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Will Sessions’s anti-cannabis move actually help legalization? (Newsletter: Jan 8, 2017)

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Another poll shows majority legalization support; Sessions & Gardner to meet; Lots of state bills filed

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A Pew poll found that Americans support legalizing marijuana, 61% – 37%.

I put together some thoughts about how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana move might actually be good for legalization.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) says he told Sessions in a phone call that he will be blocking all Justice Department nominations over the Trump administration’s marijuana policy change. The two are set to meet this week. The nomination block threat stands to leave several key posts unfilled for the foreseeable future.

/ FEDERAL

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is working with California officials to formulate a response to the Trump administration’s anti-marijuana move.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Justice Department marijuana changes won’t affect government doctors’ ability to talk with veterans about cannabis.

Montana’s U.S. attorney said he would focus “on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our citizens and communities.”

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who authored the Cole memo, spoke about its rescission.

A federal judge scheduled oral arguments in a lawsuit against marijuana’s Schedule I status for February 14.

President Trump said that countries with “harsh” drug policies see “less difficulty,” adding: “We are going to be working on that very, very hard this year, and I think we’re going to make a big dent into the drug problem.” He also tweeted that he spoke with Cabinet and military officials about “the ever increasing Drug and Opioid Problem.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticized Sessions’s anti-marijuana move and said that cannabis could become a campaign issue in 2018.

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is running against U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), is making marijuana a campaign issue.

Members of Congress from Colorado held a conference call to discuss legislative responses to the Sessions marijuana move. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) sent a letter asking the attorney general to rescind the anti-marijuana guidance, while Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter asking President Trump to overrule Sessions on cannabis.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said the Sessions marijuana move could be an impetus for Congress to end prohibition.

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said he supports the Sessions policy change.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) cheered on the Sessions cannabis move, and also seems upset that some Democrats want to include broader state marijuana protections in appropriations legislation.

Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) says Sessions’s anti-marijuana move inspired him to cosponsor cannabis legislation.

Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is calling on Sessions to resign.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) and legislative leaders say they will continue with plans to legalize marijuana despite federal enforcement policy changes.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is concerned the federal government is sowing “confusion” about marijuana enforcement.

Oklahoma Democratic gubernatorial candidates are backing medical cannabis, but Republican contenders are mostly mum on the issue.

Louisiana is moving ahead to implement its medical cannabis program.

California’s attorney general is considering suing the federal government over marijuana policy. Separately, officials pulled a PSA on drugged driving after critics viewed it as pro-marijuana.

The New Mexico Supreme Court temporarily upheld hemp legislation vetoes by Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

Colorado regulators said they will continue to adhere to the principles of the Cole memo even though it is no longer in place. Separately, they are proposing changes to medical cannabis rules.

Missouri’s House speaker says that he’s surprised by momentum behind medical cannabis and that he’d prefer lawmakers pass legislation instead of having voters do it via a ballot initiative.

Indiana’s Republican majority floor leader introduced a resolution calling for a study on medical cannabis.

New York regulators say they will continue the state’s medical cannabis program in light of federal changes. Separately, lawmakers filed a bill to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.

Maine lawmakers will hold a hearing on marijuana legalization implementation legislation on Tuesday.

A Florida representative filed a marijuana decriminalization bill. Another representative introduced legislation setting procedures for medical cannabis use in schools.

A Mississippi representative filed a medical cannabis bill.

A Washington, D.C. councilmember, at the request of the mayor, introduced legislation to allow reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients.

Washington State regulators identified marijuana products with undisclosed pesticide residues. Separately, the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming will hear a bill to use marijuana tax revenue to fund indigent defense on Monday.

/ LOCAL

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) spoke out against the federal marijuana enforcement change.

San Francisco, California retailers began recreational marijuana sales.

/ ADVOCACY

Trump ally Roger Stone called the Justice Department’s marijuana policy change a “cataclysmic mistake.”

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators also slammed the Sessions anti-cannabis move.

Purported criminal justice reform group Right on Crime cheered the Sessions decision.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro bashed cannabis consumers but said he supports decriminalization.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “consumption of cannabis reduces vigilance and increases driving errors.”

A study found that medical cannabis “dispensary users do not necessarily reside in the same area in which dispensaries are located and do not necessarily reflect the local population.”

A study concluded that “there are higher proportions of personal communication tweets and Twitter users tweeting about rosin in U.S. states where cannabis is legalized.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Times editorial board slammed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s marijuana enforcement policy.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board wants Congress to overrule Sessions on cannabis.

Even the Washington Post editorial board, which has long opposed marijuana legalization, criticized the Justice Department action.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board supports Sessions’s anti-marijuana change, but said that it could spur Congress to end prohibition.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board is calling on Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

/ BUSINESS

Corona distributor Constellation Brands, which has marijuana investments, says it is not concerned about a federal crackdown.

