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New Hampshire House approves legal cannabis (Newsletter: Jan. 10, 2018)

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VT Senate voting today; 2nd biggest VA city backs state decrim; Congressional bills get lots of new cosponsors

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The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a marijuana legalization bill.

Norfolk, Virginia, the second-largest city in the commonwealth, is calling on state lawmakers to decriminalize marijuana and expand the limited medical cannabis program.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet to discuss marijuana policy on Wednesday, as Gardner has already placed holds on numerous Department of Justice nominations over the issue. On Tuesday, Gardner led a meeting of a bipartisan group of senators to plan a pushback. U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) attended the meeting, reportedly with about ten other senators.

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner will host a listening session on prison reform at the White House on Thursday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said she’s working on legislation to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference.

Marijuana reform champion U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been appointed as a new member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who tweets a lot about cannabis lately but hasn’t yet cosponsored any legislation, was also named to the panel.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is concerned that medical cannabis is at risk under the new federal marijuana enforcement policy.

The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said, “We’re going to still continue to be in a position to prosecute those cases, and marijuana’s still illegal under federal law just like it was last week, so that doesn’t change.”

Four members of Colorado’s congressional delegation sent a letter asking Sessions to rethink his marijuana policy decision. Members of Congress from the state also held a meeting to plot strategy on Tuesday.

Nevada’s congressional delegation pushed back against the federal cannabis change as well. Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) wrote a letter telling congressional leaders she will oppose a big spending bill unless it includes protections for state marijuana laws. In an interview, she suggested the Trump administration change could spur legislative action. Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV) sent a letter urging Sessions to reverse his marijuana directive. Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV), who also opposes the federal shift, nevertheless  said, “I don’t think there’s a reason for panic.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) gave a House floor speech pushing back against the Trump administration’s marijuana move.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted about marijuana’s health benefits.

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got four new cosponsors, bringing the total to 19.

The U.S. House bill to exempt state-legal marijuana activity from the Controlled Substances Act got 11 new cosponsors, bringing the total to 35.

The U.S. House bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol got four new cosponsors, bringing the total to 21.

The U.S. House bill to create a federal tax structure for legal marijuana got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to nine.

/ STATES

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) sent a letter to President Trump requesting he support extending state medical cannabis protections.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said that federal prosecutors should not focus on marijuana.

Vermont’s Senate is set to vote on sending a House-passed marijuana legalization bill to the governor on Wednesday. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (VPP) suggested lawmakers might pass full-scale legal marijuana sales legislation this year after the noncommercial bill is signed into law.

Maine marijuana legalization supporters and opponents reportedly reached a deal on an implementation plan.

Michigan’s House speaker and other candidates for state attorney general are criticizing the federal marijuana policy change.

A Kansas representative who made racist comments about marijuana has stepped down from committee leadership positions following criticism.

New Jersey’s Senate Republican whip has “major concerns” about marijuana-impaired driving under legalization.

The State of New York is providing funding to open a hemp processing facility.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wakely supports legalizing marijuana.

A Florida judge ruled in favor of a black farmer in a medical cannabis licensing case.

A Mississippi representative introduced a marijuana legalization bill.

A California assemblyman is filing a bill to make it easier to expunge past marijuana convictions. Separately, regulators proposed a timeline and strategy for cannabis rulemaking.

A New Mexico representative filed a resolution calling on the state’s congressional delegation to “create new legislation protecting medicinal cannabis users in New Mexico from the threat of being sent to federal prison.”

A Nebraska senator introduced a bill to exempt substances containing ten percent or less CBD by weight and three-tenths of one percent or less THC by weight from the definition of marijuana.

The parents of a Vermont prosecutor who were arrested transporting 60 pounds of marijuana across the country last month were busted again, this time on suspicion of carrying drug money.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner approved more than 12,000 acres for industrial hemp research in 2018.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Paraguay President Horacio Cartes signed medical cannabis regulations.

Canadian Prime MInister Justin Trudeau answered questions about marijuana legalization at a town hall meeting.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox will host a marijuana conference at Centro Fox facilities in May.

/ ADVOCACY

Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos says he’s conflicted about the federal anti-marijuana move.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A survey found that 60% of adults in the Birmingham, Alabama metro area support legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use.

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board slammed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana move.

The News & Observer editorial board isn’t happy with the change either.

The Toledo Blade editorial board wants Congress to amend federal marijuana laws.

The Washington Times editorial board wants Sessions to “take the lead” in resolving the federal-state marijuana conflict.

/ BUSINESS

Medical cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been shut off from debit card processing in the wake of federal changes.

Iowa State University has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in damages and legal fees after a federal court found it improperly prevented a student group from making t-shirts that featured school mascot and a marijuana leaf.

/ CULTURE     

Jimmy Kimmel Live visited the MedMen marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.

