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Cannabis banking bill comes back to Congress (Newsletter: March 18, 2021)

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Biden drug czar fav touted marijuana benefits; Schumer wades into NY legalization debate; RI drug decrim bill; NH homegrow hearing

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Rahul Gupta, President Biden’s leading pick to be director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, oversaw the expansion of West Virginia’s medical marijuana program and has repeatedly touted cannabis’s health benefits. The drug czar is legally required to oppose efforts to legalize Schedule I drugs, so it would be somewhat awkward for a person to step into the role after implementing a state medical marijuana program that licenses people to break federal law.

  • “We want to do it because lives are at stake. They are depending on the program to be successful. Many people are in chronic pain. We want to take on that challenge.” 

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors will refile a marijuana banking bill in Congress on Thursday. The House approved versions of the legislation three times last Congress, only to die in the Senate.

As New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) negotiate a deal on marijuana legalization, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is siding with legislators and snubbing the governor’s proposal.

Six Rhode Island senators filed a bill to decriminalize possession of all drugs. It comes as the governor and top lawmakers recently introduced competing plans to legalize marijuana and as lawmakers consider allowing safe consumption sites for illegal drugs.

A new poll found that a majority of New Yorkers not only support legalizing marijuana but want it to include home cultivation and delivery services—and they welcome cannabis stores and grow operations in their own neighborhoods.

Representatives of New Hampshire’s three licensed medical cannabis companies testified in support of a bill to let patients grow their own marijuana—a change from past sessions in which they were either opposed or neutral.

/ FEDERAL

Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)  and other senators expressed concerns with or uncertainty about marijuana legalization, calling into question its chances in a divided Senate even if Democrats could get around the filibuster.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), in a Senate floor speech, criticized health and human services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra for overseeing the coronavirus-forced closure of churches while marijuana dispensaries remain open as California’s attorney general.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) tweeted, “Our involvement in Central America’s civil wars led to death & devastation that is still felt in the region today. And U.S. drug demand & drug war have helped hollow out civil society in these countries, contributing to government corruption & horrific gang violence…. We must change course. Rewrite our immigration laws. Make this hemisphere our #1 foreign policy priority; end the war on drugs; support anti-corruption efforts; & lead in confronting climate change before it’s too late & before more families in the Americas are displaced.”

/ STATES

A spokesperson for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said she remains “hopeful” that a marijuana legalization bill can get to her desk by the end of the session.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s (R) preferred framework for recreational marijuana is being introduced in the legislature by a representative.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “When Pennsylvania legalizes adult-use marijuana, we can finally right the wrongs of over-criminalization and restore justice to victims of the War on Drugs. We’ll leave the growing to our trusted farmers, and put revenue toward historically disadvantaged small businesses.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is considering rescinding one of his nominees to the state’s marijuana regulatory body to address concerns about representation. Separately, the Assembly Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee advanced a bill allowing police to notify parents if their minor children are caught with marijuana.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner sent a press release praising final federal hemp rules.

New York’s Assembly speaker said a deal on marijuana legalization is getting closer.

The Colorado Senate approved a bill to require school districts to store cannabis-based medicines for student use. Separately, the first recreational marijuana deliveries are launching in the state.

The Tennessee House Health Committee approved a bill to allow some patients to use medical cannabis oil. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee held a hearing on a separate bill to study medical marijuana.

Maine regulators are seeking bidders to run a public health and safety campaign about marijuana.

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet on March 25.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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 Denver, Colorado City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee advanced legislation to allow marijuana delivery and hospitality businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Australian government is funding research into the benefits of psychedelics.

The Legalise Cannabis WA party appears poised to win a seat inWestern Australia’s Parliament.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study “did not find a significant difference in change in PTSD symptom severity between the active cannabis concentrations and placebo by the end of Stage 1″ but that “”all treatment groups, including placebo, showed good tolerability and significant improvements in PTSD symptoms during three weeks of treatment.”

The Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center awarded nearly $130,000 to support marijuana-focused research.

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A RAND Corporation report recommended that “the federal government should consider the legality of marijuana at the state and local level as a mitigating factor” in security clearance approvals.

An Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analysis concluded that “cannabis taxes are a small part of state and local budgets, clocking in at less than 2 percent of tax revenue in the states with legal adult-use sales” but are also “one of states’ fastest-growing revenue sources.”

/ BUSINESS

Green Thumb Industries Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $177.2 million.

Field Trip Health Ltd. closed a bought deal short form prospectus offering worth $95 million.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a trader with allegedly posting false information to Twitter to boost the stock of Arcis Resources Corporation.

/ CULTURE

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen used a maneuver known as the “Bonglcloud” opening in a competitive match.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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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