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Senate approves cannabis research bill (Newsletter: December 17, 2020)



VA gov’s budget funds legal marijuana prep; New Senate hemp bill; NY gov touts cannabis’s fiscal promise; Oakland OKs new psychedelics resolution

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The Senate unanimously passed a marijuana research bill—one week after the House also approved separate cannabis science legislation. Time is running short to get something to the president’s desk by the end of the session, but it’s possible.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) sent lawmakers a budget proposal that funds steps to prepare for the legalization of marijuana as well as expungements of past cannabis records.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) filed a new bill to triple the concentration of THC that can be in legal hemp crops and to make other changes to federal rules to address the industry’s concerns.

  • “We achieved a hard-won victory, but there is still work to do to prevent the federal government from weighing down our farmers with unnecessary bureaucratic micromanaging. My legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic potential.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) again spoke about the fiscal benefits of legalizing marijuana amid the state’s budget hole as a coalition of progressive groups and lawmakers included cannabis reform in a new criminal justice agenda.

  • “Marijuana we were supposed to have done for the past two years anyway, and it would raise revenue. So if the legislature wants to do the budget now, we can do that.”

The Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on California lawmakers to decriminalize psychedelics and allow “community-based healing ceremonies involving the use of entheogenic plants and fungi without risk of arrest and state prosecution.”


Fake Parler accounts purporting to represent Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham (D-SC), Donald Trump Jr. and other right-wing figures are selling CBD.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) filed an impaired driving bill that includes a provision to require federal officials to “conduct a study regarding the accuracy of onsite oral fluid screening for tetrahydrocannabinol.”

The House Republican Conference tweeted, “Democrat priorities on the House Floor lately… ✅Marijuana legalization ✅Exotic animals ✅Ceiling Fans ❌Small business relief. It’s past time to deliver much-needed aid to American small businesses, workers, and families.”

Rep Elaine Luria (D-VA) tweeted, “Virginians want to legalize marijuana. With the funds generated, we’ll be able to expand access to affordable healthcare, improve infrastructure, invest in our public schools, & more! But we need to win 2021 first. Join your local @vademocrats committee”

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) tweeted about the advancement of New Jersey marijuana legalization enabling legislation, saying, “Good news from the State House. Glad to see that the final package includes a social equity excise fee that can rout money to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis laws.”


Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) called on lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis in 2021.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor did a TV interview about his support for legalizing marijuana.

Florida’s agriculture commissioner sent a political fundraising email asking people to help her “push for cannabis legalization.”

New Jersey’s Senate president tweeted, “Tomorrow the #Senate will vote on two of the most sweeping social justice reforms in the nation. These laws will decriminalize #marijuana, dismiss pending trials, expunge prior possession records, and repeal mandatory minimum sentences.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health filed an amicus brief supporting a mayor’s lawsuit that seeks to overturn the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis ballot measure.

Washington, D.C’s top medical cannabis regulator appeared on a city-hosted marijuana radio show.

A California senator filed a bill to remove mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

A Texas representative introduced a bill to allow medical cannabis for people with PTSD.

Oregon regulators are accepting 2021 applications for hemp handler permits.

Ohio regulators published updated medical cannabis patient and caregiver numbers.

Arkansas regulators are delaying consideration of a medical cannabis dispensary’s appeal of rule violations.

Florida’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday.

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.

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The West Point, Georgia City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance.

The Clark County, Nevada Commission voted to spend nearly $3 million in marijuana tax revenue to support housing for young people experiencing homelessness.


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is opposed to decriminalizing drugs and expressed concerns that allowing safe consumption areas could lead to more use.

Mexican lawmakers approved a bill to restrict the activities of the Drug Enforcement Administration and other foreign law enforcement officers.

A Philippine lawmaker filed a bill to legalize production and exportation of medical cannabis.


A study provided “evidence that the types of cannabis available in recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries might hold promise as an alternative treatment for PTSD.”

A study found “evidence showing pesticide occurrence on common surfaces in cannabis growing facilities and points to a need for routine monitoring and strict control of pesticide use in cannabis facilities.”


The National Farmers Union tweeted, “Cannabis farms are legal in many states – but they aren’t covered by federal crop insurance. That’s left many small scale and BIPOC farmers without any financial protection amidst increasingly severe wildfires.”

Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter urging Ohio lawmakers to approve a bill to lower drug sentences.


Aphria Inc. and Tilray, Inc. announced they are merging.

Aurora Cannabis laid off more than 200 staffers.


DJ Khaled is launching a new CBD company.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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 and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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