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Updated: 2 hours 18 min ago

Tennessee Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

3 hours 26 min ago

A Tennessee Senate committee approved a restrictive medical marijuana legalization bill on Wednesday.

The legislation as originally drafted requested that the state Health Department study the possibility of a medical cannabis program and report back on its findings by December.

But per an amendment from the bill’s sponsor that was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, that language was stricken and a measure was inserted providing for a medical cannabis program in the state. A staffer told Marijuana Moment this procedure is common practice in the legislature to open the door to more wide-ranging legislation.

Senate medical cannabis bill being debated in committee in Nashville, Tennessee. https://t.co/RiiHmUolBy

— Lauren Houston (@LegalizeitLala) March 11, 2020

While the amendment would establish legal access to forms of medical marijuana for patients, sales of flower and edibles would be prohibited. It also calls for the establishment of a “Clinical Cannabis Commission” that would be responsible for issuing licenses to marijuana businesses and cannabis recommendations to patients.

But for reform advocates, another committee-approved amendment would prove more prohibitive and consequential.

That measure would effectively kneecap the proposed cannabis law by requiring a change in the federal status of cannabis before such a program is implemented. As is stands, marijuana remains a strictly prohibited substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The amendment requires cannabis to be rescheduled from its current designation as a Schedule I drug under the CSA before marijuana sales would be authorized.

Sen. @SenBoWatson added a poison pill amendment to the medical marijuana bill to declare it won't take effect in TN until the federal government takes weed of the Schedule I list. After that was attached to the bill, Watson voted against the measure as a whole. /1

— Erik Schelzig (@schelzig) March 11, 2020

According to The Tennessean, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Dickerson (R), became frustrated over the proposal.

“We are doing the best we can with a tough situation,” the senator said at the hearing. “We are trying to navigate a minefield here.”

Patients and advocates testified before the committee, urging members to support the bill and allow those suffering from debilitating conditions to access cannabis, especially in cases where traditional pharmaceuticals have failed.

“The Tennessee General Assembly should heed the will of voters and enact a comprehensive, compassionate medical cannabis law this year,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “It is unconscionable that patients with serious medical conditions are forced to choose between needless suffering or risking arrest, prosecution, and incarceration to relieve their symptoms.”

The House companion version of the legislation was approved by a subcommittee earlier this month, but it was deferred from full committee action on Tuesday and placed on the Health Committee’s calendar for next week.

The Senate panel-approved version, meanwhile, is being sent to the  body’s Government Operations Committee. It’s possible that members there could remove the provision requiring a change to federal law before Tennessee can implement a medical marijuana program.

Maryland House Votes To Expand Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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FDA Chief Faces CBD Questions At Congressional Hearing

6 hours 25 min ago

The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explained the agency’s progress in establishing regulations for CBD in response to questioning from a pair of bipartisan lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn discussed enforcement actions the agency has taken against companies that have made unsanctioned claims about the medical benefits of their cannabidiol products and said additional research is needed before decisions are made about further enforcement guidance or allowing such products to be lawfully marketed.

“We have a knowledge gap, sir, that makes it difficult for us to know how to proceed in several areas,” Hahn said in response to a question from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) during the House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FDA’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.

The commissioner noted that FDA has issued warnings to businesses claiming their CBD products can treat cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, which he described as “the highest risk areas.”

“We will continue to enforce that,” he said. “We are exploring the possibility of some regulatory approaches from an enforcement approach that should help us actually get to the right place and prioritize the highest risk areas.”

Watch the exchange below: 

 

Later, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) pressed Hahn on the lack of clarity for consumers and CBD manufacturers, and he replied that he appreciated the concern but stressed there’s a need for a “balanced and pragmatic approach here.”

“These products are out there and we have to acknowledge that,” he said. “The American people are telling us that they want to use these products because they think they’re beneficial. We want to make sure that we have the data to inform those decisions, thinking particularly in the dietary supplement side of the world.”

Watch the exchange below: 

To that end, FDA submitted an overdue report of the status of its rulemaking for CBD last week, and that included an indication that the agency is considering allowing the cannabis compound to be marketed as a dietary supplement.

“It’s taken us a bit of time within the agency to get to this point,” he said. “I’m pretty comfortable that we’re going to work forward in the next months to actually get this. We’re working through the process within the department and the White House to get to that point.”

“It will be a balanced approach, acknowledging the fact that you can’t make claims about cancer, Alzheimers, et cetera. You really can’t target vulnerable populations—pregnant, lactating women, teething rings for babies and other vulnerable populations. But that we know there’s agents out there that people believe could be helpful and we need to gather data and do research. A major part of our effort is to actually do that and figure out what we can tell the American people.”

The commissioner said that data will help inform whether FDA needs to focus on enforcement guidance or additional rulemaking.

“We don’t want to rush to judgement until we have the data to make the right decision,” he said. “But acknowledging 100 percent what you’re saying, which is more clarity is needed regarding this from this agency.”

Pingree also asked Hahn whether the funds that have been appropriated to FDA for CBD-related efforts is sufficient to ensure it’s able to carry out those duties.

“The critical need here, besides getting the enforcement policy forward and providing regulatory clarity, is conducting the research and gathering the data,” he said, adding that FDA moved this week to indefinitely reopen a public comment period in order to solicit information about the safety, benefits and risks of CBD.

“We would very much value working with legitimate manufacturers to see how we could gather those data about safety and efficacy,” he said. “We are so interested in bringing that forward, putting that together and helping us inform the right way to move forward.”

In terms of establishing an “upper limit” for CBD concentrations in products, Hahn said FDA has consulted with regulators in other countries that have dealt with that issue. However, he said, “I don’t see that happening right now until we gather additional information.”

Last month, Hahn said at a conference that it would be a “fool’s game” to ban CBD products.

FDA Invites The Public To Submit More Comments On CBD

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

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Maryland House Votes To Expand Marijuana Decriminalization Law

7 hours 11 min ago

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill on Wednesday that would expand the state’s current marijuana decriminalization policy, making it so that people caught possessing up to one ounce of cannabis—rather than just 10 grams—would avoid jail time.

The chamber approved the legislation, sponsored by Del. Nick Mosby (D), in a 94-43 vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

HB 550: Criminal Law-Marijuana- Possession & Possession with Intent to Distribute, which will increase the threshold of what is considered a civil penalty of marijuana possession from 10 grams to 1 ounce, has successfully passed out of the House! pic.twitter.com/fQAaujRsIV

— Nick J. Mosby (@Nick_Mosby) March 11, 2020

Currently, possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Ten grams is a civil infraction, and the new bill would simply raise that threshold to one ounce.

It also stipulates that possession of up to one ounce could not be considered on its own to be evidence of intent to distribute.

There would be a staggered fine penalty for multiple violations. For first offenses, the fine would be up to $100. The second offense would carry up to a $250 fine. Third and subsequent offenses would be punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

Courts would have the option to mandate participation in a drug education program for third offenses. They could also require them to enter into substance misuse treatment “if necessary.”

Call your Senators and ask them to support HB 550: Marijuana-Possession and Possession with Intent to Distribute! #Working4MD #MDGA2020 #HB550 pic.twitter.com/5ZP6MuE1Z5

— Nick J. Mosby (@Nick_Mosby) March 11, 2020

“The House’s passage of HB 550 signifies the political will to move reform forward and end the failed policy of prohibition,” Carly Wolf, state policies coordinator for NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “I commend House lawmakers who casted their vote in favor of this sensible reform measure, which will spare many Marylanders from the lifelong consequences of a marijuana arrest, and I encourage members of the state Senate to follow suit.”

Neill Franklin, a former major with the Maryland State Police who now serves as executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, also cheered the legislation’s advancement.

“This bill reduces the number of people who are needlessly in the criminal justice system,” he told Marijuana Moment. “Any bill that does that is a good thing.”

Olivia Naugle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, called the bill “an important reform that will further reduce the number of arrests and criminal charges for cannabis possession in Maryland.”

“Currently, Maryland has one of the lowest possession thresholds of any state that has decriminalized or legalized cannabis,” she pointed out.

Lawmakers have heard testimony on separate bills to legalize marijuana for adult-use in the state for several sessions, but none have advanced to the House or Senate floor for votes.

Maryland is one of 26 U.S. states where cannabis possession is currently decriminalized. On Sunday, Virginia lawmakers sent a marijuana decriminalization bill to the desk of supportive Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is expected to sign it into law.

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Measure At Risk After House Approves Alternate Ballot Question

This story was updated to include comment from Franklin and Naugle.

