Medical marijuana bill advances in KY General Assembly

Above:  HB 136 primary cosponsor Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, presenting the medical marijuana legislation for a floor vote.

For Immediate Release

February 20, 2020

Medical marijuana bill advances in KY General Assembly

FRANKFORT— For the first time in Kentucky history, a bill to legalize medical marijuana came to a vote on the floor of the Kentucky House. Apparently the first time was a charm.

Members of the House voted 65-30 to approve the legalization of medical marijuana under House Bill 136, along with eight floor amendments to the bill. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

“HB 136 when it is passed, which I hope that it is, will be the tightest medical marijuana bill in the country,” said Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, who shares primary sponsorship of the measure with Rep. John Sims Jr., D-Flemingsburg.

Nemes said that he and Sims have spent years meeting with stakeholders to ensure that the legislation addresses their concerns.

“We’ve met with stakeholders from law enforcement, constituents, regular folks … patients, physicians, chiropractors. I mean, you name it, we’ve been there,” he said.

The bill as passed by the House would extensively clarify state policies for cultivation, processing, sale, distribution, and use of medical marijuana. Licensing of cannabis dispensaries is covered, as is maintenance of a cardholder registry for cannabis users.

Smoking of medical marijuana would be prohibited under HB 136.  The bill instead would allow the drug to be dispensed as “edibles” such as gummies, oils, or similar products.  Customers would be limited to a month’s supply at one time.

Keeping with the sponsors’ commitment to make HB 136 a public health bill and not a revenue maker, Nemes said excise taxes and all other revenue created by the bill would go to regulation of the program and nothing else. Additionally, local governments would have the last say in whether medical marijuana businesses operate within their jurisdiction.

Among those House members voting against the proposal was former Kentucky State Trooper and current pastor Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies. He cited the fact that marijuana remains a federally controlled substance that isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a reason for his vote.

“Marijuana, no matter how we look at it, is against federal law” and joins heroin, LSD, and ectasy as a Schedule I narcotic, said Fugate. It is also a “gateway drug,” he said, referring to drugs that are believed by some to lead to abuse of more dangerous drugs later on.

Voting is support of the bill was Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt. The licensed pharmacist said he supports the bill on behalf of individuals like his adult brother diagnosed years ago with cerebral palsy.

Goforth said he sees his brother suffer on a regular basis from “adverse side effects” caused by FDA-approved anticonvulsants and other drugs.

“If I can give him a little bit of relief from the FDA-approved medication that has caused those adverse side effects for him, to control those conditions, I’m going to do it. I have to do it,” he said.

END

REMEMBER! MARK YOUR CALENDAR! MARCH 11TH, 2020; Cannabis Rally In The Rotunda–FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY.

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RotundaRally3.11.20

MARCH 11TH, 2020

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

CAPITOL ROTUNDA

700 CAPITOL AVENUE

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY  40601

We will be discussing the progress we have made, current legislation, and what folks can do to help end the prohibition against this life-saving plant.
All advocates, and all parties, are welcomed!
If interested in speaking about your cannabis bill, or a bill you have sponsored, please PM us, or leave a comment below and we will reach out to you.
We hope to see y’all there!!
If you are a CBD store owner, cannabis farmer, cannabis processor, or you sell cannabis products in Kentucky and you plan to be at the rally, please leave a comment below so folks know to look for you.

ANY QUESTIONS?  CONTACT DAN SEUM AT THIS LINK!

Agencies clarify requirements for providing financial services to hemp-related businesses

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From Board of Governors Federal Reserve System

Agencies clarify requirements for providing financial services to hemp-related businesses

December 3, 2019 

WASHINGTON-Four federal agencies in conjunction with the state bank regulators today issued a statement clarifying the legal status of hemp growth and production and the relevant requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) for banks providing services to hemp-related businesses.

The statement emphasizes that banks are no longer required to file suspicious activity reports (SAR) for customers solely because they are engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. For hemp-related customers, banks are expected to follow standard SAR procedures, and file a SAR if indicia of suspicious activity warrants.

This statement provides banks with background information on the legal status of hemp, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) interim final rule on the production of hemp, and the BSA considerations when providing banking services to hemp-related businesses.

This statement also indicates that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will issue additional guidance after further reviewing and evaluating the USDA interim final rule.

The statement was issued by the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FinCEN, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. Banks can contact the USDA, state departments of agriculture, and tribal governments with further questions regarding the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) and its implementing regulations.

