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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 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

Trump AG pick will respect state cannabis laws, he pledges (Newsletter: Jan. 16, 2019)

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Four governors talk marijuana in big speeches; NY legalization details released; Senators press FDA on CBD & hemp restrictions; WA homegrow

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, pledged during a confirmation hearing that he would not “go after companies” complying with state marijuana laws. He also pressed Congress to act to address the growing gap between federal and state cannabis policies.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) revealed key details of his plan to legalize marijuana during a State of the State speech.

Cuomo was one of four state governors who spent time addressing cannabis reform during their State of the State speeches on Tuesday alone—and that doesn’t even count those who did so already earlier this month.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are warning the Food and Drug Administration about overly restrictive hemp and CBD regulations:

  • “We will be closely engaged in the ongoing implementation of our legislation, as it was Congress’ intent to ensure that both U.S producers and consumers have access to a full range of hemp-derived products, including hemp-derived cannabinoids.”

Lawmakers in Washington State have proposed bills to start letting people grow their own marijuana at home.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the first organic certification to a hemp CBD product, according to the manufacturer, RE Botanicals.

Former Obama White House Communications Director Jen Psaki expressed disappointment that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spent time asking U.S. attorney general nominee William Barr about marijuana.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke at length about his efforts to reform federal marijuana laws.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted about broad public support for marijuana legalization.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted that Republicans should “condemn policies that hurt people of color, like mass incarceration” and the “drug war” in addition to criticizing racist comments from Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “I am glad to hear that Mr. Barr supports federalism, and will not punish state-legal cannabis businesses. Mr. Barr says that it is ‘incumbent on Congress’ to act. I look forward to pursuing meaningful cannabis reform in the 116th Congress.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said, “With a Democratic House, our goal now is to get the D.C. marijuana rider removed during the appropriations process so that D.C., just like states, is allowed to commercialize, free from federal interference.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said in a House floor speech that President Trump “has proposed doubling down on the war on drugs, which drains the African American labor pool.”

/ STATES

Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers (D) said his upcoming budget will likely contain the “first step” toward legalizing medical cannabis and that later his administration is likely to make more moves toward full legalization “or call for a statewide referendum” on the issue.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said that U.S. attorney general nominee William Barr’s comments on marijuana enforcement are “very positive” and that “we hope that Congress will follow through and lift the unique restriction on Washington, D.C., so that we can have a safe, regulated system for marijuana sales and drive out the illegal market.”

New York’s attorney general said she “commend[s] statewide efforts to legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana— ending a prohibition that has plagued communities of color for far too long.”

Massachusetts’s attorney general said that Charlton’s bylaw requiring a town meeting to approve contracts between the municipality and marijuana companies is “onerous and impractical.”

Vermont Senate leaders hope to vote on a bill legalizing marijuana sales within the next three weeks. The body’s Judiciary Committee took testimony on the issue on Tuesday. Separately, regulators are considering dividing hemp grown and processed in the state into two separate grades.

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research included marijuana legalization in a list of “major issues’ before lawmakers this year.

West Virginia’s Senate president and House speaker spoke about marijuana reform during a radio interview.

South Carolina lawmakers filed medical cannabis legislation.

Michigan regulators will consider allowing unlicensed medical cannabis businesses to temporarily reopen at a meeting on Wednesday. They also sent a bulletin outlining recent changes to the state’s marijuana laws.

Hawaii regulators approved the first medical cannabis dispensary on Hawaii Island to begin sales.


Marijuana Moment is tracking key cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

We followed more than 900 pieces of cannabis legislation in 2018. Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The Las Vegas, Nevada City Council is considering whether legislation allowing marijuana social use areas should permit both cannabis and alcohol consumption.

Boston, Massachusetts City Council members are requesting a hearing on ensuring equity in the marijuana industry for communities historically targeted by the war on drugs.

The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Public Schools Board of Education approved a policy allowing students to use medical cannabis at schools and clarifying it will not “take any adverse action against an employee for holding a medical marijuana license.”

Denver, Colorado regulators sent guidance about tips for modifying the premises of marijuana businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Joaquín Guzmán Loera (“El Chapo”), according to a witness who testified in the drug cartel leader’s U.S. trial.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that legalizing marijuana makes it more difficult for kids to get their hands on it.

Philippine regulators said that they are currently restricted from studying medical cannabis.

/ ADVOCACY

The Charleston County Republican Party passed a resolution calling on South Carolina lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis.

The New York State Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a position statement outlining its preferred provisions for marijuana legalization.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “∆9-THC enhanced the anesthetic effect of pentobarbital through the CB1 receptor.”

A study concluded that “daily marijuana use is associated with higher odds of job loss.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of West Virginia likely voters found that 68% support medical cannabis but only 26% back marijuana legalization.

