Happy 420! Special 2019 Edition: Latin America




…and stay on top of the latest buzz on medicinal cannabis legalization in Latin America.

April 20 is an international cultural day when the pro-cannabis community traditionally gets together to express its thoughts on the legalization of cannabis in all its forms.

The term 420 has been used since about 1971, both referring to the date (April 20) and the time of day (4:20pm), as code for cannabis. It has been since adopted by the pro cannabis community, and is now used to bring attention to the issues of legalization and medicinal use.

A new dawn…

The end of the decade is bringing with it a new dawn for cannabis as a medicine. It is slowly but steadily transforming into a scientifically recognized medicinal substance and leaving its social stigma behind.

Currently, a lot of countries around the world are debating the possibility of legalizing cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, while some have already moved past the issue.

This new, worldwide debate has opened the doors for a new market full of possibilities since, until recently, cannabis was solely monopolized by the illegal market and violent criminal groups, which caused the quality of the products to be unsupervised and poor. However, legal cannabis would bring with it regulation and standards which would prevent quality issues that can cause negative health consequences (such as mold or chemicals in the plant making consumers sick).

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Cannabis and CBD in Latin America

Latin America has become an important player in the recent journey of worldwide cannabis legalization. Several Latam countries have taken steps, in recent years, to legalize and produce hemp and different cannabis strains for medicinal purposes, and they are expected to soon become extremely competitive in the international market of processed derivatives, like oils, creams, sprays, and all the different presentations currently available.

It is predicted that by 2028, medicinal cannabis will account for two thirds of the regional total value of the cannabis market, because production is about 80% cheaper than in the US, Canada or Europe.

There are currently more than 40 licensed cannabis producers in Latin America. Some countries, however, seem to be more ahead than others. For example, up until December of 2018, Colombia accounted for 44% of the world production quota.

The estimated total market value of cannabis in Latin America is 9.8 billion USD, and legal sales within the region are expected to rise to 12.7 billion by 2028.

Canada is currently the strongest market for cannabis, since it has fully legalized cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational purposes, and Canadian companies have invested more than 100 million dollars in Colombia for growing purposes. This means Colombia is positioning itself to become one of the largest cannabis exporters in the world.

Legalization

In Latin America, legalization has vast differences from country to country, which comes to show how culture varies from one to another, even if they are thought to be very similar.

The Latin American countries where medicinal cannabis is legal are:

Some insight into the most cannabis-relevant Latin American Countries

Uruguay

In 2013, Uruguay became the first, and so far only, Latin American nation to legalize adult cannabis consumption. Only registered Uruguayans are allowed to purchase cannabis, and it can only be sold by authorized pharmacies.

In 2014 it was made legal to grow up to 6 plants at home.

Brazil

Brazil has the highest cannabis consumption in Latin America.

In 2015, CBD was transferred from the list of prohibited substances to the list of controlled substances, and is now fully covered by the health care system. However, authorizations for the import of cannabis oils are individually evaluated for compassionate use, which means it’s only for patients whose condition is resistant to all other treatments available.

Mexico

Mexico has a history of conservative policies regarding cannabis; but in 2015, special access to CBD Oil was granted to a little girl, and in 2018, the country finally made it legal to grow for private personal use, and declared the prohibition unconstitutional, which suggests that legalization of non medical use will come in 2019.

Chile

Chile has the highest consumption rates per capita in Latin America. And, interestingly, out of all Latin American countries, it has the longest history with successful hemp cultivation for fiber, so the have a lot of experience on good growing practices and know the plant well.

Panama

In Panama, cannabis is still illegal, even medicinal. In 2016 a “legalization” bill passed, but regulation is pending. Only personal dose is allowed, and there are exceptional sanitary permits.

This year, the national assembly is due to vote on bill 595, which legalizes medicinal consumption, but prohibits domestic cultivation.

Like Panama, some Countries around the world have this strange phenomenon, where regulation is pending. Colombia had this issue in 1986, when a law was passed, which allowed regulation, but the regulations took a couple of decades to arrive.

