Wondering what’s going on in the world of weed? Literally? Good news for you — we have updates on all of the changing laws, regulations, and research happening with cannabis across the globe.
Here’s what you need to know this month. Here’s to outlawing delta-8 products… again Sorry Texas, but your love of weed has once again become a problem for your lawmakers and governing agencies.
While delta-8 products were recently found on the shelves in head shops and CBD stores across Texas, that is unfortunately no longer the case. In mid-October, the Texas Legislature outlawed the possession of the delta-8 THC, a synthetic cannabinoid created from the hemp plant.
What that means for Texans who were using Delta-8 as a replacement is that they will no longer have legal access to things like delta-8 gummies, cartridges, or tinctures. This surprising move took place nearly three years after federal legislation removed delta-8 THC from the nation’s list of controlled substances — and nearly two years after delta-8 was thought to have been made legal in Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 legalizing any hemp product with less than 0.3 percent THC.
But now Texas health officials have added the controversial cannabinoid to its own list of illegal drugs. And, even more surprising? It made delta-8 a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it sits alongside drugs like heroin and LSD in a category reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use. This move sent a proverbial shockwave through the CBD retail industry in Texas, as many of these retailers had relied on Abbott’s House Bill 1325 to sell delta-8 products to customers looking for a legal route to ingest cannabinoids.
These products have now been wiped from most CBD retailer shelves in the Lone Star State, and any retailer that continues to sell delta-8 products could be in hot water with the Texas Department of State Health Services — and could even potentially lose their licenses over the issue. “DSHS can take enforcement action against licensees who sell consumable hemp products containing controlled substances. DSHS doesn’t regulate possession of controlled substances,” a DSHS spokesperson said earlier this month.
Looks like Texans will have to start heading back to the legal states to stock up on delta-8 products if they want to get their hands on any. But if you’re one of the many Texas whose supply just dried up, you may not want to head to Colorado in search of these types of products. Colorado has also banned delta-8 products entirely, so while you can get your good ol’ fashioned weed here, you can’t get that synthetic stuff you’re used to.
Restrictive scheduling questioned head honchos We all know it’s ridiculous that cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 drug — hello, fellow Schedule 1 drug heroin — but it’s become so freaking obvious that now even the federal agencies are weighing in. In fact, they’re not just weighing in. They’re pointing out to Congress that the scheduling is making it incredibly difficult to research the plant.
Per a recent Marijuana Moment article, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) told Congress in a report that the Schedule I status of controlled substances like cannabis is preventing or discouraging research into their potential risks and benefits. That’s huge, given the overall federal mindset regarding cannabis. The report also said that current Schedule 1 restrictions — which are supposed to keep drugs with no medical use out of the hands of researchers — are blocking scientists from studying the actual cannabinoid products that consumers can purchase at dispensaries. In turn, they state that the issue creates a public health concern.
“Researchers have reported that obtaining a new registration can take more than a year, that modifying a registration can also be time consuming, and that differing interpretations of the Schedule I registration requirements among local DEA field offices, research institutions, as well as distinct federal and state registration requirements, greatly complicate the process,” the federal agency told lawmakers.
“These challenges can impede critical research on Schedule I substances and deter or prevent scientists from pursuing such work.” It added that “an overarching concern expressed by researchers is a lack of transparency regarding registration requirements for Schedule I and Schedule II-V substances, and differing interpretations of those requirements by DEA field agents and research institutions.” In the report, NIDA listed a series of issues that scientists have raised about Schedule I research barriers. These include: – When a drug is classified in Schedule I, that can result in “unexpected delays in ongoing research.” – Researchers who need to change course in a study of a Schedule I substance— including something seemingly minor like adjusting the quantity being used—must re-register with DEA, causing further delays. – At one point in recent history, just one person in a team of investigators needed to be registered with the DEA. That must have changed at some point, as researchers told the NIDA that all members of the team require separate registration. –
The DEA in some cases has required researchers to obtain multiple registrations for every physical site at which they carry out studies into Schedule I drugs, even if all the research is contained to a single campus. – The severely restricted access to different formulations and doses of Schedule I drugs has also caused issues, per the report, including confusion over whether a separate and more expensive manufacturing registration is needed for researchers whose studies require, for example, dissolving marijuana extracts in ethanol or oil before they can be used.
Whether or not these arguments from a top federal agency will be enough to push Congress into taking action on the scheduling of cannabis remains to be seen. But, if history is an indicator, nothing will happen, despite the rational arguments by a freaking federal agency about the ridiculous drug scheduling limitations.
