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Democrats debate cannabis enforcement & drug decrim (Newsletter: February 10, 2020)

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USDA open to some hemp rules changes; Measure to repeal Colorado legal marijuana filed; Netflix blocks cannabis content per government demands

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Democratic presidential candidates—most notably former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—were pressed at length during a debate about issues ranging from drug decriminalization to racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said on a press call that they will not increase allowable THC limits for hemp crops but are willing to consider changes to rules on testing, sampling and disposal of “hot hemp.” They also announced that they will open a new public comment period before regulations for the crop are finalized.

Colorado’s marijuana legalization law would be repealed under a new proposed ballot measure that was filed by prohibitionist activists.

Netflix revealed in a new report that it has blocked marijuana content in response to demands from the government of Singapore.

/ FEDERAL

A federal judge is considering a request to let Massachusetts regulators have access to records about marijuana businesses that Fall River’s mayor allegedly bribed.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a presidential candidate, reiterated his pledge to legalize marijuana nationwide on the first day of his presidency. He also cited criminal justice and the war on drugs as an issue he didn’t know as much about prior to running for president.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a presidential candidate, spoke about the failure and harms of the war on drugs during a New Hampshire campaign event.

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer tweeted, “Policing marijuana use has led to too many unfair incarcerations and predominantly impacted communities of color. That’s why I support marijuana legalization.”

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) cheered new federal hemp crop insurance programs.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also celebrated the new federal hemp crop insurance programs.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said he is concerned about President Trump’s recently revealed assertion that marijuana use makes people lose IQ points.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted, “Well, New York elected a bunch of ‘far-left radical socialists’ and look at what happened. Brokers fees are now eliminated, saving working people thousands of dollars per move. 🌃 What’s next, affordable childcare? Cheaper medicine? Legal marijuana?? Truly scary developments.”

/ STATES

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said lawmakers are “moving in the right direction” with marijuana sales legalization legislation but that he still has concerns about provisions to combat impaired driving.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) tweeted, “Recreational cannabis can be the next frontier of New Mexico’s economic expansion. We can get in on the ground floor or we can try to play catch up – it’s clear that New Mexicans prefer we take this opportunity to grow & diversify our economy.”

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor called it “lunacy” that so many people are still arrested for marijuana in the state.

The Washington State House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on a bill to allow home cultivation of marijuana.

A New Mexico senator filed a bill to allow the state to enter into medical cannabis agreements with Indian tribes.

Illinois regulators are allowing marijuana businesses to stay open longer to serve medical cannabis patients.

Michigan regulators recalled medical cannabis products due to high levels of vitamin E acetate.

Massachusetts regulators launched an online tool to track local marijuana policies.


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/ LOCAL

New Haven, Connecticut police are distributing drug use harm reduction kits that include syringes and glass pipes.

Denver, Colorado police arrested a suspect in a string of marijuana business burglaries.

The Los Angeles, California Cannabis Regulation Commission discussed marijuana social equity issues at a meeting.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is remilitarizing the nation’s anti-drug efforts under pressure from the Trump administration.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that marijuana “advertisement exposure was higher in legal cannabis markets, although brand awareness for cannabis products was low across all jurisdictions.”

A study suggested that cannabinoid receptor 2 “serves as a protective target for septic lung injury by decreasing inflammatory factors, which is associated with the enhancement of autophagy.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New Mexico adults support legalizing marijuana, 61%-33%. When given policy options, 54% backed legalizing cannabis, 23% preferred decriminalization and 17% opposed both choices.

The Republican National Committee attacked the drug war record of former Vice President Joe Biden (D).

The Credit Union National Association sent feedback in response to cannabis banking legislation changes floated by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID).

The Marijuana Industry Group has a new executive director.

/ BUSINESS

Acreage Holdings, Inc. announced a new credit facility, private loan and private placement of special warrants. Separately, the company conceded that its Massachusetts contracts are “inoperable” in response to regulators warning that their provisions appear to give the firm control of smaller companies in a way that could violate state law.

Leafly released a report estimating that 243,700 Americans are employed in the legal cannabis industry, with 33,700 jobs added in the last year.

Cresco Labs announced that it closed its acquisition of Hope Heal Health, Inc.

Field Trip Psychedelics Inc. announced the closing of an $8.5 million funding round.

/ CULTURE

Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart played a game of “Show Dog or Marijuana Strain?”

PolitiFact ruled that a claim by comedian Tommy Chong that former President John F. Kennedy smoked marijuana in the White House is “mostly false.”

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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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