Colombia

Colombia has quickly become one of the strongest countries when it comes to cannabis cultivation. And, at the moment, it’s the only one aggressively promoting cannabis exports.

It has several conditions that favor it in this particular industry, like:

  • A variety of climates.
  • 12 hour day/night cycle, which allows for year round outdoor cultivation.
  • Long culture of exportation.
  • Central location, which is good for commerce.
  • Fertile soil.
  • Existing legislation.
  • The government’s commitment.

In 2018, Colombia was granted a growing quota equivalent to 44% of the world production authorized by the International Narcotics Control Board.

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Legalization

Colombia had an interesting journey. Though legalization technically happened in 1986, the country’s issues with drug trafficking and violence prevented further regulation, which caused cannabis to still be treated as illegal. It took several years before any other legal disposition was made concerning cannabis. The timeline is as follows:

February, 1986: Colombia legalized manufacture, export, sales, medical and scientific use of cannabis. However, due to the lack of regulation, production could not be initiated.

1994: Consumption was decriminalized.

2009: The Constitution is modified, criminalizing possession and consumption, except with medical prescription.

2012: Possession is decriminalized (up to 20gr).

June, 2015: Home cultivation of up to 20 plants is decriminalized.

December, 2015: Cannabis is legalized for medical and scientific purposes.

May, 2016: The Ministry of Health defined licensing requirements for production and manufacture of cannabis derivatives.

June, 2016: The first manufacturing license was issued to a large-scale cannabis corporation.

July, 2016: Law 1797 established a regulatory framework for medical and scientific use of cannabis.

April, 2017: Decree 613 amended law 1787, ensuring government support for small growers, distinguishing between psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis, and creating regulations for seeds.

At the moment, Colombia is the only latinamerican country that distinguishes between psychoactive and non psychoactive medical cannabis. Psychoactive cannabis is only permitted in its processed form (oils, pills, and different topical presentations), but not as flowers or dried plants. Cannabis-based medication (like Sativex) is only available with a medical prescription, and can only be distributed in government authorized pharmacies.

Since November 2018, several cannabis licenses have been granted:

  • 19 for use of seeds
  • 62 for psychoactive cannabis cultivation
  • 89 for hemp cultivation
  • 73 entities were granted licenses for psychoactive cannabis derivative manufacturing (68 for export, 64 for domestic use and 28 for scientific research)

Colombia aims to grow as a cannabis derivative exporter, starting with the regional market before expanding to other countries, like Canada.

Foreign operators are welcome in the Colombian cannabis industry, and residency requirements have not been established, though the company must at least have a local branch or independent company within the territory, and is expected to comply with the local tax regulation.

At the moment, several major Canadian cannabis companies are already involved in Colombia. And the government has now granted benefits to small and medium growers, which benefit the country’s growing economy.

According to BBC Mundo, “Colombia has the best conditions in Latin America for investing in the [medical] marijuana industry.” And Canadian analyst, Michael McCune, a member of the Canadian lobbying group called iTrust Cannabis, said, “We see Colombia as a global leader in the cannabis industry, with enormous production and export capacity.”

This is an important view, since Colombia and Canada are currently the two main leaders of the cannabis market.

Colombia’s economy is slowly being reborn from the ashes of the conflict that has plagued it for decades. And it’s interesting to see how cannabis is one of the industries that has begun to take shape after the illegal drug-fueled conflict. Not to mention that the economic development brought by it is reaching some of the most conflict-affected areas of the country, like Valle del Cauca and Magdalena.

It’s perfect timing, since the government is questioning itself on how it can generate rural development without relying on hydrocarbons, which are now an unstable market. And by 2025, Colombia’s cannabis exports are predicted to exceed those of coal, while Procolombia also believes that the country is capable of quickly capturing one fifth of the cannabis market in the next few years.

The Change….

