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Key chairman to file federal cannabis bill again (Newsletter: March 12, 2021)

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RI gov’s legal marijuana plan; DOJ nom’s drug decrim flip; Top NY lawmaker optimistic for deal; HI legalization imperiled; VA gov weighs bill changes

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for assistant attorney general, supported decriminalizing drugs as an activist with the American Civil Liberties Union, but that’s no longer her position, she told senators at a confirmation hearing—a shift she said she’s “not too proud to admit.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said at a hearing on drug enforcement that he plans to refile his federal marijuana legalization bill this year.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) included a marijuana legalization plan in his budget proposal—two days after Senate leaders released a legal cannabis bill of their own.

New York’s Assembly majority leader said she’s “really encouraged” about “fruitful” marijuana legalization negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office and that the reform could happen this month outside of the budget process—comments that came one day after she said talks with the governor were so contentious they’ve reached the point of screaming.

The chairman of Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee is signaling that he may kill a Senate-passed marijuana legalization bill by simply refusing to give it a hearing.

Under the marijuana bill on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) desk, legalization of possession isn’t set to take effect until 2024 when sales begin. But top staffers for the governor say he is considering speeding up the timeline as lawmakers pressure him to do so.

/ FEDERAL

The federal coronavirus relief and stimulus bill signed into law by President Biden contains $30 million in emergency funding for harm reduction programs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a notice about the finalization of hemp rules.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education held a hearing on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on substance use and mental health issues.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in a floor speech, criticized San Francisco for paying for marijuana and alcohol for homeless people.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) criticized efforts to enact THC potency caps on marijuana, with Gaetz authoring an op-ed urging Florida Republican state lawmakers to drop plans to advance legislation on the idea.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) tweeted, “We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of Americans organizing for DC statehood, marijuana legalization, and a $15 minimum wage. We’ve never seen a single person organizing for preserving the filibuster. We should adjust our priorities accordingly.”

/ STATES

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said she has no plans to pursue further legislation on medical cannabis after her plan to delay its implementation failed to be approved by lawmakers, but she expressed continuing concerns about home cultivation. She also said she hasn’t decided whether to sign or veto a hemp bill on her desk. Meanwhile, the House majority leader said the legislature could establish a summer study committee on medical cannabis.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor posted a tweet with an image that he described as himself acting as the “anger translator” for Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and saying, “There’s already a thriving marijuana industry in PA: a black market that makes criminals rich while we SPEND taxpayer money to prosecute regular people.”

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation to cap medical cannabis business licenses and create a lottery system for awarding them and to strengthen compliance enforcement.

Montana House Republican leaders expect that a bill to implement the voter-approved legalization of marijuana will be filed soon.

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the legislature before any Schedule I or II drug could be legalized.

The Arkansas Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee advanced a bill to extend medical cannabis taxes for another two years.

The New Jersey Assembly Health Committee approved legislation to revise ownership restrictions on medical cannabis dispensaries.

The Georgia Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill to revise hemp farming and processing rules.

A Colorado lawmaker is revising planned legislation to institute marijuana potency caps.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that regulators must consider a medical cannabis cultivation company’s request to expand.

Arizona regulators reportedly confirmed that every existing nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary in the state applied for and received a recreational marijuana license.

Maine regulators issued guidance on E. coli testing requirements for marijuana.

Florida regulators are conducting a survey of hemp businesses.

Texas regulators posted updated information about the state’s hemp program.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 800 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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/ LOCAL

People of color accounted for 94% of New York City marijuana arrests last year.

Detroit, Michigan regulators have received nearly 600 applications for marijuana dispensary licenses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government launched a public consultation on medical cannabis home cultivation.

Hungary’s government is opposed to legalizing medical cannabis.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency updated its criteria for which CBD products can stay on the market as of April 1.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that”endocannabinoids are better candidates than endorphins to explain a runner’s high in humans.”

A study of rats found that “CBD prevents cellular metabolic disturbances, protecting the epidermis against UV damage.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board is urging New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujam Grisham (D) to play a more active role in shaping marijuana legalization legislation making its way to her desk.

The New York State PTA sent an email asking its members to urge lawmakers not to legalize marijuana.

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation is a new organization backed by  Altria, Constellation Brands, Molson Coors Beverage Company and other businesses, and is run by a consultant whose firm has advised governors on criminalizing home cultivation and delaying medical cannabis implementation.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Reports are urging Congress to reject a bill to allow CBD as a dietary supplement.

/ BUSINESS

British American Tobacco is acquiring a nearly 20% stake in Organigram Holdings Inc.

Cresco Labs announced that the required waiting period for it to acquire Bluma Wellness Inc. has expired.

Akerna is acquiring Viridian Sciences.

Silver Spike Acquisition Corp II priced its initial public offering at $250 million.

A Green Thumb Industries employee was reportedly fired after reporting to human resources that managers allegedly stole cannabis products and cash for personal use and then directed him to cover up the theft.

/ CULTURE

The website for Seth Rogen’s marijuana brand Houseplant crashed due to heavy interest.

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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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