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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole memo that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.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

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Cannabis decrim heads to governor’s desk in New Mexico (Newsletter: March 18, 2019)

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Marijuana equity activists protest Boehner SXSW speech; Mexican lawmakers start cannabis talks; Anti-legalization congressman slams DEA

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Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

There are now 938 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

New Mexico lawmakers sent a marijuana decriminalization bill to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). Meanwhile, a broader bill to legalize cannabis sales through state-run stores stalled in committee.

Anti-legalization Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) seemed to slam the Drug Enforcement Administration for refusing to reschedule marijuana during a House hearing.

  • “The DEA is failing the American public here by not letting research take place on marijuana.”

Activists for equity in the marijuana industry protested SXSW speeches by former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and MedMen’s CEO.

New polling analysis from the Pew Research Center shows that independent voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana—regardless of whether they lean Republican or Democrat.

Denver, Colorado officials launched an interactive map that tracks how marijuana tax revenue funds educational programs.

Mexican lawmakers from competing parties teamed up to discuss how to work together to enact marijuana reform.

/ FEDERAL

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy invoked executive privilege to block a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the text of anti-marijuana memos submitted to the office by various federal agencies.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted, ” Hope EVERYONE agrees, we must do all we can to prevent youth marijuana use. Both the product and the delivery systems today can mean MUCH ⬆️ THC to brain than in past, and ⬆️ risk – esp to youth.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and five cosponsors filed a House resolution that “condemns the Government of the Philippines for its role in state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals as part of the ‘War on Drugs.'”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “Legalizing marijuana is about dignity & free choice. Denying both to a dying man is the real crime. I just intro’d bipartisan bill to end federal marijuana prohibition.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted about having dinner with travel writer Rick Steves, adding, “Rick’s the ultimate ethical businessman, using his platform to advocate against hunger & fascism, and for fair taxation & legalization of Marijuana. Grateful for all his work!”

The New York Times looks at how supporting marijuana legalization is a mainstream position for Democratic presidential candidates.

/ STATES

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said she will add marijuana legalization to the agenda for the state’s 2020 legislative session and touted a hemp bill that lawmakers approved this year. Lawmakers also sent a medical cannabis expansion bill to her desk.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted, “Thank you to the Florida Legislature for honoring the will of the people and taking action on medical marijuana.”

Kentucky’s attorney general said he wants to let voters decide on medical cannabis, and that he would vote for it. Meanwhile, the agriculture commissioner tweeted, “In Kentucky, we designed our hemp program to help any family farmer willing to give it a chance.  Hemp once thrived in Kentucky and now we are bringing it back!” He’s set to release new data on the economic impact of hemp on Monday.

Illinois’s treasurer is supporting state legislation to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks.

Idaho’s secretary of state said that pending legislation to make it harder to qualify voter initiatives for the ballot would apply to a medical cannabis and hemp petition that was recently filed.

Delaware’s Department of Justice is supporting a bill to make the possession, use or consumption of a personal use quantity of marijuana by minors a civil violation.

A Massachusetts judge ruled that state regulators do not have the authority to review host community agreements between municipalities and marijuana businesses.

The Maryland Senate voted unanimously to allow the sale of medical cannabis edibles at dispensaries.

New York’s Assembly speaker said he’s still open to considering including marijuana legalization in the final annual state budget.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House Committee on Cannabis approved amendments to the territory’s marijuana legalization law.

The Texas House Public Health Committee created a new subcommittee focused on medical cannabis.

Missouri regulators released draft medical cannabis rules.

An audit by Nevada regulators determined that the state missed out on $500,000 in tax revenue due to discrepancies in data entry by marijuana businesses. Meanwhile, the state’s advisory panel to form a Cannabis Compliance Board met.

A Pennsylvania senator wants to put marijuana legalization on the ballot.

Michigan regulators named 75 people to participate in marijuana legalization implementation working groups.

Alabama regulators approved 180 applications to cultivate hemp.

Arkansas regulators approved a third medical cannabis cultivation business to begin operations.

Here’s a critical look at Minnesota’s medical cannabis task force.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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

A number of New York county executives say they will seek to opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales.

The Denver, Colorado City Council’s Marijuana Committee will hold a Monday hearing on distance requirements for designated cannabis consumption areas.

Former Tallahassee, Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) spoke about his support for legalizing marijuana in an appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Several United Nations agencies released a report on human rights and drug policy.

