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McConnell slipping hemp legalization into Farm Bill (Newsletter: April 27, 2018)

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VT could have votes to legalize sales; Trump lawyer loaned millions to marijuana biz; MI legalization on ballot

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is moving to include the language of his hemp legalization legislation into the broader Farm Bill expected to advance in Congress next month.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified that activists collected enough signatures to place a marijuana legalization initiative on the state’s November ballot. Now the Republican-led legislature has a chance to enact legalization themselves or allow the measure to go before voters, which could boost Democratic turnout. But the GOP House speaker indicated his chamber would not be voting on the measure.

Barely three months after legalizing low-level marijuana possession and  homegrow, Vermont lawmakers now believe they have the votes to enact a broader system of legal cannabis sales.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced more questions about marijuana during his second day in a row of appearances on Capitol Hill.

A poll from Quinnipiac University found record-high support for legalizing marijuana among U.S. voters.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, reportedly loaned millions of dollars to a businessman involved in the marijuana industry.

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration official Elinore McCance-Katz said marijuana is “not a safe drug.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other lawmakers held a press conference to tout new legislation removing roadblocks to marijuana research. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has promised to move the bill to a vote, Gaetz said.

U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) and other lawmakers held a roundtable meeting to discuss a bill to encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is about stopping our country from repeating the same mistakes of the past. Too many lives have been ruined because of the War on Drugs and our regressive policies.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) said she supports descheduling marijuana but prefers certain legislation to accomplish that over others.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “As corporations profit from legal weed, marijuana arrests continue to go up in many communities of color. The #MarijuanaJusticeAct would legalize cannabis, expunge prior convictions, and invest in the communities most ravaged by the failed war on drugs.”

The U.S. House bill to prevent federal agencies from going after people who are in compliance with state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, for a total of 11.

Potential Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lincoln Chafee, a former senator and governor, said he would fight for marijuana rescheduling.

/ STATES

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) has on his desk a bill to legalize CBD products.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said he is not against medical cannabis but opposes a proposed ballot initiative on the issue. And Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) tweeted, “Am I crazy for thinking that medical marijuana has a much bigger chance to impact turnout and change the electoral demographic this year?”

The Illinois Senate approved a bill to allow people to get medical cannabis for any “medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care,” and to expand the program in other ways.

The Colorado Senate approved a bill to treat hemp like any other food ingredient.

The Louisiana House of Representatives defeated legislation to lift the cap on medical cannabis pharmacy licenses. And the House Criminal Justice Committee voted to defer two bills to decriminalize marijuana.

Missouri legislative analysts estimated that more than 150,000 patient and caregiver registration cards would be issued annually under a pending medical cannabis bill.

Alaska regulators proposed rules on plant counts, new strain introduction, seed-to-sale tracking and to define mature and immature marijuana plants. They are also considering separate proposed rules on signs, merchandise, advertisements and promotions for licensed marijuana businesses.

Michigan regulators will receive public testimony on adding new medical cannabis qualifying conditions on Friday.

The law firm of former New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), who opposed legalization during her failed gubernatorial campaign, is a member of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association.

/ 👀

On Thursday, I received a Justice Department response to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed back in 2015 about federal marijuana policy. The feds say there are 505 pages (!) of responsive documents…but they are referring my request to another office for processing.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government released financial and employment data about the country’s licensed marijuana producers. Separately, the British Columbia government filed proposed legal marijuana regulation legislation.

/ ADVOCACY

The UK’s Royal College of Physicians is calling for the decriminalization of all drugs.

The Utah Democratic Party will consider endorsing medical cannabis this weekend.

The National Cannabis Industry Association has retained VS Strategies and Steve Fox to bolster its federal lobbying efforts, and is hiring Morgan Fox away from the Marijuana Policy Project as its new media relations director.

Prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana posted an overview of a recent conference it hosted, including a claim that its side is “winning.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

University of Utah researchers are starting a $740,000 study examining how compounds in marijuana affect the human brain.

/ BUSINESS  

Dixie Brands Inc. is considering an initial public offering.

USA Today looks at how legal marijuana might affect the alcohol industry.

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Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Bloomberg puts cannabis decrim in new plan (Newsletter: February 19, 2020)

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Feds won’t CBD test workers; MN House leader to file legal marijuana bill soon; Poll: VT legal sales support; CO cannabis funds for roads & safety

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There are now 1,304 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2020 sessions.

