Weed news worth knowing

by DGO Staff

Wondering what’s going on in the wide world of weed (news)? Well, we’ve got answers for you. From a program that encourages you to intentionally get stoned with the fuzz to weed vending machines, here’s what’s happening with cannabis right now.

Bad boys, bad boys… what you gonna do (smoke weed with the cops for some crazy reason)?

Driving while stoned is a modern-day conundrum for law enforcement, and with the legalization of cannabis in a ton of states, police officers are grappling with how to balance keeping roads safe from drivers who’ve got some ganja in their systems.
And in Montgomery County, Maryland, the police department has come up with an unusual solution: invite volunteers to get high, and then see if they’re too stoned to drive. That’s right, cops are literally driving around in their cruisers, picking up pot smokers and bringing them to a tent outside the training academy to get lit. And, of course, there are plenty of snacks on hand – bags of Chee-tos, bottles of water, and pizza galore.

Once they’re nice and stoned, the volunteers are put through a series of impairment tests to see if they’re too high to get behind the wheel. Unlike drunk driving, where breathalyzers and blood-alcohol tests can easily quantify impairment, it’s much harder to tell if someone is too high to drive.

But the cops in Montgomery County aren’t the only ones struggling to find a solution. In Virginia, officials are considering roadside screening devices that use oral fluid tests to detect marijuana intoxication. In New York, where recreational cannabis was legalized in 2021, officials are scrambling to find a way to determine if someone is too stoned to drive.

It’s a challenging issue for law enforcement everywhere, but at least the cops in Montgomery County are making the most of it. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, one recent session lasted nearly four hours, with multiple
“consumption sessions” and impairment evaluations. And in case you’re wondering – no, none of the volunteers are allowed to drive home. They’re all driven back to their homes by the cops who brought them there in the first place. Who said law enforcement can’t be fun?

Senate passes a weed research bill. Is this real life?

Breaking news, folks! The US Senate has given the green light to investigate cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans. That’s right, you heard it here first. The bipartisan bill was proposed by Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester and co-sponsored by Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Talk about unlikely allies, eh?

If the bill passes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would conduct a large-scale study evaluating the safety and efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD and chronic pain. They’ll be exploring the potential positive and negative health outcomes, including whether marijuana use reduces the use of alcohol or opiates. Plus, they’ll be investigating other aspects of medicinal cannabis use, such as sleep quality, pain intensity, agitation, and overall quality of life. After the study is complete, the VA will report back to Congress on the results and the feasibility of conducting clinical trials.

Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Jon Tester, said that the bill will give military veterans new choices to manage their health care.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve options when it comes to treating the wounds of war, which is why VA needs to have a better understanding of how medicinal cannabis plays a role in their healing,” he said. “Our bipartisan bill ensures VA is listening to the growing number of veterans who find critical relief from alternative treatments like medicinal cannabis, while working to empower veterans in making safe and informed decisions about their health.”

This is a huge milestone in cannabis policy reform, as it’s the first time
a veterans cannabis research bill has advanced in the upper chamber of Congress. If approved by the VA, clinical trials will be conducted with participants using cannabis products from federally licensed producers and compared with a control group.

Medical marijuana and cannabis policy reform advocates are hailing this as a significant step forward in the movement to end the prohibition of weed in the United States. And let’s not forget about the brave men and women in uniform who suffer from unseen wounds of war as a result of their sacrifices on behalf of our country.

“We owe it to these courageous service members, past and present, to explore and better understand new remedies for these mental health challenges that are safe and effective, treatments that could give our suffering veterans hope,” said Senator Sullivan. Let’s hope this bill passes and our veterans get the help they deserve.

More questions on delta

The DEA has declared that delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO are officially not considered hemp and are therefore controlled substances. In other words, these synthetic compounds aren’t found naturally in cannabis and can only be made in a lab, so the DEA has decided to keep a close eye on them.

This statement comes after Rod Kight of Kight Law Office PC sent a letter last August requesting the status of THC acetate ester (THCO) under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It took them a few months to respond, but Terrence L. Boos, Chief Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Diversion Control Division, finally penned the response.

He made it clear that the CSA only recognizes “tetrahydrocannabinols” (aka THC) that are naturally contained in a cannabis plant or synthetic equivalents. Since delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO aren’t naturally occurring in cannabis, they fall outside the definition of hemp.

While this news doesn’t clarify the legal status of all hemp-derived cannabinoids, it does clarify the status of delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO. Michelle Bodian, a Partner at Vicente Sederberg, said that this could lead to a patchwork of laws, regulations, policies, and now, letter statements.

State legislators have been forced to create their own rules regarding delta products, with New York banning delta-8 products last May and Ohio creating new rules to govern delta-8 products in June. A new law in Michigan limited the sale of delta-8 products to only licensed cannabis businesses. Meanwhile, Texas removed delta-8 from its list of Schedule I substances.

But it’s not just state legislators who are concerned. The FDA has sent out warning letters to businesses selling delta-8 products, and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong recently announced that his office was suing five retailers selling cannabis without a license, specifically in relation to delta-8 THC.

In short, it seems like everyone is trying to figure out how to handle delta products, but for now, the DEA has made its stance clear: delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO are definitely on their radar.

Weed vending is a thing now

The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, just gave a big thumbs up to the state’s new marijuana vending machine! That’s right, this magical machine can package, label, and dispense weed products to adults in just 50 seconds. It’s like a candy vending machine, but instead of Skittles, you get some dank buds!

The vending machine, dubbed the Automated Cannabis Experience, was unveiled at a Terrapin Care Station retailer in Aurora, and Governor Polis was quick to tweet about it. He called it the first fully automated cannabis kiosk in the world! It even has a triple check to make sure only eligible customers can purchase cannabis, so bring your ID, folks!

It’s perfect for those who know exactly what they want to buy and want to avoid small talk with budtenders. This also frees up the budtenders to focus on customers who need more assistance, which is a win-win situation. Plus, the machine is programmed in several languages to cater to a wide range of customers. So, whether you speak English, Spanish, or even High Klingon, you’ll be able to get your fix.

Some people are worried that this kind of automation could lead to fewer job opportunities in the cannabis industry, but if you think about it, that may not be the case. Retail staff are actually much more likely to have time to assist shoppers who are seeking in-depth consultations if there’s a vending machine on site, since customers who know what they want can utilize that machine, which will help free up the budtenders’ time.

In other words, the vending machine is here to streamline efficiency at dispensaries and make our lives easier, not take our weed jobs.

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