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Cannabis descheduling approved by congressional committee (Newsletter: November 21, 2019)

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Booker’s marijuana debate slam on Biden; Air Force bans CBD; GOP senator says he tried CBD but it didn’t work

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The House Judiciary Committee, in a historic vote, approved a bill to deschedule cannabis and fund programs to begin repairing the damage of the war on drugs.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) attacked former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) opposition to marijuana legalization during a Democratic presidential debate, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) pledged to end the broader war on drugs.

The U.S. Air Force issued a notice banning service members from using CBD products, regardless of their federal legality.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) revealed during a Senate hearing that he has tried CBD to treat knee pain at his wife’s urging—though he says it didn’t work for him—and the follicly challenged lawmaker joked about the cannabis compound’s hair regrowth potential. Also, he and another senator asked Stephen Hahn, the nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner, about regulating cannabidiol.

Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins wrote in an op-ed for Marijuana Moment that Joe Biden’s view on cannabis as a potential “gateway drug” are scientifically wrong and represent a political liability.

  • “It’s the criminalization of marijuana that’s the real gateway. Forcing marijuana consumers into the illicit market increases the probability that they will be exposed to other, far more dangerous drugs.”

/ FEDERAL

The Department of Justice finally responded to Marijuana Moment’s Freedom of Information Act request for records about a March 3, 2017 phone call then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions held with Kevin Sabet of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, but the resulting documents don’t reveal much.

Former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro, a presidential candidate, tweeted, “Legalize it. Expunge the records of the victims of the war on drugs.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “There are thousands of people labeled felons for life for selling marijuana, while people out there are making a fortune from the marijuana industry. This is an injustice, and as president, I’ll fix it.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “💰 U.S. legal marijuana industry tax revenue in 2018: Over $1 billion 👮 Arrests for marijuana possession in 2018: 663,367 While investors profit from cannabis, people continue to get criminal records. Ending the prohibition of marijuana must be a priority.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) cheered a move to expand cannabis industry equity in Boston, Massachusetts, tweeting, “The People’s #JusticeGuarantee calls for reinvesting in communities of color who were devastated by the war on drugs. As @HouseJudiciary considers the MORE Act to reverse the harms of the war on drugs, I’m proud to see #MA7 & my sister @Kim_Janey leading on #cannabis #equity.”

Delaware Democratic Senate candidate Jessica Scarane supports legalizing marijuana.

Texas Democratic congressional candidate Julie Oliver tweeted, “This is a no brainer. End the federal prohibition on marijuana.”

The House bill to deschedule marijuana and fund programs to repair the harms of the drug war got two new cosponsors for a total of 57.

The House bill to shield military veterans from losing benefits over marijuana use got one new cosponsor for a total of 14.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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.

/ STATES

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said he opposes decriminalizing marijuana.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura tweeted, “Joe Biden says  there’s ‘not nearly been enough evidence’ to determine whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. Are you kidding me? Cigarettes and alcohol ARE the gateway drugs, yet they’re legal. Google, Joe.”. Meanwhile, the state’s Agriculture Department held another hemp listening session.

New Jersey legislative leaders said they plan to vote on a marijuana legalization referendum bill in the lame duck session.

Oregon regulators will consider violation stipulated settlement agreements and other marijuana issues on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, located in the state, submitted a hemp regulation plan to federal officials.

Washington State fiscal officials said that marijuana revenue growth is “expected to moderate.”

The Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Task Force held its final meeting.

Michigan regulators will hold a public meeting on marijuana issues on December 9.

A South Dakota representative said he is “very confident” lawmakers will pass hemp legislation next year. Separately,, the legislature’s Industrial Hemp Study Committee is set to meet on December 2.

Here’s a look back at the first year of Massachusetts legal marijuana sales, during which regulators reported that retailers generated $393.7 million in gross sales.

/ LOCAL

The Boston, Massachusetts City Council approved a proposal to overhaul the marijuana business approval process with an eye toward equity for communities harmed by the drug war.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The UK’s Liberal Democrats released a platform that calls for legalizing marijuana and “imposing civil penalties rather than imprisonment” for people caught possessing other drugs. Party leader Jo Swinson spoke about how she enjoyed consuming cannabis.

