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Sessions’s replacement on cannabis enforcement (Newsletter: Nov. 8, 2018)

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DC mayor pushes legal marijuana sales; Midwest is new cannabis reform hub; DOJ’s Marijuana Working Group

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned. Marijuana Moment dug up an old clip of his replacement as acting AG talking about marijuana. In short, Matthew Whitaker seems to acknowledge some medical benefits of cannabis, but his views on federal enforcement might concern marijuana industry operators.

With the change in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced she plans to pursue legal marijuana sales in the nation’s capital in early 2019.

All of a sudden the Midwest is a marijuana reform hub:

  • Four new pro-cannabis-reform governors
  • Legal marijuana in Michigan
  • Medical cannabis in Missouri
  • Five new decrim cities in Ohio
  • 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin approve marijuana advisory measures
  • Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker says he wants to enact legalization “right away.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon was named as chair of the Department of Justice’s National Marijuana Working Group.

The New York Times obtained hundreds of pages of documents this week relating to the Central Intelligence Agency’s  mind-control experiments involving LSD.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted, “More states following Oregon’s lead. More voices calling for reforms to outdated & failed cannabis policies. Now, Congress must act to pass my legislation that will bring our federal approach to cannabis into the 21st century.”

Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said he wants to focus on rescheduling marijuana “immediately.”

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) tweeted, “Yesterday voters in Michigan passed a recreational marijuana bill, & both Missouri and Utah passed medical marijuana initiatives. As a bonus, Jeff Sessions resigned today. Getting rid of government tyranny is tough, which is why you never want it to take hold in the first place.”

/ STATES

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said he still has concerns about legalizing marijuana sales, but “wouldn’t be surprised” if the legislature “came out with something that would move us in that direction.”

Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) is considering options to expunge marijuana records. Separately, the State Police released a statement about the state’s new legal cannabis law. And regulators will consider medical cannabis licenses on Thursday.

Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee (R) is skeptical about medical cannabis.

New York marijuana legalization efforts will get a boost under the newly Democratic-controlled Senate.

Massachusetts regulators approved marijuana testing labs to begin operations, meaning that recreational sales are likely just days away.

Iowa’s first dispensary will begin selling low-THC medical cannabis products on December 1.

Washington State regulators issued emergency license suspensions to a marijuana business over alleged diversion.

North Dakota activists say they will keep pressing for marijuana reform following the defeat of their legalization ballot measure.

Two marijuana-focused political parties in Minnesota are poised to gain major party status after their candidates exceeded vote thresholds in the midterms.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Information about Ontario, Canada marijuana retail customers was obtained in a hack.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that” the risk of advanced liver fibrosis among [hepatitis C virus]‐infected patients who use cannabis was higher than those who do not use cannabis, but the result was not statistically significant.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Singaporeans found that 14% support legalizing marijuana and 39% back allowing medical cannabis.

/ BUSINESS

Marijuana stocks jump following  electoral wins for cannabis ballot measures and the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A criminal defense attorney says Bank of the West is closing his account because of his work for clients facing marijuana-related charges.

Marijuana delivery service Eaze is offering 25% discounts to military veterans starting on Veterans’ Day.

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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.)

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First Senate cannabis bill of 2019 filed (Newsletter: Jan. 21, 2019)

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GOP rep calls colleagues “stupid” for blocking marijuana research; Bloomberg bashes legalization; House Dem sells GOP on descheduling in crim justice

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There are 355 cannabis-related bills currently moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2019 sessions.

Never let a marijuana bill catch you by surprise with exclusive access to Marijuana Moment’s custom-built cannabis legislation tracker for just $25/month.
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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced a bill that would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to research the medical benefits of marijuana for military veterans. While the legislation has the same title as a proposal they filed last year, its updated language more forcefully directs the departing to begin clinical trials on medical cannabis for chronic pain and PTSD.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the fifth top ranking House Democrat and a key criminal justice reform champion, is pushing to include marijuana descheduling in what is tentatively being called the Next Step Act.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called Republican colleagues “stupid” for blocking marijuana research and spoke about cannabis conversations he’s had with President Trump.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is considering a 2020 Democratic presidential run, is far out of step with the party’s voters on marijuana. Legalization “doesn’t make any sense at all” he said last week.

