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Sessions slams GOP senator’s cannabis advocacy (Newsletter: Feb. 13, 2018)

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Trump moves to gut drug czar’s office; Fed court hears marijuana case; NH legalization hearing

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused  Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) of undermining national security with his efforts to defend his state’s marijuana law from federal interference.

President Trump’s 2019 budget request proposes a greater than 90% cut in funding for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy by shifting its key programs to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is set to mark up a criminal justice reform bill on Thursday, but questions are being raised about the Trump administration’s position on the issue.

A federal court will hear a lawsuit against marijuana’s Schedule I status on Wednesday.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) hosted town hall meetings about medical cannabis and revealed details of marijuana research legislation he will soon introduce. He also said that he has spoken with President Trump about the issue.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “The facts say that [marijuana is] not a gateway drug.”

/ STATES

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said he would veto marijuana legalization but would sign a medical cannabis bill that was “crafted properly.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) said he opposes allowing in-state cultivation of medical cannabis.

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray said he would implement marijuana legalization if voters approved it. (About 10:30 into the audio clip.) Separately, State Auditor Dave Yost (R), an attorney general candidate, identified a “critical flaw” in the state’s medical cannabis licensing system. And activists say they will submit a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure by the end of the month.

The Virginia Senate approved a bill to allow people to expunge first-time marijuana possession charges.

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee will hear a marijuana legalization bill on Tuesday.

Connecticut’s Senate president expects “robust debate” on marijuana legalization this year.

The Massachusetts Executive Office on Public Safety and Security expressed concerns about proposed regulations to allow marijuana social use areas and delivery.

A Michigan court ordered Detroit to begin accepting medical cannabis business license applications.

/ LOCAL

The St. Louis, Missouri Board of Aldermen will consider a proposal to prevent police from enforcing marijuana laws on Tuesday.

The Berkeley, California City Council will vote Tuesday on a measure to prohibit municipal employees from assisting in federal marijuana crackdowns.

A Cook County, Illinois commissioner who successfully pushed to place a nonbinding marijuana legalization referendum before voters says he uses medical cannabis.

Denver, Colorado is hiring a Food Safety and Marijuana Program supervisor.

/ ADVOCACY

The Marijuana Policy Project is holding a t-shirt design contest.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study examining 25 years of car accident data “found a 12% increase in the relative risk of a fatal traffic crash after 4:20 pm on April 20 compared with identical time intervals on control days.”

A study found that 89% of Irish chronic pain patients “agreed that cannabis should be legalised for chronic pain medicinal purposes.”

Researchers at the University of Arkansas are conducting a study of people’s attitudes before and after the legalization of medical cannabis in the state.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Florida voters support legalizing marijuana, 62%-35%.

A poll found that Iowans support medical cannabis, 78%-19%, but oppose legalizing marijuana,  39%-58%.

A survey found that Canadians are “mostly favourable to cannabis’s legalization and willing to try cannabis-infused food products” but that most “do not feel knowledgeable enough to cook with cannabis at home, which opens an opportunity for leaders in the industry.”

/ CULTURE     

Travel writer Rick Steves is hosting briefings about marijuana legalization for congressional staffers on Tuesday.

Musician David Byrne wrote about the success of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana and Portugal’s decriminalization of all drugs.

A Florida man who blamed his violent outburst on an international flight on marijuana edibles has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Dear Abby told a Nevada woman that her brother-in-law’s shunning of her over medical cannabis use is “cruel.”

The Los Angeles Times made a marijuana-themed Valentine’s Day cards.

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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

House panel extends medical cannabis protections (Newsletter: May 18, 2018)

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Research amendment also adopted; Warren back safe injection sites; MI Senate bans marijuana-infused alcohol

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to continue protecting state medical cannabis laws from federal interference. The move circumvents the problem of congressional leadership blocking floor voters on marijuana measures that has persisted over the past several years. During the same bill markup, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), a legalization opponent, successfully offered an amendment encouraging the U.S. Department of Justice to expeditiously approve applications to grow cannabis for use in research.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke about his efforts to legalize hemp.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorsed safe injection facilities for illegal drug consumers.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Voters 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. Government Accountability Office said that anti-drug agencies need to “better

assess strategic efforts.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) testified in support of military veterans’ access to medical cannabis during a House hearing on veterans issues.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted about a House committee vote to extend medical cannabis protections.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) cheered the medical cannabis vote as well.

