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Hemp legalization wins Senate vote (Newsletter: June 14, 2018)

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Marijuana banking measure defeated; Fed Chair talks cannabis money; House reso calls for drug war apology

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We monitored 11 hours—of two separate congressional hearings—to bring you today’s lead stories. Estimated read time for you to get up to speed: 7 minutes.

The only reason we are able to continue to obsessively monitor what lawmakers do about marijuana and then produce this cannabis advocacy journalism for you every day is because of readers who value our work enough to support it with monthly pledges on Patreon

  • Anthony Johnson and the Let’s Hash It Out podcast crew: “Tom Angell is an invaluable resource to cannabis law reform activists. He maintains the utmost integrity while breaking cannabis news story after news story. I rely on his work a lot, and I know a lot of other advocates do as well.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved the Farm Bill, which includes language to legalize hemp. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) had a testy exchange about an amendment Grassley introduced, but did not force a vote on, which would have gutted the intent of the hemp provisions.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to protect banks that work with marijuana businesses from being punished by federal authorities.

  • In a related development, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said current law “puts federally chartered banks in a very difficult situation… It would great if that could be clarified.”

Members of the U.S. House filed a resolution demanding an apology for the failed and racially discriminatory war on drugs.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been seizing hemp-derived CBD products. Separately,  DEA spokeswoman reportedly said that the agency would reschedule CBD if Epidiolex is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke about legalizing marijuana at a conference.

Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) dismissively rejected a question from a constituent about hemp nutritional supplements.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted, “North Korea is still a nuclear threat. Children should not be separated from their parents. Everyone likes net neutrality except congressional Republicans. Where medical marijuana is available, opioid use goes down. VOTE!”

The U.S. House bill to respect state marijuana laws got two new cosponsors, for a total of 19.

The U.S. House bill to protect hemp growers’ water rights got one new cosponsor, for a total of nine.

/ STATES

Alaska regulators discussed, but did not act on, the idea of taxing marijuana based on potency.

A Massachusetts commission focused on preventing drug-impaired driving met for the first time, just two weeks ahead of the launch of marijuana legalization.

New Mexico regulators plan to appeal a court ruling that reduced the penalty applied to a medical cannabis producer that displayed a marijuana plant at the State Fair.

Some Florida medical cannabis advocates are skeptical of Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ pledges to legalize marijuana.

A Missouri representative running for state Senate said he would sponsor marijuana decriminalization legislation if elected.

Ohio regulators have now approved 139 doctors to certify medical cannabis.

/ LOCAL

Denver, Colorado is using marijuana tax revenue to fund after-school and summer programs.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian House of Commons appears poised to reject several Senate-passed amendments to the government’s marijuana legalization bill, while accepting others. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Conservative lawmakers of trying to delay the bill from passing. The government’s point man on marijuana said officials are in talks with U.S. counterparts to discuss border issues that could arise from legalization. Separately, the government set aside $223,000 in funding “to support frontline workers in informing Canadians about cannabis health and safety.”

The Israeli government’s delay in finalizing rules for medical cannabis exports is causing problems for businesses.

/ ADVOCACY

The Community Bankers of America endorsed pending congressional legislation to protect banks that serve the marijuana industry.

An activist with prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana confronted U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) about his support for cannabis reform legislation. The group also cheered the defeat of an amendment to allow marijuana businesses to access banks. And, they are dedicating June 26’s World Drug Day to “the millions of volunteers who advocate for wider awareness about the growing problem of marijuana.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “there is no association between cannabis use and suicidal behavior in men or women with psychiatric disorders unlike what was reported for the general population, though the heaviness of cannabis use may have an effect in men.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Seattle Times editorial board is encouraged by President Trump’s remarks in support of congressional marijuana legislation.

The Toronto Star editorial board is encouraging the Canadian Senate to swiftly pass marijuana legalization as soon as it gets a revised bill from the House of Commons.

/ BUSINESS

(SPONSORED) Larry Sandell of Mei & Mark LLP provides an overview of what cannabis industry entrepreneurs need to know about protecting their intellectual property rights.

California marijuana industry watchers are anticipating summertime product shortages and price spikes as a result of impending new testing and packaging  rules.

