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Voters oppose fed cannabis intervention, polls find (Newsletter: Jan. 12, 2018)

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CO gov bashes feds in State of the State; Mayors push back against Sessions; Trump hosts prison reform meeting

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

New polls, including one from Quinnipiac University, found that voters overwhelmingly oppose federal interference with state marijuana laws.

Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas (D-MA) mentioned marijuana to President Trump during an Oval Office bill signing ceremony. “I encourage you to focus your efforts on further funding and thinking about opioids. And marijuana, we can talk about at another time,” she said. The president responded, simply: “OK, that’s OK, that’s OK.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) forcefully pushed back against federal marijuana changes in his State of the State address.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump hosted a roundtable meeting on prison reform at the White House.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and four cosponsors filed a bill to “protect states and individuals in states that have laws which permit the use of cannabis.”

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of an Ohio man who was purged from voter rolls and was unable to vote for a 2015 marijuana legalization ballot measure.

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) sent a letter asking the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to maintain its guidance on banking services for marijuana businesses.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said in a floor speech that wants to work to “blaze new trails on medical marijuana research” before retiring at the end of this Congress.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said in a House floor debate about surveillance legislation that he is concerned the federal government can scour databases for “for evidence that you use marijuana.”

Former Washington State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D), who is challenging Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), said she supports letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate, says he supports ending federal marijuana prohibition.

The U.S. House bill to deschedule marijuana got two new cosponsors, bringing the total to 22.

The U.S. House bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to 22.

The U.S. House bill to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference got one new cosponsor, bringing the total to two.

/ STATES

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said he will make good on his previous pledge to sign a marijuana legalization bill into law.

Massachusetts police said they won’t assist federal authorities in any actions against state-legal marijuana businesses.

Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker will hold a Friday press conference about marijuana.Missouri activists announced they have collected more than 150,000 signatures in support of a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure.

New York lawmakers held a hearing on marijuana legalization.

Iowa regulators approved medical cannabis rules.The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ordered regulators to rerelease medical cannabis business license applications with fewer redactions.

A New Jersey senator filed a marijuana legalization bill.

An Illinois senator introduced a bill to place a marijuana legalization referendum before voters in November.

A West Virginia delegate introduced a marijuana legalization bill.

A Virginia delegate filed a marijuana decriminalization bill.

A Kentucky representative introduced medical cannabis legislation.

A California assemblymember filed a resolution criticizing federal marijuana enforcement changes. Separately, regulators created a new “fresh” category for cannabis taxes.

The parents of an 11-year-old girl sued the state of Illinois and a school district for not allowing her to consume medical cannabis on campus.

North Dakota regulators established medical cannabis regions of the state.

Arkansas regulators released the names and proposed locations of medical cannabis cultivation and dispensary license applicants.Montana’s medical cannabis patient count is on the rise.

Iowa police admitted that they do not always test seized CBD products to confirm that they contain illegal concentrations of THC.

Colorado police are using marijuana tax revenue to fund programs directing people struggling with drug addiction and mental health disorders toward treatment and housing instead of incarceration.

/ LOCAL

The mayors of New York, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia and other cities sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, pushing back on his anti-marijuana memo.

Harris County, Texas’s district attorney is warning people caught with marijuana to attend drug classes that are part of a new diversion program, or face arrest.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Iran’s judiciary is allowing people facing the death penalty for a drug conviction to have their cases reheard.

Portugal lawmakers began debating medical cannabis legislation.

Canada’s government sent a reminder that the deadline to submit comment on proposed legal marijuana regulations is coming up.

A number of Caribbean countries, including The Bahamas, are considering marijuana decriminalization.

/ ADVOCACY

The Marijuana Policy Project released its 2018 strategic plan, including federal priorities and the states it will target for ballot initiatives and legislation.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study examined how wildlife, including owls, are being poisoned by chemicals at illegal marijuana grow sites in California.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 62% of Oklahomans support a medical cannabis measure appearing on the state’s June primary ballot.

A poll found that U.S. Latinos support legalizing marijuana possession, 50%-44%.

/ CULTURE     

Actor Mark Ruffalo tweeted about the economic benefits of marijuana legalization.

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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

Dem senator “disappointed” colleagues blocked cannabis banking amendment (Newsletter: July 17, 2018)

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GOP shuts down more marijuana votes; Major counties org backs federal reform; A look at the Border Patrol’s friendlier cannabis past

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The National Association of Counties, which represents the U.S.’s 3,069 county governments, adopted platform planks calling on the federal government to respect state marijuana laws and increase cannabis businesses’ access to banks.

