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Senators put cannabis rider in Justice Dep’t bill (Newsletter: June 13, 2018)

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SC voters OK medical marijuana question; CNMI legalization hits snag; DE Senate votes to expunge convictions

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, for the first time ever, included protections for state medical marijuana laws in base Justice Department funding legislation as introduced by Republican leaders. In previous years, the extension of the rider has required votes on amendments.

South Carolina voters approved a medical marijuana advisory question on the Democratic primary ballot by a margin of 81% – 19%, with more than 93% of precincts reporting. Of note, several thousand more people voted on the medical cannabis measure than selected a candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on the same ballot.

A marijuana legalization bill in the U.S. territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that was slated to be voted on by the House was instead referred back to committee for changes.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will take up the Farm Bill, which contains hemp legalization language, on Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) filed an amendment to exclude “cannabinoids,” “extracts” and “derivatives” from the definition of hemp, which has advocates concerned.

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official said that “the men and women of DEA are empathetic to the needs and concerns of those living with chronic pain or other debilitating conditions” but that the agency opposes medical cannabis ballot measures.

Federal prosecutors charged nine people in Oregon with a credit card scheme in which they allegedly used proceeds “to establish and operate illegal marijuana grows and fund a state-licensed marijuana retail business.”

U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he supports medical cannabis but has no position on marijuana decriminalization.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Marijuana laws are not applied and enforced in the same way for all people. I’m happy to see some members of the law enforcement community taking steps to address disparities, but we must go further. It’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) effort to block the smoking of medical cannabis is “neither compassionate nor conservative.”

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) tweeted, “I support the bipartisan, bicameral STATES Act just intro’d to protect states like Maine that have legalized marijuana use. Mainers shouldn’t have to worry about federal prosecution for doing what is legal in their state.”

The U.S. Senate hemp legalization bill got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28.

/ STATES

The Delaware Senate unanimously passed a bill to expunge marijuana convictions. Separately, lawmakers made a procedural move that they hope will allow marijuana legalization legislation to pass within the next two weeks.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) defended his vetoing several marijuana bills.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he voted against the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure. Meanwhile, a man suing for the right to grow his own medical cannabis is asking the state Supreme Court to take up the case. And Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried is running with the goal of increasing access to medical marijuana.

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous tweeted, “To end the era of mass incarceration, we need to finally legalize marijuana for adult use. It’s time that we confront the racial and economic injustices that result from disproportionate enforcement and make our communities safer at the same time.”

New York senators filed a bill to allow medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids.

Arkansas regulators are coming under fire for granting a medical cannabis cultivation license to one applicant that had the same discrepancies that led to another applicant’s disqualification.

California regulators upgraded their online marijuana business licensing system.

Oregon regulators released a request for information about web-based marijuana inventory tracking systems.

Alaska regulators are being urged to lower marijuana taxes so the legal industry can compete with the illegal market.

/ LOCAL

The St. Louis, Missouri circuit attorney will no longer pursue cases for marijuana in the amount of less than 100 grams.

The Livingston County, Michigan General Government and Health & Human Services Committee failed to pass a proposed anti-marijuana resolution.

Boston, Massachusetts’s mayor isn’t yet joining a new advocacy group made up of other mayors from states with legal marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canada’s health minister suggested the House of Commons would not accept some Senate amendments to the government’s marijuana legalization bill.  Several motions to reject Senate changes have already been filed. Meanwhile, Quebec enacted provisional cannabis regulations.

/ ADVOCACY

Advocates for kratom held three days of lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill last week.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study examined depictions of blunts in YouTube videos.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A survey of parents who consume cannabis found that 79% say using marijuana makes watching their kids’ TV shows with them more enjoyable.

/ BUSINESS

Aurora Cannabis Inc. is acquiring Anandia Laboratories Inc. in an all-stock transaction worth roughly C$115.

Colorado Public Radio looks at marijuana-focused bus tours.

/ CULTURE     

The NCAA released a study tracking marijuana and other drug use by student athletes, finding that cannabis use is higher in states with legalization than without it.