The punitive approach to cannabis in Latin America and the rest of the world is changing steadily due to the increasing number of patients who have been successfully treated with it; and that change will only be accelerated by the fact that the World Health Organization has recommended its rescheduling as a controlled substance. This encourages a debate between the medical and scientific world and those who still feel that it is necessary to maintain the punitive approach towards cannabis.

Each Latin American country has its own regulations, which vary depending on their individual culture and history. These regulations have different implications for companies that wish to enter the country’s economy or expand in it.

The two most commonly used business models for this industry in Latin America are:

  • Vertically integrated operations (a license-holder is allowed to produce, process, sell, and export their product).
  • Corporate model for agriculture (small and medium-sized producers sell their harvest to a company that processes, packages, and distributes the product).

This is something the region needs. An estimated 4.5 million Colombians and 60 million Latin Americans suffer from cancer, MS, or epilepsy. The region is in need of better, less harmful treatments that can help people have a better quality of life.

What will legalization bring to the table?

Legalization is a game changer. It brings with it regulations that keep products in check and set a standard for quality and good practices. It stops being a business lead by criminal organizations that take advantage of the low standards and becomes a market pushed forward by doctors, scientists and serious entrepreneurs who know how to provide good service and quality products.

It also opens the doors wider for medical and scientific studies, trials and research that will allow us to look into new treatments and even cures for devastating illnesses.  

Vicente Fox, board member of Khiron Life Sciences Corp. and former president of Mexico, believes that moving from prohibition to legalization is a good thing. It takes money and power away from violent, illegal organizations and gives it to entrepreneurs, farmers, the legal side of economy; it generates jobs, medical and scientific research, and accelerates development.

Though public opinion is quickly shifting and people are now less fearful than they have ever been about cannabis, this particular industry needs to be more careful than others. Every company needs to be on its best behaviour because one mistake can ruin everything. The cannabis industry hasn’t yet established credibility, so it is up to the new companies to do so.

If everything goes well, people will understand that there’s a big difference between an industry run by criminals and an industry run by doctors, experts, and farmers.

There seems to be a misconception about cannabis being an extremely harmful drug, but this is nothing more than a misconception, which will, in time, hopefully change.

“I have never heard of anyone dying from cannabis; on the other hand, billions have perished from alcohol, sugar excess, and cigarettes.” Vicente Fox

For it to work…

For this industry to succeed, different factors need to come into play.

  • The collaboration between different countries will surely bring the best of two worlds together, and result in a product that has outstanding quality and good manufacturing practices.
  • Operational costs must be maintained low for Latam countries to become competitive and maintain that competitiveness when others begin exporting.
  • Brands need to stand out globally and have exceptional quality and good practices.
  • It is important for companies to understand and adapt to the individual regulations in the countries they have chosen to work in, in order to avoid unnecessary legal issues.
  • t’s important to maintain supply, since demand can jump unexpectedly.
  • It is also necessary to stimulate home grown market and inform people on good home growing practices in order to avoid widespread health issues.
  • Cannaturism is also a broad opportunity for Latin Amercan countries while legalization moves forward.

2020s?

There’s a lot of hope for the 2020s! It’s the beginning of a new era for medicine, science, and society. A new era for less prohibition and more regulation in order to ensure quality and good practices in the marketing of cannabis products.

If regulations continue to advance, the next decade will possibly bring with it better medical treatments for painful, debilitating illnesses and a significant improvement in mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

Having a legal cannabis market will also serve as a strong blow to violent organizations that take advantage of circumstances and are not interested in the community’s well-being. They have caused a lot of harm to individuals and entire counties. So taking away some of their power, is bound to be a positive change…

Happy 420!

And here’s to a new era.   

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State of the Leaf: 5 countries that legalized cannabis in 2018

“All I want for christmas is weed!” During 2018, cannabis legalization conquered the world. At least one country from each continent has now joined the green revolution. During the past five years, countries from all around the world have legalized medicinal cannabis. The perception is rapidly changing. From a drug considered and scheduled as bad as heroin and LSD, today we look cannabis with different eyes.

