Political

U.S.: Former US Deputy Attorney General Cole’s reaction to Sessions’ Rescission

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Former US Deputy Attorney General and author of the Cole Memos, James Cole was recently a guest on Cannabis Economy Podcast with Seth Adler. In the conversation, Cole shared what the rescission of the Cole Memos and the Ogden Memo means for legal cannabis and the questions that the action raises.

“The FinCen memo may kind of die of its own weight because it is based on compliance with the Cole Memo. So there's a question about whether the FinCen memo, which has not been withdrawn still exists,” said Cole. The third Cole Memo was released in concert with the FinCen memo, which outlines guidance on banking expectations for state legal cannabis.

Vermont: Senate Passes Recreational Cannabis Bill, Governor Expected to Sign

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

MONTPELIER — Today, Vermont's state Senate passed a bill which would legalize social cannabis use for adults over the age of 21.

Under the Vermont legislation, an earlier version of which passed the Senate last summer, commercial sales of cannabis would not be allowed. But if the proposal is enacted, as is expected, the state would become the first to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers.

Gov. Phil Scott (R), who is expected to sign the bill, vetoed a social cannabis bill last May, stating he wasn't opposed to social cannabis but wanted to form a committee to study the issue's implementation in Vermont.

U.S.: Attorney General Sessions to Rescind Memo on State Cannabis Laws

Jeff Sessions

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Earlier this morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to rescind Obama-era guidance, aka the Cole Memo, which has generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference.

The Obama Justice Department deputy attorney general, who authored it in 2013, set out certain criteria that would allow states to implement their own laws mostly without intervention, if followed. The focus of the memo was interstate trafficking and abuse.

Connecticut: Hartford City Council Unanimously Endorses Marijuana Legalization

Cannabis Hartford

Resolution urges support for legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana for adults in Connecticut

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

HARTFORD, Conn. — At a meeting Monday evening, the Hartford Court of Common Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution in support of making cannabis legal and regulated for adults in Connecticut.

The resolution specifically recommends that the Hartford Delegation of elected representatives support the passage of state legislation to legalize and tax cannabis in 2018 and insist on measures to ensure racial equity in ownership and employment in the resulting cannabis industry. It also directs the city to conduct an economic impact study for a potential cannabis industry in Hartford and hold public forums to hear from residents.

U.S.: Delaware on track to legalize recreational marijuana next year

There Is a Truth That Must Be Heard Delaware could very well live up to its nickname and become the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation, as the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force continues the effort to study the possibility.

The task force, comprised of several state agencies, was formed earlier this year through a concurrent resolution passed by the General Assembly to study the outcome of regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use in Delaware for adults 21 and older.

The task force, co-chaired by State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and State Representative Helene Keeley, has met once a month since its inception to discuss and study the possibility of legalizing marijuana recreationally.

Illinois: Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (Economic Development)

Illinois Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Chicago, IL - State lawmakers continued their in-depth look at cannabis policy reform earlier this week as they heard testimony on the economic boost Illinois could expect following the end of cannabis prohibition. Travel icon Rick Steves, Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon, economist Adam Orens, and several Illinois business owners discussed the benefits and challenges Illinois could expect upon adopting a better law.

Maine: Prohibitionist Governor Vetoes Cannabis Regulation and Implementation Bill

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Friday, Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated cannabis market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016.

The progressive bill, LD 1650, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use and delay cannabis social consumption lounges until summer 2019.

Canada: Quebec Sets Minimum Age for Cannabis Consumption at 18

Quebec Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Thursday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the call that the minimum age for the consumption of legal cannabis in Quebec will be 18.

After several caucus meetings, where everyone was allowed to express their views on the hot issue, Couillard made a ultimate decision, opting for 18 instead of 21 as some requested, government sources confirmed on Friday.

The opposition Coalition, led by Avenir Québec, had also been calling for age 21 because they believed smoking cannabis at such a young age can have negative effects on the brain. Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette was pushing for age 21, but voted for 18, after reconsidering.

Georgia: Atlanta City Council Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis

Atlanta Cannabis Decriminalization

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis in an unanimous decision. After the historic 15-0 vote from the City Council, the proposed ordinance was sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to either sign or veto the legislation. If the mayor signs it, which he said he intends to, the ordinance will become city law.

After the vote, Mayor Reed indicated that he was interested in signing the legislation. In a tweet, the mayor thanked council members for their "leadership on marijuana reform."

U.S.: FBI Reports 653,249 Arrests for Cannabis in 2016

Cannabis Arrest

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. The staggering data equates to one person being arrested for cannabis approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

In the U.S. today, arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty that needs to end.

