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Trump vows to support federal cannabis reform (Newsletter: April 16, 2018)

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State officials react to federal news; ME gov vows another veto; Dispensary sponsors soccer team

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

President Trump is prepared to “support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue [of marijuana] once and for all,” according to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who in exchange is lifting the hold he placed on Justice Department nominees over the issue.

Here are some key details:

  • The news was confirmed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short.
  • Marijuana Moment learned from a source close to the discussions that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not a party to the deal.
  • A bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), are currently crafting legislation that will be “hopefully moving soon.”
  • Gardner says the proposal will be a “universal fix” for issues facing the industry, including banking access and taxes.

See more details, including reaction from congressional Democrats, here.

/ FEDERAL

Former U.S House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) spoke about the potential impact of his support for marijuana law reform, adding that he has never consumed cannabis.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) opposes legalizing marijuana, which he called “nothing more than a gateway drug,” but said will be offering legislation to allow more research on Schedule I substances.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore F. McCance-Katz disputed the notion that legal marijuana access reduces opioid issues.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted, “More than 2 million in jail, mostly black and brown, many for holding a small amount of marijuana. The drug war is a fiscal and moral failure but before moving on, we must stop imprisoning people of color for something that is effectively no longer illegal in fancy towns.” He also tweeted, “This is becoming big business, which is great. But since our standards have changed so quickly justice requires we let the primarily black and Latino people out of prison whose only crime was possession of marijuana.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) invited a conservative survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida to visit California to “experience our awesome cannabis” upon turning 21, but later apologized and deleted the tweet. He also posted a series of other tweets boasting about the state’s “amazing” and “wonderful” legal marijuana.

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a U.S. Senate candidate, criticized opponent U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) for not doing more to defend their state’s marijuana laws from federal interference.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Boehner announced that he’s “evolved” on marijuana, but how does that help the hundreds of thousands of Americans, mostly people of color, whose lives have been ruined because they were locked up for use?”

The U.S. House bill to repeal a law threatening loss of federal funding for states that don’t suspend drivers’ licenses from people with drug convictions got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 12.

North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate Scott Donaldson posted a lengthy Twitter thread about his support for marijuana law reform.

/ STATES

The Alaska House of Representatives approved a bill to shield access to past marijuana conviction records.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said marijuana legalization implementation legislation advancing before lawmakers would be an “automatic” veto.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed into law a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D),  gubernatorial candidate, said that the federal “climb down” is a “victory”,  but advocates must “continue pressing for change.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) said President Trump has “demonstrated a willingness to go back on his word” and “until there is a formal agreement protecting Washington’s well-regulated marijuana industry, I will continue to stand ready to defend it.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R), a gubernatorial candidate, said she “appreciates” the development of an agreement for the federal government to respect state marijuana laws.

California Treasurer John Chiang (D), a gubernatorial candidate, said, “Assuming the White House doesn’t do another of its erratic flip-flops, I plan to work with Congress to forge implementing legislation that will allow California’s multi-billion industry to come out of the shadows.” He also tweeted about the importance of banking access.

Utah Treasurer David Damschen (R) wrote, “We need the federal government to respect the move among states toward varying degrees of legalization and to better harmonize its laws regarding cannabis-related activities, particularly with respect to banking regulation. This is not a ‘red state’ or ‘blue state’ issue. It is one of states’ rights, public safety and humanitarianism.”

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R), a gubernatorial candidate, said during a debate that “we need quality controlled CBD oils” but expressed concern about broader legalization.

The Colorado House approved legislation to allow school officials to administer medical cannabis to students.

The Arizona House rejected legislation to allow employers to use eye-movement-tracking technology as a way to detect impairment by marijuana and other drugs.

The South Carolina House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee will consider a medical cannabis bill on Thursday.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “As we begin the second phase of implementing our program — which will make medical marijuana available in more of our communities — we’re improving the quality of life for thousands of Pennsylvania patients and their families.”

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon spoke about her support for marijuana legalization. (About 16:15 into the video.)

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who is running again, wouldn’t commit to supporting marijuana legalization when asked.

The New Jersey Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee held a hearing on marijuana legalization.

A Maryland judge discussed shifting views on drug policy in a ruling overturning a manslaughter conviction against a man who sold heroin to someone who died of an overdose:

  • “We know that the lines between lawful and unlawful conduct are changing: recent changes in drug laws have transformed marijuana sales from a serious crime to a growth industry, licensed by states and required to pay taxes. There are places in our world where drug use is treated as a public health problem rather than a criminal problem and, as a result, the distribution of even heroin in those places is highly regulated but not absolutely prohibited.”

Oregon regulators temporarily halted hemp processing certificates.

Here’s a look at pending Arizona medical cannabis legislation.

Arkansas companies slated to receive medical cannabis cultivation licenses are appealing a judge’s order that put licensing on hold.

/ LOCAL

A Palisade, Colorado man who won a town trustee election resigned two days later in order to be able to continue operating marijuana businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canada’s ruling Liberal Party will consider endorsing decriminalizing all drugs this week. Separately, government officials will track marijuana usage by testing sewage.

Australia’s Green Party is calling for marijuana legalization.

The nephew of Meghan Markle, the fiancee of the UK’s Prince Harry, says he’s developing a new marijuana strain to celebrate the royal wedding called Markle’s Sparkle.

/ ADVOCACY

A report from Data For Progress looks at the gap between public support for policies like marijuana legalization and action on those policies by Democratic members of Congress.

Prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana said that the reported deal for President Trump to support cannabis legislation is “ill-conceived and wrong,” adding, “We hope the president – who doesn’t want to be known as the ‘Pot President’ – will reverse course soon. This reckless plan will not go unanswered.”

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded, “Legalization may have the unintended outcome of leading to more favorable intentions to use marijuana and might lead abstainers or experimental users to become more frequent users of marijuana via more positive attitudes and willingness towards marijuana use.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine said that people should not use medical cannabis to treat sleep apnea.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board criticized Utah politicians and institutions like the Mormon Church for opposing medical cannabis.

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board cheered a court ruling on medical cannabis homegrow as a blow against state officials’ delays.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is calling on Pennsylvania regulators to allow dried leaf forms of medical cannabis.

/ BUSINESS  

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading in CBD company Corix Bioscience over concerns about the accuracy of information it had reported.

Colorado retailers sold more than $112 million worth of marijuana products in February.

David Downs, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle’s marijuana vertical GreenState, is stepping down.

/ CULTURE     

The Las Vegas Lights soccer team reportedly became the first professional sports organization to sign a sponsorship deal with a marijuana dispensary.

Montel Williams and Tommy Chong had a Twitter debate about marijuana use by minors.

Actor Zach Braff tweeted, “Can everyone who’s at the main stage check the ground around them please? I lost two small nuggets of Blue Dream. They’re green with orange hairs. I’m lying down under the hemp trapeze and I’m wearing prayer hands emoji leggings. #Coachella”

WGBH looks at marijuana and running.

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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 serves as chairman of 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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