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FDA boss signals support for cannabis decriminalization (Newsletter: Sep. 10, 2018)



Did Obama smoke marijuana at Disneyland?; Booker gets Kavanaugh to read drug war book; Air Force looking into Elon Musk’s cannabis consumption

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb signaled support in a TV interview for decriminalizing, but not legalizing, marijuana.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)  convinced Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to read the book “The New Jim Crow,” which exposes the racially disproportionate enforcement of marijuana criminalization and the war on drugs.

Speaking at a rally, former President Barack Obama shared a story about getting  kicked out of Disneyland for smoking when he was in college. While he explained that it was for cigarettes instead of for marijuana, some people in the crowd and on Twitter didn’t really believe it. Watch the video and you be the judge.


A review by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that a Drug Enforcement Administration effort to license more growers of marijuana for research violated United Nations drug treaties.

The U.S. Air Force is reportedly looking into Elon Musk’s on-camera marijuana use because his company SpaceX is a federal contractor and cannabis consumption is prohibited by people with security clearances. The military branch hasn’t yet begun a formal investigation and is taking “time to determine the facts and the appropriate process to handle the situation.”

A bipartisan group of 14 U.S. House members sent a letter urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop blocking marijuana research cultivation applications. It is reportedly at least the 15th such letter sent to him about the issue from members of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted, “We’ve got a long way to go before we right the wrongs of America’s failed war on drugs, which has allowed the legal discrimination of communities of color for too long. But I’m co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act because it’s a great start. Let’s fight for what’s right.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman David Joyce (R-OH) expressed optimism about the future of marijuana reform at a conference.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Medical marijuana is the frontier for PTSD treatment for veterans and yet Congress will not allow it to be researched. I’m cosponsoring the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 in order to begin researching how we can provide the best care possible for our nation’s bravest.”

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “Medical marijuana is not an answer for the #opioidcrisis.”

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Democratic challenger Mitsch Bush debated military veterans’ access to medical cannabis.

The U.S. House bill to respect state marijuana laws got two new cosponsors, for a total of 29.

New York Democratic congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley said she supports legalizing marijuana.


Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) spoke about the success of marijuana legalization in his state and the challenges presented by federal prohibition. Separately, a former Marijuana Enforcement Division official and a former state assistant attorney general are urging the state to reconsider its restrictive rules on cannabis business ownership.

Vermont’s marijuana legalization study committee will meet on Monday.

New Mexico’s health secretary approved adding obstructive sleep apnea as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected adding opioid addiction, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, eczema and psoriasis. Separately, regulators are holding a series of public meeting next month to receive feedback on proposed hemp rules.

Kansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach made a reference to Doritos when discussing his opposition to medical cannabis and marijuana legalization.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon tweeted, “Marijuana has been legal for white people for a long time. It’s time to make it legal for everyone else.”

Utah prohibitionists are defending their radio ad against the state’s medical cannabis ballot initiative, which was been criticized as misleading.

A Pennsylvania lawyer is mounting a longshot bid to get a court to invalidate the criminalization of marijuana.

Ohio regulators missed a weekend deadline for making the state’s medical cannabis program “fully operational.”

Kentucky lawmakers held an interim hearing about medical cannabis.

California regulators released an explainer about the state’s marijuana track-and-trace system. And here’s a look at cannabis bills sitting on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

Here’s a look at ongoing efforts in North Dakota to implement medical cannabis.


Los Angeles, California officials announced they charged 515 people in connection with 105 illegal marijuana businesses.

Brooklyn, New York’s district attorney is moving to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions. And Manhattan’s district attorney is moving to vacate misdemeanor marijuana warrants.


A Nigerian presidential candidate says he will make the country a marijuana exporting hub if elected.

Scottish officials will meet with medical cannabis advocates this month.

Here’s a look at how Portugal’s drug decriminalization law is going.


The South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance is ramping up the push to legalize medical cannabis in 2019.


A review concluded that “constituents of cannabis, such as cannabidiol and Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol, have shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hepatoprotective effects both in in vitro and clinical studies, and appear to have potential in the symptom management and treatment of various liver diseases that were previously considered difficult to manage conservatively.”

JAMA Internal Medicine printed three letters debating the impact of state marijuana laws on opioid death rates.


A poll of Florida likely voters found that they support medical cannabis, 74%-21%, and legalizing marijuana, 49%-42%.

The Portland Press Herald editorial board is calling on Congress to pass legislation respecting state marijuana laws.


Massachusetts health regulators ordered Good Chemistry of Massachusetts to cease activities over concerns that its medical cannabis products are tainted with pesticides.

Maryland medical cannabis business owners are demanding answers about recent Metrc tracking system outages.

The Wall Street Journal looks at how some CEOs are embracing marijuana while many remain reluctant.


Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is partnering with the Cannabis Voter Project, which tracks where politicians stand on marijuana reform.

Actors Jason Sudeikis slammed the racially disproportionate enforcement of drug laws.

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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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