With legalization of cannabis in many states for recreational purposes, there are still some sectors where the rule does not apply: military sector. The individuals in the army serving as active members are not allowed at any cost to consume cannabis for any purpose. This means they cannot use it even for medical purposes.
This raises concern among places that have their economies dependent on the military sector and its outskirts. The opportunity to have a local cannabis market present locally becomes impossible, leading to a loss. Colorado Springs is an epitome for this situation. Even after there have been five years since the legalization of the substance, it is still the largest city in the state to have not allowed cannabis for recreational purposes. There is no coincidence it has five military bases in it.
There has been a strict control over the accessibility even in the states where the substance is legal
There are opinions that the availability of cannabis in the surroundings of a military base will provoke the soldiers to consume the substance. Moreover, they can go out from the bases and get cannabis from black markets if they do not find access to legal marijuana for themselves.
Last year in December, the police caught around eight parties that allegedly sold cannabis in the black market. In addition to that, the soldiers have to undergo frequent blood testing for drug testing. The military organization plays an active role in preventing the army from consuming cannabis.
Army officials have also designed a poster that shows the map having all regions of legal cannabis spotted. This is done in order to educate the members about its legalization in respects of geographical distribution in the United States. It will alleviate any possible confusion arising in the sector.
Soldiers have started getting vocal on the matter seeing the rising need to rectify the policy regarding the drug use among veterans
There is an increase in the number of soldiers that are starting to raise their voice about the medical benefits of cannabis use. According to them, there is a dire need to re evaluate the whole policy.
Traumatic injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pains are common in active on duty soldiers. Heavy medications are not only tiring but also have many side effects. Improvising the policy regarding cannabis use could potentially solve the problem.
Department of Defense has made strict policy last year
The Department of Defense has made a notice that specifically highlights and reaffirm its prohibition on cannabis, in anyway, whether medical or recreational. An organization is working to help secure the rights of soldiers using cannabis. The issue however, will remain on the table until cannabis is legalized on federal level.
Hemp and Marijuana – Ohio Crime Labs Upgrade
Former to an upgrade in equipment, 2 weeks ago, Ohio’s crime labs faced an inability to distinguish licensed hemp from marijuana. Law enforcement officers contacted Dispatch to discuss the effect of the upgrade on marijuana cases.
Hemp and marijuana
Cannabis is the genus of the Cannabaceae family. Hemp and Marijuana are the species or strains of cannabis and are derived from the plant. Hemp is any cannabis with 0.3% THC levels or less, by dry weight. Meanwhile, marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC, by dry weight, and causes psychotropic or euphoric impacts on the consumer.
Ohio cities showed changes in the stern enforcement of cannabis laws in recent years. A range of ballot initiatives received approval between 2015 and 2017. The “no fine, no time” laws decreased penalty and jail term for trivial marijuana cases to zero in over a dozen Ohio municipalities. These included cities ranging from bigger cities such as Toledo to smaller cities like Logan.
Furthermore, city councils in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, waived penalties and jail term. However, this was for marijuana cases with low-level possession.
Marijuana and hemp are acquired from cannabis. Last year, Ohio’s legislature legalized hemp. The recent law of the state declares that hemp is any cannabis with 0.3% THC or less. Furthermore, THC is the intoxicating component of marijuana.
At the time, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation could identify the appearance of THC. However, they could not scale it. Hence, Columbus determined to cease the pursuance of low-level marijuana cases. His concerns were the defense lawyers causing the delay of those cases along with the demands of lab testing.
This was a regular business for most Ohio cities. Bowling Green City Prosecutor, Hunter Brown, explained that the police and prosecutors could still reflect upon the entirety of the circumstances. He said that the substance test used to distinguish hemp and marijuana is not the only legal test. He further explained that one doesn’t puff hemp. This is why if an individual has a bowl available in their car, it’s most probably marijuana.
Brown added that the hold of marijuana is a trivial misdemeanor. He continued that some suspects have the money to spend enough on a reputable lawyer typically to avoid a $150 penalty.
Upgrade in crime laboratories
Ohio has 3 state crime labs in London, Richfield, and Bowling Green. An upgrade in facilities in these labs is expected to aid in distinguishing between hemp and marijuana. However, defense lawyers and prosecutors say, that this will potentially not alter the way marijuana cases are enforced in Buckeye State. Existing sociological and societal forces in Ohio could potentially affect how marijuana cases are managed.
Meanwhile. Columbus’ defense attorney, John Saia, stated that he is certain that the labs will focus on small marijuana cases. John Saia is also on the board of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said the crime lab upgrade would possibly not alter the method of prosecution of cases. Vigluicci says that this is due to some defense lawyers who asked lab tests for their clients, for the evidence of possession of marijuana, instead of hemp. He said that several attorneys used this method mostly to hinder prosecutors.
In felony drug cases, the law of limitations is several years. Hence, this gives prosecutors enough time in major marijuana trafficking and possession cases.
The attorney general’s office declared the upgraded capacities of the crime labs, two weeks ago. However, Columbus City prosecutor, Zack Klein, stated that his office’s denial of low-level marijuana cases will remain.