/ FEDERAL

A federal judge expressed doubt about the merits of a case brought by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia against a hemp farm and its associates.

House Democratic leadership filed its third bill this month that would continue blocking Washington, D.C. from using its own money to legalize and regulate marijuana sales.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) supports medical cannabis but doesn’t have a position on full legalization, saying, “If the people of Illinois do support recreational marijuana, then we need to make sure that the federal laws are not going to put them in a gotcha situation.” She also spoke about banking access for cannabis businesses as “something I can certainly help to work on.” (About 5:20 into the clip.)

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that anyone who thinks Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is going to remain confidential “has been smoking some of that medicinal marijuana.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) included “legalize marijuana” in a list of “we could do if Trump and the GOP finally ended their shutdown.”

/ STATES

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said “the train is leaving the station” on marijuana legalization and  “we’re going to be part of it,” but lawmakers aren’t sure if there are enough votes to get a bill to his desk this year.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) spoke about her reasons for including marijuana legalization in her budget proposal (about 10:30 into the video). She also denied rumors that her husband is financially connected to the marijuana industry. Meanwhile the House minority whip said that he’s not “overly puritanical” about marijuana but that he has “major concerns” about driving and workplace issues and would “absolutely” vote no on the governor’s legalization proposal.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) will attend the opening of a medical cannabis dispensary on Thursday.

New Jersey’s Senate president, frustrated that lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) have thus far failed to reach a deal on marijuana legalization legislation, says he’s considering putting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide on.

Vermont’s House speaker committed to taking up legislation to legalize marijuana sales in the chamber’s committees this year.

Texas’s House speaker said if there’s majority support for marijuana decriminalization in his chamber he “won’t get in members’ way,” though he doesn’t think there’s enough support for full legalization.

Tennessee’s House speaker indicated he is sympathetic to patients who want medical cannabis to be legalized.

Arkansas regulators issued the state’s first six medical cannabis dispensary licenses.

North Dakota regulators began issuing medical cannabis patient and caregiver ID cards.

The Alaska attorney general’s office filed a complaint against a California man who allegedly used two stolen business identities to apply for marijuana licenses.

Michigan regulators announced another medical cannabis product recall.

An Oregon senator filed a bill that would allow marijuana exports to other legalized states.

A Kansas senator said he may file a medical cannabis bill as soon as this week.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 300 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress for 2019 sessions. 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.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Portuguese lawmakers defeated marijuana legalization legislation.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena praised the bloody Philippine “drug war” and said it should be an “example to the world.”

/ ADVOCACY

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist tweeted, “Democrats can screw up anything. NY Gov. Cuomo (only recently a champion of prohibition) now wants to legalize marijuana. Ok. The legalization section is 171 pages long. One hundred and Seventy one?”

The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police is opposing marijuana legalization in the state.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “cannabis in [autism spectrum disorders] patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”

A study “re-demonstrated the effects of CBD treatment in vivo, thus confirming its role as a novel, reliable anticancer drug.”

/ BUSINESS

Cannabis investor network Arcview Group plans to raise up to $100 million for its own venture fund.

Amtrak tweeted that the transportation of marijuana on its trains “in any form for any purpose is prohibited, even in states or countries where recreational use is legal or permitted medically.”

/ CULTURE

The new season of HBO’s “High Maintenance” debuted on Sunday.

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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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Governor signs medical cannabis bill in US territory (Newsletter: Jan. 18, 2019)

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CT legalization sponsored by 1/4 of House; Senators press for hemp water rights; Portugal debates two legal marijuana bills; HI legalization in 2019

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 364 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

Check out the perks of being a sponsor on our Patreon page.
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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan (D) signed a medical cannabis bill into law.

More than a quarter of Connecticut’s House of Representatives—including the majority leader and key committee chairs—jointly filed a marijuana legalization bill. It allows home cultivation and delivery services, and would expunge some prior cannabis convictions.