The Philippines is withdrawing from participation in the International Criminal Court over its inquiry into the nations bloody “war on drugs.”

/ ADVOCACY

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin tweeted, “Despite the majority of Wisconsinites’ support for marijuana legalization, @WisGOP continues to ignore the will of the people. That’s why @GovEvers’ budget legalizes marijuana and addresses the economic and racial disparities surrounding it.”

The Democratic Party of New Mexico touted a marijuana decriminalization bill that was approved by lawmakers.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review of studies on multiple sclerosis spasticity found “evidence for the efficacy and safety of THC:CBD in clinical practice.”

A study found “Sativex as effective and well tolerated for the management of the spasticity of patients with [multiple sclerosis] with moderate to severe grade symptoms.”

/ BUSINESS

The creator of Jelly Belly launched a new line of CBD-infused jelly beans.

Walmart.com is being called out for featuring a marijuana-themed sweatshirt in its juniors section.

/ CULTURE

Snoop Dogg launched a new video game competition called the Gangsta Gaming League, which “will most definitely allow the use of cannabis.”

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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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Bill protects federal workers from being fired for cannabis (Newsletter: March 15, 2019)

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New CT legal marijuana plan; Treasury Sec. pressed about cannabis biz tax issues; O’Rourke’s marijuana record; Cannatourism study

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A trio of key Connecticut House committee chairs announced a new multi-bill plan to legalize marijuana in the state.

Two senators—one Republican and one Democrat—pressed Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin about marijuana business tax deductions and credits during a hearing.

Reps. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK), along with several cosponsors, filed a bill to block federal agencies from firing employees for state-legal marijuana consumption that doesn’t affect their job performance.

Marijuana Moment’s latest presidential candidate overview takes a comprehensive look at former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) long track record on cannabis and drug policy reform.

A study sheds light on the marijuana-related reasons that so many tourists from China travel to Amsterdam.

  • “You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China… So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.”

/ FEDERAL

A federal RICO case against a Massachusetts medical cannabis dispensary was settled with an undisclosed “significant” monetary payment.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a presidential candidate, spoke about racial justice and marijuana legalization.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) made a joke about former House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) support for marijuana law reform.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted, “Agreed, @MeghanMcCain. The stigma around cannabis must go. The potential for treating chronic conditions is just one of the many reasons to legalize.   In ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, there’s too much to gain, with nothing to lose.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “When Americans are arrested for marijuana use, it could make it harder to get into college, find a job, qualify for public assistance or even vote. Legalizing cannabis must include expunging prior low-level offenses and dismissing current possession charges.”

The House marijuana banking bill got 13 new cosponsors, for a total of 126.

The House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor, for a total of 22.

The House bill to require the federal government to study the impact of state marijuana laws got one new cosponsor, for a total of 25.

/ STATES

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a medical cannabis regulation bill into law.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) held a press conference to push for legislation to crack down on marijuana-impaired driving.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that since he took office the state has added 25,500 new patients, nearly 1,000 caregivers and 412 doctors to its medical cannabis program. Meanwhile, the Assembly Appropriations and Senate Judiciary Committees will hold hearings on marijuana legalization bills on Monday, and the Senate president said he is “very close” to getting the 21 votes he needs to pass the legislation.

New Mexico’s marijuana legalization bill appears to have stalled in a key committee just days ahead of the end of the legislative session.

An Idaho committee approved a hemp bill.

The Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee held a hearing on a medical cannabis bill.

The Maine legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee held a hearing on a bill to require insurance companies to cover medical cannabis.

Delaware lawmakers are pushing a package of criminal justice reform bills, including one that would make underage possession or use of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense.

Washington State lawmakers are considering legislation to allow medical cannabis at schools.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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 Hennepin County, Minnesota county attorney said his office will no longer prosecute cases involving possession or sales of less than 100 grams of marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The United Nations System Coordination Task Team issued a report criticizing punitive drug policies.

Ethiopia’s health minister is opposed to medical cannabis.

/ ADVOCACY

The Republican Party of New York tweeted, “The Nassau and Suffolk County Executives are feeling the political pressure of the grassroots opposition to their fellow Democrats’ rush to legalize marijuana. Their half-baked announcement to opt-out is a cop-out.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity said, for some reason, “Just for the record, we don’t know if AOC ever smoked weed although a lot of liberals now who care about late-term abortion, during birth abortion, even after birth abortion and yes they want to legalize weed.”