Police and prosecutors can proceed to charge defendants under state and federal regulations, despite voters possibly transitioning a city’s marijuana statute. However, according to statistics, police, and government officials are pursuing the command of the public.
Investigation on illegal supply of Cannabis, $2.5m worth of assets seized
Properties, cash, and bank accounts worth more than $2.5 million have been seized by the police after a wave of raids in Christchurch following an investigation on illegal cannabis.
Five people were arrested on Wednesday as police searched nine properties during the cannabis bust in Christchurch. Police also restrained 200 cannabis plants, jet skis, a military-style semi-automatic rifle, vehicles, and both residential and commercial properties.
In a statement, police said that the search warrants were issued by Canterbury Police’s organised crime and asset recovery units as a result of an investigation being made into money laundering and supply of cannabis.
As a result, police were able to arrest five people, all of which were involved in either drug supply and cultivation, unlawful possession of firearms, or money laundering.
As reported by stuff, The arrests included a 48-year-old man charged with cultivating and selling cannabis, and importing a Class A controlled drug. He is scheduled to appear in front of Christchurch District Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Among the rest of the arrests there were three men and one woman. They’re to appear in front of the court next Tuesday.
The male arrests include – a 28-year-old charged with cultivating cannabis, unlawful possession of a firearm, and selling cannabis, a 23-year-old charged with possession of cannabis for supply and cultivating cannabis, a 29-year-old charged with cultivating cannabis, selling cannabis, supplying equipment to cultivate cannabis, and money laundering.
The female arrested is a 46-year-old charged with money laundering and supplying equipment to cultivate cannabis.
Police encourage anyone with any information regarding possession, sale, or supply of illegal substances to contact them on 105 or anonymously call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Coronavirus – Cannabis Legalization in 2020
Entering 2020, strategy makers in 8 states have shown support for controlled medicinal and recreational cannabis sales. Advocacy groups in 9 states had ongoing works for the inclusion of legalization on ballots in November. Cannabis is already legalized in 33 states for medical use, and 11 states for recreational use and medical use both. Furthermore, more members of Congress, with the inclusion of those who earlier argued legalization, are now in second of cannabis policy. Consequently, all of this le to the state legalization agendas moving forward.
However, although 2020 was to be a banner year for the cannabis industry, the pandemic has slowed down the efforts. Nevertheless, during the pandemic, licensed and controlled cannabis businesses were shown as “essential businesses“, despite the delay of state legislative activity by 2021 or later.
The pandemic has caused reprioritization and shortening of several states’ legislative gatherings. This is done by excluding time to hammer out the essential aspects of cannabis legalization laws. The laws include the establishment of a strong tax formation and the agreement for the reduction in the illegal market. Currently, at least 5 state legislatures that acknowledged the legalization of cannabis in 2020, including New York, have shown uncertainties regarding the implementation of it this year.
Advocacy groups in Arkansas, North Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Nebraska, discontinued their attempts to collect ballot signatures due to the social distancing measures. A country district judge in Montana ruled against the practice of e-signatures to replace in-person signing.
Furthermore, cannabis legalization measures are usually focused upon on ballots during presidential election years, when the voter assembly is higher. Hence, legalization with the help of vote efforts can likely be postponed to 2024.
The effects of the pandemic have both, advantages and disadvantages, for the cannabis industry. Some cannabis businesses have cut jobs, sold operations, and are unable to operate due to the restrictions by the social distancing measures. These businesses are qualified for federal stimulus funds. On the other hand, other cannabis businesses have continued hiring of new employees, across 6 states, ever since the pandemic began.
In March, weekly trades hit $134 million in California, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado. This was a 17% rise from the weekly aggregate in 2019. Metrc‘s track-and-trace data recorded an approximately 75% rise in operation bandwidth usage following October 2019.
Despite the struggles due to the pandemic, cannabis businesses yet have the economic potential for states aiming for an improvement in revenues and news to fill resource shortfalls, that are expected to reach $350 billion in 2021. Cannabis tax revenue would not meet all damages, but would still aid states for the building of revenue in future years. Examples would be Colorado and California. Colorado collected over $1.2 billion in licensed cannabis revenue since 2014. Meanwhile, California generated $635 million in state and territorial tax revenues in 2019.
However, caution and patience are still recommended for states. The cannabis industry has worked in law enforcement for 20 years. The Director of Colorado’s Cannabis Enforcement Division during legalization has said that they acknowledge that new bill and command are to be taken seriously, irrespective of the economic condition of the state. Furthermore, it is essential to create an entirely new and controlled industry. This should involve agriculture, production, retail, the environment, common health, and cultural justice. However, this will all take ample time, strategic planning, and sufficient resources.
States are ready to enter in a strong, licensed cannabis market. However, patience is a virtue that will be much needed in order to focus on the accuracy of the details. State lawmakers, governors, cannabis businesses, and common interest groups, will need to take the support of this unprecedented break that the pandemic has caused, and outline these details in collaboration.
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