OH Legal Weed Initiative Early Voting Starts, CA Psychedelic Research Initiative, More... (10/10/23)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
Politics & Advocacy

The Canadian government issued a report on five years of marijuana legalization, medical marijuana is now one vote away in the Ukrainian parliament, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Early Voting for Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative Begins. Early voting for the marijuana legalization initiative that will appear on the ballot as Issue 2 began on Wednesday. Election day is November 7.

Sponsored by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the initiative would allow people 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. The initiative also allows for the home cultivation of six plants per adult, with a limit of 12 per household.

The initiative would also create a new state agency called  the Division of Cannabis Control, which would have the authority to "license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed," according to the text of the measure. Cannabis products would carry a 10 percent tax, which would be dedicated to administrative costs of marijuana regulation, substance misuse treatment programs and a social equity and jobs program.

A Fallon Research poll last month had support for the initiative at 59 percent.


California Psychedelic Research Initiative Begins Signature-Gathering. Signature-gathering has gotten underway for the TREAT California Act, an initiative that would authorize the state to spend $5 billion to create a state agency focused on advancing research and development of psychedelic therapies.

The initiative would not decriminalize or legalize any substance, but would create a state constitutional right to conduct research using all psychedelic substances except peyote. It would create a state agency called the Treatment, Research, Education, Access, and Therapies (TREAT) Institute. The institute would identify opportunities for advancing scientific research and development into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

"It’s clear we are in a mental healthcare crisis, as conventional therapies too often fail to offer relief for people suffering from PTSD, suicide, and depression, and the effects are simply catastrophic," Jeannie Fontana, CEO of the TREAT California campaign, said in a statement. "We have a moral imperative to address the limitations inherent in our current system, and it’s time we got started."

The initiative will need to come up with 874,161 valid voter signature by next July to qualify for the November 2024 ballot.


Canadian Report Finds Legal Marijuana Industry Struggling. Health Canada has released the "What We Heard Report" on the state of the marijuana industry five years after legalization. The report found that weed companies are finding it difficult to turn a profit because of high taxes, mark-ups, and the costs of regulatory compliance.

The review was mandated by the bill that legalized marijuana and was conducted by an expert panel, which is charged with advising the Health Ministry on how well legalization has met the laws objectives, including protecting the health and safety of Canadians, as well as identifying areas where the law needed to be improved.

"Public health stakeholders insisted that the focus of the regime should be on reducing harms associated with consumption, high-potency products, higher-risk product formats, polysubstance use (that is, the consumption of at least two substances), cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, driving after cannabis use, and cannabis poisonings of children," the panel wrote in the report.

"Public health stakeholders were generally supportive of the precautionary approach—including the 10-milligram delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limit for edible cannabis products and restrictions on promotion of these products. There were some suggestions that further restrictions should be considered such as stricter age limits on who can possess, distribute, and buy cannabis, setting minimum pricing retailers can charge, and restrictions on selling flavored products."

The illicit market remains an issue but a diminishing one, the panel found.

"While not a direct measure of access, the growth in legal sales—and the decline in illicit sales—indicates that consumers are migrating to legal suppliers," the panel wrote. "Estimates of legal market share vary, but suggest that more than half, and up to as much as three-quarters, of cannabis is being obtained from legal sources (for example, in 2022, a survey found 63 percent of cannabis users always or mostly accessed legal sources, another observed cannabis consumers bought 82 percent of the cannabis they used from legal sources, and 68 percent of household spending on non-medical cannabis was attributed to legal sources)."

The panel wrote that it "heard a great deal about the economic condition of the legal cannabis market," and that industry representatives "expressed concern in that companies in the legal market are struggling to realize profits and maintain financial viability.

"A main message from industry representatives was that, despite the growth of the legal cannabis market, companies across the supply chain are struggling to realize profits and maintain financial viability," the panel wrote in the report.

"Specifically, they noted that the hyper-competitive cannabis market for producers and retailers, combined with the various regulatory fees, distributor mark-ups and fees, and taxes are stifling companies of all sizes. Some noted that other industries, such as alcohol and tobacco, are not subject to federal regulatory fees and that they pay less mark-ups and taxes (for example, beer). Some stakeholders proposed that Health Canada move towards an ‘à la carte’ model for regulatory fees (that is, transactional fees for specific services) and remove the annual regulatory fee. Others felt that the government should adopt a progressive excise tax framework, whereby the tax rate is connected to the size of the firm or the price of the product. Others suggested adjusting the tax rate to 10% for dried cannabis, as opposed to the current model of $1 or 10% per gram, whichever is greater."

Ukraine Medical Marijuana Bill Wins Parliamentary Committee Vote. The parliament's National Health, Medical Care, and Health Insurance Committee approved the government-supported medical marijuana bill on Tuesday, clearing the way for a final vote in the unicameral legislative body, the Verkhovna Rada.

The bill would create a national medical marijuana program to provide access to patients with conditions such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from war—a proposed reform that comes as Ukraine continues to experience violent conflict after Russian invaded the country last year.

"We did everything [so that] patients could get their medicine as soon as possible," said MP Olga Stefanyshyna. "So far medical cannabis has not entered in the history of Ukraine. Waiting for the 2nd reading, we believe it will work this time!"

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