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Senate to hold cannabis and health hearing this week (Newsletter: October 22, 2019)

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USDA says hemp regs coming soon; Leading Mexican lawmaker backs legalizing drugs; Michael J. Fox Foundation supports marijuana research

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control will hold a hearing focused on “Marijuana and America’s Health” on Wednesday. The Surgeon General Jerome Adams, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow and several academics are scheduled to testify.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky testified before a Senate committee that rules implementing hemp legalization will be filed “within the next couple of weeks.”

The head of Mexico’s ruling party in the Chamber of Deputies says the country should legalize drugs—starting with marijuana—to combat cartel violence.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is supporting three pieces of pending congressional legislation to expand marijuana research.

  • “Current policies hinder comprehensive medical research on cannabis, making it difficult to generate the evidence needed for clear recommendations.”

/ FEDERAL

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “We must legalize marijuana the right way. That means correcting failed drug policies that disproportionately hurt people of color, & creating new opportunities for people of color to participate in the industry.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Marijuana has long been a driving force for mass incarceration and it’s about time we change our outdated laws. We are closer than ever to legalizing marijuana and providing restorative justice to communities most impacted by the failed #WarOnDrugs.”

Former Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA), a U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted, “Decriminalize at federal level. Let states vote the policies they want w/respect to #cannabis. Current policy makes it a cash business (more dangerous), unevenly incarcerates-making criminals of people who shouldn’t be (disproportionately minority) & makes zero practical sense.”

/ STATES

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is considering filing a lawsuit over legislators’ move to give themselves more direct control over cannabis regulations. Meanwhile, the House speaker appears ready to walk back the policy.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor called out prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana for paying to promote anti-reform tweets.

A Massachusetts judge gave regulators a week to fix a ban on vaping products before he potentially strikes down its reach to nicotine products, but left its impact on marijuana products in place. Medical cannabis patients have joined the case.

A Montana judge issued a temporary restraining order on a ban on flavored vaping products.

The Louisiana House and Senate Agriculture Committees considered hemp regulations at a joint hearing.

Maine regulators adopted a symbol that must be displayed on marijuana products. Separately, the legislature’s Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the prospects for marijuana reform in Virginia.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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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/ INTERNATIONAL

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo signed hemp regulations into law.

New Zealand lawmakers debated marijuana legalization in a TV appearance.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “although current available studies show promising results regarding both the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol and oxytocin for the treatment of [social anxiety disorder], most studies were performed using single or few doses of these compounds, with small sample sizes.”

The University of Connecticut opened a hemp research lab.

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that U.S. adults support legalizing marijuana, 67%-31%.

Trump reelection advisory board member Rob Astorino dismissed a C-SPAN caller’s concerns by jokingly saying, “I know marijuana is legal in California.”

The scientific advisory board of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana sent a letter urging Congress to halt cannabis reform action, hold oversight hearings and support efforts to remove vaping products from store shelves.

/ BUSINESS

Pax Labs laid off a quarter of its workforce.

/ CULTURE

Actor Michael Douglas had his young son hand out marijuana joints to other celebrities at parties, the younger Douglas wrote in a new book.

The Onion joked that medical cannabis is “effective for treating long-term pain over Jerry Garcia’s death.”

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

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