Floridians can legally order weed online again The courts have finally ruled in the favor of medical marijuana patients in Florida, who were, until very recently, unable to order their legal cannabis through online platforms. But, a late October decision by Judge Suzanne Van Wyk ruled that Leafly and similar sites will be able to resume working with Florida medical marijuana businesses to provide online ordering of cannabis to patients who qualify under Florida’s medical marijuana laws. That’s a pretty big win for cannabis patients in this state, who had been blocked by Florida health officials earlier this year from using Leafly and other third-party sites to order cannabis. The health officials created the barrier under the guise that the arrangements with these platforms violated a state law banning operators from contracting for services “directly related to the cultivation, processing and dispensing” of cannabis.
“Contracting with Leafly.com, or any other third-party website, for services directly related to dispensing is a violation of this provision,” then-Department of Health Chief of Staff Courtney Coppola wrote in the February memo.
But, it looks like online ordering is now back in action in Florida, at least for the moment. Whether or not that most recent ruling in favor of online ordering in Florida will stick is the real question — but for now, it’s a step in the right direction. Free weed samples go bye-bye in NY If you were hoping to snag some free weed samples in New York, we have some bad news for you. In late October, the head of the state’s Cannabis Control Board declared that giving out weed for free — which includes things like businesses giving away marijuana as a promotion for T-shirt purchases — is breaking the law. And, if that weren’t disappointing enough for cannabis connoisseurs, there’s more.
Former state Assembly member Tremaine Wright, who chairs the regulatory body for New York’s newborn marijuana industry, addressed the issue, stating that the common practice is not legal and anyone offering these types of promotions could be in deep, well, trouble. “There is no gray market in New York state,” Wright said. “This conduct is not legal and must stop. Individuals who do not cease run the risk of severe financial penalties.”
It’s unclear what exactly Wright meant by severe financial penalties — or what laws they would be levied under. The issue stems from the state’s recreational cannabis law, which allows adults in the state of New York to give each other up to 3 ounces of cannabis without money being exchanged. This has led to some businesses offering “free” weed to customers in exchange for purchases of other items.
One example was that of a New York business offering a free eighth of weed to customers who purchased $65 T-shirts. This type of marijuana “gifting” is running rampant in the state, and is especially common in CBD and smoke shops. It appears that some of these businesses are trying to get a head start on New York state’s legal cannabis industry. Marijuana was recently legalized in the state, but the market won’t be open for business until the rules regarding regulations and licensing are ironed out. But for now, one rule is clear:
You can’t give away a bunch of weed in New York as a promotion for overpriced T-shirts — not according to Wright, anyway. Billions and billions of stars, err, dollars The Illinois cannabis industry wants to be a billionaire, so freaking bad… Wait, that’s not right. The cannabis industry is a billionaire. Well, sort of. The legal recreational cannabis market continues to hold steady in the state of Illinois — so steady, in fact, that the total product sales for the year hit the $1 billion mark in September, which leaves a few more months to surpass that massive milestone.
According to Morgan Fox, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association, the headway made on the growth in the legal Illinois cannabis market is due largely to the push away from an unregulated market. In other words, as legal cannabis takes hold in the state, the illegal market loses profits. No surprise there, really.
“They’re concerned about things like safety as well as quality and convenience, not to mention making sure their money is going toward legitimate businesses that are acting responsibly,” Fox said. By legalizing cannabis in the state, lawmakers were hoping to tap a new revenue stream — and it looks like they’ve got it. Taxes on a whopping $1 billion in sales is no small chunk of change. “Every sale that takes place on the regulated market is a sale that doesn’t take place on the unregulated market, and that represents a significant change in the direction that that revenue is flowing,” Fox said.
Colorado already knew that, of course, but maybe some other tax-deprived states, like the ones that are busy spending tax dollars on prosecuting cannabis “crimes,” should take note. Panama is going green It’s been a long, winding, weird road, but Panama — yes, the country of Panama — is on track to become the first nation to regulate cannabis use in Central America. This new law — which stems from a bill approved by Panama’s National Legislative Assembly in August — will legalize the use of cannabis “for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes in the national territory,” according to the text approved in August.
The law will allow the import, export, cultivation, production and comercialization of cannabis and its derivatives through a series of licenses granted by the Panamanian state, which will be carried out in designated areas with limited access and under a control system with surveillance cameras. Finally, only pharmaceutical companies or companies specialized in therapeutic services will be able to acquire and commercialize it. And, the nation won’t have to wait long for it to happen.
The law is scheduled to be in effect in about three months’ time. “This measure comes to help hundreds of Panamanians who up to now have been unable to acquire this medicine in Panama”, said Leandro Ávila, official deputy of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (social democrat). The advocates who worked tirelessly to get this law passed sought to improve the quality of life of people with glaucoma, epilepsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, convulsions and different types of pain, including cancer. This is a huge win for not only Panama, but the entirety of Central America.
Legal cannabis should be accessible by anyone who needs it, and while this is but a small step for one country, it’s likely to help push other nations to follow suit.