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Trump administration ends Obama cannabis policy (Newsletter: Jan. 5, 2018)

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VT House approves legalization bill; OK medical cannabis vote date set; Lawmakers push back on Sessions

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole memo that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

The move represents a clear violation of President Trump’s repeated campaign promises to respect state cannabis laws.

A large number of members of Congress and state officials across party lines pushed back against the decision.

Vermont’s House of Representatives approved a marijuana legalization bill, setting up a final Senate vote next week.

/ FEDERAL

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, asked about the federal marijuana move, said, “The president believes in enforcing federal law…that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it’s marijuana or it’s immigration.”

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson wasn’t willing to predict whether the marijuana change would lead to more prosecutions. The official also said there are no current plans to begin sending threat letters to state-legal cannabis businesses. However, an official also wouldn’t rule out medical cannabis prosecutions.

Colorado’s U.S. attorney suggested that the disappearance of the Cole memo wouldn’t change his marijuana enforcement strategy.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio implied that the Sessions move wouldn’t change much.

Vermont’s U.S. attorney also indicated she’s not about to launch a cannabis crackdown.

The same goes for the Western District of Washington’s U.S. attorney.

Oregon’s U.S. attorney suggested he would continue to use Cole memo priorities in determining enforcement actions.

Alaska’s U.S. attorney said he will “continue to use the long-established principles of federal prosecution to determine what cases to charge.”T

he U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said the office will “utilize long-established principles of prosecutorial discretion in pursuing cases.”

Pennsylvania’s U.S. attorney said his office will continue going after “criminal organizations which traffic in all illegal controlled substances, including marijuana.”

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas said he will “continue to exercise our prosecutorial discretion and evaluate criminal cases on an individual basis.”

Rhode Island’s U.S. attorney said he would “evaluate each matter based upon its specific facts, and then rely upon the well-established principals that govern all federal prosecutions when deciding which cases to pursue.”

The Massachusetts U.S attorney said his office would “prosecute bulk cultivation and trafficking cases, and those who use the federal banking system illegally.”

The U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of California said the office will “evaluate violations of those laws in accordance with our district’s federal law enforcement priorities and resources.”

Former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg suggested the removal of the Cole memo wouldn’t change much.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is responding to the federal marijuana change by pushing for even broader state protections in federal spending legislation than just the existing medical cannabis rider.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) seems to want to extend budget protections to cover state recreational laws as well.

Congressman Earl Blumenaeur (D-OR) congratulated Vermont on its marijuana legalization vote.

The U.S. Senate bill to respect state medical cannabis laws got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to eight.

/ STATES

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) placed a medical cannabis measure on the state’s June 26 primary election ballot.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said the state won’t amend its marijuana laws in response to federal enforcement policy changes.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that regulators have approved that state’s first medical cannabis dispensary to begin serving patients.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) says he wants the federal government to distinguish between medical and recreational marijuana.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said the state will move ahead with legal marijuana sales.

California’s top marijuana regulator and attorney general said the state will move ahead with legalization. And an assemblyman will file legislation to prevent state and local police from assisting federal agents in any cannabis crackdowns.

Massachusetts regulators are moving ahead with marijuana legalization implementation.

Ohio regulators said they would continue implementing the medical cannabis program despite federal changes.

Minnesota regulators said their medical cannabis program would continue as well.

The chair of Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board, who is a police chief, resigned in response to the federal move.

Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidates JB Pritzker and Daniel Biss slammed the federal marijuana change.

Louisiana’s attorney general said he supports the move to scale back state marijuana protections.

Indiana’s attorney general also seemed pleased with the change.

New Jersey’s Senate president slammed the federal cannabis move.

A Maine legislative committee hearing on marijuana legalization implementation scheduled for Friday has been canceled.

/ LOCAL

Seattle, Washington Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), a former U.S. attorney, said local police will not assist federal agents in any marijuana crackdowns.

Denver, Colorado Mayor Michael Hancock (D) expressed “severe disappointment” about federal marijuana changes.

The Los Angeles, California City Council president said the city would move ahead with legal marijuana sales.

San Francisco, California’s marijuana permitting will proceed as well.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New Canadian data shows an increasing number of patients and doctors participating in the country’s medical cannabis program.

