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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole memo that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.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

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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

Anti-cannabis Pete Sessions at risk of losing seat, polls show (Newsletter: Sep. 26, 2018)

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Feds confirm border ban on marijuana workers; 55 study review: Legalization doesn’t up youth use; Kavanaugh cites “troubling disparity” in enforcement

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released an official statement about the federal government’s policy of banning Canadians who work or invest in the marijuana industry from entering the country.

Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who has blocked every marijuana amendment this Congress from reaching the floor for a vote, is in danger of losing his seat to a cannabis reform supporter, according to two new polls this week.

A meta-analysis involving 55 separate studies confirmed that youth marijuana consumption does not rise after states legalize cannabis.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. State Department boasted that 130 countries signed a drug war declaration circulated by the Trump administration ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website appeared to get hacked with hemp and marijuana-related spam and

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), via written questions, got Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to acknowledge the “troubling disparity” in drug enforcement against people of color.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted, “Congratulations to Seattle for clearing past misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession that were prosecuted before marijuana was legalized. We must decriminalize marijuana nationally and expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) spoke about the marijuana industry’s banking access issues.

Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) are co-sponsoring a medical cannabis conference.

Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA) spoke about his efforts to push back against the U.S.’s border ban on Canadians who work in the marijuana industry.

Tennessee U.S. Senate candidates dodged a question about medical cannabis during a debate.

California Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kevin de Leon spoke at a marijuana event.

/ STATES

Activists behind Utah’s medical cannabis ballot measure met with Mormon Church officials and other interested parties about possible compromise legislation that would address some concerns with the proposal. Meanwhile, the state’s lieutenant governor asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove the medical marijuana initiative from the ballot.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said it would be “fantastic” if Congress legalized hemp.

New Hampshire regulators estimated that legalizing marijuana could generate as much as $58 million a year in tax revenue for the state.

Virginia regulators gave initial approval to five CBD/THC-A  medical cannabis companies.

/ LOCAL

The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Council approved an ordinance to avoid jail time for marijuana possession.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania City Council approved a proposal to decriminalize marijuana.

Medical cannabis businesses are suing Broken Arrow, Oklahoma over restrictive regulations.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Malaysia’s cabinet is considering legalizing medical cannabis.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is signing on as chairman of medical cannabis company InterCure.

/ ADVOCACY

Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey, a Koch-funded group, endorsed a set of principles for marijuana legalization in the state.

Former Marijuana Policy Project head Rob Kampia, who pledged to raise at least $500,000 to oust anti-cannabis Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), has only collected $1,000.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A drug testing company found that the rate of workers testing positive for drugs has increased in marijuana legalization states at about the same amount as the national rate.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that  36% of American adults say the words “pot” and “stoner” have a negative connotation.

A poll found that 62% of Canadians support marijuana legalization but also showed that many are skeptical of the government’s ability to implement it successfully.

A FiveThirtyEight analysis suggests that “the marketing has gotten way ahead of the science” on CBD.

/ BUSINESS

High Times acquired DOPE Media, Inc.

/ CULTURE

Rapper Wyclef Jean spoke about his involvement in the marijuana industry.

Travel writer Rick Steves will campaign for Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure next week.

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Cannabis arrests are rising even as more states legalize (Newsletter: Sep. 25, 2018)

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Trump wants to ban chocolate?; Police use official resources to oppose legal marijuana; Idaho gubernatorial candidates on cannabis

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Marijuana arrests rose in the U.S. in 2017 despite the fact that more states are legalizing cannabis, new FBI data shows. The increase is driven by a rise in possession busts, while arrests for sales and manufacturing were down.

President Trump hosted an anti-drug event at the United Nations and called for an end to “cocoa production,” but he probably meant coca…

Police in two states are being accused of illegally using official social media accounts to campaign against marijuana ballot measures.

Idaho gubernatorial candidates are taking opposite positions on marijuana legalization, with Democrat Paulette Jordan in support and Republican Brad Little opposed.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a petition to review the Drug Enforcement Administration’s rejection of marijuana rescheduling.

A former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s to investigate Elon Musk’s marijuana consumption.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) criticized marijuana’s Schedule I status. (Roughly 11 minutes into the linked audio.)