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate, released a criminal justice plan that includes decriminalizing marijuana, commuting sentences and expunging records—but does not include legalizing cannabis. It says that decisions on cannabis laws should be left to states “for the moment” and that “further scientific study is required to assess the health effects of marijuana.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a memo saying that workers in safety-sensitive jobs like pilots and bus drivers won’t be tested for CBD but that they should still be wary about consuming such products due to potentially positive drug tests for marijuana.

Minnesota’s House majority leader announced at a rally also attended by the state attorney general that he will be filing a marijuana legalization bill within the next two weeks.

A poll found that 76% of Vermont residents support legalizing marijuana sales. Several House committees have approved a cannabis commercialization bill in recent weeks, and a floor vote is expected in the coming days.

Colorado marijuana business profits and the tax revenue they generate are helping to fund efforts to reduce bullying in schools and clean up highways.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump commuted the sentences of several people, including a woman who has spent the past 12 years in prison for involvement with a marijuana smuggling operation.

The Bureau of Land Management sent a press release celebrating agents who did “outstanding work to end marijuana cultivation on America’s public lands.”

Former Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director Bertha Madras tweeted, “At Logan airport Boston. CNN is showing pro-marijuana infomercial (“Weeds”) with airport filled with children on holiday travel. Shame on producer of daytime programming.”

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) sent a press release in which the Family Research Council praises him for voting to “reject the increasing acceptance of marijuana use,” among other things.

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) tweeted, “While Democrats like @MikeBloomberg talk down to farmers and blue-collar workers, the original entrepreneurs of this country, I’ve been a champion for #VA05 farmers. I’ve worked hard to promote hemp production in Virginia and pushed to pass the #USMCA, which is a win for America!”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Almost 66,000 marijuana convictions will be dismissed in Los Angeles — the largest effort in California’s history. Imagine the positive change we could create in people’s lives by ending marijuana prohibition and expunging prior offenses nationwide.”

New York Democratic congressional candidate Melquiades Gagarin tweeted, “I support ending the war on drugs because I saw first hand the communities struggling through the opioid crisis left to fend for themselves.”

/ STATES

A Rhode Island judge ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law shields from criminal charges not only the person who calls for help in a potential drug overdose situation, but also the person who is experiencing the medical emergency.

The Georgia House Agriculture Committee approved a bill to make it a crime to transport hemp without accompanying paperwork showing it was legally produced in accordance with a license.

The Utah Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill to revise medical cannabis regulations.

The Oklahoma House Rules Committee advanced several marijuana regulatory reform bills, including one that would allow delivery services.

The Connecticut House Progressive Caucus included marijuana legalization in its 2020 priorities.

The Maine legislature’s Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill to let people expunge records for certain minor non-violent crimes including marijuana possession.

The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will hold a Wednesday hearing on a bill to prevent employees from being fired for using state-legal marijuana outside of work.

Florida regulators issued complaints against two doctors for allegedly improperly issuing medical cannabis recommendations.

Michigan regulators published an advisory bulletin about participation by marijuana businesses in temporary events.

A Pennsylvania representative held a press conference to tout his new marijuana legalization bill.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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.

/ LOCAL

Kansas City, Missouri’s mayor began accepting applications from people requesting pardons for past marijuana possession convictions.

The Hillsborough, Florida County Commission is expected to vote on a marijuana decriminalization proposal on Wednesday.

Denver, Colorado officials are extending the window to participate in a survey on cannabis business and employment opportunity.

/ INTERNATIONAL

A top Mexican senator spoke about how lawmakers are working to achieve consensus on marijuana legalization legislation.

The prices of marijuana extracts vary wildly between Canadian provinces.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “THC and CBD inhibited the proliferation and expression of [endothelial growth factor receptor] in the lung cancer cells studied.”

A review concluded that “in addition to potential cannabis-related dermal exposures, ergonomic stressors, and psychosocial issues, the studies found employees in cultivation, harvesting, and processing facilities could potentially be exposed to allergens and respiratory hazards through inhalation of organic dusts (including fungus, bacteria, and endotoxin) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione” and that “these hazards were most evident during the decarboxylation and grinding of dried cannabis material, where elevated job-specific concentrations of VOCs and endotoxin were generated.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New Zealanders oppose a marijuana legalization referendum, 39%-48%.

A poll found that Canadian adults oppose decriminalizing drug possession, 53%-47%, and oppose decriminalizing drug use, 64%-36%.

A group of Connecticut clergy held a press conference to build support for marijuana legalization.

/ BUSINESS

Colorado retailers sold $1.75 billion worth of recreational and medical marijuana products in 2019.

