In what has been described as a historic moment, the US House of Representatives has voted to approve the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3617).
The MORE Act passed with a vote of 220 to 204, but will still need to be approved in the Senate to be passed into law. The vote is just the second time in 50 years that the classification of cannabis has been reconsidered in the country.
Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act’s list of scheduled substances and would remove criminal penalties for individuals manufacturing, distributing, or possessing the plant. It would also impose an excise tax on cannabis products produced in or imported into the United States and an occupational tax on cannabis production facilities and export warehouses.
A recent Congressional Budget Office report highlights that passing the Act would increase revenues, on net, by about $8.1bn over the 2022 to 2031 period.
Senior member of the Judiciary Committee, Congressman Steve Cohen, voted in favour of the Act, stating: “It’s no secret that the war on drugs failed… Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol… Congress has been out of step on this issue.
“It’s called ‘cultural lag.’ We’re finally coming around to re-scheduling it from Schedule 1, where it’s in a class with heroin and methamphetamines, which is absurd… We must re-schedule marijuana. We must decriminalise it at the federal level.
“Now is the time to do some remedies to federal marijuana laws. This is an historic time. Let’s move forward and do the right thing.”
To undo harms on society from the war on drugs, the Act would establish a trust fund for services and programmes to help those impacted, and establish a process to expunge past cannabis convictions, among other initiatives.
The Congressional Budget Office report highlights that passing the Act would release thousands of current inmates earlier than under current law, stating it estimates: “that over the 2022-2031 period, H.R. 3617 would reduce time served by current and future inmates by 37,000 person-years.”
American Civil Liberties Union senior policy counsel, Aamra Ahmad, stated: “We applaud the House for today’s passage of the MORE Act. For over 50 years, the failed war on drugs has deepened racial injustice, shattered neighbourhoods, and decimated communities. Though marijuana use is roughly equal among Black and white people, Black people are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
“Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have already legalised marijuana, yet extreme racial disparities persist and communities of colour have not benefited from legalisation, despite being targeted by the war on drugs.
“The MORE Act will tackle racial disparities head-on by decriminalising marijuana at the federal level, expunging marijuana convictions, and reducing sentences. Federal decriminalisation will give states the freedom to regulate marijuana and implement reforms — it is the right way to legalise marijuana.
“Now that the House has taken this significant step, we will fight in the Senate to pass legislation that decriminalises marijuana and implements criminal and social justice reforms that will aid communities that were most impacted by criminalisation.”
Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, which has been working to move the Act forward since its inception, stated: “For over half a century, marijuana prohibition has stood as the cornerstone of the cruel and inhumane drug war that has robbed millions of people of their freedom and their livelihoods.
“The weight of which has disproportionately fallen on the backs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities – who remain its number one target. They’ve been denied jobs, housing, educational opportunities and far more. They’ve had their families torn apart. Others have lost their immigration status. And our communities have suffered gravely as a result.
“But today, thanks to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer’s leadership in scheduling the MORE Act for a floor vote, we have hope that the days of this continued oppression are numbered. We urge their House colleagues to vote in favour of this bill and swiftly pass it to ensure our communities are not put on the backburner and made to wait a moment more for long-overdue justice.”
Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe
#LegaliseitEP is focusing on human rights-based cannabis policy – “it is a matter of freedom”.
The group, made up of MEPs from five different parties, has formed to facilitate discussions around amending policy for the personal use of cannabis in Europe.
As countries such as Malta, Germany and Luxembourg have announced progressive amendments to cannabis policy, the informal interest group is supporting human rights-based policies for the personal use of cannabis.
The group is made up of the MEPs Luke Flanagan of Ireland, The Left; Mikuláš Peksa of the Czech Republic, Greens; Monica Semedo of Luxembourg, Renew; Cyrus Engerer of Malta, S&D; and, Dorian Rookmaker of The Netherlands, ECR.
In an open letter to 705 members of the European Parliament, the group states that Member States should have the autonomy to create cannabis policy that reflects the needs and specificities of their society.
As well as encouraging the MEPs to join the group, the open letter also calls for more information sharing between Member States regarding recreational cannabis and for fact-based discussion on cannabis, which the group says has been subject to misinformation for a long time.
The letter states: “Due to outdated and unpredictable patchwork of legislation, citizens across the EU are often finding themselves being forced to turn to the black market or even worse, imprisoned for being in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not reflect the level of freedom we have come to expect from living in Europe.
“We cannot deny that with new legislation coming forward within EU Member States, we are likely to find ourselves facing repercussions at an EU level. As MEPs, we want to build on this momentum and create a cross-party interest group within the European Parliament, where we will share best practices, talk to experts, organise hearings and conferences, as well as debate the situation of personal use of cannabis within the Union.”
Monica Semendo, of Luxembourg’s Renew, stated: “I am in favour of the legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products because it is a matter of freedom.
“It’s a matter of one’s own choice. And if someone decides to consume cannabis, they should have access to a safe product.
“We have to focus on transparent information, education programmes and risk reduction, especially for young adults.”
Cyrus Engerer of Malta’s S&D, stated: “People should have the right to take autonomous informed decisions about their lives, including whether or not they use cannabis.
