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U.S. territories consider legal cannabis (Newsletter: Feb. 28, 2018)

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Big marijuana focus in IL for March; NJ likely to reschedule marijuana; TN medical cannabis bill advances

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

March is going to be a huge month for marijuana in Illinois, with the state’s biggest county voting on a cannabis ballot question, pro-legalization candidates poised to win March 20 gubernatorial and attorney general primaries and state lawmakers considering legalization legislation.

Legal marijuana could be coming to U.S. territories soon. This week, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo (R)  directed lawmakers to consider legalization to raise revenue in light of the tax cut signed into law by President Trump. And legislators in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are holding hearings on a bill to end cannabis prohibition.

Arkansas TV anchor Donna Terrell disclosed her involvement with a medical cannabis business in an emotional on-air statement: “It’s because of her, my daughter Queah. She died from colon cancer seven years ago.”

/ FEDERAL

U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to research medical cannabis.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions launched a new task force targeting opioid manufacturers and distributors that engage in unlawful practices.

Officials with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of National Drug Control Policy and National Institute on Drug Abuse spoke at an event on drugged driving hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

A new book reports that former President Ronald Reagan was upset about a “distasteful endorsement of pot smoking” in a movie he viewed. Turns out, Reagan actually wrote about it in his diary.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) spoke about legislation he will soon introduced aimed at increasing marijuana research.

The U.S. House bill to allow marijuana businesses to access banks got four new cosponsors, for a total of 88.

The U.S. House bill to exempt state-legal marijuana activity from the Controlled Substances Act got one new cosponsor, for a total of 45.

The U.S. House bill to remove roadblocks to marijuana research got two new cosponsors, for a total of 13.

North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate Steve Woodsmall supports legalizing marijuana.

/ STATES

Nevada lawmakers approved permanent legal marijuana regulations.

The Michigan Senate defeated a bill to repeal a requirement that medical cannabis be transported in locked trunks of cars.

The Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted 4-3 to advance medical cannabis legislation.

New Jersey regulators announced they will not appeal a court ruling mandating that they reconsider marijuana’s Schedule I status under state law. Separately, a survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.

Massachusetts regulators approved more marijuana rules, including measures to ensure an adequate supply of medical cannabis after recreational sales begin.

Utah police charged two people paid to collect signatures for medical cannabis and other ballot measures with forging petitions.

A Maryland House subcommittee voted 6-2 to advance a bill to expand medical cannabis industry participation by people of color, women and small-business owners.

Colorado lawmakers filed legislation to let marijuana retailers allow limited on-site consumption.

Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses.

Delaware’s marijuana legalization task force is expected to approve its final report on Wednesday.

Vermont lawmakers are considering marijuana saliva testing legislation.

Oregon regulators released information about marijuana waste disposal.

/ LOCAL

The Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky Urban County Council unanimously approved a resolution urging state lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis.

A video emerged that appears to show Lumberton, Mississippi’s police chief smoking marijuana.

An Etowah County, Alabama man was arrested on drug trafficking charges just days after he criticized the sheriff in a news story. Police say he had “1,042 grams of cannabis,” which includes the weight of infused butter he had in addition to just a few grams of smokable marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples held a hearing on marijuana legalization’s impact on the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Separately, the federal budget projects legal marijuana will generate $220 million per year in revenue by 2022, and allocates $62.5 million over five years for cannabis education.

/ ADVOCACY

The Anti-Defamation League criticized Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for promoting a “Pot Plot” conspiracy that Jews and the U.S. government are manipulating strains of marijuana to feminize black men.

Americans for Safe Access released a report card on state medical cannabis laws.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

An analysis found that “the seven states (Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington) and DC that legalized recreational use of marijuana between 2012 and 2016 reported a collective 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities for the first six months of 2017 versus the first six months of 2016, whereas all other states reported a collective 5.8 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities.”

A study concluded that “poorer outcome of anxiety disorders among cannabis users may be attributed mainly to differences in baseline factors and not cannabis use.”

A survey found that Ivy Leagues students are more likely than not to have consumed illegal drugs.

Here’s a profile of a researcher studying cannabidiol’s potential to reduce opioid relapses.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New Hampshire adults support legalizing marijuana, 56%-25%.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board is opposed to legalizing marijuana through a constitutional amendment.

Emerson College will “poll all angles of the marijuana issue” with surveys throughout March.

/ BUSINESS

Car insurance rates have increased in every state where recreational marijuana has been legalized, except for Massachusetts.