A Trinidad and Tobago senator is pushing for marijuana legalization.

Australia’s former minister for trade and investment authored an op-ed on the need to reclassify psychedelics.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study of sickle cell patients found that “marijuana use was associated with lower instances of [acute chest syndrome]” and that “the fact that mortality, length of stay and total charges were the same amongst the two groups may indicate that during a crisis, the disease process is the same, however outside of having a crisis, marijuana use may help with pain control given later presentation.”

A study concluded that “regular marijuana use is associated with prevalent tinnitus.”

A study examining whether CBD “is effective in treating alcohol use disorder in individuals with comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder” is recruiting participants.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New York voters support legalizing marijuana, 54%-40%.

The American Medical Association is calling for a ban on vaping products that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Drug Policy Alliance is hiring a managing director of communications.

The Boston Globe editorial board cheered the City Council’s move to overhaul the marijuana business approval process as a “first step toward equity.”

/ BUSINESS

Certified Ag Labs slammed Nevada regulators’ move to suspend its marijuana testing license.

American Marijuana says it is hiring a cannabis product reviewer for up to $3,000 a month.

Arkansas dispensaries have now sold more than $20 million worth of medical cannabis.

/ CULTURE

Comedian Adam Carolla said that former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) comments on marijuana as a potential gateway drug are “antiquated.”

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Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Thai PM uses medical cannabis in public (Newsletter: December 12, 2019)

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Virginia legal marijuana bill & AG’s summit; GOP senator posts pic of dad growing hemp; Study: Bees like big hemp plants

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There are now 1,312 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2019 sessions.

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  • David Alport of Bridge City Collective: “It is because of Tom’s hard work and relentless diligence in covering the cannabis industry that I rely on him for the most up to date information with legislative progress and beyond.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha publicly used medical marijuana oil at an event to announce the government’s new cannabis information portal. A mascot named Dr. Ganja was also present.

Virginia’s attorney general hosted a cannabis summit to coordinate reform plans in the state as Democrats take legislative control in 2020. Meanwhile, a delegate prefiled a new marijuana legalization bill.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) posted a picture on Facebook of his dad harvesting hemp plants about 80 years ago. Some local political observers believe the move is a dig at anti-cannabis South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who vetoed hemp legislation this year.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang contrasted rampant legal opioid prescribing with the ongoing federal criminalization of marijuana.

A study found that bees are attracted to hemp, especially tall plants, concluding that “plant height…was strongly correlated with bee species richness and abundance for hemp plots with taller varieties attracting a broader diversity of bee species.”

/ FEDERAL

The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service said that hemp producers are eligible for the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is proposing to conduct surveys on how drug courts are responding to opioid issues.

A National Archives blog post about musician Willie Nelson recounts the time he says he smoked marijuana on the roof of the White House.

Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders participated in a panel about rethinking models of substance use, misuse and addiction.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “When young people say they want to go to college without taking on mountains of debt, we must listen. When young people say they want to end the criminalization of marijuana, we must listen. When young people say they want a planet that is healthy and habitable, we must listen.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) called on the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts not to interfere with the opening of safe consumption sites for illegal drugs.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) spoke at MJBizCon.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) tweeted about the first court filings to expunge marijuana convictions, saying, “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that unfairness and the damage it visited upon so many families. But we can govern our state with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to correct the record and set a better path forward.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) said marijuana is a dangerous drug and that legalization will cause problems.

New York’s lieutenant governor said the administration will push hard to legalize cannabis in 2020. She also tweeted, “Recreational marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed in New York. This is about jobs and boosting our economy – and we will be making a push on this in the upcoming session.”

Michigan’s lieutenant governor is urging people to use legal marijuana responsibly. Separately, regulators published an industrial hemp FAQ.