The post Maryland House Votes To Expand Marijuana Decriminalization Law appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Oregon Psychedelic Mushroom Campaign Collects More Than 100,000 Signatures For Ballot Measure

8 hours 42 min ago

Activists have collected more than 100,000 signatures for a measure to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in Oregon, the campaign announced on Wednesday.

The Oregon Psilocybin Society, which began signature gathering last year, is within striking distance of the required 112,020 valid signatures from registered voters needed to qualify for the November ballot.

“We’re excited about the public support we’ve gotten so far and we’re looking forward to giving Oregon voters the opportunity to create the first statewide psilocybin therapy program in the country,” campaign manager Sam Chapman told Marijuana Moment.

Under the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, adults would be able to visit licensed facilities to have the psychedelic administered under the supervision of medical professionals. There are a number of mental health conditions that studies indicate psilocybin could effectively treat, though this measure would not require individuals to be diagnosed with any specific condition in order to qualify.

Retail sales would not be allowed, and psilocybin couldn’t be marketed like cannabis is in the state.

A separate Oregon campaign is working to place a measure decriminalizing drug possession and expanding access to treatment on the state’s November ballot. Advocates said last week that they’ve collected more than the required signatures to qualify, though as is the case with the psychedelics measure, the signatures must still be verified.

On the national stage, the Oregon psilocybin proposal is not alone in pushing for psychedelics reform this year.

Last year, Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin, igniting a nationwide movement. Oakland’s City Council went on to make a wide range of entheogenic substances the lowest law enforcement priority. The City Council of Santa Cruz is the latest to approve that policy change.

Activists in more than 100 cities across the U.S.—including Washington, D.C.—are pursuing psychedelics reform. (Though in D.C., the campaign is worried the coronavirus outbreak could impact signature gathering and recently requested an online gathering option.)

In Oakland, advocates are now considering pathways to allow for the lawful sale of psychedelics. However, they’ve emphasized that it would be a community-led system that would not reflect the commercialized program that’s in place for marijuana.

California activists are also pushing to place a measure to legalize psilocybin on the state’s ballot.

Oakland Activists Meet To Chart Path For Legal Sales Of Psychedelics

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.

The post Oregon Psychedelic Mushroom Campaign Collects More Than 100,000 Signatures For Ballot Measure appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

USDA Approves Hemp Plans For Georgia And Montana

12 hours 43 min ago

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved hemp regulatory plans for two additional states and one Indian tribe.

With approvals for Georgia and Montana announced on Friday, that brings the total number of states that have had their proposals cleared to ten. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe’s approval raises the number of authorized tribal plans to 12.

While USDA is still considering changes to interim federal rules for the crop since its legalization under the 2018 Farm Bill, it has systematically been approving plans submitted by states and tribes.

“USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes,” the department said in a notice.

Industry stakeholders have welcomed the department’s commitment to ensuring that the hemp market is supported. However, they raised a series of issues with the proposed interim final rule that USDA released last year.

USDA announced last month that it had considered the feedback and decided to temporarily lift two provisions that the industry viewed as problematic. Those policies primarily concern testing and disposal requirements. The department declined to revise the THC limit, however, stating that it’s a statutory matter that can’t be dealt with administratively.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testified at a congressional hearing last week that the Drug Enforcement Administration is partly to blame for the imposition of restrictive policies in hemp regulations.

Separately, the Food and Drug Administration submitted an update last week on the status of its regulations for hemp-derived CBD. The agency said it is in the process of determining whether the cannabis compound can be marketed as a dietary supplement, and it’s still developing enforcement discretion guidance for cannabidiol.

A public comment period was reopened indefinitely for individuals to submit feedback on the cannabis compound.

FDA Invites The Public To Submit More Comments On CBD

Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

The post USDA Approves Hemp Plans For Georgia And Montana appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Two cannabis bills scheduled for congressional votes this week (Newsletter: March 11, 2020)

15 hours 20 min ago

FDA reopens CBD comment period; MS house votes to undermine medical marijuana ballot measure; Canadian official defends legal cannabis to UN

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Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

There are now 1,444 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2020 sessions.

Never let a marijuana bill catch you by surprise with exclusive access to Marijuana Moment’s custom-built cannabis legislation tracker for just $25/month.

  • Christi Radogna of Simply Vibin, LLC: “We pledged to Marijuana Moment because we have truly come to rely on your information. We are an upcoming business in Texas that is diving into the hemp world but of course we will be venturing into the cannabis arena as soon as we are legally allowed to. I report your information to our followers on Instagram (Simply.Vibin) and Facebook (Simply Vibin) and have come to anticipate your e-mail arriving in the morning so I can get my morning fix. Thank you for keeping Simply Vibin on the cutting edge of hemp and cannabis and we hope to one day contribute more as we grow!”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee scheduled votes on two marijuana bills for Thursday. One would let Department of Veterans Affairs doctors issue medical cannabis recommendations, while the other would direct the department to expand marijuana research.

The Food and Drug Administration announced in the Federal Register notice that it is “indefinitely” reopening a public comment period for stakeholders to submit more information about CBD as the agency works to formulate regulations.

The Mississippi House of Representatives put a medical cannabis initiative in serious jeopardy by voting to approve a more restrictive alternate question that would also appear on the November ballot next to the activist-drive one.

A top Canadian government health official defended the country’s marijuana legalization law in a speech before the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

/ FEDERAL

A National Transportation Safety Board report on drug use by pilots concluded that “increasing evidence of marijuana use by pilots…indicates a safety hazard that has not been effectively addressed.”

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) tweeted about speaking at a hemp summit.

The House bill to remove roadblocks to marijuana research got one new cosponsor for a total of 20.

California Republican congressional candidate Nikka Piterman tweeted, “I wanna legalize, commute sentences for nonviolent crimes plus give clemency for 20g of marijuana on flights… so if Americans come to Cali they can take a piece home with them.”

Virginia Democratic congressional candidate John Lesinski tweeted, “The General Assembly in Virginia is decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and has begun a process to expunge criminal records of the offense. I applaud this legislation. We need to stop clogging up our courts and ruining lives over marijuana possession.”

/ STATES

Washington State regulators sent Gov. Jay Inslee (D) a bill to allow state regulators to issue previously forfeited, cancelled or revoked marijuana retail licenses to social-equity applicants disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Ohio’s attorney general rejected the summary language of a proposed marijuana legalization ballot initiative, but the campaign behind the measure took issue with the analysis.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that employers can’t fire workers for positive drug tests resulting from legal medical cannabis use.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill to allow medical cannabis home delivery. Meanwhile, the Senate passed legislation to redirect some medical marijuana tax revenue toward schools.

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill to amend the state’s limited medical cannabis program to allow patients to obtain 4.5 grams of THC in a 90 day period.

The Utah Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill to amend medical cannabis rules.

A proposed Arizona marijuana legalization ballot measure is being endorsed by the former backers of a rival campaign.

Missouri activists announced that they’ve collected more than 50,000 signatures in support of a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure.

The Nevada Tax Commission voted to give its chairman the authority to negotiate settlements on behalf of state marijuana regulators.

California has generated $1 billion in marijuana tax revenue since recreational sales began two years ago.

The Oregon Cannabis Commission’s Patient and Social Equity Subcommittee will meet on March 23.


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, “It is misleading to talk about the War on Drugs in the past tense. It is with us, it is still destroying lives, and it is fueled by misinformation & bigotry, as it always was.”

Ashland, Louisiana police arrested a woman after determining that the $5,000 in cash she used to post someone’s bail had a “strong odor of marijuana.”

/ INTERNATIONAL

A court in Myanmar sentenced a local employee of an American-owned hemp farm to 20 years in prison for violating marijuana laws.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found “support for [recreational marijuana legalization] positively affecting hotel revenues in certain types of hotels, particularly economy/tourist-class hotels, than for RML positively affecting hotels proximate to RML dispensaries.

A study suggested that “by modulating expression of shared key cancer-driving genes, CBD could represent a promising nontoxic therapeutic for treating tumors of various origins.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee included marijuana decriminalization in a list of accomplishments in Virginia this year.

The Kentucky Democratic Party launched an online petition calling on state lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Nebraska endorsed a medical cannabis ballot measure proposed for the state’s November ballot.

/ BUSINESS

Fermilab sent a notice telling employees that they may not use or possess marijuana on the laboratory premises despite Illinois’s legalization law.

Columbia Care Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $23.2 million and a net loss of $28 million.

Vireo Health International, Inc. raised C$10.5 million.

Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. hired a vice president of corporate social responsibility.