/ ADVOCACY

The Fraternal Order of Police applauded the Department of Justice’s move to rescind state marijuana law protections.

The National Sheriffs’ Association is also happy.

Prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana could barely contain itself over the federal news.

Freedom Partners, an advocacy group funded by the Koch Brothers, slammed the federal cannabis change.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “current blunt smokers had 1.4 times the odds of purchasing cannabis relative to the cannabis users who had never smoked a blunt” and  “current blunt smokers had greater odds of purchasing cannabis frequently and making the purchases in outdoor settings,” suggesting  that “current blunt smokers compared to other cannabis users are at greater risk of the dangers associated with illegal drug transactions.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

Some Democratic analysts think that the party stands to benefit politically from the Trump administration’s anti-marijuana move.

/ BUSINESS

Marijuana stocks slid following news that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was rescinding guidance on state cannabis laws.

Monsanto tweeted to shoot down rumors it is working on GMO marijuana.

/ CULTURE     

Actor George Takei tweeted, “AG Sessions’s move to override the will of local voters and legislatures when it comes to marijuana laws is just the latest example of conservatives’ using federal power to impose red state values on the whole country. So much for that whole smaller government thing, I guess, eh?”

Actor Richard Schiff tweeted, “The war on drugs was a monumental mistake on so many levels. Militarizing gangs and police forces; mass incarceration; crowning kingpins of trafficking in Mexico, Columbia et al; endangering and handcuffing law enforcement and costing taxpayers over a trillion dollars.”

Late night TV hosts bashed Sessions’s marijuana move.

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.)

Newsletter

Illinois cannabis banking bill filed (Newsletter: November 13, 2019)

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Kamala Harris jokes about CBD body rubs; Senator tours marijuana chocolate factory; USDA gets hundreds of hemp comments

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…

By starting a $10 per month pledge on Patreon—or about 45 cents per issue of this newsletter—you can help us rely less on ads to cover our expenses, hire more journalists and bring you even more marijuana news.
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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a presidential candidate, made a joke about CBD body rubs while making a more serious point about the need for equity in the marijuana industry.

  •  “Let’s talk about CBD, right? All these products, right? That are all of a sudden going to relieve every problem I have, because I’m going to rub it all over my body, right?”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) toured a marijuana-infused chocolate factory operated by Grön Cannabis Confections.

  • “I will keep fighting for this growth industry so it can continue to generate jobs in Oregon and nationwide.”

An Illinois representative filed a bill that would allow marijuana businesses to access some basic banking services and create “special purpose checks” that cannabis operators could use to pay taxes and rent.

More than 500 people have already submitted official comments on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed hemp regulations, weighing in on issues relating to THC testing, “hot” hemp disposal procedures, the implementation of a ban on participation by people with felony drug convictions and more.

/ FEDERAL

Former Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin again spoke in support of medical cannabis research that the department blocked under his leadership.

Sen. Angus King (I-VT) tweeted, “Maine’s hemp farmers are building businesses the right (and legal) way, but outdated federal regulations are blocking their access to vital financial services. This is backwards – we should be encouraging new businesses, not holding them back.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “#Veterans and their doctors should be empowered to make informed decisions about medical marijuana without political interference. My Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would allow veterans to use medicinal marijuana in states where it’s legal.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said in a Veterans Day message that “protecting care for our wounded warriors and giving vets recovering from PTSD and chronic pain safer alternatives to opioids through medical cannabis should be a top priority.”

/ STATES

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), the lieutenant governor and the House speaker appointed members to a body charged with expanding the state’s medical cannabis program.

Massachusetts regulators issued a quarantine order on all marijuana vaping products except for devices intended for vaping medical cannabis flower.

The Wisconsin Assembly approved a bill aligning the state’s hemp regulations with new proposed federal rules.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against doctors who challenged state investigations into their medical cannabis recommendation practices.

Illinois lawmakers are considering legislation to undo a lifetime ban on legislators and their immediate family members from investing in marijuana stocks or owning cannabis business licenses that was mistakenly included in the legalization bill.