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers filed a medical cannabis bill. The Senate majority leader said he opposes it and the Assembly speaker said his caucus “hasn’t reached a consensus” on the issue, while the Assembly majority leader is on board. A spokesperson for Gov. Tony Evers (D) said “it’s good to see some Republicans following the lead of Democrats to support an idea that’s overwhelmingly popular with Wisconsinites.”

The California Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee unanimously voted to declare THC a risk to pregnant women and developing fetuses, a move that will require warning labels on cannabis products.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday.

Oklahoma regulators reported that medical cannabis taxes generated nearly $2.8 million in November.

New Jersey regulators issued an additional medical cannabis license.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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 Lake County, Indiana Council gave initial approval to a proposal to let police ticket and fine people for low-level marijuana possession instead of arrest them.

Cook County, Illinois’s state’s attorney personally filed the first court motions to clear low-level marijuana convictions.

Chicago, Illinois’s mayor tweeted, “Cannabis legalization cannot happen without expunging the records of past marijuana use and possession. We know all too well that it’s black and brown people who have been locked up for it, denied housing and jobs. I applaud @SAKimFoxx and her efforts to get this done quickly.”

The Oakland, California City Council approved a marijuana business tax break opposed by the mayor.

/ INTERNATIONAL

A New Zealand government-commissioned report recommended that policymakers “strengthen regulation of alcohol, legalise and regulate personal use of cannabis, and consider that for all drugs, treating personal drug use as a health issue, with more funding towards prevention, education and treatment.”

The Canadian government reported that more than C$908 million worth of marijuana was sold in the first year of legalization.

A Mexican senator filed a medical cannabis bill.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “mice voluntarily consume both cannabinoids and opioids via gelatin, and that cannabinoids provide long-term relief of chronic pain states.”

A review revealed the “therapeutic potential of LSD to reduce psychiatric symptomatology, mainly in alcoholism” and found that “the vast majority of authors describe significant and positive short-term changes in patients.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Cannabis Information Project is a new educational effort founded by major marijuana companies including Columbia Care, Acreage Holdings, Canopy Growth and Cresco Labs.

The National Narcotic Officers’ Associations Coalition is opposing efforts to automatically expunge marijuana convictions.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association published a debate about whether it would be OK for a school administrator to accept a gift of marijuana from appreciative parents.

/ BUSINESS

Green Angel CBD, whose hemp shipment was seized by New York City police, plans to sue the city.

MedMen Enterprises Inc. laid off another 20% of its corporate employees, meaning that in the past 30 days it has cut corporate staff by more than 40%.

Wayv launched a digital payment solution for the marijuana industry.

Cowen, Inc. and Marijuana Business Daily launched a research distribution partnership.

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Veterans cannabis provisions stripped by congressional leaders (Newsletter: December 11, 2019)

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Vermont health official backs legal marijuana sales; MLB to OK cannabis use by players; Killer Mike credits Bernie Sanders for legalization momentum

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Congressional negotiators stripped veterans-focused marijuana provisions that passed the House from the final negotiated version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Meanwhile, the bill contains nearly a billion dollars to support waging the war on drugs.

A top Vermont Health Department official said the state should legalize marijuana sales in order to better protect public health.

  • “Without the regulation, we don’t know what’s in it. We can’t control the potency of it. We can’t control the access.”

Major League Baseball plans to remove marijuana from its banned substances list for minor league players.

Rapper Killer Mike credited Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—who was the first major presidential candidate to back legalizing marijuana during his 2016 run—with inspiring the cannabis reform movement.

  • “Marijuana decriminalization was something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Yet within four years, I’ve seen a nationwide push for it, in big part to his campaign.”

/ FEDERAL

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Testing Advisory Board discussed the impact of marijuana laws on drug testing at a meeting last week.

The State Department and Office of National Drug Control Policy hosted officials from Canada and Mexico for the Fourth Annual North American Drug Dialogue.

Two marijuana bills were among the top 10 most viewed on Congress.gov for the week of December 1.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a presidential candidate, spoke about ending the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition during a speech in New Hampshire.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) did an interview with the Cannabis Economy podcast and tweeted, “Cannabis prohibition is an antiquated policy that is on its way out the door.”

