Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces 2019 Hemp For Victory Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced H.R. 3652, the Hemp for Victory Act which lays the foundation for the emerging hemp industry in a manner that incentivizes family farmers and small businesses, protects against corporate monopolies, and studies the benefits of hemp cultivation and hemp-based products while ensuring safe agricultural practices, and environmental and labor considerations.

“The hemp industry is poised to grow rapidly, having a billion dollar impact on the U.S. economy and creating thousands of jobs. Hemp-based materials have the potential to transform industries from health care to domestic manufacturing to affordable, sustainable housing construction, and more. Studies have shown it can play a role in helping remove toxins from our environment and prevent soil erosion, as well as provide alternatives to single-use plastics, which pollute our lands and ocean,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “My bill will lay the foundation for how we can optimize the hemp industry’s potential and ensure this opportunity benefits family farms and small businesses across America — from Hawai‘i to Kentucky and beyond.”

“Congresswoman Gabbard’s commitment to re-energizing the American farmer and delivering on the economic and planetary healing promise of the versatile, valuable hemp plant is exactly what our nation needs, and the time is now to support her bold efforts,” said Joy Beckerman, a board member with the Hemp Industries Association.

“We commend Congresswoman Gabbard for her leadership on introducing the Hemp For Victory Act,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “The fledgling hemp industry can create thousands of farming and manufacturing jobs but needs research and the same support given to other crops which the bill helps provide.”

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Background: H.R. 3652, the Hemp for Victory Act of 2019, named after the World War II-era effort to revitalize the U.S. hemp industry, broadly addresses many aspects of the re-emerging U.S. hemp industry. The legislation’s objective is to build and encourage a national hemp industry, but to ensure that is done correctly, meaning that there are proper labor, consumer, and health standards; investment incentives; safe agricultural practices; environmental considerations; and more. At its core, the bill is aimed at providing opportunities for small businesses, family farms, indigenous populations, and veterans to participate in and prosper from this industry.

The bill will engage the expertise of several U.S. agencies, as well as land-grant universities, in order to lay the foundations of and generate the demand necessary for our hemp industry to ensure domestic economic potential is met across several sectors. Recognizing the potential for this commodity to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry, the bill directs the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Defense, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, and Small Business Administration to conduct research and develop studies on the uses and benefits of hemp. This includes preservation and rehabilitation of our environment through toxic site cleanup and soil erosion control, sustainable and affordable housing, nutritional benefits to our children in school lunches and healthcare benefits to our veterans, alternatives to single-use plastics to reduce our ecological footprint, and the creation of thousands of jobs, among so many more.

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, a stand-alone bill in the 115th Congress which would have reclassified hemp as an agricultural crop. She supported H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 — more broadly referred to as “the Farm Bill” — which passed both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan majorities and was signed into law. Among its many provisions, the bill legalized the production of industrial hemp and put its regulation under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rep. Gabbard supports empowering local farmers and expanding their opportunities. She also joined a bipartisan amicus brief asking the Court to recognize and uphold the Congressional intent of prior legislation that allowed states to grow, cultivate, and research industrial hemp under specific conditions.

New Bill Builds Bipartisan Momentum Behind Federal Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), along with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), introduced bipartisan legislation to evaluate states’ marijuana policies. The Marijuana Data Collection Act directs the National Academy of Sciences to create a federally recognized report on state-level marijuana legalization policies, including both medical and non-medical use, and their effects on public health, safety, the economy, the criminal justice system, and more. The information compiled in the report would provide scientific data and statistics on the impact of various marijuana policies on our nation.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also received the NORML Rufus King Sr. Public Leadership Award for her outstanding public leadership in marijuana law reform. The award was presented at the NORML Congressional lobby day, where activists advocate for federal marijuana reforms on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

“Federal lawmakers have long ignored the issues of our outdated federal marijuana policy,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said.“In recent years, however, voters across the country – including in my home state of Florida and overwhelmingly in my district – have called for modernized marijuana policies in their states. This bill takes a commonsense step toward allowing unbiased research into the impacts that marijuana has had in states that have chosen to legally regulate it. I am proud to support the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act to ensure the federal government is no longer an obstacle to legal, regulated marijuana and starts being part of the discussion for a new federal policy.”

