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Mexico moves closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market – NBC News

Mexico is inching closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market as lawmakers prepare to debate a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Chamber of Deputies, Congress' lower house similar to the U.S. House of Representatives, will take up the issue early next week, Martha Tagle Martínez, a member of the chamber’s health committee, said in a series of tweets.

The Senate approved the legalization of medical marijuana almost four months ago, and two months later, the Health Ministry published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis.

Former President Vicente Fox, who is on the board of global medical marijuana company Khiron Life Sciences Corp., said he sees the potential for Mexico to cash in on much-needed job creation, economic investment and medical advancements.

A regulated market could also help to lessen the cartel violence that has become synonymous with the country.

„Many great things will happen,” he said. „We’re taking away this beautiful plant from criminals and putting in the hands of retailers and farmers.”

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox serves on the board of the global medical marijuana company Khiron Life Sciences Corp.Yuri Cortez / AFP – Getty Images file

Mexico has been steadily marching toward creating a cannabis market since 2015, when a federal judge ruled in favor of importing cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, for medical reasons. The ruling stemmed from a case involving a young girl suffering from a severe form of epilepsy.

The parents of the girl, Grace Elizalde, who was 8 years old at the time, had tried just about everything to treat her Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which triggered 400 seizures a day. At their most desperate, the family drove three hours to Laredo, Texas, to acquire Cosyntropin, a synthetic peptide that can be used to treat seizures. The medication cost more than $5,000, said Grace’s father, Raul Elizalde, who is now the president of the international CBD company HempMeds.

Elizalde eventually reached out to a Mexican lawmaker who publicly supported adopting cannabis legislation in Mexico after Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. That lawmaker, Fernando Belaunzarán, wrote a letter to Mexico’s health secretary on behalf of the Elizalde family, seeking permission to import cannabis oil for Grace’s treatment.

Initially, the Health Ministry declined the request, but a federal judge stepped in and allowed Elizalde to import CBD.

„There was not a lot of information back then in 2015,” Elizalde said. „It was hard to find any information about cannabis, especially CBD.”

Elizalde said Grace’s doctor had been interested in research taking place around the world on CBD as a potential treatment for epilepsy and thought it was worth a try for his daughter, who is now 13. Her seizures have decreased to about 20 on a bad day, Elizalde said.

In 2017, Enrique Peña Nieto, the president at the time, signed a bill allowing the medical use of marijuana products containing less than 1 percent of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The bill also called on the Health Ministry to draft and implement regulations for the nascent industry.

It took three more years for Mexico to finalize regulations. During that time, public perception gradually shifted as more families spoke publicly about using cannabis-derived medication to treat various ailments.

„The domino effect is happening,” Fox said. „The No. 1 challenge is to convey, inform and educate consumers and patients. And also educate the medical community. There is still some hesitancy in Mexican culture.”

In a poll published last year in the newspaper El Financiero, 58 percent of respondents opposed full legalization. But among respondents under age 40, more than half said they were in favor of legalizing cannabis.

„Mexico is changing,” Elizalde said. „We never thought we would change the law. Now it’s changing faster than we thought possible.”

While the road to full legalization appears to have accelerated, especially compared to the U.S.’s debate over the so-called war on drugs, Mexico’s path has not necessarily been driven by public or political demand. Instead, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a series of five rulings declaring the ban on the consumption of cannabis unconstitutional.

Under Mexican law, the number of decisions needed to set a precedent is five.

„Mexico went down the legalization path because of a quirk in the way their judicial system works,” said Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

While the court’s mandate forced lawmakers to build a framework for regulating cannabis, it did not necessarily create a desire among elected officials to do so quickly.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned on the promise to change the country’s approach to its drug war, including negotiating peace and amnesty for people involved in or affected by the illegal drug trade. Despite his campaign promises, legalizing cannabis is not necessarily a top priority, Rudman said.

„It was more that the court basically said to the Congress, 'You have to do this,'” he said.

With the clock ticking for Mexico to finalize both its medical and recreational cannabis programs, the U.S. could be left in an awkward position if its neighbors to the north and the south each have legal frameworks in place. Canada legalized recreational cannabis in 2018; marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S.

„It creates some really interesting trade issues,” Rudman said. „Mexico legalizing is going to strengthen the push for, if not legalization, decriminalization in the U.S.”