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Cannabis part of deal to end gov’t shutdown? (Newsletter: Jan. 22, 2018)

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Poll: marijuana safer than sugar; Industry campaign funding for GOP; Roger Stone says Trump could lose reelection over marijuana

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As a federal shutdown went into effect,  U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) filed two far-reaching marijuana amendments he wants attached to legislation to re-open and fund the government.

A poll found that Americans think marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco or sugar, and that 60% support legalization.

/ FEDERAL

A USA Today analysis found that marijuana industry and advocacy federal campaign contributions heavily shifted toward Republican candidates for this election cycle.

Taylor Weyeneth, the 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker who suddenly ascended a a post at the top of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was previously fired from a law firm because he “just didn’t show” up for work.

Members of Congress told Rolling Stone that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana move may backfire and spur efforts to change federal laws.

  • Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): “It’s a big plus for our efforts that the federal government is now aware that our constituents have been alerted. We can be confident we can win this fight, because this is a freedom issue.”
  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): “I’m hopeful that this action is going to have a powerful reaction. This is a movement that’s going to happen, and I’m glad to see I’ve got partners on the Republican side of the aisle that are very animated on this issue.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “California’s marijuana legalization will also restore the voting rights for up to one million people and make it easier for them to apply for licenses, apartments, and jobs. This is smart criminal justice policy that we need nationwide.”

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana and withhold funding from states with racially discriminatory cannabis enforcement got  five new cosponsors, bringing the total to 23.

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got three new cosponsors, bringing the total to 28.

The U.S. House bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 67.

The U.S. House bill to remove the 280E tax penalty on marijuana businesses got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 41.

The U.S. House bill to respect state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to four.

The U.S. House CBD medical cannabis bill got seven new cosponsors, bringing the total to 30.

The U.S. Senate bill to protect water rights for hemp growers got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to six.

California Democratic congressional candidate Andrew Janz, a former prosecutor, said he supports legalizing and rescheduling marijuana.

/ STATES

There’s still no word on whether Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has signed marijuana legalization into law as promised. Monday is the deadline for him to act. Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor will host a town hall meeting on marijuana law reform on Monday evening.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) says he doesn’t support pending medical cannabis legislation.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) appointed another police chief to the Marijuana Control Board.

Minnesota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Liebling, currently a state representative, supports legalizing marijuana.

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidates oppose legalizing marijuana.

Colorado Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty said he would defend the marijuana industry from federal attacks.

A Maine legislative committee voted to extend a moratorium on legal marijuana sales until mid-April.

Virginia’s Senate majority leader filed a bill to replace jail time for first-time marijuana possession with a fine. The bill stops short of removing cannabis criminalization, maintaining it as a misdemeanor.

Massachusetts lawmakers filed a bill to prohibit public employees from assisting federal actions against state-legal marijuana activity.

Hawaii senators introduced a bill claiming that “federal scheduling of cannabis as a controlled substance does not apply to the medical use of cannabis in Hawaii because the medical use of cannabis in Hawaii is currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

A Utah representative filed a bill to allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis. Meanwhile, activists say they have collected 95,000 signatures toward qualifying a broader medical marijuana ballot initiative.

California’s Cannabis Advisory Committee will examine taxes that some growers and retailers say are too high.

Iowa representatives filed a resolution calling on the federal government to reschedule marijuana.

Pennsylvania senators filed a resolution calling on Congress to “amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 to protect the constitutional rights of medical cannabis users.”

Florida regulators issued a warning about “medical marijuana scams.”

Oregon regulators will consider new marijuana rules on Thursday.

Nearly half of unsuccessful Ohio medical cannabis cultivation license applicants plan to appeal their denials.

/ LOCAL

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said he is skeptical about marijuana legalization but it willing to study it. He also said that the 17,000 cannabis arrests in the city over the past year is “a normal level in the sense of what we were trying to achieve.”

The East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana council will vote on a proposal to avoid low-level marijuana arrests on Wednesday.

A Prospect, Kentucky assistant police chief suggested that cops should shoot African-American teenagers for smoking marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau is endorsing a plan to allow cultivation of marijuana for research.

France’s minister of economy and finance said he opposes decriminalizing marijuana.

/ ADVOCACY

Trump ally Roger Stone said the president will lose reelection if his administration launches a marijuana crackdown.

The Drug Policy Alliance will release a report tracking the results of marijuana legalization on Tuesday.

Marijuana Policy Project staffer Heather Fazio, who focuses on Texas legislation, is leaving the organization to join MPP founder and former executive director Rob Kampia’s new Marijuana Leadership Campaign.

The Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police is opposing pending marijuana law reform legislation.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “cannabidiol has been well-tolerated in pediatric patients and may be an effective treatment for medically intractable epilepsy.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that West Virginia likely votes support medical cannabis, 67%-30%, but oppose legalizing marijuana, 34%-62%.

