It’s a good time to be the cannabis plant. Misunderstood and persecuted for nearly a century, the tides are finally turning — and despite some setbacks, momentum is unmistakably carrying things forward.
Below are the week’s hottest stories in snapshot form.
The case of Sha’Carri Richardson, the U.S. Olympic track and field star who was dismissed from this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games after testing positive for THC, could well go down in history as a turning point. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced they will consider a change to their international ban on cannabis use. After receiving blowback from many celebrities and even U.S. Congress Representatives, the agency has stated it will re-examine scientific evidence around marijuana to determine its future policy. The official statement from WADA’s executive committee alluded to receiving “requests from a number of stakeholders;” as for whom, the organization did not specify, but it is known that many athletic leagues voiced their complaints.
In 2020, 44% of college students reported having consumed cannabis. This makes 2020 the highest year on record for the past 3.5 decades. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was performed by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, which has data on college substance use dating back to 1980. The organization’s 2015 study found a college student cannabis use rate of 35%, which adds up to a 9% increase in 5 years. Among those surveyed in 2020, 8% reported daily use. Read more here.
In Pennsylvania, legislators have introduced a bill that would shield medical cannabis patients in the state from receiving DUIs. This bipartisan bill, sponsored by both Republican Rep. Todd Polinchock and Democratic Rep. Chris Rabb, would treat medical marijuana the same as any other prescription medication: if the driver is not impaired when pulled over, the officer cannot charge them with a DUI. This would represent a significant upgrade to the current laws, which allow a DUI to be given to an entirely sober driver if trace amounts of cannabis are found in their system — even if they consumed the cannabis weeks earlier.
The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, a subsidiary of the USDA, has granted $325,000 to Cornell University for research on how to remove weeds from hemp fields. This applies to invasive weeds — not marijuana. This research will take place over three years and across multiple institutions and states, and the results should help cultivators maximize yields through weed suppression techniques specific to their location. The study is possible thanks to the new ability to actually research hemp, which until the 2018 Farm Bill was illegal.
Connecticut’s medical marijuana patients will be able to grow their own marijuana plants starting on Oct. 1. This activity will, of course, be limited to patients 18 years and older and will be restricted to six individual plants per person (or 12 per household). In communities of 50,000 or more, there need to be designated areas where cannabis consumption is allowed. Interestingly, the law also places further restrictions on tobacco use; tobacco smokers can no longer smoke within 25 feet of public buildings.
New York will soon have its own official Cannabis Control Board, which will be in charge of regulating the state’s new adult-use recreational marijuana market. The state’s governor, Kathy Hochul (D), completed the process set up by her predecessor by appointing two final board members. The two new regulators are Jessica García, from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Reuben McDaniel III, a member of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. These appointments were made in hopes of giving the board the momentum it needs to “hit the ground running,” according to the Governor.