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Obama says GOP was “handy excuse’ for cannabis inaction (Newsletter: November 20, 2020)

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Mexico Senate approves legal marijuana; RI hearing on legalization push in 2021; NJ committees approve cannabis sales bills; SXSW drug panel proposals

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Mexico Senate approved a bill to legalize marijuana. The Chamber of Deputies still needs to sign off before it becomes law, and advocates have several big concerns with the current legislation.

In his new memoir, former President Barack Obama writes that a decision early in his administration to negotiate with Republicans gave him a “handy excuse” to deflect suggestions that he work to legalize marijuana. Obama also briefly discusses the political implications of his own past cannabis use in the book.

At a Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee hearing, lawmakers said marijuana legalization has momentum heading into 2021—but many members are skeptical about Gov. Gina Raimondo’s (D) plan to put cannabis sales in state-run stores.

  • “I certainly do think we’ll act on the issue, whether it’s more private or more state. I’m optimistic to take this up early in the next session.”

The New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved amended legislation to implement legal marijuana sales despite pushback from equity advocates. But because each panel made differing changes from one another, further bicameral negotiation will be needed.

South by Southwest is accepting online votes for dozens of proposed marijuana and psychedelics panels for the 2021 festival. The sessions cover topics from equity in the cannabis industry to psilocybin for mental health care and much more. Voting ends Friday.

/ FEDERAL

Former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters coauthored an op-ed criticizing successful state marijuana and drug policy reform measures.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) criticized Democrats in a floor speech for including cannabis industry diversity study provisions in coronavirus relief legislation.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) tweeted, “Republicans want more money for schools, vaccines, #COVID testing and the #PaycheckProtectionProgram. @SenSchumer and @SpeakerPelosi STILL insist on passing the HEROES Act, which mentions marijuana more than it mentions jobs. It’s time they got serious about helping Americans.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “The failed war on drugs has devastated Black and brown communities, yet less than 1% of cannabis licenses go to African American or Latino entrepreneurs. Cannabis reform is a racial justice issue.”

/ STATES

North Carolina’s attorney general tweeted, “In addition to recommending the decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana, the Task Force recommends automatic expungement for anyone with a prior conviction. Again, we don’t need to be burdening people with criminal records unnecessarily. And it should be fair to all.”

Utah’s Senate majority leader is cosponsoring a bill to make it easier for doctors to recommend medical cannabis.

New York’s Assembly majority leader reiterated her position that marijuana legalization revenue should be directed toward helping communities harmed by past enforcement.

A California judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by counties seeking to block regulations allowing marijuana delivery services to operate even in areas that ban cannabis storefronts.

A Pennsylvania court ruled that a worker who was fired for medical cannabis use is entitled to unemployment benefits.

Michigan regulators are reportedly drafting legislation to merge the state’s recreational marijuana and medical cannabis businesses into one license type.

Colorado regulators sent a bulletin about fraud attempts against marijuana businesses.

Illinois regulators are being sued for allegedly failing to grade a marijuana dispensary license application.

Alaska regulators will discuss marijuana transportation layovers and other cannabis issues on Monday.

Kansas regulators will hold a hearing on hemp rules on Monday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,500 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

The Tulsa, Oklahoma City Council voted to allow drive-thru medical cannabis dispensaries.

Portland, Oregon’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team met.

Denver, Colorado regulators will hold a briefing on the impact of coronavirus and resulting policies on the marijuana industry on Friday.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that CBD is not a narcotic drug and member nations cannot prohibit its free movement between countries.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “hemp inflorescences can be used as a source of natural antioxidants in vegetable oils and lipid products to retard their oxidation, especially those characterized by a high degree of unsaturation.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Law Enforcement Action Partnership has a new executive director.

/ BUSINESS

TerrAscend Corp.  reported $51 million in net quarterly sales and a net loss of $17.5 million.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. is partnering with  the University at Buffalo’s  Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences on hemp cannabinoid research.

/ CULTURE

Olivia Newton-John tweeted that a company is falsely claiming to sell CBD oil endorsed by her.

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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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Biden taps legal cannabis supporter for DNC chair (Newsletter: January 19, 2021)

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More NY legal marijuana details; AMA asks court to overturn MS cannabis initiative; Hopes dim for NH legalization

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) released more details of his marijuana legalization plan, including an effort to “correct past harms by investing in areas that have disproportionally been impacted by the war on drugs.” The governor’s full budget language, including the cannabis proposal, is expected on Tuesday.

Jaime Harrison, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Democratic National Committee, supports marijuana legalization—unlike the president-elect.

The American Medical Association filed a brief asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to step in and overturn the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana ballot measure.

The prospects of legalizing marijuana in New Hampshire are greatly diminished this year after Republicans won control of the state Senate and House of Representatives in November’s elections.

/ FEDERAL

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) tweeted that a new Netflix documentary about crack cocaine is a “must watch.”