The Burlington Free Press editorial board is pushing Vermont lawmakers to tax and regulate marijuana sales.

The Star-Ledger editorial board wants New Jersey to legalize marijuana.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board is calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to participate in medical cannabis research.

/ BUSINESS

Arizona medical cannabis sales rose considerably in 2017.

/ CULTURE     

Check out this editorial cartoon about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana moves.

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Trump admin considers gutting cannabis banking protections (Newsletter: Jan. 19, 2018)

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Shutdown jeopardizes medical marijuana protections; DEA loosens cannabis research restrictions; RI gov backs big MMj expansion; Drug czar budget cut?

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A top U.S. Treasury Department official testified in a Senate hearing  that the Trump administration is considering rescinding an Obama-era memo on bank access for marijuana businesses. In a related development, a bipartisan group of 15 U.S. senators sent a letter asking that the cannabis banking protections be continued.

A possible government shutdown beginning Friday at midnight, and its resulting lapse of state medical cannabis protections, would put patients and providers at risk of federal prosecution. Short-term extension legislation was approved by the House on Thursday, but Senate passage is in serious jeopardy.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump is again considering severely slashing the budget for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is slightly streamlining the rigorous approval process to research Schedule I drugs such as marijuana by applications to be submitted online instead of by mail.

President Trump tweeted, “We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!”

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and seven cosponsors introduced a House companion to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) medical cannabis research bill.

A bipartisan group of California U.S. House members are pressuring U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to do more to push back on federal anti-marijuana moves.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) tweeted, “The Attorney General’s witch hunt against legally-operating, state-regulated #marijuana businesses in states like #Florida favors drug dealers and cartels operating ILLEGALLY and hurts LEGAL small business owners’ ability to compete.”

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) issued press releases about their signing an amicus brief challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s position on CBD.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) tweeted, “The war on drugs unjustly targeted communities of color—I’m proud to be part of efforts to reverse its discriminatory legacy and empower marginalized communities.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted, “It’s time to end the federal prohibition and LEGALIZE (regulate) MARIJUANA. Period. Full Stop.”

The U.S. House bill to prevent federal agencies from punishing people complying with state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to five.

The U.S. House bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks for two new cosponsors, bringing the total to 66.

The U.S. House comprehensive medical cannabis bill got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 26.

The U.S. House bill to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to three.

Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath called for rescheduling marijuana.

/ STATES

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said he will sign marijuana legalization legislation before Monday’s deadline but will do so in private instead of holding a bill signing ceremony.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) proposed significantly expanding the number of medical cannabis dispensaries, granting reciprocity to Massachusetts and Connecticut patients and adding acute pain as a qualifying condition. Republican House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who is running for governor, criticized the plan.

Illinois lawmakers will hold a marijuana legalization hearing on Monday. Separately, every Democratic candidate for attorney general supports legalizing cannabis.

Massachusetts regulators have reached out to the state’s U.S. attorney following his concerning comments on marijuana enforcement. Meanwhile, regulators are holding a series of public meetings around the state next month.

A Nebraska senator filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters whether to allow medical cannabis in a November ballot measure.

A bicameral group of Tennessee lawmakers introduced medical cannabis legislation.

Iowa’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to lower penalties for first-time marijuana offenders.

Some Missouri Republican lawmakers want to pre-empt potential medical cannabis ballot measures by passing legislation on the topic.

Colorado regulators released a report finding that more people are now informed about the health effects of marijuana than before the start of a public education campaign funded by legalization tax revenue.

The Florida Supreme Court disbarred a lawyer for telling clients they could  possess, use and grow medical cannabis — more than two years before voters approved such a system.

/ LOCAL

The Savannah, Georgia City Council discussed a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

/ ADVOCACY

The National Governors Association released recommendations on responding to opioid issues. One part of the document read:

  • “The rise in the number of people with substance use disorders, together with the decriminalization, medical use, and legalization of marijuana has caused a corresponding increase in the number of drivers under the influence of controlled substances and motor vehicle fatalities. Without an effective way to test for the presence of these drugs, the risk to the motoring public is substantial and growing.”

Marijuana Business Daily takes a look at internal disputes at the National Cannabis Industry Association.

The Vermont Medical Society and American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter urged Gov. Phil Scott (R) not to sign marijuana legalization into law.

/ BUSINESS

Eaze released a report detailing cannabis consumer trends based on data from its 350,000 users and 15,000 survey respondents.

Franwell’s Metrc was chosen as Massachusetts’s seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system.CNN looks at the marijuana industry’s banking and tax woes.

A study examined cannabis consumers’ use of various social media platforms.

Bloomberg takes a look at how Canadian marijuana companies are preparing to deal with restrictions on advertising and branding under legalization.

