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SCOTUS ruling is good news for cannabis (Newsletter: May 15, 2018)

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NY legalization developments; NYC mayor admits changes needed; Lawmakers visit marijuana facility

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a federal prohibition on sports gambling has positive implications for state marijuana legalization laws.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the results of an official state study on marijuana legalization will be released within days, an announcement that came on the same day it was reported that the New York Democratic Party is preparing to endorse ending prohibition at its convention later this month.

Meanwhile, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn are considering plans to stop prosecuting most marijuana offenses. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the city has to “do better” to reduce racial disparities in marijuana arrests, and that “policy changes” to drive down arrests need to be looked at. Meanwhile, the city’s public advocate said legalizing marijuana would be a “critical first step in righting” racially disproportionate arrests. And the NYPD commissioner claimed that cannabis arrests can help reduce other crime by taking gang members off the streets.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) released a statement defending his actions to block votes on marijuana amendments:

  • “Across the country, families, businesses and our judicial system have seen the devastating impact of drug abuse. Even governors in states like California have expressed their concern about how we can continue to have a successful economy when we normalize drug use in our communities. I am firmly against allowing these merchants of addiction to infiltrate our communities and bring down our children and families. I understand the need to learn more about marijuana’s impact, which is why I have been consulting with the National Institute of Health about the dangerous effects of drug use.”

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) implied that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s opposition to prison reform legislation was irrelevant.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Denver is using tax revenue generated from legal marijuana to build affordable housing. It is silly to keep this industry underground when there are so many benefits to the economy.”

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) tweeted, “Isn’t it Time to Reconsider Marijuana Policy?”

The U.S. Senate industrial hemp bill got three new cosponsors, for a total of 18.

/ STATES

Michigan’s House speaker said the legislature won’t take up marijuana legalization and will instead let voters decide the issue on the ballot.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed hemp legislation.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) approve eight universities to conduct medical cannabis research, and tweeted, “The research component of PA’s medical marijuana program sets it apart from the rest of the nation. I’m proud that PA’s premiere medical schools will help shape the future of treatment for patients in desperate need not just here, but across the country.”

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) spoke about the medical benefits of cannabis and said that when it comes to marijuana legalization, “the jury’s going to be out until we actually implement” it.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner wants to form an industrial hemp partnership with Israel. Separately, Democratic congressional candidates in the state’s 6th district debated marijuana policy.

WIRED looks at the intersection of California’s marijuana track-and-trace system and pre-existing requirements to register commercial vehicles with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Oregon regulators fined several marijuana businesses for security, tracking and advertising violations.

/ LOCAL

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) tweeted. “This decision by the Supreme Court is an important victory for Seattle’s policies on immigration and legalized marijuana. It further establishes states’ rights to enforce their own laws, and prevents the federal government from interfering.”

/ INTERNATIONAL

Activists in Georgia rallied for drug policy reform.

/ ADVOCACY

The National Conference of State Legislatures took state lawmakers on a tour of a legal Colorado marijuana facility and hosted a presentation from Weedmaps.

NORML’s Paul Armentano takes down recent anti-marijuana comments from the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “efforts to decrease secondhand smoke exposure via cigarette smoking cessation may be complicated by increases in cannabis use.”

A study of teenagers found that “higher average exposure to [medical marijuana] advertising was associated with higher average use, intentions to use, positive expectancies, and negative consequences.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Times editorial board is urging district attorneys to refuse to bring marijuana cases to court.

The Kansas City Star editorial board is calling on Missouri lawmakers to pass medical cannabis legislation.

/ BUSINESS  

Canopy Growth Corporation is applying to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

New Mexico medical cannabis sales are up 40% since last year.

Entrepreneur Media and PRØHBTD are calling for nominations for a “Top 100 Cannabis Leaders” list.

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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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Cannabis legalization helps cops solve other crimes, study indicates (Newsletter: July 18, 2018)

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Georgia jury acquits man who admitted cultivation; Poll: marijuana reform support in congressional battlegrounds; OK regulator emailed fake threats

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Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, is made possible by the generous support of 304 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A study of law enforcement efforts to solve violent and property crimes in Colorado and Washington State found that “legalization produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit in clearance rates, benefits we believe are associated with the marijuana legalization proponents’ prediction that legalization would positively influence police performance.”

A new poll finds that voters in targeted “battleground districts” overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization and are more likely to back congressional candidates who feel the same way.

A Georgia jury acquitted a man who admitted in court to growing marijuana to treat chronic headaches — against the law.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York charged a Honduran congressman with  conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S.

National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow appeared at a forum at which opioid-laced marijuana was discussed.

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said, “If you told me I was going to be in a lot of pain and I had a choice between … an opiate and smoking marijuana … I would smoke the marijuana before I would take the opiate.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) called out House Republicans for “blocking vote after vote on BIPARTISAN cannabis reform amendments.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) took to the House floor to bash Republicans for not allowing votes on her measure to let Washington, D.C. set its own marijuana laws and other amendments.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) tweeted, “Legalizing adult use of marijuana is common sense and long overdue. We need to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, stop turning everyday Americans into criminals, and pass real criminal justice reform now.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) criticized House Republicans for blocking a marijuana banking amendment she cosponsored: “What are they afraid of? Let us vote!”

The U.S. House bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks got one new cosponsor, for a total of 95.

/ STATES

The general counsel for Oklahoma’s Health Department resigned after being charged with emailing false threats to herself concerning restrictive medical cannabis regulations approved last week. Separately the secretary of state said it is “extremely unlikely” that a marijuana legalization measure would qualify for the November ballot.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) signed a bill banning the smoking of marijuana or tobacco in indoor public spaces such as bars, restaurants, stores, taxis and buses

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that judges can reincarcerate people on probation for drug use, even if they struggle with addiction.

Ohio regulators are delaying the launch of the state’s medical cannabis patient registry.

The Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee held a hearing on hemp.

Colorado is denying half the workers’ compensation death benefits due to a woman whose husband was killed while working on a ski lift because he had marijuana in his system at the time.

Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly said that people should not be incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

The author of Georgia’s limited medical cannabis law is endorsing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) for governor because he is, in his view, the best person to oversee an expansion.

Proposed amendments to a pending New Jersey marijuana legalization bill would remove limits on the number of dispensaries, ban vertical integration and make it easier to expunge prior convictions, among other changes.

/ LOCAL

A Kern County, California supervisor is facing charges over an alleged conflict of interest related to the marijuana industry.

The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to decriminalize marijuana.

The Rogers County, Oklahoma district attorney is recusing himself from a case about whether the local sheriff assaulted a medical cannabis advocate.

A Jackson, Mississippi city councilwoman hosted a town hall meeting on marijuana decriminalization.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador granted his pick for interior minister “carte blanche” to consider drug legalization as a solution to violence.

South Korea’s government is moving to allow the import of cannabis-based medicines.

Canadian diplomats were caught off guard when three Conservative senators flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about marijuana, newly released emails show.

Lebanon’s government is considering legalizing medical cannabis.

Ireland’s first CBD shop opened.

/ ADVOCACY

Prohibitionist Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana seemed to imply that voters don’t know how to read.

  • “If you had a ballot with a picture on it, as opposed to written out, I’m sure many more states would’ve voted no than yes.”

The NAACP convention had a panel on the racial justice implications of marijuana legalization.

Here’s a look at how untraceable donations are funding the medical cannabis ballot initiative group Missourians for Patient Care.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study examined the mechanisms behind marijuana’s appetite stimulation properties.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A survey found that 80% of pharmacy students want medical cannabis education to be added to school curricula.

/ BUSINESS

Maryland regulators are allowing MaryMed to compete for a medical cannabis cultivation license after a judge dismissed concerns they wouldn’t be able to secure plants in light of the prosecution of two of its parent company’s former executives for alleged interstate diversion of marijuana.

/ CULTURE

A grenade-shaped marijuana grinder caused the evacuation of an airport in Argentina.

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Dem senator “disappointed” colleagues blocked cannabis banking amendment (Newsletter: July 17, 2018)

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GOP shuts down more marijuana votes; Major counties org backs federal reform; A look at the Border Patrol’s friendlier cannabis past

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The National Association of Counties, which represents the U.S.’s 3,069 county governments, adopted platform planks calling on the federal government to respect state marijuana laws and increase cannabis businesses’ access to banks.

The U.S. House Rules Committee blocked floor votes on amendments to let cannabis businesses access banks and to allow Washington, D.C. to spend its own money legalizing and regulating marijuana sales.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), answering a question Marijuana Moment suggested to BuzzFeed’s editor, said he is “disappointed” that fellow Democrats blocked his cannabis banking measure from advancing last month.

American border officials are now applying lifetime visitation bans on Canadians who’ve used cannabis or work in the industry, but Marijuana Moment dug up a little-noticed U.S. Customs and Border Protection blog post about when the feds were “not overly concerned with marijuana.” The post title: “Did You Know… Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import?”