Joint Guidance on Providing Financial Services to Customers Engaged in Hemp-Related Businesses (PDF)

For Federal Reserve Board media inquiries please contact Darren Gersh at 202-452-2955.

Source Link

International Drug Scheduling; … Cannabis Plant and Resin; Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis; Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol; …Cannabidiol; Request for Comments…

plant

International Drug Scheduling; Convention on Psychotropic Substances; Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; Cannabis Plant and Resin; Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis; Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol; Stereoisomers of Tetrahydrocannabinol; Cannabidiol; Request for Comments

A Notice by the Food and Drug Administration on 04/09/2018

This document has a comment period that ends in 13 days. (04/23/2018)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances. These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs. WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs. This notice requesting comments is required by the Controlled Substances Act (the CSA).

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS ORIGINAL SOURCE LINK TO SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS…HERE!

These 5 wealthy, out-of-state men helped finance the GOP takeover of Kentucky’s House

Arthur Laffer, the former Reagan Administration economist who advised Gov. Sam Brownback on his tax plan, testifies before the Kansas House Tax committee at the statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in Topeka, Kan.

Above:  Arthur Laffer, the former Reagan Administration economist who advised Gov. Sam Brownback on his tax plan, testifies before the Kansas House Tax committee at the statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in Topeka, Kan. Thad Allton AP

By Daniel Desrochers

ddesrochers@herald-leader.com

Last fall, a group of five wealthy men from out-of-state dumped at least $211,500 into Republican efforts to take over the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time since 1921.

They live from Miami to New York, but have one common bond: Arthur Laffer, a prominent conservative economist who served in the Reagan administration.

They also share a similar goal: reshaping how Kentuckians pay taxes.

“I think now’s a good time for any state like Kentucky to look at their tax structure and say ‘how can we modernize?’” said Travis H. Brown, a Missouri lobbyist who donated $23,000 to GOP House members, more than any other individual.

They picked a winning horse, pumping $105,000 of their money directly to winning candidates and another $59,500 to state GOP committees that gave more than $1.8 million to successful GOP House candidates.

Follow the money: Search donations to the Kentucky House of Representatives

Republicans claimed a super majority in the House and quickly pledged support for Gov. Matt Bevin’s promise to call a special law-making session later this year to transition Kentucky’s tax system from one based on production (income taxes) to one based on consumption (sales taxes).

That economic philosophy was, in many ways, coined by Laffer. His message of lowering income taxes and reducing business taxes has been embraced by scores of Republican politicians across the country.

Though Laffer and his associates may feel the time is right for business-friendly tax reform in Kentucky, there’s a roadblock — massively underfunded pension systems for state workers and teachers.

Last November, financial projections showed Kentucky’s state pension systems had an unfunded liability of $32.5 billion, with the main pension system for state employees only 16 percent funded (anything below 80 percent is considered underfunded). Now, Bevin claims that number is grossly miscalculated, suggesting the state’s real pension debt is closer to $82 billion.

To meet that challenge, Bevin warned in his State of the Commonwealth Address last month that any changes to Kentucky’s tax code will have to raise revenue, not reduce it.

“This is not going to be a revenue neutral tax plan,” Bevin said in the speech. “It’s not. We can’t afford for it to be, that’s a straight up fact. We cannot pay off eight times what we bring in if we simply reshuffle the deck.”

Brown, though, says Kentucky can still raise revenue without raising taxes, arguing that the state can even cut taxes if it’s on the right side of the “Laffer Curve,” an economic concept that says a higher tax rate doesn’t necessarily mean more government revenue.

“What percent of your state government is not efficient as it should be?” Brown asked. “What voters typically believe is they know how to spend their money better than the government knows how to spend their money.”

Regardless of how lawmakers in Frankfort decide to rewrite the tax code, Laffer and his associates clearly thought Kentucky was ripe for an influx of conservative philosophy.

“It just looked like the time and place where it was to come,” Brown said.

Here’s a closer look at the five men, of which only Brown responded to Herald-Leader requests for interviews.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Congressmen Seek Clarification on Federal Hemp Rules

By Matt Markgraf Oct 27, 2016

Three members of Kentucky’s U.S. Congressional delegation joined 16 other members of Congress in a letter Wednesday seeking clarification from federal agencies regarding industrial hemp guidelines.

Senator Rand Paul and Representatives Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth signed a letter to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration looking to revise the ‘Statement of Principles’ issued in August.

