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Congressional researchers say legal cannabis hurts cartels (Newsletter: August 4, 2020)

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Analyzing Congress’s recent marijuana vote; IL sees record cannabis sales in July; Senator engages with blunt-smoking constituent

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A new Congressional Research Service report says a “decline in U.S. demand for Mexican marijuana” is partly “due to legalized cannabis or medical cannabis in several U.S. states and Canada, reducing its value as part of Mexican trafficking organizations’ portfolio.”

Marijuana Moment analyzed last week’s House of Representatives vote to protect state cannabis laws from federal interference, including an examination of lawmakers who flipped from “No” last year to “Yes” this time and vice versa, as well as the 17 Republicans from legalized states who voted to let the Department of Justice arrest their constituents.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that marijuana retailers shattered monthly sales records in July with nearly 1.3 million cannabis products sold, worth about $61 million. Out-of-state visitors alone accounted for $16.2 million of that.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) reacted cheerfully to a blunt-smoking constituent who expressed support for his reelection bid.

  • “I support marijuana, by the way.”

A new ProPublica investigation reviews documents showing that “investors, many with marijuana industry ties, have seized upon the nation’s public health disaster” by flipping N95 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • “It’s quick money. And the broker game in the marijuana and industrial hemp industry — it’s exactly the same.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency tweeted about hemp crop insurance.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John Kennedy (R-LA) are pushing the Drug Enforcement Administration to lower production quotas for opioids.

Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) tweeted about her new bill to federally legalize and regulate marijuana.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said, “Suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fees is a misguided relic from the ‘War on Drugs’ era that punishes people who can’t pay their bills on time by making it even harder for them to make an income to pay their bills. How stupid is that?”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) criticized House Democrats because their coronavirus relief bill “mentions marijuana more times than jobs.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said he’s “working with Team Biden in conversations” about further evolving on marijuana reform.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) tweeted, “According to the NIH, the WHO, and the American Lung Assoc., marijuana is MORE dangerous with COVID – it is NOT a treatment. Yet Speaker Pelosi insists on marijuana provisions in a COVID bill for the American people?”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) cheered marijuana provisions in an appropriations bill passed by the House.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tweeted, “My colleagues on the Congressional #CannabisCaucus and I were also able to include an amendment that protects individuals who engage in the state-sanctioned use, production, and dispensing of cannabis to those over age 21 from prosecution by the Department of Justice.”

Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw tweeted about her support for legalizing marijuana.

Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate James Mackler tweeted, “Legalizing #MedicalMarijuana is overdue. We must find alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders, reduce recidivism, end for-profit prisons & update flawed sentencing guidelines. If states want to legalize marijuana, the Federal govt shouldn’t stand in the way.”

/ STATES

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor tweeted, “It has been 313 days since @GovernorTomWolf and I called on the legislature to immediately decriminalize marijuana and work on legislation to legalize. We need action now.”

Mississippi’s agriculture commissioner announced that farmers in the state can apply for hemp licenses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nebraska lawmakers sent Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) a hemp bill.

California regulators sent a notice about changes to cannabis business tax return procedures.

Louisiana regulators issued an emergency rule to implement medical cannabis program changes included in recently enacted legislation.

Massachusetts regulators issued an order allowing marijuana companies to retest and potentially sell quarantined marijuana vaping products.

Ohio regulators are considering resolutions on medical cannabis business employee policies.

Oregon regulators approved marijuana business violation stipulated settlement agreements.

Washington State regulators will consider marijuana rules and a compact with an Indian tribe on Wednesday.


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.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

San Francisco, California regulators are accepting feedback about a marijuana equity applicant grant program.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New UK Ministry of Justice data shows racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.

Mexican poppy cultivation and heroin production decreased last year, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study suggested “potential anti-inflammatory effects of recent cannabis use.”

A study identified the “plausible appearance of tolerance to cannabidiol-enriched oil,” which “may limit treatment efficacy in the long-term clinical management of refractory epilepsy in both pediatric and adult population.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

NORML and HeadCount launched a voter registration drive.

The Marijuana Policy Project published a voter guide for New Hampshire’s primary election next month.

/ CULTURE

Mixed martial arts fighters Tim Elliott and Jamahal Hill are reportedly facing suspensions and fines for positive marijuana tests.

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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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