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Utah Medical Marijuana Campaign Funding Mainly Slows Down Following Compromise Deal



Newly filed campaign finance reports show that Utah political issues committees (PICs) supporting and opposing the state’s medical marijuana ballot measure have for the most part been winding down fundraising and spending after a legislative compromise deal was made between various stakeholders in early October.

One anti-cannabis committee, however, has continued spending big against the initiative despite the agreement.

Earlier this month, the pro-medical-marijuana Utah Patients Coalition announced that it had come to an agreement with the Utah Medical Association, Mormon church leaders and elected officials to craft and pass a medical marijuana law via the normal legislative process regardless of the result for Proposition 2, which remains on the ballot. Whether the measure passes or fails on Election Day, state lawmakers will hold a special session to work out details for how to make Utah the next medical cannabis state.

At the time of the compromise deal announcement on October 4, the Utah Patients Coalition said it would “de-escalat[e]” media buys in favor of Proposition 2. National advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) similarly said it would “walk away” from further activity in the state.

The latest financial reports filed in accordance with an October 30 deadline confirm that MPP’s last in-kind support reported was on September 28, a week before the compromise was publicly announced. The reports also show that since October 4, the Utah Patients Coalition has not made any media buys, although it did purchase $5,664 worth of yard signs. In total, it spent $34,090 through most of October, $18,204.26 of that since the deal announcement. The group raised $13,904 this month, but only $1,404 of that came in after compromise was reached.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also stated that it would dial down opposition to the proposition in light of the deal. The main PIC that opposes the cannabis ballot measure, Truth About Proposition 2, reported just $190 in cash contributions from September 27 to October 25. They spent only $1,010 this month. The group also recorded $28,036 worth of in-kind services from Walter Plumb, who previously made major cash and in-kind donations to the committee and to another anti-Prop 2 PIC, Drug Safe Utah AKA Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Utah.

The exception to the slowdown is Drug Safe Utah, which reported two sizable contributions in the last half of October. The Utah Medical Association, which had provided $35,000 in staff time to the PIC throughout the year, provided $21,129 in cash on October 16. And NuSkin millionaire Steve Lund’s wife Kalleen Lund contributed $50,000 on October 19. Plumb is recorded as contributing $10,000 in in-kind hours.

The PIC made giant media buys on October 3, the day before the deal was announced, purchasing $241,209 in ads. It spent another $13,217 for ads on October 16, and $6,300 on October 22. It also paid $22,000 for a survey on October 22. In total, Drug Safe Utah spent $425,169 in the last month, $161,906 of that since the compromise was reached.

Another PIC supporting medical marijuana, Patients and Families For Prop 2, hasn’t filed any financial reports in 2018.

It remains to be seen how voters will decide on the ballot measure on Election Day in light of the legislative compromise deal, and messages they have received during the course of the campaign. Support for the initiative, which had polled as high as 64 percent at one point, has waned over the last several weeks. According to a survey released October 16 by the Salt Lake Tribune, 35 percent strongly support the proposition, 16 percent somewhat support, 15 percent oppose somewhat and 31 percent strongly oppose, with three percent undecided.

This story has been updated to include information from Drug Safe Utah’s newly filed campaign finance reports.

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Polly has been creating print, web and video content for a couple of decades now. Recent roles include serving as writer/producer at The Denver Post's Cannabist vertical, and writing content for cannabis businesses.


Senate Schedules Hearing On Marijuana Business Banking Access



In one of the clearest signs of marijuana reform’s growing momentum on Capitol Hill, a Republican-controlled Senate committee has scheduled a hearing for next week that will examine cannabis businesses’ lack of access to banking services.

The formal discussion in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Tuesday comes as legislation aimed at resolving the marijuana industry’s financial services problems is gaining momentum. A House cannabis banking bill that cleared that chamber’s Financial Services Committee with a bipartisan vote in March now has 206 cosponsors—nearly half the body—while companion Senate legislation has 32 out of 100 senators signed on.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

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Congressman Files Marijuana Bill After Leaving Republican Party



In one of his first legislative acts since leaving the Republican Party earlier this month amid a feud with the president, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) filed a bill on Monday that would let states set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because bipartisan legislation that would accomplish the same goal has already been filed this Congress.

