A bipartisan collection of members of Congress and state officials are pushing back on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s move to rescind Obama-era guidance that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO):
.@SenCoryGardner on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' #marijuana policy change: "I will be holding all nominations for the Department of Justice. The people of Colorado deserve answers." pic.twitter.com/BnVEkA54ag
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 4, 2018
This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):
Attorney General Sessions' decision to restrict states’ ability to legalize and decriminalize marijuana is either willfully ignorant of the medical science or an act of greed on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. In either case, it's an attack on patients, and it's wrong. pic.twitter.com/Kiw8nOmPb7
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
This is about public health. You can join me in fighting back by calling for support for my bill, the CARERS Act, which keeps the federal government out of the way when doctors and patients decide that medical marijuana is the best treatment for them.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
DOJ should investigate how pharma helped create the opioid crisis, not institute policies that take marijuana based medicines from patients and needlessly target non-violent minority youths.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK):
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 4, 2018
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D):
Make no mistake: As we have told the Department of Justice ever since I-502 was passed in 2012, we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement. https://t.co/R3jJrncN9X pic.twitter.com/uM48hVH26q
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) January 4, 2018
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D):
— Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) January 4, 2018
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission:
— Steve Brown (@WBURSteve) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
Attorney General Sessions, your unjust war against Americans who legally use #marijuana is shameful & insults the democratic processes that played out in states across the country.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) January 4, 2018
Nancy Pelosi says the Justice Dept’s new marijuana policy "bulldozes over the will of the American people." pic.twitter.com/PIuRQPCFiA
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
I believe that the States should continue to be the labs of democracy when it comes to recreational & medical marijuana. Jeff, this is one place where states’ rights works. Let each state decide.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 6, 2018
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D):
Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning & disruptive to Oregon's economy. Oregon voters were clear when they chose to legalize the sale of marijuana & the fed govt shouldn't stand in the way https://t.co/3ax9EvdGGE
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) January 4, 2018
Reports that AG Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning & disruptive to Oregon's economy. Oregon voters were clear when they chose to legalize the sale of marijuana & the fed govt shouldn't stand in the way. #orpol https://t.co/BKy4hSCXas
— Kate Brown (@KateBrownForOR) January 4, 2018
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R):
.@AsaHutchinson said there needs to be a difference of views between medical and recreational marijuana when it comes to today's decision by DOJ on legalized marijuana.https://t.co/avmZkAiZWc pic.twitter.com/CZZR51P51k
— THV11 (@THV11) January 4, 2018
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I):
“I remain committed to upholding the will of Alaskans on this issue, and maintaining our State’s sovereign rights to manage our own affairs while protecting federal interests.”
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R):
— Cynthia Coffman (@CynthiaHCoffman) January 4, 2018
Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA):
Perhaps b/c the Trump Admin. was unsuccessful in repealing the ACA, they’ve thought up another way to harm cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, & other law-abiding citizens by taking away guidance for DOJ to work w/ local communities who voted to legalize marijuana. 1/4
— Denny Heck (@RepDennyHeck) January 4, 2018
Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO):
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) January 4, 2018
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK):
“Today’s action by the Department of Justice — which contradicts previous statements by the President that this is an issue best left to the states, and adds new confusion and uncertainty for numerous states and communities — could be the impetus necessary for Congress to find a permanent legislative solution for states that have chosen to regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana. As we move forward, I will be examining new and existing legislative proposals and working to ensure the rights of Alaskans and the State of Alaska are protected.”
Congressman Don Young (R-AK):
“Today’s decision announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is a direct violation of states’ rights. Rolling back the Cole Memo without a responsible replacement to protect individuals and the states they live in is unacceptable.”
Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL):
.@jeffsessions confirms that he has no respect for the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution and no respect for over 70 percent of Floridians who voted to legalize #MedicalMarijuana. It's time for Congress to pass meaningful legislation on this issue that honors states' rights. https://t.co/jUaUxEPF2u
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) January 4, 2018
Businesses operating in compliance with their state's laws deserve a federal government that respects the 10th Amendment. Very disappointing to see an Attorney General who supposedly respects the federalist model of our government take such a drastic step ignoring states’ rights https://t.co/n8a5EVz1Jl
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) January 4, 2018
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
No, Attorney General Sessions. Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 4, 2018
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):
Congress needs to take immediate action to protect state marijuana laws, and the patients that rely on them.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 4, 2018
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI):
There is a growing bipartisan group of Senators that is not going to stand by while Jeff Sessions takes us back several generations on marijuana policy. More later.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 5, 2018
We have an opioids epidemic. But there is no such thing as a marijuana epidemic.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA):
Dear Attorney General Jeff Sessions and @TheJusticeDept: Let me give you a list of things more important for federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement to pursue other than marijuana:
1. Basically anything. https://t.co/ctyJui7g4c
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 4, 2018
AG Jeff Sessions apparently wants to take America back to the 1920s. Prohibition didn't work then and it will not work now. Congress needs to pass sensible laws to prevent a monumental waste of precious federal resources chasing Americans who use #cannabis. #thursdaythoughts https://t.co/GP3qPyKIve
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 4, 2018
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT):
