What’s up with the weed news this month?

by DGO Staff

South Dakota sucks (for medical cannabis patients)

If you’re looking for medical marijuana in South Dakota, your choices are very, very limited. This state only has one medical cannabis dispensary, and while that should be enough to deter you from your (pointless) mission, now customers are inexplicably getting busted for pot at said dispensary.

The Argus Leader reported in January that “officials with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe said that more than 100 people who’ve been issued tribal medical marijuana identification cards have been arrested since the tribe opened South Dakota’s first-ever cannabis store last year.”

The tribe opened the medical dispensary on July 1, 2021, right when the new South Dakota law officially took effect. There were no other dispensaries that opened on that official start date, however, which created a gray area between the state and tribe.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and her administration have said in the past that the state would not recognize medical cannabis cards issued to individuals
who are not members of the tribe — and considering the new arrests that have been occurring, this remains true.

According to the Argus Leader, “the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has issued about 8,000 medical marijuana cards to tribal and non-tribal members,” and
“although several county- and city-level law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys have eased up on arrests and prosecutions for possession of small amounts of marijuana all together, others, like the Flandreau Police Department are not honoring some tribal-issued medical cards.”

“They’re taking the cards and handing out fines,” Tony Reider, chairman of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, said. “But most we don’t know about, because most people are just paying the fines.”

The new arrests are just another blemish on South Dakota’s cannabis record, which has been full of negative marks since 2020, when voters passed a pair of measures to dramatically reform the state’s marijuana laws.

During the 2020 election cycle, voters in South Dakota approved both a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational pot and a measure that allowed for medicinal cannabis. However, the medical law is the only surviving amendment from that election cycle, as the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled late last year that the recreational amendment was unconstitutional because it violated the state’s “one subject” requirement for constitutional amendments.

Chief Justice Steven Jensen ruled that Amendment A featured “provisions embracing at least three separate subjects, each with distinct objects or purposes,” noting that the state constitution “not only includes a single subject requirement but also directs proponents of a constitutional amendment to prepare an amendment so that the different subjects can be voted on separately.”

The South Dakota Supreme Court decision upheld a lower court’s ruling from earlier in the year. The earlier case predicated on the state’s governor and law enforcement officials challenged the legality of the amendment.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” Gov. Noem said in a statement following the South Dakota Supreme Court ruling. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020.
That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”

According to local news outlets, the ruling means that South Dakota taxpayers will be stuck paying for the $142,000 in legal costs associated with the recreational pot challenge. on the other hand, reportedly believes these costs should be shouldered by the advocates behind the recreational amendment.
Millions and millions of stars (err, hemp dollars)

When it comes to hemp, the profit possibilities are apparently endless. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced earlier this month the true value of America’s hemp market — and the numbers are pretty darn shocking.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service received permission from the White House in July 2021 to conduct a survey of about 20,000 hemp farmers to help judge the industry’s size and demographics.

On February 17, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the results of the 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey in its
National Hemp Report. The survey collected various information for hemp grown “in the open” and hemp grown “under protection,” including the total planted and harvested area, yield, production, and value.

According to the survey report, hemp grown for flower is much more valuable than hemp grown for industrial purposes. Production levels are down for hemp, though, compared to 2018 — which is almost certainly due, at least in part, to the fact that more states are legalizing cannabis, which would lower the demand for smokable hemp flower.

NASS provided the following highlights of the report — divided up by hemp grown in the open versus hemp grown under protection.

— Floral hemp production in 2021 was estimated at 19.7 million pounds; utilized production totaled 15.7 million pounds. — Area harvested for floral hemp
was estimated at 15,980 acres.

— The average yield for floral hemp was estimated at 1,235 pounds per acre.

— The value of floral hemp totaled $623 million.

— Hemp grown for grain totaled 4.37 million pounds; utilized production totaled 3.96 million pounds.

— Area harvested for hemp grown for grain was estimated at 8,255 acres.

— The average yield for hemp grown for grain was estimated at 530 pounds per acre.

— The value of hemp for grain totaled $5.99 million. — Hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 33.2 million pounds; utilized production totaled 27.6 million pounds.

— Area harvested for hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 12,690 acres.

— The average yield for hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 2,620 pounds per acre.

— The value of hemp grown for fiber totaled $41.4 million.

— Production of hemp grown for seed was estimated at 1.86 million pounds; utilized production totaled 1.68 million pounds.

— Area harvested for hemp grown for seed was estimated at 3,515 acres.

— The average yield for hemp grown for seed was estimated at 530 pounds per acre.

— The value of hemp grown for seed totaled $41.5 million.

Broken down by utilization, U.S. totals for hemp grown under protection in 2021 were:

— Production of hemp for transplants and clones totaled 20.2 million plants; utilized production totaled 18.0 million plants. — The value of hemp grown
under protection for transplants and clones totaled $23.8 million.

— Production of floral hemp was estimated at 310,421 pounds; utilized production totaled 256,124 pounds. The value of floral hemp totaled $64.4 million.

— Hemp grown for seed totaled 4,059 pounds; utilized production totaled 3,121 pounds. The value of hemp grown for seed totaled $23.7 million.

Other notable survey tidbits include:

— The (perhaps unsurprising) fact that hemp producers in the U.S. are predominantly male (82%).