The New England Cannabis Convention, scheduled for later this month in Boston, has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

/ CULTURE

University of Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley said that NCAA marijuana testing policies need to “continue to adapt” to changes in society.

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The post Two cannabis bills scheduled for congressional votes this week (Newsletter: March 11, 2020) appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Measure At Risk After House Approves Alternate Ballot Question

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 18:33

A ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi suffered a blow on Tuesday after the House passed a resolution to include an alternative measure on the November ballot that could result in a less robust program for patients who need cannabis.

Reform advocates grew concerned after lawmakers introduced a series of alternative resolutions in recent weeks. If more than one legalization measure appears on the ballot, there’s also a significant risk that the vote will be split and none will be approved.

More than 200,000 signatures were collected to put Initiative 65 before voters. The alternative is regarded as more restrictive and prone to legislative interpretation, and advocates suspect the primary reason for its introduction was to kill the original, more far-reaching initiative by confusing voters.

The House approved the alternate version it in a 72-49 vote. It now heads to the Senate, where it’s also expected to advance.

Medical Marijuana 2020.

According to advocates, House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) took a personal interest in ensuring that the chamber approved the alternative, pressuring members to fall in line.

“[T]he House showed this morning that they couldn’t care less about the people who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions in our state and who could be helped with medical marijuana,” Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the campaign behind the ballot initiative, said in a statement.

“If approved by the Senate, the legislative alternative will be listed alongside our initiative (Ballot Initiative 65) in a way that will prevent a fair up-or-down vote on medical marijuana by confusing voters,” the group said. “The Speaker is opposed to medical marijuana and is opposed to a fair vote on the initiative signed by more than 228,000 Mississippians. He used every bit of his power to muscle through the alternative and pressure House representatives to vote with him, even if they supported the people’s right to a fair vote in November.”

But the speaker wasn’t the only force behind the push to defeat the initiative by putting a second measure on the ballot. The owner of an Arkansas cannabis cultivation business hired Mississippi-based lobbyists to oppose Initiative 65.

Advocates alleged that the owner was hoping to get legalization legislation approved that’s more amenable to his business interests. A lawyer for the individual confirmed to Marijuana Moment that he intends to enter the medical marijuana space after the state enacts reform and hoped to see a merit-based program with licensing caps.

HCR 39 passes 71-49. #msleg

— Mississippi House of Representatives (@MSHouseOfRep) March 10, 2020

After the activist-driven Initiative 65 qualified for the ballot, then-Gov. Phil Bryant (R) voiced his opposition and first hinted at the possibility of alternative resolutions.

Under the initiative, patients suffering from debilitating medical issues would be allowed to access cannabis after consulting with a physician and receiving a recommendation. The measure features 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each patient would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

The alternative resolution that passed the House is less clear on the details of the proposed program, but it does include some restrictive language such as barring people from smoking cannabis unless they’re terminally ill.

The question put before voters under the measure would read: “Shall Mississippi establish a program to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions?”

Two Marijuana Bills For Military Veterans Will Get A Vote In Congress This Week

This story was updated to include comment from Mississippians for Compassionate Care.

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

The post Mississippi Medical Marijuana Measure At Risk After House Approves Alternate Ballot Question appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Two Marijuana Bills For Military Veterans Will Get A Vote In Congress This Week

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 17:02

Two medical marijuana bills focused on military veterans are scheduled for votes in a congressional committee on Thursday.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will mark up the pieces of legislation, which focus on increasing legal access to medical cannabis under state laws and expanding research on its therapeutic effects. This comes one year after the panel held a hearing on these and other cannabis bills, though a previously scheduled vote was later cancelled.

This time around, advocates are hopeful that the committee will approve the bipartisan bills, titled the Veterans Equal Access Act and the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act.

The first bill, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) would allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients in states where it’s legal.

“In the 33 states that have medical cannabis programs, veterans are forced out of the VA health care system and away from their trusted physicians to obtain, and pay for, medical cannabis,” Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment. “My legislation is a simple fix to an unnecessary problem and I’m glad to hear the Veterans Affairs Committee is taking it up. I’m working to get this bill to the House floor as soon as possible. Our veterans have been waiting too long.”

The House and Senate have both previously approved annual spending bills containing riders blocking VA from punishing doctors for writing medical marijuana recommendations, but no such measure has yet been enacted into law.

“Now that veterans are finally being given their day, it’s critically important that the committee and the full House expeditiously pass the bill,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Veterans must no longer be discriminated against in states where medical cannabis is a legal alternative.”

The other bill scheduled for a vote on Thursday, from Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), would require VA to conduct clinical trials on the medical potential of cannabis in the treatment of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

“I am very happy to learn that my bill—the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act—will have its day before the House Veterans Affairs Committee,” Correa told Marijuana Moment. “Our nation’s veterans are calling out for alternatives to opioids. Cannabis has the potential to be that alternative.”

“My bill puts our veterans first by ensuring the Department of Veterans Affairs takes cannabis seriously and conducts vital medical research into its effectiveness in treating PTSD and chronic pain,” he said. “Our veterans are depending on us. We owe it to every veteran to never stop looking for ways to treat their scars.”

Thank you @RepMarkTakano & @VetAffairsDems for taking up my VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act.

Cannabis has the potential to be a lifesaving alternative to addictive & dangerous opioids.

We owe it to our vets to never stop looking for better ways to treat their scars.

— Rep. Lou Correa (@RepLouCorrea) March 10, 2020

Correa and fellow lead sponsor Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) circulated a letter earlier this year urging colleagues to support the bill as cosponsors. Presently 104 members have signed on—about one-fourth of the full House.

Blumenauer also tried to get his legislation passed as an amendment to a spending bill last year, but withdrew it due to opposition from VA.

Following last year’s committee hearing, members also participated in a closed-door roundtable to discuss the need for medical cannabis research for veterans.

Thursday’s markup comes amid growing pressure from advocates who’ve implored Congress to take legislative action to ensure that veterans can lawfully access products that may serve as alternative to dangerous pharmaceuticals.

A Republican senator and representatives of a veterans advocacy group discussed the issue during a joint hearing last month.

VA, in the meantime, is planning to post a notice shortly to solicit scientific information about the potential of marijuana and its components to treat medical conditions that commonly afflict military veterans.

This story has been updated to include comment from Correa and Blumenauer.

FDA Invites The Public To Submit More Comments On CBD

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

The post Two Marijuana Bills For Military Veterans Will Get A Vote In Congress This Week appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

FDA Invites The Public To Submit More Comments On CBD

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 15:54

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is again asking the public to submit information about CBD as the agency prepares to issue regulations for legal marketing of the compound.

In a draft notice set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, the agency said that a public comment period, which was originally open from April to July of last year, will be reopened on an indefinite basis.

“To provide a public and transparent way for stakeholders to provide new and emerging information to us in real time as it becomes available, we are reopening the comment period and extending it indefinitely to allow interested parties to continue to comment,” FDA said. “We are particularly interested in data that may help to address uncertainties and data gaps related to the safety of cannabidiol (CBD).”

FDA first announced it would be reopening the comment period in a report it submitted to Congress last week, detailing the status of its rulemaking efforts for CBD to date. That report explained that the agency is considering ways to allow the cannabis compound to be marketed as a dietary supplement and that it is actively developing enforcement discretion guidance for CBD businesses.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have put extensive pressure on FDA to craft regulations that would provide for the lawful marketing of CBD. Since hemp and its derivatives, including cannabidiol, were legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, many farmers have started cultivating the crop to extract and sell the non-intoxicating ingredient.

But as of now, while CBD is available in shops across the country, it remains unregulated by FDA and is technically not allowed to be sold as food items or dietary supplements. FDA has used enforcement discretion to target only companies making outlandish claims about the therapeutic benefits of their products.

The decision to reopen the comment period could provide the agency with information in needs to identify a pathway for lawful CBD sales, at least in dietary supplements.

“In light of the continued interest and increased research activity in this space, as well as the need for additional scientific data on this topic, we have decided to reopen the comment period and extend it indefinitely to allow interested parties to continue to comment and to provide relevant data to the Agency on this subject,” FDA said in the draft notice. “This extension will allow stakeholders to continue to provide new and emerging information, in as close to real time as possible, as research in this area evolves.”

FDA listed several areas of particular interest that they hope stakeholders will address in their comments.

The agency said it wants to learn about the potential impact of CBD on the liver, toxicity of its active metabolites, potential damage to the male reproductive system associated with use, drug and alcohol interactions, impact on neurological development and its sedative effects, among other issues.

While it’s not clear what decisions FDA will ultimately make with regard to CBD, its newly appointed commissioner recently conceded that banning the compound would be a “fool’s game.”