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is refusing to answer questions about her stance on North Dakota’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) sent a press release criticizing the federal government’s decision to allow importation of marijuana products from Canada:

  • “Allowing a Canadian company to do what American companies are still waiting on the Department of Justice to grant them permission to do is incomprehensible. The United States has countless companies, including several in my home state of Florida, that are well-equipped to provide high quality cannabis extracts, but they are being roadblocked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ senseless witch hunt against an entire industry of legal, state-regulated small businesses. With this announcement, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice’s arcane prohibition on researching the effects of cannabis are now complicit in shipping American jobs and dollars abroad.”

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) tweeted, “Legalizing #marijuana has no impact on crime rates, in some cases decreases crime.”

Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) tweeted a photo of himself meeting with hemp business owners.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted, “I’m very proud of our city for leading the way on decriminalization. The War on Drugs has been a terrible failure.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “#Cannabis has the potential to mitigate opioid abuse and addiction, and early studies indicate that it may even help veterans who suffer from PTSD. We must push for more research access to #UnlockCures.”

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “Since legalized recreational marijuana use, in 2016 alone, law enforcement officers in Colorado confiscated 7,116 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 felony arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of marijuana headed to 36 different states.”

Utah U.S. Senate candidates agree that marijuana should be rescheduled and both oppose recreational legalization, but are split on the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Josh McCall tweeted, “And we can work at the federal level to remove #cannabis from Schedule 1.”

New Mexico Democratic congressional candidate Deb Haaland tweeted, “I am in full favor of the legalization of marijuana. In doing so, we can we can create a major funding source for our public schools and put an end to the disproportionately high sentencing of people of color for marijuana-related offenses. NM is ready.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill adding acute pain management to the list of conditions for which medical cannabis can be recommended as an alternative to opioid use. Separately, he tweeted about the marijuana legalization listening sessions his administration is holding across the state.

A Pennsylvania representative filed a marijuana legalization bill, and advocates held a rally.

Oklahoma regulators announced they have received more than 7,000 medical cannabis license applications, and have approved nearly 5,000.

New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study commission is nearing the end of its review.

Arizona officials added marijuana questions to the state’s car accident reporting form.

North Dakota regulators approved two companies to move ahead in the medical cannabis dispensary licensing process.

Arkansas regulators are expected to finalize a contract this week with a consulting company that will help score medical cannabis dispensary license applications.

/ LOCAL

Seattle, Washington municipal court judges have agreed to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession stemming from before legalization.

  • Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) tweeted, “Great news! This is the next step in tearing down barriers created by a misdemeanor marijuana conviction that has prevented too many Seattle residents from accessing good jobs, housing, loans or education.”

San Francisco, California regulators still haven’t approved any cannabis equity program permits.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Thai officials are considering using a procedural move to expedite consideration of a medical cannabis bill.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said he will sign a decree allowing police to confiscate small amounts of drugs, despite warnings that the move would be in violation of the country’s Constitution.

A group led by the former presidents and prime ministers of Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and other countries released a report calling for the legalization and regulation of drugs.

Canada is being criticized for signing onto a U.S.-led drug war declaration.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

The Journal of Adolescent Health published a series of letters about whether marijuana legalization increases emergency room visits by youth.

/ BUSINESS

Leafly removed its CEO.

CNBC analyst Jim Cramer tweeted, “I don’t think people realize how beneficial cannabis is versus the typical western world pill.”

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss lost a defamation suit over comments related to their consideration of investing in Eaze.

Model Kathy Ireland tweeted about her company’s CBD products.

/ CULTURE

Take a look at these photos of marijuana under an electron microscope.

Comedian Pete Davidson spoke about his decision to consume cannabis again.

Actor Timothée Chalamet said he supports marijuana legalization, citing racial disparities in enforcement.

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O’Rourke And Cruz clash on cannabis at debate (Newsletter: Sep. 24, 2018)

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Kenyan lawmaker files marijuana legalization bill; Willie Nelson want to smoke weed with Trump & Putin; Trump to talk drugs at UN

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) clashed on marijuana and drug policy in a heated exchange during their first debate.

A Kenyan member of Parliament is filing a marijuana legalization bill.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump will host an event on the “World Drug Problem” at the United Nations on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice is moving to dismiss a landlord’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case because he leased space to a marijuana producer.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly considered naming James Cole, author of the famous cannabis Cole Memo, as special counsel before he settled on Robert Mueller.

A federal judge ruled that the Ohio municipalities of Garrettsville and Windham must place marijuana decriminalization measures on their November ballots after local officials initially rejected them.

