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Top senator lists federal cannabis reform as priority (Newsletter: January 27, 2021)



FDA pulls CBD guidance; NM gov talks legal marijuana in State of the State; NY Lt. Gov. on advocates’ equity concerns; NJ police continue arrests

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listed cannabis reform as a top 2021 legislative priority when asked by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

  • “A young man is arrested with a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. He has a criminal record the rest of his life, can’t become a productive citizen—this one won’t hire him, that won’t hire him. Change that. There’s lots to do, and we have to succeed.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) spoke in her State of the State address about how legalizing marijuana will create “tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in new revenue.”

  • “I have no interest in another year of thousands of New Mexicans eager to get to work and make their future in this industry being told ‘no,’ just because that’s easier than doing the hard work to get to ‘yes.’”

The Food and Drug Administration withdrew pending CBD enforcement guidelines that were under review by the Trump White House. The move comes in response to a Biden administration memo freezing pending rules from the former administration, which could also potentially impact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final hemp regulations.

In an interview with Marijuana Moment, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) reacted to advocates’ concerns about new cannabis crimes that would be created by the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) legalization proposal, its lack of home cultivation rights and the amount of funding it directs to social equity efforts. These issues are all on the table for changes by lawmakers, she said.

  • “Much of it is going to be negotiated with the legislature, and all these details can be resolved with their input as well.”

A new analysis shows that Newark, New Jersey police continue to make marijuana arrests at pre-legalization levels even though voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to end prohibition and the state attorney general told prosecutors to pause cannabis cases—a directive he recently extended.


President Joe Biden signed an executive order ending the federal government’s use of private prisons.

A federal court ruled that although marijuana is decriminalized in Maryland, binding precedent held that its odor coming from a person was probable cause for arrest.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) posted a Twitter thread about efforts to eliminate private prisons, saying, “Whether we’re talking about the War on Drugs or the war on people who’ve come here seeking a better life, allowing profit into the equation creates a situation where what is right, or logical, or even most efficient is replaced by what will bring financial gain.”


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers have not made progress resolving disagreements over provisions in legalization implementation legislation concerning underage people, raising the prospects of a veto.

North Carolina’s attorney general spoke about his support for decriminalizing marijuana and studying broader legalization.

Montana’s attorney general expressed concerns about the impact marijuana legalization will have on the usefulness of existing drug-sniffing dogs.

The Virginia House General Laws Committee heard a presentation on Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) marijuana legalization bill, and the panel’s ABC/Gaming Subcommittee also took up the legislation. Meanwhile, a House Labor and Commerce subcommittee approved a bill providing employment protections for medical cannabis patients. Separately, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe released a criminal justice reform plan that includes legalizing marijuana and expunging records. He also tweeted, “Equitable legalization of marijuana is crucial to making VA fairer for all… Let’s do this!”

North Dakota House and Senate committees held hearings on bills to amend the state’s medical cannabis program.

Top Vermont lawmakers are concerned that Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) delay in nominating members to the state’s new cannabis regulatory board could slow the launch of legal sales.

Illinois regulators sent notices to marijuana craft cultivation, infusion and transportation license applicants about how they can improve their proposals.

A Missouri appeals court upheld a lower ruling finding that Metrc can’t charge separate fees to the state and medical cannabis dispensaries in addition to its $5 million contract to oversee licensing of companies and seed-to-sale tracking.

Nevada regulators filed a complaint alleging that Cannex Nevada LLC intentionally gave passing scores to tainted marijuana that should have failed and inflated THC potency results.

A Maryland delegate held a press conference to build support for a marijuana legalization bill he filed.

New York regulars published guidance about the state’s hemp program.

Michigan regulators hosted a podcast about hemp.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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The Des Moines, Iowa City Council put plans to make marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority until state and federal laws change.

The San Diego County, California Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a proposal to  legalize marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas on Wednesday.

The Mecklenberg County, North Carolina district attorney’s office is no longer prosecuting most marijuana and drug possession cases.

Tucson, Arizona’s Planning Commission will hold a study session on proposed amendments on land use for marijuana businesses on Wednesday.


Mexico’s interior secretary said the country will legalize marijuana in the next few months, and at some point should legalize poppies for medical use. Separately, the Sinaloa cartel reportedly plans to use front operations to participate in the country’s legal cannabis industry.

Ukraine’s deputy health minister said he favors legalizing medical cannabis.

The head of Canada’s Conservative Party said he doesn’t support “very serious penalties” for drug possession but dodged a question about decriminalization.


A study found that “amongst older adults with hypertension, cannabis treatment for 3 months was associated with a reduction in 24-hours systolic and diastolic blood pressure values.”


The Medical University of South Carolina is hosting a medical cannabis conference on Friday.

A group of bioethicists published a paper calling for the “immediate decriminalization of all so-called recreational drugs and, ultimately, for their timely and appropriate legal regulation.”


The National  Labor Relations Board’s Philadelphia regional office dismissed unfair labor practice charges against Agri-Kind because it determined the employees in question were agricultural workers who aren’t covered by federal labor law.

Tilray, Inc. was selected by the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products to provide medical cannabis products for studies.

Vireo Health International Inc. announced that its Form 10 Registration Statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission became effective earlier this month.

Field Trip Health Ltd. is opening a psychedelic therapy center in Atlanta, Georgia.

BevCanna Enterprises Inc. announced that its application for a Standard Processing Licence is in the final stages of an in-depth review by Canadian officials.


Martha Stewart launched a line of CBD pet products with Canopy Growth Corporation.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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 and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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