Illinois Democratic congressional candidate Rachel Ventura, currently a Will County Board member, is pushing to earmark local marijuana tax revenue to help people harmed by prohibition enforcement.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he wants to make another attempt to pass marijuana legalization legislation early next year.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted about the state beginning to accept marijuana social equity applications, saying, “Our phased rollout is intentional. Illinois’ brief startup period was designed to provide the seed capital to social equity applicants. These low-interest loans will help businesses get off the ground & create real opportunity in communities that have suffered in the past.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted, “The hemp industry in NY is exploding. By establishing a regulatory framework for producing and selling hemp and hemp extract we can set the industry on a path to continued growth in a smart, safe way that empowers farmers and consumers.”

Virginia’s attorney general is hosting a cannabis summit on Wednesday.

Florida’s agriculture commissioner is engaged to the founder and former CEO of one of the state’s largest medical cannabis companies. Separately, the House Health Quality Subcommittee will hold a hearing on marijuana legalization on Wednesday.

The Michigan House Regulatory Reform approved legislation to ban the use of vitamin E acetate in vaping products. Meanwhile, State Police are investigating two medical cannabis dispensaries for allegedly selling marijuana without a license.

Texas regulators submitted a hemp plan for federal approval.

New Mexico regulators delayed a hearing on a proposal to allow medical cannabis for pets.

/ LOCAL

The Brooklyn, New York district attorney dropped drug charges against a man transporting industrial hemp.

Denver, Colorado officials announced that Royal Resin is voluntarily recalling marijuana products due to the presence of elevated yeast and/or mold counts.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Uruguay’s Senate unanimously approved a medical cannabis regulation bill.

Mexico’s former secretary of public security was charged with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy in U.S. federal court.

Uganda’s cabinet is studying the potential legalization of marijuana.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review suggested that “cannabinoids may confer beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal and immune system, such as reducing intestinal permeability, regulating gut bacteria and reducing inflammation” and that “cannabinoids may exert [alcohol use disorder] harm‐reduction effects.”

A study on marijuana product descriptions concluded that “online cannabis retailers are making potentially unsubstantiated product claims.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The National Cannabis Roundtable released a corporate social responsibility pledge signed by the heads of marijuana businesses.

/ BUSINESS

Dollar General announced it will begin selling CBD products in some of its stores.

Walmart Canada apologized for selling a sweater that appeared to depict Santa Claus with lines of cocaine.

CannTrust Holdings Inc. announced that the New York Stock Exchange notified the company it is no longer in compliance listing rules requiring a stock price in excess of $1 per share.

Leafly launched a new market data analysis tool, online CBD sales platform and partnership with the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association.

Columbia Care Inc. brought on a new chief growth officer.

Front Range Biosciences is sending plant cultures of hemp and coffee to the International Space Station for an experiment on whether  zero gravity will mutate or genetically alter the plants.

Vice looks at how paid social media influencers are making questionable claims about CBD products.

/ CULTURE

Actor Brad Pitt said he “spent most of the ’90s hiding out and smoking pot. I was too uncomfortable with all the attention.”

Cartoonist Scott Adams said he wants to legalize drugs beyond marijuana.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Justice Department defends student cannabis advocacy rights (Newsletter: December 10, 2019)

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Buttigieg backs safe injection sites; AOC to file more psychedelics legislation; Decrim Nature op-ed: Apply legal marijuana lessons to entheogens

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The Department of Justice filed a brief in a free speech case defending the right of college students to speak out on marijuana legalization and other issues.

  • “The United States of America is not a police state. Repressive speech codes are the indecent hallmark of despotic, totalitarian regimes. They have absolutely no place in our country, and the First Amendment outlaws all tyrannical policies, practices, and acts that abridge the freedom of speech.”

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), a presidential candidate, said he supports safe injection facilities where people can consume illegal drugs under medical supervision to help mitigate overdoses.

