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50th anniversary of federal cannabis decrim report (Newsletter: March 23, 2022)

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RI legal marijuana hearing; TX smokable hemp case at high court; PA psilocybin bill amended; ACLU wants drug decrim in ME

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of a Nixon-era federal commission’s recommendation that marijuana should be decriminalized. But half a century later, federal cannabis laws remain fundamentally unchanged—even by the current president who promised decriminalization on the campaign trail.

The Rhode Island House Finance Committee held a hearing on a bicameral marijuana legalization bill as well as a competing proposal from Gov. Dan McKee (D).

The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging the state’s ban on manufacturing smokable hemp products.

A Pennsylvania representative amended her psilocybin research bill to win more support, but she’s worried it might not advance because a key committee chair “shifted course due to an overdose death in her district” allegedly involving “magic mushrooms.”

The ACLU of Maine and Maine Center for Economic Policy published a report urging the state to decriminalize drugs. A decrim bill passed the House of Representatives last year but later stalled in the Senate.

/ FEDERAL

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published the first annual update of an ongoing review of cannabis and other plant-based treatments for chronic pain.

A federal judge dismissed an ayahuasca church’s lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) questioned Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about her work on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make it so changes to the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine would be retroactive.

Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-OR) sent a letter asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide federal help combating illegal marijuana cultivation operations in Oregon.

North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate Steve Miller tweeted, “Did you know that more than 75% of Americans want to see marijuana decriminalized at the federal level? It’s good for veterans and for legal cannabis businesses. I’m running for Congress in #NC07 and I strongly support federal decriminalization.”

/ STATES

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill undoing state-based hemp regulations and requiring farmers to instead apply for licenses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

North Carolina’s attorney general tweeted about a cannabis webinar series his office is hosting.

Kentucky’s Senate majority floor leader said he doesn’t think there are enough votes in the chamber to advance a House-passed medical cannabis bill.

The Vermont House of Representatives approved a bill to defelonize some drug crimes.

Iowa Senate leaders ruled a marijuana legalization amendment not germane to the legislation that a lawmaker was seeking to attach it to.

The Georgia Senate sent a hemp bill back to committee after lawmakers noticed language that would have clarified that delta-8 THC is legal. Separately, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee gutted a House-passed bill to revise the medical cannabis business licensing process and replaced its language with provisions of the Senate’s own legislation on the issue.

The Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a bill on medical cannabis testing labs. Meanwhile, House Democrats criticized Republican leaders for not yet passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

The Maine legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee approved a medical cannabis reform bill.

The Colorado Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee approved a $5 million cut to a grant program that funds law enforcement efforts to combat illegal marijuana cultivation.

Montana courts posted information about petitioning for expungement, resentencing or redesignation of marijuana-related convictions.

Maryland’s top medical cannabis regulator told lawmakers that “our hands are very much tied when it comes to trying to further facilitate equity in the industry because there’s no licenses we have the ability to award.”

Florida regulators filed emergency rules on trade names and logos used by medical cannabis companies.

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board discussed how medical cannabis retail prices are not dropping like wholesale prices are.

Nevada regulators held a public workshop on marijuana social consumption lounges.

South Dakota regulators published information about the process to petition to add new medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

California officials are auctioning property seized in relation to illegal cannabis activity.

Washington State regulators will host a listen and learn session about conceptual draft rules on marijuana social equity on Wednesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The Leon County, Florida Commission declined to move forward with a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

The Detroit, Michigan City Council postponed a vote on a proposal to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries.

Denver, Colorado officials approved the city’s first marijuana hospitality license.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council delayed a decision on marijuana enforcement rules.

/ INTERNATIONAL

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said she is “completely against” legalizing marijuana but supports medical cannabis.

The Edmonton, Alberta, Canada City Council’s Community and Public Services Committee is considering a proposal to decriminalize drugs.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study of post-legalization enforcement found a “general decline in cannabis arrests for nearly all racial groups, yet these declines were not consistent across racial groups or even across states,” that “substantial racial disparities persist following legalization, especially in Colorado” and that “overall, evidence suggests that while legalization has likely had a net positive effect on overrepresented populations by decreasing criminal justice contact, it is not a panacea and may only be minimally important for addressing disparities.”

A review found that “zero of these articles reported psilocybin to be unsafe, while 27 of the included trials suggested that psilocybin is safe to administer under proper medical supervision.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Thai adults found that nearly half have used cannabis-based products in the past two years.

A poll of Maryland voters found that 66 percent are more likely to support marijuana legalization if it includes relief for past convictions; 65 percent are more likely to back it if the reform stops police from using the odor of cannabis as probable cause for a search and 61 percent are more likely to be on board with legislation if marijuana can’t be used to deny housing or child custody or negatively impact parole or probation status.

A leader of Human Rights Watch’s U.S. program authored a piece calling on Congress to pass a federal marijuana legalization bill.

/ BUSINESS

Cresco Labs Inc. is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire Columbia Care Inc.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. is acquiring TerraFarma Inc.

Curaleaf Arizona is asking a federal judge not to force the company to reinstate a worker who a National Labor Relations Board judge determined was improperly fired for union organizing efforts.

Arkansas dispensaries sold $21.1 million worth of medical cannabis in February.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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