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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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole memo that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.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 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 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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NY moves to allow cannabis homegrow for patients (Newsletter: October 22, 2021)

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RI marijuana legalization deal nears; DC drug decriminalization campaign launches; Another local psychedelics resolution approved

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Rhode Island lawmakers are nearing a deal on a marijuana legalization bill that could pass in a special session this fall. Negotiators from the Senate, House and governor’s office are approaching agreement on key issues like expungements, licensing and regulatory bodies.

New York regulators took action to allow medical cannabis patients to grow their own medicine after they previously missed the deadline to do so. The proposed rules will now undergo a public comment period before taking effect. Officials also gave an update on efforts to expunge previous marijuana conviction records.

A coalition of Washington, D.C. activists launched a campaign to pass a local measure to decriminalize drugs and expand access to treatment and harm reduction services.

The Easthampton, Massachusetts City Council approved a resolution supporting decriminalization of psychedelics and other drugs. It’s now the fourth city in the state to adopt such a measure.

/ FEDERAL

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) wrote about his support for marijuana reform in a constituent letter.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) voiced concerns about marijuana and other drugs at a roundtable meeting about border issues.

The House bill to allow CBD as a dietary supplement got one new cosponsor for a total of 33.

/ STATES

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, currently a congressman, tweeted, “When I’m governor, I will push for the full legalization of marijuana and the expungement of all related misdemeanors and third-degree felonies.”

The chairman of the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee said he is working on a bill to legalize marijuana.

A Michigan senator delivered a floor speech about the failure of the war on drugs.

Pennsylvania regulators are accepting applications for permits to grow or process hemp in 2022. Meanwhile, the state Department of Agriculture is encouraging people to participate in a federal hemp survey.

The California Department of Cannabis Control sent a press release marking its first 100 days of existence.

Ohio regulators published an updated list of compliant medical cannabis devices.

Oregon regulators are considering changes to cannabis testing requirements.

New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee is accepting applications for open positions.

Nevada regulators will consider marijuana business issues on Tuesday.

West Virginia regulators will host a medical cannabis patient signup event on Wednesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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


/ INTERNATIONAL


Mexico’s Senate majority leader published a blog post about the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Italian activists have collected more than 620,000 signatures on a proposed marijuana legalization referendum and will deliver the measure to the Court of Cassation on October 28.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “medical cannabis was associated with reduced pain intensity/inference, lower anxiety/depression, and improved sleep and quality of life.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of U.S. adults found that 83 percent think states should require licensed cannabis producers to use secure labels that can’t be counterfeited.

The Reason Foundation published a white paper on Second Amendment rights for marijuana consumers.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership led a letter asking the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to oppose permanently classifying fentanyl-related analogues in Schedule I.

/ BUSINESS

Amazon lobbied on federal cannabis policy last quarter, a disclosure report shows.

Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. is expanding its co-branded line of products with Rolling Stone to additional U.S. markets.

Jushi Holdings Inc. secured a $100 million Senior Secured Credit Facility from a portfolio company of SunStream Bancorp Inc.

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USPS says hemp and CBD vapes are banned from the mail (Newsletter: October 21, 2021)

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FDA will use Reddit to learn about CBD & delta-8; Top Mexican senator: marijuana vote soon; Activist apes erect monolith at DEA headquarters

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If you value Marijuana Moment, invest in our success on Patreon so we can expand our coverage and more readers can benefit: https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Postal Service released its final rule to implement a ban on shipping vaping devices, and it clarified that hemp, CBD and marijuana vapes are generally not mailable—even if the products are federally legal.

The Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to search Reddit and additional “novel” data sources to better understand the health effects of CBD and other marijuana-derived compounds like delta-8 THC “in real-time.”

Mexico’s Senate president said lawmakers will finally pass a marijuana legalization bill “in the coming weeks or months” because there’s “no longer room for the prohibitionist policy.”

  • “We are the Mexico of freedoms, and the people are aware of it.”

Activists dressed as apes erected a 2,001-pound monolith in front of Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters to urge the agency to “evolve” from its drug war mindset—a play on Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released new podcasts about hemp.

Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Co-chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked witnesses at a hearing if the U.S. has “lost the war on marijuana.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said there’s momentum behind marijuana reform at the state level and “it’s a matter of time” before it is federally legalized, though there needs to be action on cannabis banking “right now.”