In 2013, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I held a hearing on the conflict betw. federal laws and evolving state laws on marijuana. That hg. prompted DOJ to release the Cole memo. Rescinding that memo is a terrible, facts-backwards decision by Atty Gen Sessions.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(2/4) Make no mistake, the Cole memo NEVER PREVENTED the gov from going after bad actors, like those who traffic marijuana to minors or across state lines. ONLY reason to rescind the memo is because the AG wants to target patients & businesses that are COMPLIANT with state laws.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(3/4) We need to protect the patients and dispensaries in the 46 states with medical marijuana and CBD laws. As Vice Chair of Appropriations, I offered an amdt in Committee to do just that – and it was approved with a bipartisan voice vote.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(4/4) I'm now fighting to include my amdt in the final omnibus Approps bill so we can protect patients and law-abiding businesses. With an AG determined to waste finite DOJ resources to prosecute even those who are compliant with state law, this amdt is more important than ever
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH):
As lead Democrat on DOJ funding subcommittee, I’ll work to ensure that resources are devoted to opioid response NOT foolish policy of interfering with legal marijuana production. My statement: pic.twitter.com/0w9x22ByQg
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) January 4, 2018
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
Hatch office on DOJ’s marijuana announcement: “Senator Hatch encourages the Department of Justice to remove bureaucratic red tape – not put up roadblocks – to allow our nation’s top medical researchers to study the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana.” #utpol pic.twitter.com/nmTXOkcZ6K
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN):
“This change takes us in the wrong direction and is another step by the Trump Justice Department toward rolling back the sensible and more effective prosecution policies established by the Justice Department under President Obama. The Judiciary Committee should conduct hearings on these issues so that we may develop better strategies for preventing drug abuse and focusing the Justice Department’s efforts on those who pose the most serious threats to public safety.”
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA):
Rohrabacher Blasts Attorney General’s Marijuana Policy Decision https://t.co/TeV9wmuWyj
— Dana Rohrabacher (@RepRohrabacher) January 4, 2018
I believe states, not the federal government, should determine the extent to which the use of #cannabis should be regulated, so I introduced H.R. 975, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. To read the bill, visit this link: https://t.co/kALjeM8aLS #marijuana
— Dana Rohrabacher (@RepRohrabacher) January 5, 2018
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):
There's nothing to be gained from going back to an era when fed resources were wasted prosecuting nonviolent cannabis crimes. This will create massive uncertainty, hurt local biz & tax revenue, & harm public safety by driving cannabis activity back into the dangerous black market
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 4, 2018
Jeff Sessions is turning back the clock to the failed “war on drugs.” Instead of punishing local businesses, how about focus those resources on actual problems, like the opioid epidemic that is killing tens of millions? https://t.co/agG1X1HqS2
— Jeff Merkley (@JeffMerkley) January 5, 2018
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R):
Statement from Gov. Baker's office on the DOJ memo on marijuana: "The administration believes this is the wrong decision and will review any potential impacts from any policy changes by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office.” pic.twitter.com/Ewk9FNr1on
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) January 4, 2018
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R):
“We support states’ rights when deciding whether medical marijuana should be legalized, and North Dakota voters have spoken.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ):
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 4, 2018
Sessions' determination to revive the failed War on Drugs is fiscally wasteful, morally bankrupt, unjust—and won't make us safer. This backwards policy is wrong for America, and on the wrong side of history. https://t.co/KgoEtz3MrK
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 4, 2018
We must stop Jeff Sessions' backwards actions. There is now great urgency to pass the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana on the federal level.
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) January 4, 2018
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL):
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 4, 2018
I am extremely disappointed that AG Sessions is rescinding medical cannabis protections; it is a step backward for the American people. When Congress passes new spending bills, I will fight this misguided plan. Prosecute criminals, not patients!https://t.co/eklRBR5SXL
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 4, 2018
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D):
Despite backwards moves by the Trump administration, I will continue to protect cancer patients, kids with epilepsy, veterans with PTSD and all Pennsylvanians seeking relief from legal medical marijuana.
— Tom Wolf (@WolfForPA) January 4, 2018
Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA):
Because of @jeffsessions actions, I’m joining the “Respect State Marijuana Laws” bill. I believe in States' Rights & I’ve seen how cannabis derived medicines can stop seizures in a child, help a veteran cope with pain, or provide relief to a senior with glaucoma. #IA01
— Congressman Rod Blum (@RepRodBlum) January 5, 2018
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D):
In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis. Unlike others, we embrace, not fear, change. After all, this is 2018 not the 20th century. 1/ https://t.co/71auR83R4V
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) January 4, 2018
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello (NPP):
Breaking with the Trump administration, Puerto Rico's Gov. cites "lack of awareness of the scientific evidence" as reason for the Attorney Generals decision to crackdown on states where marijuana is legal. @ricardorossello will "join any legal actions that arise to defeat it." pic.twitter.com/giW5A7Gi7D
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):
We should not be using federal law enforcement resources to lock people up for the use of marijuana. In fact, no one should be jailed for marijuana use. I strongly oppose AG Session’s decision yesterday. https://t.co/TO1aDg2utd
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 5, 2018
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV):
Nevada voters made it clear that the state should be able to enforce its marijuana laws without federal interference. We must respect the will of states while ensuring prosecutorial resources are used effectively.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) January 4, 2018
Nevada’s marijuana industry is a boon to our economy: it supports nearly 300 small businesses and currently employs more than 6,700 Nevadans. AG Sessions’ decision to ignore states’ rights will create uncertainty and could cost Nevada millions in economic revenue.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) January 4, 2018
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA):
Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after recreational marijuana users. That’s not being smart on crime.https://t.co/BNlcxbTT4v
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 4, 2018
Instead of wasting money on failed policies like the “War on Drugs,” the Department of Justice should be directing federal resources toward working with local law enforcement to clamp down on transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of guns and human beings.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) January 4, 2018
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA):
.@SenBobCasey says he's concerned about how Sessions' pot action could impact PA medical marijuana and says states should determine own policies, per statement. "Bureaucrats in Washington should not interfere with the medical care these patients are receiving."