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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.)

Newsletter

Dems attack GOP congressman for cannabis advocacy (Newsletter: July 13, 2018)

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NY allows medical marijuana for opioid conditions; Lawmakers debate legalization & driving; OK lawmakers vow to fix medical cannabis regulations

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, I called out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for launching a bizarre anti-marijuana attack against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) on Twitter. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told me in a statement that political organization’s tweet, which was deleted following the publication of my piece, was “stupid.”

New York regulators enacted emergency rules allowing medical cannabis for any condition that would normally be prescribed opioids.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee debated the alleged link between marijuana legalization and impaired driving during a hearing.

/ FEDERAL

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said cannabis oil “has proven…to have a positive effect” but that he is concerned about broader medical marijuana being a “back door” to recreational legalization.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “How can we solve the problem of U.S. citizens getting arrested or fined for carrying marijuana bought legally from Canada? Simple, by legalizing marijuana in our nation.”

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor, got a total of 38.

The U.S. House resolution calling for equity in the marijuana industry got one new cosponsor, for a total of 16.

Arizona Democratic congressional candidates spoke about marijuana reform at a forum.

/ STATES

Oklahoma lawmakers formed a bipartisan working group to focus on seeing that medical cannabis is implemented in a way that “conforms to the will of the voters.” House Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address the issue.

  • Supporters of a pending recreational marijuana legalization ballot initiative say they are seeing an uptick in signatures, driven by frustration with restrictions in new medical cannabis regulations.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D), after vetoing legislation to allow medical cannabis for opioid conditions, announced he signed amendments adding reciprocity for out-of-state patients, making certifications last for up to three years and enacting other expansions to the program.

New Jersey’s health commissioner is considering adding opioid addiction as a medical cannabis qualifying condition.

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidates both said at a debate that they favor medical cannabis expansion but oppose recreational marijuana legalization.

Connecticut Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont said the “time has come” for marijuana legalization.

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn said he would do everything in his power to legalize marijuana and would pardon nonviolent cannabis offenders.

Oregon regulators issued a report saying the state’s medical cannabis program has “shortcomings that enabled growers, dispensaries and laboratories to operate without effective oversight.”

Michigan regulators awarded the state’s first four medical cannabis operating licenses. Meanwhile, the Detroit free press looks at the differences between the state’s marijuana legalization proposal and Colorado’s law.

New Mexico regulators sent a letter warning medical cannabis licensees to stop selling CBD and hemp products that were produced outside of the state.

Massachusetts regulators issued another marijuana cultivation license, but it is unlikely that legal sales will begin until August.

Alaska’s lieutenant governor certified regulations concerning marijuana business affiliates, inspection fees, odor control and trade shows.

Arkansas regulators voted to keep medical cannabis cultivation license applications open for 24 months in case any current awardees surrender or lose their licenses. They also approved a rule that would allow hiring an outside consultant to help review and score applications.

Ohio regulators approved more doctors to recommend medical cannabis.

/ LOCAL

The Dane County, Wisconsin Board voted to place a marijuana legalization advisory question on the November ballot. Several other counties have already done the same thing or are considering doing so.

U.S. cities considering opening safe consumption facilities for illegal drugs are wary of federal intervention.

A Denver, Colorado police captain said that a CNN live report on New Year’s Eve about marijuana tourism buses led to a crackdown on those services.

A San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors committee amended a marijuana tax measure that voters could potentially see on the November ballot.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government launched a public consultation on how to recover costs associated with implementing marijuana legalization.

/ ADVOCACY

NORML launched a congressional letter writing campaign.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz picked up on the story about Democrats criticizing a GOP congressman for supporting marijuana reform.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “consumption of medical cannabis flower is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia.”

Here’s a look at how Colorado is handling youth marijuana education under legalization.

/ BUSINESS

Bloomberg looks at how big investors are starting to get involved in the marijuana industry.

Uber reserves the right to delete the accounts of riders who possess — or even just smell like — marijuana during trips.

/ CULTURE

Filmmaker Kevin Smith is piloting a new series starring himself as a marijuana dispensary worker.

Three Massachusetts men are facing animal cruelty charges after a video emerged of them appearing to blow marijuana smoke into a goat’s face.