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) said that legalization “means that Americans will be faced with new forms of the addictive chemical found in marijuana, THC.”

/ STATES

The Illinois Senate sent a bill allowing medical cannabis at schools to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R).

The Michigan Senate voted unanimously to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon said she would no longer use the word “reparations” to refer to racial equity measures concerning the marijuana industry.

Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Svaty is optimistic that the state could legalize marijuana next year.

California Democratic treasurer candidate Fiona Ma is calling on the state to take steps to allow marijuana businesses to access banks.

Pennsylvania regulators filed new rules to shield public access to information about scorers of medical cannabis business license applications.

The Ohio Ballot Board approved a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure for signature collection.

Oklahoma officials will meet on Tuesday to begin planning potential implementation of a medical cannabis ballot measure.

Alaska regulators are overwhelmed with marijuana business license applications.

Oregon regulators are considering new rules concerning marijuana harvesting, which are intended to reduce diversion.

/ ADVOCACY

The Marijuana Policy Project is retaining its former communications director, Mason Tvert of VS Strategies, on a contract to serve as its national spokesperson and to coordinate media relations.

National Urban League CEO Marc Morial said New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon earlier suggestion that marijuana legalization could help provide reparations to communities of color “unfortunately demonstrates a shallow grasp of the vast structural inequities in our economy.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “in recent years, youth have been increasingly likely to use marijuana as their first drug and sequence of initiation is associated with race/ethnicity, gender, and age.”

A study of cannabis consumers concluded that the “vast majority of participants overestimated the quantity of marijuana that they used in their preparations.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Daily News editorial board endorsed marijuana legalization.

/ CULTURE     

Musician Gene Simmons says he was “judgemental, arrogant and uninformed” before he found out about the medical benefits of cannabis.

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Newsletter

Hemp amendments blocked by House GOP (Newsletter: May 17, 2018)

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Primary winners on marijuana; Thailand cabinet OKs medical cannabis; Another PA decrim vote

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. House Rules Committee blocked floor consideration of three industrial hemp amendments, but anti-cannabis Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) suggested that the issue might be worked out later as part of an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He also claimed, seemingly incorrectly, that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supports reclassifying hemp.

Here’s a look at where the winners of this week’s primary elections in four states stand on marijuana law reform.

/ FEDERAL

A California district attorney told President Trump during a meeting on immigration policy that the state’s legalization of marijuana has led to more illegal cultivation on public lands.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted, “We need to stop imprisoning people for smoking marijuana and start prosecuting the crooks on Wall Street whose greed and illegal behavior caused the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Black and Hispanic citizens are arrested at a much higher level than white residents in marijuana-related incidents even though these communities have been found to use marijuana at similar rates. This flagrant racial discrimination must end.”

The U.S. Senate hemp legalization bill got one new cosponsor, for a total of 19.

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana and withhold funding from states with discriminatory enforcement got two new cosponsors, for a total of 37.

/ STATES

Kansas Gov. Jeff Coyler (R) signed a bill exempting CBD from the definition of marijuana.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said he supports medical cannabis but opposes legalizing marijuana.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “Because so few doctors have access to medical marijuana to study its treatment potential, Pennsylvania’s clinical research program will serve as a model to the nation in developing new and innovative treatment options for patients who are suffering.”

Efforts to pass a medical cannabis bill through the Missouri legislature ended after marijuana language was removed from a larger healthcare omnibus bill. [Via a source]

A Florida judge heard a case seeking to overturn the state’s ban on smoking medical cannabis. Separately, the state Supreme Court is asking the regulators to file a response to a lawsuit on patients’ rights to grow their own marijuana.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a gubernatorial candidate, is being accused by the Nevada Democratic Party of not doing more to defend the state’s marijuana law because of campaign contributions from prohibitionist casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidates debated medical cannabis.