— Justine McDaniel (@McDanielJustine) January 4, 2018
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):
My full statement on AG Sessions' announcement today: pic.twitter.com/6YaHskHxIF
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 4, 2018
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND):
“States are really determining how this issue will be handled now and going forward, and I don’t think this policy decision will change that.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA):
“It seems to be the absolute opposite direction from where our country’s headed.”
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN):
The war on drugs didn’t stop drug usage; it just ruined a lot of lives. Jeff Sessions is reviving it because he believes in using the criminal justice system as an instrument of racial and economic control of poor people and brown people. https://t.co/XRd8OldE2N
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) January 4, 2018
Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND):
“Congress should act on this and make it clear that … this a states’ rights issue, that it should be up to states to determine whether they want to allow marijuana.”
Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV):
I will fight for businesses that are legally operating in states, contributing to tax bases, & creating jobs. We don't need a crackdown. We need to protect states' rights, respect the voice of voters, and pass laws to prevent this from happening again. https://t.co/0XBLrgf0iM
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN):
— Jason Lewis (@RepJasonLewis) January 5, 2018
Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO):
“The announcement by the Department of Justice is a drastic departure from the Attorney General’s previous commitment to Senator Cory Gardner during the confirmation process that he would uphold the Obama Administration’s treatment of marijuana enforcement and President Trump’s comments that he would leave it to the states. Furthermore it creates even greater confusion and uncertainty by leaving enforcement decisions up to federal prosecutors. The Department of Justice should provide guidance on enforcement of marijuana for states that have voted to legalize it. The people of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana in the state, and I am committed to defending the will of Coloradans.”
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D):
Jeff Sessions has destructively doubled down on the failed, costly, and racially discriminatory war on drugs, ignoring facts and logic, and trampling on the will of CA voters.
Have no doubt — CA will pursue all options to protect our reforms and rights. https://t.co/0EuSp5GJ2z
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 4, 2018
My full statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' harmful and destructive attempt to revive the failed war on drugs.
Calling on our federal leaders to move quickly to protect states’ rights from the harmful effects of this ideological temper tantrum by Sessions. pic.twitter.com/96xtRx6OYE
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 4, 2018
"States rights" is nothing more than a catch phrase to Jeff Sessions. CA overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana. Sick and tired of elected officials who lack the courage to stand up for those that are unjustly targeted by the failed war on drugs. The time to speak out is now. pic.twitter.com/Pnj4rsKYF9
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 7, 2018
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R):
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) January 4, 2018
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):
This is outrageous. Going against the majority of Americans—including a majority of Republican voters—who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made. https://t.co/favJUDVBiA
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 4, 2018
One wonders if Trump was consulted—it is Jeff Sessions after all—because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws. It’s time for ANYONE who cares about this issue to mobilize and push back strongly against this decision. https://t.co/S0neITlP5q
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC):
Sessions has it exactly backwards. Americans are ending the war on marijuana, not escalating it. Republicans, get on board and remove the DC marijuana rider to let DC commercialize recreational marijuana as 7 states have done. #HandsOffDC https://t.co/oXMgu2rrMF
— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA):
Jeff Sessions’ War On Drugs is a direct attack on communities of color, who bear the burden of overzealous policing & mass incarceration. This Attorney General makes a mockery of the so-called “Justice Department.”https://t.co/phJaVRD3Mr
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI):
Veterans suffering from invisible wounds like Post-Traumatic Stress and chronic pain, or with addiction to opioids, deserve our commitment to researching every possible treatment to help them, and Sessions is failing them.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 4, 2018
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY):
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 5, 2018
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY):
Statement from @RandPaul on Sessions rescinding Obama-era marijuana guidance to U.S. Attorneys: "I continue to believe that this is a states’ rights issue, and the federal government has better things to focus on."
— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) January 4, 2018
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV):
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) January 4, 2018
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND):
“I’m going to continue to follow this situation to see how it will impact our state, especially after North Dakotans made their voices heard and voted to legalize medical marijuana.”
Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN):
Sessions will end policy that allowed legalized marijuana to prosper https://t.co/Jrx50hRwme Sessions & Trump for states rights to secede and discriminate but not to innovate and be as Justice Brandeis said,”the laboratories of democracy.”