Over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), meanwhile, an interim final rule for hemp was released last year. Officials have received significant pushback over certain restrictive provisions and recently announced that they would be temporarily lifting lab testing and disposal requirements as requested by stakeholders.

That said, USDA argued it couldn’t change other provisions for statutory reasons. The head of the department said in a congressional hearing last week that the Drug Enforcement Administration is partly to blame for the strictness of the proposed rules.

USDA Secretary Blames DEA For Strict Hemp Rules

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

The post FDA Invites The Public To Submit More Comments On CBD appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Canada Defends Marijuana Legalization In Response To International Skepticism

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 13:39

The Canadian government touted the benefits of its legal, regulated marijuana market in comments to the United Nations recently, saying that since legal sales began in the country a year and a half ago, “the illegal market has already lost 30% of its market share” and “rates of use have not changed among youth and young adults.”

The remarks were delivered last Monday to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs by Michelle Boudreau, director general for Health Canada’s controlled substances department. As a whole, they portray the country’s decision to legalize cannabis as a victory for public health despite ongoing skepticism from some in the international community.

Canada passed legislation to legalize marijuana for adults in 2018, becoming the largest nation ever to do so. The move technically ran afoul of international drug treaties that still forbid marijuana legalization, but the country nevertheless proceeded with the change.

(1) Strict access controls designed to prevent youth access, (2) strong regulations for the legal cannabis industry, (3) extensive public education on the risks associated with cannabis use, and (4) a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance program.

— Canada UN – Vienna (@Canada_INT_VIE) March 6, 2020

In her remarks to the UN commission, Boudreau stopped short of encouraging other countries to legalize, which may have further rankled UN officials, but she pushed back against international concerns that legalization would endanger public health and young people.

“The illegal market has already lost 30% of its market share, and we have seen no corresponding increase in the overall size of the market,” Boudreau said, according to a written copy of her remarks. “This represents nearly $2 billion in sales that did not go to criminal organizations.”

She added that “initial data suggests that rates of cannabis use have not changed among youth and young adults,” nor has the country seen an increase in movement of cannabis across international borders.

“We will continue to collect data and evaluate the impact of Canada’s new regulatory framework and will ensure that any future decisions are well informed by this data,” Boudreau said.

https://t.co/PgrcWRZeRr

— Canada UN – Vienna (@Canada_INT_VIE) March 6, 2020

Canada’s comments were delivered less than a week after the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) expressed skepticism around legalization, writing in an annual report that it “remains concerned at the legislative developments permitting the use of cannabis for ‘recreational’ uses.”

“Not only are these developments in contravention of the drug control conventions and the commitments made by States parties,” the UN report said, but “the consequences for health and well-being, in particular of young people, are of serious concern.”

There are signs, however, that global drug policy could be changing soon. The international prohibition on cannabis legalization is nearly 60 years old at this point, as contained in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. And many, including the president of INCB itself, have openly wondered whether its cannabis provisions are out of date.

Discussing cannabis and synthetic drugs during a UN presentation late last month, INCB President Cornelis P. de Joncheere questioned whether blanket prohibition is still the right approach.

“We have some fundamental issues around the conventions that state parties will need to start looking at,” he said, according to Marijuana Business Daily. “We have to recognize that the conventions were drawn up 50 and 60 years ago.”

Joncheere added that 2021 is “an appropriate time to look at whether those are still fit for purpose, or whether we need new alternative instruments and approaches to deal with these problems.”

Last year, the World Health Organization recommended that marijuana be removed from the most restrictive category of controlled substances under the 1961 treaty. The proposal would shift cannabis and THC to the drug convention’s least-restricted category.

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs was set to vote on the WHO recommendation this month, but the vote has been pushed back until December.

In her statements to the UN, Canada’s Boudreau stressed the importance of her country’s public-health approach to drug policy. Part of that approach includes efforts to reduce stigma around drug use, she said, and to that end the nation has included “members of civil society, including people with lived and living experience with substance use, on our delegation.”

“Canada is continuing to make efforts to reflect a broader range of voices in the design of all of our domestic drug policies, including civil society organizations, and people who use drugs,” she said.

END STIGMA! Canada strongly promotes non-stigmatizing attitudes in the provision of health, care and social services for people who use drugs, and we recognize essential contributions by civil society to attain our goals.

— Canada UN – Vienna (@Canada_INT_VIE) March 6, 2020

Although Canada remains in violation of international treaties on cannabis legalization, Boudreau emphasized the nation’s “strong partnership with the [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime] to achieve the aims of the international drug conventions.”

“Our partnership includes efforts to address illegal trafficking of opioids, their precursors and other synthetic drugs, through projects such as Smart Lab and AIRCOP,” she said. “We also contribute to the Container Control Program which facilitates seizures of illegal drugs and interception of cash couriers. Since 2015 Canada has delivered considerable technical assistance and equipment via the UNODC, with disbursements totaling approximately $54 million.”

Meanwhile, some domestic lawmakers in Canada want the country to go further by decriminalizing the possession of all drugs for personal use. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who led the country’s push to legalize cannabis, reiterated last week that he opposes the move.

“We will take a look at the proposals but as we’ve said many times, we believe in harm reduction, we believe in evidence-based policy,” Trudeau told reporters on Thursday. “Our approach is to ensure that people get the support they need. We do not believe that decriminalizing hard drugs is a solution right now.”

DEA Admits State-Level Marijuana Legalization Reduces Illegal Market Demand

The post Canada Defends Marijuana Legalization In Response To International Skepticism appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Bipartisan Lawmakers Tell DEA To Let Researchers Study Marijuana From Dispensaries

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:56

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the House and Senate sent a letter to the Justice Department on Friday, requesting a policy change allowing researchers to access marijuana from state-legal dispensaries to improve studies on the plant’s benefits and risks.

The letter, led by Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), cites feedback from federal health agencies, which have said that existing restrictions on cannabis have inhibited research. One problem in particular is that there’s only one federally authorized manufacturer of research-grade marijuana.

While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that it is in the process of approving additional manufacturers, it’s been more than three years since they first announced that applications for more growers would be accepted and, more recently, the agency said it would have to develop alternative rules to approve proposals that have been submitted.

“At the same time, the status quo does not address a barrier to research raised by both [the National Institutes of Health] and [the Food and Drug Administration],” the lawmakers wrote in the new letter. That barrier is a ban on researchers being able to obtain marijuana from dispensaries.

“Both agencies recommended that researchers should be able to obtain cannabis from state-legal sources,” the letter states.

Today, @SenBrianSchatz and I sent a bipartisan letter to AG Barr, urging the DEA to amend current policies to improve research on cannabis.

It’s time to bring our drug research policies into the 21st century.https://t.co/bfpPUhUvQf

— Rep. Harley Rouda (@RepHarley) December 6, 2019

Further, the lawmakers said that there are “problems in industry development of licensed drugs with data from products obtained from third-parties, such as the University of Mississippi.”

“In many states, cannabis law and regulations already provide for licensing of industrial manufacturing activities, and products are available for medical use in those states, but not for research leading to FDA licensure,” they wrote.

“There is a need for a greater diversity of cannabis products so that research on benefits and risks reflects the realities of what consumers and patients are using. NIH and FDA have strongly recommended streamlining the process for conducting research and product development activities with cannabis and other Schedule I substances, and that the DEA take action to assure that interpretations of processes and policies are universally applied in local DEA jurisdictions.”

The lack of chemical diversity in the federal government’s cannabis supply has been repeatedly pointed out. One study found that the research-grade cannabis is more similar to hemp than marijuana in commercial markets.

To resolve the research issues, the coalition made two recommendations: 1) to amend internal policy “so as to allow researchers with Schedule I licenses to obtain cannabis-derived products from state authorized dispensaries for research purposes” and 2) issue guidance clarifying that hemp researchers do not need a DEA license to obtain and study hemp because it was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The letter requests a response from DEA by December 20.

A total of 21 members of Congress signed the letter, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA).

“Our nation’s cannabis research laws are archaic,” Rouda said in a press release. “Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis consumption—we must ensure our federal agencies and other licensed institutions can comprehensively study the benefits and risks of cannabis products.”

“I thank Senator Schatz, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for joining me to make this common-sense request,” he said. “It’s time to bring our drug research policies into the 21st century.”

Attorney General William Barr received a similar letter from lawmakers about the need to expand the number of federally authorized marijuana cultivators in April.