Supporters and opponents of Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure are battling over confusion about when the deadline to turn in signature removal forms lapsed.

A Rhode Island senator plans to file a marijuana legalization bill.

West Virginia lawmakers are pushing to enact a fix to medical cannabis businesses’ banking access issue during a special session.

A New York senator filed legislation to allow veterinarians to recommend medical cannabis to animals.

Ohio regulators awarded an additional provisional medical cannabis cultivation license to a company whose application was initially rejected due to a scoring error.

Indiana’s Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will examine industrial hemp issues.

Louisiana lawmakers approved legislation to expand the medical cannabis program. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) dodged a question about whether he would sign the bills, and said he opposes legalizing marijuana. Separately, a medical cannabis pharmacy applicant is suing regulators for awarding a license to a lower-ranked competitor.

Washington State regulators released guidance on new rules concerning CBD products.

North Dakota regulators selected two finalists for medical cannabis production licenses.

California’s insurance commissioner hosted a webinar on the unique insurance needs of the cannabis industry.

A Colorado senator says he trusts President Trump not to interfere with the state’s marijuana laws.

/ LOCAL

The Allentown, Pennsylvania City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

Activists are asking why Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania marijuana arrests are rising following the enactment of a decriminalization ordinance.

Staten Island’s district attorney seemed to criticize moves by his Manhattan and Brooklyn counterparts to stop prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking offenses.

Ithaca, New York Mayor Svante Myrick (D) wants state officials to approve a safe consumption facility for illegal drugs in his city.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Thailand’s cabinet approved legislation to allow medical use of cannabis and other drugs.

A local government in Estonia approved using a flag with a cannabis leaf image after people in an online poll overwhelmingly voted for it.

/ ADVOCACY

Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana is billing his prohibitionist movement as “the resistance.”

270 Strategies’s Jeremy Bird, who served as field director for Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, tweeted, “legalizing marijuana is not some extremist view anymore. It’s just the right thing to do for criminal justice reform, for our economy.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded, “Among children and adults with the Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, the addition of cannabidiol at a dose of 10 mg or 20 mg per kilogram per day to a conventional antiepileptic regimen resulted in greater reductions in the frequency of drop seizures than placebo.”

A study found that “driving stability was significantly impaired after THC, both in simulated and real driving conditions.”

A study concluded that “state implementation of medical marijuana laws between 2004 and 2012 was associated with a 4.72% point increase in the probability that young adults perceived no/low health risk related to marijuana use.”

/ BUSINESS  

Beer Canada, a trade association that represents 50 beer makers, is asking Canadian lawmakers to raise marijuana taxes.

/ CULTURE     

Snoop Dogg said that Tupac and Madonna brought him a big bag of marijuana when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the 1990s.

Actress Hilary Duff is in a dispute with her neighbor over his alleged frequent marijuana smoking.

The Onion riffed on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a federal gambling prohibition:

  • “On the heels of this week’s decision lifting a federal ban on sports betting, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling Wednesday that legalizes all worldly vices, with the justices decreeing that immoral behaviors such as gambling, drug use, prostitution, and incest are ‘all good now.’ ‘It is the opinion of this court that the right to participate in various forms of debauchery, whether heroin injection, illicit sex, or cannibalism, should not be impeded by any law,’ Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, adding that if something is considered unethical or depraved, but you feel like doing it anyway, the court ‘doesn’t give a shit’ and you should just do whatever you want.”

/ CORRECTION

An item in Wednesday’s newsletter about a federal judge sentencing Detroit-area men to prison in a scheme to pay bribes for approval for a medical cannabis dispensary contained the incorrect link.

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Newsletter

Lawmakers approve legal cannabis in US territory (Newsletter: May 16, 2018)

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Trump 2020 campaign targets Colorado; Lots of NYC marijuana developments; NJ medical cannabis program could double

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Senate in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, approved a marijuana legalization bill.

/ FEDERAL

Axios is reporting that President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign is targeting Colorado for a possible pickup, and that “his hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement is a possible selling point.”

A federal judge sentenced Detroit-area men to prison in a scheme to pay bribes for approval for a medical cannabis dispensary.

