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2021

Brexit blow to the cannabis seed industry

There have been several reports from within the UK cannabis community over the last few weeks that seed packages from European distributors and seed banks are arriving with their contents, phone number, and email address clearly visible on the outside of the package.

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The start of this year brought with it a continuation of the on-going global Covid-19 pandemic and a whole heap of new Brexit regulations and rules for the UK to try and understand.

There have been several reports from within the UK cannabis community over the last few weeks that seed packages from European distributors and seed banks are arriving with their contents, phone number, and email address clearly visible on the outside of the package.

The reason for the change is all to do with how Brexit is affecting importation rules. As the UK has now left the European Union market – the single largest trading block in the world. We no longer benefit from the free movement of goods within the EU. Consequently, goods imported to the UK now have to follow additional regulations including packaging, customs, and importation rules that mean that the contents must clearly be labeled on the invoice attached to the package.

A few wholesalers are reporting having packages seized at the border with one being told that “if you want your box you’ll have to go to court”. This has meant that several of the big seed banks have now announced that they will be stopping deliveries to the UK until the issue is resolved.

During my investigation for this blog, I was made aware of another potentially huge negative consequence of Brexit on the UK cannabis industry. Namely, changes to the rules that govern importing cannabis and hemp seeds.

The cannabis seed industry has been able to function in the UK for decades as seeds have been designated as ‘souvenirs’ and ‘collectibles’. It is the act of germination and cultivating the seed that breaks the law. This has given the cannabis seed industry a nice gray-area to operate and grow into a rather robust and profitable industry.

As the rules stand today, all plants or plant products (including seeds) that cross an international border must be accompanied by a valid Phytosanitary certificate. This is to ensure that they have been inspected and contain no pests or diseases. This inspection and sign off must be complete in the origin country within 14 days of importation.

It is not yet fully clear if these regulations will include cannabis seeds. I can however tell you that from the correspondences that I have seen from various companies to the Animal and Plant Health Authority (APHA) and other agencies – they do not have a clue what is going on.

Although there are many UK-based seed banks, they typically get their bulk wholesale seeds from European breeders and distributors in countries like Spain and Switzerland. This means that there may very well be seed shortages here in the UK this year.

Post-Brexit the UK has to decide how to regulate the commercial sale of cannabis seeds. It is clear from conversations that I have had with some seed companies that these regulations have not been considered by the British government when agreeing to the 11th-hour deal. This gives us the golden opportunity to design a framework that protects an industry that so many jobs are dependent on.

Freedom Seeds, a Portsmouth-based seed bank issued a public statement a few days ago stating that would have to cease giving away free seeds with orders. This is due to having a shipment of wholesale seeds seized by UK customs.

A UK seed company that I spoke to has been getting around this by getting their seeds imported with other goods that are the only thing declared on the invoice – which is possibly Illegal and highly unsustainable for a legitimate company.

Another method for procuring seeds post-Brexit could be to fly over to Europe and bring them back personally, however, this could incur additional taxes or import fees and still require a Phytosanitary certificate.

All this comes on the back of a multi-million Euro raid on POT SISTEMAK SL group, the organization that produces seeds for La Mota, Dinafem, and Humboldt seeds were hit by Operation Inxer-Toro. The Spanish Medicines Agency (AEDM) ordered the Guardia civil and the tax authority to conduct an operation to stop the company’s activities in the region – culminating in the raids last September.

We are not criminals. We buy seeds and we sell them. We have been doing this for 21 years. We are one of the most important seed banks in Spain and Europe and we distribute more than a hundred brands. We are obliged to be audited because we have a turnover of more than ten million euros and they have never taken anything out, we pay our taxes every year, we go to international fairs around the world whole to exhibit our seeds for 17 years… All we ask is justice” – One of the arrest managers at POT SISTEMAK SL Group

11 cannabis grow facilities are reported to of been dismantled as part of the operation. Along with the seizure of an estimated 20 million cannabis seeds that have an estimated value of 100 million Euros.

