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Video shows McConnell smiling among hundreds of cannabis plants (Newsletter: January 13, 2020)



Congressional panel’s marijuana memo; Buttigieg won’t hit imaginary joint; CA gov wants cannabis changes; Hawaii decrim in effect; Austin decrim vote

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) reelection campaign posted B-roll footage of him appearing to have a great time chatting with farmers in a field of hundreds of hemp plants.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health released a memo outlining the six cannabis bills that will be the focus of a hearing this week. It also lists witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration and National Institute on Drug Abuse who are set to testify.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), a presidential candidate, declined to take a hit of an imaginary marijuana joint offered by an interviewer, though he did detail his support for legalization.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released a budget proposal that seeks to consolidate marijuana business licenses under a new agency called the Department of Cannabis Control. It also floats changes to the state’s marijuana tax policies.

Hawaii’s new law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana went into effect.

The Austin, Texas City Council is set to vote this month on a plan to “virtually end arrests and fines” for marijuana possession.


The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy tweeted about the U.S. Department of Agriculture extending the public comment period on hemp rules.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “Ban private prisons. Legalize marijuana. End the War on Drugs. We have a lot of work to do to reform a criminal justice system that’s so deeply broken—but we can start there.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) oppose federal marijuana legalization.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “It’s not enough to legalize marijuana if people are still stuck with criminal records for use. Chicago just cleared thousands of marijuana records on the eve of legalization. Expanding this nationwide would begin to make up for the failed war on drugs.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Here’s what we’ll accomplish when we take back our government come November: …  ✔️Legalize marijuana…”

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) tweeted about meeting with hemp industry participants.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) tweeted about a former Boston city councilman who owns a marijuana business saying that “cotton was the cash crop of our enslavement, and I believe cannabis will be the cash crop of our emancipation.”

The House bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got three new cosponsors for a total of 97.


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said that the “growing hemp industry in our state is spurring job creation at every step of the process from seed to shelf.”

New York’s lieutenant governor tweeted, “Recreational marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed in New York. It’s time to get this done. This is about jobs and boosting our economy.”

Virginia’s attorney general spoke at a conference hosted by the state’s NORML chapter and tweeted, “We have an historic opportunity this year to pass meaningful cannabis reform in Virginia. Let’s get to work!”

South Dakota’s House majority leader filed a hemp legalization bill.

Tennessee’s House speaker said he opposes medical cannabis because it is against federal law, though a senator said she will soon introduce a bill on the topic.

Iowa legislative leaders said they will work on a medical cannabis expansion bill this year.

The Mississippi State Board of Health followed up its resolution opposing a medical cannabis ballot measure with a letter outlining members’ concerns.

Missouri regulators begin issuing licenses to medical cannabis-infused products manufacturing facilities. Separately, the state Ethics Commission found that a nonprofit that worked in support of an unsuccessful 2018 medical marijuana ballot measure failed to file disclosure reports with the state.

Texas regulators published proposed hemp rules.

Georgia regulators submitted a hemp pan for federal approval, and are also accepting public comments on cultivation and processing rules.

Washington State regulators will adopt marijuana enforcement changes recommended by a consulting firm.

Michigan regulators issued a recall for marijuana products that failed safety compliance testing.

Questions are being raised about whether a petition firm being used by a Florida marijuana legalization campaign is flouting a restrictive new state law on signature gathering.

Utah regulators said some medical cannabis products will be available by the program’s March launch deadline.

Massachusetts regulators announced a new online medical cannabis system that will allow for automatic verification of identification data for registrations and renewals.

Here’s a look at the prospects for legalizing marijuana in New Mexico this year.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 800 cannabis 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.


Chicago, Illinois’s mayor announced that the city will host a Cannabis Resource Fair “to connect residents with employment and business opportunities, expungement and legal aid assistance, and more information on cannabis regulations and laws within the city.”

Denver, Colorado officials announced a recall of marijuana products due to the presence of elevated yeast and/or mold counts.

The Fairfax County, Virginia commonwealth’s attorney authored an op-ed on his decision not to prosecute marijuana possession cases.

The Atlanta, Georgia Police Department is disbanding its narcotics unit.


A study found that after following marijuana legalization Washington State, “past 30-day cannabis use prevalence in grade 8 decreased by 22.0%, in grade 10 prevalence decreased by 12.7%, and no effect in grade 12” and that “these trends are consistent with those in states without recreational cannabis laws, suggesting that legalization did not impact adolescent use prevalence.”

A study found that “marijuana use does not have a statistically significant effect on labor productivity.”


The American Bankers Association told Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) that some of his floated changes to cannabis banking legislation are unrelated to the scope of the bill and should be handled by other panels.

The ACLU of Virginia said it would “prefer the status quo while we’re waiting for full legalization” instead of enacting marijuana decriminalization in the short term.

The New York Times editorial board included the Food and Drug Administration’s slowness to enact CBD regulations in a piece criticizing the agency’s shortcomings.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board is calling on Missouri’s U.S. Senate delegation to support marijuana banking legislation.


Trulieve Cannabis Corp. sued Grizzly Research LLC for alleged defamation and public dissemination of false and libelous statements about the company.

Several analysts downgraded Aurora Cannabis Inc., and the company’s stock dropped.

Mile High Labs laid off 20 employees.

The Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading for Canadian Cannabis Corp. due to a failure to file periodic reports.

MedMen Enterprises Inc. is partnering with yoga, boxing and wellness studios on a “New Year, New You” campaign.

Octarine Bio IVS, which develops cannabinoid and psilocybin derivatives using microbial fermentation, announced it received funding from private investors including Oskare Capital and former Canopy Growth Corporation CEO Bruce Linton.


Comedian Sinbad signed on as a brand ambassador for CBD company Life Pack Organics.

Musician Robert Plant joked about getting high from secondhand marijuana smoke from the crowd at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

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Photo courtesy of Kyle Jaeger.

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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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