Cannabis News Update May 10, 2021
Today in cannabis news: The Cherokee Tribal Council of western North Carolina votes to make medical cannabis legal on tribal territory; a measure that allows Kansas to create a statewide medical cannabis program is approved by the state House of Representatives; and the Alabama state Legislature approves a bill to legalize and establish a statewide medical cannabis program.
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** First up: The Cherokee Tribal Council of western North Carolina voted to make medical cannabis legal on tribal territory. The tribal lands will be the first statewide to authorize cannabis possession.
On tribal land known as the Qualla Boundary, possession of one ounce maximum of cannabis by people aged 21 years or older is now permitted. On the tribe’s territory, it remains illegal to sell or cultivate cannabis. Principal Chief Richard Sneed, however, stated that this vote is the first step to legalize cannabis on tribal territories.
“There’s so much science now supporting cannabis as a medicine,” Sneed said to the tribal council prior to the vote. “This really is a quality of life issue as well for folks who have debilitating diseases, chronic pain, chronic back pain, cancer.”
Part of the policy that would have permitted individuals to “donate” small quantities of cannabis without selling it was repealed by the tribal council. In North Carolina, cannabis is illegal, but possessing under half an ounce is just subject to a fine. Recently, a committee in North Carolina proposed that small quantities of cannabis be decriminalized.
** Next up: A measure that would allow for Kansas to create a medical cannabis program was approved by the state House of Representatives.
The measure passed the full House with a 79-42 vote just days following passage by the Federal and State Affairs Committee, and now moves to the Senate.
For this bill, the path to the House was a little more difficult. Following a range of meetings, it advanced through committee and to the floor in March, only to be remanded to the board for additional review. Before returning it to the floor, lawmakers introduced a number of new amendments.
Proponents are optimistic that the Senate will pass the bill in the upcoming legislative veto session. Governor Laura Kelly (D) is a supporter of medical cannabis and is likely to approve the measure if it reaches their office.
Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury are among the conditions mentioned in the measure that make an individual qualified for cannabis. On the floor, it was revised to include lupus in the list of eligible conditions, but a related amendment to include insomnia and sleep disorders in the list was defeated.
Smoking and vaping cannabis will be banned, and an attempt to repeal the ban was defeated in the chamber. Home cultivation will also be excluded from the measure.
** Last up: The Alabama state Legislature has approved a bill to establish a state medical cannabis program to control, license, and monitor medical cannabis production. Medical cannabis may be prescribed for a variety of ailments, including cancer, terminal disease, epilepsy, and severe pain. Clients will be given medical cannabis credentials, and smoking or vaping medical cannabis would be forbidden, while edibles, concentrates, and topicals will be permitted.
After Republicans filibustered a vote on the bill through an almost nine-hour dissension in the chamber, the House version of the bill advanced 68-34 with bipartisan approval. The Senate, which first approved the bill in February, accepted House amendments to the bill with a 20-9 vote, and one abstention. The bill is now on its way to Governor Kay Ivey’s office for ratification.
If made law, Alabama will be the 37th U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis. State Rep. Mike Ball (R), the bill’s sponsor, had previously opposed medical cannabis legalization but said they changed their mind since learning about its therapeutic efficacy.
“Open your heart, open your mind and listen to the other side,” said Ball in response to those who remain opposed to medical cannabis legalization in the state.