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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 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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Feds would suggest ‘good practices’ for cannabis growing under advancing bill (Newsletter: Sep. 18, 2018)

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Congressman wants to drug test colleagues; Sessions concerned about marijuana-impaired driving; Study: 3/4 hit songs mention cannabis

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Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 332 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

Check out the perks of being a sponsor on our Patreon page.
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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Lost in excitement about last week’s victory for a cannabis cultivation licensing bill in Congress, a little-noticed amendment that was attached would require the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies to compile a list of “good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed in a speech that many people think it is “legal to drive under the influence of marijuana.”

Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) filed legislation that would require all of his colleagues on Capitol Hill to be randomly tested for marijuana and other drugs.

  • “Based upon some of the behavior I’ve seen, I’d be very interested to know what kind of illegal drugs are flowing through the veins of our elected officials in Washington, D.C..”

A new study found that three out of four hit songs in the U.S. now contain references to marijuana.

/ FEDERAL

A federal court sentenced an Oregon medical cannabis dispensary owner to seven months in prison for tax crimes.

The U.S. Senate approved sweeping opioids legislation.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) appeared in a Drug Policy Alliance video about marijuana law reform.

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) and his Democratic challenger debated Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) visited Las Vegas’s marijuana museum.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “One of the most important and impactful things we can do to stop mass incarceration is legalize marijuana nationwide.”

Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA) tweeted about his endorsement from NORML.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he’s optimistic the state will legalize marijuana this year. Separately, assemblymembers filed a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation increasing marijuana businesses’ access to banks. And the state health commissioner said he wants more doctors to participate in the medical cannabis program.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres said he might decide whether to sign a pending marijuana legalization bill on September 23.

Louisiana regulators voted to remove the cap on how many medical cannabis patients individual doctors can treat, and to rescind a rule mandating that patients renew their certifications every 90 days.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “Access to a better quality of life for all Pennsylvanians has been a top priority for me. That’s why I worked to: ✅Legalize medical marijuana…”

Nevada Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak discussed marijuana policy on Leafly’s podcast.

The West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health met to discuss banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

Florida Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried is pushing to create a state-chartered bank to serve the medical cannabis industry.

Oklahoma regulators have approved nearly 2,500 medical cannabis patient applications.

Rhode Island regulators are accepting medical cannabis testing lab license applications.

/ LOCAL

Here’s a look at how Oklahoma municipalities are handling medical cannabis regulations.

/ INTERNATIONAL

South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that personal use and cultivation of marijuana is not a crime.

The Canadian government’s point man on marijuana advised people not to “show up at the border looking like Cheech and Chong” if they want to avoid secondary screenings by U.S. officials. Meanwhile, regulators released draft cannabis tax rules and legislative proposals.

Australian government ministers are considering supporting a marijuana legalization bill. Separately, officials are moving to shut down a music festival following two suspected drug overdose deaths, but harm reduction advocates say more pill testing would be a better response.

/ ADVOCACY

The California Police Chiefs Association believes that expanded marijuana delivery services will lead to increased crime.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a memo criticizing Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that nearly 1 in 11 U.S. students have used electronic cigarettes to consume marijuana.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Utah voters found that the Mormon’s church’s opposition to the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure makes 41% more likely to vote for it and 43% less likely to vote for it.

Northeastern University’s Leo Beletsky writes in the New York Times that it’s time to overhaul or eliminate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

/ BUSINESS

The Coca-Cola Company released a statement reacting to reports that it is considering making CBD-infused beverages.

Tilray, Inc. was approved to import marijuana products to the U.S. from Canada for research on cannabis’s effects on essential tremor.

High Times Holding Corp. raised $5 million, far short of the $17.2 million required to be listed on Nasdaq and even further from its $50 million goal.

Leafly is delisting unlicensed Canadian marijuana dispensaries.

The Salt Lake Tribune suspended a columnist who allegedly gave a marijuana edible to a fellow writer at a conference and then berated her for being high during their panel.

The New York Times noted that betting against marijuana stocks has come with large losses and sizable fees.

The Los Angeles Times looks at MedMen’s efforts to rebrand cannabis consumers.

/ CULTURE

Actor John Leguizamo tweeted about a congressional candidate’s support for marijuana legalization.

Roseanne Barr said that her character is killed off in the spin-off series The Conners via an opioid overdose.

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Lawmakers presses feds on border ban for cannabis investors (Newsletter: Sep. 17, 2018)

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Sabet compares legalization to deadly hurricanes; Congressional black & hispanic caucuses talk marijuana; Fed judge blocks hemp farm

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 332 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

Check out the perks of being a sponsor on our Patreon page.
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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Marijuana Moment obtained a draft of a letter that Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA) will send on Monday pressing Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen about a U.S. policy banning Canadians who use cannabis, as well as those who work for or even just invest in marijuana businesses, from visiting the country.

Organizations affiliated with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus both featured marijuana panels at conferences last week.

Prohibitionist Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana published an op-ed comparing marijuana legalization to deadly hurricanes on the same day that Hurricane Florence made landfall and started killing people.

/ FEDERAL

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forcing a West Virginia hemp farm to cease operations because it allegedly illegally imported seeds from Kentucky.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, criticized Dallas police for releasing information indicating that Botham Jean had marijuana in his apartment when he was killed by an officer.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said that committee passage of a bill to remove barriers to marijuana research is “something that is really the Judiciary Committee against the Pharma industry, because the only people we can find that object, that must object, are those who in fact have other drug solutions that aren’t as herbal.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted, “We need marijuana arrest reform in NYC (and throughout America). Stop criminalizing our young people!”

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) tweeted, “Drug war is a failure and race based from inception from Harry Anslinger to Richard Nixon to Jeff Session.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “Don’t you think it is a good idea for the Republican Congress to take action on something that has the approval of over 80% of the Americans?! #MedicalCannabis #UnlockCures”

The U.S. House bill to require the issuance of more licenses to grow marijuana for research got two new cosponsors, for a total of 42.

New Mexico U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson disclosed his investments in the marijuana industry.

A former U.S. attorney for Kansas spoke at a marijuana conference, calling current law “immoral” and “absurd.”

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers are battling over tax rates in a forthcoming marijuana legalization bill.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) says he’s “open-minded” about medical cannabis.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and other officials are being criticized for taking marijuana industry campaign contributions after opposing legalization.

Vermont gubernatorial candidates debated commercial marijuana legalization.

Florida Republican candidates for governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner are defending the state’s efforts to appeal a court ruling overturning the ban on smoking medical cannabis.

Utah medical cannabis advocates launched their ballot initiative campaign.

Mississippi activists kicked off their signature gathering effort for a 2020 medical cannabis ballot initiative.

Kentucky lawmakers held an interim hearing on medical cannabis.

Seizures of marijuana plants on Colorado public lands are at an all-time high.

Ohio regulators are rescinding a medical cannabis cultivation license from a company that hasn’t made “a good faith effort” to establish its facility.

Kansas regulators are preparing to issue hemp licenses.

The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee will meet on September 28.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The European Parliament is considering a proposal to harmonize medical cannabis laws across the continent, with a hearing expected next month.

Canadian officials said they don’t expect widespread problems for those who have used marijuana or work or invest in the cannabis industry at the U.S. border.

An Australian Senate committee recommended against passage of a bill that would allow states and territories to legalize marijuana. Meanwhile, lawmakers are expected to file a separate cannabis legalization bill this week.

/ ADVOCACY

National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch questioned how Botham Jean’s possession of marijuana is relevant to his killing by a police officer.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman and Vermont governor Howard Dean suggested that police may have planted marijuana in Botham Jean’s apartment after he was killed by an officer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants Utah lawmakers to pass limited medical cannabis legislation in a special session by the end of the year.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber is opposing the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

California Growers Association executive director Hezekiah Allen stepped down to pursue a business opportunity.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that marijuana use rates among adults are rising.

/ BUSINESS

The Coca-Cola Co. is in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop cannabis-infused beverages.

California laws requiring marijuana delivery personnel to be employees instead of independent contractors provides a test case on the “gig economy.”

Wine Spectator sued Modern Wellness Inc. for “passing off” its name in a website  called Weed Spectator.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer urged people to not “get ahead of yourself” with investing in marijuana stocks.

