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Sessions admits feds can’t enforce cannabis prohibition everywhere (Newsletter: March 12, 2018)

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Vets step up medical cannabis push in Congress; Trump calls for death penalty at rally; VA gov signs CBD expansion; Problems in WV

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged in a weekend speech that the federal government doesn’t have enough resources to enforce marijuana prohibition across the board. He also slammed the medical use of cannabis.

Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America pushed Congress to change medical cannabis policies during hearings on Capitol Hill.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed into law a bill allowing doctors to recommend CBD/THC-A medical cannabis oil for any condition.

The U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District tweeted that “EVERY SINGLE”drug treatment professional he’s spoken to says marijuana is a gateway drug. He also addressed possible prosecution actions, saying his office is “preparing to enforce laws against marijuana aggressively – AGGRESSIVELY.”

/ FEDERAL

President Trump, at a campaign rally, again stated his support for using the death penalty on people who sell drugs. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is reportedly studying the use of capital punishment for drugs in Singapore as a possible model for U.S. law.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report warning that some marijuana industry employees have “exposures to highly repetitive work, most notably during hand trimming activities, which increase workers’ risk for musculoskeletal disorders.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed the passage of state medical cannabis legislation in Kentucky.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted, “Instead of easing restrictions on Wall Street, we should make banking easier for legitimate marijuana businesses.”

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) called for marijuana rescheduling:

  • “If nothing else, I would like to see the ability for researchers to study the medical effects of marijuana to see if the benefits are really there, as some people claim, and you can’t do that right now when it’s a level category one controlled substance. So, at least let’s take the step of allowing marijuana to be available to researchers.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “There are far too many Americans who are unable to get a job, rent an apartment, or go to school because of a marijuana conviction.”

The U.S. House industrial hemp bill got one new cosponsor, for a total of 43.

/ STATES

West Virginia’s treasurer said his office is “unwilling to accept the funds derived from medical cannabis” due to conflicts with federal law. Meanwhile,  a bill to expand medical cannabis licensing didn’t receive a needed vote before the end of the legislative session.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) claimed during congressional testimony that marijuana is being laced with fentanyl. Separately, the state Senate passed a bill to create a legal presumption that people who have less than 10 grams of marijuana should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute.

Several Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidates are campaigning on marijuana law reform.

Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss, currently a senator, tweeted, “Legalizing cannabis is a question of racial justice, but it may also have other benefits. Science shows legal cannabis could be a part of addressing the opioid crisis, a problem hurting too many Illinois communities. As gov, I’ll fight for legalization.” And the Associated Press takes a look at where the state’s gubernatorial contenders stand on marijuana.

The New Jersey Democratic state senator leading an effort to block marijuana legalization also opposed syringe exchange more than a decade ago.

Colorado lawmakers filed legislation to allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to students.

Massachusetts regulations on grow lights could lead to low-quality or more expensive marijuana, industry participants say.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal Arkansas regulators’ rushed and unorganized process for scoring medical cannabis business license applications. And an unsuccessful applicant for a license filed an ethics complaint against one of the commissioners. And a representative is calling for a delay in licensing due to possible tax delinquency among applicants.

Montana’s medical cannabis tracking system goes online this month.

A Hawaii representative filed resolutions uring Congress to “consider legislation removing marijuana from schedule I.”

New Mexico lawmakers coauthored an op-ed calling for opioid use disorder to be added as a medical cannabis qualifying condition.

/ LOCAL

A Lemon Grove, California City Council member is being accused of assaulting a marijuana business owner.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs is meeting this week.

The Washington Post looks at Colombia’s efforts to become a world leader in medical cannabis production.

Singapore’s ambassador to the U.S. defended the country’s use of the death penalty for some drug offenses.

/ ADVOCACY

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is urging prosecutors in states with legal marijuana to expunge prior cannabis convictions.

Prohibitionist groups Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth are selling a “toolkit” intended help anti-drug activists defeat the cannabis industry’s “deep profits” for nearly $1,200.