The Chamber of Deputies has until the end of April to comply with the court mandate to legalize cannabis.

CBD Co. Execs Can’t Rewrite Admissions, Investor Says – Law360

Law360 (March 5, 2021, 11:06 PM EST) — Executives of a CBD company shouldn’t be allowed to take back admissions they already made, an investor in the company told a Nevada federal judge in regards to his case against them.

In a Thursday motion, investor Richard Ina told U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey that CV Sciences Inc. founder Michael Mona Jr. and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mona III were wasting the court’s time and resources with requests to withdraw and amend certain admissions they’d already made in connection with the securities fraud allegations they face.

According to Ina, the Monas' requests amounted to a contention that „the statements…

New cannabis dispensary opens in Galena, brings in extra foot traffic – KWQC

GALENA, Ill. (KWQC) – A new cannabis dispensary is opening in Downtown Galena. Verilife’s grand opening is Saturday, March 6th. Small business owners nearby say this new attraction will help boost their own sales as well.

Verilife President Bill McMenamy says, “this is a long time coming for Verilife. This is an incredible opportunity for us to join the business community and service the tourists and residents of Galena.” Medical and recreational marijuana can be sold to those 21 and older in Illinois with an ID present. McMenamy says recreational marijuana has appealed to people of all demographics, with different products available for various needs.

Verilife’s Illinois District Manager Divina Capellupo says also they hired 45 workers, mostly from Galena. “It’ll be great because it’ll drive traffic back into Galena. A lot of tourists that come from Chicago or neighboring states see us as a brand and purchase, then drive more into the business and state,” she adds.

On the day of the “soft opening,” customers were already streaming in from across state lines. One customer drove in from Mineral Point Wisconsin and spent almost $200. “I think it’s going to be great for the business and only going to bring in more people, it’s going to bring in more people and be an overall really good experience all in all,” she says.

Right across the street, the Log Cabin Steakhouse has been seeing that excitement grow within their community. Manager Abraham Birkholz says they’ve experienced “a lot of pent-up interest asking for weeks to months about the opening, asking ‘where can we go?’ There’s been a lot of excitement around the town as we become a ‘green town.’”

Verilife will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The store is located at 115 Perry Street, Galena, IL.

The store is taking COVID-19 precautions, only allowing about 15 people inside at one time, enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing.

Within the first week after marijuana was legalized, sales brought Illinois nearly $11 million. Even with the pandemic and the state locking down, sales continued to increase, generating around $150 million in taxes from the $700 million worth of sold products.

TV6 checked in with law enforcement to see how the legalization of recreational marijuana has impacted crime in the area.

Local businesses also found new opportunities with the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.

Patrick Kennedy warns against push to 'legalize and commercialize' cannabis, cites 'plague' of addiction – Fox News

Former congressman Patrick Kennedy responded Friday to a Bloomberg report that the U.S. marijuana lobby is trying to prevent him from becoming the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position commonly known as the „drug czar”.

„We love our addictions in America, and, you know, I think it’s a big profitable business, and, of course, real profit comes when people do not drink responsibly,” Kennedy, a recovering cocaine and prescription drug addict told „Tucker Carlson Tonight„. „I don’t think alcohol [companies] make money off of people who drink responsibly. They make their money off of people like me, who drink more than they should.”

Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island’s 1st District in the House of Representatives for 16 years and is the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, is also an outspoken opponent of the legalization of recreational marijuana use. 

The former lawmaker claimed the vice industry sees younger consumers as a potential cash cow, citing products like hard lemonades and Juul vaping mechanisms as well as 20th Century ads featuring Joe Camel and other characters.

Kennedy then noted that Richmond-based Altria, which owns tobacco product manufacturer Philip Morris, has a stake in Juul while also investing in the cannabis industry.

„[T]hey are making a strategic bet that we’re going to legalize and commercialize marijuana in this country,” he said. „Tucker, I’ve got five kids and I know they are going to be primed to suffer from addiction.”

„Part of addiction runs in your genes, but the other part is when it happens because young people’s brains aren’t fully formed. And kids today are panicked, anxious, depressed. Of course, why wouldn’t they be, given the unsettled economy and the COVID and impact of it. So it’s natural that people want to self-medicate.”

Kennedy suggested his personal experiences and his apprehension surrounding alcohol and drugs concern „Big Pot” and other powerful lobbying entities in Washington.

