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Congress to vote on ending cannabis prohibition within ‘weeks’ (Newsletter: March 28, 2019)

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Marijuana banking bill and amendments debated; NH committee approves legalization; Booker would consider mass pardons and commutations as president

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) said that the chamber will vote on legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition “within the next several weeks.”

  • “We will guide it to the House floor for a vote, which I think it will pass with an overwhelming vote—Democrats and I think a lot of Republicans as well. If we have a strong bipartisan vote that will increase the pressure on the Senate to do something.”

The House Financial Services Committee held an hours-long debate on marijuana banking legislation, taking voice votes on several amendments. The panel will reconvene Thursday morning to hold roll call votes on the amendments and on passage of the bill.

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill. That panel is where cannabis proposals have gone to die in past sessions.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a presidential candidate,  said he would “absolutely” consider issuing mass pardons and commutations for marijuana if elected to the White House.

  • “If I am your president I am going to fight to make sure that we have sane drug laws.”

/ FEDERAL

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is proposing decriminalizing possession of opioids.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), a presidential candidate, compared the state-by-state legalization of marijuana to the prior repeal of federal alcohol prohibition.

The U.S. attorney for Nevada refused to rule out marijuana prosecutions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) touted his work on hemp legalization in an op-ed.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) tweeted, “I look forward to having the #SAFEBanking Act marked up & voted on today by the House Fin. Services Cmte. Legal, legitimate businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis creating a serious public safety risk for employees, businesses & communities.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) tweeted that “the FDA’s lack of regulatory clarity has left hemp growers, manufacturers, and states all in limbo midstream.” She also thanked Maine’s governor for signing a CBD bill.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) tweeted, via the Congressional Black Caucus, “I firmly believe in restorative justice that acknowledges the harms of the past. The Next Step Act, which I introduced with Senator Booker, is one example, and my resolution on the failed War on Drugs, H.Res.933 is another.”

The House marijuana banking bill got eight new cosponsors, for a total of 152.

/ STATES

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a bill to clarify that production and sale of hemp-derived CBD-infused food products are legal.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) vetoed a bill allowing vertical integration in the medical cannabis industry.

Connecticut’s House speaker spoke about his support for marijuana legalization.

The Missouri House of Representatives gave third reading approval to a bill to expunge certain marijuana convictions.

The Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee approved a bill to allow sales of CBD medical cannabis oil, but reduced the number of allowed dispensaries from a prior version.

The Colorado House Business Affairs Committee held a hearing on a bill to allow marijuana delivery services.

The Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on bills to decriminalize marijuana and provide protections to out-of-state medical cannabis patients.

Massachusetts regulators are investigating whether marijuana companies are violating rules on the number of licenses allowed to be controlled or owned by a single entity.

The Washington State Department of Corrections stopped testing incoming inmates for marijuana.


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/ LOCAL

Los Angeles, California’s mayor is considering dedicating tens of millions of dollars to fund a crackdown against unlicensed marijuana businesses. The City Council president supports the idea.

Dayton, Ohio marijuana possession charges declined significantly following the passage of a local decriminalization measure.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexican regulators revoked cannabis guidelines instituted under the prior administration.

Malaysia’s health minister said the government is open to medical cannabis research.

/ ADVOCACY

The Marijuana Policy Project is hiring a contractor to coordinate its legalization efforts in Connecticut.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study indicated that “Cannabis sativa L. supplementation accelerates the motor functions recovery after nerve compression injury.”

A study found that “prenatal cannabis exposure after, but not before, maternal knowledge of pregnancy may be associated with a small increase in psychosis proneness during middle childhood.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Pennsylvania voters support legalizing marijuana, 59%-34%.

/ BUSINESS

Walgreens announced that it will begin selling CBD products.

/ CULTURE

Filmmaker Jordan Peele spoke about his marijuana consumption.

Actor Chris Evans said he has “chilled out on weed” because “it zaps your motivation” and “apathy kind of bleeds in.”

In what could be a preemptively announced April Fool’s joke, actor Charlie Sheen is reportedly launching a marijuana brand called “Sheenius” on April 1.

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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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