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Colombian Minister Advocates Legalizing Cannabis for Economic Growth

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In Colombia, the recreational use of cannabis is currently prohibited, although possession of a minimal amount is allowed, as established by the Constitutional Court. The issue of legalizing cannabis for recreational use was a source of controversy during the administration of Gustavo Petro, even reaching a bill that was rejected in Congress towards the end of the first legislature. However, the issue is still under discussion.

What the ministers say

 

Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco addressed the issue in an interview with Yamid Amat for EL TIEMPO, arguing that cannabis “must be legal and contribute to the generation of wealth”.

The minister also highlighted the potential of this market, not only for Colombia but for the whole world. Regarding consumption and regulation, he explained that the legalization of cannabis does not usually lead to an increase in excessive consumption, citing examples from countries that support this assertion. He mentioned that in Portugal, where marijuana and other drugs were legalized some time ago, consumption has decreased thanks to stricter regulation. He also stressed that regulation reduces overdose deaths.

Velasco also pointed out the paradox of being allowed to carry a minimum dose of cannabis, while its purchase remains illegal, which he said benefits the black market due to the lack of regulation. He explained how regulation can reduce the violence associated with the marijuana trade.

The Minister also presented examples of the cannabis market in the United States, particularly in the states of Colorado and California, where the industry is effectively regulated.

The Minister of the Interior expressed his confidence that the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colombia is only a matter of time and reiterated his commitment to this change. He said he hoped that next year a legislative reform could be carried out that would allow the regulation of recreational cannabis, turning this controversy into a source of income for Colombian farmers and using the taxes collected to treat people affected by more dangerous drugs than cannabis.

He added: “(…) of course taxes will be applied. The revenue generated will be used for the treatment of people affected by other more dangerous drugs. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol and I’ve never tried marijuana, but I know that alcohol causes more harm than cannabis”.



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The Navy Softens Their Stance On Marijuana

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With recruitment down, the US Navy is taking a softer approach to marijuana

Their motto used to be “see the world, join the Navy”, but enticing young people to be part of the armed forces have been tough the last few years. Only 23% of young people between 17 and 24 even qualify to join the military. Even fewer have expressed the desire to enlist, officials said.  Also, Gen Z is changing what they want in a career, they would rather see the world on their own terms.  Additionally, Gen Z has a different approach to life regarding drinking and drugs.  They have drifted away from alcohol and embraced marijuana – especially gummies and vaping. They are a key part of the California sober movement.

RELATED: The Most Popular Marijuana Flavors

In response to changes and to be competitive with every almost every other business/opportunity, it seems the Navy softens their stance on marijuana. The are no longer immediately kicking out recruits who arrive at boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, with detectable amounts of marijuana in their system.

Photo by skeeze via Pixabay

The Navy increased drug positives 68% from 3,367 in 2021 to 5,661 in 2022. This increase is due to the rise in THC use (nearly 80% of all positives): including both the delta-8 variant (CBD; testing began in 2021) and the traditional delta-9 variant (cannabis).

Rear Adm. James Waters, director of the Navy’s military personnel plans and policy division made a statement. “The service has expanded the authority to grant waivers for any recruits who initially test positive for THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.”

“If they fail the test and own up — ‘Yes, I smoke marijuana ‘– we do an evaluation of the young person to make sure there’s not something else going on,” Waters said. “But we trust that through the process of boot camp that we have an opportunity to bring them along with our culture.”

RELATED: How To Be Discreet When Using Weed

The Navy maintains a zero tolerance policy for active duty drug use. They state it is based on both federal law and no test can adequately test someone’s fitness for duty based on the amount of THC in their system.

The currently philosophy is THC consumption is not a moral issue (right or wrong). Instead, it  is incompatible with the Navy’s mission to prepare to fight and win anytime, anywhere.