Hawaii’s Senate president said that considering legalizing marijuana will be a priority for the new legislative session.

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are pressing the Bureau of Reclamation to act on hemp growers’ water rights, saying that the ongoing federal shutdown is stalling implementation of the Farm Bill’s provisions legalizing the crop.

Lawmakers in Portugal debated two separate marijuana legalization bills.

A Marijuana Moment fact check debunks a false claim on the House floor by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that 90% of the cannabis in the U.S. is smuggled across the Southern border.

/ FEDERAL

The federal government shutdown is impeding implementation of recently enacted criminal justice reform legislation.

The Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Defense “lacks current strategy and guidance to implement the National Guard counterdrug program.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted, “I support adult & medical use. But that’s not enough! The failed drug war unfairly targeted the poor, veterans, brown people. It’s now not enough to just make it legal. We must have expungement. We must invest tax proceeds back into those communities targeted by the drug war.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she will vote no on William Barr for attorney general, adding that she “fully intend[s] to hold him to these commitments” he made on “respect[ing] state laws legalizing marijuana” and other issues.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) appeared at a press conference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and praised his moves to allow patients to smoke medical cannabis.

The House comprehensive medical cannabis bill got one new cosponsor, for a total of two.

/ STATES

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called on state lawmakers to repeal the law that bans patients from smoking medical cannabis, adding that he will move to withdraw the state’s appeal of a lawsuit on the issue if the legislature fails to act. For now he is filing a request for a stay of opinion in the case. Meanwhile, a senator has already introduced legislation to fix the issue.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) released her budget proposal, which includes her marijuana legalization plan.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he wants lawmakers to hold hearings on marijuana legalization this year.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) continued to defend his position that large cities and counties should be able to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said he is working with lawmakers to properly regulate and implement medical cannabis.

The South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved a resolution calling on the federal government to remove roadblocks to medical cannabis research.

New Hampshire lawmakers filed a marijuana legalization bill.

An Arizona representative introduced a bill to clarify that medical cannabis extracts are allowed.

A Nebraska senator who is working on marijuana reform sent a fiery letter to the state attorney general, who questioned his motives for focusing on the issue.

Utah regulators are instructing manufacturers and retailers of CBD and hemp products to register with the state.

Maine regulators will hold a hearing on an appeal filed by one marijuana implementation consulting firm that is seeking to overturn a contract awarded to another.

Oregon regulators approved fines and suspensions for marijuana business license violations.


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 mayor of Jamaica, Iowa was arrested for allegedly growing marijuana.

Pawhuska, Oklahoma police seized a shipment of industrial hemp from a Colorado company in what could be a key test case on interstate transport of the crop.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Regulators in Thailand are being criticized over its handling of medical cannabis patent applications filed by companies including GW Pharma.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for moving to allow patients to smoke medical cannabis.

/ BUSINESS

Ohio medical cannabis dispensaries sold $75,000 worth of product in the first day of sales, amounting to 8.7 pounds of marijuana.

/ CULTURE

Former boxer Mike Tyson and Joe Rogan discussed using marijuana and psychedelics.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson got into a heated debate about marijuana with pro-legalization author David Bienenstock.

Stephen Colbert tweeted, “Florida is legalizing medical marijuana. Finally, the people of Florida can loosen up!”

Actor Pauly Shore tweeted a pic from a “stoney” photo shoot he did.

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Trump Treasury official wants cannabis banking issues solved (Newsletter: Jan. 17, 2019)

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Congressional marijuana research bill revised; Where POTUS candidate Kirsten Gillibrand stands on cannabis; NORML grades governors on marijuana

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, a top Trump administration Treasury Department official, is calling on Congress to solve marijuana businesses’ banking access issues.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) refiled a new version of his marijuana research bill that the House Judiciary Committee approved last year. The revised legislation removes language from last Congress’s bill—which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee— banning participation from people with drug convictions that advocates had strongly opposed.

Marijuana Moment compiled a comprehensive overview of where presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) stands on cannabis.

A majority of U.S. state governors got passing grades in NORML’s new report card—for the first time ever. Several newly seated governors actively campaigned on legalizing cannabis.

