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Church of Latter Day Saints Opposes Utah’s Medical Cannabis Ballot

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The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, also referred to as Mormon) insists that there are legal issues with the state’s newest medical cannabis ballot initiative.

On Friday, the LDS church released a memorandum in collaboration with law firm Kirton McConkie that took a strong stance against the medical cannabis ballot initiative that is poised to appear on Utah’s November ballot. This memo comes as the second statement from the LDS Church on the subject. Just a month prior, church officials showed support for the Utah Medical Association who insisted the Utah Medical Cannabis Act “would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities.”

What can only be best described as a list of grievances, the newly released seven-paged memo consists of 31 varying objections to Utah’s Medical Marijuana Initiative. Despite the Mormon church having ordered its members to grow hemp multiple times in the past, It appears the church’s main concern now is a need for more restrictions and limitations in regards to legalizing medical cannabis.

Among those reasons listed include an opposition against personal cultivation of cannabis.

“Nothing in the initiative allows [the] State to license or monitor homegrown marijuana operations,” it cites. The document continues to express that the initiative, “will create significant challenges for law enforcement.”

One notable reason given in the memo insists that the initiative, “allows dispensaries to give free samples to medical cannabis cards. This will encourage marijuana use.” Yet, considering the well-known opioid epidemic the nation currently faces, an increase in those treating medical conditions with cannabis could help combat the dependency on opioids as a treatment.

The LDS Church goes on to report that “chronic pain” is essentially too broad of a reason to allow medical cannabis treatment. According to the memo, this condition is “hard to diagnose and verify.”

The cannabis question has become a hot topic in Utah as November approaches. Despite the opposition from The LDS Church and the Utah Medical Association, the Utah Patients Coalition has gathered enough signatures for cannabis legalization to make it on the ballot.

The Mormon Church’s released list of grievances appears to be focused on the need for more restrictions and limitations in regards to legalizing medical cannabis. However, it is important to keep in mind that the church does not represent the opinion of all Mormons as there are an estimated 6,641,886 members of the Mormon church in the United States and 14.8 million worldwide. Utah’s community will have to wait until November to see what voters have to say about the matter.

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Cannabis Home Delivery in California

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A California judge recently dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a ruling that allows cannabis companies to deliver across the state, even in cities and counties where cannabis sales are prohibited.  

A group of local governments argued that allowing cannabis deliveries in any jurisdiction was taking over their authority to regulate cannabis sales. In a ruling, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire said the state’s delivery regulations and local ordinances “do not occupy the same field and are not in conflict.”

Cannabis deliveries can continue under the state regulations. McGuire said the state rule does not impact the rights to regulate cannabis or cannabis delivery and added local jurisdictions can impose regulatory and health and safety standards that are stricter than state laws.

“It’s not a loss, but it’s not a win for delivery,” said Zach Pitts, CEO of Los Angeles-based Ganja Goddess and a board member of the California Cannabis Couriers Association. “What I really don’t like is the possibility that we’re still going to have to litigate this and in many ways, that’s putting the litigation onto small companies…with every single city and county that decides to ban delivery.”

There are some counties that don’t allow cannabis sales so without statewide delivery, people living in those counties wouldn’t have access to cannabis, whether for recreational purposes or for medical use. Deputy Attorney General Ethan Turner said cities can still require cannabis delivery businesses to apply for a business license from the city and follow city ordinances.

“It’s legal here and they already bought it. All we are doing is getting it to them. They didn’t buy it at the door or anything. They just received it,” said Ethan Bowers, who helps run a cannabis grow in Northern California. We all thought it was crazy that they would try and stop it. And, if it had passed in court, we’d be looking anywhere for more sales, as at-home sales are really big during COVID-19.” 

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Legislator Predicts Recreational Cannabis Legalization for Connecticut in 2021

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Connecticut could be the next state to legalize recreational cannabis as more neighboring states are working on their own legalization efforts. Incoming House Speaker Matt Ritter recently stated that there is a “50-50” chance to legalize cannabis in 2021.

A measure to legalize cannabis in the state has repeatedly failed over the past five years, but Democrats hold the majority in the state House and in the state Senate. With recreational cannabis legal in Massachusetts and New Jersey and other neighboring states considering legalization, the Governor of Connecticut believes his state will be next.

“Right now, I’m surrounded by states—New Jersey and Massachusetts—where marijuana is already legal. I don’t need a lot of people driving back and forth across the border,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. “We’re trying to keep people close to home as best we can right now. I think legalizing marijuana—doing that safely and making sure that no poison is laced in—I think is one to keep people closer to home.”

Ritter disputed the claim that one of the main reasons the lawmakers are pushing for legalization is to use the tax revenue to close the state budget gap. A study conducted at the University of Connecticut found legal recreational cannabis could bring in $100 million in tax revenue in just four years. “To me, marijuana has nothing to do with revenue,” Ritter said. “I could care less. Every year that goes by brings in less revenue for the state. I don’t care if it brings in one dollar or $30 million. It’s completely irrelevant to me.”

Ritter stated that his two main reasons for supporting cannabis legalization are the expungement of criminal offenses of those who have been impacted by the War on Drugs, and that cannabis is all around the state of Connecticut and the state can’t “fortify its border” and pretend people aren’t just going to buy it elsewhere.

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FDA Provides Updates on Research Gaps for Regulating Cannabis

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It has long been a point of contention for the legal cannabis industry that cannabis products have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While cannabis is still federally illegal, the FDA recently addressed some of the challenges in regulating cannabis compounds and products containing cannabis.

According to the FDA, not having access to enough research data is one of the main issues that the organization faces. Specifically, the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health notes that many CBD products are marketed toward women, such as sex products, and more research is essential in order to better understand the effects of those products. “As women are generally the principal healthcare consumers in the US, understanding sex and gender differences between women and men must be at the forefront of our minds,” said Kaveeta Vasisht, director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health and associate commissioner for women’s health.

In addition to regulating CBD, one of the most popular legal cannabis derivatives on the market, the FDA is also looking for more information on regulating THC and other popular compounds such as CBN and CBG, as well as terpenes. “FDA’s responsibilities are over the entire spectrum of the products derived from cannabis and the FDA must be prepared to regulate them in the most appropriate ways,” said Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for regulatory programs at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Overall, the FDA outlines some major problem areas due to lack of knowledge, including logistics, evolving legislation, increased legality of cannabis and scientific uncertainty. The plan is to tackle these areas and gain more knowledge so they can properly regulate cannabis of all types. This includes employing the help of cross-agency committees called the “CBD Working Group,” which enlists the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Center for Drug Evaluation, Center for Biological Evaluation and Research, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Center for Veterinary Medicine, National Center for Toxicology Research, Center for Tobacco Products and Coordinated by the Office of the Commissioner.

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