The combination of this raid and Brexit could prove to be fatal to some seed banks and breeders around the world that have relied on the up until now relaxed attitude of Spanish authorities to produce the seeds of many of the cultivars that have now become everyday household names.

Regardless of your politics, this new post-Brexit era that we find ourselves in is going to take quite some time to adjust to. So stock up on your favourite strain and start making friends with people that supply cuttings!

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

Image: By Denys Rudyi

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2021

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage dubbing it a ‘cultural embarrassment’

HEAVY rain and drought have contributed to Jamaica’s “worst ever” marijuana shortage – with locals calling it a “national embarrassment”.

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HEAVY rain and drought have contributed to Jamaica’s “worst ever” marijuana shortage – with locals calling it a “national embarrassment”.

Activists say they believe the Covid-19 pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana laws has led to a huge increase in local consumption. A brokerage firm for the island nation’s small but growing legal cannabis industry says a rise in usage during lockdown has led to supplies running low. The 2020 hurricane season and a devastating drought also caused tens of thousands of pounds in losses, according to farmers who cultivate cannabis outside the legal system – where a majority of people still buy the drug for cheap on the street. Chief opportunity explorer at Tacaya, Triston Thompson, also said Covid rules have also stopped farmers tending crops after they were ravaged by a bad season last year.

“Last year was the worst year. We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said.

“It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica. It’s a cultural embarrassment.”

In Jamaica the drug has been decriminalised in small amounts – vut much of the market remains illegal.

The governments Cannabis Licensing Authority – which has authorised 29 cultivators and issued 73 licenses – said there is no shortage of marijuana in the regulated industry. But farmers and activists say weed sold via legal “herb houses” is out of reach for many – because it costs five to 10 times more than pot on the street. This comes on top of a sharp decline in ganja-seeking tourists heading to the island in search of the drug.

Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said users are now not afraid of being prosecuted now the government allows possession of small amounts. He said the stigma associated with cannabis has diminished, with more people using the drug during the Covid-19 pandemic for its alleged therapeutic and medicinal benefits.mBurke also said that some traditional small farmers have stopped growing as they can’t afford to meet requirements for the legal market. Meanwhile, police are continuing to waste and destroy what Burke described as “good” ganja fields that are not included in the legal market.

This comes on top of a sharp decline in ganja-seeking tourists heading to the island in search of the drug.

Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said users are now not afraid of being prosecuted now the government allows possession of small amounts.

He said the stigma associated with cannabis has diminished, with more people using the drug during the Covid-19 pandemic for its alleged therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

Burke also said that some traditional small farmers have stopped growing as they can’t afford to meet requirements for the legal market.

Meanwhile, police are continuing to waste and destroy what Burke described as “good” ganja fields that are not included in the legal market.

Jamaica, which foreigners have long associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalised small amounts of the drug in 2015.

People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are liabel to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record.

The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke cannabis for sacramental purposes.

Source: The Sun

Image:

Shutterstock, Adobe Stock

By Michael

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1 step forward

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back, By Dario Sabaghi

The life of the light cannabis sector has never been smooth in Italy.

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The life of the light cannabis sector has never been smooth in Italy.

As well as the lack of regulation of the sale of light cannabis-based products, the political attacks against cannabis have put a dark shadow on the work of thousands of people involved in this field.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture reshuffled the deck on the uncertain situation of the industrial hemp-chain in September 2020 when it included light cannabis flowers for extraction within the official plants’ catalogue.

Such categorization meant a widening use of light cannabis flowers as they could be used to produce essential oils and opened new business perspectives for the hemp-supply sector. But such a step forward hasn’t stabilized the uncertain pace of the legal cannabis market. Companies, retailers, organizations and activists had to deal once again with the uncertainty and the lack of clarity of the decision-making institutions.

In particular, cannabis policies have played an essential role in restricting the operating range of this business due to the lack of coordination among the several ministries and departments.