Here’s a look at the impact of a U.S. Small Business Administration policy blocking loans to companies that work with the marijuana industry.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released an overview of the application of mandatory minimum sentences.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Here’s the quantifiable truth: America’s marijuana laws are not applied or enforced in the same way for all people. We can’t let our country keep making the same mistakes of the past — it’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “I always say marijuana is legal in America if you’re privileged, if you’re at Stanford.”

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) supports local efforts to end prosecution of marijuana offenses.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted about “the cruel racial injustice of the failed prohibition of marijuana.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted, “Approximately 36 percent of marijuana arrest victims in NYC (mostly Black and Latino) have no prior criminal record. Outrageous! This must end. NOW.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted about racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

Virginia Democratic congressional candidates debated marijuana policy.

/ STATES

New Jersey’s health commissioner said the state is on track to double its medical cannabis patient count. Separately, senators filed legislation to significantly expand the medical marijuana program.

California’s insurance commissioner will host a nationwide webinar about the “unique insurance needs of the cannabis industry” on Wednesday.

A Florida judge will hear arguments in a case seeking to overturn the state’s ban on smoking medical cannabis on Wednesday. In a separate case, a patient is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a stay preventing him from growing his own medical marijuana immediately.

Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, currently a congressman, tweeted, “As Colorado’s #cannabis industry goes, so goes the nation’s. I’m ready on Day One to defend legal #marijuana from attacks by the Trump administration. We aren’t going to allow Jeff Sessions to reopen this ugly chapter in the War on Drugs here in CO.”

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is calling for marijuana legalization.

South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Marguerite Willis supports medical cannabis.

Supporters and opponents of Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure angered a county clerk by visiting his home and office close to midnight as the deadline for signature removal forms lapsed.

 

The Indiana legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services will study medical cannabis.

Oregon regulators will consider marijuana packaging and labeling rules on Thursday.

A group of Oklahoma prohibitionists formed a campaign committee to oppose the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

Here’s a look at how marijuana bills fared before Colorado lawmakers this session.

/ LOCAL

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that the NYPD will “overhaul and reform” its marijuana enforcement policies within the next 30 days. To that end, the police commissioner formed a working group to study changes. The Manhattan district attorney announced he will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases. His office released a related report on cannabis policy. Brooklyn’s district attorney announced a similar move.

Meanwhile, New York City’s comptroller released an analysis finding that legalization could generate $436 million annually in new state tax revenue from legal marijuana sales, and the city could bring in as much as $335 million. The City Council speaker said racially disproportionate arrests won’t end “until marijuana is legalized, taxed and regulated in New York City.” The Council did an analysis showing that marijuana arrests don’t directly correlate with complaint calls.

San Francisco, California’s district attorney is partnering with Code for America to use software that makes it easier to expunge marijuana convictions.

Voters in Grant County, Oregon appeared to overturn a ban on marijuana businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The director of the Philippines Bureau of Corrections said he wants to apply the death penalty for low-level drug offences.

/ ADVOCACY

The UK’s Royal College of Nursing is endorsing medical cannabis.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he spoke with New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and that they agreed on the need for racial equity in the marijuana industry and that it is wrong to refer to it with the term “reparations.”

DeRay Mckesson and other activists discussed racial disparities in marijuana enforcement on a Pod Save The People podcast.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “THC:CBD oromucosal spray was shown not to impair driving performance.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that Georgia voters support legalizing marijuana, 55%-35%.

/ BUSINESS  

Baker Technologies, Briteside, Sea Hunter and Sante Veritas Therapeutics merged to form TILT Holdings LLC.

Marijuana delivery service Eaze is being sued for allegedly violating federal law by spamming customers with unsolicited text-message marketing.

Applied DNA Sciences is using manufactured DNA tags to allow tracking of marijuana products.

Adweek looks at marijuana site Herb.

/ CULTURE     

Former NBA star Charles Barkley compared legalizing marijuana to legalizing gambling.

Author Michael Pollan discussed his experience with psychedelic drugs on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and in the New York Times Magazine.

Martha Stewart was surprised to hear that Oprah Winfrey consumes marijuana.

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