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Congress blocks DC cannabis & drug reforms (Newsletter: May 28, 2018)

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FL med cannabis smoking ban overturned; McConnell discusses “cocaine Mitch” moniker; NY legalization study “soon”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government passed a bill that continues restrictions on Washington, DC spending money to further legalize marijuana — and adds a new prohibition on the use of funds to support safe consumption sites for illegal drug users.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said his image was “sorta softened” by a tweet his office sent referencing another politician’s attack on him as “Cocaine Mitch.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly urging states to regulate CBD products.

U.S. senators are pushing to broaden the reach of House-passed prison reform legislation.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) campaign organization is using her support for a congressional cannabis descheduling bill to build a fundraising list. She also tweeted, “Too many lives have been ruined because of the War on Drugs. Federal marijuana legalization and restorative justice are about stopping our country from repeating the same mistakes of the past.”

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a press release about their support for legalizing hemp.

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) said he will host a debate on medical cannabis.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “If legalizing marijuana would raise this much revenue [$772 million annually] for New York state, imagine how much we could reinvest in the communities most impacted by the ‘war on drugs’ if we legalized nationwide.” He also tweeted about the collateral consequences of marijuana convictions.

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV) tweeted, “Since Nevada voters decided to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in 2016, our state has enjoyed an economic boom. It’s time federal laws got on board with this growing industry.”

The U.S. House bill to respect state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, for a total of seven.

Virginia Democratic congressional candidates voiced support for marijuana law reform in a forum.

/ STATES

A Florida judge overturned the state’s ban on smoking of medical cannabis. Separately, the state Supreme Court denied a request to take up a case concerning the right of medical cannabis patients to grow their own marijuana. And here’s a look at where the state’s gubernatorial candidates stand on marijuana.

Some Michigan Republican lawmakers’ plan to amend and enact a marijuana legalization proposal instead of allowing it to appear on the November ballot appears to be picking up momentum, but doesn’t yet have enough votes to pass.

The New York Health Department said a study on legalizing marijuana will be released “soon.”

A California Assembly bill to provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients stalled. A proposal to lower marijuana excise taxes was also killed. But a bill to expunge old marijuana convictions advanced, and so did legislation to charter banks to serve the cannabis industry.

A vehicle that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) was riding in was struck by a motorist who was allegedly under the influence of marijuana.

Friday is the deadline to register to vote on Oklahoma’s medical cannabis ballot measure. And here’s a look at where Republican attorney general candidates stand on marijuana.

A police chief named to Alaska’a marijuana regulatory body said that cannabis prohibition has been a “waste of time” and law enforcement resources.

The Associated Press looks at Ohio’s coming medical cannabis rollout.

Colorado regulators sent a bulletin regarding recommendations on the use of marijuana for pregnant women.

The New York Times looks at the growing trend of prosecutors levying murder charges against people who  supplied drugs — without necessarily selling them — to others who fatally overdosed.

/ LOCAL

Allentown, Pennsylvania’s mayor signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law, but the police say they will continue enforcing state criminalization.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian Senate Social Affairs Committee is expected to make changes to the pending marijuana legalization bill’s homegrow provisions.

Jamaica’s minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries said that the country is well-positioned to export medical cannabis products to Canada.

/ ADVOCACY

The Connecticut Democratic Party endorsed marijuana legalization in its 2018 platform.

The American Pain Society endorsed pending U.S. Senate legislation to remove roadblocks to marijuana research.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “there is a sub-community of physically active individuals using cannabis with their [physical activity], many who believe that cannabis use has a positive effect on their performance.”

A study of joint arthroplasty patients suggested that “legalization of marijuana has led to either more users or more patients who are willing to report its use given the lack of legal ramifications.”

Twenty-five Pennsylvania dispensaries will help collect data for a study on medical cannabis and chronic pain.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Star-Ledger editorial page editor predicts that New Jersey lawmakers will vote to legalize marijuana by June.

The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board says voters deserve a chance to decide on a medical cannabis ballot measure.

/ BUSINESS  

Colorado marijuana retailers have a higher age check compliance than do than stores that sell alcohol or tobacco.

MedMen Enterprises plans to be listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange through a reverse takeover of Ladera Ventures Corp.

Colorado data shows that the market for medical cannabis, as opposed to recreational marijuana, is shrinking.

/ CULTURE     

The NCAA won’t let a high school football star play for Auburn University because he uses cannabis oil to treat epilepsy.

Woody Harrelson spoke about his evolving relationship with marijuana.

Snoop Dogg spoke about marijuana policy at a Canadian technology conference.