Massachusetts: Advocates Seek Assurances From Cannabis Control Commission

Mass Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Many advocates in the cannabis industry feel the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) members who opposed Question 4, the state's recreational cannabis law, should make clear that their personal positions will not impact their board responsibilities in implementing the law.

Advocates are asking CCC Chairman, Steven Hoffman, to request that the governor and the Legislature provide adequate funding to get the legal sales system up and running on the current schedule.

U.S.: Senators Reintroduce Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

US Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, the bipartisan authors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) reintroduced their comprehensive legislation to review prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars.

The legislation, spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), improves judicial discretion at sentencing for low level offenders and helps inmates successfully reenter society, while tightening penalties for violent criminals and preserving key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.

Michigan: Cannabis Legalization Coalition Nearing Petition Drive Goal

Michigan Signature Gathering

Backers of a ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan are approaching the finish line

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Hundreds of petition circulators in Michigan have been busy collecting signatures for the legalization of cannabis.

Josh Hovey, the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, says the group is pushing forward and their petition drive will collect its 300,000 signature in the coming days.

"We're around 80 percent toward our goal, which puts us at about 280,000 signatures. If we can keep our fundraising up the we'll be pushing 300k very soon and wrapping up the signatures in the next month," Hovey told Hemp News.

Oregon: New Plant Limits for Medical Marijuana Program Hurting Patients

Oregon Capitol

New state regulations attempting to address the flow of medical cannabis into the black market leaves patients in painful bind

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Oregon public health officials drafted strict rules for how many plants medical cannabis patients may cultivate at home or at a grow-site registered with the state. Legislators claim the regulations are the result of bi-partisan legislation passed this past session to stop the flow of medical cannabis to the community. A residence may have no more than a dozen mature plants, no matter how many people live there, including recreational plants. The law does not define the size of immature plants.

U.S.: Trump Intends to Nominate Pennsylvania Congressman Marino as Drug Czar

Tom Marino, Prohibitionist

Trump to name Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) as White House Drug Czar

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The position of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who is responsible for setting broad federal approaches to controlled substance policy and certifying the drug budgets of other agencies, will be given Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino, a former state and federal prosecutor.

Rep. Marino has consistently voted against marijuana law reform measures on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, as a member of Congress since 2011.

Utah: Patients Coalition Launches 2018 Signature Drive for Medical Cannabis Initiative

Utah Patients Coalition 2018

Patients, advocates, and dedicated volunteers begin signature drive across the state

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The campaign to place a medical cannabis initiative on the November 2018 ballot has entered their signature gathering phase. The Utah Patients Coalition are collecting signatures throughout the state and are assembling teams on a daily basis. To qualify for the ballot, more than 113,000 valid signatures are required.

On August 10, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox to begin gathering signatures after supporters held 10 public hearings across the state and met with various state departments and stakeholders.

Michigan: Effort To Legalize Marijuana On Pace to Make 2018 Ballot

Michigan Cannabis 2018

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The signature drive to legalize marijuana in Michigan in November of 2018 is swiftly progressing toward making the ballot.

Robin Schneider, the Finance Director for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told Hemp News, "Last week, we passed the 200,000-signature mark – meaning we’re well on our way to reaching our goal of collecting 366,000 signatures. 252,523 of these signatures need to be validated to get on the ballot in 2018 and end cannabis prohibition once and for all."

If the proposal to end marijuana prohibition is approved by voters, Michigan would become a national leader in cannabis reform by allowing personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older.

U.S.: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Continues to Deny Cannabis Science

Jeff Sessions, Prohibitionist

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions vows medical cannabis has no medicinal value and science still contradicts his stance

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the ever outspoken cannabis prohibitionist, has been pushing for Congressional permission to prosecute medical cannabis providers in states that have legalized the drug for medical use.

AG Sessions, who points to America’s “historic drug epidemic” to justify the crackdown, denies extensive research showing medical cannabis access lowers rates of opioid-related overdose.

Massachusetts: Governor Appoints Senator Flanagan to Cannabis Control Commission

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker named state senator Jennifer L. Flanagan as the gubernatorial appointee to the five-member Cannabis Control Commission, the commission charged with regulating both the adult use and medical marijuana industries.

Maine: State Delays Recreational Cannabis Sales, Governor Urges Cannabis Crackdown

Maine Cannabis

Last November, ballot initiative Question 1 gave Maine lawmakers and regulators nine months to write the rules

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Maine won’t be able to meet its February deadline to allow recreational cannabis sales, according to state officials.

Republican State Sen. Roger Katz said the agencies responsible for the recreational market rollout don’t have sufficient time before the deadline to perform such tasks as licensing growers, writing departmental rules and hiring new inspectors.

Last Month, Gov. Paul LePage stated he wished the Maine Legislature had repealed the referendum-passed law legalizing recreational cannabis use.

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