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Kennedy acknowledges cannabis opposition is an outlier (Newsletter: Feb. 8, 2018)

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State lawmakers consider marijuana referendums; New Fox News poll; Did Trump pressure Israel on cannabis exports?

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) acknowledged in an interview that his anti-marijuana votes put him at odds with his party.

Lawmakers in at least six states are considering bills that would place marijuana legalization referendums on November ballots this year, while another two are weighing medical cannabis referendums.

The former president of the National Rifle Association is calling for an end to federal restrictions on the purchasing firearms by medical cannabis patients.

/ FEDERAL

Rumors are circulating that President Trump pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend medical cannabis imports.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he thinks the Obama administration “got it right” on marijuana.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) published an op-ed slamming U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s position on marijuana.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) co-authored an op-ed pushing for marijuana businesses’ access to banks.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) tweeted, “It is time we puff, puff, pass bills to protect marijuana businesses and consumers.”

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) tweeted that “prosecution of #marijuana has an opportunity cost: it wastes resources that could be used to prosecute opioid sellers, &crack, meth &heroin dealers.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released information it claims “underscore[s] the serious and sometimes deadly risks” of kratom.

The U.S. House bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks got one new cosponsor, for a total of 79.

The U.S. House bill to remove the 280E tax penalty on marijuana businesses got one new cosponsor, for a total of 43.

The U.S. House bill to prevent federal authorities for punishing people following state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, for a total of seven.

The U.S. House bill to remove marijuana research roadblocks got three new cosponsors, for a total of 10.

FiveThirtyEight takes a lengthy look at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s regressive criminal justice views.

/ STATES

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R), a gubernatorial candidate, supports medical cannabis legislation.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) said he has some concerns about marijuana legalization but views it as inevitable.

Leaders of the group Legalize Maine are financially backing the gubernatorial campaign of legalization opponent Ken Fredette (R), currently the House minority leader.

Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate Erin Stewart, currently the New Britain mayor, said she’s “fine with” marijuana legalization.

The Oregon secretary of state’s office slammed regulators for not having “robust” systems to track and secure marijuana.

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee voted 16-1 to approve a bill allowing people who have been prescribed opioids to apply for temporary medical cannabis cards.

The Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee will hear a medical cannabis bill on Thursday.

A member of Ohio’s medical cannabis advisory committee resigned in protest of what he sees as a process “debilitated by bureaucracy” that will likely fail “to provide adequate patient access and physician participation.”

The chair of Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee is considering withholding funding from the Department of Health over its delays in implementing medical cannabis.

Georgia representatives filed a resolution urging Congress to “deschedule marijuana or otherwise allow the states and territories of the United States of America to determine for themselves the best means of regulating marijuana.”

Puerto Rico’s Senate is investigating promotional practices in the medical cannabis industry.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering legislation to allow reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients.

California regulators released marijuana tax guidance. And education officials launched resources aimed at preventing teen cannabis use under legalization.

Washington State regulators released guidance on marijuana tracking, and separately canceled the license of a cannabis retail outlet with a $1.4 million delinquent tax bill.

Michigan regulators sent an update to medical cannabis business license applicants.

/ LOCAL

Fulton County, Georgia commissioners are considering a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council is hosting a series of town hall meetings about legalizing medical cannabis.

A new report shows continued racial disparities in New York City marijuana and other drug arrests.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Antigua and Barbuda Parliament approved a marijuana decriminalization bill.

The International Criminal Court is launching a “preliminary examination” of the Philippine government’s bloody “war on drugs.”

The Canadian government may need to rely on controversial procedural moves to accelerate the Senate’s consideration of a pending marijuana legalization bill.

Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is pushing legislation to allow medical cannabis production.

Greece is fast-tracking medical cannabis legislation as a move to generate revenue.

A South Korea lawmaker introduced a medical cannabis bill.

/ ADVOCACY

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund slammed U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) efforts to block Justice Department nominees over federal marijuana policy.

