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Federal Legalization Depends on Two Georgia Senate Runoff Elections
Early voting has begun in Georgia for two Senate runoff elections that will determine the political control of the chamber. Currently, Republicans hold a 50–48 advantage. Should Democrats win both races, Vice President-elect Harris would break the tie in favor of the Democrats.
That would be necessary to advance federal legalization. The House has passed the MORE Act, but it is stalled in the Republican Senate.
According to NORML, incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler receives an “F” grade on marijuana policy. Her opponent, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock, supports legalization:
Raphael Warnock: “It is not enough to decriminalize marijuana! Somebody’s got to open up the jails and let our children go!”
Incumbent Republican David Perdue receives a “B-” grade from NORML for his support of medical marijuana but rejection of recreational marijuana. His opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, supports legalization:
Jon Ossoff: “There are people getting wealthy in the legal cannabis industry while other folks are sitting in prison for cannabis-related offenses.”
$350K Federal Grant Seeks Test Between Marijuana and Hemp
Marijuana Moment reports that the Department of Justice has granted $350,000 to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a test to separate marijuana from hemp.
The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp, which is cannabis that contains over 0.3 percent of the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
But marijuana, the cannabis flowers containing over 0.3 percent THC, is still federally illegal and prohibited in 35 states, and most state and local law enforcement’s testing labs can only distinguish whether a test sample has THC in it, but not at what level.
This has led to confusion in the states over whom with cannabis should be arrested. In Texas, prosecutors have dismissed hundreds of low level cases since the Lone Star State legalized hemp, while in Idaho, state police bragged about “the largest pot bust in state history” when they seized a semi-truck containing over 6,000 pounds of hemp.
New Jersey Senate Advances Legal Marijuana & Decrim Mushrooms
Senators in the Garden State have advanced separate bills to legalize marijuana and decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.
There is an expected floor vote on the marijuana measure in the New Jersey Senate Thursday, reports Marijuana Moment.
Negotiations between leaders in the Senate and Assembly have produced some compromises. From the Senate, a proposal to allocate 70 percent of marijuana tax revenue to social equity concerns has been accepted. However, no special class of licenses are established for social equity candidates, a sticking point for many activists.
From the Assembly, negotiations produced an initial two-year cap of 37 commercial grow licenses. Microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees will have no license caps. Home growing cannabis will remain a crime, another bone of contention for activists.
Also expected on Thursday is a vote on the Senate’s bill to reduce the penalty for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, from 3–5 years in prison to a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
Utah Lawmakers May Expand Medical Marijuana Access
Lawmakers in the Beehive State are eyeing changes to the state’s medical marijuana law passed in 2018.
Currently, physicians in Utah are limited to making cannabis recommendations to just 275 patients, a policy designed to prevent the emergence of specialty medical marijuana clinics. After 2020, those physicians will need to register with the state, pay a fee, and attend online training sessions in order to continue recommending cannabis.
Changes being considered would allow any Utah doctor to recommend to up to 15 patients, regardless of state registration.
Deseret News also reports that lawmakers are considering adding the medical marijuana patient database to the state’s controlled substance monitoring database. Advocates say combining the two databases will make it easier for physicians, while opponents fear easy access to law enforcement for targeting medical marijuana patients.
Marijuana Smoking May Affect the Voice
A new study published in the Journal of Voice suggests that the long-term smoking of marijuana may have a deleterious impact on professional singers.
About 42% of cannabis users believed that smoking the substance produced immediate changes to the voice, while approximately 29% reported that they believed it had long-term effects, including hoarseness and vocal weakness.