The Congressmen say there is confusion over pilot programs approved in the 2014 Farm Bill allowing state ag departments and universities, including Murray State, to grow the plant for research. Guidance also could have a limiting effect on sales and transportation, the letter argues. Federal law prohibits farmers growing for commercial profit, but retail sales of products made with hemp are legal.

Kentucky’s Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles sent a letter to the USDA last month objecting to the rules, saying they “could hinder industrial hemp’s economic potential.”

Read the letter sent Wednesday

 

CCONTINUE READING…

Wyden presses to lift federal ban on industrial hemp

Talks on Senate floor to mark National hemp History Week

From KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 7:29 PM PDT June 4, 2015  UPDATED: 7:29 PM PDT June 4, 2015

 

Sen. Wyden backs lifting ban on industrial hemp

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., takes to Senate floor to urge colleagues to lift ban on industrial hemp

 

WASHINGTON –

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Thursday again urged lifting the federal ban on industrial hemp, saying it has a wide variety of uses and economic benefits in Oregon and nationwide.

Hemp-based products contributed $620 million to the U.S. economy in 2014, but current federal regulations prohibit farmers from growing hemp in the United States, the senator noted.

“I’ve long said if you can make it and sell it in Oregon, you should be able to grow it in Oregon,” Wyden said in a speech on the Senate floor in recognition of National Hemp History Week.

“In my view, keeping the ban on growing hemp makes about as much sense as instituting a ban on Portobello mushrooms,” he said. “There’s no reason to outlaw a product that’s perfectly safe because of what it’s related to.”

Wyden highlighted several products made in Oregon from industrial hemp by companies such as Milwaukie-based Bob’s Red Mill, which produces protein powder from hemp seeds, Creswell-based Fiddlebumps, which makes hemp butter and other skin care products, and Eugene-based Hemp Shield, which makes deck sealant and wood finish from hemp.

Wyden introduced a bill earlier this year with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to lift the ban on growing hemp domestically. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S. 134, would distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Al Franken, D-Minn., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also cosponsored the bill.

CONTINUE READING…

Mitch McConnell supports cannabis farming in Kentucky

Beth Ethier of the Slatest released an article on March 3, 2015 titled Mitch McConnell Wants Hemp in a Farm Near You. Hemp is a member of the cannabis family along with its cousin marijuana. Hemp generally has a minimal amount to THC, which is the active ingredient in medical and recreational marijuana.

Mitch McConnell with a happy face

 

McConnell is not pressing for marijuana legalization. He is trying to allow cultivation of hemp in Kentucky under federal laws. The legal status of medical marijuana usage in Kentucky will be discussed below.

The federal government does not differentiate when it classifies all three major cannabis strains as prohibited substances. Cannabis is classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act, which also includes heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Schedule I is the most stringent drug classification. There is a federal provision to allow prescribing marijuana components in pill form for medical use.

Hemp is used to make rope, clothes, and many industrial products. Marijuana is used for recreational purposes, as a mood altering alternative to alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical drugs. Its medical uses include treatment for depression, PTSD, and other psychological disorders. Medical marijuana has also been used to prevent epileptic seizures in children. Wikipedia provides some background information on categories of cannabis and its uses.

Ethier’s article points out that McConnell is trying to get the DEA to separate hemp from marijuana under federal laws. With the decline in tobacco cultivation in Kentucky, hemp cultivation could replace the high value tobacco cultivation that has been lost. There are many legitimate uses for hemp that are much more environmentally friendly than the products being replaced.

Because the federal government continues to maintain the dangers of marijuana, the production of hemp is being hampered. North Dakota was the first state to legalize hemp production, but DEA interference in the courts has made it impossible to achieve large scale production of hemp. McConnell’s focus on legalizing hemp production has allowed a test plot of hemp to be planted in Kentucky over DEA legal objections.

Several states and the District of Columbia have totally decriminalized marijuana for all uses. More states have passed laws allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Other states, including Ohio, have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Growing or selling marijuana is still a felony in Ohio and most other states. Ohio does not provide for the legal use of medical marijuana.

Michigan allows medical marijuana. Indiana is introducing legislation to allow medical marijuana. According to NORML, Kentucky currently has bills introduced in both houses of state government to provide for medical medical marijuana. The provisions include possession of 15 ounces of marijuana and permits growing six mature plants and six immature plants for patients that are certified for treatment with medical marijuana.

