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  3. The House sponsor of a bill to protect banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses announced on Friday that he is seeking to attach an amendment containing the reform to a broader bill dealing with research and innovation in the tech and manufacturing sectors. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, has expressed interest in finding another vehicle to pursue his proposal after it was stripped from a separate defense bill late last year. The congressman’s legislation has cleared the House in five forms at this point, only to stall in the Senate. His latest attempt to get the reform enacted is by filing an amendment with the SAFE Banking language to the America COMPETES Act, which does not deal specifically with cannabis issues as drafted but was introduced in the House this week. “Cannabis-related businesses—big and small—and their employees are in desperate need of access to the banking system and access to capital in order to operate in an efficient, safe manner and compete in the growing global cannabis marketplace,” Perlmutter, who is retiring from Congress after this session and committed to passing his bill first, said in a press release. I have filed #SAFEBanking as an amendment to #AmericaCOMPETES b/c cannabis-related businesses – big and small – are in desperate need of access to capital & the banking system in order to operate in an efficient, safe manner & compete in the growing global cannabis marketplace. — Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) January 28, 2022 “The SAFE Banking Act is the best opportunity to enact some type of federal cannabis reform this year and will serve as the first of many steps to help ensure cannabis businesses are treated the same as any other legal, legitimate business,” he said. “I will continue to pursue every possible avenue to get SAFE Banking over the finish line and signed into law.” It remains to be seen whether the America COMPETES Act will serve as a more effective vehicle for the cannabis banking bill than the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), where the language was successfully attached on the House side but later removed amid bicameral negotiations. Perlmutter said at the time that Senate leadership, which is working on comprehensive legalization legislation, was to blame for the decision to remove his amendment from the proposal. The new SAFE Banking Act amendment will still need to be made in order by the House Rules Committee in order to be formally be considered on the House floor when the body takes up the research and innovation package. The deadline to file amendments was Friday, and the panel is set to take them up starting on Tuesday. Even some Republicans are scratching their heads about how Democrats have so far failed to pass the modest banking reform with majorities in both chambers and control of the White House. For example, Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized his Democratic colleagues over the issue last month. In the interim, federal financial regulator Rodney Hood—a board member and former chairman of the federal National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)—recently said that marijuana legalization is not a question of “if” but “when,” and he’s again offering advice on how to navigate the federal-state conflict that has left many banks reluctant to work with cannabis businesses. Ohio Lawmakers Will Be Forced To Consider Marijuana Legalization As State Validates Activist Signatures The post Congressman Files New Marijuana Banking Reform Amendment To Large-Scale House Bill appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  4. Ohio activists have collected enough signatures to force the legislature to take up the issue of marijuana legalization, the secretary of state’s office confirmed on Friday. This comes about two weeks after the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) submitted a final round of signatures for the measure. The petitions’ formal validation triggers the legislative review of legalization, but it does not require lawmakers to enact the reform. The legislature now has four months to consider the campaign’s cannabis reform proposal. Lawmakers can adopt the measure, reject it or pass an amended version. If they do not pass the measure, organizers can then collect an additional 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters to place the issue on the ballot in November. CTRMLA previously submitted petitions for the initiative but the state said they were short some 13,000 signatures, requiring activists to go back and make up the difference. “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio,” CTRMLA spokesman Tom Haren said in a press release. “We are also fully prepared to collect additional signatures and take this issue directly to voters on November 8, 2022, if legislators fail to act.” The measure that lawmakers will be required to consider would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum 12 plants per household. A 10 percent sales tax would be imposed on cannabis sales, with revenue being divided up to support social equity and jobs programs (36 percent), localities that allow adult-use marijuana enterprises to operate in their area (36 percent), education and substance misuse programs (25 percent) and administrative costs of implementing the system (three percent). A Division of Cannabis Control would be established under the state Department of Commerce. It would have authority to “license, regulate, investigate, and penalize adult use cannabis operators, adult use testing laboratories, and individuals required to be licensed.” The measure gives current medical cannabis businesses a head start in the recreational market. Regulators would need to begin issuing adult-use licenses to qualified applicants who operate existing medical operations within nine