In September of 2022, the Air Force and Space Force announced a new pilot program that would grant certain applicants who test positive for THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana, a chance to retest and possibly join the ranks.  By December, the Air Force Recruiting Service granted waivers to 43 applicants who tested positive for THC.  This was a larger than expected.



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How Legal is CBD, Really?

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The legality of CBD remains a subject of considerable debate. Despite the fact that many CBD companies[1]  have now existed for more than a decade, the legal context surrounding this non-intoxicating cannabinoid remains muddy for the average shopper. In this guide, we’ll explore the legality of CBD in detail, examining the implications along the way.

History of CBD Laws

Extracts of Cannabis sativa have been widely prepared and sold for centuries beyond count. It’s unclear exactly when human beings and cannabis intersected, but it’s believed cannabis has been a part of daily life at least as long as apples and potatoes.

 

It’s only recently that laws have turned discriminatory toward cannabis. Starting in Europe in the 19th century, this anti-cannabis fervor eventually reached the United States, spurring the “Reefer Madness” craze that ultimately led to cannabis being illegalized with the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

 

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act sealed the deal, and hemp was not grown in considerable acreage until academic pilot programs began resurfacing in the early 2000s. By the early 2010s, legal loopholes were identified at the federal level that allowed CBD commerce to emerge online.

 

In 2014 and 2018, the United States Congress gave CBD the nod with Farm Bills that facilitated hemp cultivation and commerce. Not much has changed in the ensuing years, however, leading to a hemp economy that has begun to stagnate in some sectors.

Recent Developments in CBD Legislation

Cannabis-related measures continue to be proposed at both the state and federal level. Few of them focus specifically on CBD, however, which remains in a gray area loosely delineated by the 2018 Farm Bill and subsequent clarifications from the FDA, DEA, and USDA.

 

It appears the situation with CBD will remain unclear federally for the foreseeable future. There seems to be an “unwritten rule” that upstanding CBD companies will not run afoul of federal agencies as long as their conduct meets a certain unofficial threshold.

 

The FDA continues to issue warning letters to CBD companies that violate the dictates of the 2018 Farm Bill, but enforcement is rare and usually amounts to relatively small fines. At the state level, legislators continue to evolve their stances on CBD and related products, mainly in an effort to siphon tax revenue.

Potential Future CBD Regulations

Over time, the slew of largely unrelated hemp and cannabis laws continuously being produced by Congress may begin to amount to a comprehensive federal stance on cannabinoids. At this current juncture, however, cannabinoid regulations ever more commonly have less to do with the shopper’s interests and more to do with securing government revenue.

 

The ideal solution that hemp proponents have expounded for years, namely that CBD be judged an over-the-counter substance, appears further and further away as time goes by. At present, it seems the de facto approach is to not address the underlying legality of cannabinoids but to instead determine how best they should be taxed.

 

It might not be an ideal situation, but for the average CBD producer, this is still good news. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when it seemed the federal government was on the verge of attempting to ban CBD products outright. Though the current circumstances may remain muddy, at least there’s no longer any indication that the federal government is antithetical to hemp and CBD overall.

CBD Legality: The Bottom Line

As we finish up, it’s important to carefully address a few final points:

CBD regulations vary by state

For most intents and purposes, CBD can be considered federally legal. Each state has its own laws and regulations pertaining to CBD and other cannabinoids, however, some of which are more restrictive than others. CBD laws can be restrictive both in states that are firmly anti-cannabis and in those that have newer adult-use cannabis industries that suffer from direct competition with online CBD vendors.

No medical claims

CBD is certainly not legal when it is advertised as offering medical benefits. It’s fine to reference evidence that CBD might be useful for a particular ailment. To outright say that CBD treats or cures a medical condition, is tantamount to asking for the scrutiny of the federal government.

Professionalism first

The CBD companies that are currently succeeding are those that go above and beyond. Clean products, transparent communication, impeccable certification: these are the hallmarks of the future’s top CBD brands. Focusing on quality will make it less likely to flub regulations.