Marijuana industry operatives don’t seemed too spooked by Sessions’s anti-marijuana move.

Environmentalists are concerned about the marijuana industry’s energy usage.

/ CULTURE     

Comedian Seth Meyers opened the Golden Globes by saying, “It’s 2018: marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t. It’s going to be a good year.”

Trump-supporting Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams said he may turn on the president over the administration’s anti-cannabis move.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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 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

Alabama lawmakers vote to legalize medical cannabis (Newsletter: February 20, 2020)

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Trump campaign spox: keep marijuana illegal; VA decrim moves toward gov’s desk; DC psychedelics decrim language approved; USDA: hemp market growing

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The director of strategic communications for President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign said in an interview that marijuana needs to be “kept illegal.”

  • “I know many states have taken a different path… That is the federal policy.”

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to legalize medical cannabis.

Virginia House and Senate committees amended and approved versions of marijuana decriminalization legislation passed by the other chamber. Some differences have been resolved in an effort to avoid having to send the legislation to a bicameral conference committee prior to it arriving on the desk of supportive Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

The Washington, D.C. Board of Elections unanimously approved ballot language for a measure to decriminalize psychedelics like psilocybin and ayahuasca. Next comes a public challenge period prior to final approval and signature gathering.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report that highlights the significant growth of the hemp industry but says some challenges remain.

  • “Global production was small and relatively stable until the recent worldwide interest in CBD oil.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report looking at hemp policy in the Philippines.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Deputy Director David Shurtleff tweeted, “Our Center is interested in supporting research grant applications to study minor cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant as they relate to pain and nociception.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a presidential candidate, tweeted, “Donald Trump has no problem pardoning white collar criminals. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown Americans are sitting in jail because of marijuana convictions or because they can’t afford bail. That injustice is what we’re going to end.”

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) filed a bill that include provisions to remediate lands damaged by illegal marijuana cultivation.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted about efforts to expunge cannabis records, saying, “Imagine if we did this for everyone with low-level, marijuana-related convictions. Imagine if the Black and brown people our criminal justice system disproportionately punishes weren’t forced to live with these convictions.”

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) tweeted about discussing “obstacles local farmers have been facing while growing hemp” with an economic development group.

Texas Democratic Senate candidates discussed marijuana legalization during a debate.

Illinois Democratic congressional candidate Sarah Gad wants to “establish a dispensary tax used towards reparations/restitution for persons convicted of and imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that legalizing marijuana is a “top priority” for him and that he will “give it my all to get it done in the budget.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) spoke about marijuana legalization in his budget address, saying, “Here’s another responsible step we’re taking together: Last year we worked on a bipartisan basis to pass a new source of general funds revenue and create tens of thousands of jobs with the legalization of adult-use cannabis. With a successful first month of sales under our belt, I can conservatively project that adult-use cannabis sales will generate at least $46 million in revenue for our general fund in the coming fiscal year, of which $10 million will go directly to pay down our bill backlog.” He also proposed using marijuana revenue to fund mental health care and addiction treatment.

Michigan’s lieutenant governor signed bills on marijuana packaging warning labels and information pamphlets. Separately, the state’s medical cannabis patient database malfunctioned, halting sales. Also, regulators are facing a likely lawsuit aimed at forcing Detroit to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee and House Public Safety Committee approved legislation to increase potency limits in the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to add new forms of acceptable medical cannabis and expand the number of dispensaries. Separately, regulators received 285 medical marijuana business license applications.

The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee defeated a bill to shield workers from being punished for using marijuana in their personal time.

The South Carolina House Health and Environmental Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing on medical cannabis legislation.

The Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee held a hearing on a bill to defelonize marijuana possession.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight continued to press regulators about their medical cannabis business licensing process in another hearing.

North Dakota’s top medical cannabis regulators said patient registration counts have grown much faster than anticipated.

Oregon regulators will consider marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements on Thursday.

Arizona representatives filed a bill to limit medical cannabis products to 2% THC content.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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.

/ LOCAL

Hillsborough County, Florida commissioners unanimously approved a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Bermuda Premier David Burt tweeted that he was surprised no one asked him a marijuana question at a public forum.

A majority of German lawmakers in Parliament now represent parties that support marijuana reform.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A case study showed that “upon treatment with CBD and cessation of the antidepressant medication, the patient improved regarding depressive as well as anxiety symptoms including simple phobias and symptoms of paranoia and dissociation” and that “the patient quit abusing illegal drugs including THC without showing withdrawal symptoms.”