Only in 2018, five countries and three states in the United States legalized cannabis in some way. Canada set the tone when it legalized recreational marijuana, becoming the first G-7 country to do it.

Let’s travel the world and see which countries said “Yes!” to legal cannabis.

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United States -not the whole country, but some states- takes a step forward!

Cannabis was one of the big winners in this midterm elections. There are now 10 states, and the District of Columbia, that have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. On the other hand, two states approved bills to allow patients access to medicinal cannabis. And even more importantly, a recent bill is on the verge of legalizing industrial hemp on a federal level. Let’s take a quick look.

Michigan approved full cannabis legalization

On November 6, and in a very tight vote, the people of Michigan said yes to recreational marijuana. Proposal 1 allows adults 21 and over to use, posses and grow cannabis. Michigan, as from next year, will have a whole market created around cannabis. Dispensaries that want to become part of the green market will have to request a licence from the state. This will allow private companies to grow, process and sell recreational cannabis.

Utah passed the medicinal cannabis bill

Although medicinal cannabis legalization passed the November 6 ballot, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the Beehive State regarding medicinal cannabis legalization. Even though Proposition 2 won with a 54.1%, politicians in favor and against the measure will write a new draft of the bill. Contradictors thought Proposition 2 was too light and that there was a very small margin for it to become a recreational ballot.

The result is a new bill. And a more restricted one. There will be only 6 dispensaries in the state, one of them public. Edibles and flowers are banned, just like home grown cultivation. The only cannabis products that you will find are capsules, tablets, concentrated oil, tinctures and sublinguals, among others. Wax or rosin will be allowed in very rare cases.

Missouri will allow cannabis for patients

Thanks to Amendment 2, patients will now have access to medical marijuana through licenced dispensaries. The only way for patients to buy medicinal cannabis is to present a doctor’s prescription. It will be illegal to sell cannabis to a patient without a prescription.

According to the bill, the state will start receiving applications for dispensaries no later than August 3.  Tax from cannabis will be destined to veterans. The tax amount will be around 4%.

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Hemp is going legal!

The best christmas present for cannabis advocates came from the United States Congress. On December 12, the House approved the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill, which is intended to boost and strengthen agriculture in the country, will also legalize hemp on a federal level. Why is this important? Because all cannabis strains with less than 0.3% THC levels will be removed from the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Hemp, and all its derivatives, will be legal across the nation if President Donald Trump signs the bill.

This decision will boost the CBD and hemp market. This type of cannabis strain can be used in food, textile, fuel, and as a plastic and paper substitute. It will also open a window of possibilities to research CBD and its medicinal properties.

New York and the green hope

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he is pushing to legalize recreational marijuana in 2019. “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all”, Cuomo said during a speech in Manhattan. The Governor explained that legalizing recreational marijuana will “generate more than 1.7 billion dollars in sales, and it will put New York in line with several neighboring states”.

If his determination is as good as his will, there will be 11 states with legal recreational marijuana in 2019.

Canada has said “Yes” to weed

Justin, you did it! Canada’s Prime Minister was dead serious when early this year he announced his intention of legalizing recreational marijuana. He made legalization one if his campaign’s big promises. On July, he wrote on his Twitter account:

“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate”.

Three months later, exactly on October 17th, a cannabis fog settled across Canada. In just a few days, dispensaries ran out of weed. The law allows adults (18 or 19 depending on the state), to buy, use, possess and grow recreational marijuana. The only authorized stores to sell weed are dispensaries that have authorization from the Government to do so.

South Africa, “weed are free now”

One month before the big news came from North America, South Africa legalized cannabis use. “Weed are free now”, chanted the activists outside the Constitutional Court when the big announcement was made. South Africa’s highest court decided that growing marijuana for private consumption is not considered a felony.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said: “It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption”. But it is still illegal to publicly consume cannabis, as it is to sell it or supply it.

