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Trump admin to block asylum over cannabis possession (Newsletter: December 20, 2019)



VT House speaker has votes for legal marijuana sales; SD medical measure cleared for 2020; EPA OKs hemp pesticides; LA DA candidates back drug decrim

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The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security proposed to deny asylum to refugees over misdemeanor marijuana and possession offenses, with an exception for a single instance of being caught with up to 30 grams of cannabis.

  • “Both possessors and traffickers of controlled substances pose a direct threat to the public health and safety interests of the United States, and they should not be entitled to the benefit of asylum.”

For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency approved pesticides for use on hemp crops—just in time for the 2020 growing season.

South Dakota’s secretary of state announced that activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana initiative for the state’s 2020 ballot. It’s the first citizen-led cannabis measure certified in any state for 2020,  but more are likely to be approved soon.

Vermont’s House speaker said a bill to legalize marijuana sales has enough support to pass in her chamber in 2020. The Senate already approved a cannabis commerce bill earlier this year.

  • “Given what I’ve heard from people, I believe there is a solid tri-partisan majority in the House that would like to see tax and regulate pass this year… I believe there is the will in the House to pass it this year.”

Two candidates running to become the next district attorney in Los Angeles County, California voiced support for decriminalizing all drugs at a debate.


The Senate sent President Trump Fiscal Year 2020 spending legislation that continues a rider protecting state medical cannabis laws from federal interference but also blocks Washington, D.C. from spending its own money to legalize marijuana sales.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a case from a medical cannabis operator who argued that a congressional rider protecting state-legal medical marijuana activity from federal enforcement bars his continued incarceration.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), a presidential candidate, laid out a criminal justice reform agenda that includes “an end to the criminal prohibition on marijuana,” “treating those dealing with substance use disorders as patients instead of criminals” and “sentencing reform that provides non-violent drug offenders a real chance at re-entering society.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “Veterans have sacrificed so much for us. But our outdated federal marijuana laws prevent vets who work in their state’s legal cannabis industry from getting a VA-backed home loan to realize the dream of homeownership. I have a bipartisan bill for that.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said he hopes the Trump administration will “weigh in a little more” to help build support for marijuana banking legislation.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) tweeted, “Yesterday, I was proud to introduce a bill with my friend @SenWarren to ensure that veterans who work in the marijuana industry aren’t penalized by the VA when buying a home. We owe our heroes that, and much more.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) tweeted, “Maine’s hemp/cannabis industry, banks & credit unions asked Congress to grant cannabis-related businesses access to financial services. The House said YES to pass the SAFE Banking Act w/ bipartisan support. It’s misguided for the Senate Chairman to say NO. He should reconsider.”

Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Kimberly Graham tweeted that she supports “legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalization for recreational users.”


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said right now is the “perfect time” to pass a medical cannabis bill. The Assembly speaker predicted that the state will legalize medical marijuana, but that “it’s going to take a while.”

Florida’s attorney general filed a state Supreme Court brief arguing that a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure is unconstitutional.

California regulators launched a campaign encouraging consumers to scan QR codes when purchasing marijuana to verify licensed products.

Washington State regulators adopted new marijuana packaging and labeling rules and approved a canopy square footage expansion for producers.

Missouri regulators began issuing medical cannabis testing lab licenses.

Nevada regulators announced a fine and suspension of activities for a marijuana testing lab found to have used “unsound” practices.

A meeting of Massachusetts regulators was interrupted with complaints from economic empowerment applicants who are frustrated their marijuana business license applications haven’t been processed.

Oregon regulators cleared a hemp processing firm after investigating a complaint that it improperly disposed of solvents.

Michigan regulators sent a bulletin inviting people to attend the Midwest iHemp Expo next month.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis 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 chair of the Chicago, Illinois City Council’s Black Caucus threatened to again try to delay legal marijuana sales.


Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley said the government will certify the marijuana decriminalization measure that lawmakers approved on Monday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he doesn’t support decriminalizing drugs but left open the door to changing his mind as he did with marijuana. Separately, regulators will begin testing the effects of cannabis vaping products.

A Norwegian government commission recommended decriminalizing all drugs and expunging prior records.

A Russian court rejected an appeal of a seven-year prison sentence for smuggling less than ten grams of marijuana by an Israeli-American citizen.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year “approximately 12 million (4.7%) U.S. residents aged ≥16 years reported driving under the influence of marijuana, and 2.3 million (0.9%) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs other than marijuana during the past 12 months.”

A study found that “marijuana use is common among orthopedic patients” and that “many patients believe marijuana is beneficial for managing pain and other medical conditions, although most would be willing to stop using marijuana if told it would negatively impact their surgery.”

A case study looked at the experience of “a young lady with recurrent glioma who had refractory seizures despite multiple anti-epileptic agents, who had significant benefit with CBD.”


Polling found that legalizing marijuana is among the top ten most important issues for U.S. independents.

The president of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association said he will resign after an internal investigation cleared him of sexual misconduct.


Amazon says it bans CBD sales, but The Washington Post was able to buy 11 products containing it from the site.

Adweek said MedMen’s “The New Normal” spot was the sixth-best ad of the year.

The Peoria General Wayne A. Downing Airport Board of Commissioners voted to allow passengers to travel with marijuana.

Michigan retailers sold $3.1 million worth of recreational marijuana in the first two weeks of legal sales.

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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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