Maryland activists held a lobby day in support of a new marijuana legalization referendum bill.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study of police actions in Nigeria concluded that “crackdowns constitute a form of structural violence in the everyday life of cannabis users, and have negative effects on their health and social and economic well-being.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A Fox News poll found that U.S. voters support legalizing marijuana, 59% – 32%.

A poll found that 76% of Virginia voters support decriminalizing marijuana.

/ BUSINESS

The founder of Lagunitas Brewing Co. says that legal marijuana is going to be “way, way, way, way bigger” than craft beer.

Leafly announced it will stop listing unlicensed marijuana businesses in California.

Tilray raised C$60 million in Series A financing.

USA Today looks at how airports in legalization states are handling marijuana issues.

Legal marijuana production in the small African nation of Lesotho is controlled by a U.S.-based company.

Keystone ReLeaf LLC, which failed to get a Pennsylvania medical cannabis business license, is suing regulators to overturn their selection process.

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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 serves as chairman of 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

Oppo poll shows support for legalizing cannabis (Newsletter: May 22, 2018)

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Hemp to be in final Farm Bill, supporters say; NJ keeps marijuana revenue in budget projection; WV lawmakers want banking fix

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A poll funded by a prohibitionist organization found that support for Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure outweighs opposition, and that the gap grows even after respondents were read arguments against the measure.

Congressional leaders have reportedly assured hemp supporters that language legalizing the crop will be included in the final version of the Farm Bill.

/ FEDERAL

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) hosted an unofficial field hearing on medical cannabis.

The head of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons resigned after less than a year on the job.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) cited his support for “the legalization of medical marijuana research” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Even though marijuana is “decriminalized” in NYC, 89 percent of the nearly 4,000 people arrested for possession in 2018 are black and Latino. This is why we need the #MarijuanaJusticeAct.” Separately, he appeared on an episode of the Drug Policy Alliance’s podcast.

Three Nevada Republican congressional candidates endorsed rescheduling marijuana during a debate.

Arizona Democratic congressional candidate Garrick McFadden tweeted about racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and the need to decriminalize.

/ STATES

New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services is not revising Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) projection of $80 million in marijuana tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2019 despite slower-than-expected movement of legalization legislation this year. Separately, a senator is preparing to file legislation to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives began consideration of a Senate-passed marijuana legalization bill.

West Virginia lawmakers are pushing for a special session to address medical cannabis banking issues.

The California Senate approved a bill to set minimum penalty standards for retailers that sell marijuana to minors. Meanwhile, a proposed ballot measure to legalize psilocybin failed to collect enough valid signatures.

Nevada Democratic gubernatorial candidates debated marijuana social use areas.

Ohio regulators will announce the winners of medical cannabis dispensary licenses on Wednesday. Last week, two judges ruled against halting the cultivation licensing process amid lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.

Minnesota representatives filed a marijuana legalization bill.

Colorado regulators launched a new “Responsibility Grows Here” public education campaign about marijuana.

Washington State regulators ended the temporary suspension of a marijuana testing lab.

/ LOCAL

Some police leaders are opposing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) move to end arrests for marijuana smoking. The mayor spoke about his plans, and his view that statewide legalization is “inevitable.”

/ ADVOCACY

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions will hold a session on marijuana laws during its conference in August.

Clergy for a New Drug Policy graded every U.S. state on their drug policies.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study of Colorado cannabis consumption found that “legalization did not noticeably impact marijuana use rates among adolescents or young adults” and that “past-30-day use among adolescents remained steady for more than ten years, pre- and post-legalization” but that “healthcare encounters with mention of marijuana have increased after legalization.”

A study of cannabis consumers found that the “vast majority of participants overestimated the quantity of marijuana that they used in their preparations.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Post editorial board is skeptical of a plan to end arrests for public marijuana smoking in New York City.