CBS Sunday Morning looks at the involvement of celebrities in the marijuana industry.

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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 15-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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Bloomberg evolves to back cannabis decrim (Newsletter: December 5, 2019)

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Yang: spend fed money on safe injection sites; Booker super PAC touts marijuana record; Virginia AG says summit might get gov to back legalization

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate, endorsed marijuana decriminalization and letting states set their own laws without federal interference—marking a bit of an evolution from when he said earlier this year that legalizing marijuana is “perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said he supports investing federal money in safe consumption sites for illegal drugs as a harm reduction measure.

  • “I would not only decriminalize opiates for personal use but I would also invest in safe consumption sites around the country.”

A super PAC backing the presidential candidacy of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) released several ads touting his support for legalizing marijuana, two of which call out former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) opposition to ending cannabis prohibition.

Virginia’s attorney general said that a marijuana summit he is hosting this month will give decriminalization-backing Gov. Ralph Northam (D) more information to potentially come out in support of broader cannabis legalization.

/ FEDERAL

The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration hosted a meeting at which researchers told officials that current federal marijuana policy blocks them from effectively studying that cause of vaping-related lung injuries.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is launching a database to track commercial drivers license holders who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing requirements.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture official spoke at a Kentucky hemp summit.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted, “The #marijuana of today is stronger and recent ⬆️ in access to #marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of its safety endanger our most precious resource – our youth. #WednesdayWisdom”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joked about his “Cocaine Mitch” nickname.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), a presidential candidate, cheered federal guidelines on hemp business banking access and cited a letter he sent to regulators earlier this year requesting the move.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) tweeted about federal hemp banking guidance, saying, “This is a good step forward and will help Colorado’s hemp industry and hemp businesses across the country.  Now we need to pass the #SAFEBankingAct to ensure greater access to the banking system for all marijuana, hemp and CBD businesses.”

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), in a letter announcing his retirement from the House, cited his work on marijuana banking legislation as a highlight of his congressional service.

The House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor for a total of 36.

The House bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got one new cosponsor for a total of 93.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill making tweaks to the state’s marijuana legalization law and tweeted about the importance of equity in the cannabis industry. Meanwhile, regulators approved another medical cannabis dispensary to conduct recreational sales.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and other officials are working on a plan to let regulators seize illegal vaping products and issue emergency bans on specific additives.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said she didn’t include hemp regulation money in her budget proposal because it’s “not a priority,” though she seemed to recognize that lawmakers plan to pursue the issue again next session following her veto of a legalization bill this year.

Vermont’s attorney general will host a discussion on lessons learned from neighboring states’ marijuana legalization laws on Thursday.

Activists behind one proposed Florida marijuana legalization ballot measure say they’ve collected nearly 600,000 signatures, while a separate campaign is conceding it is unlikely to qualify.

A U.S. Virgin Islands senator suggested that lawmakers may not take up a marijuana legalization proposal from Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) because there is already pending legislation on the topic in the Senate.

A Pennsylvania judge ruled that a worker terminated for medical cannabis use can pursue litigation.

Missouri regulators released information about how to apply for hemp licenses.

Maine regulators are pushing for changes to proposed federal hemp rules.

Rhode Island regulators are considering hiring an outside firm to handle medical cannabis business license awarding.

The Washington, D.C. Council Health Committee will consider legislation to allow students to use medical cannabis in schools on Thursday.

California regulators scheduled Cannabis Advisory Board meetings for next week.


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 Chicago, Illinois City Council held a hearing on a proposal to delay recreational marijuana sales until July, but did not vote on it.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority is being sued for firing a medical cannabis patient who tested positive for marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she hasn’t taken a position on the 2020 marijuana legalization referendum. Meanwhile, a lawmaker held up a bag of oregano during a speech in Parliament outlining her concerns about the proposal.

Jamaica made its first cannabis export to Canada.

Singapore officials gave what is believed to be the country’s first approval to use cannabis-based medication to a young girl with epilepsy.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “street segments with recreational dispensaries experienced no changes in violent, disorder and drug crime but did experience an 18% increase in property crime” while medical dispensaries demonstrated no significant crime changes” and that a “cost-benefit analysis found the associated crime costs were largely offset by sales revenue.”

A study of marijuana use in Jamaica found that “decriminalization positively correlates with the likelihood of first time and general use for youths” but that “there is also some evidence that the legislation results in a substitution away from alcohol towards marijuana consumption for youths.”

A study found that “cancer survivors are increasingly interested in using medical cannabinoids for symptom relief and treatment-related side effects.”

/ BUSINESS

Vicente Sederberg LLP is bringing on new partners from the firm Frontera Law Group.