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) argued that ending construction of the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico “will only allow more drugs to flow from Mexican drug cartels, risking even more American lives.”

/ STATES

North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner is backing a bill to have state hemp policy mirror federal law.

Hawaii’s Senate majority leader said the need to raise tax revenue could boost efforts to legalize marijuana but argued that other states haven’t seen huge windfalls from the move.

The Minnesota House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee will hear an update on hemp rulemaking on Wednesday.

A New York senator said legalizing marijuana is “100% going to happen this year.”

An Idaho senator filed a proposed constitutional amendment to block the legalization of marijuana and other drugs..

Arizona regulators will begin accepting applications from medical cannabis dispensaries that want to sell recreational marijuana on Tuesday, but it’s not clear how quickly they will be processed.

New Jersey regulators released a list of prohibited hemp varieties.

Maryland regulators sent a notice reminding medical cannabis dispensaries to have their clinical directors submit required registration forms.

A New Mexico representative who has led efforts to legalize marijuana said he thinks it is going to pass this year.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will meet on Tuesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 250 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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

Santa Fe, New Mexico’s district attorney announced a plan to downgrade most drug possession felony cases to misdemeanors.

The Oakland, California Cannabis Regulatory Commission will meet on Tuesday.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Tensions between Mexico and the U.S. are escalating over the latter country’s decision not to pursue a case against a former defense official who had been arrested on charges of aiding drug cartels.

An Australian former Defence Force chief supports letting people use psychedelics to treat mental health issues.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study of mice suggested that “CBD could reduce reinstatement to cocaine seeking after a period of abstinence.”

A case study showed that “cannabis alleviates neuropathic pain and reverses weight loss in diabetic neuropathic cachexia in a previous heroin abuser.”

/ BUSINESS

Aurora Cannabis Inc. laid off an unknown number of sales employees.

Alcanna Inc. is spinning off its cannabis business, which will merge with YSS Corp.

Vireo Health International Inc. has a new board member.

MJardin Group, Inc. announced the resignations of two board members.

/ CULTURE

Bill Maher and Olivia Newton-John both called out CBD companies that are falsely claiming they are endorsing their products.

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First VA legal cannabis hearing (Newsletter: January 18, 2021)

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USDA’s final hemp rule; Feds launch marijuana testing program; MA city decriminalized psychedelics; ND cannabis decrim bill

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Cannabis in 2021: Will federal prohibition finally fall? Will growing momentum at the state level influence national policy changes? Which states will be next to experiment with reform?

  • Dean Codgen: “After having MM in my inbox for several years, I decided to do what I could to help disseminate the facts and data to any and all who need or want to know the truth about what is going on in the sphere of cannabis.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its final rules to regulate hemp. The update addresses some—but not all—concerns that industry stakeholders raised about the initial rules.

The Virginia Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee held an initial hearing on a marijuana legalization bill that was introduced by the governor and top legislative leaders just two days prior. More hearings in a new cannabis-focused subcommittee, as well as a vote in the full panel, are scheduled for this week.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology—a federal agency—is sending marijuana and hemp samples to labs around the world to help determine how good they are at testing for cannabinoid content and contaminants. Labs can enroll until February 5.

The Somerville, Massachusetts City Council unanimously approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelics. Several other cities have already passed similar entheogen policies as part of what is now a growing national movement.

North Dakota lawmakers filed a bill to significantly expand the decriminalization of marijuana in the state. Meanwhile, activists are working to put a full cannabis legalization measure on the 2022 ballot.

/ FEDERAL

The National Credit Union Administration said it will continue to educate financial services providers about working with hemp businesses in 2021.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and legislative leaders met to discuss outstanding disagreements about marijuana legalization implementation legislation, but did not reach a deal.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker included the legalization of marijuana and related pardons and expungements in a Twitter thread celebrating accomplishments from his first two years in office.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) received nearly 100 applications from people who want to serve on the state’s new marijuana regulatory body.

New York’s lieutenant governor tweeted, “Legalization would create new jobs, raise revenue, and take us a step closer to building a more equitable New York. It’s past time. Let’s get this done.”

South Dakota assistant attorneys general argued in a court brief defending the state’s voter-approved marijuana legalization measure that a “well-regulated market” can undercut the illegal cannabis market.

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the smell of marijuana in a rental car driving from Oregon to Colorado is not reasonable suspicion for a search.

A California judge ruled that regulators have 30 days to inform marijuana businesses that they can no longer advertise with billboards on highways that cross state lines.

New Mexico regulators are again being sued by a medical cannabis company over plant limits.

Colorado regulators announced rulemaking on marijuana business license types and testing. They also sent a bulletin about escalating reports of fraud against cannabis businesses.

Nebraska lawmakers filed legislation to legalize marijuana and medical cannabis.

A Florida representative plans to file a bill to legalize psilocybin therapy.