South Korea

South Korea became the first Asian country to legalize medicinal cannabis. On November 23, the Government approved a bill that will allow import and distribution of CBD cannabis oil to treat illnesses such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer symptoms and chronic pain, among others.  Korea Orphan Drug Center will control the medicinal cannabis import and further distribution.

However, the process is not that simple. Patients will need a letter from their doctor, in which he or she describes in detail the condition and how CBD can be used to treat that condition. You have to send a letter to the Korea Orphan Drug Center, located in Seoul, and wait for approval.

Shin Chang-Hyun a politician from the Democratic Party introduced the bill. He said that cannabis legalization will be a solution for minorities and people of scarce resources:

“The approval of imports of cannabis-composition medical products for self-treatment will strengthen the safety net for social minorities such as those with rare and incurable patients who cannot see treatment benefits if they don’t get treated in a certain time frame”.

Medicinal cannabis for New Zealand

The Kiwis are following Luxembourg’s steps. Earlier this month, the Government passed a law to make medicinal cannabis available for patients. According to the Bill: patients that are suffering from terminal illnesses, could smoke recreational marijuana without being charged with a felony.

David Clarke, Health Minister, told The Guardian that this measure will benefit thousands of patients suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses: “People nearing the end of their lives should not have to worry about being arrested or imprisoned for trying to manage their pain. This is compassionate and caring legislation that will make a real difference to people … they can use illicit cannabis without fear of prosecution.” And just like Luxembourg, medicinal legislation was just the first step to legalize nationwide recreational marijuana.

During the 2020 general elections, citizens will also vote in a referendum to legalize recreational use of cannabis. First medicinal, then recreational. Not bad, right?

Luxembourg

Legalization in Luxembourg is the perfect example of how a step by step approach is a good way to convince people of cannabis benefits. It started back in 2017, when Health Minister Lydia Mutsch drafted a bill to start a two year pilot program for medicinal cannabis. After this period, the Government will review how many patients benefited from cannabis treatment and then make further decisions or modify the law.

The Congress approved the Bill in June 2018. According to Luxembourg News, the cannabis that will be used to treat patients all over Luxembourg will come from Canada and it will only be available upon prescription from a hospital pharmacy.

However, legalization didn’t stop here. On December 5th, the re-elected Government announced that they are moving forward to legalize recreational marijuana. If approved, Luxembourg will become the first country in the European Union to legally allow and regulate adult use of recreational marijuana.

Will Mexico join the club in 2019?

Mexico is facing a war against drug cartels. The elected president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is going to take a big step ahead where the drug wars are concerned. How? By legalizing recreational marijuana. His political party, National Regeneration Movement, has submitted a bill to legalize possession, public use, growth and sale of marijuana.

Mexico could be the third country, after Canada and Uruguay, to fully legalize recreational marijuana. For instance, it will also allow Mexicans to home grow up to 20 plants and produce 17 ounces per year.

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CBD oil for obesity: Are the States with Legal Marijuana Less Obese?

The munchies don’t increase obesity rates in the United States. That is a fact. Although science hasn’t proven a direct connection between prevention of obesity and cannabinoids, we have analyzed that legal states are less obese than states where prohibition continues. After looking at obesity rate statistics and comparing them to recreational cannabis legalization, we saw that three of the four less obese states were pioneers in marijuana legalization. Furthermore, only one state with legal marijuana exceeds the 30% obesity rate.

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All of the data for obesity rates in adults in each state was taken from the State of Obesity Report. This report has statistics up until 2017. In order to be able to analyze if full cannabis legalization has anything to do on the increase or decrease of obesity rates, we are only going to look at states that have legalized marijuana before or in early 2016.

Which states are not going to be taken into consideration?

Michigan approved recreational marijuana during this year’s midterm elections, so it is not possible to see if legalization has any relation with obesity rates. Maine voters legalized by a tight margin the Marijuana Legalization Measure in November 2016. Because of political setbacks, the state only passed the bill last summer.

