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Senate votes to legalize hemp; House vote soon (Newsletter: Dec. 12, 2018)



Gov’t shutdown could put medical marijuana at risk; UK lawmakers vote to reject legalization; Anti-cannabis US attorney hosts summit

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As President Trump threatens a government shutdown over border wall funding, it could put medical cannabis. patients at risk. Here’s why: A shutdown would mean that the “Rohrabacher-Farr” protections for state medical marijuana laws would expire, but Drug Enforcement Administration agents and federal prosecutors are exempt from furlough.

The Senate approved the Farm Bill, which includes provisions to legalize hemp.  A House vote is expected soon.

A bipartisan collection of House and Senate members cheered the inclusion of hemp legalization in the Farm Bill.

The UK House of Commons rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana, with the opposition Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn reportedly whipping its members to abstain on the vote.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, who has consistently spoken out against cannabis reform, is holding a “Marijuana Summit” on Wednesday. Prohibitionist activist Kevin Sabet is scheduled to speak.


Former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Chief of Staff Regina LaBelle answered questions about legalizing marijuana and other drugs in a C-SPAN appearance.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he is “concerned” by how rapidly states are moving to legalize marijuana.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Senate will vote on criminal justice reform legislation before the end of the year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted, “Reforming our criminal justice system is about redemption—giving many Americans another chance to achieve a more fulfilling future. The House has already demonstrated our commitment to making substantive reforms and we welcome the Senate’s consideration of the FIRST STEP Act.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) filed a bill that would, among other things, seek to recover lands affected by illegal marijuana cultivation. Separately, she tweeted, “As states moves toward legalizing marijuana, let’s remember how many lives have been ruined because of our regressive policies. We must focus on restorative justice.”

The House bill to respect state marijuana laws got seven new cosponsors, for a total of 36.


The Michigan House of Representatives approved a bill to ease background check requirements on low-level marijuana business investors.

Legislative sources are suggesting it is unlikely New Jersey lawmakers will pass a marijuana legalization bill by the end of the year.

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (D) spoke about the need to include expungement of past convictions in marijuana legalization legislation. He also said he wants the state to jump ahead of Michigan and become the first state in the Midwest to launch recreational cannabis sales.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who supports legalization of marijuana, suggested that Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who does not, may “evolve” on the issue. Separately, Wolf tweeted, “Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is now accepting requests for new qualifying conditions. Doctors and patients can submit recommendations to the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board for review.”

Georgia House and Senate study committees voted to recommend expanded cannabis oil distribution and hemp farming.

California regulators proposed an emergency rule on tracking wholesale cost and retail selling price of marijuana.

Oklahoma regulators approved food safety standards for medical cannabis processors.

South Carolina’s House minority leader said legalizing medical cannabis is a personal goal of his.

A Missouri senator filed a bill to give minority- and women-owned medical cannabis business license applicants a scoring boost.

Connecticut’s Office of Legislative Research released a brief about marijuana legalization considerations. Separately, regulators doubled the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state by approving nine new ones.

Massachusetts’s third recreational marijuana store is set to open this week.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner cheered the passage of hemp legalization provisions in the Farm Bill.

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Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) is reportedly preparing to call for legalizing marijuana, with revenues to be dedicated entirely to pensions.

The Boston, Massachusetts City Council held a hearing on creating “buffer zones” between substance abuse treatment centers and marijuana dispensaries or liquor stores.


The UK House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee is requesting submissions of evidence on the use of medical cannabis “as the first part of a wider inquiry into the impact of drugs policy on public health.”

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament began debate on medical cannabis bills.

Chilean lawmakers debated a medical cannabis bill.

Some advocate in Thailand are concerned about foreign control of medical cannabis companies.


The Republican Party of Kentucky tweeted, “With the Farm Bill passed in the Senate, we’re one step closer to hemp legalization! Thank you @SenateMajLdr, @RandPaul, @KYComer, and @RyanQuarlesKY for all that you’ve done fighting for our farmers and leading the charge for Industrial Hemp!”


In a review of studies on THC and oncologic pain, “five found THC to be more effective than placebo, one found THC to be more effective than placebo in American patients but ineffective in patients from other countries, and two found THC to be no more effective than placebo.”

A study found that “plain packaging and health warnings [on marijuana products] may reduce brand appeal and increase health knowledge among young adults.”


The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board wants more transparency in the marijuana business licensing process.


Aphria, Inc. is facing a class action lawsuit over allegedly misleading shareholders.

A review of patent filings suggest that Altria may be trying to corner the market for cannabis vaporization devices.

The New York Times looks at the growing interest of alcohol and tobacco companies in the marijuana industry.


Martha Stewart spoke about trying marijuana edibles.

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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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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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