  • “It is common sense that if you can prevent the harms associated with injection drug use, you should.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) plans to introduce more congressional legislation on psychedelics, according to a Decriminalize Nature activist who spoke with her at a town hall meeting.

In an op-ed for Marijuana Moment, Decriminalize Nature Board Chair Carlos Plazola argues that psychedelic activists need to learn lessons from legal cannabis’s implementation.

  • “If the common person has the ability to grow and use their own healing plants, and share with friends, they can forever hold the corporate interests accountable.”

/ FEDERAL

The Food and Drug Administration published an overview of the research and approval process for cannabis and cannabinoids.

U.S. officials knowingly carried out ineffective and at times counterproductive anti-drug operations in Afghanistan, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

The  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the conviction of a former congressional staffer who tried to bribe marijuana business owners.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a presidential candidate, spoke about his support for ending the war on drugs, legalizing marijuana and expunging records in a speech in Iowa.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) discussed hemp at a Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation meeting.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said he thinks his marijuana banking legislation will advance in the Senate.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “I’m proud to sponsor this House Resolution that would force Congress to admit that the War on Drugs was a racist failure, apologize, and provide justice to all those negatively impacted by it.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a hemp regulation bill into law and announced the state will hold a hemp summit next month.

Illinois regulators will begin accepting applications for new recreational marijuana retail licenses on Tuesday.

Virginia regulators are moving to ban vitamin E acetate in medical cannabis vaping devices instead of banning THC and CBD vapes altogether.

Nevada regulators temporarily removed an online database of marijuana business owners and officers. Separately, an analysis portrays the state’s cannabis testing labs in an unflattering light.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis program now has more than 200 out-of-state patients.

The Washington, D.C. Council’s official Twitter account posted a video of the city’s Christmas tree lighting, saying, “There hasn’t been this much excitement about something being lit at the Wilson Building since we legalized marijuana.”


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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

Cincinnati, Ohio’s police chief denied that officers are specifically targeting African Americans for marijuana enforcement even though 95% of cannabis warning citations in October were issued to black people.

The Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey mayor, who also serves as executive director of New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy, authored an op-ed arguing that lawmakers should not place a cannabis legalization referendum on the ballot.

/ INTERNATIONAL

A top aide of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is calling for an investigation into his boss to clear him of charges that he and his brother are linked to an illegal marijuana growing operation.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study “demonstrated a proof of concept that a competitive immunoassay construct can determine if a person has recently used products containing THC, specifically marijuana, from the sweat content of fingerprints.”

A study found that “cannabis exposure is linked to a lower odds of [neurocognitive impairment] in the context of HIV” and that a “possible mechanism of this result is the anti-inflammatory effect of cannabis.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Staff and affiliates of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana will hold a Wednesday press conference to oppose legislation placing a cannabis legalization referendum on the 2020 ballot.

/ BUSINESS

Jeffrey O. Friedland, Intiva Pharma LLC and Global Corporate Strategies LLC agreed to pay $4.2 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that they fraudulently promoted the stock of OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp.

Canopy Growth Corporation named Constellation Brands’s CFO as its new CEO.

Medicine Man Technologies Inc. appointed a new CEO and leadership team.

Cresco Labs announced the first harvest from its large Illinois cultivation facility.

Burns & Levinson and Vicente Sederberg LLP are partnering to offer legal services to the cannabis industry.

Instagram deleted a post from CBD beverage maker Recess that the company paid people $3 each to share.

Leafly examines efforts to patent cannabis.

Michigan retailers sold more than $1.6 million in recreational marijuana products in the first eight days of legal sales.

/ CULTURE

Federal agents administered Narcan to Juice WRLD shortly before he died at a Chicago airport. Seventy pounds of marijuana, codeine cough syrup, firearms and ammunition were found on the private jet he had arrived on.

Beyoncé denied that she was high in a video in which she said she loves whales and would choose to be one if she could be any animal.

Musician Melissa Etheridge tweeted, “Over the past 40 years our incarcerated population has increased 500% mostly due to the failed war on drugs. Today thousands remain incarcerated for victimless cannabis offenses.”

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