Earlier this year, a Minnesota House committee approved a measure to legalize recreational cannabis for adults in the state. The legislation was an updated version of a recreational cannabis bill that had advanced from the Minnesota House but failed to pass the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
Once it was approved, the bill was set to be scrutinized by more than 10 committees in the House before heading to the Senate. The recreational cannabis measure recently got a major overhaul and was amended to include new language to protect Minnesota’s nascent low-potency drinkables and edibles segment. Low-potency cannabis products are made using THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) from industrial hemp rather than marijuana.
Although both hemp and marijuana are in the cannabis family of plants, industrial hemp is required by law to contain less than 0.3% THC while state-legal marijuana has no such limits.
Legislators in the state and local government committee added the hemp provisions to the Senate version of the bill. House Commerce Committee chairman and lead House author Representative Zack Stephenson said that similar language will be added to the House version of the bill this week. Colead author, Senator Lindsey Port, told the local and state government panel that cannabis prohibition is a “failed system” that hasn’t achieved any of its goals.
Prohibitionist policies were first launched under the guise of tackling drug addiction and defunding the criminal organizations that run the drug trade, but those policies disproportionately affected communities of color and exacerbated already existing racial paradigms.
Port noted that the 142-page amendment focused on licensing and regulatory provisions to address feedback from stakeholders in the low-THC segment.
Unlike cannabis businesses, which have very limited access to capital and banking services, players in the hemp industry can access capital and deduct business expenses from their taxes. However, the two expressed concern that the measure’s original language would lump some entities too closely with incoming marijuana businesses and limit access to crucial financial services. Port also said that the amendments gave local governments more control over cannabis markets but prevented government officials from issuing total bans on marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions.
Both Senate and House versions of the bill have gone through more than 20 committees and are expected to pass through a few more before heading to a vote on the floor.
The House version will likely pass the floor vote as the House already passed a previous version of the bill last year, but the bill’s chances in the Senate will depend on whether its backers can secure enough votes. Stephenson said that he believes the bill has strong support and that they may have even secured support from some Republican lawmakers by the time the measure gets to the floor.
As these legislators move to bring an end to marijuana prohibition in the state, entities elsewhere such as India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are making promising strides in their bids to develop medicinal formulations from cannabis that will pass FDA scrutiny and be approved for use against conditions such as chronic pain.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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