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This Week In Weed is a new segment on Respect My Region that will be covering popular news topics in the cannabis industry on a week-to-week basis. This news will cover the state of recreational and medical cannabis across the world, as well as uncoverings in the black market.

Closing In On The Truth: Officials Name Specific Brands Associated With Vaping Illnesses

For months, the discussion surrounding vaping has revolved around EVALI, a vaping-related illness that has researchers and lawmakers scrambling to unveil the truth. Lawmakers, for their part, have resorted to implementing widely varying bans on vaping. Even Apple joined in, discontinuing the sale of vaping-related apps in its app store.

Meanwhile, researchers have worked urgently to understand the cause for EVALI. Vitamin E Acetate, a thickening agent found in illicit vaping products, is their primary suspect. However, up until now, no individual companies have been linked to the series of illnesses popping up throughout the country. A report filed by the CDC gives a detailed account of products used by patients affected by EVALI. One brand in particular, Dank Vapes, is directly linked to over 50% of reported cases.

Oregon Activists Seek Full Decriminalization With 2020 Initiative

Various forms of cannabis legalization have been taking effect in the United States in recent years. Many states legalized recreational use, and many more have legalized medical use. The federal government has even legalized the cultivation and sale of CBD products. However, one aspect of drug policy reform that has been lacking in this country is full decriminalization of drug possession. Such policies have worked wonders around the world, most notably in Portugal. There, a widespread decriminalization law passed in 2001 vastly reduced the number of citizens struggling with addiction.

The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act appeared as a ballot measure in Oregon three months ago. Now, the signature-gathering process is in full swing, with over 110,000 signatures needed in order to include the measure in Oregon’s 2020 ballot. The ballot has a great deal of support, including from David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner’s multi-use soap; and Drug Policy Alliance, which backed Oregon’s successful 2014 legalization initiatives.

MLB Swings For The Fences And Removes Cannabis From Its List Of Banned Substances

MLB Removes Cannabis From Its List Of Banned Substances

The MLB took its place among sports organizations that are reworking their drug policies to stop punishing athletes for cannabis consumption. The NHL and XFL have both adopted new policies that avoid punishing athletes for cannabis use. The XFL is no longer testing their athletes and, while the NHL is still testing their athletes for cannabis use, they will not be levying punishments for testing positive for the substance. The Major League Baseball organization began its policy shift by announcing that it would no longer be testing its minor league athletes for cannabis use. However, they soon followed that up with an announcement that their major league players would benefit from the same policy change.

In addition to removing cannabis from the list of banned substances, officials added opioids and cocaine. This move likely stems from the overdose death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs in early July. Skaggs had fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. The tragedy struck a chord with the professional sporting community and is continuing to influence the way in which sports organizations handle the health and wellness of their athletes.

Meet “Dr. Ganja,” Thailand’s New Cannabis Mascot

Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, publicly ingested cannabis oil and distributed cartoon cannabis dolls at an event supporting the release of a new government-run medical cannabis education website. The country legalized medical cannabis use in December of 2018, and has put forth a considerable effort to educate its citizens about the new legislation.

At the event, Prayut appeared alongside “Dr. Ganja,” a state-created mascot who distributed cartoon cannabis dolls to children present at the event. Chan-o-cha advocated for the use of cannabis as a means of medication, stating that it is a particularly good option for Thailand’s low-income residents. The website serving as the inspiration for the event features the locations of cannabis clinics, the types of products and services available to citizens, and infographics regarding cannabis research.

Research Shows That Hemp Crops Could Be Crucial Catalyst For Bee Populations

Cornell University researchers studying the presence of bees in New York hemp farms made a startling discovery. The researchers were hoping to investigate the presence of different bee species in hemp crops. They intend to use this information to further understand the environmental impact of cannabis farms. They discovered that taller hemp plants attracted a significantly greater number and diversity of bees than shorter hemp plants. Plants over two meters attracted nearly 17 times more bees than shorter plants, according to the researchers.

This discovery serves as promising news for bee populations that have reached worrying lows in recent history. The researchers were adamant about the potential behind this discovery. “​As cultivation of hemp increases, growers, land managers, and policymakers should consider its value in supporting bee communities and take its attractiveness to bees into account when developing pest management strategies,” they wrote.

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