Opioid crisis and no action.Pot?Get real
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) January 4, 2018
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D):
AG Ferguson response on reported action by US AG Jeff Sessions on federal marijuana policy. Read AG Ferguson and @GovInslee's letter to Sessions correcting Sessions' bad information on WA marijuana law here: https://t.co/z1DY0fbnsE pic.twitter.com/i68zhtHc9A
— WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) January 4, 2018
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA):
When it comes to the legal, adult use of marijuana, the voters in my home state of Washington, and in many other states, have spoken clearly and I intend to keep fighting to make sure Washington state is able to continue carrying out the will of its voters.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) January 4, 2018
Washington state has created a well-regulated system for the legal, adult use of marijuana that works for families and communities. I intend to keep fighting to make sure Washington state is able to continue carrying out the will of its voters.https://t.co/db84cwCmbP
— Senator Patty Murray (@MurrayCampaign) January 6, 2018
Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA):
Let’s be clear: Trump’s decision to prosecute marijuana use will hurt Black and Latino youth the most. Privileged kids who use these drugs in private schools rarely get prosecuted. This is a civil rights issue. It’s not only bad policy. It’s morally wrong. https://t.co/REIekeWCeY
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) January 4, 2018
We must allow states the right to move towards the decriminalization of marijuana, not turn back the clock as more states – like CA – legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. I will do all I can to stop Sessions’ backwards decision to reverse the Cole Memo. https://t.co/i9a6njpG0M
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO):
.@realDonaldTrump pls stop your loser Attorney General from making you look weak and undermining you by putting big swamp government in the way of our state marijuana laws
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) January 4, 2018
It is absurd that @USAGSessions has broken @POTUS’s campaign promise & is now waging war on legal #marijuana & states’ rights. I am calling on the President to overrule & protect consumers, our economy, the will of voters, & states’ rights. #ColeMemo pic.twitter.com/sQCL0yFkzv
— Rep. Jared Polis (@RepJaredPolis) January 4, 2018
Colorado has proven that a thoughtful approach to cannabis works much better than the failed federal prohibition. And as #COgov, I will fight back against attacks by Jeff Sessions & the Trump administration that undermine the work we have done here in CO. https://t.co/EWWV4Po9Oq pic.twitter.com/bjrFZ7DmQ4
— Polis for Colorado (@PolisForCO) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE):
“Devoting our limited resources to prosecuting medical marijuana use that is permitted under Delaware state law is a poor allocation of federal time, money, and manpower that should be focused on more important things, such combating violent crime on our streets.”
Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI):
Under our Constitution, marijuana shouldn’t be federally criminalized. @RepTomGarrett has a bill that will stop AG Sessions in his tracks: the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (#HR1227), which I’ve cosponsored.
Here’s a list of cosponsors: https://t.co/buRPtGh9Bm
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 5, 2018
Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX):
We're not going to let Jeff Sessions drag us backwards. His decision on marijuana is terrible policy. pic.twitter.com/LxwWwBkid4
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) January 5, 2018
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA):
As more states, including California, legalize and regulate marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, turning back the clock on federal enforcement is a waste of limited resources. I believe the hands-off policy should be reinstated, by Congressional action if necessary https://t.co/N2cA83k94g
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 4, 2018
With a nationwide opioid epidemic and innumerable other priorities, busting legal marijuana sellers and medicinal dispensaries is wasteful and destructive. Whatever happened to their states’ rights creed? https://t.co/gDi8RTUylZ
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiffCA) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME):
As a member of Congress, I’ve cosponsored legislation to uphold state laws regarding marijuana legalization. I hope @TheJusticeDept will reconsider its one-size-fits-all approach so that congressional action is not needed. #mepolitics https://t.co/nFCV0ih6FS
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) January 4, 2018
Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA):
“This action by Attorney General Sessions would silence the voices of the majority of Washington state’s voters. No matter how you feel about the legalization of marijuana, this decision by the federal government to meddle in a state issue settled by public referendum is particularly troubling and would create tremendous uncertainty. It’s the wrong decision and is in direct conflict with the Attorney General’s long career of advocating for more autonomy for state and local governments.”
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA):
This is the opposite of what we should be doing. Let’s not kid ourselves – people will be using marijuana regardless of what Attorney General Sessions says. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) January 4, 2018
Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL):
— US Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) January 5, 2018
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA):
— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) January 4, 2018
Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN):
While the VA moves (slowly) in the right direction, AG Jeff Sessions is dead set on overruling states that have legalized recreational or medical cannabis, including MN. I'll keep fighting alongside the 83% of vets & caregivers who support legalizing medical cannabis nationally. https://t.co/b6LkoPvxYP
— Rep. Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY):
It makes no sense to dedicate additional fed resources toward marijuana enforcement when our nation faces an opioid epidemic & many states are taking steps toward marijuana decriminalization. Height of hypocrisy coming from party that makes ‘states rights’ a litmus test.
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 5, 2018
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY):
If Trump Administration is serious about criminal justice reform, beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions must end his war on Marijuana. NOW
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) January 11, 2018
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D):
DC residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize small amounts of marijuana, in part because of racial disparities in drug arrests and convictions. This is a step backwards for local autonomy and smart criminal justice policy. DOJ should focus on larger public safety priorities. https://t.co/AdCX8k3nDd
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) January 4, 2018
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R):
— Nathan O'Neal (@NateNews3LV) January 4, 2018
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D):
This puts the health and safety of patients at risk. It’s inhumane and short-sighted to take this away from people who are suffering.