Vermont officially legalized cannabis on July 1st this year. Unlike the other states that legalized marijuana through ballot, the Green Mountain State legalized through the legislature. Adults can grow two mature plants and four immature plants per housing. You can smoke your own weed, but you are not allowed to sell it to a friend. You can give it as a Christmas gift if you want! Adults are allowed to possess one ounce, but it is not allowed to smoke in the car or any public space.

Massachusetts approved marijuana legalization through ballot in 2016. However, lawmakers delayed, for almost two years, for the beginning of marketing. Legal and official dispensaries only opened up until a few months ago. So there is no margin to see if legalization has affected obesity rates in the state, which in 2017 was at 25.9%.

Finally, Nevada is another state that legalized recreational marijuana but is not going to be a part of this analysis. Although the measure passed in 2016, sales only began in July 2017.

With this cleared, let’s take a look at the other states and see if there is a relation between lower obesity rates and legalization.

Are the states with legal marijuana less obese?

Alaska – 34.2% Obesity Rate

Of all the states that have legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis before 2016, Alaska is the only one with an obesity rate higher than 30%. The Midnight Sun state legalized recreational marijuana in the first quarter of 2015. Legislation allows adults 21 and older to buy and carry up to one ounce of marijuana. Adults can also buy cannabis in dispensaries, which started to operate in late 2016.

The obesity rate in Alaska has grown exponentially since 1994. Twenty three years ago, the obesity rate in adults was at 15.7%. In 2017, the obesity rate in adults was 34.2%. Alaska is the 9th more obese state in the U.S, and with it come related illnesses. This state also has alarmingly high diabetes rates. In fact, it is the third state with more adults suffering from diabetes (7.4% as for 2017).

Even though recreational and medicinal cannabis is legal in Alaska, it appears that going green hasn’t reduced or maintained obesity rates in this state.

Oregon – 29.4% Obesity Rate

 

As of July 1st 2015, adults 21 and over in Oregon are allowed to grow up to four plants in their home, where they can also possess up to eight ounces of marijuana. Out in the streets, oregonians can possess up to one ounce. However, marijuana cannot be sold or smoked in public. In 2017, the state paid more than 80 million dollars in tax revenue from marijuana. This money was destined to fund schools and public health, among others.

Interestingly, during the first year of legalization, obesity rate in adults decreased by almost three points, going from 30.1% in 2015 to 28.7% in 2016. Also, diabetes rate in adults decreased more than one point, from 10.7% in 2015 to 9.5% the next year.

Washington – 27.7% Obesity Rate

Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since 2012, the state allows adults 21 and over to carry up to an ounce. Dispensaries reported more than 1 billion dollars in sales since the first store opened in 2012. Self-cultivation is not allowed for recreational purposes. If adults want to legally grow in their homes, it has to be for medicinal purposes.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, obesity rates stabilized during a period of three years. From 2013 (27.2%) to 2014 (27.3%), obesity rates decreased by less than a point. But it did have a significant decrease in 2015, where obesity rate was 26.4%. In 2016, the state presented a peak in obesity rate (28.6%), but on the following year it decreased again to the range of 27% (27.7%).

According to this data, it appears that, since cannabis legalization, obesity rates have stabilized in 27%, with an increase in 2016 only to go back to the 27% bar in 2017.

The least obese states in U.S are the most green

California, the District of Columbia and Colorado are the Top 3 on the marijuana market. These three states set the tone when it comes to the green industry. Colorado was the first state to legalize in 2012, followed by Washington D.C in 2014 and California going fully legal in the first day of 2016. Looking at the data of obesity rates, it turns out that this three states are also the least obese ones in the country. We could say that they are the 3 least obese states in the U.S if we don’t consider Hawai, which has a 23.8% rate.

California – 25.1% Obesity Rate

California love! The Golden State is without a doubt one of the greenest. It was the first to legalize medicinal cannabis in 1996. And on the first day of the year 2016, Hollywood became Hollyweed. The current law allows adults 21 and over to buy eight grams of marijuana edibles and grow six plants per household.

