Know Your Herbs

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

New Jersey Lawmakers File Bill Expanding Cannabis Data Collection for Cops

A New Jersey government official wants to keep track of your entire relationship with cannabis in an effort to tackle stoned driving, the New Jersey Monitor reports. Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D) wants to create a division tasked with compiling data, such as information on any arrests made for driving under the influence where cannabis is present, through use or possession, in addition to other marijuana-related arrests, dismissals, convictions, cannabis seized, and even adjudications of cannabis charges.

The reality of the dangers of driving with cannabis in one’s system is hotly debated. U.S. lawmakers are scurrying to find a way to solve the issue, whether they’re getting people stoned (and even giving them munchies) to research high driving or working on tech to scan your eyeballs, they really, really want to find a way to identify (and prosecute) anyone driving under the influence of cannabis. Never mind the fact that weed legalization in Canada is not linked to an increase in car crashes. 

Speight was inspired to tackle the problem in her home state after visiting Colorado, the first state to have legal recreational weed, in the summer of 2022 and observing how the state deals with motorists driving under the influence of cannabis. “I don’t know if they have the correct guidance on how to charge without overstepping,” Speight said. Colorado has an office under the state’s criminal justice division that monitors and logs any cannabis offenses, yet New Jersey has no similar centralized database. “When I saw what they were doing over there, I started thinking about how that would be good for our state,” she said. “I like the fact that they have a certain division handling and keeping track of these cases.”

So, New Jersey residents, you can get mad at Colorado for inspiring your state to step up its vigor regarding cannabis-related driving arrests. Speight aims to create the division to help the police know under what circumstances they can arrest someone. This means the state government will be collecting more information about its citizens, which will be presented annually to the governor and Legislature, and include any recommendations for improvements.

The bill, introduced earlier this month (sponsored by Sen. Vin Gopal (D) in the Senate), would additionally create a “public awareness campaign” about cannabis and driving. It’s currently referred to both chambers’ law and public safety committees.

In New Jersey, recreational cannabis is legal for adults 21 and over. You can possess up to six ounces. If you are caught with more than that, the cops can’t arrest you but can issue a summons. Additionally, they can’t search your car without a warrant just because they think they smell weed smoke. If a cop does overreach and investigate cannabis use for anyone under 21, they can be charged with deprivation of civil rights for knowingly violating the cannabis law’s requirements. They then face up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. 

As a result, Speight says that she’s “troubled” by incidents where New Jersey police don’t know what to do. Many officers take a more hands-off approach to avoid getting in trouble due to the current law, and the proposed data collection-based division aims to tackle this. While the existing rules sound favorable to anyone who enjoys pot, it’s confusing police, who, without a current, accurate cannabis version of the breathalyzer, have a hard time figuring out if someone is driving stoned or not. 

“All of this gets complicated to me, but I don’t think it should be ignored. It should be addressed,” Speight adds, noting she hopes to work with both cannabis advocates and law enforcement on the bill.

The post New Jersey Lawmakers File Bill Expanding Cannabis Data Collection for Cops appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Cannabis Odor Enough To Justify Search

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this week that the scent of cannabis alone constitutes probable cause to justify a search by police, despite the legalization of other products such as hemp that have similar odors. The court’s conservative majority ruled in a 4-3 decision that police officers in Marshfield, Wisconsin, had enough probable cause to search a defendant after detecting the smell of cannabis in the car he was driving and declined to exclude evidence discovered during the warrantless search. The ruling overturns two lower court rulings that found the evidence gained in the search was inadmissible because officers could not be certain if they smelled marijuana, which is still illegal under Wisconsin state law, and hemp, an agricultural crop that was legalized by the federal government with the 2018 Farm Bill.

The court handed down the decision on Tuesday in the case of Quaheem Moore, a man who was pulled over for speeding in Marshfield by two police officers in 2019. In their report, the officers state that while talking to Moore, they detected a strong odor of burnt cannabis emanating from the vehicle. When questioned about the odor, Moore told the officers that he had a CBD vaping device and noted that the vehicle was a car that had been rented by his brother. 

Although they admitted that they did detect the odor of marijuana on Moore, the officers cited the scent of cannabis coming from the car as cause to search the vehicle and Moore. The officers stated that during the search, they noted that Moore’s belt buckle appeared to be askew and upon looking closer, discovered a bulge in his pants. After closer examination, the officers discovered a hidden pocket inside the zipper of Moore’s pants, where they discovered packets of fentanyl and cocaine.

Police then arrested Moore and charged him with possession of narcotics, although he was not charged with possession of marijuana. Moore’s lawyers argued that because the police officers did not smell marijuana on Moore and because of the legality of CBD and hemp, which has an odor indistinguishable from marijuana, the police officers did not have probable cause for the search. Thus, the drugs found in the search should be excluded from evidence.

A circuit court judge and an appeals court agreed and ruled that the evidence discovered in the search was not admissible. Prosecutors appealed the rulings, saying the lower courts erred when they ruled the evidence inadmissible for trial.

Decision Overrules Lower Courts in Wisconsin

The Supreme Court disagreed with the previous rulings, overruling the lower court decisions and deciding the evidence gained in the search could be used in court. In a majority opinion written by Justice Brian Hagedorn, the court’s conservative majority found that because Moore was the only person in the vehicle, the police could reasonably assume that he “was probably connected with the illegal substance the officers identified.”

The decision relied on a 1999 Supreme Court decision that found police could arrest a driver because they connected him to the odor of cannabis in the car he was driving. That ruling said that the “unmistakable” scent of a controlled substance was evidence that a crime had been committed.

But the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal minority questioned the 1999 ruling and its relevance to Moore’s case, saying that the police officers did not have strong evidence that the cannabis odor was coming from Moore. They also noted that the earlier ruling is outdated and does not take into account the subsequent legalization of hemp and CBD. 

“Officers who believe they smell marijuana coming from a vehicle may just as likely be smelling raw or smoked hemp, which is not criminal activity,” Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet wrote in a dissenting opinion that was joined by two additional justices.

After Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling was released, Moore’s attorney, Joshua Hargrove, warned that the decision could allow law enforcement offices to justify searches based on unreliable conclusions without being held accountable in court.

“This opinion could subject more citizens engaged in lawful behavior to arrest,” he said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press.

The post Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Cannabis Odor Enough To Justify Search appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

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