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James Cole speaks about Sessions undoing his cannabis memo (Newsletter: July 12, 2018)

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New marijuana amendments in Congress; Study: medical cannabis laws lower opioid prescriptions; OK regs signed into law

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Marijuana Moment talked cannabis with former top U.S. Department of Justice  official James Cole. He told us:

  • Good people smoke marijuana, contrary to Jeff Sessions’s claim
  • Federal legalization is inevitable
  • He spoke to President Obama while drafting the Cole Memo

He also said a key reason why there haven’t actually been marijuana enforcement actions since Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo is that many U.S. attorneys are politically ambitious, and cracking down on cannabis is a political loser in many states.

The U.S. House Rules Committee will decide next week whether to allow floor votes on new measures to let marijuana businesses access banks and give Washington, D.C. the ability to spend its own money legalizing and regulating cannabis sales.

Another study found that state medical cannabis laws are associated with significant reductions in opioid prescriptions. “[I]f all the states had legalized medical cannabis by 2014, Medicaid annual spending on opioid prescriptions would be reduced by 17.8 million dollars,” the researchers projected.

/ FEDERAL

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson said that Oklahoma medical cannabis regulations requiring that dispensaries have pharmacists on staff could put those workers at risk of losing their prescribing licenses. The agency is slated to meet with federal prosecutors to determine how to respond to the new state law.

The U.S. Senate’s hemp legalization language in the Farm Bill would bar people with felony drug convictions from participating in the newly legal industry.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for James Carroll’s nomination to be director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The U.S. Department of Justice finalized rules that will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to take into consideration the extent to which a drug is diverted for illegal use when it sets annual opioid production limits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a blog post on how science is being used to detect illegal marijuana grow operations.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) slammed Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) for vetoing a medical cannabis expansion bill, saying that she supports Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa’s (D) primary challenge against him.

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA), who supports medical cannabis, said that he opposes marijuana decriminalization but thinks it’s going to happen anyway. Democratic challenger Anthony Flaccavento supports it.

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted that her opponent, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), “stood on the sidelines while Attorney General Jeff Sessions attacked Nevada’s legal marijuana industry. I’ll work with both parties to defend the will of the voters and keep these businesses free from federal interference.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who supports legalization, dismissed a question about U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s position on marijuana.

Florida Democratic congressional candidates Lauren Baer and Pam Keith support decriminalizing marijuana.

The U.S. House bill to respect state marijuana laws got two new cosponsors, for a total of 23.

/ STATES

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed medical cannabis regulations into law. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Drew Edmondson said the new rules, which ban the sale of smokable forms of marijuana, “represent yet another failure of government.” Advocates are considering a lawsuit.

A woman whose daughter suffers from a seizure disorder filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Washington State restrictions on marijuana advertising because those policies allegedly block patients from receiving information about treatments.

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn said that countywide marijuana legalization advisory ballot questions will boost voter turnout.

Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidates voiced support for medical cannabis.

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said he supports medical cannabis but not marijuana legalization.

Here’s a look at workplace issues related to New York’s medical cannabis law.

/ LOCAL

A La Crosse County, Wisconsin Board committee advanced a marijuana legalization advisory measure for the November ballot.

The Walworth County, Wisconsin Board killed a marijuana legalization advisory measure proposed for November’s ballot.

At least two Vermont municipalities have preemptively enacted local prohibitions on marijuana sales in anticipation of potential future broad statewide legalization.

Here’s a look at how the lure of marijuana tax revenue affects Oregon municipalities’ decision on local cannabis commerce bans.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Canada’s public safety minister says he has discussed the U.S.’s policy of applying lifetime bans on foreigners who have used marijuana  in “virtually every conversation with American counterparts, including the previous and current Secretary of Homeland Security.”

The parents of an epileptic girl who has been hospitalized are asking UK regulators to issue a special license allowing medical cannabis use.

/ ADVOCACY

The Oklahoma Democratic Party criticized regulators’ decision to ban the sale of smokable medical cannabis.

The NAACP’s annual convention will feature programming on “the Fight for Racial Justice on the Cannabis Frontier.”

The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association formed in anticipation of at least one medical marijuana ballot measure being approved this November.

NORML is questioning police tactics that led to the death of a Pennsylvania man being pursued for suspected low-level marijuana cultivation.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A survey found that 50% of Canadian pediatricians have encountered patients who had used medical cannabis.

A survey found that a majority of Australian general practitioners support medical cannabis access.

The journal Nature looks at genetically modified marijuana.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A New England Journal of Medicine op-ed endorses modernizing federal marijuana laws in light of state legalization.