Washington State regulators announced a new Cannabis Compliance Consultant Team.

Ohio regulators published updated medical cannabis patient and caregiver numbers.

Kansas regulators will hold a public hearing on hemp regulations on Wednesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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

The Jefferson County, Washington Board of Commissioners heard public testimony about decriminalizing psychedelics that came in response to a recent psilocybin arrest.

/ INTERNATIONAL

French lawmakers are conducting a citizen consultation on recreational marijuana.

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health is launching a website to assist medical cannabis and hemp businesses.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “CBD has the potential to inhibit melanoma cell growth in vertebrates, namely mice.”

A study found that “community level racial or income disparities in access to medical cannabis were not observed in Maryland” but that “access to medical cannabis, based on ability to pay out of pocket for the product, may be uneven.”

/ BUSINESS

Cresco Labs raised$125 million with an offering of subordinate voting shares.

Agri-Kind LLC accused a fired employee of hacking its networks for ransom.

Feuerstein Kulick LLP is urging a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by an Arkansas medical cannabis company that claims it misrepresented itself as having expertise in the industry.

Michigan retailers sold $101 million worth of legal marijuana products in December, for a total of $984.6 million in 2020.

/ CULTURE

UFC officials are interested in enrolling their fighters in psychedelic therapy trials at John Hopkins University.

“High Maintenance” will not return to HBO for a fifth season.

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Feds to compile cannabis tax revenue data (Newsletter: January 15, 2021)

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VA gov slams racist marijuana laws; Incoming RI gov backs legal cannabis but not state stores; USDA “superior” hemp grant; $2B in CO sales in 2020

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it plans to start collecting and compiling data on state marijuana tax revenue.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) used his State of the Commonwealth speech to highlight the racist history of marijuana prohibition and the need to legalize cannabis while expunging past records.

  • “That’s how the system was set up generations ago. In fact, one of the early leaders of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency was clear that marijuana laws should be written explicitly to target people of color. And so they were, and they’ve been targeting people for years.”

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee (D), who will become governor if current Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is confirmed as U.S. commerce secretary, said for the first time that he supports legalizing marijuana. He also said that he backs an “entrepreneurial strategy”of licensing private businesses  instead of Raimondo’s state-run stores plan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making grant money available to support the “breeding, testing and development” of “superior performing” hemp varieties.

Colorado retailers sold more than $2 billion worth of legal marijuana products in 2020. Several other states also saw huge cannabis sales totals last year.

/ FEDERAL

A summary of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus economic recovery plan does not mention cannabis banking, even though House and Senate Democrats included the reform in their COVID packages last year.

/ STATES

A candidate for Rhode Island lieutenant governor resigned from the board of a company seeking a medical cannabis dispensary license.

Oregon’s Legislative Black, Indigenous, & People of Color Caucus included a cannabis equity bill in its 2021 legislative agenda.

The chairman of Missouri’s House Special Committee on Government Oversight said the panel could renew its investigation of the state’s medical cannabis licensing process.

California regulators proposed emergency rules to implement legislation on marijuana businesses’ access to banking services.

Michigan regulators are requiring hemp growers and processor-handlers to complete a report on research activities.

Washington State regulators are seeking participants for deliberative dialogue sessions on cannabis quality assurance testing.

Massachusetts marijuana regulators held their first meeting of the new year.

A Maryland delegate filed a bill to decriminalize drug paraphernalia.

A key New York senator spoke about the prospects for legalizing marijuana in 2021.

Nevada regulators will host a regulatory workshop on Tuesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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

Birmingham, Alabama’s mayor is publicizing a program to pardon people with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang included his support for marijuana legalization on his campaign site’s Culture, Society and Nightlife section rather than the Criminal Justice section.

/ INTERNATIONAL

British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie said his government is still unclear about when the UK might give assent to a pending cannabis bill.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “users and non-users of marijuana did not have an association with the prevalence of cardiovascular disease.”

A case study looks at a man who injected psilocybin mushroom tea, after which “cultures confirmed bacteremia (ultimately cultured as Brevibacillus) and fungemia (ultimately cultured as Psilocybe cubensis – i.e. the species of mushroom he had injected was now growing in his blood).”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Drug Policy Alliance, National Harm Reduction Coalition and more than 200 other organizations sent a letter calling on the incoming Biden administration to focus drug policy on harm reduction strategies, including by withdrawing a federal lawsuit that seeks to block a safe consumption site for illegal drugs from opening.

/ BUSINESS

Cresco Labs entered into an agreement to acquire Bluma Wellness Inc.

Aphria Inc. reported quarterly revenue of C$72.1 million and a net loss of C$120.6 million.

Canopy Growth Corporation  filed an early warning report regarding its acquisition of an option to purchase shares of TerrAscend Corp.

United Cannabis Corp.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy was thrown out by a judge.

/ CULTURE

The UFC and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will no longer punish fighters for testing positive for marijuana metabolites.

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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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