Respect CBD

CBD is a powerful compound, and it comes from a plant that has an amazing power to heal. Put CBD’s benefits first and foremost, and you’ll find that your company naturally begins to fit the parameters that both shoppers and regulators approve of most.



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California Cities: Prohibition Doesn’t Work

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California has a population of nearly 40 million, six years of cannabis licensing, but only has about 1,200 licensed dispensaries. These stores are mostly spread out in highly populated areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on. The problem is that many California cities still prohibit cannabis licensing, even in places where a majority of the locals approved the state’s recreational cannabis program in 2016. This is a massive problem and is one of the key reasons the illegal market thrives. Let’s look at why that is the case and what these cities can do to change it.

Why prohibition doesn’t work

When the government prohibits something, there is an existing market for that thing, and a fear on the part of the government (justifiable or otherwise) that failure to prohibit it would lead to some kind of societal harm. Because there is an existing market for the thing, there is necessarily some kind of demand for it. If the government bans the thing, some people will realize that the potential cost (prison, fines, stigma, etc.) outweighs the benefit, and demand will go down.

But others will find that the benefit outweighs the potential cost, no matter how high it is — which is why people still roll the dice in countries like Singapore that will execute drug traffickers. So while prohibition may decrease demand, it won’t end it. And so long as there is some demand, again, some people will roll the dice.

This is exactly what has happened in the decades since cannabis was prohibited. If prohibition were an effective deterrent, then you would expect there not to be a high level of use or incarceration. But we’ve seen the opposite. There have been millions of people arrested and incarcerated for violating the Controlled Substances Act and state-law counterparts. It’s pretty clear then that these laws don’t have their intended effects, which brings me to the next point.

What problems are California cities creating?

When California voters passed the state’s flagship recreational licensing law in 2016, California cities were given an immense amount of control over the new industry. Perhaps realizing the initiative would face strong opposition if it took power away from cities, the drafters included provisions that allowed California cities to completely ban cannabis activities within their limits. These provisions led to local bans in vast swathes of the state.

While cities have slowly “come online” over the years, there are still vast swathes of the state without legal access to cannabis. In fact, many cities even sued the state when it tried to officially sanction statewide delivery rules. What this means is that there are still many California cities that prohibit cannabis.

If those cities are trying to eliminate local cannabis markets, I’ve got a bridge to sell them. Prohibition didn’t work before the state legalized cannabis, and it certainly won’t work when the state won’t lift a finger on enforcement. California cities that keep their bans alive are only bolstering their illegal markets and making it more difficult for the legal market to survive.

What California cities should be doing to combat the illegal market

I recently corresponded with Hirsh Jain of Ananda Strategy, who believes that the state needs 4,000 to 5,000 dispensaries to carry the legal market. And those dispensaries shouldn’t just be in Los Angeles or San Diego. They’d need to be dispersed across the state so that people have access and the legal dispensaries could compete with the illegal ones (and ideally put them out of business). If more California cities don’t end prohibition, illegal dispensaries and delivery services will continue to operate whether they like it or not.

That said, there are other things that California cities can do to combat the illegal market without allowing brick-and-mortar sales. One big one would be to allow outside delivery services to deliver into their borders. While the state did pass a law attempting to expand statewide access to medical cannabis deliveries, that fails to include the much larger recreational market. It also likely excludes potential medical cannabis purchasers who don’t want to or don’t have the resources to obtain a physician’s recommendation or medical marijuana ID card (MMIC).

Expanding retail deliveries would be a win-win for the legal market and cities alike. Yet for some reason, California cities fought it tooth and nail. While those cities may have thought they won, the real victory belonged to the illegal market, which continues to grow and grow.


If the legal market is to survive, California cities are going to have to make compromises when it comes to cannabis prohibition. After all, cannabis is still being sold within their borders. For some of my thoughts on California’s problematic illegal market, check out these posts:





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