/ CULTURE

Former wrestler Kevin Nash joined CBD company No Borders Naturals as a brand ambassador and spokesman.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Treasury secretary talks cannabis biz tax incentives (Newsletter: February 18, 2020)

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NFL weighs marijuana penalty reduction; Study: Medical cannabis reduces ADHD drug use; ABA approves marijuana banking & lawyers resolutions

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was pressed again during a recent Senate hearing on whether marijuana businesses should be able to qualify for Opportunity Zone tax benefits.

National Football League penalties for players who use marijuana would be “dramatically reduced” under a draft collective bargaining agreement that’s now circulating, and the drug testing window would reportedly shrink from four months to just two weeks.

The American Bar Association approved resolutions calling on Congress to pass a marijuana banking bill and clarify that lawyers can advise cannabis business clients without violating federal law.

A study found that “higher-dose consumption of [medical cannabis] components (phyto-cannabinoids and terpenes) is associated with ADHD medication reduction.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments next month in a case on whether a police officer in a state that has decriminalized marijuana can justify a search of a car based on probable cause to believe that still-federally-illegal cannabis is inside.

The U.S.Forest Service touted marijuana eradication efforts in documents justifying its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted about the controversial marijuana enforcement comments of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) discussed his work on marijuana legislation in a speech to the National Congress of American Indians.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) tweeted, “We have the chance to work towards providing citizens with the chance to solve major health problems without the use of prescription drugs. Support for marijuana legalization in New Mexico has increased steadily in recent years.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Support for legalizing marijuana over time: ➡️ 1989: 16% ➡️ 1999: 31% ➡️ 2019: 67% All of those who join me in fighting for an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis are on the right side of history.”

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), who recently ended his presidential campaign, asked his Twitter followers to watch his daughter’s CNN story about flower growers switching to the marijuana industry.

/ STATES

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said she needs to spend more time working with lawmakers to build support for marijuana legalization. Separately, the legislature sent her a bill to limit the medical cannabis program to in-state residents.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said it’s a “priority” to legalize marijuana this year.

Alabama’s House speaker said he is in “wait and see mode” on medical cannabis legislation.

The Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill to prioritize marijuana business license applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Michigan regulators issued a technical bulletin about potency variance in marijuana packaging.

Arkansas regulators will consider alleged rules violations by a medical cannabis company on February 26.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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.

/ LOCAL

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s district attorney tweeted, “Criminalization of cannabis disproportionately harmed black and low-income people. The benefits of decriminalization, including profit, must be offered in a way that is proportional to prior damage done.”

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board approved “in principle” a resolution to allow the use of CBD to treat severe forms of epilepsy. The Senate president said that lawmakers now have less of a need to take up medical cannabis legislation in light of regulators’ move.

Candidates for leader of the UK Labour Party discussed marijuana decriminalization during a debate.

Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic is set to open.

Colombian and Brazilian officials met to discuss marijuana policy.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review “identified studies demonstrating an inhibitory effect of cannabinoids on skin inflammation, proliferation, fibrosis, pain, and itch—biological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of many dermatologic conditions” and concluded that “cannabinoids have the potential to expand the therapeutic repertoire of a wide spectrum of skin disorders.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Daily News editorial board is calling on lawmakers to legalize marijuana this session.

Major Republican donor Miriam Adelson spoke about how she believes “cannabis is indeed a gateway drug to potentially deadly opioids.”

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy released a voter guide for upcoming primary elections.

/ BUSINESS

Michigan retailers sold $9.8 million worth of recreational marijuana products in January.

/ CULTURE

The Onion quipped that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is polling “poorly among African American men who were between 16 and 25 years old when they were arrested for possession of marijuana during his tenure as mayor of New York.”

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Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Border Patrol union head admits legal cannabis disrupts cartels (Newsletter: February 17, 2020)

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Bloomberg anti-marijuana remarks on tape; Support grows for veterans cannabis research bill; Study examines CBD for horse stress & pain

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The 2015 recording of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate, discussing racist police practices that has generated controversy in recent days also contains previously unreported comments about marijuana legalization.

  • “It is just a terrible, terrible idea… I just can’t imagine why society is doing this… If you’re my age, of course you smoked a joint in the 60s—but it was very different and just because we did doesn’t make it right… Today it’s much stronger and potentially much more damaging.”

The president of the National Border Patrol Council—a labor union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents—acknowledged in an interview that legalizing marijuana pushes cartels out of the cannabis market.

Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) Clay Higgins (R-LA) are working to shore up support for their bill to expand medical marijuana research for veterans. Nearly a quarter of the House members are already signed on as cosponsors, but the Veterans’ Affairs Committee hasn’t yet scheduled a vote.