A proposed Florida marijuana legalization ballot measure raised more than $1 million in donations from MedMen and Surterra, while a competing measure received a $5,000 contribution from a Trulieve official.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that a proposed psilocybin decriminalization ballot measure would reduce criminal justice costs by a sum “not likely to exceed a few million dollars annually” and could potentially raise some revenues.

A Connecticut representative hosted a press conference to discuss opposition to federal marijuana banking legislation.

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet on December 12.


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.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The El Paso, Texas City Council voted to take steps toward implementing a policy to let police issue citations instead of make arrests in marijuana possession cases.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canadian Securities Administrators issued guidance warning the cannabis industry about “deficient” corporate governance disclosures.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “cannabinoids exhibit antibacterial activity against MRSA, inhibit its ability to form biofilms and eradicate stationary phase cells persistent to antibiotics.”

A review concluded that “large-scale surveys suggest that cannabis may be effective in reducing anxiety, however, these results stand in contrast to equivocal findings from clinical trials.”

A study found that “CBD promoted cell death in gastric cancer.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno spoke about the organization’s recent restructuring and layoffs in an interview at its biennial conference.

Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana was barred from participating in Austin’s Veterans Day parade.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board is urging people to be cautious about marijuana vaping as legalization comes online in Illinois.

/ BUSINESS

Leafly launched a program to assess and certify marijuana testing labs for accuracy and quality.

Terrapin Care Station announced a guaranteed $15/hour minimum wage for all employees.

Acreage Holdings, Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $22.4 million.

Tilray, Inc. reported $51.1 million in quarterly revenue.

Cronos Group Inc. reported $12.7 million in quarterly revenue.

4Front Ventures Corp. announced preliminary quarterly revenue of $16.9 million.

/ CULTURE

Family Feud had a question about where grandma hides her marijuana stash.

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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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Newsletter

Medical cannabis included in candidates’ veterans plans (Newsletter: November 12, 2019)

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Santa Cruz considers psychedelics decrim; Barbara Lee addresses legal marijuana activists; UK approves cannabis medicines for some conditions

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…

By starting a $10 per month pledge on Patreon—or about 45 cents per issue of this newsletter—you can help us rely less on ads to cover our expenses, hire more journalists and bring you even more marijuana news.
https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) all included medical cannabis planks in Veterans Day plans their campaigns released.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted the benefits of medical cannabis for military veterans in a Veterans Day email to NORML’s list, and she delivered a video message on broader marijuana and drug reform at the Drug Policy Alliance conference over the weekend.

The Santa Cruz, California City Council will consider a proposal this week to join other cities in decriminalizing psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump tweeted, “Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma. Children’s health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!”

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that some vaping products should be removed from the market.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Facts, figures, and justice are on our side. We will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and we will finally provide restorative justice to communities of color hit hardest by the failed #WarOnDrugs. We will win this fight.”

/ STATES

The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to take up hemp legislation on Tuesday.

Ohio regulators adopted resolutions clarifying that pharmacists can participate in the state’s medical cannabis program without punishment.

Maine regulators are investigating marijuana advertising at a sports arena.

Michigan regulators issued a bulletin on the marijuana licensing process, and are expected to issue the first recreational business licenses by the end of the month.

The The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, located within New York, will hold referendums on medical cannabis and marijuana legalization 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.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The El Paso, Texas City Council is set to consider a proposal to let police issue citations instead of make arrests for up to four ounces of marijuana on Tuesday.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended that cannabis-based medicines be allowed via the National Health Service for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and intractable nausea and vomiting, but not for chronic pain.

Western Australia officials are moving to let general practitioners prescribe medical cannabis without the involvement of specialists.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “CBD currently represents a promising potential novel treatment for patients with psychosis.”

Yale launched a study into medical cannabis’s effects on chronic pain and stress.

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of Americans found that 73% believe the “problem of drugs” is extremely serious or very serious in the U.S. and that 41% think the nation has made much or some progress in coping with the problem over the last year or two.

/ BUSINESS

Organigram Holdings Inc. announced that it intends to report quarterly revenue of approximately $16.3 million.

Greyling Insurance Brokerage & Risk Consulting launched what it says is the first nationwide Site Pollution Liability Insurance Program for the cannabis industry.

/ CULTURE

Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern said the league should reconsider its ban on marijuana.