A study found that “dronabinol reduces opioid consumption following traumatic injury” and that “the opioid-sparing effect of dronabinol may be greater in patients who are marijuana users.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A Boston Globe reporter dropped out of a panel he was scheduled to speak on at a National Cannabis Industry Association conference in protest of the group holding a summit with current and former federal officials that was closed to the press. Another reporter, from the Boston Business Journal, was kicked out of the summit.

The Detroit News editorial board is calling on Michigan officials to stop making rules for marijuana businesses so complicated.

/ BUSINESS

Clarity Cannabis budtenders voted to join UFCW 1518, becoming the first marijuana workers at a private dispensary to unionize in Canada.

The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists is hosting a cannabis conference in April.

/ CULTURE

Mixed martial arts fighter Elias Theodorou was granted a therapeutic use exemption to use medical cannabis.

Football player Greg Robinson was reportedly arrested with 157 pounds of marijuana at a Border Patrol checkpoint.

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Newsletter

Bloomberg puts cannabis decrim in new plan (Newsletter: February 19, 2020)

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Feds won’t CBD test workers; MN House leader to file legal marijuana bill soon; Poll: VT legal sales support; CO cannabis funds for roads & safety

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There are now 1,304 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2020 sessions.

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate, released a criminal justice plan that includes decriminalizing marijuana, commuting sentences and expunging records—but does not include legalizing cannabis. It says that decisions on cannabis laws should be left to states “for the moment” and that “further scientific study is required to assess the health effects of marijuana.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a memo saying that workers in safety-sensitive jobs like pilots and bus drivers won’t be tested for CBD but that they should still be wary about consuming such products due to potentially positive drug tests for marijuana.

Minnesota’s House majority leader announced at a rally also attended by the state attorney general that he will be filing a marijuana legalization bill within the next two weeks.

A poll found that 76% of Vermont residents support legalizing marijuana sales. Several House committees have approved a cannabis commercialization bill in recent weeks, and a floor vote is expected in the coming days.

Colorado marijuana business profits and the tax revenue they generate are helping to fund efforts to reduce bullying in schools and clean up highways.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump commuted the sentences of several people, including a woman who has spent the past 12 years in prison for involvement with a marijuana smuggling operation.

The Bureau of Land Management sent a press release celebrating agents who did “outstanding work to end marijuana cultivation on America’s public lands.”

Former Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director Bertha Madras tweeted, “At Logan airport Boston. CNN is showing pro-marijuana infomercial (“Weeds”) with airport filled with children on holiday travel. Shame on producer of daytime programming.”

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) sent a press release in which the Family Research Council praises him for voting to “reject the increasing acceptance of marijuana use,” among other things.

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) tweeted, “While Democrats like @MikeBloomberg talk down to farmers and blue-collar workers, the original entrepreneurs of this country, I’ve been a champion for #VA05 farmers. I’ve worked hard to promote hemp production in Virginia and pushed to pass the #USMCA, which is a win for America!”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Almost 66,000 marijuana convictions will be dismissed in Los Angeles — the largest effort in California’s history. Imagine the positive change we could create in people’s lives by ending marijuana prohibition and expunging prior offenses nationwide.”

New York Democratic congressional candidate Melquiades Gagarin tweeted, “I support ending the war on drugs because I saw first hand the communities struggling through the opioid crisis left to fend for themselves.”

/ STATES

A Rhode Island judge ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law shields from criminal charges not only the person who calls for help in a potential drug overdose situation, but also the person who is experiencing the medical emergency.

The Georgia House Agriculture Committee approved a bill to make it a crime to transport hemp without accompanying paperwork showing it was legally produced in accordance with a license.

The Utah Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill to revise medical cannabis regulations.

The Oklahoma House Rules Committee advanced several marijuana regulatory reform bills, including one that would allow delivery services.

The Connecticut House Progressive Caucus included marijuana legalization in its 2020 priorities.

The Maine legislature’s Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill to let people expunge records for certain minor non-violent crimes including marijuana possession.

The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will hold a Wednesday hearing on a bill to prevent employees from being fired for using state-legal marijuana outside of work.

Florida regulators issued complaints against two doctors for allegedly improperly issuing medical cannabis recommendations.

Michigan regulators published an advisory bulletin about participation by marijuana businesses in temporary events.

A Pennsylvania representative held a press conference to tout his new marijuana legalization bill.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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.

/ LOCAL

Kansas City, Missouri’s mayor began accepting applications from people requesting pardons for past marijuana possession convictions.

The Hillsborough, Florida County Commission is expected to vote on a marijuana decriminalization proposal on Wednesday.

Denver, Colorado officials are extending the window to participate in a survey on cannabis business and employment opportunity.

/ INTERNATIONAL

A top Mexican senator spoke about how lawmakers are working to achieve consensus on marijuana legalization legislation.

