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Election 2020: Montana cannabis legalization guide

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Montana’s Initiative 190

Read the full proposal here: Montana’s Initiative 190 (adult-use legalization)

Montana’s Constitutional Initiative 118

Read the full proposal here: Montana’s Constitutional Amendment 118 (allowing the state legislature to set a legal age of 21 for the purchase and possession of cannabis)

Medical or adult use?

Adult use

What Initiative 190 would do

Montana’s Initiative 190 would legalize recreational marijuana in Montana, “establish a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales,” and tax it at a rate of 20%.

What Constitutional Initiative 118 would do

Montana’s Constitutional Initiative 118 (CI-118) sets the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana at 21.

Why are two initiatives necessary?

I-190 and CI-118 are not opposing or competing initiatives. They work in tandem.

Amendment 118 is a necessary partner to Initiative 190. I-190 legalizes the purchase of cannabis for all adults, but the Montana Constitution defines “adult” as an individual 18 years or older. To let state regulators to set a legal minimum age of 21 for cannabis, CI-118 would allow the establishment of a legal age of purchase by either the state legislature or via a voter initiative.

What the latest polls say

54% of Montanans support legalization, while 37% are opposed (University of Montana Big Sky Poll, Feb. 2020).

Legalization initiative sponsors

Legalization initiative opponents

  • No one has officially filed as an opponent, but Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and Attorney General Tim Fox are both opposed to legalization.

Would cannabis stores be licensed?

Yes, by the Montana Department of Revenue, the agency that would be assigned to regulate legal cannabis sales statewide.

There are no limitations on the number of licenses contained in the two initiatives, but there’s also nothing that would prohibit the state legislature and/or regulatory agency from establishing limits on the number of licenses issued.

For the first year of the adult-use program, currently licensed Montana medical marijuana providers would be first in line for recreational retail licenses.

Would marijuana be taxed?

Yes, there would be a 20% excise tax at the point of retail purchase.

Medical marijuana is currently taxed at 4%. Montana does not have a general retail sales tax.

5 things to know about Montana’s I-190 and CI-118

  • 10.5% of the retail cannabis tax revenue goes to the state general fund, with the remaining 89.5% dedicated to accounts for conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, healthcare costs, and localities where marijuana is sold.
  • I-190 prohibits an adult-use store from advertising the prices of their products—or to solicit business—via its own website.
  • The state adult-use cannabis regulatory program (via the Department of Revenue) must begin accepting and issuing licenses by October 1, 2021.
  • An individual currently sentenced on charges “permitted by I-190” may apply for resentencing or an expungement. Individuals who have already completed such a sentence can petition to have their records expunged, or have their convictions redesignated as a misdemeanor.
  • Homegrow of “four mature marijuana plants and four seedlings” is permitted under the initiative.

Current cannabis law in Montana

Montana first enacted its medical marijuana program in 2004. Since then, the program has largely existed in a state of flux and chaos. Earlier this year, the state finally ended its “tethering” policy, which prohibited patients from purchasing from more than one licensed medical marijuana provider.

As of July 2020, there were roughly 33,000 registered patients in the state and about 235 dispensaries.

Despite the long-established legality of medical marijuana, non-patients still face draconian consequences for possession. A first offense for 60g (a little over two ounces) or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense can land you in jail for 3 years. Possession of more than 60g is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail or a $50,000 fine. Selling or cultivating non-medical cannabis is also a felony in Montana.

The state’s USDA-approved program for hemp production will be implemented on November 1, 2020.

Quotes from advocates

  • “We’re facing the greatest recession of our lives. In Montana we don’t have a sales tax. We have an increasing population, decreasing natural resource revenue. There was a [shortfall] in the budget before the coronavirus. What other source of revenue are they gonna have?…We have an evolved populace that knows it’s not the devil’s lettuce, especially after being exposed to Montana’s medical marijuana market. Now it’s an essential item. That speaks to the change in the conversation we’ve been having since the coronavirus.” Pepper Petersen, Political Director, New Approach Montana
  • “Many, including veterans in our state, are still unable to access [the] medical marijuana program because of federal rules governing the VA. Furthermore, we believe no adult should be treated as a criminal for responsibly consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. We also support taxing marijuana sales to provide funding for health care, education, infrastructure, and conservation.” New Approach Montana website

Quotes from opponents

  • “When you take somebody’s life on the roadway because you’re under the influence of anything, that is a homicide. You are killing someone else. If we increase the number of people that are driving impaired on the roads in the state of Montana, we are going to increase homicide.” Sgt. Kurt Sager, Montana Highway Patrol (speaking of a previous legalization bill)
  • “I personally believe marijuana is a gateway drug…Heaven forbid we ever have recreational use.”Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

