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DEA finally approving cannabis grow licenses (Newsletter: May 17, 2021)



MS medical marijuana overturned; WA drug recrim bill signed; FDA OKs MDMA use by therapists study; Cannabis in public housing bill

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The Drug Enforcement Administration is finally ending the decades-long monopoly on growing marijuana for research. At least three cultivation license applicants—and possibly more—have been notified that they’re being approved under an expansion first announced in 2016.

The Mississippi Supreme Court, for procedural reasons, overturned the state’s medical cannabis law, which the justices acknowledge was approved by a “strong, if not overwhelming, majority of voters.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) filed a bill to protect people from being evicted from public housing for using marijuana in accordance with state law.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill recriminalizing drug possession as a misdemeanor after the Supreme Court overturned prohibition. Penalties expire in 2023, giving lawmakers incentive to craft comprehensive health-focused policy. Meanwhile, the governor partially vetoed one section of the new legislation.

The Food and Drug Administration approved research on MDMA use by therapists so that they can better administer psychedelic therapies to their patients.

  • “Personal experience is widely considered to be an important element in preparation and training to deliver psychedelic-assisted therapies.”

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services derailed an effort to disclose medical cannabis business ownership information that passed the House by threatening to urge Gov. Mike Parson (R) to veto it.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s president says the state will “blow past” $1 billion in legal marijuana sales this year. One thing that could stop that, he says, is if neighboring states legalize cannabis and people can buy it closer to home.


A federal jury found a former Fall River, Massachusetts mayor guilty of soliciting bribes from marijuana businesses and other charges.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is hiring a new legislative assistant to “spearhead his effort to end federal cannabis prohibition.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) reportedly consumed cocaine with a sex worker who also served as communications director for the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and nine other lawmakers sent a letter urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to devote resources to combat illegal marijuana cultivation.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted, “Yesterday, the MN House passed historic legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use and expunge non-violent cannabis convictions. Now, let’s legalize cannabis and expunge records nationwide.”

Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) tweeted, “I applaud the members of the Minnesota House who took bipartisan action last night to legalize marijuana in Minnesota. Now, it’s time for the Minnesota Senate to take up and pass this legislation.” She also tweeted, “Congratulations to the @mnhouseDFL for passing this long overdue legislation! Legalizing cannabis use for adults will strengthen our economy and help account for historic inequities in drug enforcement. Now it’s time for the Senate to step up and get this across the finish line.”

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

The House bill to shield immigrants from being deported for marijuana got three new cosponsors for a total of five.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) California Comeback Plan includes a number of cannabis reforms, including the appointment of a deputy director of equity and inclusion, a pilot program for sustainable cultivation and measures to help process business licenses.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a working group report that suggests the state “consider the opportunities that may be created by new initiatives, including the legalization of recreational use marijuana, as potential sources of political and financial support for the efforts to restart and recover Atlantic City.”

A spokesperson for Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said he is “interested and intrigued” by the state Supreme Court ruling striking down the voter-approved medical cannabis program. Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor and a senator said lawmakers will work to pass a medical marijuana program in January.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed legislation allowing people with non-violent felony records to own or work at medical cannabis businesses.

Virginia’s attorney general touted his leadership on marijuana legalization during a debate.

Delaware lawmakers sent Gov. John Carney (D) a bill to let nurse practitioners and physician assistants recommend medical cannabis.

Arizona lawmakers sent Gov. Doug Ducey (R) a bill to legalize drug testing strips.

Colorado’s House speaker and other lawmakers introduced a bill to enact limits on marijuana concentrates, place restrictions on medical cannabis recommendations and require the state to study the impacts of marijuana on certain health outcomes, among other changes. Former Govs. Bill Owens (R) and Bill Ritter (D) coauthored an op-ed endorsing the legislation.

The Utah Court of Appeals rejected a request to overturn regulators’ medical cannabis business licensing decisions.

Ohio regulators determined that arthritis, chronic migraines and complex regional pain syndrome qualify as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

West Virginia regulators are considering recommending allowing medical cannabis home cultivation.

Nevada regulators issued updated coronavirus guidance for marijuana businesses.

Oklahoma regulators defended the state’s residency requirements for medical cannabis business owners in a federal court brief.

Arizona regulators published monthly marijuana program data.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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.


War, West Virginia’s mayor was reelected after being arrested for marijuana possession and driving under the influence, among other charges.

Hawthorne, California is considering hiring a former Los Angeles City Council member for a cannabis consulting position.


Spanish lawmakers created a subcommittee to examine medical cannabis regulations.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is preparing to approve cannabis-based medicines, but the government may also increase marijuana penalties.

South Africa’s government is preparing to present a cannabis master plan by the end of the month.


A review of the use of cannabis in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder found “improvement in ASD symptoms, such as social communication (core symptom), noncore behaviors (self-injury, restlessness, rage attacks, agitation, aggressiveness, irritability), and comorbid conditions (anxiety, epilepsy, sleep problems/dysregulation, ADHD/hyperactivity/concentration)” and that “an additional benefit with the improvement in comorbid conditions is the reduction of medications used in some participants.”

A study suggested that “CBD presents potential therapeutic properties with respect to the treatment of obesity and related disturbances.”


The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party tweeted, “Last night, DFLers in the MN House made history by passing a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans plan to block it from becoming law. Minnesotans should know that a vote for a Republican is a vote against legalizing cannabis.” It also tweeted, “It’s simple: DFLers want to legalize adult-use cannabis. Republicans don’t. If you want to legalize and responsibly regulate cannabis in Minnesota, vote DFL.”

The Washington Times editorial board seemed to blame use of marijuana and other drugs for deadly police shootings.


Vireo Health International, Inc. reported quarterly GAAP revenue of $13.2 million and a net loss of $7 million.

Trulieve Cannabis Corp. is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that it misled investors about moldy products.

Tilray, Inc. is closing a cannabis cultivation facility in Ontario.

MedMen Opportunity Fund II LP is being sued over an alleged scheme by principal owners to sell licenses for its Los Angeles, California locations on terms that would harm investors.

Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. closed on a property in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and entered into a partnership for it with a subsidiary of Parallel.

TILT Holdings Inc. has a new CEO.

Michigan retailers sold $154 million worth of legal marijuana in April.


Seth Rogen was asked by Stephen Colbert whether he would ever smoke marijuana with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

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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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