Know Your Herbs

Three States in Australia Push for Adult-Use Cannabis

Leaders in three state parliaments in Australia—Victoria, NSW, and Western Australia—introduced draft laws simultaneously on June 20 to push for adult-use cannabis. 

Cannabis remains illegal under federal law in Australia, though a growing number of city and state governments have legalized recreational cannabis use, thus creating a checkerboard of cannabis laws. Sound familiar to what is seen in the U.S.?

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne, Legalise Cannabis NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham, and Legalise Cannabis WA MP Dr Brian Walker introduced the three-pronged bill in their respective parliaments, which would end cannabis prohibition in those states.

The “Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis Bill 2023” would allow adults who are lawfully in possession of cannabis to gift it to another adult in those jurisdictions. It would only allow people 18 and older to access it and would make no changes to the crime of selling cannabis.

The proposed legislation would allow adults to possess and grow small quantities of cannabis at home, and it is similar to Australian Capital Territory (ACT)’s bill that came into effect in 2020.

Landmark measures were passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly, clearing the way for individuals aged 18 and over to possess and grow cannabis beginning on Jan. 31, 2020. ACT was the first state or territory in the country to legalize cannabis for adult use. Others followed.

Legalise Cannabis Australia was formerly the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party. Its policies focus around the re-legalization of cannabis for personal, medicinal, and industrial uses in Australia.

Legalise Cannabis MPs React

Several Legalise Cannabis MPs applauded the announcement of the bill and said they are simply doing what their constituents want.

Victorian Legalise Cannabis MP David Ettershank told ABC Radio Melbourne the people in Australia agree the time is now to reform cannabis laws. “The majority of Victorians support the regulation of cannabis, and a huge number of Victorians … regularly consume cannabis,” he said.

Legalise Cannabis Party NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham, who is a former Greens MP, said it was the nation’s first coordinated attempt to legalize cannabis.

“The Bill … will allow households to grow up to six plants, for that cannabis to be (gifted and) shared, and for the trade in seeds,” Buckingham said

“We already have the Greens and Liberal Democrats supporting our move … and now it’s time for Labor to move in WA, Victoria, NSW and nationally,” he said.

The Guardian reports that it’s the first united push between the three state governments.

Rachel Payne, a Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP, said the bill would put the state governments on the “the right side of history when it comes to cannabis law reform.”

What Adult Use Cannabis Could Bring to Australia

Legalizing marijuana could be a major economic boon in Australia.

Western Australia in particular could be reaping the benefits of legal cannabis sales, according to a new study.

ABC Radio Perth reports that the study, from researchers associated with the University of Western Australia, found that cannabis legalization could bring $243.5 million per year in the first five years to Western Australia. 

For the time being, cannabis remains illegal in Australia, with penalties varying from state to state. In Western Australia, according to the Guardian, “[f]ines range from $2,000 to $20,000 and up to two years in prison,” but for “possession up to 10g police [law enforcement] can use discretion to order the person to a counselling session (one for adults, two for children).”

The new law being presented in three additional states could help to change that.

The post Three States in Australia Push for Adult-Use Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

Colombia Senate Rejects Cannabis Legalization Bill

On June 20, the Senate in Colombia officially rejected a measure that would have allowed recreational cannabis sales. With a 43 to 47 vote, the bill failed to pass with the necessary 54 votes that would have enabled it to pass through its eighth and final debate.

According to Sen. Juan Carlos Losada, the progress seen with this bill is not the end of discussions for adult-use legalization. “I don’t consider this a defeat; we have taken a giant step, four years of putting such a controversial issue at the top of the public agenda, of the public debate,” Losada said. “Continuing to leave a substance that is legal in the hands of the drug traffickers and drug dealers is detrimental to the children of Colombia and detrimental to the country’s democracy.”

A report from La Prensa Latina explained that the eighth debate initially began on June 15, but Senate President Alexander Lopez adjourned the session due to a “verbal confrontation” between Sen. Inti Asprilla (a supporter of the bill) and Sen. Jota Pe Hernandez (who opposed it). Debates resumed again on June 19 but the vote was delayed again due to lack of senators present. The vote was then held on June 20, just before the end of the legislative session.

Former President Álvaro Uribe passed Legislative Act (no. 2) in 2009, which altered Article 49 of the constitution. Under “Drugs, alcohol, and illegal substances,” it states that “The possession and the consumption of narcotic and psychoactive drugs is prohibited, except for medical prescription.” 

Since the passage of that constitutional amendment, multiple attempts have been made to expand cannabis access and pass legalization. In order to modify the Colombia constitution, a bill must pass in four debates in the Senate and four debates in the House of Representatives. After that, the bill would proceed to the president’s desk.

However, since the cannabis legalization bill did not pass in this debate, legislators will have to start over in the next attempt. This is the first time that a cannabis legalization initiative has reached the eighth session of debate.