The Associated Press hosted a Twitter chat about covering marijuana news.

/ CULTURE

Comedian Dave Chappelle said marijuana legalization is an “inevitability” in a TV appearance with his friend Ben Jealous, a Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

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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 15-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. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Newsletter

Feds would suggest ‘good practices’ for cannabis growing under advancing bill (Newsletter: Sep. 18, 2018)

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Congressman wants to drug test colleagues; Sessions concerned about marijuana-impaired driving; Study: 3/4 hit songs mention cannabis

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 332 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

Check out the perks of being a sponsor on our Patreon page.
https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Lost in excitement about last week’s victory for a cannabis cultivation licensing bill in Congress, a little-noticed amendment that was attached would require the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies to compile a list of “good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed in a speech that many people think it is “legal to drive under the influence of marijuana.”

Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) filed legislation that would require all of his colleagues on Capitol Hill to be randomly tested for marijuana and other drugs.

  • “Based upon some of the behavior I’ve seen, I’d be very interested to know what kind of illegal drugs are flowing through the veins of our elected officials in Washington, D.C..”

A new study found that three out of four hit songs in the U.S. now contain references to marijuana.

/ FEDERAL

A federal court sentenced an Oregon medical cannabis dispensary owner to seven months in prison for tax crimes.

The U.S. Senate approved sweeping opioids legislation.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) appeared in a Drug Policy Alliance video about marijuana law reform.

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) and his Democratic challenger debated Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) visited Las Vegas’s marijuana museum.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “One of the most important and impactful things we can do to stop mass incarceration is legalize marijuana nationwide.”

Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA) tweeted about his endorsement from NORML.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he’s optimistic the state will legalize marijuana this year. Separately, assemblymembers filed a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation increasing marijuana businesses’ access to banks. And the state health commissioner said he wants more doctors to participate in the medical cannabis program.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres said he might decide whether to sign a pending marijuana legalization bill on September 23.

Louisiana regulators voted to remove the cap on how many medical cannabis patients individual doctors can treat, and to rescind a rule mandating that patients renew their certifications every 90 days.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “Access to a better quality of life for all Pennsylvanians has been a top priority for me. That’s why I worked to: ✅Legalize medical marijuana…”

Nevada Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak discussed marijuana policy on Leafly’s podcast.

The West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health met to discuss banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

Florida Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried is pushing to create a state-chartered bank to serve the medical cannabis industry.

Oklahoma regulators have approved nearly 2,500 medical cannabis patient applications.

Rhode Island regulators are accepting medical cannabis testing lab license applications.

/ LOCAL

Here’s a look at how Oklahoma municipalities are handling medical cannabis regulations.

/ INTERNATIONAL

South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that personal use and cultivation of marijuana is not a crime.

The Canadian government’s point man on marijuana advised people not to “show up at the border looking like Cheech and Chong” if they want to avoid secondary screenings by U.S. officials. Meanwhile, regulators released draft cannabis tax rules and legislative proposals.

Australian government ministers are considering supporting a marijuana legalization bill. Separately, officials are moving to shut down a music festival following two suspected drug overdose deaths, but harm reduction advocates say more pill testing would be a better response.

/ ADVOCACY

The California Police Chiefs Association believes that expanded marijuana delivery services will lead to increased crime.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a memo criticizing Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that nearly 1 in 11 U.S. students have used electronic cigarettes to consume marijuana.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Utah voters found that the Mormon’s church’s opposition to the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure makes 41% more likely to vote for it and 43% less likely to vote for it.

Northeastern University’s Leo Beletsky writes in the New York Times that it’s time to overhaul or eliminate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

/ BUSINESS

The Coca-Cola Company released a statement reacting to reports that it is considering making CBD-infused beverages.

Tilray, Inc. was approved to import marijuana products to the U.S. from Canada for research on cannabis’s effects on essential tremor.

High Times Holding Corp. raised $5 million, far short of the $17.2 million required to be listed on Nasdaq and even further from its $50 million goal.

Leafly is delisting unlicensed Canadian marijuana dispensaries.

The Salt Lake Tribune suspended a columnist who allegedly gave a marijuana edible to a fellow writer at a conference and then berated her for being high during their panel.

The New York Times noted that betting against marijuana stocks has come with large losses and sizable fees.