Read more about Montana on Leafly:

Source: https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/election-2020-montanas-marijuana-weed-legalization-initiatives

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Current Research on Effect Specific Uses of Cannabis

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New research regarding the benefits of cannabis and its main properties of CBD and THC continues to emerge as more countries and states legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana. Also, because of legalization, the business potential of the cannabis industry continues to grow. Cannabis companies can now distribute to a broader range of people. However, there is more to cannabis than different strains (Indica or Sativa) or the ratio of CBD to THC. Another essential cannabinoid is terpenes, and they play a critical role in the effectiveness of cannabis.

A Perfect High

As the cannabis industry continues to enter the mainstream sphere, it must determine how to market to the mass consumer who expects their cannabis product to be consistent in quality and give off the desired effect. Consumers search for a product that provides a more tailored experience and a more controlled high. Like how the consumer can pick their alcohol to achieve desired effects, cannabis companies and scientists research ways to deliver a custom product. Before a consumer buys a product, they need to know if the product’s cost matches the quality of the experience.

THC causes impairment, slower reaction time, and difficulty performing simple tasks. Consumers want to control their level of buzz. Just like there is a wide variety of alcohol, each with its flavors, and proof, that allows a consumer to have their own unique experience. Cannabis companies strive to achieve a range of products that can mimic the desired effect, from calming to energetic or happy. Consumers also want to test how their body responds to these products to make the most informed decision about what is right for their needs and works best for them.

Ultimately, scientists continue to learn about the importance of terpenes and CBD to modify THC’s effects. The largest cannabis companies and their teams of scientists keep their research under wraps for competitive reasons. Every company wants to be the first to produce a controlled, tailored product. Whoever discovers this first will have an advantage within the cannabis industry.

The Entourage Effect

Cannabis companies and scientists ultimately want to achieve a way to tame THC, a term first introduced by scientist Ethan Russo in 2011. They estimate the cannabis industry will grow as large as the alcohol industry and generate billions of dollars in revenue a year, but only if they can manufacture a product that consistently delivers. In 1998, scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat discovered the entourage effect, or the combination of THC, the psychoactive component, CBD (cannabidiol), an active non-psychoactive ingredient, and terpenes, the flavor and taste profile of each strain. All three elements have a unique effect on the body, depending on each ingredient’s ratio and combination.

However, with just the cannabis plant, it is hard to replicate the same feeling and its effects on the body since each plant, grown from different marijuana seeds, has its unique properties. Scientists continue to try and isolate these components to learn better ways to use them as a controlled substance. Also known as whole plant synergy, the main ingredients THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids are also essential to unlock the health benefits of cannabis and how to use each ingredient to treat chronic pain and diseases better.

Evidence shows that cannabinoids boost other cannabinoids; for example, THC enhances CBD’s medicinal properties, while CBD modifies and controls the effects of Eagle Moon High THC Seeds, producing a more controlled high. Each cannabinoid is more effective together, which is why THC alone or CBD only products derived from hemp are less potent and effective. There are also other minor cannabinoids at play, such as CBG or CBN, that scientists continue to research. Emerging research also suggests the possibility of two different types of entourage effects: Intra-entourage refers to the interactions of cannabinoids and terpenes and inter-entourage, which relates to the interactions between terpenes to terpenes and cannabinoids to cannabinoids. However, research slowly begins to unearth the role terpenes play in the entourage effect and its full potential.

Terpenes and Future Potential

Cannabis consumers are more sophisticated than society’s perpetuated stereotype of the stoner or hippie. Consumers want to know about the benefits and properties of cannabis, such as Indica versus Sativa, and THC versus CBD. While they may be more familiar with these terms, terpenes are a newly discussed topic amongst cannabis circles, and consumers and scientists alike want to unlock terpene’s full potential. Scientists describe terpenes as the flavor profile in all plants but specifically provide each cannabis strain with its taste and smell.

Researchers today understand that the properties of terpenes go beyond just flavor, smell, and stimulating moods, but modulating brain activity that can have potential health benefits. CBD and THC have higher potency together, and the same is true that terpenes, along with other cannabinoids, work better together and have a more substantial impact. Terpenes and cannabinoids can increase blood flow, enhance motor and sensory functions, and eliminate respiratory bacteria that cause MRSA. The terpenes and cannabinoid attribute to the effectiveness of marijuana or cannabis products in the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, and even fungal and bacterial infections.

