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Sessions (the other one) spouts Reefer Madness (Newsletter: Feb. 22, 2018)

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AL decrim advances; Legalization on IL ballot?; GOP candidates talk medical marijuana, but voted against; UK PM under fire on medical access

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who has blocked all marijuana amendments from advancing to the House floor for the past two years, revealed the extent of his anti-cannabis views in new wide-ranging comments.

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 to approve a marijuana decriminalization bill. The House Judiciary Committee rejected a similar proposal on a 7-5 vote.

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee approved a bill to place a nonbinding marijuana legalization question before voters in November.

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN), both running for their party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, voiced support for medical cannabis during a debate — but their actual voting record shows that they have consistently opposed even the most limited marijuana amendments.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach said the Trump administration doesn’t want to expand existing protections for the hemp industry.

Members of Congress spoke about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana moves:

  • Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): “In a curious way, Sessions is actually helping. The legalization train has left the station and one way or another, it’s going to be game over in four years. Thanks to Jeff Sessions, this might be over a year or two sooner.”
  • Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): “He thinks he’s trying to protect people from hurting themselves. In the past, I always thought conservatives thought it was about self-reliance and personal freedom. I thought we were always opposed to the nanny state taking care of this.”

The U.S. House bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks got one new cosponsor, for a total of 84.

/ STATES

Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (P) is speaking out against pending marijuana saliva testing legislation.

The Alaska legislature approved an industrial hemp bill.

The Utah Senate approved a bill to create a legal framework to process and sell CBD products.

Maine lawmakers tasked with crafting marijuana legalization implementation legislation seem set to reduce the number of plants people can grow, eliminate social use areas and to require municipalities to take affirmative action to allow cannabis businesses.

New Mexico’s Senate Judiciary Committee did not vote on a resolution to place a marijuana legalization question on the ballot, effectively killing it.

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R), a gubernatorial candidate, is under fire for potential campaign finance violations related to a mailing she sent that included a survey question on support for medical cannabis.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) approved the first surety bond program for the cannabis industry.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost (R), a candidate for attorney general, said it is too late to pause medical cannabis business licensing to address procedural errors.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she supports “decriminalization of marijuana, legalization of medical marijuana and local cultivation of medical marijuana,” adding that she is “open to legalization for recreational use.”

The Missouri Senate briefly debated a medical cannabis amendment.

The New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus held a hearing on marijuana legalization.

A Florida representative is using new marijuana arrest data to push for decriminalization.

/ LOCAL

Denver, Colorado regulators are hosting a  forum on licensing, permitting and inspections for the marijuana industry on March 7.

/ INTERNATIONAL

UK Prime Minister Theresa May faced questions about the government’s approach to medical cannabis access during an appearance in the House of Commons. And, after days of criticism, regulators said they are considering issuing a special license to allow a six-year-old boy with severe epilepsy to use medical cannabis.

The Canadian government released new data tracking marijuana use levels over time.

/ ADVOCACY

Koch Industries is paying for pro-marijuana-reform banner ads on CNN’s website.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “cannabis use is associated with a potentially beneficial reduction in systemic inflammation and immune activation in the context of antiretroviral-treated HIV infection.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Arizona voters support legalizing marijuana, 63%-24%.

/ BUSINESS

GW Pharmaceuticals announced that its cannabinoid medicine to treat adult seizures did not outperform placebos in a study.

Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport now has marijuana disposal boxes.

The Outline looks at the evolution of marijuana journalism.

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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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