Read the lawmakers’ full letter on expanding marijuana research below:

FINAL Letter to DOJ Re. Can… by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

People Are Skipping Sleep Aids In Favor of Marijuana, Study Reports

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Oregon Activists Begin Signature Gathering For 2020 Drug Decriminalization Initiative

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:37

Oregon activists have begun collecting signatures for a statewide initiative to decriminalize possession of all drugs.

Three months after petitioners quietly submitted the proposed ballot measure—titled the “Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act” (DATRA)—the signature gathering process has started, with organizers deployed to Portland to raise support.

A long road lies before the activists, who need to collect 112,020 valid signatures from voters in order to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Funding and polling will decide whether they mount a full push for the decriminalization measure in the months to come.

To that end, their efforts are being helped by David Bronner, CEO of the soap company Dr. Bronner’s, who told Marijuana Moment on Thursday that he will be investing $250,000 in the decriminalization campaign. An additional $500,000 will go to a separate Oregon initiative to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which backed Oregon’s successful marijuana legalization initiative in 2014, is also supporting this new effort to make low-level drug possession an infraction punishable by a $100 fine with no jail time, rather than a misdemeanor. It remains to be seen how involved in the campaign DPA will be, however.

Peter Zuckerman, a chief petitioner for the decriminalization initiative, told OregonLive on Thursday that it’s not guaranteed that the campaign will proceed and that much rides on how much money the group can raise, whether there’s public support for the reform move and how staff recruitment comes together.

He said the main thrust of the measure is to take a “health-based approach to drug addiction rather than a criminal justice-based approach.”

The proposal caught the attention of Oregon’s teachers’ union, which said that it supports decriminalizing drug possession but wrote in a comment submitted to the secretary of state in October that it was not taking an official position because it’s concerned about another provision that would shift cannabis tax revenue away from schools.

DATRA would make it so most of that revenue would be used to fund addiction treatment programs.

At the same time that activists are collecting signatures and weighing whether to move ahead with the broad decriminalization initiative, another advocacy group is pushing for a measure to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use, allowing individuals to receive treatment with the psychedelic fungus at licensed health facilities. The group launched its signature drive in September.

Advocates in Portland are also hoping to advance a local measure to decriminalize psilocybin and other psychedelics such as ayahuasca and ibogaine.

Bronner wrote in a blog post that the decriminalization and therapeutic psilocybin legalization campaigns are “already coordinating closely and conserving resources on the statewide signature drive.”

He told Marijuana Moment that “we see this as the perfect one two punch in Oregon, legalizing psilocybin therapy that has so much promise for treating drug addiction, at the same time Oregon shifts to a treatment not jail approach.”

“And 100 percent confident it’s coming together,” he said.

All of this comes amid a national movement to decriminalize psychedelics, with activists in almost 100 cities across the U.S. considering pushing for reduced penalties for substances such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. Decriminalize Nature, which is aiding in and tracking these efforts, is also receiving donations from Bronner, he said.

Decriminalization is also gaining traction on the national stage, with two presidential candidates—South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)—voicing support for the policy change. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, another candidate, recently said that he’s open to broad decriminalization, while entrepreneur Andrew Yang backs decriminalizing opioids.

Scientist Talks Benefits Of Psychedelics At Federal Health Agency Event

The post Oregon Activists Begin Signature Gathering For 2020 Drug Decriminalization Initiative appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

North Dakota Activists Submit Measure To Legalize Marijuana In 2020

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 13:27

North Dakota activists submitted a measure to legalize marijuana for adult use to state officials on Thursday, an organizer confirmed to Marijuana Moment.

Legalize ND, the group behind the proposed statutory initiative, delivered the measure to the secretary of state’s office. It’s expected to be validated within days, after which point petitions will be distributed to collect signatures in support of qualifying for the 2020 ballot.

It’s been about a year since organizers began working on the measure, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis for personal use. The proposal is more narrowly tailored than a legalization initiative from the same organization that voters rejected in 2018, however.

The previous version didn’t include any restrictions on cultivation or possession, and it didn’t involve a licensing scheme. By contrast, the new measure would prohibit home cultivation, limit possession to two ounces, impose a 10 percent excise tax and establish a regulatory body to approve licenses for marijuana businesses.

“One of the largest complaints from last time was the mantra of ‘poorly written,'” Legalize ND’s David Owen told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview. “They targeted the lack of legal experience from our team and they targeted a lack of ‘qualified lawyers’ to be drafting language that would go into the state’s statutory law.”

But he said he’s confident the campaign will be successful this time around, in part because they spent months drafting the language with the North Dakota Legislative Council.

Asked what he’d say to voters still on the fence about legalization, Owen replied that it would depend on what their initial concerns were:

“If it’s a concern over home grow, well it’s simple, we don’t have that anymore. If it’s a concern of people having too much, we have a reasonable possession limit now—in their eyes, I still think possession limits are fundamentally arbitrary, but they wanted a possession limit so we have that now. If people go, ‘well what about the quality of the language?’ I can point to how it’s literally written by Legislative Council, so either every attorney who works for the state of North Dakota is incompetent or this is well written.”

In order to qualify for next year’s ballot, the group must collect 13,452 valid signatures from voters before July 6, 2020.

“I think the most important thing isn’t what it would do, but what it would stop from happening,” Owen told local radio station KFGO on Wednesday. “We currently have a system where people are unable to find a job because of a criminal record, we have a system where people are continuing to get marijuana charges and lose their housing, we have families being separated because of parents losing custody over their children for marijuana charges. That all stops when this is legalized.”

Listen to Owen’s radio interview about the new marijuana ballot measure below:


Download (14.7 MB)

Internal polling that received outside funding, which Owen said cannot be publicly released because of the wishes of the donor, shows the initiative is “slightly ahead” among voters.

In an earlier interview with Marijuana Moment in February, Owen said that it’s “very probable that we can do it” this time around, but much of that depended on the extent to which opposition campaigns are involved and how much funding outside groups are able to offer.

Currently, North Dakota has a medical cannabis program, and the governor signed legislation in May decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession.

Marijuana Summit Will Give Virginia Governor ‘More Tools’ To Back Legalization, Attorney General Says

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

The post North Dakota Activists Submit Measure To Legalize Marijuana In 2020 appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Feds to consider hemp biz credit card clarification (Newsletter: December 6, 2019)

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 11:36

Study: Legal marijuana cuts sleep aid use; Castro cites alcohol ban repeal to push legalization; Willie Nelson’s son confirms continued cannabis use

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Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

There are now 1,298 cannabis-related bills moving through state legislatures and Congress for 2019 sessions.

Never let a marijuana bill catch you by surprise with exclusive access to Marijuana Moment’s custom-built cannabis legislation tracker for just $25/month.
https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment

/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Federal Deposit Insurance Commission Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams said she will look into offering further clarity on hemp businesses’ ability to process credit cards in response to questioning from Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) during a hearing.

Former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro (D), a presidential candidate, said that Thursday’s anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition is a good time to get serious about legalizing marijuana.

  • “86 years later, it’s time we end the federal prohibition of Cannabis once and for all.”

A study found that people are purchasing far fewer sleep aids as legal marijuana access expands.

  • “The magnitude of the market share decline increases as more dispensaries enter a county and with higher county-level cannabis sales.”

Willie Nelson’s son clarified that while his dad may have quit smoking marijuana, he still consumes cannabis in other forms.

  • “Between vaping, edibles, gummies, drops, etc. I think it’s safe to say Willie will never stop enjoying Mary Jane!”

/ FEDERAL

The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs’s Veterans Health Administration said it would be a “mistake” for the department to conduct studies on THC levels in medical cannabis.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health published a fact sheet on cannabis and cannabinoids.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will consider a bill on marijuana- and drug-impaired driving and transportation on Wednesday.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are asking the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate Attorney General Williaam Barr’s approval of a Drug Enforcement Administration surveillance program.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) applauded new federal hemp banking guidelines.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) discussed how “our criminal justice system and the failed war on drugs continue to disproportionately impact communities of color” in a House floor speech honoring  the legacy of activist Fred Hampton.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who is backing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for president, tweeted, “.@CoryBooker deserves to be in the debate. He led the fight in Congress on the Marijuana Justice Act & criminal justice reform. How is 21st century America going to become a truly multiracial, multiethnic democracy if strong voices of color are not making even the Democrat stage.” In response to criticism from a supporter, he added, “Booker is a strong voice on criminal justice and legalizing Marijuana and worked with Barbara Lee and me on it.”

Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) cited his cosponsorship of medical cannabis legislation in a flyer touting his work for military veterans.