/ FEDERAL

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

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said in a Senate floor speech that legalizing marijuana, while banning menthol, “may be the route we’re on.”

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) included marijuana policy in a list of issues he will get to work on through his new role on a key House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “As a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I will continue to work with my colleagues to end discriminatory practices in marijuana laws. The time for criminal justice reform is now.”

The House bill to codify provisions of the rescinded Cole Memo into law got two new cosponsors, for a total of eight.

/ STATES

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said he would sign a marijuana legalization bill. Meanwhile, the state’s attorney general said he supports medical cannabis.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced in his State of the State speech that next week he will sign an executive order creating a Cannabis Compliance Board so the state can “grow this industry in a way our state can be proud of.” He also said he wants to spend some cannabis tax revenue on school safety measures.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and legislators didn’t appear to get any closer to an agreement on marijuana legalization legislation during negotiations. Meanwhile, the Senate president said in response Murphy’s State of the State address that that legalizing marijuana is among the “important goals we have taken on” and “present[s] demanding legal, social & political challenges.” He added, “We have put in the hard work in the Legislature to develop a plan that addresses the complex demands of adult-use cannabis legalization. We need the cooperative work of leaders to marshal the support of legislators in order to get this done.”

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) tweeted, “Proud to get the top grade on cannabis policy from @NORML. It’s time to legalize marijuana nationally.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he included the option for large cities and counties to opt out of allowing marijuana sales in his legalization plan “because I believe in democracy.”

California officials gave final approval to marijuana regulations, which went into effect immediately. Meanwhile, regulators released an updated marijuana business license search tool and sent a reminder about cannabis excise taxes.

The Virginia House Courts of Justice Subcommittee defeated several marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills.

The Wyoming House Judiciary Committee rejected a CBD decriminalization bill.

Vermont’s attorney general said he supports legalizing and regulating marijuana sales.

Nebraska’s attorney general is speaking out against marijuana law reform.

Virginia’s former attorney general spoke about the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

Michigan regulators approved a measure to allow unlicensed medical cannabis provisioning centers to temporarily reopen. They also released an updated consent and waiver form for the sale or transfer of untested marijuana products.

Ohio medical cannabis sales began.

Louisiana regulators are considering the issue of how much THC should be allowed in medical cannabis doses.

A Missouri appeals court ordered the Cole County prosecutor’s office to pay a man at least $36,000 after trying to block his request for public records about drug enforcement.

Colorado lawmakers are considering at least seven bills that seek to direct marijuana tax revenue to certain programs.

An Oklahoma senator filed a bill to allow counties to opt out of allowing medical cannabis businesses.

Arizona regulators reported that medical cannabis sales increased 40.7% in 2018 as compared to 2017.


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

Denver, Colorado’s mayor walked back his support for supervised consumption sites for illegal drug users and also expressed concern about the city potentially approving a psilocybin ballot measure.

The Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin City Council approved two marijuana advisory ballot questions for the April 2 election.

Boston, Massachusetts’s mayor is concerned about a marijuana dispensary’s proximity to addiction treatment centers.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos joined the pro-legalization Global Commission on Drug Policy.

/ ADVOCACY

Minnesota marijuana legalization supporters and opponents got into a heated argument at a press conference.

Satirical activists The Yes Men included a fictional bill called the “Liberation Act To End Mass Incarceration” that would take “immediate steps to decriminalize use and possession of recreational drugs (for an estimated 1.5 million fewer arrests each year)” in a mock future copy of the Washington Post that they circulated this week to demonstrate what Democrats could and should do with their control of the House of Representatives.

Canadian cannabis activist and businessman Marc Emery issued what appears to be a pre-buttal to a pending Huffington Post article about alleged sexual misconduct.

/ BUSINESS

Oklahoma medical cannabis sales reached nearly $1 million in December, generating about $70,000 in tax revenue.

Cresco Labs and Standard Wellness both claimed in press releases that their Ohio medical cannabis dispensaries conducted the state’s first legal sales to patients.

/ CULTURE

Former boxer Mike Tyson launched a marijuana-focused podcast.

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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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