photo of cannabis on top of one hundred dollar bill

The Wednesday Politics Thread Rolls Up

Greetings once again from Tanzania, fellow politicados! Since last week’s post, I’ve strolled among the many cats in Zanzibar, been profiled as well worth approaching by local cannabis merchants, and was forced to breach the walls surrounding the residence I’m staying at after getting myself locked out with no way to contact anyone to help. In the end, I resisted the urge to cuddle the wild island kitties, restricted my pleasures to those that are locally legal, and avoided arrest on suspicion of being a thieving mzungu.

In case you’ve forgotten for some reason 👀 today is 4/20. For those not in the know (perhaps you’re not familiar with that half of Elon Musk’s joke repertoire on twitter) 420 is the weed number, and cannabis laws and the plant’s role in popular culture continue to evolve at a rapid pace. For sure there’s big money to be made, but the struggle to repair a long history of racist application of drug laws (conceived in bigotry to begin with) yet appears to lag behind the market considerations motivating most legislation.

New Jersey to start recreational marijuana sales April 21

The alternative treatment centers that already had medical cannabis retail sales are getting a head start in the recreational market, but regulators have attached strings to their advantage. The centers have to meet social equity standards, such as providing technical knowledge to new marijuana businesses, especially social equity applicants — those located in economically struggling parts of the state or people who have had cannabis-related offenses.

“We remain committed to social equity,” Cannabis Regulatory Commission Chair Dianna Houenou said in a statement. “We promised to build this market on the pillars of social equity and safety. Ultimately, we hope to see businesses and a workforce that reflect the diversity of the state.”

Associated Press [archive]

A ‘Wild West’ of Marijuana Shops Grows in Toronto

“There’s a standing joke in Toronto that dispensaries are sprinkled around like parsley. They are everywhere,” said Dalandrea Adams, a budtender standing behind the long glass display counter — revealing pipes, grinders and rollers — inside Friendly Stranger. “Which is convenient, if you are a pothead.”

“It’s the wild, wild West,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, a city councilor who supported the legalization of cannabis but has called for a moratorium on new shops in the city.

“Never at any community meeting has anyone said, ‘Our neighborhood is not complete without a pot shop,’” she said. “But now, in some places, you can’t get groceries but you can get weed.”

New York Times [archive]

Grow permits for indigenous communities jump-start Oaxaca cannabis industry

Federal permits allowing the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes have been assigned to 26 indigenous communities in Oaxaca.

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legal in Mexico since 2017. The Supreme Court has directed Congress to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but it has repeatedly missed deadlines to do so.

Cannabis has always been vilified in Mexico, he said before noting that the marijuana industry is very lucrative in U.S. states where use of the plant is legal.

Once recreational use is approved, Mexico will become the world’s largest legal marijuana market. One person already cashing in on the CBD and marijuana paraphernalia market is former president Vicente Fox, who is a part owner of a chain of cannabis stores.

Mexico News Daily [archive]

Africa eyes the global cannabis market

Since the beginning of January, airtight 10-gram packets of Ugandan cannabis, conforming with the German pharmacopoeia — the official guidelines regarding quality assurance — have been on sale in German pharmacies.

In 2015, the 43-year-old political scientist [Patrick Hoffmann] became one of the first people to legally import cannabis for medicinal purposes into Germany.

For Hoffmann, one thing is certain: There will be a strong demand for medicinal cannabis and even stimulants in the coming years, both in Germany and in the European Union. That’s where Africa plays a crucial role.

“Africa has a responsibility to play a leading role in the cultivation and processing of cannabis,” said Hoffmann. “If we also want to protect the environment at the same time, we can’t cultivate these large quantities indoors,” he explained. Instead, these need to be cultivated under favorable conditions, and “the best place to do it is near the equator.”

Deutsche Welle [archive]

Uhuru to open Zimbabwe Trade Fair where marijuana will be discussed

Zimbabwean and International companies involved in the marijuana industry have been encouraged to take part in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where President Uhuru Kenyatta will attend as the guest of honour.

