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Federal courts hear two big cannabis cases this week (Newsletter: Feb. 14, 2018)

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Senators push new marijuana protections; NJ gov legalization walkback?; Jackson, MS approves decrim

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A bipartisan group of 18 U.S. senators is asking congressional leaders to insert new far-reaching protections for state marijuana laws into a must-pass federal spending bill.

Federal courts are hearing arguments in two separate far-reaching cannabis cases this week.

/ FEDERAL

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) discussed his ongoing blockade on Justice Department nominees over a marijuana policy dispute.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) tweeted, “The war on drugs has created vast racial inequality in America’s justice system – we must reverse its devastating impact here in #NYC and across the nation.”

The U.S. Senate comprehensive medical cannabis bill got one new cosponsor, for a total of 10.

Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidate Susan Wild sent a press release calling for an end to marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) seemed to potentially walk back his pledge to legalize marijuana by describing it in terms of “if we were to pursue this,” but then said “when we do, it has to be done right.” (Roughly 15 minutes into the clip.)

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo (R) signed medical cannabis regulations into law.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), in his State of the State address, criticized lawmakers for trying to raise the age for tobacco purchases but thinking that “18-year-olds are adult enough to vote on complex referendums like the legalization of marijuana.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the list of dispensaries where patients can begin buying medical cannabis this week.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White supports decriminalizing marijuana.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a former state representative, supports reducing marijuana penalties.

The Massachusetts House speaker is urging regulators to slow down implementation of rules to allow marijuana social use areas and delivery services.

The Utah House of Representatives reconsidered and approved a medical cannabis cultivation bill that it narrowly defeated last week.

The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to allow regulators to add new CBD medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

The Kentucky House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee approved a resolution urging the federal government to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

A Connecticut representative will hold a Thursday press conference to tout marijuana legalization.

An Arizona senator removed a provision lowering patient registration fees from legislation mandating medical cannabis quality control testing.

West Virginia delegates filed a marijuana legalization bill.

Maryland lawmakers are considering several pending marijuana law reform bills.

Here’s a look at changes that New Jersey regulators are considering for the state’s medical cannabis program.

A Vermont man whose car was impounded by police after they smelled marijuana is appealing his case to the state Supreme Court. Separately, state lawmakers are using medical cannabis revenue to pay for other programs.

Tennessee police raided nearly two dozen stores accused of illegally selling CBD products.

A Wyoming bill to set penalties for marijuana-infused drinks and foods cleared a Senate procedural hurdle.

An Alaska senator introduced a bill to make low-level marijuana records confidential.

/ LOCAL

The Jackson, Mississippi City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance.

The Berkeley, California City Council approved a proposal to prevent local officials from assisting in federal marijuana crackdowns.

A St. Louis, Missouri Board of Aldermen committee debated a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

Politico looks at continued racial disparities in New York City marijuana arrests. The City Council’s Public Safety and Justice System Committees will hold a joint oversight hearing on cannabis enforcement this month.

The Detroit, Michigan City Council enacted a moratorium on processing medical cannabis business license applications.

The New Haven, Connecticut Board of Alders is considering a resolution urging the state to legalize marijuana.

The Los Angeles County, California  Board of Supervisors voted to develop a policy making it easier for people to expunge marijuana convictions. And the city of Los Angeles’s top marijuana regulator hosted a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government’s point man in the Senate said he is prepared to invoke a procedural move to expedite consideration of a pending marijuana legalization bill.

Israel’s health minister, once a strong medical cannabis proponent, now opposes exporting the drug.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “daily cannabis use was associated with slower rates of injection [drug use] initiation,” a finding that “challenges the view of cannabis as a gateway substance that precipitates the progression to using harder and more addictive drugs.”

A study’s findings “support efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in seizure reduction with few significant side effects.”

An analysis in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs recommends “requiring plain packaging and large warning labels, reducing visual appeal to minors, and putting strict limits on the potency of cannabis products.”

A study on the combined effects of marijuana and alcohol on driving is currently enrolling participants.

/ BUSINESS

US Bank alleged that it is not allowed to notarize petition signatures for a proposed North Dakota marijuana legalization ballot measure.

/ CULTURE     

Comedian Chelsea Handler announced she is launching her own line of marijuana products.

MMA fighter Conor McGregor was seen visiting an Amsterdam cannabis cafe.

Comedian Bill Maher made a marijuana joke in an interview with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

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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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