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German Pot Legalization Now in Effect, DE MedMJ Expansion Bill Goes to Governor, More... (4/1/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on

A bill to decriminalize drug possession in Maine has been gutted in committee, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general wants Congress to crack down on intoxicating hemp products, and more.

This is no April Fool's joke: Marijuana is now legal in Germany. (Tom Angell/Marijuana Moment)
Medical Marijuana

Delaware Lawmakers Send Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill to Governor. After a final floor vote in the Senate, lawmakers have sent a medical marijuana expansion bill, House Bill 285, to the desk of Gov. John Carney (D). 

The bill would allow doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to any patient who could benefit from it whether or not they suffer from a state-specified qualifying condition. It would also allow people 65 and older to self-certify for medical marijuana without a doctor's recommendation. 

"These changes will allow healthcare providers to make sound decisions about which treatments best fit their patients, and make those treatments more readily accessible to people who need them the most," said bill sponsor Sen. Kyra Hoffner (D).


State Attorneys General Call for Clarity on Hemp Rules. In 2018, Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to include hemp legalization in that year's omnibus farm bill, but now, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general have sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate agriculture committees warning that hemp legalization has resulted in the inadvertent legalization of intoxicating products sold over the counter across the country.

"Because of the ambiguity created by the 2018 Farm Bill, a massive gray market worth an estimated $28 billion has exploded, forcing cannabis-equivalent products into our economies regardless of states’ intentions to legalize cannabis use," the attorneys general wrote.

Congress needs to address "the glaring vagueness" that has led to the explosion of intoxicating hemp products, the attorneys general said. 

"The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 seemed clear at the time in its intentions—reintroducing industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, while maintaining existing federal 1Intoxicating hemp products are produced, derived from hemp-created CBD. They can be available in forms that claim to be non-intoxicating hemp, while still containing tangible quantities of delta-8, delta-9, or other known intoxicating cannabinoids. Others are simply sold as intoxicants. All are products which both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration consider to be illegal, subject to the Federal Analogue Act if not for protections granted by the 2018 Farm Bill. prohibitions on cannabis products and their use," the attorneys general wrote

"Nevertheless, bad actors have exploited the 2018 Farm Bill’s definition of hemp, its protection of derivatives of that plant, and a wrongly perceived federal pre-emption against state-level regulation of these products. Regardless of your Committees’ intentions, the reality is that this law has unleashed on our states a flood of products that are nothing less than a more potent form of cannabis, often in candy form that is made attractive to youth and children—with staggering levels of potency, no regulation, no oversight, and a limited capability for our offices to rein them in," they added. 

The fix the attorneys general seek is for Congress to shut down the market in those intoxicating hemp products by including legislation in the next five-year farm bill to make the ban explicit. 

Drug Policy

Maine Lawmakers Gut Drug Decriminalization Bill, Turn It into Bill to Study Reform Instead. A bill that would have decriminalized drug possession in the state, LD 1975,  advanced in the legislature's Health and Human Services Committee last Thursday but only after being gutted with an amendment that stripped out the decriminalization language and replaced it with language that would instead merely create a task force to study the possible reform. 

As originally filed by Rep. Lydia Crafts (D), the bill would have decriminalized the possession of Schedule W, X, Y and Z drugs—the equivalent of Schedules I, II, and III under the federal Controlled Substances Act—and paraphernalia under state code. It also would have established a Substance Use, Health and Safety Fund under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But members of the committee successfully moved to strike those provisions during a work session. 

 "I would just like to say that I continue to stand very firmly behind my initial proposal, and I think that it’s important that the work we’re doing as a state continues to be framed through a public health lens," Crafts said. "I believe that this work is not finished through this task force, and there will be more to do in the future."

Even if the bill had advanced intact, it faced opposition from the GOP Senate leader, as well as Gov. Janet Mills (D), who said she opposed it. 


Even as German Marijuana Legalization Takes Effect, the Opposition Says It Will Undo It. German marijuana legalization went into effect Monday, with celebratory pot smoking at landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Cologne cathedral, but opposition politicians were determined to turn it into a bummer by declaring that if they took power, they would revoke it. 

"In our view, drugs policy, particularly with respect to protecting young people, is an issue of such central significance that we will revoke the legalization of cannabis in the event we take power," said lawmaker Thorsten Frei, secretary of the conservative coalition parties (CDU and CSU) parliamentary group. "In any possible coalition talks, [the rolling back of the legislation] will be a firm standpoint for us," Frei added. 

Germany's legalization allows people 18 and over to possess up to 25 grams for personal use and 50 grams at home, as well as allowing for the cultivation of up to three pot plants. There is no current provision for commercial sales, although a pilot program could be coming down the road, but people who cannot grow their own can join social clubs or co-operatives where they can share in the harvest of the group. 

Legalizing marijuana is not going to solve any problems, Frei said. 

"It's an illusion that the law allowing cultivation for personal use will drain the black market. It's not the case that every consumer will grow their own or join a so-called social club," he said. "If they are at all clever, drug dealers will now no longer have to fear prosecution," he said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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