ended, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the bill had died due to lack of support in the Texas Senate. Patrick later tweeted, "I join with those House Republicans who oppose this step toward legalization of marijuana.”
As such, Texas law remains the same – those caught with an ounce or less of marijuana face up to 180 days in jail and as much as $2,000 in fines.
Utah Sets Limit for Medical Marijuana Cultivation
State officials in Utah set the state limit to 10 cultivators for medical cannabis. Each grower is also limited to no more than four outdoor acres or 100,000 square feet of indoor real estate. Essentially, the lawmakers contend the limits were designed to allow for adequate product for the estimated 100,000 medical patients while limiting excess cannabis from ending up in the black market.
While authorities feel the number is sufficient to meet demand, some cannabis consultants fear the numbers are severely underestimated. If so, the restrictive regulations could prevent shortages for the new industry.
Oklahoma Hemp Cultivator Sues FSA Director
Oklahoma’s Farm Service Agency Director, Scott Biggs is facing legal trouble for misleading and even threatening farmers interested in hemp cultivation. Equitable Organic Ventures, a hemp cultivator working in partnership with an unnamed educational institution in Oklahoma, the article in Cannabis Business Times states, “Biggs is threatening farmers and deterring them from participating in hemp cultivation.”
Specifically, the lawsuit states, “Biggs has repeatedly and unilaterally communicated to FSA employees statewide, as well as inquiring farmers, that if they enter into a contract with EOV, or if they plant even one hemp seed, they will be subject to losing their existing farm loans.”
Colombia has High Hopes for Legal Cannabis
After obtaining the first license in Colombia to export cannabis to Canada for research purposes, Clever Leaves, a Colombian medical cannabis producer, believes cannabis production means much more for Colombia and the associated drug stigmas. In an article for Equal Times, CEO Andres Fajardo said, “We can now change our negative image by using one of the very things that has done us so much harm.”
Likewise, Andres Galofre, a founder of Khiron Life Sciences Corp., another Colombian cannabis producer, believes the same stating, “This new awareness of the medical benefits means that our products can benefit around 10 to 15 percent of the population of Latin America, which is around 600 million people.”