Marijuana Moment spoke to the lead researcher in a new study that’s examining whether CBD can help reduce stress, inflammation and obsessive compulsive behaviors in horses.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report on the growth of Germany’s hemp market.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “The President’s new budget would end @TheJusticeDept’s policy not to interfere in states’ marijuana laws. Just more proof that federal marijuana policies are broken & outdated. I support legalization – & @SenCoryGardner & I have a bipartisan bill to end the federal marijuana ban.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), a presidential candidate, said he resigned from the board of Acreage Holdings, Inc. so he can focus on his campaign.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) visited Denver to meet with marijuana industry professionals.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Here’s our three step plan to legalize marijuana: ✅ End federal prohibition ✅ Expunge prior offenses for use ✅ Invest the tax revenue in black and brown communities across America that have been harmed by the war on drugs.”

The House bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got two new cosponsors for a total of 104.

The House bill to shield military veterans from losing benefits over state-legal marijuana use got one new cosponsor for a total of 17.

West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Richard Ojeda tweeted, “I would like to open the jail cells and let everyone out who have been incarcerated for marijuana issues.  Then we can free up jail space for the real criminals.”

/ STATES

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) made his first appointments to the new Cannabis Compliance Board.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) tweeted, “Industrial hemp is creating jobs all across New Mexico! … The hemp manufacturing industry is delivering on its incredible economic potential all across New Mexico, just one example of how our investments in the state economy are reaching every corner of the state, both rural and urban.” Separately, the Senate approved a bill to limit the medical cannabis program to only in-state residents. Meanwhile, the House speaker said he will recuse himself from voting on that legislation to due to his role as an attorney for a marijuana business and patients in a related lawsuit, and the House minority leader objected to the process by which the bill is advancing.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor predicted that Republican lawmakers will come around to ending marijuana prohibition once more neighboring states enact legalization. Separately, regulators noted the two-year anniversary of medical cannabis sales in a tweet.

Kentucky’s House speaker said a floor vote on medical cannabis legalization could happen as soon as this week.

Rhode Island’s House speaker said that municipalities, rather than the state, should take the lead on regulating marijuana.

Oklahoma regulators set an April 1 deadline for all medical cannabis products to be tested prior to being sold.

The Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with Lightshade to distribute bouquets with messages about not driving under the influence of marijuana for Valentine’s Day.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office released an analysis of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) marijuana-related budget proposals.

Iowa regulators voted on recommendations to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

Here’s a look at Massachusetts’s failure to fulfill a provision of the state’s legalization law aimed at allocating marijuana tax revenue to communities harmed by the drug war and to police training.

A Missouri senator said that the fact he did not disclose an investment in a medical cannabis business while criticizing regulators in a floor speech did not represent a conflict of interest.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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.


/ INTERNATIONAL

St. Kitts and Nevis lawmakers approved legislation to establish medical cannabis regulations, expand marijuana decriminalization and expunge past records.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was pressed by the Labour Party’s leader about the practice of deporting people convicted of drug offenses.

The former president of the United Nations’s International Narcotics Control Board has been hired as president of the Thai Cannabis Corporation.

The chairman of the Mexico Senate Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development hosted a forum on marijuana legalization.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “adjunctive CBD resulted in a greater reduction in convulsive seizure frequency than placebo and a higher rate of [adverse events] in patients with [Dravet syndrome] presenting with seizures uncontrolled by concomitant antiepileptic therapy.”

A study suggested that “psilocybin may increase emotional and brain plasticity, and the reported findings support the hypothesis that negative affect may be a therapeutic target for psilocybin.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The California Cannabis Industry Association distanced itself from a labor peace agreement white paper its Human Resources Committee published after it was called out as anti-union.

Questions are being raised about whether ProTech Local 33, which says it is actively organizing marijuana industry workers, is actually a bona fide labor organization.

Local Washington, D.C. sex work activists are pushing back against the involvement of Marijuana Policy Project founder Rob Kampia, who has been accused of workplace sexual misconduct, in a planned effort to put a prostitution decriminalization measure on the city’s ballot.

/ BUSINESS

Canopy Growth Corporation reported $124 million in quarterly net revenue and a loss of $92 million.

Charlotte’s Web, Inc. is facing a proposed class action lawsuit over its alleged failure to make its website compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Pennsylvania medical cannabis dispensary Justice Grown is being sued by its former pharmacist who says she was fired after refusing to illegally sample the shop’s products.

Tests by Vertosa show that liners in aluminum cans can reduce the potency of marijuana-infused drinks.

/ CULTURE

Former basketball player Charles Barkley said he is open to players using cannabis medicinally.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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