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Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Another Hurdle

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The Missouri Senate gave initial approval to a bill to legalize medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses on Tuesday.

The bill, which cleared the House earlier last week by a vote of 112-44, was referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Pensions by President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R) on a second reading. If approved there, the proposal would go back to the full Senate for a third reading vote and then potentially to the desk of Gov. Eric Greitens (R).

The bill as it currently reads would permit patients suffering from a serious illnesses such as cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to obtain “smokeless” medical cannabis. It was introduced by Rep. Jim Neely (R), a physician.

Political Dynamics Could Push Medical Cannabis To Passage

Missouri is a red state where 56 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election went to Donald Trump. Supporters of the bill are working hard to reinforce the idea that medical marijuana legalization is a part of the Trump agenda. Neely himself cited the president’s “leadership” on the issue as debate closed in the House last week.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said that he supports medical marijuana “100 percent.” And earlier this month, the president reportedly struck a deal with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), pledging to support efforts to protect states that have legalized marijuana from federal interference.

Passing a legalization measure in the Republican-majority Senate could deliver party members a political win, as there are three competing ballot initiatives to legalize medical cannabis that could qualify for the November ballot. All three campaigns submitted signatures to qualify their respective measures over the weekend.

Because Democrats generally support marijuana reform at higher rates than Republicans, it’s believed that having a legalization initiative on the ballot drives some Democratic turnout. That could pose a problem for Missouri Republicans in November if this current bill fails to pass, as it’s likely that at least one of the proposed initiatives to legalize will appear on the state ballot.

With the legislative session in Missouri ending later this month, however, the pressure is on to get the bill through committee and back to the full Senate in a timely manner. Any hold-up in committee or filibuster could jeopardize legislation’s chances of reaching Greitens’s desk this session.

Missouri Groups Deliver Signatures For Medical Marijuana Ballot Measures

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.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Politics

Hemp Legalization Is Officially Headed to President Trump’s Desk For Signature

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The 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize industrial hemp, is officially headed to President Donald Trump’s desk. The House passed the legislation on Wednesday, one day after the Senate approved it.

It’s been decades since the ban on hemp was imposed—a byproduct of the federal government’s war on marijuana and other drugs. The ban, it seems, will be lifted in a matter of days.

The House passed the bill, 369-47.

The votes come after months of debate over other aspects of the wide-ranging agriculture bill. But the hemp legalization provision, shepherded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has received bipartisan support at every step of the legislative process.

Hemp legalization made it through a conference committee where the Senate and House Agriculture Committees reconciled their respective versions of the bill. McConnell marked the occasion this week by signing the conference report with a hemp pen, which he said on Wednesday that the president was free to use to sign the bill into law.

The hemp provision would allow U.S. farmers to grow, process and sell the crop. The Justice Department would no longer have jurisdiction over hemp under the legislation; rather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would lightly regulate it.

One element of the hemp language created tension between lawmakers and advocates. The original Senate-passed bill prohibited people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry, but a compromise was reached last week that limited that ban in the final version to 10 years after the last offense.

House Democrats in the Agriculture Committee listed hemp legalization as one of several reasons they were calling for a “yes” vote on the legislation.

According to VoteHemp, if the president signs the bill before the year’s end, it will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Mitch McConnell Says Trump Can Borrow His Hemp Pen To Sign Farm Bill Into Law

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Politics

Marijuana Industry Border Issues Would Be Solved Under New Congressional Bill

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Marijuana can really mess up border and immigration issues for people who partake in consumption or participate in the industry, but that would change if a new bill being introduced in Congress this week is enacted.

Under current U.S. laws, people who admit to past cannabis use or who work for or invest in marijuana businesses can be barred from visiting the country under certain circumstances. And marijuana consumption, even if it is legal under state law, can lead to an immigrant being deported.

The new legislation, the Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry Act, would provide exceptions for conduct that “was lawful in the State, Indian Tribe, or foreign country in which the conduct occurred” or that was “subsequently made lawful under the law or regulation of such jurisdiction,” according to a draft obtained by Marijuana Moment.

The bill, known as the MAPLE Act for short—surely a nod to the leaf on Canada’s flag—is being filed on Wednesday by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

U.S. border policies on entry by marijuana industry participants were slightly loosened just ahead of the launch of Canada’s legal marijuana market in October to clarify that people working for cannabis businesses are generally admissible to the U.S., with the caveat that “if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

And that’s a key exception. Several Canadians traveling to a cannabis industry conference in Las Vegas last month were detained for hours, with one investor being given a lifetime ban from visiting the U.S.

While there is almost certainly not enough time for Blumenauer’s proposal to be considered and voted on by the end of the year, its language could easily be adopted into new legislation after the 116th Congress is seated in January.

In October, the congressman laid out a plan for a step-by-step approach to federally legalizing marijuana in 2019 in a memo to fellow House Democrats.

Marijuana Moment supporters on Patreon can read the full text of the new MAPLE Act below:

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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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Politics

Chicago Mayor Wants Legal Marijuana Revenue To Fund Pensions

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Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales should be earmarked to fund pension programs, the mayor of Chicago said on Wednesday.

“Illinois legislators will be taking a serious look next year at legalizing recreational marijuana,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said in a speech to the City Council. “Should they follow that course, a portion of that revenue could go toward strengthening our pension funds and securing the retirement of the workers who depend on them.”

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Photo courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil.

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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