/ STATES

Massachusetts health officials revealed that six people with “probable” cases of vaping-related lung injuries reported using marijuana products from state-licensed businesses, but they “declined to say which licensed producers, products and retailers were implicated.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) tweeted, “Hemp production is a perfect example of value-added agriculture, an essential component of growing & diversifying New Mexico’s economy – this year’s Hemp Manufacturing Act is already resulting in industry expansion & job creation across the state.” Meanwhile, the state’s Economic Development Department is investing $400,000 in a hemp manufacturing company.

Vermont’s attorney general hosted a panel on legalizing marijuana sales.

The Washington, D.C. Council Health Committee unanimously approved a bill to let students use medical cannabis in schools.

The sponsors of a proposed Florida marijuana legalization ballot initiative filed a brief with the state Supreme Court arguing that the measure is legally valid.

Maine regulators made applications for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and retail business licenses available.

Missouri regulators announced they will issue medical cannabis dispensary licenses next month.

Rhode Island regulators will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to medical cannabis rules on Friday.

An Indiana lawmaker is planning to file bills to decriminalize marijuana and legalize medical cannabis.


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

Chicago, Illinois’s mayor and interim police superintendent said that “an individual using cannabis in their own backyard or balcony poses no direct threat to public safety, and no resident should be arrested or ticketed solely for such a scenario.”

Ankeny, Iowa police arrested the owner of a CBD business.

/ INTERNATIONAL

An Irish lawmaker pressed the government on its restrictive medical cannabis program.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “there was a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group when compared to the placebo group,” concluding that  “transdermal application of CBD oil can achieve significant improvement in pain and other disturbing sensations in patients with peripheral neuropathy.”

A study comparing marijuana markets in Washington State and Oregon found that “Oregon’s relatively faster initial growth, quicker stabilization and current lower prices for concentrates could be related to more established pre-legalization medical markets, the state’s ‘soft opening’ approach, and lower tax rate.”

A study found that “young adults who were male and who reported more frequent marijuana use were at greater odds of acquiring a medical marijuana card.”

A study found that people who microdose psychedelics  are commonly doing so as a self-managed therapy for mental health, either as an alternative or adjunct to conventional treatments.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

A survey of U.S. voters that pitted issues against one another to determine not only individual support but also level of importance included questions on legalizing marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance brought on former Center for American Progress staffer Maritza Perez as its new director of national affairs.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board is urging Maryland lawmakers to take steps to prepare for marijuana legalization, including by making it easier to expunge records.

/ BUSINESS

The publisher of High Times warned shareholders that there is “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” Meanwhile, the website of MassRoots has gone dark, though its CEO said it will “be back online shortly.” (Disclosure: Marijuana Moment’s publisher is a former employee of and minority shareholder in MassRoots.)

Experian predicted that burgeoning industries such as cannabis retailers “will be targeted for cyberattacks as a result of online activism or ‘hacktivism.'”

Chanel and other “luxury” retailers are trying to prevent a marijuana dispensary from opening in San Francisco’s Union Square.

The Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce launched a voluntary industry certification standard for safety and purity in marijuana product testing.

Financial Times looks at marijuana businesses’ difficulties obtaining insurance.

/ CULTURE

Football player Antwaun Woods was arrested for marijuana possession.

Cannabis-themed names for dogs and cats, such as Budder, Dank, Doobie, Blaze and Kush are becoming more common, according to Rover.

Make sure to subscribe to get Marijuana Moment’s daily dispatch in your inbox.

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The post Feds to consider hemp biz credit card clarification (Newsletter: December 6, 2019) appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Anniversary Of Alcohol Prohibition’s End Is A Good Time To Legalize Marijuana, Presidential Candidate Castro Says

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 19:25

Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro marked the 86th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition in the U.S. on Thursday by calling for the legalization of marijuana.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate tweeted about Repeal Day, a commemoration of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which ended federal prohibition of booze.

It’s #repealday, the day the United States ended the prohibition of alcohol.

86 years later, it’s time we end the federal prohibition of Cannabis once and for all.

Legalize it. Regulate it. Expunge the records of the victims of the war on drugs.

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) December 5, 2019

“86 years later, it’s time we end the federal prohibition of Cannabis once and for all,” he said. “Legalize it. Regulate it. Expunge the records of the victims of the war on drugs.”

Castro, who included proposals to legalize marijuana and expunge prior cannabis convictions in a criminal justice reform plan he released in October, isn’t the only one calling attention to the ongoing prohibition of the plant on Repeal Day. Several other Twitter users, including a congressional candidate, have made similar points.

In honor of #RepealDay, we should legalize marijuana and expunge criminal records.

It's wayyyyyyy overdue.

— Eva Putzova For Congress (@CongressEva) December 5, 2019

It's interesting that proponents of legalizing #cannabis are the folks most excited when #repealday day rolls around. #hope #aspiration #prohibition #wine #beer #spirits

— Tom Wark (@tomcwark) December 5, 2019

Prohibition is a radical, expensive, big government, nanny-State program. Repealing alcohol prohibition was the right policy shift. It’s time to do the same with cannabis. #repealday #endprohibition https://t.co/SMgAijwVQs

— PA Republicans for Legalization (@PLegalization) December 5, 2019

Prohibition ended 86 years ago today, but our racist drug laws are still being used to disproportionately criminalize people of color. It’s beyond time we end the War on Drugs, legalize cannabis, and give back to our overpoliced communities. https://t.co/lJBTocs8r2

— New York City DSA (@nycDSA) December 5, 2019

.#RepealDay today, consider the implications in the #Cannabis industry. https://t.co/E69fvi9uwQ

— Brian Allman (@BrianAllman) December 5, 2019

While Castro hasn’t been quite as vocal about marijuana reform in his campaign as some of the other candidates, he has recently expressed openness to even broader drug policy initiatives such as decriminalizing possession of all drugs.

During a forum hosted by the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition last month, Castro said “I do think though that it’s worth taking a look at that and understanding where are those opportunities, either to decriminalize or at least deemphasize enforcement so that we’re not penalizing individuals who should instead be getting the treatment that they need.”

He also said he supports communities establishing safe injection sites where individuals can consume illicit drugs under medical supervision to reduce the risk of overdose deaths and help people get into treatment.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), rival presidential candidates, are in favor of drug decriminalization, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) back safe consumption facilities. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang says he would decriminalize opioids and invest federal resources into opening safe injection sites across the country.

Cory Booker’s Marijuana Agenda Highlighted In Three Super PAC Ads

Photo courtesy of YouTube/IHRC.

The post Anniversary Of Alcohol Prohibition’s End Is A Good Time To Legalize Marijuana, Presidential Candidate Castro Says appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

People Are Skipping Sleep Aids In Favor of Marijuana, Study Reports

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 18:29

The scientific community is still unclear on whether or not marijuana can actually help treat sleep disturbances such as insomnia. A new study, however, found that fewer people purchase over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications when they have legal access to cannabis.

“Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries by more than 200% relative to the mean market share growth in our sample, and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary,” the paper, published in the December edition of Complementary Therapies in Medicine, concludes. “In particular, cannabis appears to compete favorably with OTC sleep aids, especially those containing diphenhydramine and doxylamine, which constitute 87.4% of the market for OTC sleep aids.”

“Recreational cannabis dispensaries greatly increase the number of individuals able to legally treat sleep disorders using cannabis, particularly those with mild to moderate sleep disorders.”

Researchers at the University of New Mexico and California State Polytechnic University used retail scanner data collected by the Nielsen Company to help them understand how access to recreational marijuana affected the sales of OTC sleep medications purchased at local stores in Colorado.

In their analysis, they studied the market shares of overall sleep aids—including supplements such as melatonin and pharmaceuticals such as diphenhydramine—at 587 stores. They also used monthly data from the Colorado Department of Revenue to compare the number of recreational dispensaries in each county as well as local cannabis retail sales figures.

“The negative association between cannabis access and sleep aid sales suggests a consumer preference for cannabis.”

It became legal for Colorado residents to purchase cannabis for adult use on January 1, 2014, and the study period covered December 2013 through December 2014.

According to the results, the market share for sleep aids was neither rising nor declining prior to a dispensary opening in the same county. After one did, however, the market share declined with each month of its existence. A regression model showed that sleep aid market share growth decreased by 236 percent after a dispensary entered the market, and this negative association increased as the number of dispensaries grew.

“The magnitude of the market share decline increases as more dispensaries enter a county and with higher county-level cannabis sales.”

“For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales, suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes,” the study’s authors write.