months of enactment. The division would also be required to issue 40 recreational cultivator licenses and 50 adult-use retailer licenses “with a preference to applications who are participants under the cannabis social equity and jobs program.” And it would authorize regulators to issue additional licenses for the recreational market two years after the first operator is approved. Individual municipalities would be able to opt out of allowing new recreational cannabis companies from opening in their area, but they could not block existing medical marijuana firms even if they want to add co-located adult-use operations. Employers could also maintain policies prohibiting workers from consuming cannabis for adult use. Further, regulators would be required to “enter into an agreement with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services” to provide “cannabis addiction services,” which would involve “education and treatment for individuals with addiction issues related to cannabis or other controlled substances including opioids.” With respect to social equity, some advocate are concerned about the lack of specific language on automatic expungements to clear the records of people with convictions for offenses that would be made legal under the legislation. That said, it does include a provision requiring regulators to “study and fund” criminal justice reform initiatives including expungements. Ohio voters rejected a 2015 legalization initiative that faced criticism from many reform advocates because of an oligopolistic model that would’ve granted exclusive control over cannabis production to the very funders who paid to put the measure on the ballot. Activists suspended a campaign to place another measure on the 2020 ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. Aside from the new voter initiative, state lawmakers from both parties are separately working to advance marijuana reform. A legalization bill that was the first of its kind to be introduced in the Ohio legislature last year would legalize the possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis by adults. It’s being championed by Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D). A pair of Ohio Republican lawmakers similarly filed a bill to legalize marijuana in the state in December. Reps. Jamie Callender (R) and Ron Ferguson (R) first announced their plan to push the legislative reform proposal in October and circulated a co-sponsorship memo to build support for the measure. There are also additional local reform efforts underway in Ohio for 2022. After voters in seven cities approved ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana possession during last November’s election—which builds on a slew of previous local reforms in the state—campaigns are now looking to enact decriminalization in Marietta, Rushville, Rutland, Shawnee, McArthur and Laurelville. Ohio marijuana activists already successfully proved that they turned in enough valid signatures to put a local decriminalization initiative before Kent voters after having missed the 2021 ballot due to a verification error on the part of county officials. That measure is now expected to go before voters this November. Top Federal Drug Official Says Marijuana Use ‘Stable’ Among Youth At Prohibitionist-Hosted Panel Sponsored By D.A.R.E. The post Ohio Lawmakers Will Be Forced To Consider Marijuana Legalization As State Validates Activist Signatures appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  5. A top federal drug official participated in a panel hosted by a prohibitionist group and sponsored by D.A.R.E.—and she again reiterated that data shows youth marijuana use has remained stable “despite the legalization in many states.” While National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow expressed concerns about certain cannabis trends related to potency, commercialization and use by pregnant women, she affirmed that surveys funded by her own federal agency have demonstrated that adolescent marijuana use is “stable,” despite repeated arguments from prohibitionists that legalization would lead more young people to experiment with cannabis. The event was hosted by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an anti-legalization group. SAM President Kevin Sabet and the organization’s co-founder former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) led the discussion. “The higher the content of THC, the greater the likelihood that you will become addicted to the drug… The content of THC has gone up at least 4-fold.” – Dr. Nora Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — SAM (@learnaboutsam) January 28, 2022 Sabet said that data on youth use has showed varying results in states that have legalized cannabis and asked Volkow to weigh in on the issue. She replied that federal data “have not been able to see large differences in terms of prevalence” of cannabis consumption among young people in legal and non-legal states. The official made similar comments in an interview with Marijuana Moment late last year. That said, Volkow said that they have seen some differences when it comes to consumption rates among adolescents for edible cannabis products. “But the effects are not large, and one of the things that also certainly surprised me [is] the rate overall, the prevalence rates of marijuana use among teenagers, have been stable despite the legalization in many states,” she said, adding that there are some concerns about increased frequency of use and limitations in data collection with respect to dosages being taken. Volkow also commented on a recent federally funded survey that found illicit drug use by young people has taken a significant plunge in the last year, though she largely attributed that to the reduced social interaction resulting from COVID-19 policies across the country. “Interestingly what we’ve observed during the COVID pandemic is, across schools in