In obesity rates, California is the 4th least obese state in the United States. Since legalization, obesity rates in adults has only increased in 0.1% from 25% in 2015 to 25.1% in 2017.

District of Columbia – 23.0% Obesity Rate

And we arrive to the bottom two. The nation’s capital is the second least obese state in the United States. And it also was one of the first to legalize marijuana. Washington D.C residents voted in favor during the 2014 ballot that took effect in 2015. Adults 21 and over can possess until two ounces of marijuana. Since legalization, obesity rate in adults has grown less than one point, from 22.1% in 2015 to 23% in 2017.

Colorado22.6% Obesity Rate

We can say that Colorado is the greenest and least obese state in the whole country. It was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. In terms of recreational market, there is no other place to go. There are even more dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds!

Since legalization, obesity rate has only increased from 20.5% to 22.6% in 2017. It is still the state with the lowest obesity rate in the United States and it has been since the early 1990s. It’s fair to say that the munchies hasn’t doesn’t increase obesity rates after all.

CBD oil for obesity: what studies say

Although this is very encouraging, science has not been able to show  without a doubt that there is a direct link between cannabis and obesity. You would’ve thought that marijuana users tend to be more obese because of the munchies. But that isn’t necessarily true.

A 2011 study looked at the correlation between regular marijuana users and obesity rates. To analyze the connection, authors took to representative studies of US adults (18 and older): National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication. Researchers concluded that “the prevalence of obesity is three times lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.”

The medical and scientific community has begun to investigate how cannabinoids can be a treatment for obesity and diabetes. Although there is nothing conclusive yet, there is a lot of research to be done. And if you look at the obesity rates of all the states, it is more than a coincidence that the least obese ones are California, Washington D.C and Colorado.

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Marijuana legalization: what’s at stake in these Midterm Elections?

Four states will decide on medical marijuana legalization, while Florida and California have to choose between pro-legalization and against-legalization candidates for Governor.

On November 6th, United States citizens will once again face the ballots. And, like it was in 2016, marijuana legalization is one of the main characters. Four states will vote on marijuana legalization in some way, while California and Florida will choose new Governors that will define the cannabis future within its borders.

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As you can see, there is much at stake. We’ve prepared a quick review on what you need to know about marijuana legalization in Election day.

Take note!

Legalizing marijuana: Can a change in US House make it happen?

Cannabis is one of the most trending topics in the US. A recent Gallup report says that “66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana”. The tides are definitely changing.

The United States is currently facing an opioid addiction crisis, and cannabis can be the answer for chronic pain patients. Also, veterans are vowing for cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. And if health isn’t enough, tax revenue in states like California and Colorado is over 2 billion dollars. This is all happening before these midterm elections, in which cannabis has a mayor role.

Now, political experts think that next Tuesday we will witness a change in the U.S House. Rep. Earl Blumenauer told Marijuana Business Daily that “if Democrats are in charge of the House, the momentum will be unstoppable”.

The STATES Act

But when it comes to legalization, representatives from both parties have shown support. The STATES Act, currently in Congress, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (Republican) and Elizabeth Warren (Democrat). This act will decriminalize marijuana on a federal level.

Currently, the bill has support of 29 member of Congress of both parties (see table below). All of them will be facing reelection during this midterm.

Neal Levine, chief executive officer for the Cannabis Trade Federation, told MJD that this is an excellent chance of passing the Act “no matter who controls the House”.

Ending federal marijuana prohibition is beyond parties and ideals.

Go Green!

States supporting Marijuana Legalization during these midterm elections

During these midterm elections, voters will decide marijuana legalization in several states. Michigan and North Dakota will vote for legalization of recreational marijuana. Utah and Missouri voters can approve medical marijuana legalization. Check out what each state is voting for on November 6th.

MICHIGAN

Michigan citizens will decide if they approve adult use of recreational marijuana. Proposal 1 will legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Also, it will allow marijuana possession, cultivation (up to 12 plants) and sale. If passed, flower, concentrates, and edibles will be aloud too.

