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Week in Review: US Navy Adjusts Policy on Cannabis Use for New Recruits

US Navy cannabis use
PHOTO bryanpollard

Current Events

Week in Review: US Navy Adjusts Policy on Cannabis Use for New Recruits

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, the Navy adjusts policy on cannabis use for recruits; the Pennsylvania governor pushes for adult-use cannabis legalization; AYR Wellness hosting free cannabis expungement clinics; and a New Zealand cannabis company has inked a deal with the Fijian government.

US Navy cannabis use
US Navy recruits at Recruit Training Command. PHOTO Mr. Scott A. Thornbloom

US Navy Adjusts Policy on Cannabis Use for New Recruits

The US Navy has revised its stance on recruits arriving at boot camp with detectable levels of cannabis in their system at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL, marking a significant shift in policy.

Rear Adm. James Waters, the director of the Navy’s military personnel plans and policy division, announced that the service has expanded its authority to grant waivers for recruits testing positive for THC.

“If they fail that test and own up—‘Yes, I smoke marijuana’—we do an evaluation of the young person to make sure there’s not something else going on,” Waters said. “But we trust that through the process of boot camp that we have an opportunity to bring them along with our culture.”

The decision to modify the policy reflects societal shifts in legislation across many states. “We recognize that many states have legalized marijuana,” Waters said.

However, Waters clarified that the US Navy remains steadfast in its prohibition of drug use by confirming, “We don’t do drugs in the military.” He emphasized that there are no discussions about extending leniency for other substances.

The revision is part of a broader effort by the Navy to reduce dropout rates in boot camp and support recruits in their military careers. Consequently, the current dropout rate is approximately 10%, one of the lowest in recent history.

Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. PHOTO Dough4872

Pennsylvania Governor Pushes for Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization

Legalizing adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania is gaining momentum with Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro’s including the proposal in his bold $48.3 billion budget plan. This move has prompted state Republican leaders to acknowledge the significant revenue potential the state is currently missing out on due to the absence of cannabis legalization. 

As neighboring states have already adopted adult-use policies, Governor Shapiro highlighted Pennsylvania’s lagging position during his budget address, emphasizing the potential for more than $250 million in annual revenue from a legal cannabis industry. 

“Let’s stop hamstringing ourselves and start competing,” Shapiro said.

Despite historical opposition from the Republican-controlled state Senate, GOP leaders signaled openness to considering the proposal, particularly as the Keystone State faces projected spending surpassing revenue in the coming fiscal year. 

Shapiro’s budget outlines a 20% tax on adult-use cannabis, projecting substantial tax revenue growth in subsequent years following legalization. The proposed regulatory framework aims to ensure responsible taxation and regulation, with a focus on addressing social equity and expunging records of nonviolent possession convictions. 

IMAGE AYR Wellness

AYR Wellness Hosting Free Cannabis Expungement Clinics

AYR Wellness is partnering with community organizations focused on social justice to host a series of free nationwide expungement clinics to help communities affected by the War on Drugs. 

According to the cannabis company’s website, its ‘Changing Legacies’ flagship program aims to provide impacted groups with access to tools that can help rebuild the lives of members of these communities, such as legal services.

“As the regulated cannabis industry matures and the plant continues to enter the mainstream, we look to utilize our leadership platform as an industry leader to give back to and empower the communities most affected by the War on Drugs,” says Ayr. 

The first event will be in Massachusetts in partnership with MassCultivateED at the Roxbury Community College on February 24 from 12 to 2 pm EST. Interested attendees can register here. The event will provide free legal assistance with expungement / CORI sealing, cannabis career resources, social services, including financial and housing programs, a social equity panel and refreshments.

PHOTO Maksym Kozlenko

New Zealand Cannabis Company Inks Deal with Fijian Government

New Zealand-based medicinal cannabis cultivation company Aether Pacific Pharmaceuticals (APP) has announced an agreement with the Fijian government, marking a significant step forward in advancing the Pacific Island nation’s medicinal cannabis sector.

“The Ministry of Trade will engage in a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with APP to establish a collaborative framework for the development of medicinal cannabis in Fiji,” Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said in a news release.

Rabuka emphasized that should Fiji legalize and regulate the medical cannabis industry for cultivation and export, APP, operating under the name Medical Kiwi, would need to apply for the necessary licenses and comply with the established regulations.

According to AAPP chairman Aldo Miccio, the decision to expand into Fiji follows extensive consultations with the Fijian government. 

“The MoU framework provides the company with a strategic pathway to expand its manufacturing operations in a cost-effective setting while also enabling exclusive exportation of Fijian medicinal cannabis to address increasing global demand,” Miccio says.

APP will invest at least $65 million over the next three to five years to construct a medicinal cannabis extraction and manufacturing facility in Fiji.

Currently, APP operates a cannabis cultivation facility in Christchurch, making it one of the first companies in New Zealand to receive licensing for cannabis cultivation and supply in 2020.

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