New Frontier Data is moving forward with plans to acquire Civilized Worldwide Inc. and says it has “temporarily” laid off its staff to “allow an effective and successful restructuring.”

CB Therapeutics, Inc. announced it biosynthesized psilocybin, psilocin and related tryptamine-based compounds and has filed a patent for the production process.

Questions are being raised about how so many marijuana businesses working with the firm 4thMVMT were granted initial approvals in Los Angeles, California’s marijuana licensing process.

/ CULTURE

HBO released a teaser trailer for the new season of “High Maintenance.”

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Feds ease hemp business banking access (Newsletter: December 4, 2019)

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USVI governor pushes legal marijuana; New Zealand government releases cannabis referendum bill; Feds host psychedelics talk

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By starting a $10 per month pledge on Patreon—or about 45 cents per issue of this newsletter—you can help us rely less on ads to cover our expenses, hire more journalists and bring you even more marijuana news.

  • Thanks to supporters Jesse Tischauser and Deborah Tharp for starting new monthly pledges this week!

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a memo making it much easier for banks to maintain accounts for hemp businesses.

  • “Because hemp is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, banks are not required to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on customers solely because they are engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) is directing the legislature to consider a marijuana legalization bill in a special session this month.

  • “This amendment creates a regulated system, enables tourists and increases tax revenue to the government of the Virgin Islands.”

New Zealand’s government released a draft marijuana legalization bill ahead of a planned 2020 voter referendum on the issue.

The National Institute of Mental Health, a federal agency, hosted a talk on the benefits of substances such as psilocybin and DMT, with the head of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Psychedelic Research previewing upcoming studies on microdosing, among other areas of investigation.

/ FEDERAL

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) reprised his impression of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talking about marijuana.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said that drug addiction should be treated as a health issue and “not in jails and prisons.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Less than 1/5 of the cannabis industry is owned or operated by people of color. That’s why it’s so important we ensure our cannabis laws are rooted in equality, justice, and fairness. It’s time to pass the MORE Act and decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.”

/ STATES

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) tweeted, “I spent my career in Congress working to ensure that our veterans have access to the care they need — and I saw the relief medical cannabis could bring them for chronic pain. I’m glad @mnhealth is working to help more Minnesotans get this same relief.”

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor tweeted, “Legalizing marijuana brings: ✅ Regulatory control ✅ Controlled distribution  ✅Testing/ purity standards ✅Tax revenue for commonwealth ✅ Ends racially biased enforcement Illegal: Dude making bootleg vape kits in his garage. Sounds like a toss up. 🤔”

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a marijuana legalization bill. Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Committee defeated legislation to allow medical cannabis for any condition approved by a doctor.

New Jersey lawmakers appear to have enough votes to pass a marijuana decriminalization bill.

The Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee held a hearing on legislation to ban vitamin E acetate as an additive in marijuana and tobacco vaping products.

Illinois regulators are being sued in federal court by a woman who says she was denied a medical cannabis business license over a disputed address change.

Vermont regulators launched a website to educate people about marijuana.

An Oregon regulator met with Chinese researchers to discuss hemp shipments.

Here’s a look at Texas legislative committees’ mandates to study cannabis-related issues in the interim.


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

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s district attorney has implemented a program to withdraw drug charges against people who show they are enrolled in treatment.

The Santa Cruz, California City Council Public Safety Committee held a hearing on a proposal to decriminalize psychedelics.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Barbados’s Senate approved bills allowing medical and sacramental uses of cannabis.

Brazilian regulators approved rules for cannabis-based medicines but rejected a proposal to allow domestic cultivation.

A UK judge is asking regulators to participate in a case concerning a 14-year-old boy’s lack of access to medical cannabis.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “the addition of [medical cannabis] to standard oncology care in patients with [advanced cancer] was well-tolerated and may lead to improved pain control and lower opioid requirements.”

A study found that “only about half of trauma patients with a positive urine drug screen for marijuana reported use” and that “self-reporting among UDS-positive patients demonstrated no significant change with the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Legal Aid Society, NY County Defender Services and other criminal defense attorney groups are calling on New York lawmakers to legalize marijuana.

The Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation urged the Maine Supreme Court to rule that marijuana possession doesn’t make people ineligible to possess guns.

/ BUSINESS

Canopy Growth Corporation launched a line of CBD products in the U.S.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc. and Infinite Product Co. are facing consumer lawsuits alleging they improperly market CBD products.

Harborside Inc. is appealing a U.S. Tax Court decision that determined it cannot write off certain business expenses due to the 280E tax provision.