The U.S. House Rules Committee blocked floor votes on amendments to let cannabis businesses access banks and to allow Washington, D.C. to spend its own money legalizing and regulating marijuana sales.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), answering a question Marijuana Moment suggested to BuzzFeed’s editor, said he is “disappointed” that fellow Democrats blocked his cannabis banking measure from advancing last month.

American border officials are now applying lifetime visitation bans on Canadians who’ve used cannabis or work in the industry, but Marijuana Moment dug up a little-noticed U.S. Customs and Border Protection blog post about when the feds were “not overly concerned with marijuana.” The post title: “Did You Know… Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import?”

A study concluded that a “jay-dar” phenomenon exists. That is, people can often identify marijuana consumers based on appearance alone.

/ FEDERAL

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting public comment concerning its plans to revise agency fact sheets on drug-impaired driving.

A former congressional aide was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after being convicted of taking a $5,000 bribe to help keep an illegal marijuana business open.

The U.S. attorney’s in Arizona plans to start prosecuting people caught smuggling marijuana from Mexico for illegal border crossing as well as drug charges.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, spoke about ending the war on drugs in a speech at the NAACP convention.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced his administration is seeking up to six new applicants to operate medicinal cannabis dispensaries. He also tweeted to tout his administration’s moves to expand medical marijuana access. Separately, a senator pushing recreational legalization is floating “committee hearings and voting session, just for marijuana” next month.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill making changes to the Cannabis Control Appeals Panel.

Oklahoma’s attorney general is assigning a team of lawyers to advise the Health Department on recently enacted medical cannabis regulations.

Oregon regulators updated the list of pesticides that can and can’t be used on marijuana.

/ LOCAL

The Oregon, Ohio City Council is considering placing a marijuana decriminalization ordinance on the November ballot.

Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing to double its affordable housing fund to $300 million using marijuana taxes.

Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s district attorney said that the mayor of Easton is incorrect in claiming that the city doesn’t have the authority to treat marijuana possession as a citation akin to a parking ticket.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Lawmakers in Thailand are considering legalizing medical cannabis.

/ ADVOCACY

The Oklahoma and Tulsa County Republican parties are calling on lawmakers to reinstate the will of voters on medical cannabis.

Scott Gagnon, who has served as chairman of the Maine affiliate of prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, seemed to imply that cannabis legalization is part of a Russian plot, but he walked back the comments after I called him out about it.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “add‐on CBD may be an efficacious long‐term treatment option for [treatment‐resistant epilepsies].”

A study found that “liberal [state medical cannabis]laws were significantly associated with higher prevalence of [serious mental illness].”

A study concluded that “greater preference for alternative music (rap, heavy metal, punk, reggae, rock, electronic) was associated to more favorable attitudes toward use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.”

A study of hemp fiber boards found that their “acoustic insulation factor was higher compared with boards intended to be used as thermal insulation, such as mineral wool or light fiberboards with four times greater thicknesses.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that 38% of U.S. adults think marijuana legalization will have a positive impact on Canada, while 24% say it will have a negative impact.

/ BUSINESS

Employees of marijuana dispensary chain MedMen are reportedly walking out over the company’s alleged theft of their tips.

The founder of High Sobriety, a drug rehab facility that allows patients to use marijuana, left the company over a dispute about the specifics of how cannabis should be incorporated into treatment.

The New Yorker looks at marijuana producer Lowell Herb Co.’s efforts to hire people with criminal records.

/ CULTURE

Willie Nelson’s company launched a line of CBD products.

Architectural Digest visited the home of rapper Wiz Khalifa, which has an area dedicated to celebrating marijuana and includes a “weed wall” dedicated to famous cannabis consumers like Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley and Willie Nelson.

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NY Health Department backs legal cannabis (Newsletter: July 16, 2018)

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Alcohol trade group endorses marijuana reform; Dems discussed anti-cannabis tweet in leadership meeting; Study: legalization doesn’t boost youth use

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

New York’s Department of Health released a study concluding that the benefits of marijuana legalization outweigh its potential harms. Among other findings, the Cuomo administration report says:

  • Regulating marijuana reduces risks and improves quality control and consumer protection.
  • Marijuana may reduce opioid deaths and opioid prescribing.
  • The majority of credible evidence suggests legalization of marijuana has no or minimal impact on use by youth.
  • Legalizing marijuana results in a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids/novel psychoactive substances.
  • Legal sales could generate up to $677.7 million in revenues for the state in the first year.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America came out in support of ending federal marijuana prohibition so that states can enact legalization.

At least one Democratic lawmaker criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s anti-marijuana tweet during a leadership meeting last week just before it was deleted, a participant told Marijuana Moment.

