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Marijuana

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Adults ages 21 and older now can legally buy marijuana for recreational use in Missouri. The state health department approved marijuana dispensary licenses unexpectedly early Friday. Recreational pot became legal in Missouri in December, but the health department had until Friday to approve or deny licenses. Missouri voters amended the state constitution in November to legalize recreational pot. The amendment also calls for the expungement of records of past arrests and convictions for nonviolent marijuana offenses, except for selling to minors or driving under the influence.

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Hong Kong has banned CBD as a “dangerous drug” and imposed harsh penalties for its possession, forcing fledging businesses to shut down or revamp. Supporters say CBD, derived from the cannabis plant, can help relieve stress and inflammation without getting its users high, unlike its more famous cousin THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana which has long been illegal in Hong Kong. CBD was once legal in the city, and cafes and shops selling CBD-infused products were popular among young people. With the ban, CBD-related businesses have closed down while others have struggled to remodel their businesses. Consumers dumped what they saw as a cure for their ailments into special collection boxes set up around the city.

Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, labeling it a “dangerous drug.” Cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, was previously legal in Hong Kong, where bars and shops sold products containing it. But last year, Hong Kong authorities decided to prohibit its use. Customs authorities announced Friday that the ban would go into effect starting Feb. 1. CBD is one of many chemicals found in cannabis, a plant known more commonly as marijuana. Unlike its cousin THC, CBD doesn’t get users high. Supporters say CBD can treat a range of ailments. Others, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, say there’s not enough evidence to confirm its safety as a supplement.

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The Food and Drug Administration says there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements. The FDA said Congress needs to create new rules for the massive and growing market. FDA officials said Thursday that the marijuana-derived compound poses risks to people and animals that can't be adequately addressed through the current system and a new regulations are needed to protect consumers. The agency also denied petitions from three advocacy groups to allow CBD products to be marketed as dietary supplements. Fans of the products claim benefits including relief for pain and anxiety.

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Legal sales of medical marijuana oil could be only months away in Georgia. A state commission on Wednesday approved rules for testing, inspections and sales. It’s been legal for people in Georgia to use low-THC cannabis oil to treat a variety of diseases since 2015. But a rollout of legal sales has been delayed for years by regulatory challenges. More than 25,000 Georgians have registered to use the oil. The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission has licensed Trulieve Georgia and Botanical Sciences to grow and process marijuana. Trulieve Georgia will operate in Adel, while Botanical Sciences will be located in Glennville. The companies could each open up to six locations statewide to sell the product.

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Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has laid out his priorities to the Republican-controlled Legislature twice in the past month, first in his inaugural address and in more detail this week in his State of the State speech. Some, such as repealing the state's abortion ban law and legalizing recreational marijuana, are clearly dead on arrival. But Evers and Republicans appear to be in general agreement on using 20% of the state sales tax to fund local governments. And they're both prioritizing cutting taxes. However, Evers wants to target the middle class while Republicans favor a flat income tax rate that would benefit wealthy tax filers.

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This year's North Carolina General Assembly session begins in earnest on Wednesday, two weeks after lawmakers met to pick leaders. While the legislature starts from scratch when each odd-numbered year begins, there should be plenty of familiar issues. They include whether to approve Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana and sports gambling. Republicans also are likely to try to enact looser gun laws and tougher immigration directives given they hold a veto-proof majority in the Senate and are just one seat short in the House. Gov. Roy Cooper and fellow Democrats aim to block more restrictive abortion rules in light of the Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade.

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As New York opens more legal outlets for recreational marijuana, some public health advocates want more scrutiny on how marijuana products are being marketed to teens and young adults. Flavored nicotine is being outlawed by more states and cities, but similar bans often don’t apply to marijuana products advertised as mad mango, peach dream and cereal milk. In New York, state regulators are considering rules that would ban brightly colored labels and advertising that could entice young people to cannabis products. The proposals would prohibit cartoons and neon colors, as well as forbid packaging that could depict marijuana products as candy, soda, drinks, cookies or cereal.

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