the United States, the prevalence of drug use has gone down,” she said, “which likely very much reflects the fact that kids don’t have the opportunity to interact with others, and drug taking at that stage is a peer pressure behavior.” The official also briefly addressed the fact that she feels criminalizing people over drugs in the first place is the wrong policy approach—a point she’s made repeatedly in interviews and blog posts. She said that “criminalization has created a system for that allows a structural racism to be implemented, you can control people, and that’s a horrible policy. This criminalization actually opens up our eyes that well, yes, we need to change that.” However, she said that “liberalizing and making the drugs widely available, with no counter messaging,” is not the alternative she would recommend. “We need to provide them [addicts] with treatment, so just to say ok we are going to liberalize everything… and not support treatment for those people under those conditions, I actually think it is quite irresponsible.” – Dr. Nora Volkow, M.D., Director of NIDA — SAM (@learnaboutsam) January 28, 2022 While the SAM-hosted event did not touch specifically on psychedelics policy, Volkow has also recently discussed that issues, especially as data has shown an increase in use of the substances among adults. She said people are going to keep using substances such as psilocybin—especially as the reform movement expands and there’s increased attention being drawn to the potential therapeutic benefits—and so researchers and regulators will need to keep up. Volkow also mentioned that NIDA is “pleased” the Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced plans to significantly increase the quota of certain psychedelic drugs to be produced for use in research. USDA Teams Up With Cornell University For Hemp Education Webinar Series Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan. The post Top Federal Drug Official Says Marijuana Use ‘Stable’ Among Youth At Prohibitionist-Hosted Panel Sponsored By D.A.R.E. appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  6. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will be partnering with Cornell University on a webinar series to promote education about hemp as the industry evolves. The events, the first of which was held on Wednesday, will feature experts in academia, research, production and private industry, according to a press release. The webinar this week focused on outdoor cultivation, and the next on February 9 will explore indoor cultivation. Today, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Cornell University announce the launch of a webinar series on hemp research. The first webinar will be held tomorrow, Jan. 26 at 2 pm EST. Bring your questions. Register here: https://t.co/TCjJK4r5nO #HempWebinar pic.twitter.com/7PRBcwCaId — Agricultural Research Service (@USDA_ARS) January 25, 2022 Other topics that will be taken up over the next few months include hemp processing, extraction, the endocannabinoid system, food science, genetics and the economics of hemp production. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) “solves agricultural challenges that affect all Americans,” the department’s acting hemp curator, Zachary Stansell, said. “Hemp is rapidly emerging as a critical multi-use and economically significant crop, so this hemp seminar series is designed to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of ARS’ mission while providing hemp-specific education, training, and networking opportunities to historically underserved communities,” he said. For each event, the experts will spend about 30-40 minutes discussing their issue and then participants will be able to submit questions. Meanwhile, USDA announced last month that it has taken steps to improve insurance policies for hemp businesses, making them more flexible in response to stakeholder feedback. USDA has taken a number of steps to align hemp insurance policies with those of other lawful crops since the plant was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, consistently seeking out input from stakeholders as the industry matures. In 2020, for example, the department made it so hemp farmers can qualify for Multi-Peril Crop Insurance, in addition to several other coverage programs for which the crop is now eligible. As part of its overall outreach, the department launched a large-scale survey in August to gain insight into the hemp market that’s emerged. After requesting permission from the White House last year to conduct the survey of about 20,000 hemp farmers, the agency’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently made response forms available to be filled out via mail or online. USDA is asking questions about plans for outdoor hemp production, acreage for operations, primary and secondary uses for the crop and what kinds of prices producers are able to bring in. The questionnaire lists preparations such as smokeable hemp, extracts like CBD, grain for human consumption, fiber and seeds as areas the department is interested in learning about. The department announced plans in 2020 to distribute a separate national survey to gain insights from thousands of hemp businesses that could inform its approach to regulating the industry. That survey is being completed in partnership with National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky. The department said it wanted to learn about “current production costs, production practices, and marketing practices” for hemp. There’s still much to learn about the burgeoning market, even as USDA continues to approve state regulatory plans for the crop. Recently, the agency approved a hemp plan submitted by Colorado, where officials have consistently insisted that the state intends to be a leader in the space. While USDA’s final rule for hemp took effect on March 22, 2021, the agency is evidently still interested in gathering information to further inform its regulatory approach going forward. Industry stakeholders say the release of the final rule is a positive step forward that will provide businesses with needed guidance, but they’ve also pointed to a number of policies that they hope to revise as the market matures such as USDA’s hemp testing requirements. The federal Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy expressed a similar sentiment in a blog post last February, writing that it is “pleased with some of the changes that [USDA] has made to the rule, as they offer more certainty and are less burdensome to small farmers,” but “some concerns remained unaddressed in the final rule.” USDA said last year that it is teaming up with a chemical manufacturing company on a two-year project that could significantly expand the hemp-based cosmetics market. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced in August that it is sponsoring a project to develop hemp fiber insulation that’s designed to be better for the environment and public health than conventional preparations are. Oregon Lawmakers File Psilocybin Equity Bill As State Implements Legal Use Program The post USDA Teams Up With Cornell University For Hemp Education Webinar Series appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  7. Feeding donkeys fresh marijuana buds is inadvisable, according to a new study that looked at novel cases of cannabis toxicosis in two equine. The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, investigated what happened after a jack and jenny (the terms for male and female donkeys, respectively) were fed a few grams of cannabis that was being legally grown for human consumption. The donkeys’ symptoms sound a lot like what happens when a person takes an edible that’s too strong. They presented as lethargic and their hearts were beating faster than normal, for example. But while it took longer to come down from the high for the donkeys compared to humans, with symptoms lasting 44 hours in the younger jenny before she was taken to the hospital, the study says both “recovered uneventfully within 24 hours of peak effects.” “Marijuana toxicosis is typically seen by companion animal veterinarians. However, with increased marijuana availability, there is a greater potential for toxicosis in other species,” the study authors wrote. To the scientists’ knowledge, this is the first study documenting cases of cannabis consumption in donkeys. A positive outcome from the donkey highs was that scientists had a chance to experiment with testing procedures to confirm that the symptoms were due to exposure to cannabinoids. They used a “screening assay in collaboration with a veterinary diagnostic laboratory,” which the study authors said “may be useful when an equine practitioner suspects marijuana toxicosis in a patient.” While they were able to determine those cannabinoid concentrations in the donkeys’ plasma, the researchers noted that more data is needed to figure out what dose of cannabis causes toxicosis in the species. In terms of treating donkeys who ate too much marijuana, the study says practitioners could potentially use gastric lavage, administer activated charcoal or use laxatives. “These adjunctive therapies are targeted at decreasing gastric absorption and facilitating excretion to limit the adverse clinical effects of cannabis,” they wrote. “There is no scientific evidence to support the benefit of these therapies for marijuana toxicosis in equine patients. However, activated charcoal and gastric lavage are effective means of supportive treatment for marijuana toxicosis in canine patients.” The study doesn’t directly comment on the ethics of feeding cannabis to donkeys, but as a general rule, people are discouraged from intentionally intoxicating animals and should take precautions to avoid accidental ingestion. Another study released last year found that, apparently, some canines are even getting intoxicated off marijuana by eating the feces of people who’ve consumed cannabis. Separately, there is interest within the scientific community about the effects of non-intoxicating CBD in animals like dogs and horses. Dogs with epilepsy experience considerably fewer seizures when treated with CBD oil, a study published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science in 2019 found. The prior year, a separate study determined that CBD can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for its part, has repeatedly warned pet owners about using CBD to treat firework-related anxiety in pets around the July 4 holiday. Oregon Lawmakers File Psilocybin Equity Bill As State Implements Legal Use Program Photo courtesy of Flickr/Klearchos Kapoutsis. The post Don’t Feed Marijuana Buds To Donkeys, New Study Warns appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  8. As Oregon prepares to implement a first-of-its-kind legal psilocybin services program, lawmakers have taken a proactive step to ensure that equity is built into the policy change with a new bill. The bicameral measure from Sen. Lawrence Spence (D) and Rep. Wlnsvey Campos (D) would create a 15-member “Task Force on Psilocybin Health Equity” comprised of lawmakers, regulators involved in psilocybin reform implementation, people with experience with psychedelics treatment, representatives of the indigenous community and more. The group would be responsible for ensuring “equity and accessibility in Oregon’s developing psilocybin services,” the bill text says. At a minimum, the task force would be required to explore barriers that people of color face in starting psilocybin-related businesses, training and retaining “culturally specific psilocybin service facilitators” and access to psychedelic sessions for low-income people and minority communities. Members would also need to generally study the development of “psilocybin research-specific licenses and the regulation of research partnerships