“Let’s talk basics. No one should go to jail over a joint. And now for some real talk – many people still are.
“Where I come from – Malta – we are the first European country to fully legalise cannabis use Germany, and Luxembourg will soon follow it. It’s time that we talk about cannabis and our personal freedoms and rights.”
Hear what the founding members of #LegaliseitEP have to say about why they’ve decided to launch a cross party @Europarl_EN interest group on #Cannabis & #CannabisLegalisation @lukeming @RookmakerDorien @MonicaSemedoLux @vonpecka @engerer pic.twitter.com/b20NDFOAmg
— Legalise It EP (@LegaliseIt_EP) July 14, 2022
Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany
The company is preparing for the potential legalisation of adult-use cannabis in Germany.
Greenrise Global Brands has welcomed recent developments in Germany as it awaits guidelines from the German Government in the coming months.
Germany’s “traffic light” coalition made plans to legalise recreational cannabis official in November 2021 with the publication of its agreement.
The coalition, which includes the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and The Greens, agreed to legalise the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for “pleasure purposes”. With a focus on health-oriented cannabis policy, the development aims to move consumers away from the black market, control quality of products and ensure the protection of minors.
This year, five hearings are planned throughout to discuss the legislative process on the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes, with the first meeting being held in June, at the Federal Ministry of Health.
The Federal Government is anticipated to submit a draft law to Parliament (Bundestag) by the end of 2022.
Greenrise Global, which has a wholly-owned medical cannabis subsidiary, AMP Alternative Medical Products GmbH that imports EU-GMP medical cannabis from within the European Union and elsewhere and has well-established relationships with pharmacies and clinics across Germany, has welcomed the development.
Supporter of the health benefits of cannabis and a keystone shareholder and director of Greenrise, as well as co-founder of CannaCare Health, Frank Otto, commented: “The consultation process shows that Germany is no longer talking about whether to legalise adult-use, but how.
“We also believe that there will be a domino effect as European countries are watching very closely as Europe’s largest economy joins Canada and California in legalising cannabis for adult use.”
AMP Alternative Medical Products has reported that preliminary unaudited sales for first half year 2022 increased 14 per cent to €268,479 compared to sales of €236,399 during the first half year of 2021.
Greenrise acquired 51 per cent of CannaCare, which sells CBD wellness products through traditional retail channels in Germany and German-speaking markets in Europe, at the beginning of Q2. The company has reported that preliminary Q2 unaudited sales for CannaCare increased 187 per cent to €474,000 compared to Q1 2022 sales of €165,000.
Managing director of AMP and director of Greenrise, Dr Stefan Feuerstein, said: “The exceptional sales growth from CannaCare during the second quarter confirms our strategy of investing in CBD in addition to medical cannabis as we prepare for the potential legalisation of adult-use in Germany.
“We look forward to the government providing guidelines in the coming months, which will provide certainty on how and when to position our businesses.
“We expect pharmacies to play a significant role and are preparing our pharmacy customers for the possibility of selling adult-use products as well as soon as legislation is in effect. We also realigned our medical cannabis business by streamlining our medical sales team, offering more pharmaceutical cannabis products to doctors to prescribe and are preparing to import high-THC flowers from several European cultivators.”
CFO of CannaCare, Dr Tilman Spangenberg, commented: “Greenrise’s investment allowed CannaCare to launch its CBD products in three leading German drugstore chains, which dramatically increased sales in a very short period of time.
“We expect the full impact of this sales channel to unfold in the third as well as fourth quarter. Our priorities for the remainder of this year are to grow CannaCare’s sales and operating cash flow positive by introducing new sales channels and adding additional drugstore chains.”
Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force
The Swiss government announced in June that rules for medical cannabis will be simplified.
Today, 1 August 2022, Switzerland’s amendments to its Narcotics Act come into force, which will allow patients in the country easier access to medical cannabis.
Switzerland has now joined a number of countries across Europe that are enabling patient access to cannabis by removing its ban on the medicine.
Previously, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) required exceptional approval for use of medical cannabis. This reduced patient access to cannabis as administrative processing was unable to keep up with the demand from potential patients.
The use of medical cannabis will now be subject to regular control measures. The defined limit of at least 1.0% total THC content remains unchanged.
Under the new amendments, medical prescriptions will no longer require an exceptional permit from the FOPH. Cannabis will be reallocated from Switzerland’s Narcotics List Ordinance list from List d, which is prohibited narcotics, to List a, which is all substances subject to control measures), along with preparations such as extracts, resins, oils and tinctures.
Dronabinol and THC will now also be included List a “provided there is an intended medical purpose”.
The new amendment enables doctors to make the decision on whether a patient requires a medical cannabis prescription, speeding up the process of accessing the medicine for patients.
The medicine will now enter Switzerland’s pharmaceutical system and controlled by the health authority SwissMedic, which will be taking over the role of the country’s Cannabis Agency for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
Under the amendments, there will be a two-stage authorisation procedure, which will require an establishment licence and an individual licence for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
SwissMedic has stated that the handling of cannabis for non-medical purposes continues to be generally prohibited and will continue to require an exemption from the FOPH.
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