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First cannabis bill of new Congress already filed (Newsletter: Jan. 4, 2019)



One year since Cole memo repealed; Penn. legal marijuana bills soon; Pro-cannabis Reddit r/trees embraces nonjudgemental quitting forum

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Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK), just hours after the start of the 116th Congress, filed a bill to protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference. Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) communications director told Marijuana Moment that he will introduce a companion bill “soon.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers in both the state House and Senate announced that they will soon introduce marijuana legalization bills. The moves come as Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is evolving his position on ending cannabis prohibition.

It’s been exactly one year since then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era marijuana guidance known as the Cole memo. Here’s a look at what that has—and hasn’t meant for the cannabis industry and movement.

Here’s a look at how Reddit’s huge pro-marijuana community r/trees came to embrace a separate non-judgmental forum aimed at helping people who want to quit cannabis. “Anyone who wants to use the group as any sort of evidence that cannabis shouldn’t be legalized will find no friend in me,” says the founder of the quit cannabis community r/leaves.


The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles office said in a tweet that “using” marijuana “can land you in #federal #prison.”

The House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that would continue existing protections for medical cannabis states and a ban on Washington, D.C. spending its own money to legalize marijuana sales. But a deal to end the federal government shutdown still seems far away.


Maryland’s House speaker and Senate president are planning to create a working group to study how to implement marijuana legalization if it is placed on the 2020 ballot. Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said it is “premature” to consider ending prohibition.

The Vermont Senate is expected to quickly pass a bill legalizing marijuana sales this year, but it is unclear if the House will follow.

The biggest donor to Maine Gov. Janet Mills’s (D) inaugural and transition efforts was Wellness Connection of Maine, a medical cannabis company.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) questioned the idea that revenue from marijuana legalization could help solve the state’s pension issues.

Idaho Gov.-elect Brad Little (R) said hemp legalization could provide “camouflage for the marijuana trade.”

Florida attorney John Morgan, who largely funded the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure, is working on an effort to marijuana legalization before voters in 2020.

New York’s lieutenant governor said that the state needs to legalize marijuana because surrounding jurisdictions are doing so.

New Jersey’s attorney general spoke about steps law enforcement must take to prepare for marijuana legalization.

Indiana’s attorney general touted a state court’s dismissal of an appeal from a church seeking religious rights to use marijuana. Meanwhile, the state’s Republican lawmakers are divided on medical cannabis.

Rhode Island regulators will hold a February 6 hearing to consider adding opioid dependency as a medical cannabis qualifying condition.

Alaska regulators proposed allowing universities to hold marijuana business licenses.

A Virginia delegate filed legislation to establish a broad industrial hemp program in accordance with the federal Farm Bill.

An Illinois senator is predicting that marijuana legalization will be enacted by the end of the year.

The California Cannabis Advisory Committee published its annual report. Separately, the state’s unlicensed medical marijuana cooperatives will become illegal on Wednesday.

Washington State regulators released guidance on pesticide use in marijuana cultivation.

Michigan regulators sent a bulletin about requirements for notifications of medical cannabis products being stolen, lost or diverted. They also released updated guidance for testing labs.

Here’s a look at Texas’s chances of decriminalizing marijuana or legalizing medical cannabis.

Massachusetts regulators got $3 million more in funding to support marijuana legalization implementation.

Marijuana Moment is tracking key cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

We followed more than 900 pieces of cannabis legislation in 2018. Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.


Minneapolis, Minnesota’s mayor tweeted, “Marijuana legalization is a huge opportunity to advance racial justice & bolster our economy/state finances. There’s a lot of momentum right now, but we have to keep organizing to make it happen.”

New York City’s mayor spoke in more depth about his views on how the legal marijuana industry should be shaped.


A UK judge spared two alleged marijuana sellers jail time because he was impressed with the “grammar and punctuation” they used in their text messages.


The Baltimore Sun editorial board decried continuing racial disparities in marijuana enforcement under decriminalization.


Huntington National Bank said in a letter explaining why it closed an Ohio legalization organization’s account that it won’t work with marijuana businesses or with groups that “provide support” to cannabis businesses.

Here’s a look at the marijuana industry’s energy usage issues.


The NYC Cannabis Film Festival is taking place on January 13.

The National Cannabis Festival announced that Ludacris and Action Bronson will perform at the upcoming 4/20 event.

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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 and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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