“Additionally, despite a lack of direct clinical evidence on the effectiveness of self-managed cannabis as a sleep aid, our results indicate that enough individuals are switching from OTC sleep aids to recreational cannabis that we can identify a statistically significant reduction in the market share growth of OTC sleep aids in conjunction with access to recreational cannabis using a statistically conservative county-month-level treatment variable and a quasi-experimental research design,” the paper concluded.

“Our results are consistent with evidence that legal access to medical cannabis is associated with reductions in Scheduled II-V prescription medications (e.g., opioids and sedatives), many of which may be used in part as sleep aids,” the authors wrote.

“These findings support survey evidence that many individuals use cannabis to treat insomnia, although sleep disturbances are not a specific qualifying condition under any U.S. state-level medical cannabis law.”

Study author Sarah Stith, an applied microeconomist at the University of New Mexico, explained in a statement: “From a public health perspective, the possible widespread use of cannabis for less severe medical conditions both highlights its therapeutic potential and raises concerns regarding the risk-benefit tradeoffs of substituting a substance associated with abuse and dependence for relatively ineffective OTC medications with typically low levels of abuse potential.”

“From an economic or business perspective, regardless of underlying mechanism, our documentation of changing purchase behaviors has implications for multimillion-dollar US markets with OTC sleep aids likely just one example,” she said. “It is important for the medical community to recognize that the lack of medical guidance does not necessarily lead to a lack of medical use. Dispensaries and online forums are stepping up to fill the information vacuum as individuals are forced to take treatment into their own hands, with statistically evident effects on treatment choices.”

A ‘Significant’ Number Of Patients Stopped Taking Benzodiazepines After Starting Medical Marijuana

Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash 

The post People Are Skipping Sleep Aids In Favor of Marijuana, Study Reports appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Hemp Businesses Need Clarity On Credit Card Processing, GOP Congressman Tells Federal Regulators

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 17:33

One day after federal financial regulators issued guidance relaxing requirements for banks doing business with hemp companies, Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) called for further input on how financial institutions can work with the industry—particularly when it comes to credit card processing.

“I have heard from Kentucky bankers about this. They welcome this guidance, and it will go a long way to help the hemp industry thrive,” Barr said on Wednesday at a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

But after thanking witnesses—including Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams and National Credit Union Association (NCUA) Chairman Rodney Hood—he reminded them that there is still much work to be done to give hemp businesses fair access to financial services.

Specifically, Barr called credit card processing services for Kentucky hemp companies “unreliable” and “unavailable” while pointing out that Tuesday’s hemp banking memo failed to clearly address the problem.

“I’ve read the guidance closely, as you can tell, and I didn’t see that in there,” Barr said. “That’s the financial service that has really been unreliable and spotty, so if you need to update that guidance to give more clarity to card processing businesses, that might be in order.”

It represents an understanding by our federal regulators that hemp is a LEGAL product.

— Rep. Andy Barr (@RepAndyBarr) December 4, 2019

McWilliams replied that her agency would “certainly take a look” at the issue and offered that “to the extent that we need to do additional explaining, we are more than happy to engage in that process.”

In response, Barr reminded her of the broader goals of congressional action to legalize hemp products under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Congressional intent is not only that the regulators confirm the legality of industrial hemp and hemp related retailers under the Farm bill, but that those retailers and merchants can use card processing services to sell the product itself,” he said.

Watch Barr press federal regulators on hemp business credit card processing below:

This isn’t the first time Barr has raised the issued of hemp businesses’ ability to accept payments with cards.

“I’ve had constituent businesses tell me that their access to financial products, specifically card services, have actually deteriorated since we descheduled industrial hemp in the Farm Bill,” he said at an earlier hearing in May. “This obviously conflicts with congressional intent.”

The congressman’s questions and comments at the most recent hearing are emblematic of a larger bipartisan push to provide updated regulations to the hemp industry and banks that work with it.

Most notably, the House overwhelmingly approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in September. The legislation would protect banks and credit unions from being penalized by federal regulators for working with marijuana businesses, and Barr added an amendment clarifying that the protections also apply to hemp companies.

However, the vote came later than some observers expected, which may help explain why the growth in the number of financial institutions working with cannabis companies seems to have slowed down in the prior quarter of the fiscal year.

NCUA’s Hood, whose agency’s earlier hemp guidance released in August was among the first federal clarifications on the issue after the Farm Bill became law, testified on Wednesday about the steps NCUA is taking to open up access to financial services for companies in the industry.

“We are continuing to work with the industry to provide training to our examiners,” Hood said. “We will now be working with the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and other related parties to ensure that we get it right. We will be hosting a series of roundtables to gain insights from entities around best practices.”

In submitted testimony, he wrote that NCUA expects “to continue updating the credit union community now that the USDA has published its interim final rule [for hemp]” and said the agency has “received interest from credit unions eager to know the rules of the road for serving hemp-related businesses in their communities, and we want to make sure those credit unions have what they need to make informed decisions in this area.”

Jospeh Otting, comptroller of the currency, also discussed the latest guidance from federal regulators in testimony he submitted to the panel, writing that the joint statement from federal regulators “provides clarity regarding the legal status of commercial growth and production of hemp and relevant requirements for banks.”

Also discussed at the hearing was NCUA’s recent regulatory action on employment at credit unions by people with criminal records. Initially proposed by the agency in July, the move to allow participation by people convicted of minor offenses like simple drug possession was officially enacted by this week.

Asked by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) “what are you doing, and what can Congress do” to assist in the advancement of the so-called “second chance” decision, Hood responded that NCUA “recognized that individuals who have committed nonviolent criminal offenses who have paid their debts to society should have opportunities to work in federal credit unions.”

SECOND CHANCE: I am glad my @theNCUA Board colleagues and I approved the final second chance rule today. This rule is more than just about regulatory relief. It is simply the right thing to do. See my full statement here: https://t.co/JV5neDqbFi pic.twitter.com/bYCnaHH6fx

— Rodney E. Hood (@Rodney_e_hood) November 21, 2019

McWilliams called the second chance decision an “important social justice issue” and said FDIC is currently seeking input on how best to move forward. “I personally believe we can go a long way to enabling those individuals to re-enter the workforce,” she said.

Watch lawmakers and regulators discuss financial services employment by people with prior convictions below:

Outside of the House Financial Services panel, several lawmakers on Capitol Hill have recently pushed to make business easier for hemp companies.

Last week, for example, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on USDA to extend its public comment period for proposed hemp regulations. And in October, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) sent a letter to USDA asking for five specific changes in the rules.

Federal Regulators Ease Hemp Banking Protocols Following Crop’s Legalization

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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Willie Nelson Will ‘Never Stop Enjoying’ Marijuana Despite Quitting Smoking, Son Says

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 16:09

Marijuana enthusiasts around the world have been shocked by the news that Willie Nelson no longer smokes cannabis. Cue the “Has hell frozen over?” jokes.

But the Grammy award-winning musician’s son, Lukas Nelson, has taken to social media to clear the air and provide a little cannabis clarity.

While the Country Music Hall of Famer recently told a local television station that he doesn’t smoke marijuana anymore for health reasons, his son clarified that he does still consume cannabis. Just not by smoking it.

On Tuesday, Lukas Nelson tweeted: “There is a lot of articles going around saying my father is no longer smoking weed. It’s almost 2020, how people ingest cannabis has changed.”

There is a lot of articles going around saying my father is no longer smoking weed. It’s almost 2020, how people ingest cannabis has changed. Between vaping, edibles, gummies, drops, etc. I think it’s safe to say Willie will never stop enjoying Mary Jane!

— Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real (@lukasnelson) December 4, 2019

“Between vaping, edibles, gummies, drops, etc. I think it’s safe to say Willie will never stop enjoying Mary Jane!” he said.

The comment behind the cannabis controversy happened late last month, when the elder Nelson told local San Antonio news station KSAT that breathing “is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful” and that “I’ve abused my lungs quite a bit in the past” so he was putting down the joint.

Nelson has more at stake than just his famed stoner reputation.

His namesake cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve, has been on shelves in legal cannabis markets since 2015. Today, the company’s products—including marijuana flower, chocolate edibles, fruit chew edibles and a line of vaporizers—are available in six states: California, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The brand was compelled to send a tweet to clarify Nelson’s cannabis consumption on Wednesday, stating, “Willie’s still getting high!!”

No pigs in the sky, Willie’s still getting high!!

AT 86, Willie Nelson demonstrates there’s more than one way to get high. pic.twitter.com/l5JKvNuOs0

— Willie's Reserve (@WilliesReserve) December 4, 2019

Nelson also sells a CBD-centric line of products in all 50 states called Willie’s Remedy, launched in 2019. Those offerings include infused whole bean coffee, tea and tinctures.