Trump policy change on marijuana raises questions in Maryland https://t.co/XwX1LqX6vP
— Brian Frosh (@BrianFrosh) January 4, 2018
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):
In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion. https://t.co/vSQuhlkv4D
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) January 4, 2018
Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum completely disregards the steps Colorado has taken to regulate legal #marijuana dispensaries and retail stores.
Read my letter to the Attorney General: https://t.co/qx0DvobMUi
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) January 5, 2018
Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA):
More than 90% of veterans support research into medical cannabis as an alternative to addictive opioids. The DOJ's announcement will discourage progress on a potentially safer way to manage veterans’ post-traumatic stress and chronic pain. https://t.co/uW5AqTdrWb
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) January 5, 2018
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):
I'm extremely disappointed in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempt to disregard the will of the people and return us to the days of prohibition and the war on drugs.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) January 4, 2018
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D):
“Especially during the midst of a national opioid crisis, medical marijuana provides an important alternative to opioids and is counted on for relief by 22,000 Connecticut residents. Rather than diverting critical federal resources and infringing on the will of the American people, Attorney General Sessions would do well to take a leaf out of Connecticut’s book, where our marijuana policies have allowed law enforcement professionals to focus on reducing violent crime, with demonstrated success. We will continue to follow Connecticut law regarding marijuana policy despite this short-sighted decision.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA):
— Rep. Suzan DelBene (@RepDelBene) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR):
The Department of Justice has much more important things to focus on than prosecuting licensed, legitimate businesses. Oregon voters have spoken and the federal government must respect the will of the states that have legalized the use of marijuana.https://t.co/xqptVqvTyc
— Suzanne Bonamici (@RepBonamici) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA):
The state of California has the right to enact its own policies on marijuana, and the voters have spoken. Rather than wasting taxpayer money going after medical and recreational marijuana users, Attorney General Sessions should concentrate on protecting Americans from criminals. https://t.co/pbdTw6ANYS
— Julia Brownley (@JuliaBrownley26) January 5, 2018
Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA):
The Trump Admin is rescinding a policy that has allowed states to freely operate legal marijuana markets. The people of CA have made their will clear and the Admin should help implement the policy responsibly, not subvert our democratic process. https://t.co/68haHERjI9
— Mike Thompson (@RepThompson) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO):
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) January 4, 2018
Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY):
The war on drugs was a costly failure that targeted communities of color and worsened mass incarceration. Attorney General Sessions has no business resurrecting the discriminatory policies of yesteryear.https://t.co/2v4l7sfdLq
— Rep. Joe Crowley (@repjoecrowley) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ryan Cosetllo (R-PA):
In 2016, PA passed a law to allow patients facing certain illnesses to legally use medical marijuana, and I believe it is critically important the Commonwealth’s law and patients who benefit from it are protected. https://t.co/y5xYFUebii
— Rep. Ryan Costello (@RepRyanCostello) January 7, 2018
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ):
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) January 4, 2018
We need to stop AG Sessions attempt to roll back the progress we have made to decriminalize marijuana. Time to legalize not criminalize.
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) January 4, 2018
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D):
— Gintautas Dumcius (@gintautasd) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV):
This is an insult to Nevada voters, an affront to states’ rights, and a threat to our local economy. Nevadans made it clear at the ballot box in 2016 that they support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, and their decision should stand. https://t.co/lC6fsCOFWn
— Rep. Jacky Rosen (@RepJackyRosen) January 4, 2018
Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT):
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) January 4, 2018
Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA):
Attention @DanaPerino @guypbenson @lesliemarshall2 My bill, HR 1227 would deregulate marijuana policy by removing federal oversight and empowering the 50 States… It has been around for a year now. Congress is TRYING to "do something."
— Tom Garrett (@GarrettforVA) January 4, 2018
H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal #Marijuana Prohibition Act, is a #bipartisan bill that gives states the ability to formulate their own marijuana policy free from federal interference. Read more HERE → https://t.co/TUF0Q5uaCW pic.twitter.com/rO0ti8ozXy
— Tom Garrett (@RepTomGarrett) January 5, 2018
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI):
.@TheJusticeDept is signaling to prosecutors that it is open season on marijuana dispensaries and businesses operating legally in states with established policies and procedures. What a complete waste of time. @jeffsessions https://t.co/RQMhHsJYz5
— Colleen Hanabusa (@RepHanabusa) January 5, 2018
Congressman Adam Lowenthal (D-CA):
AG Sessions’ move to attack state marijuana laws is nothing short of hypocritical. @GOP supports states’ rights when it suits them, and thwarts the will of voters when it doesn’t. https://t.co/J9VFpH665G
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) January 5, 2018
Congressman John Delaney (D-MD):
“The Cole Memo provided clear guidance to an otherwise conflicting situation. Revoking the Cole Memo will restore that confusion and undermines the will of the voters in several states.”
Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D-NV):
— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@RepKihuen) January 4, 2018
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA):
The actions taken by AG Sessions to rescind existing protections for citizens complying w/lawfully enacted state laws regarding marijuana use across the country represents a flagrant disregard for the will of the majority of Americans. My full statement➡️https://t.co/18k0NsLB3u
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) January 4, 2018
Colorado Senate Democrats:
The marijuana industry supports hundreds of small businesses across our state.