The New York Daily News editorial board, which supports legalization, is critical of the way the mayor is rolling out marijuana enforcement changes.

PennLive’s editorial board slammed a move by Pennsylvania regulators to keep secret information about the scorers of medical cannabis business license applications.

/ BUSINESS  

BDS Analytics is planning a national expansion after closing a $3.5 million funding round.

New Frontier Data downgraded its California marijuana sales projections by $2 billion.

Here’s a look at airports’ differing approaches to passengers carrying marijuana.

The Associated Press looks at the involvement of women in the marijuana industry.

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Holder says cannabis isn’t addictive (Newsletter: May 21, 2018)

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US attys talk marijuana enforcement; de Blasio preps NYC for legalization; UT oppo sues to keep cannabis off ballot

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says he hasn’t seen any evidence that marijuana is addictive, an analysis that undermines cannabis’s status as a Schedule I drug.

Oregon’s U.S. attorney issued a memo saying he would focus marijuana prosecutions on several priority areas, including overproduction and interstate trafficking, providing cannabis to minors, protecting federal lands and the environment, organized crime, violence and the use of firearms.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is directing the NYPD to stop arresting people smoking marijuana in public, and is moving to draft a plan to prepare the city for eventual legalization.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District left the door open to prosecuting banks that work with medical cannabis businesses.

The owner of a Nevada marijuana business denied that President Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, had any connection to the operation despite earlier reports that he had lent it money.

President Trump spoke at a prison reform summit at the White House.

The Congressional Black Caucus pushed back against prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s claim that legalization harms minority communities.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) got emotional during an interview about the medical benefits of cannabis for children who are suffering with serious conditions.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) questioned the nominee to lead the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about marijuana-impaired driving (about 1:53:00 into the video).

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is working to sink prison reform legislation backed by the White House.

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said in a House floor speech that she is disappointed leadership blocked votes on hemp amendments.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) cited marijuana legalization as an example of an issue once seen as radical that mainstream Democrats are now embracing.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said “we don’t need a War on Drugs approach” to opioid issues.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted, “Don’t arm teachers. Don’t prosecute marijuana. Don’t rip off working people. Don’t increase the cost of healthcare. Don’t treat immigrants poorly. Don’t make climate change worse. Don’t be cruel to LGBTQ people. Don’t eliminate net neutrality. Don’t forget to register and vote.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “When a white student in a suburban school is caught with marijuana, they will usually get a warning. If you’re a black or brown student in an urban environment, law enforcement is called and your future could be destroyed for use. Marijuana legalization is a racial justice issue.”

The U.S. Senate hemp legalization bill got two new cosponsors, for a total of 21.

/ STATES

A group formed to oppose Michigan’s marijuana legalization measure is now urging lawmakers to amend and enact it.

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous wants to fund universal pre-k with marijuana tax revenue.

Opponents of Utah’s medical cannabis initiative are suing the lieutenant governor in an attempt to keep the measure off the ballot.

California regulators are proposing to readopt emergency cannabis rules that are already in effect, with some changes.

An Ohio judge denied a request for a preliminary injunction on medical cannabis business licensing.

Florida regulators filed a brief in a state Supreme Court case about the right of patients to grow their own medical cannabis.

Nevada regulators determined for the first time that a landlord can lease properties to both gaming and marijuana businesses.

West Virginia delegates filed a bill to solve medical cannabis businesses’ banking access issues, but it faces serious procedural hurdles during a special session.

A New Jersey assemblywoman filed a bill to allow reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients. Another assemblywoman filed a resolution calling on the federal government to consider rescheduling marijuana.

Here’s a look at the collapse of efforts to get Missouri lawmakers to pass a medical cannabis bill.

A Pennsylvania senator is asking district attorneys to stop prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking cases.

North Dakota regulators awarded a medical cannabis testing contract. Separately, one of the state’s medical marijuana cultivation license winners was previously cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for pesticide violations.