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„I know addiction is a plague. I’ve seen it up close in my family. I’ve suffered in my own life. I have seen it with my friends, and I don’t think our country is really up for this trade-off in order to have a commercialized product that’s so addictive, and being able to pay the price for that down the road with all the people that will suffer from this disease,” he said. 

„I just don’t think people care. I’m really concerned that we’re not as sensitive about the disease of addiction.”

Santa Barbara County’s cannabis tax revenue continues to rise – Santa Maria Times

The trend of increasing revenues from cannabis taxes is continuing in Santa Barbara County, according to a second quarter report to be delivered Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

During the second quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year, cannabis tax revenue was $2.6 million, according to the report prepared by Brittany Heaton, principal cannabis analyst, and Steven Yee, fiscal and policy analyst.

In the second quarter last fiscal year, the revenue was $2 million, and in 2018-19, the first year of legal recreational cannabis in California, the tax revenue for the county was $1.8 million.

That roughly mirrors the trend from the first quarter revenues, which started at $1.8 million in 2018-19, rose to $2.8 million in 2019-20 and jumped to $4.2 million in 2020-21.

If the trend of steady increases continues through the third and fourth quarters this fiscal year, it could provide ammunition for supervisors who would like to see the cannabis income considered ongoing revenue allocated to specific county services.

In fact, the midyear financial report delivered to supervisors last Tuesday estimated cannabis tax revenue for the year will be $3.4 million more than anticipated when the 2020-21 budget was prepared.

By county voter mandate, cannabis tax revenues are first applied to cover the cost of administering county cannabis regulations, assuring compliance and conducting enforcement operations.

Portions of the remaining balance have then been used to pay for other county services like law enforcement and health care — “things that make our community better,” said 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

But those infusions of funds have been considered one-time revenues to keep the county from “getting dependent on it because we weren’t sure what the [cannabis] market would be like and what the revenue would be,” Hartmann said.

First District Supervisor Das Williams agreed that was a good reason to consider cannabis tax revenues one-time funds.

“The first year we had revenue that was questionable, but, of course, we didn’t know how the industry would perform,” he said, adding that now three years out, the industry is showing continuing growth.

For that reason, both Williams and Hartmann would like to see at least a portion of cannabis taxes considered an ongoing source of revenue that can be applied to specific uses.

In the 2020-21 budget, cannabis revenues helped cover the costs of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and backfill losses in social services funding, with $658,664 allocated to maintain hours and avoid discontinuing services at the county’s branch libraries.

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That’s where Hartmann would like to see cannabis taxes used as ongoing revenue “because our libraries have such an unusual [organizational] structure” with regional administrators getting money from cities and the county, and cannabis revenue “would make their budgets more stable.”

“I’m a big believer in libraries,” she said. “I know there are many competing interests in the county’s departments … and we’re looking at everything through an equity lens. But libraries check so many boxes.”

Hartmann said libraries bring communities together and promote equity through access to the internet to apply for jobs and connect with services.

Williams also said he supports using cannabis tax revenues as an ongoing source of funds for libraries, adding that those involved with libraries have a phrase for the support it’s already provided: “Weed for read.”

But there are other uses he thinks are equally important.

“On a practical level, during coronavirus we have faced an unprecedented need at the same time revenue has gone down,” he said. “At the same time, the pandemic has made homelessness worse, with shelters filling up as those on the margin of society unable of making their rents.”

Williams said he would like to see the county build more supportive housing or acquire a hotel to address homelessness, which could cost more than $5 million.

“Behavioral wellness funding is also decreasing because statewide sales tax revenue is down,” he said. “I do think there’s a pressing need to use marijuana tax revenue as an ongoing source.”

But both supervisors also expressed some reservations, with Hartmann referring to increasing competition as more states legalize recreational use of cannabis and the appearance of a strain of hemp that’s hallucinogenic but legal.

“There’s a question about how reliable in the future cannabis revenue will be,” she said.

Williams said the goal has been to take something that’s a drain on society — black market weed, where the money it makes goes to bad people — and change it so they revenue goes to benefit the public.

“That doesn’t mean we aren’t without risk,” he said. “I’d feel much more comfortable if our two highest [cannabis] taxpayers were permitted. They’re going through the process but they don’t have permits yet. But I do think it’s fair to commit a portion of [cannabis tax] to ongoing revenue.”

Former president Fox expects Mexico to pass landmark cannabis bill next week – Reuters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said on Friday he expected Congress to pass its new law to legalize cannabis next week, a move that would effectively create one of the world’s largest weed markets.

FILE PHOTO: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox looks on during a news conference to announce the cannabis forum CannaMexico World Summit in Mexico City, Mexico April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

The bill, backed by the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, would mark a major shift in a country bedeviled for years by violence between feuding drug cartels.

Fox, a director at Colombian-Canadian Khiron Life Sciences which focuses on cannabis for medical use, has been a long-standing advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana in Mexico.

“We’re receiving direct information from the lawmakers,” he told Reuters. “It’s information that is quite trustworthy and solid, and next week this should be approved.”

A source in the lower house told Reuters the bill would be discussed on Monday. It was due to be approved in December but was delayed.

The bill, which easily passed the Senate in a vote in November, would create a huge new legal market for marijuana which companies like Khiron Life Sciences are eager to tap.

Canada’s Canopy Growth and The Green Organic Dutchman as well as Medical Marijuana from California are among other firms eyeing Mexico.

Grand View Research said in a recent study the global legal market for the plant could be worth $73.6 billion by 2027.

Lopez Obrador has argued that decriminalizing cannabis and other narcotics could help combat Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

Fox said he wants to create a marijuana greenhouse and a laboratory where the plant will be studied at his Fox Center in Mexico.

“I’m convinced legalization of marijuana is the first step towards the legalization of all prohibited products,” he said.

Writing by Diego Ore; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

New Jersey’s Recreational Cannabis Bill Contains New Employment Protections and Unique Drug Testing Requirements – JD Supra

On February 22, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (“CREAMMA”) into law. The move follows New Jersey voters’ passage of a ballot initiative last November to legalize recreational cannabis for those 21 and older. Not only does CREAMMA establish the legal framework for New Jersey’s nascent adult-use cannabis industry, but it also contains several protections for New Jersey employees who use recreational cannabis, creates a new protected class for which New Jersey employers must now account, and establishes new rules for employers to heed if they drug test employees or applicants for cannabinoid metabolites.

Job Protections for Adult Cannabis Users

CREAMMA prohibits all employers from refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee because the person “does or does not smoke, vape, aerosolize or otherwise use cannabis items” in accordance with the new law. Similarly, the law bans companies from taking any adverse action against employees due solely to the presence of cannabinoid metabolites. These provisions create a new protected class for adult employees who engage in lawful recreational cannabis use.

Employers, however, are not without respite. CREAMMA specifically allows employers to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace, and to ban the use, consumption, being under the influence, and possession of cannabis in the workplace or during work hours. The law also contains a carve-out for government contractors, allowing those businesses to “revise their employee prohibitions consistent with federal law, rules, and regulations,” but only if they can demonstrate a “provable adverse impact.” Notably, however, CREAMMA does not contain an exception for “safety sensitive” positions.

In short, New Jersey employers do not need to allow employees to use, possess or be impaired by cannabis while at work, but the new law effectively allows employees to use cannabis outside of work and on their own time without fear of reprisal.

Drug Testing and “Physical Examinations”

CREAMMA also allows employers to drug test employees and applicants for the presence of cannabis. Specifically, employers may test for cannabis under the following circumstances:

  • Upon reasonable suspicion of an employee’s use of cannabis “while engaged in the performance of the employee’s work responsibilities”;
  • Upon finding any “observable signs of intoxication related to usage of a cannabis item”;
  • Following a workplace accident as part of an employer’s investigation;
  • In accordance with pre-employment screening;
  • In accordance with regular screening of current employees “to determine use during an employee’s prescribed work hours”; and
  • Randomly (but in accordance with New Jersey common law surrounding random testing).

The law’s provisions regarding drug testing, however, contain a unique limitation. Any drug test for THC – in addition to being “scientifically reliable” – must also be accompanied by a “physical evaluation” conducted by a person who has been certified to recognize drug impairment. The New Jersey Cannabis Commission (the “Commission”) is tasked with establishing a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert certification program to train and certify persons to conduct these “physical evaluations” on behalf of employers. Provided the employer follows these requirements, it can then use the results of the drug test when determining disciplinary action.

Bottom Line for Employers

CREAMMA’s employment protections and unique drug testing provisions present several open questions for employers. What is the future of pre-employment drug screening if it must be accompanied by a physical examination? How do employers reconcile their right to drug test “to determine use during an employee’s prescribed work hours” when cannabinoid metabolites can remain in a person’s blood stream for upwards of thirty days? How will the DRE certification process work? How many employer designees can get certified and how much will it cost?

Luckily, employers have some time before these provisions take effect (but not much). The new employment protections and drug testing requirements shall become operative once the Commission promulgates rules and regulations. The Commission, in turn, has 180 from the effective date (i.e. August 21, 2021) to develop its regulations. We recommend any employer with employees working in New Jersey speak with employment counsel to thoroughly review their policies and practices surrounding cannabis use and drug testing.

7 Noteworthy CBD Oils, Gummies and Waters for Anxiety, Sleep and More – Newsweek

Here are interesting ways you can try CBD in 2021. I tested CBD oils and DBD gummies as well as CBD drinks and a fast-absorbing CBD powder to help you find some new ways that you could take CBD for anxiety, sleep, relaxation or working out.

What is CBD? CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s part of the marijuana or hemp plant. It’s commonly used in oils or edibles to help deliver calming effects or feelings of relaxation.

These CBD products are THC free, which means that they don’t include the psychoactive part of marijuana. Using these oils, gummies or pills can help you relax, sleep or deliver a sense of calm, but none of them produce a high like medical or recreational marijuana products.

  1. Recess Sparkling Water with CBD—$29.99 (6-pack)
  2. Sunday Scaries Gummies for Chillin’—$36 (20 gummies)
  3. Caliper Swiftsticks—$49.99 (30-pack)
  4. Wyld CBD Gummies—$34.95, and up (20 gummies)
  5. Hello Blue CBD Sleep Advantage—$53.75 (30 capsules)
  6. Wyld CBD Sparkling Water—$19.95 (4-pack)
  7. Hello Blue CBD Oil for Energy—$43.75 (1 fl oz.)

It’s important to consult your doctors with any medical concerns, or before making changes or adding supplements to your health plan.

Check out more about these exciting CBD products I tested to see why each one stands out.

CBD sparkling water Recess
Recess Sparkling water is delicious and helps bring calm to my day.
Josh Smith

Recess sparkling water with CBD is a crisp, calming drink that brings chill to my afternoon. The Blood Orange is my favorite flavor so far. If you like flavored sparkling water, you’ll probably enjoy Recess.

Each can contains hemp extract, American ginseng, l-theanine and lemon balm. After drinking a can, I felt calmer but was still very focused. While I prefer to test some CBD products in the evening, Recess was perfect for a hectic afternoon.

Buy at Recess.

CBD Sunday Scaries Gummies
Sunday Scaries are CBD gummies for chillin', and they deliver a nice calm.
Josh Smith

Sunday Scaries aren’t just for that Sunday afternoon feeling of dread. Each gummy contains 10 milligrams of broad-spectrum CBD, plus vitamins B12 and D3.

The CBD gummy bears are tasty and offer a great calming vibe. I tested these during an incredibly stressful week with a family emergency, and I noticed I was more relaxed but still mentally sharp enough to process and get some work done. Sunday Scaries are the best CBD gummies I’ve tried this year. Sunday Scaries also offers a Vegan AF option.

Buy at Sunday Scaries.

CBD powder Caliper Swiftsticks
Caliper Swiftsticks are an easy way to take CBD with you.
Josh Smith

Caliper Swiftsticks are precisely dosed packets of quick-dissolving CBD powder. They’re available in three flavors: mixed berry, lemon lime, and cool mint. The packet contains 20 milligrams of CBD.

I love the convenience of keeping a few packs in my backpack and being able to pour a packet on my tongue when needed. Lemon lime is my favorite, but cool mint is quite refreshing. This is a vegan-friendly product.

Buy at Caliper.

CBD gummies for stress
Wyld CBD gummies are tasty and excellent if you’re looking for a calm feeling.
Josh Smith

Wyld CBD gummies are made with real fruit, and are gluten free and vegan friendly. The flavors are excellent. I prefer huckleberry during the day and the elderberry gummies that combine CBD and CBN that could help with sleep for late at night.

Each gummy contains 25 milligrams of CBD. The regular flavors are intended deliver calm, and the elderberry gummy helped me get a better night of sleep.

Buy at Wyld.

CBD for sleep
Hello Blue CBD Sleep Advantage capsules helped me sleep through the night and didn’t leave me feeling groggy waking up.
Josh Smith

Hello Blue CBD Sleep Advantage capsules are amazing. One of these delivered my best night of sleep in 2021. I took the capsule about 40 minutes before laying down and slept through the night. I woke up refreshed and crystal clear. Normally, I’m up one or two times a night.

If you’re looking for an answer to better sleep, you should try this CBD for sleep solution. Each capsule contains magnesium glycinate, ashwagandha extract, 10 milligrams of melatonin and 40 milligrams THC free CBD. This is a vegan product.

Buy at Hello Blue CBD.

CBD sparkling water WYLD
Wyld CBD sparkling water is delicious and calming.
Josh Smith

Wyld CBD sparkling water is an excellent way to enjoy CBD. I love the raspberry flavor and the chill feeling that drinking a can of this offers. If you’re looking for a nonalcoholic way to relax at the end of a long day, this is an excellent option.

Each can contains 25 milligrams of CBD. Wyld CBD sparkling water is vegan friendly, gluten free and made with real fruit.

Buy at Wyld.

CBD oil for energy
Hello Blue CBD oil for energy can help give you a boost with a few drops.
Josh Smith

While most CBD products are for relaxing, anxiety or sleep, they aren’t all focused on downtime. Hello Blue CBD oil for energy is a CBD oil that gives you a boost of energy.

The CBD oil for energy combines CBD and yohimbe to deliver a pickup without yet another cup of coffee or an energy drink. I tested the cappuccino flavor for an afternoon energizer during a very long week—even though it was only Wednesday. The flavor is good, and I felt more alert for the rest of my workday.

Buy at Hello Blue CBD.

Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

School Boards Refused To Let Students Receive Medical Cannabis. Parents Are Fighting Back. – Patch.com

March 5, 2021

When the school board refused to let their daughter, Marley, receive her cannabis-derived medicine from willing teachers, Sarah and Mark Porter made the difficult decision to pull Marley out of a Douglas County public school in October 2019.

„The last time she got out of the hospital, she never went back to school,” Mark Porter told Newsline.

In the 18 months since, Marley has been able to take her prescribed medicine regularly while learning at home — keeping her Crohn’s disease more manageable than it’s ever been, her parents testified to Colorado legislators during a Feb. 24 hearing of the Senate Education Committee.

But Marley, now 15, is missing out on one-on-one interactions with teachers and the social aspects of school, like drama club.

„School is so much more than just learning and just education,” her father said. „No friends, no after-school activities. Nothing.”

A Colorado bill under consideration by the state Legislature aims to make life easier for kids like Marley and their families. It would require schools and school districts to have a policy allowing their employees — like the high school teacher who was willing to walk down to Marley’s middle school, had the school board permitted it — to store and administer medical cannabis recommended for a student by a doctor.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Parker, said Senate Bill 21-56 is more important to him than any other legislation he’s sponsoring this session. The 11 lawmakers on the Education Committee approved the bill unanimously on Feb. 24, sending it to the Appropriations Committee for review on a yet-to-be-determined date.

„As a person that comes from a community fairly consistent in being opposed to marijuana legalization in Colorado, I’m willing to put my hand up and say I was wrong about cannabis-based medicine,” said Holbert, of Douglas County, who is partnering with Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, on SB-56. „I’m perfectly willing to have conversations with constituents, doubters, to say, 'You’re wrong. You need to meet these people.'”

Holbert’s change of heart occurred after he met constituents Amber and Brad Wann, who found a way to treat their son Ben’s life-threatening epileptic seizures: a bottle of Charlotte’s Web cannabidiol, or CBD.

The science around CBD is emerging, and it has been touted for many benefits for which research has yet to provide verification. But some recent studies support claims that it can be effective, particularly in treating certain epilepsy syndromes. „Recently, CBD has gained traction in the scientific community for its ability to treat multiple conditions,” reported Insider in November.

The cannabinoid molecule CBD is found in the marijuana plant, but it does not make a person „high.” Just one cannabinoid — out of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, marijuana or hemp — is known to have psychoactive effects: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

But when a school nurse asked Amber Wann why Ben had stopped having seizures in 2014, and learned about the cannabis-derived medicine, she reported the Wanns for potential child endangerment, Holbert said.

„The sheriff and the (district attorney) and the school district and child protection services did what they had to do, and at the end of it, they determined no, no … Giving their son Ben CBD oil was not endangering him, and bringing his seizures to an end certainly wasn’t endangering him,” Holbert told the Education Committee.

After the investigation was complete, the school’s principal allowed the Wanns to keep a cannabis-based nasal spray on campus to treat Ben’s seizures. But when the Douglas County School District Board of Education found out, they required that it be removed from the school.

„It pisses me off that my school board would somehow … decide which kid in our school district lives and which dies,” Holbert said.

SB-56 builds on other laws that were intended to help families like the Wanns.

Through a 2016 state law — known as „Jack’s Law” after Jack Splitt, the child who inspired it — school districts were required to let parents or guardians administer medical cannabis to their children on campus to treat symptoms such as seizures and severe pain. No Colorado law has ever allowed children to smoke marijuana on campus; rather, medicines containing CBD, THC or both often come in the form of oils, nasal sprays or capsules. And students aren’t legally allowed to keep the medicine on their person, even if they have a prescription.

„I hated cannabis,” Jack’s mother, Stacey Linn, testified to the committee on Feb. 24. „But when your child almost dies, multiple times a month, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times a week, it’s surprising what you might do.” She referred to Jack’s seizures.

„Being able to access cannabis, for Jack, saved his life and allowed him to go to school,” Linn said.

Jack, a 15-year-old who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in August 2016. But his legacy lives on.

Jack’s Law made it possible for students like Ben Wann to receive his medicine on school grounds.

However, it didn’t require school nurses and staff to administer the medicine to students as they would pharmaceutical drugs. With many children requiring multiple doses per day to keep their symptoms under control, it was a tough ask for working moms and dads to travel to schools and give their kids medicine.

„Imagine you had to leave work every day at the same time for an hour or more to get to school so that your child got their medicine,” Sarah Porter said during the hearing.

In 2018, House Bill 18-1286 became law in Colorado. Nicknamed „Quintin’s Amendment” after then-9-year-old Quintin Lovato, the bill allowed school nurses to administer medical cannabis at school for qualifying medical conditions and with a doctor’s approval. But the law left an „opt-out” clause for districts that didn’t want their employees giving kids the medicine.

After the law passed, Quintin’s school district in Clear Creek County allowed him to receive his medicine at school, giving him control over his seizures and tics.

So Quintin and his mother, Hannah Lovato, reappeared at the Capitol three years after HB-1286’s passage to testify in support of SB-56. Quintin updated the lawmakers on his academic and athletic accomplishments.

„Please help push this new bill through so that other kids like me have the opportunity to live their best lives, too,” Quintin told the committee members on Feb. 24.

The bill wouldn’t force any school personnel to administer the medicine, if they don’t feel comfortable, but it does require school districts to have a policy for the storage of cannabis-based medicine on campus. The policy must allow willing school nurses, teachers or staff to administer the medicine to a student who provides a doctor’s recommendation and dosing instructions.

In addition, SB-56 protects school personnel from discipline if they choose to administer a student’s cannabis. They can’t have their state-issued licenses or certificates taken away.

„It’s in large part based on a Good Samaritan kind of perspective,” Holbert said in an interview. „If they help, they’re protected, and if they don’t want to help, they’re protected.”

The bill would increase state expenditures by around $15,000, according to its fiscal note. That money would be allocated to the Colorado Department of Education to pay for rulemaking and enforcement.

School districts could pay up to $4,200 per school for storage, staff training and staff time, but the actual costs will „depend on districts' current policies, related resources, and the number of students with recommendations for medical marijuana, among other factors,” the bill’s fiscal note stated.

The bill contains an exception for school districts that can prove they are at risk of losing federal funding if they administer cannabis to a student. In those cases, they could refuse to store cannabis on campus.

But under the past two presidential administrations, that’s never happened, Holbert said, and it’s not likely to happen under current President Joe Biden, even though cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law.

„Anyone who is concerned about this, unfamiliar with it, take time to try to connect with people in your community who rely on cannabis-based medicine — especially kids,” Holbert said. „And what you’ll find is there are next to miraculous things happening, and completely effective medicine can be made from cannabis plants.”


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