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National News - October 2019




Massive Black Market Cart Bust in
Minnesota

76,972 THC carts have been seized in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, along with $23,000 in counterfeit money.  Reported to have a street value of approximately $4 million, the effort is being hailed as a record bust.


The news comes after the death of an elderly woman, who vaped marijuana for back pain, died in August, as reported by the Minnesota Department of Health.  She is considered the state’s first black market THC cartridge fatality.  This follows a national trend of deaths and illnesses being linked to marijuana vape.

Their primary concern, however, is not THC.  Fatalities are linked to black market carts due to the various unknown substances that may or may not be safe to ingest.  In the words of Brian Marquart, a Minnesota Department of Public Safety official, “We have no idea what is in these cartridges.”

Minnesota officials suspect the vape carts originated from out of state.



Federal Marijuana Banking 
Bill Clears First Hurdle

The Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (H.R. 1595) passed in a bipartisan vote at the House, making it the first standalone marijuana reform bill to ever make it through a chamber of Congress.  

With nearly all Democrats and 91 Republicans on board, the measure reached two thirds majority with a 321-103 vote.  If made into law the act will protect financial institutions and ancillary firms who work with cannabis related businesses, and has the full support of a number of national banking groups including the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, and the Credit Union National Association.

With only 33 senators in sponsorship, the Senate version of the bill has yet to leave committee.  Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho, R), stated he planned to draft a measure on marijuana banking by years end, but warned that it may not be the same one that has been introduced.  It is also uncertain as to whether or not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be willing to bring up the measure.



Pick-Your-Own Hemp 
Farm Opens in Maine

Sheepscot General Farm in Whitefield, Maine, began by planting roughly 7,000 plants on a 3 acre section of their farm after the federal legalization of hemp.  After having the plants tested by the state’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to ensure they did not exceed the 0.3 percent THC threshold required by law, Maine residents can now ‘pick-their-own’ plant.

“We always wanted to do a pick-your-own, like we do with strawberries.  But this has gotten a lot more attention than strawberries, that’s for sure.  It was a great crop to grow, easy to do, but it’s not a crop I’d want to harvest by myself.  It’s time consuming.  But these people, they’re thrilled to pick,” said Ben Marcus.  He and co-owner Taryn Marcus believe, if processed correctly, each plant should hold about 15 to 20 percent CBD.






Massachusettes Passes 
Round of Cannabis Reforms

Three key changes to Massachusettes marijuana laws came recently after a unanimous vote.  These reforms seek to expand and improve the recreational and medicinal programs that currently exist, being touted by some members as a way to bolster public health and safety, promote access to and participation in the industry, and to support small business in Massachusettes.

The most noticeable of the changes are a diversion of patient fees to licensing fees.  The state levied a $50 annual fee for medical use patients, which will now be waived.  Budget shortfalls will be made up by increases to licensing costs for large cultivators and retailers.

The reforms also pave the way for adult-use and home delivery establishments, licensing for which will be exclusively available to social equity and economic empowerment applicants for the first two years.


Gov. Tom Wolf Calls for
Adult-Use in Pennsylvania

Returning from a ‘listening’ tour of all 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has formally called on state lawmakers to craft legalization legislation.  Finding that the majority, or near majority of citizens supported full legalization he stated it was “time to take a serious and honest look” at legalizing marijuana.

Wolf also found vast support for the expungement of low level and non-violent cannabis crimes from records. The official report, written by lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, states. “People see economic potential, saying the state would save money on prosecution and incarceration of cannabis-related offenses.  Residents who commented said regulated sales could create jobs.  They specified that income generated should be used for infrastructure, education, and property tax relief.”


Of note were shared concerns regarding an increase in driving under the influence, and cannabis’s role as a ‘gateway drug’.  The survey also found that most did not support ‘candy-like edibles’ due to their potential appeal to children.

Fetterman reports receiving 10,275 comments during the tour, and 44,407 total responses including tour comments, webform submissions, emails, phone calls, and faxes.

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