His spokeswoman, Elaine Shock, confirmed to The Associated Press that the musician has not, in fact, given up cannabis. She explained the different modes of consumption available today that don’t involve combustion.

“Willie does what he wants, when he wants, when it comes to smoking,” she said.

The musician’s reputation as a cannabis icon has long been an area of interest and frequently comes up in media interviews.

Two years ago, actor Woody Harrelson told Jimmy Kimmel he was afraid to admit to his longtime friend Nelson that he had quit smoking cannabis.

Nelson also told Stephen Colbert on his tour bus in 2018 he would be happy to smoke marijuana with Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Barack Obama.

“He needs one bad,” Nelson said of Trump. “That could be good for him.”

Snoop Dogg Has A Salaried Marijuana Blunt Roller On Staff

Photo courtesy of CBS.

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Bloomberg evolves to back cannabis decrim (Newsletter: December 5, 2019)

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 11:42

Yang: spend fed money on safe injection sites; Booker super PAC touts marijuana record; Virginia AG says summit might get gov to back legalization

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), a presidential candidate, endorsed marijuana decriminalization and letting states set their own laws without federal interference—marking a bit of an evolution from when he said earlier this year that legalizing marijuana is “perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said he supports investing federal money in safe consumption sites for illegal drugs as a harm reduction measure.

  • “I would not only decriminalize opiates for personal use but I would also invest in safe consumption sites around the country.”

A super PAC backing the presidential candidacy of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) released several ads touting his support for legalizing marijuana, two of which call out former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) opposition to ending cannabis prohibition.

Virginia’s attorney general said that a marijuana summit he is hosting this month will give decriminalization-backing Gov. Ralph Northam (D) more information to potentially come out in support of broader cannabis legalization.

/ FEDERAL

The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration hosted a meeting at which researchers told officials that current federal marijuana policy blocks them from effectively studying that cause of vaping-related lung injuries.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is launching a database to track commercial drivers license holders who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing requirements.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture official spoke at a Kentucky hemp summit.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted, “The #marijuana of today is stronger and recent in access to #marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of its safety endanger our most precious resource – our youth. #WednesdayWisdom”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joked about his “Cocaine Mitch” nickname.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), a presidential candidate, cheered federal guidelines on hemp business banking access and cited a letter he sent to regulators earlier this year requesting the move.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) tweeted about federal hemp banking guidance, saying, “This is a good step forward and will help Colorado’s hemp industry and hemp businesses across the country.  Now we need to pass the #SAFEBankingAct to ensure greater access to the banking system for all marijuana, hemp and CBD businesses.”

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), in a letter announcing his retirement from the House, cited his work on marijuana banking legislation as a highlight of his congressional service.

The House bill to deschedule marijuana got one new cosponsor for a total of 36.

The House bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got one new cosponsor for a total of 93.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill making tweaks to the state’s marijuana legalization law and tweeted about the importance of equity in the cannabis industry. Meanwhile, regulators approved another medical cannabis dispensary to conduct recreational sales.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and other officials are working on a plan to let regulators seize illegal vaping products and issue emergency bans on specific additives.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said she didn’t include hemp regulation money in her budget proposal because it’s “not a priority,” though she seemed to recognize that lawmakers plan to pursue the issue again next session following her veto of a legalization bill this year.

Vermont’s attorney general will host a discussion on lessons learned from neighboring states’ marijuana legalization laws on Thursday.

Activists behind one proposed Florida marijuana legalization ballot measure say they’ve collected nearly 600,000 signatures, while a separate campaign is conceding it is unlikely to qualify.

A U.S. Virgin Islands senator suggested that lawmakers may not take up a marijuana legalization proposal from Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. (D) because there is already pending legislation on the topic in the Senate.

A Pennsylvania judge ruled that a worker terminated for medical cannabis use can pursue litigation.

Missouri regulators released information about how to apply for hemp licenses.

Maine regulators are pushing for changes to proposed federal hemp rules.

Rhode Island regulators are considering hiring an outside firm to handle medical cannabis business license awarding.

The Washington, D.C. Council Health Committee will consider legislation to allow students to use medical cannabis in schools on Thursday.

California regulators scheduled Cannabis Advisory Board meetings for next week.


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

The Chicago, Illinois City Council held a hearing on a proposal to delay recreational marijuana sales until July, but did not vote on it.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority is being sued for firing a medical cannabis patient who tested positive for marijuana.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she hasn’t taken a position on the 2020 marijuana legalization referendum. Meanwhile, a lawmaker held up a bag of oregano during a speech in Parliament outlining her concerns about the proposal.

Jamaica made its first cannabis export to Canada.

Singapore officials gave what is believed to be the country’s first approval to use cannabis-based medication to a young girl with epilepsy.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “street segments with recreational dispensaries experienced no changes in violent, disorder and drug crime but did experience an 18% increase in property crime” while medical dispensaries demonstrated no significant crime changes” and that a “cost-benefit analysis found the associated crime costs were largely offset by sales revenue.”

A study of marijuana use in Jamaica found that “decriminalization positively correlates with the likelihood of first time and general use for youths” but that “there is also some evidence that the legislation results in a substitution away from alcohol towards marijuana consumption for youths.”

A study found that “cancer survivors are increasingly interested in using medical cannabinoids for symptom relief and treatment-related side effects.”

/ BUSINESS

Vicente Sederberg LLP is bringing on new partners from the firm Frontera Law Group.

New Frontier Data is moving forward with plans to acquire Civilized Worldwide Inc. and says it has “temporarily” laid off its staff to “allow an effective and successful restructuring.”

CB Therapeutics, Inc. announced it biosynthesized psilocybin, psilocin and related tryptamine-based compounds and has filed a patent for the production process.

Questions are being raised about how so many marijuana businesses working with the firm 4thMVMT were granted initial approvals in Los Angeles, California’s marijuana licensing process.

/ CULTURE

HBO released a teaser trailer for the new season of “High Maintenance.”

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Cory Booker’s Marijuana Agenda Highlighted In Three Super PAC Ads

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 11:16

A super PAC working to get Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) elected president is putting a lot of emphasis on the candidate’s marijuana reform agenda, releasing multiple new advertisements highlighting his position on the issue.

United We Win, an organization that’s not formally associated with Booker’s presidential campaign but supports his candidacy, included cannabis reform in three separate spots over the past month. Two of those ads contrasted the senator’s stance with that of former Vice President Joe Biden, a rival contender for the Democratic nomination who opposes adult-use legalization.

“Joe Biden is wrong about weed,” one ad, released on Tuesday, states. “He called marijuana a ‘gateway drug,’ but science says he’s wrong. Cory Booker knows that legalizing marijuana is the sensible, humane thing to do.”

Another, posted last week, shows a clip of Booker at the most recent Democratic debate, where Booker called out Biden over the gateway drug comment that quickly became a source of controversy ahead of the event. Booker said at the time that he was shocked to hear Biden say he doesn’t support legalization because he thinks cannabis could lead to the use of more dangerous drugs.

About one week after the former vice president made the remarks, he reversed his stance and said evidence doesn’t support the gateway drug theory. This wasn’t the first time that the senator has blasted Biden over his cannabis record, as Booker said in July that his opponent’s drug reform plan was inadequate.

“Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right,” Booker said. “The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it.”

The other ad, released last weekend, pits Booker against South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is also competing for the Democratic nomination. United We Win included Booker’s plan to legalize marijuana in a list of policy proposals that they said make him a more fit candidate and also noted his role in advancing criminal justice reform legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate.

Buttigieg does support legalization, so the point of bringing that position up didn’t appear to be an attempt to contrast each candidate’s platform on that issue in particular.

The super PAC’s website also prominently spotlights Booker’s marijuana record, including the issue as one of six main menu links across its top banner—alongside “criminal justice,” “gun safety” and “defeating Trump.”

There’s also an article recapping the senator’s debate attack on Biden’s anti-legalization comments.

Booker has certainly taken pains to emphasize his advocacy for cannabis reform during the campaign, and he’s the sponsor of comprehensive legislation that would not only federally deschedule marijuana but also penalize states that continue to dole out cannabis enforcement in a discriminatory manner.

While United We Win isn’t affiliated with Booker’s team, and federal law prohibits the PAC and the campaign from coordinating with one another, the strong focus on his marijuana platform reflects a growing recognition that, especially among Democratic voters, legalization is an important issue that candidates and political operatives are seeking to leverage during this election.

Cory Booker’s Mom Scolds Him For Marijuana Joke At Joe Biden’s Expense

Photo courtesy of YouTube/United We Win.

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