The House bill to allow CBD as a dietary supplement got one new cosponsor for a total of 32.

The House bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got one new cosponsor for a total of two.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill to ease restrictions on owning and investing in minority-, women- and veteran-owned medical cannabis businesses.

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, currently the agriculture commissioner, called for a state investigation into a new medical cannabis rule issued by regulators that she says creates financial and regulatory burdens that only apply to black farmers.

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Cranley, currently Cincinnati’s mayor, tweeted, “Instead of criminalizing marijuana we should legalize it and invest that money back into our communities. My plan will tax marijuana and use the revenue to create 30,000 jobs per year that pay a minimum of $60,000 per year to build the vital infrastructure that Ohio needs.”

The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to send marijuana legalization bills to interim study, delaying their consideration.

A Mississippi senator detailed new changes in the latest version of a draft medical cannabis bill.

A New York senator slammed the New York Post for its alarmist reporting about a new law that decriminalizes syringes.

An Oklahoma activist filed a court challenge against other activists’ proposed marijuana legalization and medical cannabis ballot initiatives.

Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development sent a press release urging farmers to participate in a federal hemp survey.

Montana regulators proposed marijuana rules and will hold a public hearing on November 16.

Louisiana regulators proposed changes to medical cannabis cultivation rules.

Connecticut regulators proposed recommendations for a public education campaign about marijuana.

South Dakota regulators issued a contract to a company to manage the state’s medical cannabis patient and business registration system.

Massachusetts regulators posted a medical cannabis FAQ.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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

/ INTERNATIONAL

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government will explore ways to reduce barriers to research on psilocybin and other drugs.

Switzerland’s Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States recommended that the country legalize marijuana.

Costa Rica’s Congress approved a bill to legalize medical cannabis.

The Philippine Department of Justice released information about 50 deadly operations in the nation’s bloody “war on drugs.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “about half of participants who ever used CBD for pain reported improved pain, and many substitute CBD for pain medications including opioids and benzodiazepines.”

A case study suggested “a significant analgesic effect of cannabis in the treatment of symptomatic headaches.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll of German citizens found that 30 percent support legalizing marijuana and 59 percent back medical cannabis.

Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana highlighted the fact that Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to committing the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said he believes “this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs” during remarks in court.

The American Family Association is working to dissuade Mississippi lawmakers from passing a medical cannabis bill.

The HIV Legal Network, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs and other groups sent a letter urging Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to prioritize drug policy reform in mandates to his new Cabinet.

/ BUSINESS

HEXO Corp has a new CEO.

COMPASS Pathways plc was granted a U.S. patent for crystalline psilocybin.

/ CULTURE

Ziggy Marley called out Singapore’s government for sentencing a man to death for possessing two pounds of cannabis.

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Senate leaders back DC cannabis sales, bucking Biden (Newsletter: October 20, 2021)

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NY restricts workplace marijuana testing; SD lawmakers approve legalization proposal; CA cannabis environmental cleanup grants

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Senate Appropriations Committee released FY2022 spending legislation that would finally let Washington, D.C. legalize marijuana sales—in contravention of President Joe Biden’s budget request. The House already signed off on eliminating the ban, and Democratic leaders plan to enact a final appropriations package by December 3,

  • The new Senate bills would also protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference, call to reconsider policies that fire federal workers for marijuana and criticize Schedule I research roadblocks.

New York’s Department of Labor issued guidance saying that employers cannot drug test most workers for marijuana—going so far as to say the odor of cannabis cannot be used to prove impairment on the job.

  • “Observable signs of use that do not indicate impairment on their own cannot be cited as an articulable symptom of impairment. Only symptoms that provide objectively observable indications that the employee’s performance of the essential duties or tasks of their position are decreased or lessened may be cited.”

The South Dakota legislature’s Adult-Use Marijuana Study Subcommittee approved a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. Activists don’t necessarily trust that lawmakers will follow through and still plan to move forward with a plan to put another legalization initiative before voters next year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold a workshop this week about a new grants program to help small marijuana cultivators with environmental clean-up and restoration. The funds come from cannabis tax revenue.