Supporters of legalization expressed their excitement as the possibility of legalization grew. In May, the Chamber of Representatives passed the bill for its sixth debate. Rep. Losada Tweeted about the event. “#HISTÓRICO Approved with 98 votes our project of #CannabisDeUsoAdulto in 6th debate. Today @CamaraColombia It shows that we are a country that wants to change the failed prohibitionist drug policy to one based on prevention and public health,” Lasada wrote.

Earlier this month on June 6, the Senate passed the bill for its seventh debate. 

Following the bill rejection during the eighth debate, Losada wrote on Twitter that the effort is far from over. “We are sad, but convinced that we gave it our all to the end. We never thought to go that far,” he said. “Today we have majorities, 7 votes were missing. We have been in this fight for 4 years and we will not give up to write a new history in the fight against drugs. Thank you!”

Other supporters such as Sen. María José Pizarro also remain optimistic. “We will remain firm in defending the regulation of #CannabisDeUsoAdulto due to convictions; because the communities of our country have a different opportunity to violence and a job in legality. So that children and youth are not at the mercy of the mafias and jíbaros Colombia, we are going to put ourselves at the forefront #EsHoraDeRegular . @JuanKarloslos gracias!” Pizzaro wrote on Twitter.

In 2016, Colombia legalized medical cannabis production, sale, and export. In July 2021, former Colombia President Ivan Duque approved efforts for legal sales and global export of dried cannabis flower.

The post Colombia Senate Rejects Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

Kentucky House Passes Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

The Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis, only one week after the proposal was advanced by a key legislative committee. The measure, House Bill 136, was passed by the House with a vote of 59-34 and will now head to the state Senate for consideration. A similar bill was passed by the House in 2020 but failed to gain a hearing in the state legislature’s upper chamber.

Under the measure from Republican Representative Jason Nemes, patients with one or more specified medical conditions including any type of cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea would be able to receive a recommendation to use cannabis medicinally. The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to govern medical cannabis cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing laboratories.

On March 10, House Bill 136 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15-1. In a hearing prior to the vote, Nemes said that the measure would help sick people. He also noted that he is not in favor of legalizing recreational pot and was once opposed to legalizing medical cannabis. But after talking to patients and experts, he has changed his stance on the matter.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes told the members of the committee. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

Bill Passed After Emotional Debate

Prior to Thursday’s vote, members of the House discussed the bill in a sometimes emotional debate. Representative Al Gentry, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that he has personal experience with patients who have successfully used cannabis medicinally.

“I know real people that had their lives turned around by these products, and a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like they’re a criminal,” he said, as quoted by the McDowell News.

“Please, let’s pass this and allow some people to move on and live a happy life,” Gentry added.

The bill would establish four types of regulated medical weed businesses including cannabis farmers, processors, dispensaries, and safety testers. During Thursday’s debate, Nemes stressed to his colleagues that the legislation would create a new local economy for the Bluegrass State, saying the venture would be “Kentucky grown, Kentucky processed, Kentucky tested.”

Opponents of the bill expressed fears that permitting medical cannabis in Kentucky will lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis and public health problems, with some referencing the thoroughly debunked “gateway drug” theory. Republican Representative Chris Fugate took hyperbolic reefer madness to a new level, saying that the “common denominator of 99.9 percent of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana.”

“I didn’t come to Frankfort for liquor, for gambling, or for marijuana,” Fugate added. “I came here to stand against it.”

“We are asking as a body to go on emotion rather than a legal standpoint,” said Representative Matt Lockett, who voted against the bill. “Our federal government has said that marijuana is against the law.”

Bill Gets Support of Key Senator

Earlier this month, House Bill 136 gained the support of Senator Whitney Westerfield, the Senate Judiciary Committee chair. Although he expressed concerns over the possible recreational use of cannabis by young people, Westerfield said in a social media post that he would support the legislation.

“I also have concerns about the precedent we’re setting by ignoring federal law,” Westerfield wrote in a statement on Twitter. “However, I’ve heard too many stories, in my district and out, from those long suffering and their loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought comfort and relief when nothing else worked.”

Nemes told reporters that receiving Westerfield’s support improves the bill’s chances of getting a vote from the full Senate.

“It will go over to the Senate, it will be assigned to his committee and when you have the chairman in support that’s massive and so that’s why Whitney’s support is a game-changer,” Nemes said.

Unlike the last time the Kentucky House approved a medical pot legalization bill, House Bill 136 is expected to be scheduled for a hearing in the state Senate with Westerfield on board. Nemes is hopeful the measure will fare better this year.

“I don’t know what the numbers are exactly in the Senate, but I have been meeting with senators one on one and I feel really strong about the chances when we go over to the Senate,” Nemes said earlier this month.

If the bill is successful in the Kentucky Senate, it will head to the desk of Republican Governor Andy Beshear, who has expressed support for medical cannabis legalization.

The post Kentucky House Passes Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes