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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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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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.)

Newsletter

Where does next House speaker stand on cannabis? (Newsletter: Nov. 16, 2018)

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Mormon church faces lawsuit over marijuana opposition; Study: Cannabis doesn’t impact kidney transplants; Marijuana company’s bizarre court argument

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Here’s a look at where potential candidates to be the new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives stand on marijuana reform.

A lawyer for Utah medical marijuana patients and advocates is formally requesting that the Mormon church and others preserve records ahead of a potential lawsuit over the proposed “compromise” bill that could undermine the voter-approved ballot measure.

Despite widespread policies denying organ transplants due to marijuana use by patients or donors, a new study on kidney transplants found there is “no difference” in postoperative outcomes based on cannabis use.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard arguments from a marijuana security company that claims its workers aren’t protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act because its own operation is illegal under federal law.

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania doctor filed a federal lawsuit challenging the  law that prevents people who use marijuana from purchasing firearms.

The Food and Drug Administration moved to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

Former National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah A.P. Hersman published an op-ed expressing concerns about marijuana-impaired driving.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) spoke about his support for criminal justice reform legislation. The legislation could run into roadblocks, however.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) tweeted, “This week I introduced legislation that aims to reform VA medical marijuana practices. We should support our veterans who seek alternatives to highly addictive opioids ravaging our communities.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) tweeted about cannabis companies being forced to pay taxes in cash, adding, “So ridiculous. Federal #marijuana laws must be reformed.”

The House bill to protect federal employees from being fired for state-legal marijuana use got five new cosponsors, for a total of 12.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) spoke about his continued support for legalizing marijuana. Meanwhile, a key senator who was once opposed to ending prohibition is now expressing support.

A New York senator said she believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and lawmakers will legalize marijuana in the state via the 2019 budget.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) released a statement on his support for medical cannabis compromise legislation.

Kansas could legalize medical cannabis with the support of Gov.-elect Laura Kelly (D).

Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management, in a budget submission to Gov.-elect Ned Lamont (D), said “the state could also access additional revenue from any newly authorized activities such as…recreational marijuana sales.”

The Vermont marijuana legalization study commission’s taxation and regulation subcommittee formally recommended a 26% tax rate for cannabis sales.

Oregon officials reported that marijuana tax collections “have come in 7% higher than expected so far in the 2017-19 biennium.”

A North Dakota representative plans to file a marijuana decriminalization bill. Separately, regulators approved additional medical cannabis dispensaries.

Here’s a look at how the results of Indiana state legislative races could impact marijuana reform.

/ LOCAL

Albany County, New York’s district attorney said that starting on December 1, he will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.

Muskegon County, Michigan’s prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana charges in light of legalization and is considering expunging past convictions.

The mayors of Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey are urging Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to require that medical cannabis companies operate in a way the benefits communities most impacted by the war on drugs.

Here’s a look at Denver, Colorado officials’ fight to shut down marijuana tour buses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Israeli Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved a bill to allow medical cannabis exports.

Germany’s medical cannabis program is at risk from another lawsuit.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of midterm election voters found that they support legalizing marijuana, 62%-37%.

/ BUSINESS

Columbia Care announced that it is the first U.S. cannabis company authorized to operate in the European Union after receiving a license in Malta.

The Wall Street Journal sheds light on appellation systems for marijuana.

The New York Times looks at rising interest in cannabis-infused beverages.

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DEA’s cannabis eradication program criticized by gov’t watchdog (Newsletter: Nov. 15, 2018)

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How much marijuana reform supporters & opponents spent per vote; Walking Dead actor raises money for cannabis kids; Al Sharpton has marijuana jokes

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A Marijuana Moment analysis of campaign finance data found that, on average, cannabis reform opponents had to spend more for “no” votes than supporters had to shell out to get “yes” voters to the polls in last week’s midterms.

As he weighs a potential 2020 presidential candidacy, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) continues to admit that marijuana legalization has worked out a lot better than he thought it would. It’s “a better system than what we had,” he said in an appearance on Wednesday.

Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus is helping to raise money for kids who use medical cannabis to treat cancer.

Rev. Al Sharpton had some cannabis quips in response to a conference audience’s reaction to a marijuana bill filed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

A report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, scolded the Drug Enforcement Administration over procedural lapses in its marijuana eradication program.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump announced his support for pending congressional criminal justice reform legislation.

The Internal Revenue Service is contracting with a private company to handle “large cash payments for processing cannabis federal taxes.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “#MedicalCannabis has huge potential for veterans. It can reduce chronic pain, w/out the harmful side effects of opioids, & some early reports indicate that it may even have potential as a treatment for PTSD. Unfortunately, many veterans fear discussing medical cannabis w/ doctors.”

The Senate bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks got one new cosponsor, for a total of 20.

/ STATES

A spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the governor plans to “introduce a formal comprehensive [marijuana legalization] proposal during the 2019 legislative session.”  Separately, the state Department of Health issued a report with recommendations to improve the medical cannabis program.

New Jersey’s Assembly speaker and Senate president said they expect committee votes on legalizing marijuana by the end of this month. The Republican Assembly leader said legalization is “inevitable.”

It’s possible that Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales could begin on Sunday. The state’s top regulator said sales will likely start in “a week plus or minus maybe a couple of days longer than that.”

The Vermont marijuana legalization study committee’s taxation and regulation subcommittee plans to recommend a 26% or 27% tax rate on sales.

