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President Biden's Proposed Budget Includes Restriction On Cannabis Sales In Washington, D.C.

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Cannabis News Update June 2, 2021

Today in cannabis news: The Oklahoma state governor signs a law expanding the state’s medical cannabis program; the Tennessee state governor signs a law expanding the state’s CBD program; and a Washington, D.C. lawmaker expresses opposition to President Biden’s barring of recreational cannabis sales in the District.

** First up: With the passage of Oklahoma state Senate Bill 1033, numerous updates to the state’s medical cannabis program have been approved. The bill was passed with a 78-12 vote and was ratified by Governor Kevin Stitt (R).

Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee), an author of the bill, said: “It grandfathers in existing businesses as it pertains to the thousand foot school rule where [Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority] or the municipality has made errors.”

The legislation also allows firms to transfer licensure if their owners change, and it allows the Oklahoma Tax Commission to charge a fee for conducting audits on companies. It also allows the OMMA to collaborate with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics to combat the black market.

Ronald Durbin with Viridian Legal Services said: “We really need to step up in the enforcement aspect, and that’s one thing 1033 does that we’re really, really happy about. 1033 facilitates that ‘boots on the ground inspect’ mantra.”

** Next up: Tennessee’s governor has passed legislation that will extend the state’s restricted CBD system and establish a taskforce to analyze the potential of more comprehensive medical cannabis legalization.

Governor Bill Lee (R) approved the measure weeks after it was delivered to their office by legislators. While proponents would accept any legislative victory they can get in the Republican-majority Legislature, they are disappointed that the Legislature couldn’t pass a more extensive medical cannabis development bill. Patients with eligible ailments will be able to acquire CBD oil with a maximum of 0.9% THC, which is triple the limit in the federal classification of hemp.

Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer, IBS, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and sickle cell disease will be applied to the existing system’s catalog of eligible conditions, which currently only includes intractable epilepsy. To acquire cannabis oils, individuals would need confirmation of their ailment and a doctor’s suggestion.

However, Tennesseans must travel to neighboring states or buy the herb unlawfully because there is presently no way to acquire authorized cannabis in Tennessee. In practice, the legislation merely offers legal safeguards for specific patients in specific conditions. Furthermore, the legislation stipulates that establishing a medical cannabis sector is contingent on Congress rescheduling the crop on a federal level.

** Last up: President Joe Biden’s latest proposed budget would keep the restriction on enabling Washington, D.C. to permit recreational cannabis retail, and a member of Congress from the District called it a distressing “inconsistency” on Capitol Hill that they’ll strive to fix to Marijuana Moment.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said they’re “very disappointed that the president’s budget maintains the marijuana rider,” alluding to an enduring, Republican-backed appropriations rule that prevents D.C. from utilizing taxpayer money to create a retail cannabis market.

The Justice Department is prohibited from interfering with the rollout of medical cannabis legalization in individual U.S. states, according to President Biden’s proposed budget. Activists see this as a big victory, given that previous administrations of both parties tried to eliminate the rule, which every year since 2014 has been sustained by Congress.

For D.C., though, Biden found it necessary to maintain the prohibition on allowing the city to legalize recreational cannabis retail, which Rep. Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), and district lawmakers have opposed. The president’s position is even more odd when you consider Biden’s support for D.C. statehood and their frequent statements that states should be free to decide whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis.

Biden did suggest that a different section prohibiting D.C. from utilizing taxpayer funds to support abortion services be removed, a move that furthers the impression that the president adopted a focused position particularly on cannabis.

“That’s the inconsistency that I see,” Norton said. “He’s a strong supporter of statehood and homerule, so this was the time for him to—especially since we got rid of the abortion rider, which is even more controversial—this was the time to get rid of the marijuana rider as well.”

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