The Drug Free America Foundation takes issue with legalization advocates’ claims that legal cannabis access can reduce opioid issues.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “cannabis oil was effective in oncological pain treatment in a percentage of patients who had not responded to other therapies, but the majority of patients did not receive any benefit.”

A study found that “marijuana use was associated with periodontitis, but not with oral HPV infection.”

A study concluded that “cannabis is a treatment option for treatment-resistant complaints in [post-polio syndrome].”

A study examined depictions of blunt smoking in YouTube videos.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 46% of American adults consider alcohol to be more dangerous than marijuana, while just 15% believe the reverse.

/ BUSINESS

MJ Freeway is offering credit monitoring and identity restoration services to marijuana dispensary customers who may have been impacted by a security breach of its platform.

The Natural Products Expo West included a summit on CBD products.

Ad Age looks at marijuana delivery services.

Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel is launching a marijuana podcast.

/ CULTURE     

People on Twitter trashed Ontario, Canada’s bland logo design for government-run marijuana stores.

Stephen Colbert joked about marijuana use in a segment featuring a mock job interview.

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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.)

Newsletter

Senators blocks cannabis banking measure (Newsletter: June 22, 2018)

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Legalization advances in US territory; SEC chair addresses marijuana investments; MA grants first license

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to block an amendment that would have protected banks that work with marijuana businesses from being punished by federal regulators. Several Democrats who said they support cannabis banking raised procedural objections. I have the full roll call vote, amendment text and quotes from senators at Forbes.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House Judiciary & Government Operations Committee made amendments to a marijuana legalization bill that should help to speed passage.

/ FEDERAL

Key committee chairs in Congress are not planning to hold hearings on bipartisan marijuana reform legislation supported by President Trump. But U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), historically one of the most ardent prohibitionists in Congress, announced that she will cosponsor the bill.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration withdrew funding from a pain management group that scheduled a training for doctors about medical cannabis.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Chairman Jay Claxton was asked about impediments to investing in marijuana businesses during a congressional hearing.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health tweeted false information about the availability of pediatric medical cannabis.

The U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District, a staunch legalization opponent, is hosting a seminar on marijuana.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) tweeted that he supports legislation to encourage research on the medical benefits of cannabis for military veterans.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “2018 must be the year that we push for real criminal justice reform: ✔ End the cash bail system ✔ Stop mass incarceration ✔ Legalize marijuana  ✔ Replace the ‘war on drugs’ with harm reduction and rehabilitation” He also tweeted, “Even in the 21st century, the “war on drugs” continues to oppress communities of color. Justice, fairness, and equality will remain impossible until we end this double standard which has ruined so many lives.”

/ STATES

Massachusetts regulators granted the state’s first recreational marijuana business license, subject to conditions including a clarified plan to positively impact communities. The chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission said that retail sales will likely begin later than expected.

The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that had halted the state’s medical cannabis business licensing process. More litigation is anticipated. Separately, regulators approved hemp rules.

The Maine Senate is reportedly threatening to block medical cannabis expansion legislation unless the House agrees to support a bill to repeal marijuana legalization.

Here’s a look at how Oklahoma regulators plan to implement medical cannabis if voters approve a ballot measure on Tuesday.

Alaska regulators proposed changes to marijuana sampling, testing, reporting and harvesting rules.

The Hawaii House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution calling for state-level marijuana rescheduling.

Here’s a look at where New Jersey marijuana legalization and medical cannabis legislation stands in the legislature.

Early voting on Oklahoma’s medical cannabis ballot measure and primary elections has begun.

/ LOCAL

Brown County, Wisconsin supervisors are considering placing a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot.

Minneapolis, Minnesota’s mayor tweeted in support of legalizing marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canada’s governor general provided royal assent to the government’s marijuana legalization bill.

The Philippines is considering instituting mandatory drug testing for children.

Japanese authorities found marijuana plants growing near an office building where lawmakers work.

/ ADVOCACY

In contrast to prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s public stance about winning the debate against legalization, an internal document uploaded to the group’s website admits, among other things, that “Legalization is now a reality. And it is gaining support every year, “Our message has become stale” and “Legalization proponents have been brilliant… And we have not been!” Meanwhile, the organization is cheering the defeat of cannabis banking legislation.

The Texas Democratic Party is moving to reiterate its support for marijuana legalization. (The linked story misstates the current platform, which already supports legalization.)

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

Federal data shows that teen marijuana use in Colorado is decreasing.

A study concluded that “marijuana use significantly affects acute pain management and results in increased consumption of opioid analgesics and greater self-reported pain following traumatic injury, especially in patients who did not report using other drugs.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 80% in Scotland support medical cannabis.

/ BUSINESS

High Times acquired Culture magazine.

MJ Freeway’s cannabis tracking software is continuing to experience issues in Washington State.

Michelle Alexander, a marijuana legalization supporter and author of “The New Jim Crow” has been named a New York Times columnist.

/ CULTURE

The New York Times takes a whiff of the prevalent smell of marijuana in New York City.

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Newsletter

Canada announces cannabis legalization date (Newsletter: June 21, 2018)

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House GOP blocks drug war apology; Senate considers cannabis research amendment; WA treasurer wants banking solution

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that legal recreational marijuana sales will begin on October 17, and that the government will consider clemency for people with cannabis criminal records after that date.

The U.S. House Rules Committee blocked an amendment that would have provided a congressional apology to people harmed by the war on drugs.

The U.S. Senate could vote this week on an amendment to encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the medical benefits of marijuana for military veterans.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump nominated a new U.S. attorney for Colorado, a move that could have implications for the state’s marijuana businesses.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) inserted remarks into the Congressional Record about her new bill to allow marijuana use in public housing.

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) tweeted, “Canada’s Senate votes to legalize recreational use of #marijuana and House has already voted for it so it’s #Trudeau signature and #Canada becomes 2nd nation to legalize #cannabis .Oh Canada leads the way! #marijuananews #marijuana failed #WarOnDrugs”

The U.S. House resolution calling for equity in the marijuana industry got two new cosponsors, for a total of 15.

The U.S. House bill to prevent federal agencies from punishing people following state marijuana laws got two new cosponsors, for a total of 16.

The U.S. House bill to require the licensing of more marijuana cultivators for research got one new cosponsor, for a total of 36.

The U.S. House bill to address the gap between federal and state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, for a total of 10.

/ STATES

Utah’s lieutenant governor and medical cannabis activists asked a court to dismiss opponents’ lawsuit seeking to remove a legalization measure from the November ballot.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) reiterated that he doesn’t support legalizing marijuana.

Michigan gubernatorial candidates all said they support legalizing marijuana during a debate.

Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidates debated medical cannabis.

Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carl Brewer tweeted in support of legalizing marijuana.

Washington State’s treasurer is pressing for marijuana banking solutions.

Delaware’s Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a woman who illegally sold medical cannabis.

An Oklahoma medical cannabis advocate sued police after being forcibly removed from an opposition event.

Colorado regulators released a request for applications for medical cannabis research grants.

The Vermont marijuana commission’s taxation and regulation subcommittee scheduled a meeting for July 20.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canada’s governing Liberal Party is already fundraising off its marijuana legalization victory.

/ ADVOCACY

NORML released a comprehensive overview of local marijuana decriminalization policies in the U.S.

The Drug Policy Alliance and allies held a rally about marijuana enforcement outside New York City’s city hall.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Times editorial board criticized New York City’s marijuana enforcement changes, suggesting they could actually intensify racial disparities in arrests.

Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly decried New York City’s marijuana enforcement change.

/ BUSINESS

(Sponsored) Here’s an overview of what marijuana business leaders need to know about protecting their intellectual property rights.

Canadian marijuana stocks surged following the passage of legalization legislation.

Marijuana producer Tilray filed notice of intent to go public on the Nasdaq.

