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Legalization advances to VT gov’s desk (Newsletter: Jan. 11, 2018)

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Sessions & Gardner meet (it didn’t go well); Poll: Americans don’t want feds in state laws; Trump supporters turn over cannabis move

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Vermont Senate voted to send a noncommercial marijuana legalization bill to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott (R), who has pledged to sign it into law. Supporters are already talking about pushing to pass a more far-reaching bill to allow legal sales this year.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) indicated his marijuana meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn’t particularly productive. He will now pursue legislative options. Sessions agreed to meet with a larger group of senators to discuss the issue.

/ FEDERAL

Sessions did not inform the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about his marijuana enforcement plans in advance.

At a signing ceremony for a bill providing drug screening technology to border patrol agents, President Trump ominously suggested he has a solution to drug problems in mind that he’s not sure the county is ready for yet:

  • “So we’re going to sign this. And it’s a step. And it feels like a very giant step, but unfortunately it’s not going to be a giant step, because no matter what you do, this is something that keeps pouring in. And we’re going to find the answer. There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country’s ready for it yet. Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”

The Marijuana Policy Project has a compilation of U.S. attorneys’ comments on marijuana enforcement following the federal shift.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said that he personally doesn’t support marijuana legalization but does think states’ rights should be respected. He also backs medical cannabis.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called Sessions’s marijuana move “heartless and mean.”

Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) mentioned medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids.

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) gave a House floor speech about federal marijuana enforcement changes.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted that “no one except Jeff Sessions likes” the federal marijuana policy change.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Marijuana has become a major industry that raises millions for schools and education programs. It’s legal in eight states. AG Sessions will not win this fight.”

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 20.

The U.S. House bill to exempt state-legal marijuana activity from the Controlled Substances Act got two new cosponsors, bringing the total to 37.

Paula Swearengin‏, a Democratic primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), supports legalizing marijuana.

A Washington Post analysis suggests that the Trump administration’s marijuana position could be politically damaging to Republicans’ 2018 electoral prospects.

The Associated Press talks to Trump voters who are upset by the administration’s marijuana decision.

/ STATES

A budget proposal from California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) projects that marijuana excise taxes will generate $175 million in 2017-18 and $643 million in 2018-19, but adds: “Given the timing of the legalized market’s opening and the release of the Governor’s Budget, the Administration is deferring all cannabis-related budget proposals until the May Revision.” At a press conference, he predicted that federal prosecutors in the state would “be more restrained in carrying out Jeff Sessions’ obsession with marijuana.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) says he doesn’t support legalizing marijuana.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) said the state will not legalize marijuana “on my watch.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) is reiterating his request to meet with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about marijuana.

The Arizona Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about criminalizing legal medical cannabis patients who possess the drug on college campuses.

Maryland’s House speaker said it’s too soon to have a “serious discussion” about legalizing marijuana. Meanwhile, A Legislative Black Caucus member says she is confident a bill to ensure minority ownership in medical cannabis businesses will be passed by the end of the month.

Indiana’s attorney general spoke about his opposition to marijuana legalization.

New York Assembly committees will hold a joint hearing on marijuana legalization on Thursday.

North Dakota regulators are expected to approve medical cannabis rules on Thursday.

A Maine legislative committee took testimony about a number of medical cannabis reform bills.

An Arizona representative filed legislation to prevent state and local police from assisting federal agents in enforcement activities against people following state medical cannabis laws.

A Missouri representative introduced a noncommercial marijuana legalization bill.

A Mississippi senator filed a medical cannabis bill.

Alaska representatives are pushing a resolution urging the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. Separately, regulators will hold a meeting on marijuana licenses on January 24-16.

A Florida senator is calling for marijuana legalization.

California regulators issued guidance on marijuana taxes.

Oregon marijuana retail locations did not perform well in underage sales sting operations last month.

/ LOCAL

The mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey says the city is going to plan ahead for statewide marijuana legalization and change zoning laws soon.

A St. Louis, Missouri Board of Aldermen committee approved legislation to lower the fine for getting caught with small amounts of marijuana to as low as $25.

Portland, Oregon’s mayor and City Council members sent a letter to the state’s U.S. attorney asking him not to interfere with the legal marijuana industry.

Colorado Springs, Colorado’s mayor supports the Sessions marijuana move.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he supports plain packaging for marijuana products.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “unlike illicit drug use, marijuana use was not associated with worse outcomes on the [liver transplant] waitlist.”

A study examined the sexual effects of marijuana and other drugs.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 56% of Americans oppose federal intervention in state marijuana laws.

A poll found that only 9% of U.S. likely voters think the war on drugs is working.

A poll found that South Carolina voters favor medical cannabis, 61%-31%.

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board wants Congress to change federal marijuana laws.

/ BUSINESS

New Frontier Data projects that the legal marijuana industry has the potential to create cumulatively $131.8 billion in federal tax revenue and 1.1 million new jobs by 2025.

Former High Times editor Steven Hager is suing the company.

Cannabis investment firm 4Front Holdings announced it raised approximately $6 million late last year.

Colorado retailers sold $119.6 million in marijuana products in November.

Digiday looks at the marijuana industry’s online advertising issues.

The Miami New Times is looking to hire a freelance reporter to cover marijuana in Florida.

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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.)

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