Kevin Sabet of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana is floating the idea of suing MedMen over unspecified claims.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study “not find evidence that marijuana use in [people living with HIV] is associated with improved pain outcomes, or reduced opioid prescribing.”

A review concluded that “most of the variance in cannabis-related negative consequences was not explained by any single indicator of cannabis use, pointing to the fact that additional factors need to be examined to explain the experience of negative consequences from cannabis use and that additional indicators of cannabis use may be needed.”

/ BUSINESS

A California judge denied a request for an injunction from a marijuana company named Harvest on Geary Inc. that is suing to block another cannabis firm called Harvest of Napa, Inc. from using the name.

/ CULTURE

An artist from the Australian town of Woodenbong is commemorating the area by sculpting a giant wooden bong.

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USDA holds hemp legalization feedback session (Newsletter: March 14, 2019)

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Legal marijuana in NY budget bills; Missouri lawmakers approve expungements; Study: best way to store cannabis; Colorado delivery legislation filed

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…

There are now 922 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.
https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Department of Agriculture held a lengthy listening session at which it received input on in-development hemp legalization regulations from state regulators, Indian tribes and cannabis industry participants.

The Missouri House of Representatives approved a bill to expunge certain prior marijuana records.

Both the New York Senate and Assembly included marijuana legalization language in their new budget proposals. There are some interesting differences, including one chamber supporting cannabis home cultivation contrary to a request from the industry.

Colorado lawmakers filed a bill to allow marijuana deliveries. It’s one of several pending new proposals to expand the state’s cannabis industry.

A study examining the effects of lighting and temperature conditions on marijuana’s THC content over long-term storage concluded that “freezing is the best storage condition to avoid the reduction of the cannabinoids content over time.”

/ FEDERAL

The Drug Enforcement Administration sent a press release warning the public about scams involving people claiming to be federal agents threatening legal action if large fines are not paid over the phone.

The Washington Post takes a critical look at the Obama administration’s handling of fentanyl.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “The war on drugs has in reality been a war on people. We must always recognize human dignity and potential, and help each other.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “On January 17th, @GovRonDeSantis, @JohnMorganESQ and I called upon the Florida legislature to repeal Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana. Today, the legislature did the right thing and successfully responded to our call. Governor DeSantis isn’t just making promises, he’s keeping them. And all Floridians are better for it.”

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) tweeted, “Yesterday, we announced a monumental step forward toward legalizing adult-use marijuana. This will truly make our state stronger and fairer for everyone.” He also discussed the issue in a radio interview. A draft of the agreed upon legislation reportedly contains broad employment protections for cannabis consumers. Meanwhile, the Senate president isn’t into the idea of putting legalization on the ballot if lawmakers can’t pass a bill.

The Florida House of Representatives sent legislation allowing patients to smoke medical cannabis to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The governor tweeted, “I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters.” The state agriculture commissioner cheered the move.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura tweeted, “I truly feel sorry for South Dakota. @govkristinoem denied the state a great opportunity. #Hemp is a food-source for plant based protein, it’s jobs for farmers, it’s FEDERALLY LEGAL. She clearly did ZERO research before vetoing this bill.”

The Oklahoma Senate approved 17 medical cannabis regulation bills.

The Arkansas Senate Public Health Committee approved a bill banning medical cannabis edibles that could appeal to children.

Massachusetts regulators held a listening session about potential changes to the state’s marijuana laws.

Ohio lawmakers are considering hemp legalization legislation.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 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 Cocoa Beach, Florida City Commission approved an ordinance allowing police to issue civil citations for low-level marijuana possession instead of making arrests.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled that the sale of legal low-THC cannabis flowers should be taxed at 25%, just like tobacco.

Zimbabwe officials issued the country’s first medical cannabis production license.

The Canadian government released a report on marijuana supply and demand.

/ ADVOCACY

Lobbying spending by the Colorado marijuana industry is increasing.

Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about equity in the marijuana industry.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “patients with cancer enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program showed significant reduction across all eight symptoms assessed within 4 months of program participation.”

/ BUSINESS

Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz joined Aurora Cannabis Inc. as a strategic advisor.

The New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association says it has expelled MedMen from the organization over racist, sexist and homophobic comments allegedly made by the company’s executives.

/ CULTURE

Marijuana business video game Weedcraft Inc. got an April 11 release date.

PolitiFact ruled that claims about former President Thomas Jefferson and marijuana are “mostly false.”

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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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