Therefore, recent polls show that 67% of voters support legalization, 35% opposed it and 3% are still undecided. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state of Michigan. If Proposal 1 passes, it will mean a full marijuana legalization.

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016. But Measure 3 is going all the way for full legalization. If approved by the voters, it will allow adults to use and grow marijuana. However, it didn’t set a limit on how much marijuana an adult can posses or cultivate and it doesn’t mention licensing.  Furthermore, Measure 3 will also remove marijuana from the state’s list of Schedule I substances.

Because it is such a progressive measure, recent polls don’t show a very good outcome. Only 26% are in favor and 65% are opposing it, as shown by Leafly.

UTAH

Utah’s Proposition 2 will allow patients with medical conditions access to medical marijuana. These medical conditions include cancer, HIV, epilepsy, chronic pain, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, MS, PTSD, and autism. In particular, medical marijuana prescriptions will be handled by the State. Proposition 2 only allows 5 privately owned and 1 public dispensary. Recent polls show a 64% support.

MISSOURI

Missouri has 3 measures to consider in these midterm elections. Amendment 2 will tax medical marijuana at 4%. The tax revenue will go to healthcare services for veterans, among others. It will also allow patients to grow medical marijuana.

Amendment 3 will tax medical marijuana at 15%. This tax revenue will be used for a cancer research institute. However, this institute will be chaired by Brad Bradshaw, who is the lawyer pushing the bill. Bradshaw will also choose the board of the institute. In contrast, it wont allow patients to grow their own cannabis

Finally, Proposition C will tax medical marijuana at 2%. In contrast from the other two measures, this one will allow licenses for medical dispensaries. These dispensaries will cultivate, produce, test and dispense medical cannabis. However, it doesn’t allow patients to grow their own cannabis. Similar to Amendment 2, Proposition C will use tax revenue for veterans, drug treatment, and education.

OHIO

The state of Ohio has struggled to legalize medical marijuana. In 2015, Buckeye State voters turned down Issue 3. This measure would have created a monopoly in the state for medical marihuana. In midterm election 2018, the ballot will face decriminalization.

Issue 1 will “convert drug possession and drug use crimes to misdemeanors with no jail time”, as described in Dayton Daily News. This means that if you buy or consume marijuana, you won’t go to jail. Nevertheless, drug trafficking crimes are still considered as felonies.

Regarding Issue 1, felony offenders won’t go back to jail for “small drug-related violations”. So, the funds saved from prison expenses will go to drug treatment programs.

The measure has powerful supporters. For example, Chan Zuckerberg Foundation donated 3 million dollars to favor de initiative. Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, is the founder of the organization. Also, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a 1 million dollar contribution.

Ohio’s politicians are against approving Issue 1, including current Governor  John Kasich. The state will vote for his successor on November 6th. Ohio Attorney General, Mike De Wine, is running for Governor and opposes the measure. Democrat candidate Richard Cordray supports Issue 1.

California and Florida choose Governors

It all points to California continuing green. The Golden State became full legal when recreational marijuana was legalized earlier this year. The race for Governor is between Gavin Newsome, Democrat, and Jhon Cox, Republican. Newsome is the political face of marijuana legalization. “We moved towards legalization to get people into the daylight and into the sunshine of a regulated environment”, he told Newsweek.

On the other hand, Cox is in favor of medical marihuana, but is against full legalization. In the recent polls, Newsome has a two digit margin over Cox.

In Florida, the position of both candidates is clear and far opposite. Andrew Gillum, Democrat, is in favor of full adult use legalization. Gillum thinks that full adult-use legalization is the future for Florida. Republican candidate Ron Desantis opposes legalization and has even voted against allowing veterans access cannabis for PTSD. The race for the Governor seat is very tight, with Gillum only leading over one point.

There you go. Now that you have all the facts, it’s time to exercise your constitutional right. On November 6th, vote!

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