— The survey also found that 52% of respondents reported that farming is their primary occupation

— meaning only about half of them can sustain their livelihoods without a side hustle.

— Industrial hemp growers planted 54,152 total acres for all purposes, and 33,480 acres of those were harvested.

— U.S. hemp production in the open was valued at $712 million in total.

— Production of hemp that was grown under protection in the United States was valued at $112 million.

— The total area of hemp fields under protection totaled 15.6 million square feet.

— Hemp grown for flower was most valuable versus other industrial purposes— worth $623 million (of $712 million) in the open and $64.4 million (of $112 million) under protection.

The governor, provides a needed benchmark about hemp production to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors, and other key industry entities,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Not only will these data guide USDA agencies in their support of domestic hemp production, the results can also help inform producers’ decisions about growing, harvesting, and selling hemp as well as the type of hemp they decide to produce. The survey results may also impact policy decisions about the hemp industry.”

“The USDA has done a terrific job of responding to farmer concerns, but there are certain issues that have to be changed in the law to reduce the burdens on U.S. farmers,” Jonathan Miller, General Counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable told High Times.

For more information, you can access the full report on the NASS website at nass.usda.gov. Hemp data is also available in NASS’s online Quick Stats database.

Ohio’s hope for a legal market

Cannabis advocates have been pushing for legalization in Ohio for what feels like an eternity, but thus far, weed remains illegal in the state. As with Texas’ ban on smokable hemp, though, that could change in the near future.

A proposal by activists to legalize cannabis in Ohio has officially garnered more than 200,000 signatures, which means that the proposal is heading to the legislature to be considered within the next few months.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the proposal “would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of
concentrates,” and that they “could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.”

Cannabis products “would be taxed 10%, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity and jobs program,” according to the newspaper.

The activist group behind the push to legalize cannabis in Ohio is the “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.”

“Marijuana legalization is an issue whose time has come in Ohio. According to recent polling, Ohioans are not only in favor of legalizing marijuana for regulated adult-use, they view it as inevitable,” the coalition says on its website. “We hope that Ohio’s leaders seize this opportunity to take control of our future. Support for a regulatory and taxation system is critical in order to set Ohio up for success should we see changes at the federal level.”

The group says its campaign is “an effort to encourage Ohio legislators to regulate marijuana for adult-use, just like we do for alcohol,” and to advance a proposal that would fix “a broken system while ensuring local control, keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and benefiting everyone.”

But before lawmakers can weigh the coalition’s bill, the petition will have to go to the secretary of state for verification. Once the verification is done, “lawmakers will have four months to act on the legislation,” according to a recent report from the Columbus Dispatch.

Should lawmakers fail to pass the bill or an amended version, “supporters can collect another 132,887 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot for the next general election.”

This is not the first time that an Ohio advocacy group has campaigned lawmakers to legalize cannabis in the state. Advocacy group ResponsibleOhio waged another legalization campaign in 2015 — but the push was unsuccessful.

If this current bill succeeds, it will mean big things for cannabis in Ohio. The proposal would not only legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 and over in Ohio, but would also grandfather the state’s medical cannabis businesses into the newly created recreational market.

That would be excellent timing, as Ohio’s medical cannabis program could already be on the cusp of a significant overhaul. The Ohio State Senate passed a bill earlier in 2021 that would make the first changes to the medical cannabis program since its inception five years ago.

Uber Eats takes things green

Things are leveling up for Uber Eats customers — at least in Ontario, Canada, anyway.

As of late November, Uber Eats users in Ontario have a new option when ordering pick-up items, and unlike the other options on the menu, this one is green, green, green.

Yep, you guessed it. It’s weed! Uber Eats added weed!

Adding weed to the menu is a big step for the food ordering marketplace, which has traditionally limited the menu offerings to things like burgers and pizza.
And, from what we can tell, it looks like it will be a pretty easy fix for Ontario residents (Ontarians? Ontario- ans? We don’t know.)

Here’s how it will work:

Right now, there is one retail partner on board — Canadian cannabis retailer Tokyo Smoke — which has dozens of stores throughout Ontario. So while the options are limited to Tokyo Smoke for now, there should be multiple locations to choose from. And, multiple products, considering that Tokyo Smoke is a pretty gosh darn big chain of dispensaries, eh? (Get it, eh? Canadian? Sorry. We’re just jealous of this new development.)

Weed orders will be placed through the Uber Eats app — just like any other order would be — and will be fulfilled within an hour of order placement, which is pretty darn quick.

And, as you may have gathered, the only option for order fulfillment is pickup; there is no Uber Eats delivery of weed. Not right now, anyway. Meghan
Casserly, Uber Eats‘ head of communications for delivery, confirmed to The Verge that there would be no delivery.

So you’ll have to head out and pick it up at the location you choose. But that’s a small price to pay for the convenience of ordering, right? Right.

So, this is great for Ontario, but what about the rest of Canada? Or the U.S.?

Reuters asked an Uber Eats spokesperson about the possibility of expanding the service into other Canadian provinces, or the U.S., and were told that there “nothing more to share at this time.”

Given that response, it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan to expand the Uber Eats weed ordering to other markets yet.


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