The Providence Journal editorial board says that Rhode Island lawmakers should carefully consider Gov. Gina Raimondo’s (D) marijuana legalization plan.

/ CULTURE

Dr. Drew Pinsky said he would rather athletes use medical cannabis than opiates.

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Illinois governor pledges legal cannabis in inauguration speech (Newsletter: Jan. 15, 2019)

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POTUS candidate Julián Castro on marijuana; Sen. Schumer touts Canopy hemp facility; RI legalization details

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Newly sworn-in Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) reiterated his promise to legalize marijuana during his inaugural address.

Marijuana Moment compiled an overview of where Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro stands on cannabis.

  • “Growing evidence from Colorado and other states suggests we can sensibly legalize marijuana use with reasonable controls in place. State voters should have that power.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a press conference to tout a massive hemp farm that Canopy Growth plans to open in New York.

/ FEDERAL

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci will interview former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at a cannabis event outside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland later this month.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “We are going to win [marijuana reform]. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The American people have already spoken in state after state; red state to blue state.”

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) said that marijuana legislation “will be coming to the floor for a vote.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said the fight over whether patients in his state should be able to smoke medical cannabis is “silly.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted, “Marijuana reform is important to a wide range of people, and it’s something this Congress can do.  #LegalizeAmerica #CommonsenseCannabis”

/ STATES

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that moves to reduce marijuana possession penalties have “traction” in the legislature.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s (D) administration released more details of her marijuana legalization plan, which she says she is putting forward “with some reluctance.” She is also planning to add more medical cannabis dispensaries and further restrict home cultivation by patients. Law enforcement groups have expressed concerns with the idea of ending prohibition. Meanwhile, the governor’s staff denied rumors that her husband has interests in the cannabis industry.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that his marijuana legalization plan to be unveiled on Tuesday will allow local governments to opt out of allowing sales. The state’s lieutenant governor said that cannabis is “better than getting hooked on opioids” and that she supports legalization, but she won’t be consuming marijuana herself. She tweeted, “After decades of politicians having to disclose whether they smoked, inhaled or whatever… we’ve reached a new level where NOT smoking #marijuana makes news 😀Let’s get it done — regulate, legalize and tax it. Stop filling jails with young men of color.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he will “very soon” announce actions on medical cannabis litigation and legislation.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of a police officer’s judgement in determining whether a driver was under the influence of marijuana.

The Wisconsin attorney general’s office said it may release guidance on Racine’s ordinance directing local police to issue citations for first-time marijuana violations.

Details are beginning to emerge about Connecticut legislation to legalize marijuana that Democratic lawmakers on working on.

Ohio regulators awarded four medical cannabis dispensary certificates of operation. Sales are expected to begin on Wednesday.

The North Dakota House Human Services Committee held a hearing on three medical cannabis reform bills.

The South Dakota Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard legislation concerning the classification of CBD oil.

Three New Jersey Republican senators are demanding concessions in exchange for votes to pass marijuana legalization legislation.

An Indiana representative filed a marijuana decriminalization bill.

An Arkansas representative introduced a bill to amend the state’s list of medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

A Missouri representative filed a bill requiring that the state’s top medical cannabis regulator be a licensed pharmacist.

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation on medical cannabis testing and labeling.

South Carolina lawmakers are expected to file medical cannabis legislation on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at various tweaks Nevada lawmakers are considering making to the state’s marijuana laws.

Utah regulators released a report tracking marijuana use in the state.

California regulators sent a reminder about marijuana excise tax requirements.


Marijuana Moment is tracking key cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

We followed more than 900 pieces of cannabis legislation in 2018. Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

Prosecutors in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska are moving to dismiss charges against a family that opened a CBD store.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Trinidad and Tobago’s attorney general said a public consultation on decriminalizing marijuana will begin on January 23.

Regulators in Thailand are preparing to draft medical cannabis rules.

Zimbabwe’s finance minister endorsed the idea of exporting marijuana.

The Philippine House speaker and former president said that she has used medical cannabis for a spinal condition.

A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug smuggling in a move that is viewed as possible retaliation for the recent arrest of a Chinese businessman in Canada.

A former premier of Queensland, Australia said that drugs should be legalized.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found evidence “suggesting structural brain and cognitive effects of just one or two instances of cannabis use in adolescence.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Portland Press Herald editorial board is urging Maine lawmakers to pass legislation clearing past marijuana convictions.

/ BUSINESS

Aurora Cannabis Inc. will acquire  Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation in an all-share transaction valued at roughly $175 million.

Surterra Wellness is acquiring New England Treatment Access.

Wired takes a look at marijuana influencers on Instagram.

The Wall Street Journal examines the growth potential of the hemp industry.

The Boston Globe looks at branding decisions made by Massachusetts marijuana companies.