Justin Strekal, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Political Director, said: “We appreciate Representative Gabbard for her tremendous leadership in the fight to reform our nation’s failed policy of prohibition. From emphasizing that marijuana policy be evidence-based, to tasking the National Academies with this important work, to her role as a lead on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Rep. Gabbard has been one of the most prominent voices in calling for a new sensible approach to cannabis.”

On the House Floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for non-violent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously, and torn families apart – all for a substance that’s proven to be far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.

“Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths. However, the fact that marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug –the same category as heroin and cocaine – restricts and even discourages scientific research on marijuana, limiting our ability to create science-based policies. I’ll be introducing the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act with my colleague Congressman Carlos Curbelo so that we can create a study to set the record straight. Our bill would authorize a non-partisan, evidence-based report that analyzes current marijuana policies across the country, and their effects on our communities. I urge my colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation.”

Background: The Marijuana Data Collection Act would:

  • Require data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.
  • Require the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biennial study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs.
  • The Report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.

As part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies. She is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list. She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state law to resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. She is also a cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act (H.R. 4815) to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 2215) to allow equal banking access and financial services for marijuana-related businesses, the RESPECT resolution (H.Res. 943) to encourage equity in the marijuana industry, and more.

Steep Hill Hawaii Announces ISO Certification For First Licensed Cannabis Testing Lab In Hawaii

HAWAII: Dana Ciccone, CEO of Steep Hill Hawaii, the first state-licensed cannabis testing lab in Hawaii, announced it received ISO/IEC 17025:2005 certification by Perry Johnson Laboratory Accreditation Inc., an international accrediting agency recognized by governments and industry participants around the world as the standard of excellence for the operation of a quality laboratory management system.

Ciccone said in making the announcement on the achievement of the Certificate of Accreditation, “We are proud not only to be the first cannabis lab to be licensed in the State of Hawaii, but also now the first lab to achieve ISO certification, as well. Industry businesses, medical professionals, state regulators, and patients can be confident that our lab and its testing standards will operate to the highest international standards. This is a turning point for the industry – we have moved very quickly to raise the industry standards in Hawaii to internationally recognized certification. I am very proud of our scientific team’s professionalism and hard work to achieve this certification.”

Steep Hill Hawaii will run full-service testing for cannabinoid profiles (potency), terpenes, pesticides, heavy metals, biological screening, and residual solvents, testing for 17 cannabinoids and 43 terpenes. The company will test for industry businesses and in-state patient cardholders, and it has been structured to provide services to be affordable, with quick turn-around times. Steep Hill Hawaii is a locally owned and operated company.

 

Hawaii Selects BioTrackTHC For State’s Medical Marijuana Program

HAWAII: The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance has selected BioTrackTHC as the winner apparent for its state contract for tracking the production, transportation and sale of medical marijuana.

“The development of a healthy and successful medical cannabis program is a top priority for Hawaii, and we are extremely proud to have been chosen to be a critical part of it,” said Patrick Vo, CEO, BioTrackTHC. “The islands of Hawaii are truly unique and we very much look forward to applying our expertise in solving the cannabis traceability challenges unique to Hawaii.”

BioTrackTHC’s government software solution will provide the Hawaii Department of Health real-time visibility into the seed-to-sale tracking data of every licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the state, including plant and inventory quantities, production activity, laboratory testing results, transportation activity, and dispensing activity.

This marks the fifth cannabis-related government contract won by the company. BioTrackTHC‘s seed-to-sale Traceability System for government agencies is currently being utilized by the states of WashingtonNew Mexico, and Illinois, and is in the process of implementation by New York. The company’s Enterprise System for businesses is used in more than 1,500 medical and recreational cannabis facilities in 23 states, Washington D.C.CanadaJamaica and South America. These technologies enable government agencies and businesses to track every plant and every fraction-of-a-gram of cannabis throughout the production lifecycle—cultivation, harvest and cure, quality assurance testing, transportation, destruction, and sale—bringing transparency, accountability, and meaningful insights to cannabis operations.

The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November of last year and posted a Notice of Award naming BioTrackTHC on December 28, 2015.

Ige Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Bill Into Law

HAWAII: Gov. David Ige has approved a new law that will create up to 16 dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana to Hawaii patients.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ige also announced that four other bills will become law without his signature.

“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana,” Ige said. “We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

Hawaii approved a state law in 2000 allowing for medical marijuana use by patients with a prescription, but never set up a system for distributing cannabis. Patients or their caregivers have been required to either grow their own, or rely on the black market for their supplies.

