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Congress ends drug conviction ban for student aid (Newsletter: December 22, 2020)



IRS official notes marijuana’s momentum; ACLU & NAACP push NJ gov for cannabis pardons; GOP congressman would “go easy” on marijuana as AG or POTUS

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Well, what’s next? With big wins in 2020 for cannabis, psilocybin and drug decriminalization, strong expert reporting is needed to closely track how these developments fully unfold. I think that —with your help—Marijuana Moment is more than equipped to do this work, and tools like our Bill Tracker can help our readers stay informed.

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A large-scale congressional stimulus and appropriations bill finally repeals a federal law that has blocked hundreds of thousands of students from getting financial aid just because they have marijuana or other drug convictions.

  • The legislation also continues to protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference, extends the hemp pilot program and bans Washington, D.C. from legalizing recreational marijuana sales—but does not include House-passed provisions to expand banking access for the cannabis industry. Report language attached to the bill contains directives on hemp, CBD and other issues for federal agencies.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner for the Small Business/Self Employed Division Eric Hylton acknowledged that marijuana reform is “moving in a direction where potentially all states will have it legalized” in a new webinar about tax compliance guidance for the cannabis industry.

  • “There are thousands of people who are trying to jump into the marijuana business right now. And as you become legalized throughout the country, we wanted to educate individuals.”

The ACLU of New Jersey,  NAACP New Jersey State Conference and other groups are pushing Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to adopt a plan to systematically pardon people with marijuana convictions now that the state is implementing legalization. The governor has dodged the issue of cannabis clemency when asked so far.

  • The organizations want Murphy to adopt a “phased approach” to pardoning people for marijuana, starting with priority groups this month and broadening to other people previously convicted of cannabis offenses by September.

Speaking at a conservative conference over the weekend, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested he would “go easy on marijuana” if he was appointed as attorney general or elected president, suggesting that a 2024 run for the White House may be in the works.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture said registered hemp businesses can participate in the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) incorrectly claimed in a House floor speech that Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill contained provisions to legalize marijuana.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson tweeted, in response to a thread about presidential candidates that people would like to smoke marijuana with, “I am not getting stoned with Amy Klobuchar.”


Florida’s agriculture commissioner tweeted, “Florida should legalize marijuana for adult use, pass it around.”

Massachusetts lawmakers sent proposals to raise the legal age for buying marijuana to 25 and ban open containers of cannabis in vehicles to a study committee where they will likely die.

A Missouri judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging medical cannabis business licensing caps.

The chairwoman of South Dakota’s House Local Government Committee spoke about legislative work to implement the voter-approved legalization of marijuana.

Guam regulators held a public hearing on regulations to implement the territory’s marijuana legalization law.

Michigan regulators issued guidance for medical cannabis business license applicants.

Maine regulators sent a bulletin about metal contamination in hemp.

Washington State regulators posted information about dietary ingredients in marijuana edibles.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,500 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.

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Cook County, Illinois’s state’s attorney said she will consider expunging prior convictions for possessing cocaine and heroin.

Dozens of Los Angeles, California marijuana businesses are on track to lose their licenses as of the beginning of the new year.


North Macedonia’s prime minister spoke about plans to consider legalizing marijuana next year.

Canadian officials released the results of an annual survey on marijuana use.

A Colombian government agency is recommending that medical cannabis flower exports be legalized.


A study found that “marijuana use frequency did not change over time, including following legalization,” that “more frequent use was associated with younger age and identifying as white, which did not change after legalization” and that “legalization of recreational marijuana sales had a negligible overall impact on days of use among young adults, but may have prompted increased interest in marijuana among some, particularly women and e-cigarette users.”

A study involving mice “could support the use of CBD as an alternative to SSRIs for treating PTSD in females, but not males.”


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board is calling on Missouri to legalize marijuana.

Sheri Eckert, one of the chief petitioners for Oregon’s voter-approved measure to legalize psilocybin therapy, has died.

The Center for U.S. Policy published a list of suggested candidates to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Enforcement Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and other positions in the Biden administration.


Canopy Rivers Inc. is selling assets to and breaking away from parent company Canopy Growth Corporation.

Schwazze closed acquisitions on six Star Buds dispensaries in Colorado.

Acreage Holdings, Inc. released restated interim quarterly financial statements showing a $6 million increase in total net loss.

Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. rang the Nasdaq closing bell.

Michigan legal marijuana sales are on the decline.


National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the league’s decision to suspend random testing for marijuana in the new season.

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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 and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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