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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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.
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Rhode Island governor proposes legalizing cannabis (Newsletter: Jan. 14, 2019)

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Congressional marijuana bill would codify Cole memo; Vermont legal cannabis sales details; Chicago mayoral candidates unanimously back legalization

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) will formally propose that the state legalize marijuana through her budget proposal this week, though she wants some restrictions that most other legalized states don’t have.

  • “Things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward.”

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and bipartisan group of cosponsors filed the fourth marijuana bill of the new Congress. The proposal would essentially enshrine into federal law the Cole Memo on cannabis enforcement that then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded last year.

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee released details of a draft bill to legalize and regulate marijuana sales. The Senate president said he expects his chamber to “move quickly” on the issue in 2019.

Sen. Kamala Harris(D-CA) attempted a marijuana joke during a late-night TV appearance, though Stephen Colbert didn’t seem amused.

Thirteen Chicago mayoral candidates—including President Obama’s former White House chief of staff and the city’s former top cop—unanimously endorsed marijuana legalization at a forum.

/ FEDERAL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke about racial disparities in marijuana enforcement during a presidential campaign stop in New Hampshire.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted, “Passing the Marijuana Justice Act to end the drug policies in our country that disproportionately target communities of color and reinforce systemic imprisonment of people of color.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), in a House floor speech, said that the debate over a proposed Mexican border wall is “stereotyping and demonizing people coming to America seeking asylum, safety, and refuge from the violence caused by the war on drugs this administration is escalating in Central and South America.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted approvingly about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) support for legalizing marijuana.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted that the “war on drugs” is one issue on which the “political status quo has done so little for so many.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Marijuana has long been a driving force in our country for mass incarceration. As co-chair the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I know that we can end our nation’s outdated and discriminatory marijuana laws and bring about true criminal justice reform.”

Democratic presidential candidate Richard Ojeda, currently a West Virginia state senator, tweeted that legalizing medical cannabis is one of his major accomplishments.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (D) said it is important to him to provide economic opportunities through marijuana legalization legislation to people from communities targeted by the war on drugs. Meanwhile, a senator filed a marijuana legalization placeholder bill.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he will make moves on the state’s pending appeals to medical cannabis regulation lawsuits “probably within a week or two.” Meanwhile, the state’s agriculture commissioner created a new director of cannabis position.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (D) is preparing to dismiss a member of the state’s marijuana regulatory body.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said he expects that marijuana will eventually be legal in all 50 states. Separately, regulators released an updated list of pesticides that are allowed for use in marijuana production.

West Virginia’s attorney general released an opinion analyzing banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

Ohio medical cannabis sales are expected to begin this week.

New Hampshire House committees will consider several marijuana reform bills on Tuesday.

Delaware lawmakers are preparing to file marijuana legalization legislation.

Michigan regulators recalled medical cannabis products from three companies due to failed laboratory testing.

An Arkansas medical cannabis company started cultivation operations.

A conservative Texas representative said that marijuana decriminalization will “definitely” come up this session. He also said the move is “the right policy goal.”

A Washington, D.C. councilmember is pressing the city’s Department of Corrections about whether it punishes employees for legally using medical cannabis.

Here’s a look at some of the considerations New York lawmakers will face in crafting marijuana legalization legislation.


Marijuana Moment is tracking key cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

We followed more than 900 pieces of cannabis legislation in 2018. Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

Westchester County, New York’s district attorney enacted a policy under which possession of less than two ounces of marijuana will no longer result in a criminal conviction.

Minneapolis, Minnesota’s mayor is part of a new statewide group campaigning for marijuana legalization.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing for the development of the country’s hemp industry.

A Philippine lawmaker is accusing colleagues who support medical cannabis legislation of planning to profit from the marijuana industry.

A Swiss pharmacy association wants its members to be able to sell marijuana.

A delegation of Chinese business leaders is set to visit Israel to explore that country’s medical cannabis research sector.

/ ADVOCACY

The Kansas Democratic Party tweeted an article about fears that the state’s Republican lawmakers may block medical cannabis.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “evidence suggests that the use of cannabis and turmeric is potentially beneficial in [inflammatory bowel disease] and [irritable bowel syndrome]” but that “neither has been compared to standard therapy in IBD, and thus should not be recommended as alternative treatment for IBD.”

A study found that “illegal substance use was less prevalent than in previous nightlife and electronic dance music studies.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New York voters support legalizing marijuana, 56%-41%.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board is critical of Missouri regulators’ reluctance to publicly release information about medical cannabis business license applicants.

/ BUSINESS

Cura Cannabis sued Bloom Farms for allegedly creating fake social media accounts to spread sexual assault allegations against one of its investors.

/ CULTURE

Actress Halle Berry said she uses CBD for menstrual relief.

The trailer for the new season of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie shows characters getting high on marijuana edibles.

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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.
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