Cannabis news briefs: New Jersey bill stalls, banking bill advances, EPA looking into hempcrete, and Walgreens to sell CBD
Gov. Phil Murphy, along with leaders of the New Jersey state legislature, announced last week that a vote on the state’s much-anticipated bill to legalize adult-use marijuana would be postponed. Despite having Democratic control in both the State Senate and Assembly, continued party infighting led to the defeat of the nearly year-long effort.
“Certainly I’m disappointed, but we are not defeated,” Murphy told reporters. “Justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied.”
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said that he “might have underestimated the challenge in getting this passed," but like Murphy, was hopeful about the future of the bill.
“Well [legislators] didn’t necessarily know — they were hopeful, I think given all the public support and all the momentum,” Gene Markin, a partner with law firm Stark & Stark told PotNetwork News recently.
Supporters of the bill stated that they wouldn’t let the current stalled status stop them from pursuing political efforts to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. Executive Director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union Amol Sinha said in a statement that his organization is more devoted than ever to pursue the end of prohibition.
It’s currently not known when legislative leaders might revive the effort.
House to vote on marijuana legalization bill within weeks
The House Rules Committee will consider a bill to protect states with legal marijuana from federal intervention “within weeks," is according to committee chair Jim McGovern.
“We will guide it to the House floor for a vote, which I think it will pass with an overwhelming vote—Democrats and I think a lot of Republicans as well,” said McGovern in an interview with Boston Herald Radio. “If we have a strong bipartisan vote, that will increase the pressure on the Senate to do something,” said McGovern about the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, which was filed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Gardner. The bill has not been officially reintroduced after failing to make the cut last year.
“Whether it’s the Warren-Gardner bill or another configuration, I would expect something would happen this year,” McGovern said in the interview.
A congressional committee voted on Thursday to move ahead with the SAFE Banking Act. That bill would remove restrictions which currently discourage federally insured banks from doing business with the cannabis industry. The House Financial Services Committee voted 45 to 15 to advance the legislation last week.
EPA funding research into hempcrete
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced funding for research into the production of hempcrete, a type of concrete made with hemp. A notice on the EPA website says the agency awarded a roughly $12,000 grant to a student-led research team at the University of California, Riverside. Under the grant, the group will study the use of hemp fibers to produce a “lighter, stronger, and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil-based concrete.”
The most common method currently used for pulping hemp fibers is wasteful and produces seven tons of toxic waste for every ton of pulp extracted, according to a summary of the study. The so-called Kraft pulping process—which involves treating hemp stalks with hot water, sodium hydroxide, and sodium sulfide to separate the fibers—produces seven tons of toxic waste for each ton of usable product.
According to a report at Marijuana Moment, “hempcrete has even intrigued allies of President Donald Trump who reached out to a Kansas-based hemp business to learn how the crop could be used to build a proposed border wall.”
Walgreens to join CVS in selling CBD
A week after CVS, the nation's biggest drugstore chain, revealed they were selling CBD products in stores in eight states, Walgreens, the second largest drugstore chain in the country, also announced they would begin stocking CBD products. A spokesperson for Walgreens told CNBC last Wednesday they will sell CBD-based creams, patches, and sprays at over 1,500 locations in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. Brands to be carried were not specified. Learn more here.
NFL might end a cannabis ban
The National Football League is reportedly considering “major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially as it relates to marijuana,” reports NBC Sports. Their source from within the NFL says that these marijuana concessions will be part of negotiations with the NFL Players Associations and could be implemented in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Details about how far the NFL is willing to go in its concessions aren’t clear, but according to NBC Sports’ source, they could go as far as completely removing restrictions against players’ marijuana usage. PotNetwork’s Sean McCaughan has more thoughts on the matter.
Rogan and Goldberg partner with Canopy Growth
Seth Rogan, star of comedy cellar and screen, and screenwriter Evan Goldberg (who collaborated with Rogan on the stoner flick Pineapple Express), in partnership with Canadian Cannabis giant Canopy Growth Corp., are the latest celebrities to throw their hats into the ring with the launch of a new cannabis brand called Houseplant.
“Houseplant is a passion we’ve brought to life through drive and dedication,” Rogan said in a press release sent to Leafly. “Every decision we’ve made for the business reflects the years of education, first-hand experience, and respect we have for cannabis.” Canopy has acquired 25 percent of the company and will provide the facilities, experience, and infrastructure to create the cannabis that Houseplant will produce.
According to a report in Leafly, the company’s first strain, “Houseplant Sativa, will make its debut in British Columbia in early April 2019, followed throughout the year by a national rollout of strains like Houseplant Hybrid and Houseplant Indica.”
In New Hampshire marijuana legalization measures passed through the House Ways and Means Committee in a 14-6 vote. The legislation will now go back to the House floor for another vote. If it passes, it will move on to the Senate for consideration.
The bill calls for the development of a regulated and taxed market and would allow adults 21 and older to grow their own marijuana. The measure would also clear prior convictions for possessing or growing cannabis. Gov. Chris Sununu has stated his intention to veto the bill. However, there might be enough support in the legislature to override a veto.
More than 20 House lawmakers in Alabama are co-sponsoring House Bill 243 to allow residents with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana. Currently, Leni’s Law gives medical patients a defense against unlawful possession of CBD oil if the person has a debilitating medical condition. The new bill would apply to people with at least 32 conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV. The bill also establishes the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to administer a patient registry system and regulate the growing and dispensing of cannabis in the state.
A Michigan state commission has suggested the state not set a legal THC limit for driving with marijuana in the system. Under current Michigan law, any amount of THC in the blood can be evidence for DUI. The Impaired Driving Safety Commission, which spent two years studying how pot affects drivers, says it found levels of THC in a person's blood are not a "reliable indicator" of whether they are impaired and recommended the state continue to use roadside sobriety tests to determine a drivers sobriety levels.