A study concluded that a “jay-dar” phenomenon exists. That is, people can often identify marijuana consumers based on appearance alone.

/ FEDERAL

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting public comment concerning its plans to revise agency fact sheets on drug-impaired driving.

A former congressional aide was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after being convicted of taking a $5,000 bribe to help keep an illegal marijuana business open.

The U.S. attorney’s in Arizona plans to start prosecuting people caught smuggling marijuana from Mexico for illegal border crossing as well as drug charges.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, spoke about ending the war on drugs in a speech at the NAACP convention.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced his administration is seeking up to six new applicants to operate medicinal cannabis dispensaries. He also tweeted to tout his administration’s moves to expand medical marijuana access. Separately, a senator pushing recreational legalization is floating “committee hearings and voting session, just for marijuana” next month.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill making changes to the Cannabis Control Appeals Panel.

Oklahoma’s attorney general is assigning a team of lawyers to advise the Health Department on recently enacted medical cannabis regulations.

Oregon regulators updated the list of pesticides that can and can’t be used on marijuana.

/ LOCAL

The Oregon, Ohio City Council is considering placing a marijuana decriminalization ordinance on the November ballot.

Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing to double its affordable housing fund to $300 million using marijuana taxes.

Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s district attorney said that the mayor of Easton is incorrect in claiming that the city doesn’t have the authority to treat marijuana possession as a citation akin to a parking ticket.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Lawmakers in Thailand are considering legalizing medical cannabis.

/ ADVOCACY

The Oklahoma and Tulsa County Republican parties are calling on lawmakers to reinstate the will of voters on medical cannabis.

Scott Gagnon, who has served as chairman of the Maine affiliate of prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, seemed to imply that cannabis legalization is part of a Russian plot, but he walked back the comments after I called him out about it.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “add‐on CBD may be an efficacious long‐term treatment option for [treatment‐resistant epilepsies].”

A study found that “liberal [state medical cannabis]laws were significantly associated with higher prevalence of [serious mental illness].”

A study concluded that “greater preference for alternative music (rap, heavy metal, punk, reggae, rock, electronic) was associated to more favorable attitudes toward use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.”

A study of hemp fiber boards found that their “acoustic insulation factor was higher compared with boards intended to be used as thermal insulation, such as mineral wool or light fiberboards with four times greater thicknesses.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 38% of U.S. adults think marijuana legalization will have a positive impact on Canada, while 24% say it will have a negative impact.

/ BUSINESS

Employees of marijuana dispensary chain MedMen are reportedly walking out over the company’s alleged theft of their tips.

The founder of High Sobriety, a drug rehab facility that allows patients to use marijuana, left the company over a dispute about the specifics of how cannabis should be incorporated into treatment.

The New Yorker looks at marijuana producer Lowell Herb Co.’s efforts to hire people with criminal records.

/ CULTURE

Willie Nelson’s company launched a line of CBD products.

Architectural Digest visited the home of rapper Wiz Khalifa, which has an area dedicated to celebrating marijuana and includes a “weed wall” dedicated to famous cannabis consumers like Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley and Willie Nelson.

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NY Health Department backs legal cannabis (Newsletter: July 16, 2018)

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Alcohol trade group endorses marijuana reform; Dems discussed anti-cannabis tweet in leadership meeting; Study: legalization doesn’t boost youth use

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  • Eric Stevens of Florida for Care: “We at Florida for Care is so deeply focused on our many state and local laws at times that without Tom’s news of everything happening in DC and nationwide we couldn’t keep up!”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

New York’s Department of Health released a study concluding that the benefits of marijuana legalization outweigh its potential harms. Among other findings, the Cuomo administration report says:

  • Regulating marijuana reduces risks and improves quality control and consumer protection.
  • Marijuana may reduce opioid deaths and opioid prescribing.
  • The majority of credible evidence suggests legalization of marijuana has no or minimal impact on use by youth.
  • Legalizing marijuana results in a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids/novel psychoactive substances.
  • Legal sales could generate up to $677.7 million in revenues for the state in the first year.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America came out in support of ending federal marijuana prohibition so that states can enact legalization.

At least one Democratic lawmaker criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s anti-marijuana tweet during a leadership meeting last week just before it was deleted, a participant told Marijuana Moment.

A new study found that while youth marijuana use rates are slightly higher in states with legalization, “differences between states with and without legal non‐medical cannabis may partly be due to longer‐term patterns established prior” to the end of prohibition. That undermines prohibitionists’ claims that legalization causes more youth marijuana use.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that supervised release terms barring use of controlled substances by federal defendants also prohibit state-legal use of medical cannabis.