/ LOCAL

New York City’s City Council speaker is calling for marijuana legalization.

Here’s a look at several ways Denver, Colorado is spending marijuana tax revenue.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Two major Barbados political parties are promising marijuana law reform.

Zambia’s health minister said the government is considering legalizing medical cannabis.

Northern Territory, Australia is exploring decriminalizing marijuana.

/ ADVOCACY

Advocacy journalist Shaun King wrote about his use of medical cannabis.

Prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana will hold a Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that CBD “exhibits lesser side effects and more therapeutic benefits as compared to recent available medical therapies” for some conditions and “is a promising substance for the development of new drug.”

A study of medical cannabis on pediatric movement disorders found “significant improvement in spasticity and dystonia, sleep difficulties, pain severity” and quality of life.

A study found that CBD “exhibits antioxidant and neuroprotective effects in neuronal Alzheimer’s cell model.”

A study “does not support previous findings of hippocampal and/or amygdala structural changes in long-term, heavy cannabis users” but does “provide evidence of basal ganglia volume increases.”

/ BUSINESS  

The New York Times looks at the marijuana industry’s banking access issues.

/ CULTURE     

A National Hockey League official said the league might have to reexamine its marijuana policies as legalization spreads.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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House panel extends medical cannabis protections (Newsletter: May 18, 2018)

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Research amendment also adopted; Warren back safe injection sites; MI Senate bans marijuana-infused alcohol

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to continue protecting state medical cannabis laws from federal interference. The move circumvents the problem of congressional leadership blocking floor voters on marijuana measures that has persisted over the past several years. During the same bill markup, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), a legalization opponent, successfully offered an amendment encouraging the U.S. Department of Justice to expeditiously approve applications to grow cannabis for use in research.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke about his efforts to legalize hemp.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorsed safe injection facilities for illegal drug consumers.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Voters across America are already working to stop our country from repeating the same mistakes of the past. We need to move a step further — it’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level.”

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said that anti-drug agencies need to “better

assess strategic efforts.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) testified in support of military veterans’ access to medical cannabis during a House hearing on veterans issues.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted about a House committee vote to extend medical cannabis protections.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) cheered the medical cannabis vote as well.

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) said that legalization “means that Americans will be faced with new forms of the addictive chemical found in marijuana, THC.”

/ STATES

The Illinois Senate sent a bill allowing medical cannabis at schools to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R).

The Michigan Senate voted unanimously to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon said she would no longer use the word “reparations” to refer to racial equity measures concerning the marijuana industry.

Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Svaty is optimistic that the state could legalize marijuana next year.

California Democratic treasurer candidate Fiona Ma is calling on the state to take steps to allow marijuana businesses to access banks.

Pennsylvania regulators filed new rules to shield public access to information about scorers of medical cannabis business license applications.

The Ohio Ballot Board approved a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure for signature collection.

Oklahoma officials will meet on Tuesday to begin planning potential implementation of a medical cannabis ballot measure.

Alaska regulators are overwhelmed with marijuana business license applications.

Oregon regulators are considering new rules concerning marijuana harvesting, which are intended to reduce diversion.

/ ADVOCACY

The Marijuana Policy Project is retaining its former communications director, Mason Tvert of VS Strategies, on a contract to serve as its national spokesperson and to coordinate media relations.

National Urban League CEO Marc Morial said New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon earlier suggestion that marijuana legalization could help provide reparations to communities of color “unfortunately demonstrates a shallow grasp of the vast structural inequities in our economy.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “in recent years, youth have been increasingly likely to use marijuana as their first drug and sequence of initiation is associated with race/ethnicity, gender, and age.”

A study of cannabis consumers concluded that the “vast majority of participants overestimated the quantity of marijuana that they used in their preparations.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Daily News editorial board endorsed marijuana legalization.

/ CULTURE     

Musician Gene Simmons says he was “judgemental, arrogant and uninformed” before he found out about the medical benefits of cannabis.

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