/ BUSINESS

Marijuana dispensaries that sold TreatWell products until the company’s then-CEO Alison Ettell called the police on an eight-year-old girl for selling water without a permit are now holding a fundraiser for the young entrepreneur.

Maryland medical cannabis dispensaries sold $36,654,926 worth of product in the program’s first six months.

The creator of the marijuana-focused podcast High, Good People was chosen as one of ten people to participate in a Spotify workshop for women of color—out of 18,000 applicants.

Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail is hiring three marijuana reporters.

/ CULTURE

The executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association said that the union is considering whether league drug policy changes are needed in light of Canada’s legalization of marijuana.

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A look at all the cannabis amendments blocked in Congress (Newsletter: July 11, 2018)

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Where is SCOTUS nominee on cannabis?; WI voters to decide on marijuana measures; Legalization bill in Brazil

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A deep analysis from Marijuana Moment finds that congressional Republicans have blocked at least 34 marijuana and drug policy amendmendments from being considered on the House floor during this Congress. Among the measures stymied by Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) are six on military veterans’ medical cannabis access, seven on states’ rights and five on banking access.

  • Others concern hemp, taxes, water rights and research, as well as a measure to offer an official apology for the harms of the war on drugs.

A review of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s legal record offers some clues about where he might stand on marijuana and drug policy cases.

Voters in at least 12 Wisconsin counties could have the chance to vote on marijuana legalization ballot measures this November.

A lawmaker in Brazil filed a bill to legalize marijuana.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. attorney for Massachusetts released a statement indicating that he would focus marijuana enforcement efforts on overproduction, sales to minors, organized crime and interstate transportation. But he also mentioned the “use of the federal banking system” as a priority (though it isn’t clear if he was only referring to that conducted by organized crime groups).

The National Republican Congressional Committee is attacking New York Democratic congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano over her past drug use and support for safe consumption facilities. She also backs marijuana legalization.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at a rally about criminal justice reform and tweeted, “For too long the gov solution has been an overzealous war on drugs and putting people away for a very long time.”

U.S. Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted, “I’m proud to work on legalizing hemp for farmers in Oregon and across the country with the bipartisan #HempFarmingAct in the Senate.”

Politico looks at the role marijuana is playing in U.S. Senate races.

/ STATES

Oklahoma regulators voted to ban the sale of smokable forms of medical cannabis and to require that dispensaries employ pharmacists. Some state staffers reportedly received threats over the proposed rules.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed a bill to allow people to petition to expunge their criminal records for crimes that were subsequently decriminalized, such as marijuana possession.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) vetoed a bill to allow medical cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction, substance use and withdrawal symptoms. He said regulators — instead of lawmakers — should decide whether to add new medical marijuana qualifying conditions.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill to allow CBD medication Epidiolex.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is set to decide whether insurers have to pay for medical marijuana in workers’ compensation cases.

Kansas Republican gubernatorial candidates debated medical cannabis.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R), a gubernatorial candidate, named members to the Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access.

Arkansas regulators awarded five medical cannabis cultivation licenses.

Michigan’s former Senate majority leader is campaigning against the marijuana legalization ballot measure.

One Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate called a rival’s marijuana and criminal justice reform positions “Republican-lite.”

New York Democratic attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout tweeted about her support for legalizing marijuana.

New Jersey’s health commissioner will give lectures about medical cannabis at two hospitals on Wednesday.

A West Virginia delegate gave an update on efforts to solve medical cannabis banking access issues.

/ LOCAL

Marijuana legalization supporters at a West Springfield, Massachusetts Town Council meeting on allowing recreational sales were booed and called “potheads” by other attendees.

A former Milwaukee, Wisconsin alderman opened a pop-up  business selling hemp-based CBD products.

/ INTERNATIONAL

UK officials allowed the mother of an epileptic boy to bring medical cannabis oil across the nation’s borders with a special license.

Lawmakers in Peru held a hearing on medical cannabis.

Sri Lanka will institute the death penalty for people who sell illegal drugs.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A Forbes analysis suggests that President Trump and Republicans could make huge political gains by embracing marijuana reform.

/ BUSINESS

Fears are growing that Massachusetts marijuana businesses will not have enough product to meet demand once recreational sales begin.

Reuters looks at how retirees are joining the marijuana industry.

MJ Freeway’s co-founder spoke about a series of hacks and glitches the software company has suffered, saying she has “circumstantial evidence which points to a specific competitor” as the culprit.

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