/ CULTURE

Stephen Colbert riffed on a couple of recent marijuana news items.

Napoleon Dynamite actor Trevor Snarr spoke about how his sister benefits from medical cannabis.

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Cannabis bill approved by congressional committee (Newsletter: Sep. 14, 2018)

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Neil deGrasse Tyson defends Elon Musk’s toking; Feinstein signs onto marijuana bill; Poll: doctors back legalization

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This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 330 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

  • Kayla Duval of  Vitalis Extraction Technology: “I am a business analyst at Vitalis and use Tom’s daily Marijuana Moment updates to keep up with the ever changing markets. His information on the US and international legislation is very valuable. With our pledge we are most looking forward to taking advantage of gaining access to the marijuana bill tracking system.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved legislation to force the Department of Justice to issue more licenses to grow marijuana to be used in research. The move comes despite opposition from some drug policy reform groups and Democrats who objected to a provisions preventing people with certain criminal records from participating in the cultivation operations. Republican leaders agreed to revisit the language as the bill moves to the floor.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson warned people not to smoke marijuana in space, but he did defend Elon Musk’s recent on-camera cannabis consumption:

  • “Let the man get high if he wants to get high.”

In one of the clearest signs yet that the politics of marijuana have shifted irrevocably towards legalization, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—long one of Congress’s more ardent drug warriors—signed onto a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition.

A poll found that strong majorities of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and psychologists support legalizing marijuana, with even stronger support for medical cannabis.

/ FEDERAL

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official spoke about how the federal government will deny U.S. entry to Canadians who work or invest in the marijuana industry.

The U.S. attorney for Utah spoke about how marijuana will continue to be illegal under federal law even if the state legalizes medical cannabis.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 18-3 to approve the nomination of Jim Carroll to serve as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case against medical cannabis business operator Charles Lynch that it did not need to reach the question of whether the congressional appropriations rider barring federal interference in state medical marijuana laws annuls previously properly obtained convictions, remanding the question of whether he was in compliance with California law back to a lower court:

  • “In short, the rider may mean that Lynch has some argument that the government cannot now spend money to prosecute him, but if and only if Lynch had been strictly compliant with California law.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) tweeted, “I spoke today against the continuing debacle of marijuana Prohibition and for expanding federal research into marijuana’s medicinal value. Let’s stop criminalizing our own population.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “While John Boehner and other executives are profiting from marijuana, hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to get arrested for possession every year — mostly from communities of color. The #MarijuanaJusticeAct will finally end this double-standard.”

/ STATES

A Michigan judge issued an injunction against the state’s plan to close certain medical cannabis businesses that missed a licensing deadline.

Oklahoma House Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address medical cannabis regulations.

Ohio’s state auditor said regulators exceeded their legal authority by awarding additional medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and identified weaknesses in how they protected application data.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, although she lost the nominating contest, took credit for the marijuana legalization evolution of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in her concession speech.

Here’s a look at several Florida court cases concerning the number of medical cannabis business licenses the state can issue.

/ LOCAL

A study found that 75% of local Michigan jurisdictions have moved to prohibit medical cannabis facilities.

/ INTERNATIONAL

More than a dozen Caribbean nations are considering marijuana reforms.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Minnesota adults support legalizing marijuana, 56% – 35%.

An American Academy of Pediatrics paper considered whether providing medical cannabis to minors constitutes child abuse.

/ BUSINESS

Analysts are questioning High Times’s investment strategy amid filings showing sizable losses.

GFA Federal Credit Union is the first financial institution to offer banking services to Massachusetts recreational marijuana businesses.

Cronos Group Inc. named its new marijuana brand Spinach, reasoning that it will not appeal to kids.

Marijuana stocks dropped following news that the U.S. would bar Canadian cannabis investors from entry into the country.

/ CULTURE

Fox 4 in Dallas received a huge amount of criticism for the way it reported that Botham Shen Jean, who was killed in his own apartment by a police officer, had marijuana at home.

Charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession and resisting arrest against NBA player Zach Randolph were dismissed.

Actor Uday Chopra is pushing India to legalize marijuana.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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