In early October 2020, the Ministry of Health listed the oral solutions of cannabidiol, known as CBD, within the list of medicines of narcotics law. Most of the Italian mainstream media reported that CBD has become a narcotic drug. However, the Ministry of Health issued a ministerial decree to list oral medicinal drugs containing CBD within the table of medicines of narcotic law, but not in the narcotic table of narcotics law. Such a ministerial decree was entered into force to bring the CBD-based medical drug Epidiolex in the pharmaceutical market, but this technical intervention has opened new doubts regarding the lawfulness of the sale of CBD oils.

CBD oils fall into the category listed in the ministerial decree because they are oral solutions containing CBD, but they are not medical drugs. The Ministry of Health didn’t specify if non-medical CBD oils would also be included in this category.

As an aftermath, experts have elaborated two scenarios regarding the future of CBD oils. In the first one, experts say that this ministerial decree is not going to affect the production and sale of CBD oils because such products are not intended for medical use, but they are used for wellness purposes and as supplements. In this same perspective, neither light cannabis flowers nor other products containing CBD, such as topical cream and spray products, will be banned from the sale.

Instead, a less optimistic scenario establishes that this ministerial decree would ban all CBD oils in Italy if their productions and sales are not authorized by the Italian Medicines Agency. This is because the oral solutions of CBD have become a product that needs to be sold under prescription.

This would mean a serious risk for the Italian CBD market because oils are one of the most widely sold products in Italy, along with light cannabis flowers.

The confusing situation of the consequence of this decree brought a group of Italian MPs to criticize this ministerial decree as it sparked confusion and a sense of instability on the light cannabis market.  For them, the decision to include oral solutions of CBD within the scope of narcotics law is illogical. Such a choice can seriously penalize the entire hemp cultivation sector, thus leaving the field open only to the pharmaceutical giants.

They think that this decision is in clear contrast with the promotion of the hemp-supply industry promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“While in the rest of the world prohibition is overcome, in Italy there is the impression of a tendency towards the criminalization of cannabis, which is in contrast with the policies to fight back against organized crime. As members of the Italian Parliament, we are fully committed to ensuring a change of this trend,” they stated.

But in late October 2020, the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, suspended the ministerial decree that he signed in early October to let the National Health Institute study more the properties of CBD. The light cannabis community had a sigh of relief, but the future of CBD oils will depend on the future decisions of the Ministry of Health.

In the same hectic days of the publication of the ministerial decree, the Italian Customs Agency sent a circular to vape shops, and other premises authorized to sell vape products to fill and sign a self-certification in which they declare to not to sell light cannabis and CBD products. The lack of compliance with this regulation will bring the Customs Agency to revoke the licenses of the premises that have not self-certified their commitment to not to sell light cannabis and CBD products.

The Italian Customs Agency sent such a circular after ascertaining that some vape shops sold light cannabis flowers and CBD products. As there are some court judgments against the sale of such products, the customs agency prevented any legal repercussions requesting them to not to sell these products.

However, experts and cannabis activists interpreted this decision as a form of restriction against the light cannabis sector. The political struggle to legalize cannabis and ease the growth of the light cannabis industry have not yet given positive results. As well as the historic opposition of cannabis reforms pursued by right-wing parties and movements, the current majority of the Italian Parliament is also not taking this topic as a priority.

There are a few MPs seriously actively interested in easing the lives of thousands of people involved in this sector. However, the current government and the opposition have pushed back their actions. Meanwhile, the entire legal cannabis sector has been forced to take two steps back from the path to the full recognition of the lawfulness of light cannabis and CBD-based products.

Written and Published By Dario Sabaghi In Weed World Magazine Issue 149

Image: Adobe Stock, Binoid CBD

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2020

What Does The 2020 Election Mean For Medical Marijuana?