The prices of marijuana extracts vary wildly between Canadian provinces.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “THC and CBD inhibited the proliferation and expression of [endothelial growth factor receptor] in the lung cancer cells studied.”

A review concluded that “in addition to potential cannabis-related dermal exposures, ergonomic stressors, and psychosocial issues, the studies found employees in cultivation, harvesting, and processing facilities could potentially be exposed to allergens and respiratory hazards through inhalation of organic dusts (including fungus, bacteria, and endotoxin) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione” and that “these hazards were most evident during the decarboxylation and grinding of dried cannabis material, where elevated job-specific concentrations of VOCs and endotoxin were generated.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New Zealanders oppose a marijuana legalization referendum, 39%-48%.

A poll found that Canadian adults oppose decriminalizing drug possession, 53%-47%, and oppose decriminalizing drug use, 64%-36%.

A group of Connecticut clergy held a press conference to build support for marijuana legalization.

/ BUSINESS

Colorado retailers sold $1.75 billion worth of recreational and medical marijuana products in 2019.

/ CULTURE

Former wrestler Kevin Nash joined CBD company No Borders Naturals as a brand ambassador and spokesman.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Treasury secretary talks cannabis biz tax incentives (Newsletter: February 18, 2020)

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NFL weighs marijuana penalty reduction; Study: Medical cannabis reduces ADHD drug use; ABA approves marijuana banking & lawyers resolutions

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was pressed again during a recent Senate hearing on whether marijuana businesses should be able to qualify for Opportunity Zone tax benefits.

National Football League penalties for players who use marijuana would be “dramatically reduced” under a draft collective bargaining agreement that’s now circulating, and the drug testing window would reportedly shrink from four months to just two weeks.

The American Bar Association approved resolutions calling on Congress to pass a marijuana banking bill and clarify that lawyers can advise cannabis business clients without violating federal law.

A study found that “higher-dose consumption of [medical cannabis] components (phyto-cannabinoids and terpenes) is associated with ADHD medication reduction.”

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments next month in a case on whether a police officer in a state that has decriminalized marijuana can justify a search of a car based on probable cause to believe that still-federally-illegal cannabis is inside.

The U.S.Forest Service touted marijuana eradication efforts in documents justifying its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted about the controversial marijuana enforcement comments of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) discussed his work on marijuana legislation in a speech to the National Congress of American Indians.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) tweeted, “We have the chance to work towards providing citizens with the chance to solve major health problems without the use of prescription drugs. Support for marijuana legalization in New Mexico has increased steadily in recent years.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Support for legalizing marijuana over time: ➡️ 1989: 16% ➡️ 1999: 31% ➡️ 2019: 67% All of those who join me in fighting for an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis are on the right side of history.”

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), who recently ended his presidential campaign, asked his Twitter followers to watch his daughter’s CNN story about flower growers switching to the marijuana industry.

/ STATES

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said she needs to spend more time working with lawmakers to build support for marijuana legalization. Separately, the legislature sent her a bill to limit the medical cannabis program to in-state residents.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said it’s a “priority” to legalize marijuana this year.

Alabama’s House speaker said he is in “wait and see mode” on medical cannabis legislation.

The Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill to prioritize marijuana business license applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Michigan regulators issued a technical bulletin about potency variance in marijuana packaging.

Arkansas regulators will consider alleged rules violations by a medical cannabis company on February 26.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 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.

/ LOCAL

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s district attorney tweeted, “Criminalization of cannabis disproportionately harmed black and low-income people. The benefits of decriminalization, including profit, must be offered in a way that is proportional to prior damage done.”

/ INTERNATIONAL

The Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board approved “in principle” a resolution to allow the use of CBD to treat severe forms of epilepsy. The Senate president said that lawmakers now have less of a need to take up medical cannabis legislation in light of regulators’ move.

Candidates for leader of the UK Labour Party discussed marijuana decriminalization during a debate.

Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic is set to open.

Colombian and Brazilian officials met to discuss marijuana policy.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review “identified studies demonstrating an inhibitory effect of cannabinoids on skin inflammation, proliferation, fibrosis, pain, and itch—biological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of many dermatologic conditions” and concluded that “cannabinoids have the potential to expand the therapeutic repertoire of a wide spectrum of skin disorders.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Daily News editorial board is calling on lawmakers to legalize marijuana this session.

Major Republican donor Miriam Adelson spoke about how she believes “cannabis is indeed a gateway drug to potentially deadly opioids.”

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy released a voter guide for upcoming primary elections.

/ BUSINESS

Michigan retailers sold $9.8 million worth of recreational marijuana products in January.

/ CULTURE

The Onion quipped that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is polling “poorly among African American men who were between 16 and 25 years old when they were arrested for possession of marijuana during his tenure as mayor of New York.”

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