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VA secretary called out on medical cannabis confusion (Newsletter: March 16, 2018)



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  • Mark Larson: “Your Twitter feeds have been spot-on and up-to-date regarding the politics of this emerging economy called medical and adult use marijuana. I don’t think you sleep, you are so dedicated to this cause. Of course I will support you. I know so many people who have a new life thanks to medical marijuana.”

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At a House hearing, U.S. Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin seemed confused about the distinction between prescribing and recommending medical cannabis. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) called the current federal ban on VA doctors issuing recommendations to military veterans a “disgrace.”

A study concluded that employment in the marijuana industry has “positive outcomes” for workers.


President Trump is reportedly preparing to roll out an opioids plan — as soon as Monday — which calls for the use of the death penalty against some people who sell drugs and makes it easier to apply mandatory minimum sentences.

Several members of Congress pushed back against the idea of executing drug sellers.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) tweeted, “We’re still paying for one failed War on Drugs, now @realDonaldTrump is drawing up battle plans for another. Extreme proposals like the death penalty will do nothing to solve the #OpioidCrisis and divert attention from meaningful public health initiatives.”

U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke said the federal government is considering forming task forces to address the illegal cultivation of marijuana on public lands.

A federal judge rejected a Pennsylvania medical cannabis business’s request to remand to state court a dispute about whether its operations should be considered “unlawful” for the purposes of its property deed.

A dispute among lawmakers and advocates about the scope of proposed federal criminal justice reform legislation threatens to derail efforts to pass anything at all.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted, “Our country has an incarceration rate higher than any other nation on the planet. This at a time when Jeff Sessions wants to double down on the failed war on drugs. Let’s end it altogether.”


Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he and other governors are not worried about a federal marijuana crackdown. Separately, regulators approved a schedule for accepting and considering marijuana businesses license applications.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed into law a bill changing how marijuana tax revenue is transferred from the general fund to the state public school fund.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) line-item vetoed the transfer of funds to the state’s medical cannabis program due to concerns about conflicts with federal law.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) reiterated his opposition to legalizing marijuana.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 313-18 to approve a bill preventing state officials from sharing medical cannabis patient information with the federal government.

The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill to preemptively enact stricter medical cannabis regulations ahead of a June vote on a ballot measure on the topic. And the House passed a bill to create a commission to regulate medical cannabis if voters approved the ballot initiative.

The Georgia House of Representatives voted 158-5 to approve a resolution urging Congress to reschedule marijuana.

The Missouri Senate passed an industrial hemp bill.

An Arizona court ruled that a recommendation letter from a California doctor is just as valid as an Arizona-issued medical cannabis ID card.

The Connecticut General Assembly’s General Law Committee held a hearing on marijuana legalization.

Michigan regulators and police closed down 40 medical cannabis businesses that did not apply for licenses.

California assemblymembers are proposing to temporarily lower marijuana taxes.


The New York City Council speaker said he supports legalizing marijuana.

Here’s a look at broad criminal justice reforms being pushed by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s district attorney, including a decision not to prosecute marijuana cases.


The St. Kitts and Nevis government’s marijuana commission will hold a series of public hearings to receive public input that will inform a report with recommendations to the Cabinet.

Brazilian scientists are protesting a police investigation of a marijuana researcher.


The Real Justice PAC launched a petition urging prosecutors to expunge marijuana convictions and drop current cannabis cases.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico adopted a platform plank in support of legalizing marijuana.

The Connecticut Republican Party is conducting an online poll about marijuana legalization.

The New York Cannabis Bar Association is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to reveal details about a commission he is moving to create to study marijuana legalization.


The Los Angeles Times editorial board agrees with Weedmaps that California should license marijuana businesses more quickly, but disagrees with the company’s refusal to remove unlicensed businesses from its website in the meantime.

Carnegie Mellon professor Jonathan Caulkins lays out a proposal for how nonprofit and co-op access to legal marijuana could work.


Home Depot is now selling American Cannabis Company products.

Reuters looks at issues related to quantifying the marijuana market.

Search Engine Land examines the marijuana industry’s online marketing challenges.

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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 and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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