MassRoots is launching a marijuana dispensary finder tool. (Disclosure: I am a former employee and minority shareholder.)

/ CULTURE

NBA player Nick Young said he supports legalizing cocaine.

Musician Henry Rollins is calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pardon people with marijuana convictions.

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Canadian lawmakers approve cannabis legalization (Newsletter: June 20, 2018)

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FDIC chair talks cannabis banking; Bill OKs marijuana use in public housing; NY gov admits legalization is inevitable

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Canadian Senate gave final approval to the government’s marijuana legalization bill as amended. Legal cannabis sales are expected to begin in September.

A poll finds that 68% of U.S. voters — and 57% of Republicans — now support legalizing marijuana.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) filed a bill to allow state-legal marijuana use in public housing.

/ FEDERAL

The chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said that she’s asked staff to think about how to address marijuana banking issues, but that the agency’s hands are “somewhat tied.”

Some details are emerging about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) marijuana descheduling bill, which could be introduced as soon as this week.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “States across America are already working to stop our country from repeating the same mistakes of the past. We need to move a step further — it’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level.”

The U.S. Senate bill to respect state marijuana laws got two new cosponsors, for a total of nine.

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said legalizing marijuana is “not or yes or no, it’s a how.” He added that legalization legislation will not move this year. Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon is taking credit for the governor’s evolution on cannabis.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 167-31 to again approve a medical cannabis research bill.

New Jersey lawmakers are not including revenue from legal recreational marijuana sales in budget legislation, in contrast to a proposal that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) put forth earlier this year.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House Judiciary & Government Operations Committee will reconsider a marijuana legalization bill on Thursday.

Massachusetts regulators are poised to grant the state’s first recreational marijuana business license on Thursday.

Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, currently a congressman, tweeted, “Colorado has proven that allowing responsible adults to legally purchase #cannabis gives money to classrooms, not cartels; creates jobs, not addicts; and boosts our economy, not our prison population.” Meanwhile, regulators adopted emergency rules to implement new marijuana legislation recently signed into law.

The California Assembly Committee on Business and Professions approved a bill to allow dispensaries to provide free, untaxed marijuana to low- or no-income people.

A leading advocate for Oklahoma’s medical cannabis ballot measure was forcibly removed from an opposition event by police. Separately, here are two looks at where gubernatorial candidates stand on marijuana policy.

Arkansas regulators used differing sets of guidelines when scoring medical cannabis business license applications.

Vermont State Police held a press conference about enforcement changes resulting from marijuana legalization.

/ LOCAL

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and NYPD officials announced that as of September 1, police will no longer arrest people for smoking marijuana publicly, with some exceptions. Brooklyn’s district attorney spoke in support and announced he will move to expunge past cannabis convictions. Manhattan’s district attorney is also on board, but Staten Island’s district attorney said the new enforcement policy will cause “confusion.” Legalization advocates say the exceptions laid out in the new policy will ensure continued racial disparities in arrests. Meanwhile, the city is convening a task force to “to determine the appropriate regulatory framework and identify the public safety, health and financial consequences should the State move forward with legalization.”

The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance.

The Los Angeles County, California Board of Supervisors kept in place a ban on marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas.

The San Diego, California City Council voted to ban growing marijuana in urban gardens.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The UK home secretary announced an official review of the legal status of medical cannabis. And the government granted CBD access to a second epileptic child.

/ ADVOCACY

Here’s a look at the Marijuana Policy Project’s challenges as it deals with fundraising issues and searches for a new executive director.

Hemp industry advocates do not plan to appeal a federal court ruling in a case they lost concerning a Drug Enforcement Administration filing on CBD.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “young persons who use alcohol and/or marijuana experience heightened likelihood of condomless sex.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of UK residents found 82%-8% support for medical cannabis, and 41%-40% support for legalizing marijuana.

/ CULTURE

Musician Bryan Adams congratulated the Canadian government on legalizing marijuana.

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