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Canadian Government Sanctions Broad Drug Decriminalization Experiment in British Columbia, States are Still Struggling with How to Regulate Hemp Derivatives, and The FBI’s Cannabis Arrest Data Might Be Significantly Flawed

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Canadian Government Sanctions Broad Drug Decriminalization Experiment in British Columbia

Canada’s federal government approved a drug decriminalization experiment in one of the largest provinces in the country. In cases of low-level possession, law enforcement will no longer be allowed to seize the substance, issue a citation, or make arrests for four currently illegal drugs. The policy will go into effect on January 31, 2023. The hope is this decriminalization effort will reduce the stigma associated with substance misuse and turn efforts toward treatment instead of punishment. Once the policy goes into effect, individuals caught with 2.5 grams or less of MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA will not face criminal penalties. 

States are Still Struggling with How to Regulate Hemp Derivatives

So far this year, over a dozen states have taken up various measures to regulate or ban hemp derivatives, such as delta- 8 THC. Many industry experts and cannabis attorneys say that ambiguity at the federal level is to blame for the confusion. Once the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the production of hemp, the bill also made derivatives and extracts legal as well – provided that the plant that the cannabinoid came from meets the legal definition of “hemp”. But while CBD and other extracted cannabinoids are considered legal, food and drug laws surrounding their consumption are more of a gray area, particularly as the FDA has not yet authorized any cannabinoid products without a prescription. Simultaneously, the agency has done little to nothing to regulate the booming CBD market. This has created a patchwork of state regulations that vary dramatically from state to state. 

The FBI’s Cannabis Arrest Data Might Be Significantly Flawed 

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system is used by lawmakers, research organizations and the media to better comprehend trends in law enforcement. However, the system may be critically flawed concerning cannabis arrest data. Over 18,000 jurisdictions across the country report data to the program. The issue seems to be what constitutes an “arrest” for marijuana possession. Local law enforcement is uncertain whether cannabis possession citations issued in areas where marijuana is decriminalized are considered “arrests”. Different state police departments appear to interpret this differently, thus potentially leading to inconsistencies in marijuana arrest reporting. The issue has caused a Maryland official to call on the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General to investigate.