Former hockey player Jeremy Roenick is promoting CBD products.

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld spoke about his interest in psychedelic drugs.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Newsletter

Sanders pushes to legalize cannabis for military veterans (Newsletter: November 11, 2019)

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Former FDA head lays out CBD regulation ideas; Congresswoman visits marijuana dispensary; CDC vaping breakthrough

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There are now 1,223 cannabis-related bills 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

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a presidential candidate, signed onto a bill that would federally legalize medical cannabis for military veterans.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is laying out a plan for how the agency can begin regulating CBD products.

  • “FDA can start with supplements and put burden on producers to prove CBD safety at very low levels while ensuring manufacturing standards, purity, minimum levels of active ingredient during a transition period of enforcement discretion – and sweep market of non compliant products.”

Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) visited a marijuana dispensary and discussed cannabis banking and descheduling issues.

/ FEDERAL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reached a “breakthrough” in identifying vitamin E acetate as the likely cause of vaping-related lung injuries, with an official saying that while there are “a few” anecdotal cases of the additive being found in marijuana products from licensed dispensaries, most injuries seem to be linked to informally sourced products. The agency recommended “not using THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, or any e-cigarette, or vaping, products obtained from informal sources.”

Food and Drug Administration Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller is raising concerns about creating an exception for CBD supplements without adequate data on safety.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey published an oped on new federal hemp regulations.

Sen. Angus King (I-ME) sent a letter urging the Senate Banking Committee chairman and ranking member to advance marijuana banking legislation.

Sen Cory Booker (D-NJ), a presidential candidate, spoke about his support for expunging marijuana records, executive clemency and broader criminal justice reform and said that former Vice President Joe Biden (D) should repent for his role in enacting harsh penalties.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “It’s not enough to end the failed and racist War on Drugs – we need real restorative justice for the communities of color most affected. It’s past time to get serious about #MarijuanaJustice.”

The House bill to deschedule marijuana and fund programs to repair the harms of the drug war got one new cosponsor for a total of 53.

/ STATES

The Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives are asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) brought against a law that gives lawmakers veto power over cannabis regulations.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general spoke about his support for legalizing marijuana.

Ohio regulators banned vitamin E acetate additives in marijuana vaping products.

Washington State regulators asked cannabis processors to immediately stop adding vitamin E acetate to vaping products.

Nevada’s auditor determined that the state’s marijuana business licensing process is adequate.

The California Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee held a hearing on marijuana-related employment and workplace issues.

The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee questioned officials from Florida A&M University about its medical cannabis education program.

Michigan medical cannabis businesses want regulators to launch recreational marijuana sales early by letting them move medical products to the adult-use market.

A man facing South Dakota drug charges after being caught with what he said was shipment of hemp from Colorado to Minnesota has pleaded not guilty.


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.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

Boston, Massachusetts’s mayor is returning campaign donations received from marijuana company executives. Meanwhile, the City Council is expected to vote on a proposal overhauling the city’s cannabis business approval process.

The Palm Springs, California City Council adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy on odors emanating from marijuana cultivation businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Finland’s health minister endorsed decriminalizing marijuana.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “cannabis use is increasingly common in women with gynecologic cancer” and that “many women report decreased opioid use after initiation of cannabis for analgesia.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse posted a funding opportunity for research to “determine the biological mechanisms underlying the effects of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system on HIV-associated persistent inflammation and its consequent effects on nervous system function.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The National Republican Senatorial Committee tweeted, “We can’t believe we’re tweeting a @Playboy article, but we have to agree that @CoryGardner is working hard to find solutions for Coloradans in light of marijuana legalization.”

/ BUSINESS

A medical cannabis employment discrimination case against Amazon was moved from New Jersey state court to federal court.

A Leafly investigation unmasked the man behind Honey Cut, maker of a vaping cartridge thickening agent.

/ CULTURE

Musician Neil Young revealed that his use of marijuana has jeopardized his application for U.S. citizenship.

Basketball player Dion Waiters was suspended for 10 games after he reportedly had a “panic attack” following the consumption of a marijuana edible on a team flight.

A follow up to the TV series “Weeds” is in development.

The New York Times looks at senior citizens’ growing interest in ayahuasca.

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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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