Since legalization, marijuana has generated $617,767,334 in tax revenue. Instead of going to drug cartels, that money helps fund our schools and addiction treatment programs for more dangerous drugs.
— Colorado Senate Dems (@COSenDem) January 4, 2018
This post will be updated as more reactions come in.
Psychedelics Group Issues First Round Of Grants For Community-Based Entheogenic Education In DC
A Washington, D.C.-based psychedelics organization has issued about $50,000 in its first round of grants for various community groups to support efforts to educate and organize people around plant medicine.
The Plant Medicine Coalition (PMC)—founded by the head of the D.C. campaign that got psychedelics decriminalization passed locally in last November’s election—dolled out grants to about a dozen groups as part of its Community Grants Program. Funding for the grants was provided by Dr. Bronner’s, a wellness company that’s been involved in a number of marijuana and psychedelics reform efforts across the country.
This is just one part of PMC’s mission to promote psychedelics reform as the movement continues to spread at the local, state and federal levels.
Arts collectives, mental health organizations and entheogenic education groups are among the new grant recipients.
Melissa Lavasani, PMC co-founder, told Marijuana Moment that the organization is hopeful about the impact of these grants—but it’s also using this opportunity to explore how to most effectively provide funding in the years to come.
“I wanted to do something really impactful that had a quick turnaround,” Lavasani said. “There are a lot of things that our organization is working on right now that are really long term, especially on the federal level.”
“We’re trying to shift a really entrenched culture and government,” she added. “It just takes a lot of grinding—meeting after meeting—and I wanted to do something important with these funds here locally because I do feel like there were a lot of loose ends” after D.C. decriminalized psychedelics.
Overall, the money from PMC will support a diversity of initiatives. There will be workshops on community building within the psychedelics movement, courses on cultivating entheogenic substances, lecture series on scientific developments related to the substances and more.
Here are some quotes from recipients on what they aim to do with the funding:
The Madison House: “Founded by Master Life Coach H. Alejaibra Badu, The Madison House is a International Spiritual Health & Wellness Movement that stands to heal people from things that bind them mentally and emotionally. Finding freedom from the self-inflicted prison of the mind when it’s over consumed by thought. Freeing yourself from the voice inside your mind that promotes fear, self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, anger, and pain. Freeing yourself from the perceptions of others that leave you in bondage. Freeing your whole self and authentic being. The Madison House belief is that if you are able to be freed from the things that bind you mentally and emotionally, then you can live your life on purpose.”
Delicious Mushroom Growing: “Delicious Mushroom Growing is a project that educates DC residents about how to grow mushrooms from manure and compost substrates – Oyster, Cremini/Portabello/Button/Agaricus, and Shaggy Mane. It’s a way to teach people about how to grow fungi medicine and get themselves on a the path towards healing.”
Plant Medicine Lecture Series: “This lecture series will bring exciting speakers to D.C. to discuss the scientific, medical, and social aspects of psychedelics. The lectures will be offered in public venues, COVID permitting, and webcast as well. The events will also be excellent opportunities to meet other people in D.C. who are interested in psychedelics.”
There are additional recipients who requested not to be publicly listed but are providing “critical education of the community, integration services, as well as providing stewardship of ethical plant medicine community building,” Lavasani said.
Others are involved in “addressing abuse and predatory behaviors in plant medicine circles (a problem that’s become super prevalent lately) to provide a restorative process for healing,” she said.
While based in D.C., PMC is a national organization that hopes to build upon reform efforts that have already been accomplished and bring the issue to Capitol Hill, in part by pushing lawmakers to approve federal funding for research into the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca.
The group is also working to ensure the effective implementation of the city-level policy change while supporting other local activists as they push to change laws governing natural or synthetic psychedelics.
Both inside and outside of the nation’s capitol, activists are hard at work pushing for psychedelics reform.
Just last week, for example, lawmakers in a fourth Massachusetts city voted in favor of a resolution urging the decriminalization of certain entheogenic substances and other drugs.
The action comes months after the neighboring Northampton City Council passed a resolution stipulating that no government or police funds should be used to enforce laws criminalizing people for using or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi. Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Somerville and Cambridge have also moved to effectively decriminalize psychedelics.
The local measures also express support for two bills introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature this year. One would remove criminal penalties for possession of all currently illicit drugs and the other would establish a task force to study entheogenic substances with the eventual goal of legalizing and regulating the them.
Separately, Seattle’s City Council approved a resolution earlier this month to decriminalize noncommercial activity around a wide range of psychedelic substances, including the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline.
In Michigan, the Grand Rapids City Council approved a resolution last month calling for decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics.
Elsewhere in Michigan, the Ann Arbor City Council has already elected to make enforcement of laws prohibition psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT among the city’s lowest priorities—and lawmakers recently followed up by declaring September Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.
After Ann Arbor legislators passed that decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County prosecutor announced that his office will not be pursuing charges over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount at issue.”
A local proposal to decriminalize various psychedelics will also appear on Detroit’s November ballot.
At the same time that local activists are pursuing decriminalization, a pair of Michigan senators introduced a bill last month to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of an array of plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.
Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.
Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.
A bill to legalize psychedelics in California advanced through the Senate and two Assembly committees this year before being pulled by the sponsor to buy more time to generate support among lawmakers. The plan is to take up the reform during next year’s second half of the legislative session, and the senator behind the measure says he’s confident it will pass.