Marijuana Dispensaries Could Bring Huge Benefits To State

HAWAII:  Medical marijuana advocates say dispensaries in Hawaii could contribute 800 jobs and $65 million a year in sales.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/1IXwkMK ) House Bill 321 calls for 16 dispensaries to open in Hawaii starting July 2016. The legislation is currently awaiting Gov. David Ige’s approval.

About 13,000 state residents are registered to use medical marijuana. Under current law, they have to grow their own pot or buy it illegally.

Executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association Nate Bradley says Hawaii’s total marijuana sales could reach $65 million annually with more patients getting medical marijuana cards.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Passes Hawaii Legislature

HAWAII:  Members of the Hawaii Legislature approved a bill Thursday that would establish a system of medical marijuana dispensaries statewide by next summer.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana 15 years ago, but has never provided a way to buy it legally. Patients must grow their own or have a caretaker grow it for them.

House Bill 321 would allow eight companies to open two marijuana dispensaries each as soon as July 15, 2016.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously with Sen. Russell Ruderman excused. House lawmakers approved the bill 38-13 after more than a half-hour of discussion. The measure goes next to Gov. David Ige, who has indicated he supports the medical marijuana dispensaries.

Taxes For Medical Marijuana Sales Magically Appear In House Bill 321

HAWAII:  As you might be aware, in 2000 Hawaii enacted a medical use of marijuana law (Act 228, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000). The problem, of course, has been how to get this medical marijuana to those who need

it without violating other laws. So this year our Legislature is working on House Bill 321, which would establish standards for and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The bill started off in the House and was referred to three committees there: Health, Judiciary and Finance. It passed all three and went over to the Senate. The Senate referred the bill to four committees: Health, Public Safety, Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means.

After the first two committees, the bill was still a regulatory bill. It then was heard by Judiciary and Ways and Means committees jointly, and those committees amended the bill by, among other things, adding two sections. One creates a special general excise tax rate for retail marijuana sales. The rate is 10 percent. The other imposes a GET surcharge on the same sales. That rate is 15 percent. So here we have a magical appearing tax. Instead of a rabbit coming out of the hat, we get a new, hefty 25 percent tax.

 

Tom Yamachika: No Compassion In Overtaxing Medical Marijuana

HAWAII:  As you might be aware, in 2000 Hawaii enacted a medical use of marijuana law (Act 228, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000). The problem, of course, has been how to get this medical marijuana to those who need it without violating other laws. This year our Legislature is working on House Bill 321, which would establish standards for and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The bill started off in the House, and was referred to three committees: Health, Judiciary, and Finance. It passed all three and went over to the Senate. The Senate referred the bill to four committees, Health, Public Safety, Judiciary and Labor, and Ways and Means.

After the first two committees, the bill was still a regulatory bill. It then was heard by Judiciary and Ways and Means jointly, and those committees amended the bill by, among other things, adding two sections. One creates a special general excise tax rate for retail marijuana sales with a rate of 10 percent. The other imposes a GET surcharge on the same sales. That rate is 15 percent. So here we have a magically appearing levy: Instead of a rabbit coming out of the hat, we get a hefty new 25 percent tax.

Marijuana Registries Go Digital in Maine, Hawaii

MAINE:  Filing cabinets, gray cubicles and three-ring binders of department policy conjure an image of state government that disguises a more pregnant message. A reflection of the times can be found in heaps of bureaucratic paperwork, and in 2015, there is a clear image of an American population that enjoys getting high on marijuana.

Twenty-three states and the nation’s capital have legalized the drug for either medical or recreational use, and as resistance to usage weakens in the wake of 1970s court hearings examining the substance’s decriminalization, governments find themselves in need of computer systems that support a function with relatively little historical backing.

Both Hawaii and Maine, two states separated by thousands of geographic miles, have for years allowed marijuana for medical use, and last year recognized a need for better systems to keep track of medical marijuana registrants. Through partnerships with NIC, both states developed new systems that launched earlier this year.

Russell Castagnaro, president of eHawaii.gov, explained that the system was developed as part of a broader organizational change that transferred the state’s medical marijuana registry from the watch of the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health. The governance of medical marijuana may have once been considered a matter of keeping the public safe, but in 2015, public health is the more salient issue.