The Los Angeles Times looks at MedMen’s efforts to rebrand cannabis consumers.

/ CULTURE

Actor John Leguizamo tweeted about a congressional candidate’s support for marijuana legalization.

Roseanne Barr said that her character is killed off in the spin-off series The Conners via an opioid overdose.

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Lawmakers presses feds on border ban for cannabis investors (Newsletter: Sep. 17, 2018)

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Sabet compares legalization to deadly hurricanes; Congressional black & hispanic caucuses talk marijuana; Fed judge blocks hemp farm

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 332 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

Check out the perks of being a sponsor on our Patreon page.
https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Marijuana Moment obtained a draft of a letter that Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA) will send on Monday pressing Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen about a U.S. policy banning Canadians who use cannabis, as well as those who work for or even just invest in marijuana businesses, from visiting the country.

Organizations affiliated with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus both featured marijuana panels at conferences last week.

Prohibitionist Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana published an op-ed comparing marijuana legalization to deadly hurricanes on the same day that Hurricane Florence made landfall and started killing people.

/ FEDERAL

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forcing a West Virginia hemp farm to cease operations because it allegedly illegally imported seeds from Kentucky.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, criticized Dallas police for releasing information indicating that Botham Jean had marijuana in his apartment when he was killed by an officer.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said that committee passage of a bill to remove barriers to marijuana research is “something that is really the Judiciary Committee against the Pharma industry, because the only people we can find that object, that must object, are those who in fact have other drug solutions that aren’t as herbal.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted, “We need marijuana arrest reform in NYC (and throughout America). Stop criminalizing our young people!”

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) tweeted, “Drug war is a failure and race based from inception from Harry Anslinger to Richard Nixon to Jeff Session.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “Don’t you think it is a good idea for the Republican Congress to take action on something that has the approval of over 80% of the Americans?! #MedicalCannabis #UnlockCures”

The U.S. House bill to require the issuance of more licenses to grow marijuana for research got two new cosponsors, for a total of 42.

New Mexico U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson disclosed his investments in the marijuana industry.

A former U.S. attorney for Kansas spoke at a marijuana conference, calling current law “immoral” and “absurd.”

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers are battling over tax rates in a forthcoming marijuana legalization bill.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) says he’s “open-minded” about medical cannabis.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and other officials are being criticized for taking marijuana industry campaign contributions after opposing legalization.

Vermont gubernatorial candidates debated commercial marijuana legalization.

Florida Republican candidates for governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner are defending the state’s efforts to appeal a court ruling overturning the ban on smoking medical cannabis.

Utah medical cannabis advocates launched their ballot initiative campaign.

Mississippi activists kicked off their signature gathering effort for a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative.

Kentucky lawmakers held an interim hearing on medical cannabis.

Seizures of marijuana plants on Colorado public lands are at an all-time high.

Ohio regulators are rescinding a medical cannabis cultivation license from a company that hasn’t made “a good faith effort” to establish its facility.

Kansas regulators are preparing to issue hemp licenses.

The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee will meet on September 28.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The European Parliament is considering a proposal to harmonize medical cannabis laws across the continent, with a hearing expected next month.

Canadian officials said they don’t expect widespread problems for those who have used marijuana or work or invest in the cannabis industry at the U.S. border.

An Australian Senate committee recommended against passage of a bill that would allow states and territories to legalize marijuana. Meanwhile, lawmakers are expected to file a separate cannabis legalization bill this week.

/ ADVOCACY

National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch questioned how Botham Jean’s possession of marijuana is relevant to his killing by a police officer.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman and Vermont governor Howard Dean suggested that police may have planted marijuana in Botham Jean’s apartment after he was killed by an officer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants Utah lawmakers to pass limited medical cannabis legislation in a special session by the end of the year.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber is opposing the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

California Growers Association executive director Hezekiah Allen stepped down to pursue a business opportunity.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that marijuana use rates among adults are rising.

/ BUSINESS

The Coca-Cola Co. is in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop cannabis-infused beverages.

California laws requiring marijuana delivery personnel to be employees instead of independent contractors provides a test case on the “gig economy.”