/ FEDERAL

Former President Donald Trump reportedly planned to send 250,000 troops to the border and stage military raids against drug cartels inside Mexico until he was dissuaded from doing so by the secretary of defense.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, “The federal prohibition on marijuana has disproportionately harmed young people of color. @SenBooker, @RonWyden, and I are working to pass our Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act to end the federal prohibition and undo the harms of the War on Drugs.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) wrote about his support for federal marijuana law reform in a constituent letter.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a press release and posted a tweet cheering the removal of a rider blocking Washington, D.C. from legalizing marijuana sales in newly released Senate appropriations legislation.

Washington State Democratic congressional candidate Jason Call tweeted, “Let it be known that the incumbent in my district has never supported federal legalization. To be sure, worse than that, he’s voted at least 4 times to allow the DOJ to continue to prosecute people in states where cannabis has been legalized. Like my own state of WA.”

The House bill to deschedule marijuana and fund programs to repair drug war harms got 11 new cosponsors for a total of 87.

The House bill to allow CBD as a dietary supplement got one new cosponsor of a total of 31.

/ STATES

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, currently a congressman, tweeted, “18 states have already legalized recreational marijuana — it’s time Florida does too.”

Virginia Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, currently a delegate, highlighted marijuana legalization as a key accomplishment.

Washington, D.C.’s attorney general tweeted, “After 6 years of advocacy, I’m glad to see Congress respecting the will of DC voters. I hope DC will soon be able to regulate our local marijuana market, direct new tax revenue to communities most impacted by over-criminalization, & take steps to expunge related criminal records.” The Council chairman tweeted, “This is a step in the right direction. We hope that, as the bill moves through the Senate, no rider language is inserted so we can honor the will of District voters and set up a safe, equitable recreational cannabis market.”

California’s attorney general and other officials will participate in a conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the state’s medical cannabis law on November 5.

Wisconsin’s Assembly speaker said he supports medical cannabis but does not support recreational marijuana legalization “at this time.” (About 18:00 into the audio.)

Pennsylvania’s House minority leader said marijuana legalization bills don’t yet have enough momentum to pass.

The chairwoman of Delaware’s Senate Health & Social Services Committee said she is eager to hold a hearing on a marijuana legalization bill if it can clear the House.

The Illinois Supreme Court ordered the consolidation of various lawsuits challenging regulators’ marijuana business licensing award processes.

The South Dakota legislature’s Rules Review Committee will consider newly revised medical cannabis regulations on Monday.

A Wisconsin senator who is sponsoring a marijuana legalization bill held a virtual roundtable meeting about the issue.

A New Jersey judge pointed out that the legalization of marijuana is reducing the number of required court appearances.

Nevada regulators proposed rules on cannabis weighing and measuring.

Colorado regulators are forming a work group on cannabis cross pollination.

Ohio regulators published question and answer responses about medical cannabis dispensary license applications.

Montana regulators will host a cannabis virtual listening session on Friday.

Michigan regulators will host a marijuana social equity education session on October 28.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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

/ LOCAL

A policy by Baltimore, Maryland’s district attorney not to prosecute minor drug possession and prostitution led to fewer new low-level drug and prostitution arrests, almost no rearrests for serious crimes for those who had charges dropped, and fewer 911 calls.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Spain’s Congress rejected a marijuana legalization bill.

Western Australia’s Parliament formed a Select Committee into Cannabis and Hemp.

The Philippine Department of Justice said it will make public information about certain killings in the nation’s bloody “war on drugs.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A case study appears to “demonstrate a possible benefit of ‘CBD oil’ intake that may have resulted in the observed tumour regression.”

A study of rats found that “cannabidiol at dose 10 mg/kg bw exerts anxiolytic effect in a model of acute cold stress.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The South Dakota Democratic Party tweeted, “Kristi Noem opposed medical cannabis. Now she’s using $700,00 from South Dakota taxpayers, meant to implement these measures, as thinly-veiled political ads.”

/ BUSINESS

Trulieve donated $250,000 to a campaign seeking to put a marijuana legalization measure on Florida’s 2022 ballot.

iAnthus is being sued by a former employee who alleges he was demoted because he is black.

Harmony Foundation’s former chief administrative officer filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired after speaking up about the firm’s CEO allegedly using $1 million of company money for a personal investment.

Tilray Canada has a new president.

atai Life Sciences formed a nonprofit arm called atai Impact.

Leafly is hosting a contest to celebrate budtenders.

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