As in the case of same-gender marriages, cannabis legislation has languished in Congress and the federal court system. States are taking the lead in key areas where Congress and the courts have failed to act. If Kentucky moves forward on hemp production, with or without DEA approval, it is another step in legalization of marijuana. The Kentucky medical marijuana provisions are among the most liberal if they are passed.

For the Libertarians and Conservatives that want to get government out of the lives of private citizens, legalization of marijuana and same-gender marriages are two areas that can be justified. Having Senator McConnell trying to get the federal statutes changed for hemp will result in speeding up the legalization of all species of cannabis.

God works in mysterious ways.

CONTINUE READING…

Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp How the Kentucky senator picked a fight with the DEA and became one of Washington’s top drug policy reformers.

Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2013 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.

The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.

The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. While the farm bill carved out an exception to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky, the 2015 bill would remove hemp entirely from the list of drugs strictly regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. It would, in essence, legalize hemp production in the United States.

“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” McConnell told me. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs. … I look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”

Yes, Mitch McConnell said that. About hemp.

To grasp how McConnell—the quintessential establishment Republican—came to champion industrial hemp, you must first understand the economics and internal politics of Kentucky, as well as McConnell’s relationship to Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul. It’s also helpful to know that close to $500 million worth of hemp products produced by Canada and other countries is already sold in the United States through such stores as Whole Foods. McConnell’s move also has potential ramifications beyond the marketplace, providing a credible threat to the Controlled Substances Act since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

“The fact that Majority Leader McConnell is a co-sponsor of a hemp bill shows how fast the politics are changing on this issue,” said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group that favors reform. (Bill Piper should not be confused with Billy Piper, former McConnell chief of staff and current K Street lobbyist).

***

The story of how Mitch McConnell evolved on the hemp issue began in 2010. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, was running to replace the retiring Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate and spent much of the primary season blasting McConnell, who not only represented the establishment but also supported a different Republican candidate. The McConnell-Paul relationship changed dramatically after Paul prevailed in the primary and McConnell vigorously stepped in to support him in the general election against the Democratic nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

The bond only grew when Paul came to the Senate in 2011. Paul encouraged McConnell to consider the hemp issue because it was favored by conservatives and Tea Party types, according to two sources familiar with those discussions. McConnell listened.

The other Kentucky Republican who played a role in McConnell’s evolution was Jamie Comer, the state’s newly minted agriculture commissioner. In August 2012, Comer held a news conference before the 49th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast—a big shindig on the Kentucky politics circuit—to announce that legalization of hemp in the state would be his No. 1  priority in the next legislative session. Paul and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, another Kentucky Republican, were there to support Comer; each later testified in support of Comer’s measure before the state Senate agriculture committee in February 2013, along with Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville.

“I engaged with Jamie Comer,” Yarmuth told me. “He reached out to me. From the beginning it’s been a bipartisan thing.”

In Washington, D.C., McConnell was approached multiple times from hemp supporters back home. After the fourth such approach, the senior senator from Kentucky turned to his chief of staff, Josh Holmes, and said, “We’ve got to look into this.”

***

If, like the average U.S. senator, you are unfamiliar with the botany of the cannabis plant, here’s a quick primer:

For starters, hemp is sometimes referred to as marijuana’s “cousin,” which is an unhelpful metaphor because hemp and marijuana are actually the same species, Cannabis sativa. They are simply different strains, and they are cultivated and harvested in different ways.

The cannabis plant is dioecious, which means its male and female flowers grow on different plants. This is unusual: Dioecious species—including gingkoes, willows and a few others—make up only 6 percent of all flowering plants.

Hemp is produced after the male plant fertilizes the females—something that happens almost immediately once the plants flower. Marijuana, on the other hand, is produced from the unfertilized flower of the female plant. A person interested in growing marijuana wants only female plants; a plant that shows signs of male flowers is plucked immediately, before it can mature and pollinate the females around it.

Pollen contamination is one of the chief concerns of marijuana growers, legal and illegal, because as soon as a female flower becomes pollinated, she stops making her THC-rich resin and begins focusing entirely on seed production. (Hemp is defined by Kentucky law as containing less than 0.3 percent THC; unfertilized marijuana flowers could have THC levels of 20 percent or more.)

For decades, the law enforcement lobby has peddled anti-hemp talking points that just didn’t add up. During the 2013 farm bill debate, the DEA asserted that, “It can be extremely difficult to distinguish cannabis grown for industrial purposes from cannabis grown for smoking. This is especially true if law enforcement is attempting to make this determination without entering the premises on which the plants are being grown.”

James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.

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