California activists were separately cleared to begin collecting signatures for a historic initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state. Oakland and Santa Cruz have already enacted psychedelics decriminalization.
The top Democrat in the Florida Senate filed a bill last month that would require the state to research the medical benefits of psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA.
Earlier this year, Texas enacted a law directing state officials to study psychedelics’ medical value.
The governor of Connecticut signed a bill in June that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.
Oregon voters passed a pair of initiatives last November to legalize psilocybin therapy and decriminalize possession of all drugs. On the local level, activists in Portland are mounting a push to have local lawmakers pass a resolution decriminalizing the cultivation, gifting and ceremonial use of a wide range of psychedelics.
A New York lawmaker introduced a bill in June that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly research the medical value of psychedelics.
In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize criminalization of entheogenic substances, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for the policy change to be adopted statewide and for local jurisdictions to be allowed to permit healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics. Activists in the city are also hoping to expand upon the local decriminalization ordinance by creating a community-based model through which people could legally purchase entheogenic substances from local producers.
Meanwhile, Denver activists who successfully led the 2019 campaign to make the city the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin possession have set their eyes on broader reform, with plans in the works to end the criminalization of noncommercial gifting and communal use of the psychedelic.
In a setback for advocates, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted against a proposal from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would have removed a spending bill rider that advocates say has restricted federal funds for research into Schedule I drugs, including psychedelics such as psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine. However, it picked up considerably more votes this round than when the congresswoman first introduced it in 2019.
Report provisions of separate, House-passed spending legislation also touch on the need to expand cannabis and psychedelics research. The panel urged NIDA to support expanded marijuana studies, for example. It further says that federal health agencies should pursue research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for military veterans suffering from a host of mental health conditions.
There was an attempt by a Republican congressman to attach language into a defense spending bill that would promote research into psychedelics therapy for active duty military members, but it was not made in order in the House Rules Committee last month.
NIDA also recently announced it’s funding a study into whether psilocybin can help people quit smoking cigarettes.
An official with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also said at a recent congressional hearing that the agency is “very closely” following research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics like MDMA for military veterans.
For what it’s worth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a longstanding champion of marijuana reform in Congress, said this month that he intends to help bring the psychedelics reform movement to Capitol Hill “this year.”
In May, lawmakers in Congress filed the first-ever legislation to federally decriminalize possession of illicit substances.
Feds Must Legalize Marijuana, Top Nevada Lawmaker Says (Op-Ed)
“In Nevada, we’ve shown that it is possible to create an equitable and business friendly framework that benefits both cannabis business owners and consumers. With federal action, we can take this work to the next level.”
By Rep. Steve Yeager for Nevada Current
With gridlock at the federal level, states have truly become the laboratories of democracy—often leading on legislative policy when Congress is unable. When it comes to cannabis, these laboratories of democracy operate at breakneck speed, with 18 U.S. states legalizing it for both medical and adult “recreational” use and at least some legal use in 37 states and the District of Columbia. In a nation where even a small amount of the substance could and often did (and sometimes still does) lead to serious legal consequences, more than 100 million Americans now live in states with legalized, adult-use cannabis markets.
Nevada, of course, has been a trailblazer in legalizing cannabis and as a result, has reaped significant economic and social benefits. When the Legislature established the Cannabis Compliance Board in 2019 with a strong bipartisan majority, Nevada solidified its place as the gold standard for a well-regulated cannabis industry.
In 2021, the Legislature once again demonstrated its ability to create a more equitable and inclusive cannabis industry, securing a bipartisan 2/3 vote in each legislative chamber to pass a bill establishing cannabis consumption lounges. The lounges, set to open in 2022, will bring new jobs and enhanced tax revenue that will allow Nevada to invest more in K-12 education. In addition, Nevada’s tens of millions of tourists will finally have a place to legally consume cannabis. It is clear that Las Vegas is quickly becoming a global cannabis destination.
But despite these immense possibilities, state legalization—without change in federal law—still presents serious challenges. For instance, the lack of contemporary cannabis legislation on the federal level has made any form of traditional banking for the industry next to impossible. Cannabis business owners cannot take advantage of favorable tax provisions that help other businesses keep more of the money they make, often leading to additional investment. Even if cannabis is legal in a particular state, carrying that cannabis on to federal property or on to an airplane opens a person to arrest and prosecution by federal authorities.
Furthermore, federal employees or state employees paid through federal funding cannot partake in cannabis, medical or otherwise. Nevadans who live in federally subsidized housing cannot consume in the comfort of their homes, a prohibition that undoubtedly disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities. And business owners in the industry can never feel completely comfortable because the federal government could choose to use its police power to crack down on state level cannabis businesses.
With polls showing that two-thirds of Americans support legalization of cannabis, it is time for the federal government to legalize it. Such action will pave the way for states that have been hesitant to step out on this issue and will eliminate the current conflicts between federal and state law. Federal legalization will enable more in-depth study of cannabis by both state and federal agencies to develop a scientific standard of impairment for driving and will enable the federal government to help states with efforts to curb youth cannabis use.