A top Utah regulator testified before lawmakers about the proposed compromise medical cannabis bill. Separately, House Democrats held a briefing on the issue.

Illinois Republican lawmakers are divided on marijuana legalization.

North Dakota regulators have received fewer than 100 medical cannabis patient applications in the first two weeks of accepting them.

New York magazine put together an oral history of how California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis. Separately, water regulators will hold a cannabis cultivation permitting and compliance workshop next week.

/ LOCAL

Manhattan’s district attorney congratulated a Missouri prosecutor for no longer pursuing most marijuana possession cases.

The Boston, Massachusetts City Council heard complaints about the Boston Freedom Rally at a meeting.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canadian police have not seen a spike in marijuana-impaired driving in the month since legalization went into effect. Separately, Ontario officials released regulations for private cannabis stores.

/ ADVOCACY

Marijuana policy reform advocates are targeting Arizona and Ohio, and potentially Florida and North Dakota, for 2020 legalization ballot measures. They are also looking at medical cannabis initiatives in Mississippi, Nebraska and South Dakota.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded, “Cannabinoid drugs may prevent the onset of pain by producing small increases in pain thresholds but may not reduce the intensity of experimental pain already being experienced; instead, cannabinoids may make experimental pain feel less unpleasant and more tolerable, suggesting an influence on affective processes.”

A study on marijuana and PTSD in veterans reached its recruitment goal.

A survey found that 65% of Minnesota oncology physicians, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants who care for adults and children with cancer support the use of medical cannabis.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Chicago Tribune editorial board wants Illinois lawmakers to take their time in considering marijuana legalization.

/ BUSINESS

California collected $93.1 million in marijuana taxes in 3rd quarter of the year, a figure that does not include revenue to local governments.

Nevada generated $8.1 million in recreational marijuana taxes in August, setting a new monthly record.

Eaze launched delivery of CBD products in 41 states.

Former chewing gum executive William Wrigley Jr. II, is taking over as CEO of Surterra.

Sterling Trustees LLC filed a federal lawsuit over investments it made in Puerto Rican medical cannabis companies.

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Group representing 19,000 US cities pushes cannabis rescheduling (Newsletter: Nov. 14, 2018)

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Michelle Obama talks smoking marijuana; New veterans & cannabis bills in Congress; Why women back legalization less than men

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The National League of Cities—which represents the U.S.’s 19,000 cities, towns and villages— adopted resolutions calling for federal marijuana rescheduling and access to banks for cannabis businesses.

Top lawmakers in Illinois and New Mexico expressed optimism about newly elected governors’ plans to legalize marijuana in 2019.

In a new filing, the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates it wants to hire a new company to:

  • Grow 2,000 kg of marijuana
  • Develop new cannabis cultivation methods
  • Produce THC/CBD extracts
  • Make oral solutions, oils, vaping fluids, capsules/tablets

Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote about smoking marijuana in her new memoir released on Tuesday, a subject she also discussed in a TV interview.

A new study examines why women are less likely to support legalizing marijuana than men. Contrary to one hypothesis, it has nothing to do with motherhood.

Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are filing three new separate bills on medical cannabis for military veterans.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump is reportedly leaning in favor of backing congressional criminal justice reform legislation.

Newly released documents show that shortly after 9/11 the Central Intelligence Agency considered using a drug it thought might work like a truth serum and force terror suspects to give up information about potential attacks.

The federal trial against Mexican drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman began.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) tweeted, “I’ve long supported legislation to give our #veterans access to medical #cannabis. We should empower VA medical personnel to discuss all options for treatments with their patients and promote research. The R’s have blocked this from progressing.”

/ STATES

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura met with Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D) and urged him to push for marijuana legalization. He also suggested the slogan “pot for potholes.”

Ohio regulators released an update on the rollout of the state’s medical cannabis program.

Colorado regulators released guidance about new marijuana rules going into effect on January 1.

Oklahoma regulators have already collected nearly $6.57 million in medical cannabis application fees.

A Wisconsin representative plans to file a marijuana legalization bill in January.

The Washington, D.C. Council chairman said that smoking marijuana doesn’t have victims and shouldn’t be a crime.

Arkansas regulators are responding to public criticism about a lack of transparency in the medical cannabis licensing process.

/ LOCAL

The Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor said she will stop pursuing most marijuana possession cases.

Some Michigan municipalities are already moving to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales, at least temporarily.

Here’s a look at how Oregon municipalities voted on marijuana regulation ballot measures last week.

Two people were shot and killed in an apparent attempted robbery at an unlicensed Los Angeles, California marijuana dispensary.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Thailand’s cabinet approved medical cannabis legislation.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found “an advantage of [medical cannabis therapy] in [fibromyalgia] patients with [low back pain] as compared with [standardised analgesic therapy].

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is conducting a study on CBD and youth seizures.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Indiana adults found that when given options, 39% support legalizing marijuana, 42% back medical cannabis and 16% don’t want it legal at all. Separately, 78% said that if marijuana is not legalized, people still should not be sent to jail for it. The survey also showed that people see cannabis as less of problem than other drugs, including alcohol.

A poll found that the majority of Canadians want the minimum age for cannabis use to be higher than 18 years old.

/ BUSINESS

Tilray’s earnings report showed lower than expected sales.

Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the growing number of companies interested in making cannabis beverages.

/ CULTURE

Actor Michael Colyar spoke about visiting Mike Tyson’s marijuana farm.

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