Marijuana was legalized in five more states on Election Day in November 2020. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana all voted to legalize recreational marijuana, while South Dakota legalized medical and recreational marijuana and Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana. These […]

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Marijuana was legalized in five more states on Election Day in November 2020. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana all voted to legalize recreational marijuana, while South Dakota legalized medical and recreational marijuana and Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana.

These votes are another leap forward in the medical marijuana revolution that has been sweeping the country over the past decade. With so many states now voting in favor of medical and recreational marijuana legalization, surely it is only a matter of time before marijuana – of the medical variety, at least – becomes legal at the federal level. It seems more and more clear that the federal ban on marijuana is out of step with public opinion.

But it is still difficult to know what will happen next and what the timeline will be. It seems like the tide is only moving in one direction – but how long will it take for MMJ to become legal nationwide and on the federal level? What does the 2020 election mean for medical marijuana? Will these positive 2020 marijuana legalization ballots lead to federal legalization? Will marijuana be legalized in 2021? Which presidential candidate supports legalization? And what are Joe Biden’s marijuana policies?

MMJRecs - medical cannabis plant
Image by RexMedlen on Pixabay: What do the 2020 election results mean for medical marijuana?

What Does The 2020 Election Mean For Medical Marijuana?

Overall, the 2020 election results were very positive for medical marijuana patients and the MMJ industry. The COVID pandemic has hit many state economies hard, and there is a recognition that legal marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is a big money-maker. The election has shown, through the passing of all marijuana legalization bills (and the support for Joe Biden, who is MMJ-friendly), that there is huge support for MMJ legalization.

2020 Marijuana Legalization Ballot

The 2020 marijuana legalization ballots were a big step in the direction of nationwide legalization. With all five marijuana legalization ballots being passed, there are now 15 states in which recreational marijuana is legal. Medical marijuana is now legal in all states except three.

Will Marijuana Be Legalized In 2021?

Despite the ever-increasing amount of legal marijuana states, and the legalization trend only moving in one direction, it seems unlikely that marijuana will be fully legalized in 2021. Both presidential candidates support states’ rights to choose, and with three states still holding out on legalizing MMJ, it seems unlikely that the federal government will legalize in the near future.

With recreational marijuana still only legal in 15 states, it is highly unlikely that the federal government will legalize recreational marijuana potentially against the wishes of a large number of states.

Which Presidential Candidate Supports Legalization?

Both of the main presidential candidates in the 2020 election supported states’ rights to choose whether marijuana is legal or not, to what extent, and in what form.

Joe Biden Marijuana Policies

Joe Biden is in favor of medical marijuana legalization and allowing states to set their own MMJ policies. He has stated his support for modest federal marijuana policy reform, for marijuana decriminalization, and for expungements for people with marijuana convictions. However, he does not support full federal legalization of recreational marijuana.

Image by gjbmiller on Pixabay: Medical marijuana is now legal in a large majority of US states.

Medical Marijuana Card Advantages

Even in states in which recreational marijuana is legal, it is still an advantage to have a medical marijuana card. An MMJ card means that you get priority in times of shortage. Medical marijuana can also be priced more cheaply than recreational varieties, and possession limits can be higher for medical marijuana patients.

What Are the Qualifying Conditions For A Medical Marijuana Card?

The qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card vary state by state. Some states are very liberal. In Oklahoma, for example, there is no list of official qualifying conditions. An OK MMJ doctor can prescribe MMJ for any condition that they believe would be improved by MMJ treatment. Most other states are not so liberal, however.

The following conditions will qualify you for an MMJ card in most states:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy-induced anorexia
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Elevated intraocular pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Lupus
  • Moderate to severe vomiting
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Nausea
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizures
  • Severe pain
  • Spinal cord injury or disease
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wasting syndrome

How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card

The best way to get a medical marijuana card is to arrange an online consultation with an MMJ doctor through MMJRecs. MMJRecs will arrange a face-to-face video consultation with an MMJ doctor in your state who will verify that you qualify for MMJ treatment. You will then be emailed an MMJ letter, which you can submit to your local MMJ authorities.

Featured image by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

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