 

Companies define the use of cannabis for medicinal or holistic reasons, by the strain or CBD to THC ratio. However, new research suggests that the terpene profile may be one of the most critical elements in the effectiveness of the strain and its intended use. As the cannabis industry and scientists compete to unlock the potential of terpenes and its connection to THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, consumers will gain access to a marijuana experience unlike anything before.

 

AUTHOR BIO:
Crystal Wilson. Crystal has been closely studying the cannabis industry trends for quite some time. Intrigued by the booming growth of this sector, she takes interest in penning down her views providing quality insight on current marijuana trends, particularly medical cannabis.

 

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Jay-Z announces new line of cannabis products dubbed Monogram

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Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z is launching his own cannabis brand in partnership with Caliva, the California-based weed company that hired the star as its chief brand strategist last year. 

Named Monogram, Jay-Z’s line of marijuana products launched its website and social media accounts on Friday.

“Monogram marks a new chapter in cannabis defined by dignity, care and consistency. It is a collective effort to bring you the best, and a humble pursuit to discover what the best truly means,” Monogram’s website highlights.

No further information on the specific products that will be sold under the Monogram brand has been released yet. 

However, according to the website, the flower used in Monogram’s products is grown in small batches, with a board of “cannabis experts” tasked with grading and hand-selecting each flower that goes into the line. 

The New York rapper joined Caliva in 2019 as a brand strategist, which entailed overseeing the creative direction of the company. Furthermore, Jay was focused on Caliva’s social equity efforts as he aimed to increase economic participation of people disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition in the newly legal industry. 

As for when consumers can expect to try Jay-Z new products, a spokesperson told the New York Daily News Monogram still hasn’t set its dispensary release schedule. The line will “definitely be available across all of California,” according to the spokesperson.

In other news, basketball star Shawn Kemp who played for the Seattle SuperSonics is also showing his love of pot. Kemp is set to open Seattle’s first black-owned marijuana dispensary this Friday. The Sonics legend named his dispensary Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis and is hoping to serve as a model for others in the black community who might be interested in foraying into the legal marijuana business in the area. 

“I’m looking forward to welcoming Sonics fans on a regular basis, starting with opening day. I hope that Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis will be an inspiration for people to get involved with the legal cannabis industry, especially people of color,” the Reign Man said in a press release. 

Source: https://greencamp.com/jay-z-announces-new-line-of-cannabis-products-dubbed-monogram/

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Analysis: Legal weed in Texas would generate over $500 million in tax revenue per year

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Legalizing marijuana in Texas could generate over half a billion dollars in tax revenue per year and create more than 40,000 new jobs, according to the results of a report released by Vicente Sederberg LLP earlier this month. 

Legal cannabis sales in Texas would reach about $2.7 billion annually based on the fact that there are more than 1.5 million residents over the age of 21 that consume pot on a monthly basis, the analysis calculated. 

The estimated tax revenue was calculated under the assumption Texas would tax marijuana sales at the same rate as Colorado at 20.6%. This would amount to $1.1 billion in taxes per biennium, while Texas could collect an additional $10 million per year through the issuing of marijuana business licenses.

The report notes Colorado has raised nearly $13 million on average per year just from license and application fees. Furthermore, the report indicated that current taxpayer dollars that go towards marijuana arrests and prosecutions amount to $311 million per year – money that Texas would save should it legalize pot.  

“States across the country are seeing the benefits of legalizing and regulating cannabis. It is inspiring lawmakers in prohibition states to reexamine the efficacy and costs of their current policies and take a closer look at the alternatives,” said Shawn Hauser, a partner at Vicente Sederberg.

“The goal of this report is to provide a snapshot of the economic benefits Texas would experience if it started treating cannabis more like alcohol for adults 21 years of age and older,” he commented on the new report

Aside from the tax revenue that legal weed in Texas could generate, the report highlighted marijuana’s job creation potential. An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 new jobs would be available in the newly legal industry, with tens of thousands of additional indirect positions, the report estimated.  

Hauser also pointed out the added economic benefits of legalization in Texas given current uncertainties provoked by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Texas is leaving an enormous amount of money on the table by keeping cannabis illegal,” according to him. 

Texas was once known for having the strictest drug laws in the U.S., but the state has softened its stance on cannabis in recent years. A very limited medical marijuana program was established in 2015, while, more recently, cannabis possession arrests in the state have been significantly declining after hemp became legal.   

Source: https://greencamp.com/analysis-legal-weed-in-texas-would-generate-over-500-million-in-tax-revenue-per-year/

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