Cannabis has lately scored a lot of good news: More and more states legalizing! CBD industry revenues predicted to reach $22 billion by 2022! Movement toward the removal of marijuana from the federal Schedule 1 “narcotic” list!
Yet, in recent weeks there have been instances of pushback when it comes to cannabis’s legal progress at the state level. These “bad-news” events have focused on medical marijuana, on Delta-8 and on two western states’ legalization efforts. Here are the details:
Mississippi:. As the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported, the state’s supreme court justices voted 6-3 to overturn a November vote legalizing the production and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s authorization. Never mind that 73 percent of voters favored the so-called ballot Initiative 65. Ruled the court majority: “Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(a) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress. To work in today’s reality, it will mean amending – something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court.”
The court’s objection focused on the state statutes that require an equal percentage of signatures – to launch a ballot initiative – from all five congressional districts. The problem: After redistricting in 2000, there are now four districts; yet the statute has not been updated.
Colorado: The state’s health department has banned Delta-8, even as its sales are taking off. As Hemp Industry Daily reported, the department announced that “chemically modifying or converting any naturally occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp is non-compliant with the statutory definition of ‘industrial hemp product.’”
Delta-8 is a cannabis compound whose THC has psychoactive effects similar to those of THC in marijuana, a.k.a. Delta-9; however, Delta-8 is made from hemp, which became legal with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and has not been addressed at the state level.
“Insufficient evidence exists to determine whether or not any toxic or otherwise harmful substances are produced during these reactions,” the health agency said, referring to processes involving THC isonomers derived from hemp extracts like CBD.
Currently, the Hemp Industries Association and a hemp manufacturer in South Carolina have mounted a legal case against the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration’s position that Delta-8’s THC comes from hemp-derived CBD, not directly from the hemp plant.
South Dakota: The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in late April against the state’s voter-initiated marijuana measure to create a constitutional amendment. Last November, 54 percent of voters supported it. But as NORML reported, litigation has newly been filed on behalf of Governor Kristi Noem, and the state’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court has upheld the litigation.
The court said that the initiative violates a state requirement that ballot measures cannot amend the state’s constitution and that a revision rather than amendment to the constitution cannot proceed. A group called South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws has appealed the matter to the state’s supreme court.
Montana: Although 57 percent of the state’s voters approved adult use marijuana in the November election, Republican pushback is occurring. As NORML reported, Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation amending the adult-use law.
Specifically the new law: