18 US states have already passed recreational cannabis legalization bills, so it’s not surprising that another sometimes left-leaning state, is entertaining legislation to do the same. It was announced on September 28th, that lawmakers out of Pittsburgh introduced a new bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania for recreational use.
States are dropping left and right, with a new bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania for adult-use. This means PA would join neighbors NY and NJ as a legal state. This massive expansion of the cannabis world has led to more products available for users. Compounds that were unheard of before, like delta-8 TH, THCA, and CBN, are all now available for use. If you’re looking to try something new, or re-up on your favorite products, check out our deals for delta-8 THC, and a large array of other cannabis compounds and products, as well.
Cannabis and Pennsylvania
As of right now, cannabis is illegal for recreational use in the state of Pennsylvania. Several cities do have their own decriminalization measures, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both of which allow for the possession of up to 30 grams with just a $25 fine. Though this is not a statewide policy, at least 12 locations, including cities and counties, have enacted such policies.
In Pennsylvania, official state law dictates that being caught with 30 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in prison, and a fine up to $500. More than 30 grams is still considered a misdemeanor, but the prison sentence goes up to one year, and the fine as high as $5,000. While first-time offenders can be eligible for a conditional release, for offenses after this, the penalty can be doubled.
Sale and supply crimes involving 30 grams or less are considered misdemeanors, and punishable by 30 days in jail, and up to $500 in fines. Amounts over 30 grams incur a felony change, along with up to five years in prison, and $15,000 in fines. The law allows for maximum fines to be increased to the point of collecting all profits from a drug sale. Cultivation of any number of plants is a felony charge, which comes with up to five years prison time, and $15,000 in fines. Even possession of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor crime, incurring jail sentences of up to a year, depending on circumstances, as well as fines of up to $5,000.
Pennsylvania does have a comprehensive medical cannabis program, signed into law on April 17th, 2016, as Senate Bill 3. Obtaining medical cannabis requires a doctor’s prescription, and 17 different ailments are covered for cannabis use. The law instituted a regulated system for the sale of products through dispensaries, and set up a 5% tax rate to be imposed between growers, processors, and dispensaries. The bill does not allow for any kind of home-growing, even for the sick.
Pittsburgh lawmakers introduce bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania
Two Pittsburgh democrats, State Representatives Jake Wheatley and Dan Frankel from Pittsburgh, recently put forth House Bill 2050, a bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania for adult-use. The bill seeks to legalize the purchase and use of cannabis for those 21 years of age and above. In a September 28th press statement, Wheatley stated:
“I’m once again championing the effort to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania. We’ve heard from residents across the state, and the overwhelming majority agree it’s time to pass this initiative.”
Should this bill pass, it would set up a permit process for prospective growers, producers, and dispensaries. The tax rate introduced by the bill, I believe, reflects the growing issue that regulated markets have in competing with black markets. An issue that has led to a recent bailout of California’s cannabis industry. The tax rate would start out at a more reasonable rate of 6% for the first two years, go up to 12% for the following two years, and then all the way up to 19% starting year five.
Wheatley, who introduced a similar measure last year under the same name, pointed out how the bill would address ‘historical harms’, stating, “Not only would it create jobs and generate much-needed revenue, but it contains important social justice provisions that would eliminate the aggressive enforcement of simple marijuana possession laws in marginalized communities.”
As a part of this, the bill also includes a provision to expunge the criminal records of non-violent drug offenders, as well as calling for the release of currently incarcerated non-violent drug offenders. How far the bill will go to provide first opportunity licenses to those who have suffered due to the war on drugs, or been persecuted for simple cannabis crimes, was not immediately made clear.
Previous efforts to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania
This bill is not the first inkling that Pennsylvania is ready for some change when it comes to cannabis. The state government has already passed some laws, and proposed others, that show a definite leaning in the direction of marijuana reform. The PA Democratic State Committee adopted a platform position in 2017 that states cannabis is not dangerous enough to require being controlled through the Controlled Substances Act. It calls on the State’s democratic party to support the dismissal of prohibition measures.
Then in 2018, Governor Tom Wolf, the same governor to sign the medical cannabis law, also signed House Bill 163, which repealed a federal policy called “Smoke a joint, lose your license”, in which possession of cannabis is punished by a mandatory drivers license suspension of six months. The federal law was enacted in 1990, and encourages state governments to suspend drivers licenses for six months for those caught for drug offenses. A lot of states passed their own laws around that time, including Pennsylvania. HB 163 ended this practice for the state.
Wolf took it a step further in September 2020, when he, and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, put together a press conference specifically to reinforce their support of the creation of a cannabis legalization bill. At the time, Wolf stated, “Now more than ever, especially right in the middle of a pandemic, we have a desperate need for the economic boost that the legalization of cannabis could provide.”
For his part, Fetterman made the astute observation that “40 percent of our population will live within a 30-minute drive or less of legal marijuana”, saying that it’s better to have Pennsylvanians shop locally, then to have New Jersey take the economic benefit. It should be remembered that PA borders both New York and New Jersey, both legalized states. On October 13th, 2020, Wolf made yet another plea in Monroe County for the same thing.
The current recreational cannabis situation in the US
If the Pittsburgh bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania goes through, it would join 18 other states, the District of Colombia, and the territories Northern Mariana Islands (since 2018), and Guam (since 2019) as being a recreationally legalized location. The last state to adopt such a policy, was back in June, 2021, when Connecticut passed Senate Bill 1201 to open an adult-use cannabis market in that State.
This has been a busy year for recreational cannabis legalizations, as New York and New Mexico also legalized recreational cannabis in March and April respectively, literally passing the legislation 24 hours apart. And this after New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota passed legalization laws through ballot measures in the 2020 elections, still less than a year ago.
The funny thing is that Pennsylvania isn’t even one of the states that has been mentioned as a state to legalize next. Apart from PA, there are several other states that are also getting close to their own legalizations, like Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Hawaii. Rhode Island has a bill working its way through congress which has the support of both the Senate and Governor, and which has already passed the Senate.
Minnesota has HF 600, which is working its way through that state’s congress. The House is expected to pass it, but the republican-led senate might be an issue, leading many to believe that governor Tim Waltz – who supports legalization, will put it on a ballot measure in 2022. Hawaii is also very close, with a congress all for it, but a governor who is not. David Ige has repeatedly vetoed cannabis bills that passed the legislature, and is expected to veto two more. Since Ige is expected to leave office in 2022, a legalization is likely to follow soon after.
Pennsylvania has often been considered a swing state, with its bigger cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh being the democratic strongholds, and the places in between known more for their conservatism. While cannabis legalizations have mostly followed along party lines, with democratic states being more likely to legalize, this has been changing with the times, exemplified by a republican-led medicinal marijuana bill in North Carolina.
At another time in history this PA bill might have stood less of a chance of passing, but in these changing times of cannabis-friendliness, it seems pretty likely to go through. The US itself is already working two separate bills through Congress, the MORE Act, and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, to decriminalize and legalize respectively. So the idea this new bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania wouldn’t go through, seems like an idea of the past. Perhaps Pennsylvania will be #19.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.
Psyched Wellness is Bringing You Amanita Mushrooms – And It’s All Legal
Magic mushrooms are the new buzz word, but they don’t all fall into just one category. Sure, there are psilocybin magic mushrooms, but there are also amanita mushrooms, for a different kind of high and unique medical advantages. Now, the company Psyched Wellness is offering amanita mushroom products, and the best part is, it’s all legal.
We all know about psilocybin mushrooms, right? Well, now there’s a new mushroom to know about, Amanita muscaria, and these mushrooms are not only legal, but come with a host of medical benefits. If you’re into independent drug reporting concerning the cannabis and psychedelics fields, this is the publication for you. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter so readers can stay updated on current events, as well as have access to tons of deals on cannabis products including popular cannabinoid compounds Delta 8 THC, and HHC, and all upcoming hallucinogenic products. Check the ‘best of’ lists for offers, and choose the products you’re most comfortable using.
What are amanita mushrooms?
When you hear the term ‘magic mushrooms’ the go-to association is with psilocybin mushrooms, the shrooms readily found in North and South America, which cause trips and highs by activating serotonin receptors. These mushrooms, along with LSD, DMT, and other compounds, are considered psychedelic hallucinogens.
This group of psychedelic hallucinogens doesn’t include other drugs we often think of as psychedelics, like ketamine. That drug, along with PCP and DXM are all dissociative hallucinogens. There is a third group as well, called deliriant hallucinogens, which includes scopolamine, the drug used to rob people by taking away their ability to argue with perpetrators. These three represent serotonergic, dopaminergic, and anticholinergic hallucinogens only.
This is where amanita mushrooms come in, as hallucinogens that act on a different neurotransmitter, GABA. Amanita muscaria mushrooms – AKA fly agaric, (for their ability to attract and trap flies), are also wild mushrooms that produce some trippy effects, but with an entirely different mode of action then psilocybin mushrooms. Amanita mushrooms are considered poisonous mushrooms, and contain a compound called muscimol, which is GABAergic. This means it acts as an agonist on GABA receptors, and does so in the same way as GABA itself; rather than attaching to different receptor sites like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and Quaaludes.
These mushrooms also contain ibotenic acid, which is the compound more likely to make a person sick. This compound is a prodrug (a compound which is biologically inactive until metabolization), and is metabolized in the body to become muscimol. This is similar to psilocybin, which is also a prodrug, and which is useless in the human body until it changes into the other compound found in magic mushrooms, and the real compound of interest, psilocin.
Whereas psilocin acts on serotonin receptors, creating a stimulant response along with its psychedelic effects, muscimol acts on GABA receptors that calm the body down. Amanita mushrooms therefore won’t cause the same kind of ‘bad trip’ as psilocybin mushrooms, since there’s no stimulant effect. They do, however, come with their own reasons for caution in how they’re prepared and eaten, so as not to make a user feel sick. Neither mushroom group is known to cause death (despite the name ‘poisonous’), so even a bad experience with either is only temporary.
Amanita mushrooms are less well-known in the Americas as they’re not native to this region. For the most part they’re found around Northern Europe and Russia (particularly Siberia), and factor into medicinal and shamanistic traditions in those regions. This is probably why they aren’t scheduled in the US Controlled Substances list, which makes them legal to have and use in the US.
A little about Psyched Wellness & Calm
Psyched Wellness is a publicly traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange under (CSE:PSYC), which used to be Duncan Park Holdings Corporation. Based out of Toronto, Psyched Wellness is a life sciences company which just finished a pilot run for its new amanita mushrooms product, Calm.
This main offering of the company, Calm, is the first approved amanita mushroom product to hit US markets. According to the company, its made 100% from amanita mushroom caps, is lab tested, detoxified to ensure no bad effects (no ibotenic acid), and can be used to “reduce stress, ease muscular tension, and promote restorative sleep.” The company is taking preorders for the product right now, and interested buyers can reserve themselves a 1 fluid ounce bottle for $49.99. Products are expected to officially hit the market in the fall.
Calm registers as a dietary supplement, which is advertised as ethically sourced. The main component, according to the company’s site, is AME-1 which was developed in the Psyched Wellness laboratories to mimic the naturally extracted compound muscimol. It does not contain naturally occurring muscimol. As this is not a controlled substance, and doesn’t require a prescription, the company is free to sell it without the same complications that currently exist with psilocybin mushrooms, which are still federally illegal as they sit in Schedule I of the controlled substances list.
The company is looking to expand its product offering in the future. According to CEO Jeffrey Stevens, “It has been a long journey to get to this point, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my co-founder, David Shisel, our team, KGK Science and Vantage Hemp for all of their hard work and commitment to get us to where we are today. The most exciting part for me is that we have just scratched the surface with respect to potential uses and delivery forms for AME-1. Stay tuned for more to come from Psyched.”
Aside from this compound, the company also sells accompanying sweatshirts, bags, T-shirts, phone covers, water bottles, hats, and mugs, some emblazoned with the well-known image of the red capped mushroom with white spots. While Super Mario Brothers certainly kept this image alive for years, its new entrance into the US sales market is sure to give it an extra popularity boost in the near future.
A bit more on muscimol from amanita mushrooms
For many people, these mushrooms represent something completely new. Whereas psilocybin mushrooms have been used in the Americas for millennia, both for medical and recreational purposes, amanita mushrooms are not well-known to this part of the world. They are therefore a mystery to Americans in terms of what they can do, what to be wary of, and how they differ from standard magic mushrooms. In an interview with Technology Networks, Jeff Stevens gave some insight into these ‘other’ hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Of muscimol he says, “Muscimol is one of the main psychoactive compounds found in the Amanita muscaria mushroom along with ibotenic acid and muscarine. Although it does have psychoactive properties, the effect is very different from psilocybin or psilocin. It reacts with the GABAA receptor and when ingested, it can provide feelings of euphoria and tranquility, an altered sense of hearing and taste, changes to sensory perception and vivid dreams.”
He goes on to stipulate that “If it is not processed properly, where the ibotenic acid is not converted to muscimol, it can provide quite a nasty experience including sweating, nausea, loss of balance and involuntary bodily movements.” This helps explain how amanita mushrooms can cause negative effects, but don’t have to so long as the right usage techniques are employed.
In terms of why we’re only hearing about muscimol now, he says, “We believe the reason muscimol has not been studied to a large degree is because it has been mislabeled as poisonous and as such was overlooked. As a result, there’s not been a lot of scientific studies conducted on muscimol so groups like Psyched Wellness need to start from the ground up, making it more time consuming and more expensive.”
When it comes to the legality of the mushrooms, he explains, “Amanita muscaria are considered food and are principally regulated under the Federal Drug Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act in Canada and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and The Nutrition Labelling and Education Act in the USA. As a result, the challenges that other compounds face with extraction, regulation and or administration are not a factor.”
Psyched Wellness has been going over accumulated research on these mushrooms, looking for different applications. Says Stevens, “we believe muscimol could show positive indications for various mental and physical health issues, including sleep, insomnia, addiction and pain.”
Amanita mushrooms represent a different option in the world of hallucinogenic treatment. It’s not just about standard psychedelics anymore, and amanita mushrooms, with their main psychoactive constituent muscimol, offer an entirely different approach to helping with mental and physical health.
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Double Standards – Will Biden Keep His Cannabis Reform Promises?
Regardless of what side of the political fence you’re on, there is one thing everyone can agree on: Republicans are more conservative, and Democrats are more liberal – especially when it comes to progressive drug policies. And while this statement rings true almost 100% of the time, the exact opposite applies to our current president, Joe Biden.
While Biden has made many cannabis-related promises along the campaign trail and during his time in office, and he has supported a handful of modest reform proposals, the White House has made it very clear that his overall position on adult-use legalization has not changed over the years: he is NOT in favor. And this is despite overwhelming support for progressive policy change among voters in his party.
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Biden’s daughter-in-law shops for weed with secret service detail
In the most recent Biden-cannabis drama, it was reported last month by the Daily Mail that Melissa Cohen, wife of Hunter Biden and the president’s daughter-in-law, was seen leaving a Malibu-based dispensary called 99 High Tide, and she was carrying a “small unidentified purchase”. Additionally, it was noted that following Cohen was a plain-clothed secret service agent.
Although cannabis is recreationally legal in California and many other states, it’s still federally prohibited… and that’s not exactly where the issue lies anyway. The real problem here, is the idea of using a federally funded secret service to protect one of Biden’s relatives during a pot transaction, while tens of thousands of people remain behind bars for past nonviolent possession charges.
In giving the benefit of the doubt, it’s plausible that Cohen was in the store buying one of their few high-CBD products – which are federally legal. However, while searching through their online menu, I found only one product that fit the bill; the rest of their “CBD products” contained various ratios of THC and CBD, all of which resulted in more than 0.3% THC, and thus, more than the federally legal limit. So, while there is a slight possibility that Cohen was buying CBD products at a recreational cannabis dispensary, it’s highly unlikely.
It’s also worth noting that the Daily Mail’s claim of Cohen having a secret service agent in tow could not be independently verified, as the White House would not respond to questions from the various news sources who have reached out for comments.
White house staffers fired for admitting to past cannabis use
Last spring it was reported through various news outlets that “dozens of young White House staffers, freshly hired were abruptly told to quit, were suspended from their jobs, or otherwise punished “due to past marijuana use.” This happened after the staffers personally admitted to having used cannabis in the past on security clearance application forms. It’s worth noting that cannabis has been legal for adults 21 and older in Washington D.C. since 2015.
The firings and suspensions fly in the face of the more progressive appearance that the White House is trying to present, and their new policies. In February (one month before this incident), the White House Office of Personnel Management stated that past cannabis use was no longer an automatic employment disqualifier, and that federal agencies “should exercise special care before making a determination of unsuitability” in such circumstances.
Whether the staffers’ cannabis use was recreational or medical, legal or illegal, was never made clear. Of the few staffers who commented, under anonymity, the general consensus was that it would not have mattered either way. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” mentioned one former employee.
The reason why cannabis is considered a “national security risk” or a disqualifier for federal employment, also remains unclear. Both the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and NSA (National Security Agency) have recently updated their policies on past cannabis use, claiming that it was difficult to find hackers and cybersecurity experts with clean drug records.
Biden’s sketchy history with drug reform
He’s made improvements over the years, but as his documented history shows us, there were very few D.C. lawmakers who were tougher on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s than Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. During the entirety of those 2 decades, Biden was a prominent figure in the War on Drugs and was responsible for unjustly imprisoning tens of thousands of Americans – many of which were minority or low-income individuals – on trumped up drug charges, including thousands for cannabis.
Specifically, Biden introduced numerous bills with that would implement harsh penalties for those convicted of producing and distributing federally prohibited, or schedule 1, narcotics. These bills called for increased severity in dealing with first offenders, as well as longer prison sentences for all. One specific piece of legislature that comes to mind is the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which sounds good but unfortunately played a key role in mass incarcerations for drug offenses, even many who were not involved in violent crimes.
Biden’s stance never really changed, with him quoted making anti-cannabis comments as recently as 2010. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it,” Biden stated in an ABC News Interview. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”
However, Biden claims that his views on marijuana have improved lately – but he can say whatever he wants, his actions, however, raise questions. Knowing that Americans want cannabis legalized and available to them, Biden completely changed his tune come January 2019. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug,” Biden claimed.
A few months later, while speaking with New Hampshire voters in May 2019, Biden commented that, “Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” He laid out a ‘plan’ for decriminalizing marijuana, if elected, and automatically expunging existing criminal records for possession by reclassifying cannabis to a Schedule II substance (it is currently a Schedule I, reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse and addiction).
And in his last 2 years as president, he has acted on exactly zero of his cannabis-related promises. Cannabis is still not federally legal, or even decriminalized, people are still getting in trouble for it in prohibition states, and many are still serving prison time for old cannabis charges in states that have recently legalized. So again, his actions show much less support than he likes to claim.
In one of his latest moves, he suggested forced rehabilitation for anyone caught with drugs. According to President Biden, “nobody convicted of a drug crime should go to prison, they should go to mandatory rehabilitation,” he emphasized at a campaign event in Kenosha, Wisconsin late last year. “Instead of building more prisons… we [should] build rehabilitation centers.” And while I completely agree with the first half of the statement, the idea of putting a cannabis user in rehab, just sounds completely asinine. Although it seems that he’s trying (a little bit), at best, he’s just very out of touch with what modern day drug policy should look like, and what his voters are asking for.
And Vice President Kamala Harris is not much better, claiming to support legalization and even bragging about having smoked in the past, but her resume says otherwise. During her career as San Francisco district attorney, Harris oversaw roughly 1,900 marijuana convictions (1,500 of which were African American males, for the record). NORML executive director Erik Altieri describes her history on drug reform has been “problematic,” and her “record is not one anyone would qualify as progressive, particularly when it comes to marijuana.”
Biden pardons a few cannabis offenders
And when I say “a few”, I truly mean that. More specifically, he pardoned 3 people and commuted the sentences of 78 offenders, out of the estimated 40,000 people who remain locked up on weed charges. Before getting further into the details, let’s quickly go over the difference between pardons and commuted sentences A pardon completely removes the conviction as if it never happened, so the person’s record is clear, whereas a commuted sentence still stands but the punishment is reduced or completely revoked.
The news of the pardons and commuted sentences were announced on Tuesday, April 25th of this year. All of the pardoned offenders had been previously released to serve time in their homes during the pandemic, a privilege that was granted to a total of 8.300 inmates because of COVID-related issues and prison overcrowding. One of the pardons given, and eight of the commuted sentences, were related to cannabis.
Now, it’s important to note that this was not part of some cannabis-related project or anything special that Biden was doing. These pardons and commuted sentences were done in clemency grants as part of Biden’s first year in office – and this is standard for ALL presidents during their first year. Call it a presidential ‘get out of jail free’ card, if you will, but regardless, it had nothing to do with commuting the sentences of cannabis users specifically, even though some of the offenders who got pardoned and commuted were convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.
New cannabis legalization bill from Chuck Schumer
The reason this matters (well, it always matters, but the reason it’s more relevant now) is because a new decriminalization bill was introduced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Thursday, July 21st. The bill isn’t exactly new, Schumer has been working on it for years, waiting for the right time to make it official.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would effectively decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, but would allow individual states to regulate it as they see fit. So, some states can still choose to keep it illegal, although that seems unlikely. That said, it’s hard to say how likely it is that this bill will even pass at all. Yes, Schumer circulated the bill around for the last few months getting feedback for how to make it foolproof, but there are still a few major potential obstacles in the way.
First, we have the Senate. Although legalization/decriminalization bills have passed the House of Representatives, they have all died when reaching the Senate for a vote. Beyond the Senate, the main concern here is Biden. Should the bill make it his desk, will he off on it? He claims to support decriminalization (hopefully more so now that we all know his daughter-in-law shops at dispensaries), but his history, as well as his areas of focus while in office, say otherwise.
In all fairness, it’s not surprising to see an old man stuck in such dated ways. It’s reminiscent of many of our own grandparents who just won’t get with the times. But a politician should be more in touch with what the general population wants, and data from Politico consistently shows that roughly 70% of Americans want cannabis legalized. With this new bill in the works, it’s very possible that the ball will soon be in Biden’s court – and it will be interesting to see what he does with it.
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Switzerland Implements Wide-Reaching Medical Cannabis Program
All eyes are on Switzerland as the country makes big moves to start its own cannabis industry. The country announced plans for a recreational measure last year, and now Switzerland is introducing a wide-reaching medical program that goes far beyond its previous limits.
Switzerland is on a rampage, both widening its medical cannabis program, and awaiting new recreational legislation. Cannadelics is an independent news source focusing on the cannabis and psychedelics fields of today. Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Switzerland up until now
Switzerland is all over the board these days, but up until recently, this was not the case. So what was the deal with Switzerland up until its impressive moves of late? First off, Switzerland is not a part of the EU, so it never had to go by EU regulation. Whereas products with up to .3% THC are legal in EU countries, Switzerland has a max THC level of 1%. Outside of this, cannabis is illegal.
In 2012, the country instituted a decriminalization measure which allowed for small amounts of cannabis (up to 10 grams) with only a 100 Swiss Franc fine, and no jail time included. Once either the 10-gram limit is gone over, or the 1% THC limit, a violator is subject to both a fine, and a prison sentence up to three years.
A lot happened in 2012, though it didn’t all stick. That year, certain cities gained the ability to legally grow low-THC hemp, up to the 1% limit. But then, Just months after this started, the government itself nullified this ability, because it said it was in violation of federal drug laws. Switzerland operates like many multi-state countries where cannabis penalties vary between its different states.
In another 2012 measure, legislation was instituted that made both selling cannabis, as well as possessing amounts enough to affect as many as three people, punishable by up to three years in jail, along with a possible fine. This was updated in 2017 to exclude possession, and to only fine those actively using; which allowed many states to drop possession cases for small amounts.
In terms of Switzerland and a medical cannabis program, the country didn’t have a comprehensive one until current events. The Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in 2008 (implemented in 2011) allows Swiss doctors to get special permits to prescribe cannabis to terminal patients, for 12 months at a time. It also requires patients to apply for authorization from the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health). Only tinctures and oils were approved by this measure, and its hardly wide-ranging, with only two pharmacies able to provide such medications.
This didn’t stop the pharma medicine Epidiolex from gaining approval in 2018, even as flowers and resin are both barred. From this time, however, pharmacies have been able to create specific CBD formulations for patients. Overall, the ability to access cannabis medicines has been highly restricted in Switzerland, though recent changes are now opening the country to much wider usage, with even bigger plans for the future.
Switzerland updates medical program
Everything just mentioned about Switzerland and its medical program, has now been updated thanks to a new amendment put forth by the country’s seven-member Federal Council, which is the country’s joint head of state and federal government. This amendment updates the Narcotics Act to erase the ban on medical cannabis, which in turn creates a much wider market.
Starting in the beginning of August, patients no longer have to apply for the authorization from the FOPH, and can now get a regular prescription, straight from their doctor. The new amendment isn’t just meant for patients in Switzerland, but predictably for an export market as well (very few legalizations of this sort don’t include the ability for an export market). Less was stated about an impending import market. The limit for THC is still the same for all products, at 1%.
Part of the reason for this change, was due to increasing demand for medical authorizations, which had grown to the point of burdening the government with extra administrative work, which led to treatment delays for patients in need. The conditions for treatment also expand under this new amendment, letting more people benefit from cannabis medication.
According to the government, this update should be beneficial to those suffering from spastic diseases, and pain issues. Prior to the update, approximately 3,000 approvals for medical cannabis were given yearly to those suffering from the likes of neurological diseases, MS, and cancer.
In order for the amendment to take effect, it required changes to the Narcotics Control Ordinance and the Narcotics List Ordinance. Cultivation regulation for this new medical industry falls under the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic).
Nothing was updated concerning reimbursement for cannabis medications by the healthcare system of the country. As medical cannabis is only reimbursed in the most dire of cases, this indicates that many people will be paying out of pocket for their cannabis medicine, even when legally prescribed by a doctor. The reason given for this omission is that there isn’t enough available evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment, which makes very little sense since it was considered effective enough to be legalized for this purpose.
What about a full recreational legalization?
Switzerland looks like it will be the first country in Europe to set up a regulated sales market, along with trials meant to help establish new regulation. In 2020 I reported about the Swiss government green-lighting trials for recreational cannabis, a project that has been in the works for many years. The trials will allow the legal production and sale of cannabis, but only in specific locations and with many restrictions. In September of 2020, the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances was officially amended by way of parliamentary approval, which allows scientific trials for selected groups. This went into effect May, 2021.
These regulations set maximum THC limits to 20%, come with limits for pesticide residue, and also mandate warning labels. In order to be a part of these trials, and have access to this recreational cannabis, individual cities and municipalities must first prove that recreational cannabis is not hurting their current population.
As of April 2022, the first of these recreational test programs was authorized specifically for Basel, Switzerland. This specific program is meant to last two years, includes 400 adults, and essentially is meant to provide data for future pricing and consumption regulation, for a full recreational market.
Though the pilot studies sound interesting, they’re really only to help with what’s coming. Even before the programs officially started, a parliamentary commission made a vote in October 2021, which ruled that cannabis shouldn’t be banned, and that the country must establish legislation to officially legalize it. In essence, Switzerland has legalized recreational cannabis, and is simply waiting for a bill (the vote doesn’t change anything without written legislation).
The whole thing is a little confusing. Switzerland is pushing for scientific trials to assess how to run a recreational market, while already working on the legislation to set up that market. And to make it more confusing, the basics of this began before Switzerland even implanted a full medical system, which is only happening now. Somehow none of this seems like its in the right order, but one thing for sure is, progress is great, no matter how it comes. And Switzerland is sure in the fast lane to major cannabis reform.
Perhaps competition with Germany is part of what’s spurring this on so quickly. The neighboring countries are both planning for recreational legalizations, and are both getting amped up to enter the global market. Switzerland for its part is working on both ends. Updating its medical program, before instituting its recreational one.
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