Shoppers Drug Mart expanded its online medical cannabis sales to Canada’s East Coast.

22nd Century Group, Inc. announced plans to take a controlling equity position in Panacea Life Sciences, Inc.

Cresco Labs Inc. entered into an equity distribution agreement with Canaccord Genuity Corp., through which it may sell up to C$55 million worth of subordinate voting shares.

First Data Merchant Services LLC is asking a federal court to take control of $620,000 that is apparently owed to marijuana businesses.

The New York Times looks at hemp farmers’ struggles to protect their legal crops from thieves and law enforcement who sometimes confuse them for illegal marijuana.

/ CULTURE

Actor Danny Glover tweeted, “ICYMI: Evanston, IL made a historic decision to use taxes on recreational marijuana to raise millions of dollars for a local reparations fund. I will speaking at the town hall on #reparations in Evanston on Dec 11th!”

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Federal watchdog weighs in on USDA hemp process (Newsletter: December 3, 2019)

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Feds OK credit union employment for people with marijuana convictions; Treatment providers push UK to consider decrim; NASCAR blocks CBD sponsorships

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There are now 1,289 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2019 sessions.

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The National Credit Union Administration, a federal agency, finalized a rule that lets people with certain drug convictions work at credit unions.

  • “There are already a host of significant extrajudicial consequences for individuals with nonviolent drug possession convictions, including not only employment bans but the loss of federal financial aid, eviction from public housing, disqualification from occupational licenses, loss of voting rights, and denial of public assistance. Moreover, research shows that drug convictions disproportionately burden people of color.”

The Government Accountability Office issued a review of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  hemp regulation process.

  • “There is public interest in expediting the ability of the nation’s farmers to enter the new agricultural market presented by hemp.”

Four top drug treatment providers are calling on the UK government to consider decriminalizing drugs as a solution to the overdose crisis.

  • “To that end, we urge the next Government to establish an expert, independent commission that will consider all options to reframe and reinvigorate the UK’s drug laws, including decriminalisation.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Justice are developing an information sharing system meant to expedite hemp shipments across state lines.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a presidential candidate, spoke about her support for legalizing marijuana and letting people with prior convictions be “first in line” to get jobs in the legal cannabis industry.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Legalize marijuana. Expunge marijuana convictions. End the war on drugs.”

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) published an op-ed arguing that ending the war on drugs is the best response to cartel violence.

George McMahon, one of the last remaining handful of patients to have received medical cannabis directly from the federal government, has died.

/ STATES

Questions are being raised about how Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) appointed a former senator to be his top marijuana advisor.

Florida’s agriculture commissioner said she wants the state to be the “gold standard for the entire country” on hemp.

Vermont’s public safety commissioner said the state isn’t ready to legalize marijuana sales and that safe consumption facilities for illegal drugs aren’t “ready for prime time.”

The South Dakota legislature’s Hemp Study Committee approved a draft hemp legalization bill.

The New Jersey Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing for next week on legislation to place a marijuana legalization referendum on the 2020 ballot.

Minnesota regulators added chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

Pennsylvania regulators ordered a hemp business to cease operations due to the emission of odors as well as the installation and operation of equipment without approval.

Texas regulators are expected to submit proposed hemp regulations as soon as this week.

Arkansas regulators are giving medical cannabis dispensaries until the middle of 2020 to open or lose their licenses.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe, located within Wyoming, is exploring the possibility of legalizing medical cannabis and hemp.

A number of Native American tribes located within South Dakota see opportunity in hemp.


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

Chicago, Illinois’s mayor announced that officials will hold additional marijuana legalization information sessions this week.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Argentina’s Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement with a local government and a university to research medical cannabis.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that medical grade cannabis “may be successfully used to treat [drug-resistant epilepsy].”

A review on pain in orthopedics concluded that “most of the existing evidence suggests that medical cannabis use is effective, but this efficacy has been demonstrated only when either there is no comparator or cannabis is compared with placebo” and that “studies using an active comparator have not demonstrated efficacy.”

/ BUSINESS

Aurora Cannabis Inc. received approval for its medical cannabis oil products in Ireland.

GenTech Holdings, Inc. launched a CBD coffee subscription program.

Michigan retailers sold roughly $221,000 worth of recreational marijuana products in the first day of legal sales.

A survey of U.S. investors found that 9% already hold cannabis stocks and another 40% said they are open to doing so in the future.

The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists is hosting a cannabis-focused conference in April.

/ CULTURE

NASCAR won’t allow sponsorships to be sold to CBD companies.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith joked about how he didn’t know marijuana is illegal in the UK.

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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.
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