Nevada has also led the way in pardoning and sealing criminal records for those convicted of low-level cannabis crimes. Those with federal cannabis convictions have no similar remedy, often preventing them from entering the job market at a time when employees have never been in higher demand. Federal cannabis legalization would open the door to cleaning the slate for criminal convictions stemming from conduct the majority of Americans now agree should not have been illegal in the first place. For both moral and economic reasons, erasing records of low level cannabis convictions is simply the right thing to do. For that to happen, cannabis must be legalized on the federal level.
In Nevada, we’ve shown that it is possible to create an equitable and business friendly framework that benefits both cannabis business owners and consumers. With federal action, we can take this work to the next level.
Steve Yeager is a Democratic state assemblyman representing District 9 in Clark County, and speaker pro tempore of the Nevada State Assembly.
Texas Judge Upholds Delta-8 THC Ban In Initial Ruling, But The Fight Isn’t Over
A Texas judge has ruled that the state’s ban on hemp products containing more than 0.3 percent delta-8 THC can remain in effect as a legal challenge moves through the process.
The cannabis company Hometown Hero filed a suit against the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) last week, arguing that it improperly revised its hemp policy this month to specifically prohibit products with more than trace amounts of forms of THC other than delta-9, the most commonly known psychoactive compound in cannabis.
In a ruling dated Friday and announced on Monday, the court decided against the plaintiffs’ request to have a temporary restraining order imposed on the state. Subsequently, the hemp business said it will halt sales of certain products as it prepares for a November 5 hearing on a more consequential temporary injunction against the state.
These are just the first steps in yet another legal battle over hemp in the state following the plant’s legalization.
Delta-8 THC has surged in popularity, particularly in states with more restrictive marijuana laws. It produces intoxicating effects similar to delta-9 THC, but it can be synthetically produced by converting CBD derived from hemp. The novelty of delta-8 products has left legal loopholes, which is likely why DSHS moved to broadly prohibit products with more than 0.3 percent of any type of THC.
DSHS appears to have responded to this increased market demand and questions from hemp businesses by updating its policy with the broader interpretation of THC. Here’s what the department’s site now says:
“Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 443 (HSC 443), established by House Bill 1325 (86th Legislature), allows Consumable Hemp Products in Texas that do not exceed 0.3% Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3%, are considered Schedule I controlled substances.”
Hometown Hero had hoped to get a temporary restraining order against DSHS to prevent it from taking action against hemp businesses that sell delta-8 THC, but now it must wait to see what comes out of next month’s follow-up hearing.
“The DSHS stance flips the hemp definition on its head,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said in court on Friday, according to Texas Cannabis Collective.
The department, for its part, says it has not made any policy change and that delta-8 THC has been statutorily classified the same as delta-9 since hemp was legalized in 2019. A spokesperson said it simply “posted the clarification below on our website in response to recent requests from hemp growers who said that there was confusion in the industry about what was allowed in consumable hemp products.”
Activists have criticized DSHS for making hemp policy decisions without affording the public a real chance to participate.
“We expect the Department of State Health Services to always operate with full transparency,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “It has been made abundantly clear that, by posting meeting notices in obscure locations, DSHS denied the public an opportunity to weigh in on proposed changes to the Controlled Substances Act.”
At the federal level, delta-8 THC has also captured the attention of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regulators at those departments recently issued warnings about products containing the cannabinoid, saying they’ve seen a significant uptick in reported adverse health effects.
FDA also announced a plan this month to us “novel” data sources like Reddit to gain a better understanding of public health issues surrounding use of delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD.
Back in Texas, the hemp industry has become familiarized with the court system as businesses have navigated the new law.
In the same district court where this new delta-8 THC lawsuit has been filed, a judge ruled in August that Texas’s ban on the production and sale of smokable hemp products is unconstitutional.
Judge Lora Livingston ruled in favor of plaintiffs—a group of hemp businesses who sued the DSHS over a ban on the manufacturing and selling of smokable cannabis products it imposed after the crop was legalized.
An appeals court had previously modified a prior injunction and determined that regulators couldn’t enforce a ban on the sales component of the smokable hemp market. But following the August ruling, there’s a permanent injunction that bars the state from prohibiting the full range of hemp activity.
Meanwhile, Texas activists are working to enact local reforms on marijuana.
Advocates in San Marcos, Texas recently launched a campaign to put marijuana decriminalization on the local ballot in 2022.
Just to the north of San Marcos, a separate campaign attempted to put cannabis decriminalization on Austin’s ballot this November, but activists have since shifted their strategy toward putting the measure in front of voters on the May 2022 ballot. They will also target additional cities next November.
There is no statewide, citizen-led initiative process that would enable advocates to put an issue like decriminalization or legalization on the Texas ballot. But at the local level, there are limited cases where activists can leverage home rule laws that allow for policy changes.
A strong majority of Texans back even broader reform, according to recent polling. Sixty percent of voters in the state support making cannabis legal “for any use,” signaling that local initiatives for more modest proposals like decriminalization will likely prevail where they qualify for local ballots.
This year’s legislative session in Texas saw numerous drug policy proposals advance, with bills to expand the state’s medical cannabis program and require a study into the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans having been enacted.
Advocates remain disappointed, however, that lawmakers were unable to pass more expansive cannabis bills—including a decriminalization proposal that cleared the House but saw no action in the Senate.
Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.