But unlike the nearly identical Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, Amash’s new bill excludes one provision that would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the effects of cannabis legalization on road safety and issue a report on its findings within a year of the law’s enactment.

That language states that the GAO must study “traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries” in legal cannabis states, actions taken by those states to “address marihuana-impaired driving,” testing standards being used to detect impaired driving and federal initiatives “aiming to assist States that have legalized marihuana with traffic safety.”

Given Amash’s libertarian leanings, it stands to reason that he opposes spending government dollars to conduct the research and simply supports the broader states’ rights intent of the original legislation.

That would also put him at odds with social justice advocates who feel that the STATES Act itself doesn’t go far enough and are pushing for more comprehensive legislation that includes additional provisions addressing social equity and restorative justice for people harmed by drug law enforcement.

Members of the House Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee heard that debate play out during a historic hearing on ending federal marijuana prohibition last week.

A newly formed coalition of civil rights and drug reform organizations, including the ACLU, is also insisting on passing wide-ranging legislation to deschedule cannabis entirely that also invests in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

Amash is a long-standing critic of the war on drugs and earlier this year signed on as a cosponsor of a separate bill that would federally deschedule marijuana. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, filed that legislation, which is also silent on social equity provisions.

Gabbard also introduced a separate bill that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to study the impacts of legalization. True to form, Amash declined to add his name to that measure as well.

Read the text of Amash’s new cannabis bill below:

AMASH_038_xml by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Former GOP Congressman Explains Why Broad Marijuana Reform Is Achievable In 2020

Photo courtesy of Kyle Jaeger.

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Berkeley City Council Considers Decriminalizing Psychedelics This Week



A resolution to decriminalize psilocybin and other psychedelics will go before a Berkeley, California City Council committee on Wednesday.

Decriminalize Nature, the group behind the measure, also led the charge to successfully get a measure decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi approved by the City Council in neighboring Oakland last month.

In Berkeley, the Public Safety Committee will discuss the proposal and can either decide to hold it for a future meeting or advance it to the full Council. The public is able to attend Wednesday’s special meeting and share their perspective on the resolution, but Decriminalize Nature stressed in a tweet that this “is a small meeting, so you do NOT need to attend.”

However, city residents are being encouraged to write to their Council members and urge them to vote in favor of the measure, which would codify that “no department, agency, board, commission, officer or employee of the city, including without limitation, Berkeley Police Department personnel, shall use any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults of at least 21 years of age.”

The resolution defines the covered substances as “plants and natural sources such as mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indoleamines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.”

Councilmembers Rigel Robinson and Cheryl Davila are sponsoring the resolution, which does not allow for commercial sales or manufacturing.

The lawmakers provided background information on the measure in a report to their colleagues and the mayor, describing the medical potential of various psychedelics as well as the success of decriminalization measures in Denver and Oakland.

“It is intended that this resolution empowers Berkeley residents to be able to grow their own entheogens, share them with their community, and choose the appropriate setting for their intentions instead of having to rely exclusively on the medical establishment, which is slow to adapt and difficult to navigate for many,” they wrote.

While efforts to eliminate criminal penalties associated with psilocybin and other psychedelics have so far centered in jurisdictions that have historically embraced marijuana legalization and broader drug reform, the conversation around decriminalizing psychedelics is spreading nationally.

Shortly after Oakland approved its measure, Decriminalize Nature received inquiries from activities in cities from across the country. The group has kept track of each city where organizers are pursuing decriminalization.

On Monday, a conversation around changing laws governing psychedelics reared during a City Council meeting in Columbia, Missouri. One resident implored the body to take up a resolution to decriminalize the natural substances, pointing to their therapeutic benefits.

Councilmember Mike Trapp said that the student’s proposal should be considered and that a government advisory board on public health should provide input on the medical potential of psychedelics, describing it as “very promising.”

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Two Cannabis Bills While Letting Decriminalization Become Law

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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