Zimbabwe’s cannabis laws are strict, with long prison sentences of up to ten years for even limited private use. However, in 2018, the country took progressive steps by legalising the plant’s cultivation for medicinal purposes.

However, recently Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry hinted that they are looking to cannabis as a major revenue source with anti-tobacco sentiment expected to dampen demand for one of the countries biggest exports.

Pulselive Kenya [archive]

Rwanda approves 134 hectares for medicinal cannabis production

The government of Rwanda is moving ahead with plans to go into the medical marijuana business.

While addressing the media last year, Claire Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB said that currently no licenses had been issued as the licensing process is an extensive one that requires alignment with the security requirements and infrastructure of the site.

“There will be no way that it (cannabis) can leak out of the farm to go to the domestic market or to the wrong users. The crops will be in a very designated place, there will be very strong measures, whether it is CCTV cameras, watchtowers, street lights, and human security. So it is going to be extremely secure,” she added.

Cannabis produced in Rwanda will be exclusively for export purposes. The biggest markets that are being looked at are the United States of America, Canada and Europe.

China Global Television Network [archive]

South Africa is looking at legalising medical marijuana – here’s how it will work

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services is currently considering amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.

The draft bill, which was published for public comment in September 2020, outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant.

While the main focus of the bill will remain on the private use of cannabis, the portfolio committee has extended the subject of the bill to the use of cannabis for palliation or medication.

The updated bill also proposes introducing special religious and cultural changes to accommodate those who are part of the Rastafarian faith.

BusinessTech [archive]

Agripreneur: Meet a producer of cannabis edibles

Tumi Moleko-Nkomo worked in the television industry for the longest time. But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, her work dried up. She was forced to look at alternative methods of income and decided to turn her passion for making cannabis edibles into a business.

The legislation around selling cannabis and cannabis-infused products is still being developed. This is why, when Moleko-Nkomo decided that she wants to sell her products, the first person she consulted was her lawyer.

“I went online and did a bit of research. I realised that there isn’t much in terms of regulation and that the government was really slow on the uptake with everything cannabis related. And so I spoke to my lawyer. He just said ‘well, these are the legalities behind it. They’re not quite clear.”

“I have so many ideas on how I’d like to grow the business and the directions in which I’d like to take it. But it’s just so expensive to set up. From the lawyers that I would need to have, to the property. The whole setup of it is really, really quite expensive.”

Another challenge Moleko-Nkomo points out is that the unclear legislation around cannabis leaves cannabis businesses unprotected. She says since she started her business, she has experienced harassment from people, but has been unable to go to the police.

Food for Mzansi [archive]

No Healthy Relationship between Cannabis and Young Black People

More young people are using cannabis than ever before, which is cause for concern in the Black community. Black people have been and continue to be impacted by drugs and racial bias.

As more states legalize cannabis, it will still be illegal for anyone under 21. Why? Because, like alcohol, cannabis can harm developing brains.

Dr. Natacha DeGenna, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh studies cannabis and tobacco use in young people.

“Using cannabis is a serious decision,” says Dr. DeGenna. “The goal is to make a well-informed choice. Weigh the pros and cons, but please consider not using it until you’re at least 25.”

She continues, “If you’re younger than 25 and using now – or if you’re pregnant and using — consider cutting back with a goal of quitting. Even a small decrease can have a positive impact on your health and your baby’s development.”

Atlanta Daily World [archive]

Lots of work remains to be done in the pursuit of real justice for those caught in the jaws of unjust drug laws. To those partaking where it remains illegal to do so, good luck keeping your highs on the down low. It still ain’t easy being green, but it’s getting a little better. Don’t harsh the mods’ mellow by disregarding the McSquirrel rule but by all means Bogart a clam if you’ve got one.

Cat in Old Fort in Zanzibar judging me (and now you) ^.^