A new study found that while youth marijuana use rates are slightly higher in states with legalization, “differences between states with and without legal non‐medical cannabis may partly be due to longer‐term patterns established prior” to the end of prohibition. That undermines prohibitionists’ claims that legalization causes more youth marijuana use.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that supervised release terms barring use of controlled substances by federal defendants also prohibit state-legal use of medical cannabis.

The U.S. Postal Service refused to deliver an Alaska newspaper because it contains a marijuana advertisement.

The U.S. attorney for the southern district of West Virginia tweeted critically about trucks claiming to sell marijuana-infused candy in New York City.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a plan to prosecute synthetic opioid cases.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s endorsement of marijuana reform is “another encouraging signal of cannabis becoming ever more established and mainstream.”

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a U.S. Senate candidate, tweeted, “This July marks the one-year anniversary of recreational marijuana legalization in Nevada, a historic milestone for a change in policy that is creating jobs, diversifying our local economy, and boosting tax revenue for the state.”

Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) tweeted about his marijuana banking amendment that will be considered in the House this week.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “Toxicology reports in Colorado are showing that marijuana found present in adolescent suicide victims has increased since legalized recreational marijuana. Drugs are contributing to our youth suicide epidemic & shouldn’t be seen as part of the solution.”

The U.S. House bill to end the 280E tax penalty on marijuana businesses got one new cosponsor, for a total of 46.

/ STATES

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) budget proposes several changes to state marijuana laws. Meanwhile, two key lawmakers are pressing regulators to stop municipalities from requiring excessive payments from cannabis businesses seeking licenses.

A New Jersey worker’s compensation judge ordered a municipality to cover the cost of an employee’s medical cannabis. Separately, the state’s health commissioner tweeted that “marijuana needs to be descheduled at the federal level. Enough is enough.”

Oklahoma activists say they have so far collected more than 100,000 signatures on a petition to place a marijuana legalization measure on the state’s ballot. Roughly 124,000 valid signatures are needed. Meanwhile, medical cannabis advocates filed two lawsuits against new restrictive medical cannabis regulations. And gubernatorial candidates from all parties slammed regulators’ actions.

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon tweeted, “We need a governor who will stop putting people of color in prison for something that white people do with impunity, and when I am her, I will do everything in my power to pass legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in New York State.” And Democratic attorney general candidate Letitia James, currently New York City’s public advocate, cheered the state Health Department’s cannabis report, tweeting, “If NY truly wants to be a leader on criminal justice reform, economic justice, and in combatting decades-old policies that continue to hold communities of color back, then it is past time that we legalize marijuana.”

California regulators released proposed marijuana rules. Separately, officials released guidance saying that “the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited.” Meanwhile, State Controller Betty Yee was injured in a car crash involving a driver suspected of being under the influence of marijuana.

Washington State regulators suspended the license of a marijuana producer for “numerous and substantial violations including full rooms of untagged plants, clones and finished product.”

Nearly half of Florida medical cannabis businesses could be suspended for missing a little-noticed deadline requiring food safety inspections. Meanwhile, regulators are issuing more licenses.

The Associated Press looks at how leaders in conservative states are undermining medical cannabis implementation.

/ LOCAL

A analysis found that marijuana arrests are sharply down in Chicago, Illinois over the past several years but that racial disparities persist.

Advocates in Lansing, Michigan dropped their lawsuit against the city’s medical cannabis ordinance.

Powell, Wyoming officials believe pranksters planted marijuana seeds in city-owned flower pots.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Canadian government warned marijuana producers that they could lose their licenses if they sponsor events like music festivals or engage in other promotional activities.

Philippines lawmakers are expected to approve medical cannabis legislation this month.

UK officials granted a special medical cannabis license to a  seven-year-old girl who suffers with a rare genetic condition. Separately, marijuana arrests in England and Wales have dropped sharply in recent years, data shows.

Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister said decriminalizing marijuana is not a priority.

/ ADVOCACY

Kevin Sabet of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana teased on Twitter that he has recently “experienced something that has been one of the coolest opportunities of my life and will help us in our work immensely.” Separately, the organization bashed the endorsement of legalization by New York’s health department.

The Federalist Freedom Fund,  political action committee that gave all of its donations to Republicans, was entirely funded by donors from the marijuana industry.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that British adults support legalizing marijuana, 51%-35%.

/ BUSINESS

Banks are forcing marijuana businesses to sign nondisclosure agreements and putting them on long waiting lists in order to open accounts.

The New York Times examines how mainstream investors are joining the marijuana industry.

Reuters looks at how Canadian health insurers are wary of covering medical cannabis.

The Los Angeles Times profiles former mainstream tech industry workers who are now in the marijuana industry.

The CEO of Eaze thinks Amazon will sell marijuana one day.

/ CULTURE

Musician David Crosby launched a marijuana brand.

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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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This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, is made possible by the generous support of 302 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

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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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