/ CULTURE     

Former NBA player Al Harrington wrote a lengthy post on why he supports marijuana law reform.

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GOP congressman says “merchants of addiction” push cannabis (Newsletter: Jan. 18, 2018)

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V.A. sec. clarifies cannabis research comments; KY GOP senator files legalization bill; MD racial disparity study

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During a debate on an amendment to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference, U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said, “Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way. They make it for addiction.”

The Kentucky Senate’s Republican caucus chair introduced a bill to legalize marijuana. Meanwhile, Gov. Matt Bevin (R) says he’s open to medical cannabis but not recreational legalization.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin clarified that his department can do research on medical cannabis but faces restrictions in doing so. (1:56:50 into the video.)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly blocking sentencing reform from becoming part of the White House’s agenda.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 18 cosponsors  introduced a bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold funding from states with racial disparities in cannabis enforcement. She, along with Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), discussed the bill on Facebook Live.

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) and three cosponsors introduced a bill to restrict civil asset forfeiture funds from being used for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication / Suppression Program.

Thirty-one U.S. House members sent a letter urging the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to maintain existing guidance on the marijuana industry’s access to banking services.

Ten Democratic U.S. senators sent a letter to President Trump criticizing the fact that he hasn’t appointed leaders for the Drug Enforcement Administration or Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Four U.S. House members delivered successive floor speeches condemning federal interference with state marijuana laws.

Earlier in the day, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) delivered a House floor speech criticizing Sessions’s anti-marijuana move.

As did Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR).

Connecticut’s U.S. attorney said he would “continue to prosecute violations of federal law consistent with priorities established by the Justice Department and our office.”

While the Massachusetts U.S. attorney issued a marijuana enforcement statement that concerned many in the industry, people who know him say he is unlikely to crack down.

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN) spoke about federal intervention in state marijuana policies in a joint appearance on C-SPAN.

Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) is criticizing the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs for blocking medical cannabis research.

The U.S. Senate comprehensive medical cannabis bill got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to nine.

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 25.

The U.S. House bill to exempt state-legal marijuana activity from the Controlled Substances Act got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 40.

The U.S. House bill to allow marijuana businesses to access banks got six new cosponsors, bringing the total to 64.

The U.S. House bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 23.

/ STATES

At least half a dozen New Jersey Democratic senators are opposed to marijuana legalization, putting its passage in serious jeopardy.

Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidates discussed marijuana legalization at a forum.

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich, a former congressman, said he would protect “Ohio’s right to dispense medical marijuana” from federal interference.

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn said he supports legalizing marijuana and would pardon everyone with low-level cannabis convictions.

A study requested by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) recommended “the use of race- and gender-based measures to remediate discrimination affecting minority- and women-owned businesses in the types of industries relevant to the medical cannabis business.”

Colorado’s attorney general spoke about her efforts to defend the state’s marijuana laws from federal interference.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) discussed his proposal for the state to study legalizing marijuana. Separately, an assemblymember introduced a bill to add opioid use disorder as a medical cannabis qualifying condition.

Rhode Island’s marijuana legalization study commission heard from Massachusetts officials.

The Florida Senate Health Committee approved a bill to repeal a requirement that a medical cannabis cultivation license be issued to a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.

West Virginia lawmakers filed legislation to allow the smoking of medical cannabis.

Michigan representatives introduced a resolution calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to respect the state’s “constitutionally-protected right to regulate medical marihuana at the state level, and if he fails to do so, we call upon the President of the United States to replace him with a successor who will more faithfully fulfill this constitutional duty.”

A Pennsylvania senator is introducing a resolution calling for marijuana to be rescheduled. Separately, regulators issued guidance on medical cannabis testing.

California regulators released a series of videos to help marijuana businesses learn about their tax responsibilities.

Nevada Sen. Tick Segerblom (D) disclosed that he sits on the board of a Canadian marijuana company.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The National Assembly for Wales voted to pressure the UK government to allow medical cannabis.

/ ADVOCACY

A poll funded by prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana found that 49% of US. voters support legalization, another 29% support medical cannabis, 5% back decriminalization and 16% support keeping current policy as-is.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study determined that “cannabis use is associated with reduced incidence of liver disease in alcoholics.”

A study concluded that “new medical cannabis legislation might reduce the need for opioid analgesics for pain management, which could help to address adverse events associated with opioid analgesic use.”

A study found that “while individuals who use cannabis or cigarettes during adolescence have an increased risk of subsequent psychotic experiences, epidemiological evidence is substantively more robust for cannabis use than it is for tobacco use.”

/ BUSINESS

Pennsylvania’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened.

/ CULTURE     

Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs spoke about his thoughts on marijuana legalization.MMA fighter Cynthia Calvillo tested positive for marijuana metabolites.

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