Wine Spectator sued Modern Wellness Inc. for “passing off” its name in a website  called Weed Spectator.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer urged people to not “get ahead of yourself” with investing in marijuana stocks.

/ CULTURE

Stephen Colbert riffed on a couple of recent marijuana news items.

Napoleon Dynamite actor Trevor Snarr spoke about how his sister benefits from medical cannabis.

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Cannabis bill approved by congressional committee (Newsletter: Sep. 14, 2018)

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Neil deGrasse Tyson defends Elon Musk’s toking; Feinstein signs onto marijuana bill; Poll: doctors back legalization

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 330 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

  • Kayla Duval of  Vitalis Extraction Technology: “I am a business analyst at Vitalis and use Tom’s daily Marijuana Moment updates to keep up with the ever changing markets. His information on the US and international legislation is very valuable. With our pledge we are most looking forward to taking advantage of gaining access to the marijuana bill tracking system.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved legislation to force the Department of Justice to issue more licenses to grow marijuana to be used in research. The move comes despite opposition from some drug policy reform groups and Democrats who objected to a provisions preventing people with certain criminal records from participating in the cultivation operations. Republican leaders agreed to revisit the language as the bill moves to the floor.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson warned people not to smoke marijuana in space, but he did defend Elon Musk’s recent on-camera cannabis consumption:

  • “Let the man get high if he wants to get high.”

In one of the clearest signs yet that the politics of marijuana have shifted irrevocably towards legalization, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—long one of Congress’s more ardent drug warriors—signed onto a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition.

A poll found that strong majorities of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and psychologists support legalizing marijuana, with even stronger support for medical cannabis.

/ FEDERAL

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official spoke about how the federal government will deny U.S. entry to Canadians who work or invest in the marijuana industry.

The U.S. attorney for Utah spoke about how marijuana will continue to be illegal under federal law even if the state legalizes medical cannabis.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 18-3 to approve the nomination of Jim Carroll to serve as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case against medical cannabis business operator Charles Lynch that it did not need to reach the question of whether the congressional appropriations rider barring federal interference in state medical marijuana laws annuls previously properly obtained convictions, remanding the question of whether he was in compliance with California law back to a lower court:

  • “In short, the rider may mean that Lynch has some argument that the government cannot now spend money to prosecute him, but if and only if Lynch had been strictly compliant with California law.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) tweeted, “I spoke today against the continuing debacle of marijuana Prohibition and for expanding federal research into marijuana’s medicinal value. Let’s stop criminalizing our own population.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “While John Boehner and other executives are profiting from marijuana, hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to get arrested for possession every year — mostly from communities of color. The #MarijuanaJusticeAct will finally end this double-standard.”

/ STATES

A Michigan judge issued an injunction against the state’s plan to close certain medical cannabis businesses that missed a licensing deadline.

Oklahoma House Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address medical cannabis regulations.

Ohio’s state auditor said regulators exceeded their legal authority by awarding additional medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and identified weaknesses in how they protected application data.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, although she lost the nominating contest, took credit for the marijuana legalization evolution of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in her concession speech.

Here’s a look at several Florida court cases concerning the number of medical cannabis business licenses the state can issue.

/ LOCAL

A study found that 75% of local Michigan jurisdictions have moved to prohibit medical cannabis facilities.

/ INTERNATIONAL

More than a dozen Caribbean nations are considering marijuana reforms.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Minnesota adults support legalizing marijuana, 56% – 35%.

An American Academy of Pediatrics paper considered whether providing medical cannabis to minors constitutes child abuse.

/ BUSINESS

Analysts are questioning High Times’s investment strategy amid filings showing sizable losses.

GFA Federal Credit Union is the first financial institution to offer banking services to Massachusetts recreational marijuana businesses.

Cronos Group Inc. named its new marijuana brand Spinach, reasoning that it will not appeal to kids.

Marijuana stocks dropped following news that the U.S. would bar Canadian cannabis investors from entry into the country.

/ CULTURE

Fox 4 in Dallas received a huge amount of criticism for the way it reported that Botham Shen Jean, who was killed in his own apartment by a police officer, had marijuana at home.

Charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession and resisting arrest against NBA player Zach Randolph were dismissed.

Actor Uday Chopra is pushing India to legalize marijuana.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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