State Of Legal Weed Roundup: 5 Things That Are Changing
Happy 20th day of April (Ed Note: We know it's the 27th. We were busy ... uh, doing stuff that day.)! Big things and bongs have been bubbling up in the world of marijuana over the last month, and we realized that you might not be quick to recall them once the smoke cleared, so we got your back ...
The New York Domino Has Fallen
Following New Jersey's approval of people being allowed to have fun, the race to see whether the neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania would fall in line or miss out on the potential tax revenues have resulted in New York fully legalizing weed.
Unlike New Jersey, Governor Cuomo was quick to sign the legislation, and New Yorkers quickly puffed up in the street. Our guess is that this is going to be the laxest it is ever going to be in New York. Currently, you can smoke anywhere where you are legally allowed to smoke a cigarette -- so basically no schools, your Uber, or indoor restaurants. Eventually, localities will pass their own restrictions on where you're allowed to toke, but it will take some time to see how that plays out.
However, there's a new race afoot: Who is going to be the first to open dispensaries? New Jersey still hasn't laid out any clear plans for the distribution of licenses for recreational cannabis dispensaries. This puts New York and New Jersey on equal footing, though it's still more than likely that we won't see any shops open in either state for another year.
Hopefully, you won't have to stress out too much about all the money-grabbing those grimey politicians are going to be doing over our now taxable weed dollars because ...
New York Legalization Is Hopefully Going To Do Some Good
As part of the legalization in New York, Democratic lawmakers made a big push for some of the money being generated as tax revenue from pot sales to be set aside to help communities of color. Black and Latinx individuals have been largely disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. While it's currently not clear exactly how that money will be used, 40% of tax revenue is expected to be reinvested into those affected communities.
The rest of the tax money is still going to be put to good use as well. Another 40% of that cash is going to go towards public education, and the remaining 20% is being put towards drug treatment, education, and prevention. We personally hope that money goes to fund another McGruff the Crime Dog mixtape.
Stop scrolling. Right now. It's 2:42; don't deny yourself this.
On top of that, New York is going to expunge the criminal records of people with convictions for what was once previously a less than legal pastime. When it comes to getting licenses for opening a dispensary, New York is going to prioritize people who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses and marginalized groups.
The only thing missing are ATMs right at where you're picking up, though we're still waiting for the ability to buy weed with Apple Pay. Guess we'll have to wait for federal legalization for that one. Though we might not have to wait for too much longer since ...
The Federal Rescheduling of Marijuana Is On The Table ... Kinda
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has proverbially chucked a bill onto the Senate floor in an attempt to "legalize" marijuana at a federal level. Well, at least he announced that he was planning to for a while now. No bill has formally been introduced to be voted on, so the exact contents of the bill are largely unknown.
While this isn't the first time such bills have been brought to congress -- we're all very hopeful about this one. It's likely that this bill will just be a rescheduling of marijuana as a drug. Removing the Schedule I status of weed would be a huge victory, even though that doesn't outright make it legal.
You could interpret the removal of weed as a Schedule I drug in a few ways. At bare minimum, weed would be federally decriminalized. There would no longer be a conflict of state legalization vs. federal legalization. At the most generous assumption, weed would be federally legal because there would be no federal classification that smoking a little devil's lettuce is against the law.
Though Schumer seems to not believe in the minutia here. When asked to clarify whether he supports legalization or not, he responded with "decriminalization, legalization," as if dictionaries weren't real and those words meant the same thing. Either way, this law passing would open up the conversation and truly change the legalization issue to one that is completely a state issue.
Biden Might Be Opposed -- We're Not Really Sure, and Democrats Don't Really Care
While Schumer might be biding his time on the big reveal for what exactly his bill entails, Biden hasn't exactly been clear on whether or not he would support the bill. This really isn't any shock for people who have been following Biden's political career.
Biden has been a staunch supporter of the war on drugs throughout his life. At best, Biden supports the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing for medical use. Biden's cabinet seems to be falling in line with that as well. Kamala Harris, whose own campaign had marijuana advocacy as part of her platform, has since walked back to one that reflects Biden's.
Though Biden's current platform is that the decriminalization of marijuana is something that should be done, it isn't clear whether or not he will support Schumer's bill whenever he finally introduces it.
Hopefully, we don't see Biden blocking such a bill once it's passed through, as the now Democrat-controlled Senate should theoretically be able to send it through without issue. Regardless of concerns about the President's support, the Democrats are pushing forward with it nonetheless.
But don't fret too much. Even if this bill gets blocked, there's still some hope on the horizon. That hope is ...
Delta-8 THC: The New Federally Legal Weed
Well, who would have thought that another THC compound has been hanging out under our noses this whole time? Turns out, it's actually federally legal, though probably not intentionally. Delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, which is a completely legal thing to farm. It doesn't really affect you the same way that your classic weed strains will, but supposedly those who ingest it experience a version of getting high.
Now before you go out and start buying this stuff by the ounce, Delta-8 THC still shows up like Delta-9 THC (the stuff you're used to having) on all of your mandated drug tests. So just because it's legal to go get, doesn't necessarily mean you'll get away with it unscathed.
So how does this work? Well turns out we can thank Trump and Mitch McConnel for passing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. In an attempt to boost the agriculture industry, the dynamic duo accidentally boosted the CBD industry as well. The act amended the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, effectively removing hemp that has less than 0.3% THC from being considered a Schedule I drug. This includes extracts from those plants. Thanks to that, you can jog over to your local CBD store in just about any state and pick up a 50mg Delta-8 THC gummy bear, and have a reasonably fine time.
Though we should remind you that because Delta-8 THC exists in a legal grey area -- it is not being tested by the FDA or has any approval of any kind. Consume it at your own risk. Either way, to those of you residing in one of 17 recreationally legal states, cheers to you. And to those of you in the other 33 states? A much softer cheers.
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