The U.S. Postal Service refused to deliver an Alaska newspaper because it contains a marijuana advertisement.

The U.S. attorney for the southern district of West Virginia tweeted critically about trucks claiming to sell marijuana-infused candy in New York City.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a plan to prosecute synthetic opioid cases.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s endorsement of marijuana reform is “another encouraging signal of cannabis becoming ever more established and mainstream.”

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted, “This July marks the one-year anniversary of recreational marijuana legalization in Nevada, a historic milestone for a change in policy that is creating jobs, diversifying our local economy, and boosting tax revenue for the state.”

Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) tweeted about his marijuana banking amendment that will be considered in the House this week.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “Toxicology reports in Colorado are showing that marijuana found present in adolescent suicide victims has increased since legalized recreational marijuana. Drugs are contributing to our youth suicide epidemic & shouldn’t be seen as part of the solution.”

The U.S. House bill to end the 280E tax penalty on marijuana businesses got one new cosponsor, for a total of 46.

/ STATES

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) budget proposes several changes to state marijuana laws. Meanwhile, two key lawmakers are pressing regulators to stop municipalities from requiring excessive payments from cannabis businesses seeking licenses.

A New Jersey worker’s compensation judge ordered a municipality to cover the cost of an employee’s medical cannabis. Separately, the state’s health commissioner tweeted that “marijuana needs to be descheduled at the federal level. Enough is enough.”

Oklahoma activists say they have so far collected more than 100,000 signatures on a petition to place a marijuana legalization measure on the state’s ballot. Roughly 124,000 valid signatures are needed. Meanwhile, medical cannabis advocates filed two lawsuits against new restrictive medical cannabis regulations. And gubernatorial candidates from all parties slammed regulators’ actions.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon tweeted, “We need a governor who will stop putting people of color in prison for something that white people do with impunity, and when I am her, I will do everything in my power to pass legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in New York State.” And Democratic attorney general candidate Letitia James, currently New York City’s public advocate, cheered the state Health Department’s cannabis report, tweeting, “If NY truly wants to be a leader on criminal justice reform, economic justice, and in combatting decades-old policies that continue to hold communities of color back, then it is past time that we legalize marijuana.”

California regulators released proposed marijuana rules. Separately, officials released guidance saying that “the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited.” Meanwhile, State Controller Betty Yee was injured in a car crash involving a driver suspected of being under the influence of marijuana.

Washington State regulators suspended the license of a marijuana producer for “numerous and substantial violations including full rooms of untagged plants, clones and finished product.”

Nearly half of Florida medical cannabis businesses could be suspended for missing a little-noticed deadline requiring food safety inspections. Meanwhile, regulators are issuing more licenses.

The Associated Press looks at how leaders in conservative states are undermining medical cannabis implementation.

/ LOCAL

A analysis found that marijuana arrests are sharply down in Chicago, Illinois over the past several years but that racial disparities persist.

Advocates in Lansing, Michigan dropped their lawsuit against the city’s medical cannabis ordinance.

Powell, Wyoming officials believe pranksters planted marijuana seeds in city-owned flower pots.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government warned marijuana producers that they could lose their licenses if they sponsor events like music festivals or engage in other promotional activities.

Philippines lawmakers are expected to approve medical cannabis legislation this month.

UK officials granted a special medical cannabis license to a  seven-year-old girl who suffers with a rare genetic condition. Separately, marijuana arrests in England and Wales have dropped sharply in recent years, data shows.

Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister said decriminalizing marijuana is not a priority.

/ ADVOCACY

Kevin Sabet of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana teased on Twitter that he has recently “experienced something that has been one of the coolest opportunities of my life and will help us in our work immensely.” Separately, the organization bashed the endorsement of legalization by New York’s health department.

The Federalist Freedom Fund,  political action committee that gave all of its donations to Republicans, was entirely funded by donors from the marijuana industry.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that British adults support legalizing marijuana, 51%-35%.

/ BUSINESS

Banks are forcing marijuana businesses to sign nondisclosure agreements and putting them on long waiting lists in order to open accounts.

The New York Times examines how mainstream investors are joining the marijuana industry.

Reuters looks at how Canadian health insurers are wary of covering medical cannabis.

The Los Angeles Times profiles former mainstream tech industry workers who are now in the marijuana industry.

The CEO of Eaze thinks Amazon will sell marijuana one day.

/ CULTURE

Musician David Crosby launched a marijuana brand.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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