Former White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, citing the fact that it took a court ruling for a California girl to be able to use medical cannabis at school, said, “We are turning into a nation of rule bound nincompoops.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “The fact that #BothamJean was murdered by a police officer who entered his apartment thinking it was hers, and then police only searched his apartment and revealed that he was in possession of marijuana, highlights what is wrong with our criminal justice system.”

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) tweeted about events to help people expunge low-level marijuana convictions and outstanding summons warrants.

Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) tweeted, “Apparently US will import #MedicalMarijuana from Canada because ⁦AG Sessions and @TheJusticeDept⁩ won’t approve US grower applications. This is peak of absurdity!”

The U.S. House bill to require the federal government to study the impact of state marijuana legalization got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28.

Texas Democratic congressional candidate Colin Allred criticized incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX):

  • His outdated views on the war on drugs are frozen in the 1980s. There are veterans who are suffering from PTSD and other combat injuries and could benefit from medical marijuana right now. They want it, their doctors want to prescribe it, and Congressman Sessions is standing in the way.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced two new marijuana legalization listening sessions in addition to the 15 that had already been scheduled.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a bill to expand marijuana research. He also signed a bill to define cannabis microbusinesses and make changes to fingerprint requirements. Separately, a judge ruled that a kindergartener can bring her cannabis medicine to school.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that some arrests for public use of marijuana will result in citations, rather than people being taken into custody.

Florida Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw announced that if elected he would drop appeals the state is mounting against challenges to medical cannabis restrictions. Separately, a newspaper investigation found that at least 80 candidates for public office are at risk of having their bank accounts closed due to marijuana industry donations.

The sponsor of New Jersey’s marijuana legalization bill expects a vote next month.

A Pennsylvania representative will file a marijuana legalization bill on Monday.

Maine regulators are investigating a restaurant’s practice of blowing marijuana smoke onto lobsters before boiling them to death.

Colorado regulators sent a bulletin about the testing of hemp products by marijuana testing facility licensees.

Oregon regulators upheld the license suspension of marijuana business after it became the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

Questions are being raised about marijuana industry donations to the campaign of Ohio Republican attorney general candidate Dave Yost that came in while he was reviewing the medical cannabis program as state auditor.

Pennsylvania regulators certified eight medical schools as medical cannabis research centers.

Michigan regulators are allowing medical cannabis patients and their doctors to register online.

A Nebraska senator said she will file a medical cannabis bill next year.

/ LOCAL

The Bergen County, New Jersey sheriff caught on tape making racist comments about marijuana legalization has resigned.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country will not be signing onto a Trump administration anti-drug proposal for the United Nations.

A Uruguayan ambassador criticized the U.S. drug war document.

UK regulators released guidance on the definition of medical cannabis products that will be available for prescription. Separately, a former justice secretary is calling for the legalization of all drugs.

Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board is pushing the government to legalize medical cannabis.

Russia and the European Union held consultations on drug policy.

/ ADVOCACY

The Maryland Democratic Party tweeted about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’s support for legalizing marijuana.

The Idaho Republican Party tweeted about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan’s support for legalizing marijuana.

Progressive group Our Revolution endorsed Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “among people who use illicit drugs initiating opioid agonist treatment in Vancouver, at least daily cannabis use was associated with approximately 21% greater odds of retention in treatment compared with less than daily consumption.”

A review found that “marijuana use did not increase the prevalence or progression of hepatic fibrosis in [hepatitis C virus] and HCV–HIV-coinfected patient” and that “on the contrary, we noted a reduction in the prevalence of [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease] in marijuana users.

A study concluded that “cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) can have remarkable analgesic capabilities, as adjuvant of [spinal cord stimulation], for the treatment of chronic refractory pain of [failed back surgery syndrome] patients.”

A study found that “maternal cannabis use may be a risk factor for early initiation among their offspring.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Detroit Free Press editorial board endorsed Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

/ BUSINESS

Acreage Holdings plans to go public in a reverse takeover.

TD Ameritrade said men account for 75% of all marijuana-related securities trades.

Canadian newspapers are creating marijuana-focused beats.

/ CULTURE

Comedy Central’s Jim Jefferies discovered that Amsterdam’s marijuana tolerance means police have basically nothing to do. Two cops even waited outside a coffeeshop while he smoked a joint before joining them on a tour of the city.

The Onion asks, “Can A Serial Marijuana User Like Josh Gordon Fit In With The Patriots’ Cocaine-Based Culture?”

The TV show Snowfall featured a discussion among characters about the racist motivations for and failure of the war on drugs.

Musician Willie Nelson says he’d like to consume cannabis with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

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