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McConnell files hemp legalization bill (Newsletter: April 13, 2018)

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Senators press Sessions on cannabis research; Boehner won’t lobby for legalization; Albuquerque decrim signed

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and three cosponsors filed a  hemp legalization bill.

Congressman James Comer (R-KY) and one cosponsor filed a House companion hemp bill.

U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are demanding that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stop blocking research on marijuana’s medical benefits.

/ FEDERAL

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) elaborated that he supports letting states set their own marijuana laws, not necessarily that he wants states to legalize cannabis.

Boehner also predicted that more members of Congress would soon get on board with marijuana law reform:

  • “As public opinion shifts, members’ opinions on this are going to shift — I’m a prime example. Over these last 10 years, my attitude has changed pretty dramatically on this.. Members will see the light.”

Although Boehner joined the advisory board of a cannabis company, his spokesman says he “has no plans to lobby on this or any other issue.”

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) ignored a question about whether he would join Boehner in entering the marijuana industry upon his retirement.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) said he hopes Boehner will support marijuana reform legislation “so those most hurt by misguided War on Drugs can also benefit from society’s evolution on this issue.”

A U.S. Government Accountability Office study found that federal agencies are not effectively tracking the effectiveness of efforts to combat synthetic opioids.

The U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General released a report raising concerns about the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s handling of contracts.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is expected to advance a prison reform bill next week.

Here’s a look at White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s long involvement in international drug enforcement issues.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously adopted new sentencing guidelines for distribution of synthetic drugs.

New Mexico Democratic congressional candidate Deb Haaland tweeted, “We as a state and country need to legalize marijuana.  Treat the opioid crisis. Treat veterans with PTSD. Stop locking up people of color.  Help New Mexico’s lagging economy.”

Several Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidates discussed marijuana law reform during a forum.

/ STATES

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) signed a hemp bill into law using a pen made of hemp.

The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a bill to allow more medical cannabis qualifying conditions. Two representatives disclosed that they have possible conflicts of interest on marijuana legislation.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon tweeted about the importance of expunging prior marijuana convictions following legalization. She is also asking supporters to sign up for $4.20 per month campaign contribution pledges. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that legalization is currently a “non-starter.”

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich (D) tweeted, “It’s time we replace the disastrous War on Drugs with policies rooted in evidence, compassion, and justice for all Ohioans.”

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner praised new U.S. Senate industrial hemp legislation.

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on legislation to place a nonbinding marijuana legalization question on the November ballot as well as a separate bill to prohibit employers from refusing to hire, discharging or discriminating against people who test positive for medical cannabis use.

The Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee approved a hemp bill. Separately, a  senator filed CBD legislation.

A New Jersey assemblyman introduced a new marijuana legalization bill.

Maryland regulators approved the opening of seven new medical cannabis dispensaries.

/ LOCAL

Albuquerque, New Mexico’s mayor signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law.

The sheriff of Rogers County, Oklahoma said that passage of a medical cannabis ballot measure would be “demoralizing.”

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania city councilman is pushing to eliminate a policy that can cause reincarceration of parolees for positive marijuana tests.

The campaign of Denver, Colorado mayoral candidate Kayvan Khalatbari, a marijuana industry entrepreneur, raised $69,569 in the first quarter of 2018.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexico’s tourism minister said states should legalize marijuana.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 14.6% of Colorado workers “reported current marijuana use, with the highest reported prevalence among workers in the Accommodation and Food Services industry (30.1%) and Food Preparation and Serving (32.2%) occupations.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of U.S. adults found that 83% think marijuana should be legal in some form and that 64% believe cannabis has medical benefits.

/ BUSINESS  

DICA Distribution, a company founded by Weedmaps CEO Doug Francis, President Chris Beals and Chief Operating Officer Steven Jung received a conditional approval for a marijuana distribution facility in West Sacramento, California.

New Belgium Brewing launched an action center where people can ask lawmakers to legalize industrial hemp.

A survey of Eaze customers found that 82 % said they decreased their alcohol intake due to cannabis consumption.

Here’s a look at creative marketing tactics being used by Canadian marijuana companies.

/ CULTURE     

NORML put together a roundup of select 4/20 events.

Here’s a look at VICE’s Weed Week programming.

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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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