that explore the efficacy of psilocybin therapy and expansion of access to psilocybin services.” They would be tasked with further looking into a psilocybin equity program to “provide resources to communities with barriers to accessing health care, to increase the number of culturally specific practices and people who are low-income who hold licenses.” — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — The wide-ranging equity study would be used to inform regulatory or legislative decisions around reducing fees for disadvantaged communities, grants for those individuals to receive financial and technical assistance to enter the market and a proposal that “psilocybin service centers dedicate a minimum percentage of psilocybin treatment sessions to clients who are low-income.” Mason Marks, a member of Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board that was established under the voter-approved 2020 initiative told Marijuana Moment that the new bill is “very important because Measure 109 did not focus on equity as much as it should have,” whereas emerging psychedelic legislation in other states—including neighboring Washington—makes equity a “central concern.” “Oregon has been a trend setter with respect to psychedelics policy,” he said. “But when it comes to equity it may fall behind. Looking ahead, Marks said, future legislation should allow at-home psilocybin services for people unable to travel to a service center and more affordable and accessible training opportunities for would-be facilitators of psychedelic sessions. For now, under the current bill, the task force would also need to investigate the possibility of creating a psilocybin equity office in the state. Members would be required to submit a report on its findings by November 1, 2022. This would not be a permanent task force, as the aforementioned requirements would be repealed as of January 2, 2023 under the measure. The existing Psilocybin Advisory Board is set to issue recommendations on implementing the program to state regulators in March. Late last year, the board cleared a team of researchers to produce a comprehensive report on the science, history and culture of the psychedelic as regulators prepare to license facilities to administer it. Members of the board released an initial report in July that reviewed hundreds of studies into psilocybin, as required under the state initiative. But they were pressed for time and said they would working with a recently established psychedelic research center at Harvard Law School to more thoroughly cover the subject. Part of the intent of the expanded research project is to help inform legislative efforts outside of Oregon where psychedelics reform is being considered. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who represents the state in Congress and endorsed the psychedelics initiative, said during an event with the national Plant Medicine Coalition this week that there’s a “very thoughtful, very deliberate” process underway to implement the reform. The congressman said that he’s “very excited that Oregon is going to once again be pioneering a very critical policy area.” He also talked about his enthusiasm for the state experiment in response to a question from Marijuana Moment at a separate event last month. Majority Of Americans Say They’d Vote For A Politician Who Smokes Marijuana, Poll Finds Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer. The post Oregon Lawmakers File Psilocybin Equity Bill As State Implements Legal Use Program appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  9. 3rd AR legalization initiative; Congressman slams DEA’s psychedelic blockade; Most Americans would vote for marijuana smoker; TN cannabis ballot bill Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible… BREAKING: Journalism is often consumed for free, but costs money to produce! While this newsletter is proudly sent without cost to you, our ability to send it each day depends on the financial support of readers who can afford to give it. So if you’ve got a few dollars to spare each month and believe in the work we do, please consider joining us on Patreon today. https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment / TOP THINGS TO KNOW A federal regulator with the National Credit Union Administration said marijuana legalization is only a matter of “when” and so credit unions “must embrace” the cannabis industry, which he says has a “bright future.” A group led by a former Arkansas House minority leader and funded by medical cannabis companies filed a new ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state. Activists behind two competing measures say it would create a cannabis monopoly. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said the Drug Enforcement Administration needs to get out of the way of patients having access to psychedelic therapy. “A criminal justice enforcement agency is not well-equipped… I’d like to just get them out of the equation.” A majority of Americans said in a new poll that they would be willing to vote for a political candidate “who occasionally smokes marijuana in their free time.” The results come shortly after Louisiana Democratic Senate candidate Gary Chambers released an ad showing him smoking a blunt. A bipartisan pair of Tennessee lawmakers are teaming up on measures to put questions about marijuana legalization on the ballot. / FEDERAL The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that a congressionally approved medical cannabis rider does not protect two Maine marijuana growers who engaged in “blatantly illegitimate activity” from federal prosecution. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, “In state after state, Americans are sending a clear message—they want an end to marijuana prohibition. I’m working to pass our bill to end the federal prohibition, enact criminal justice reforms, and ensure equity for those impacted by the War on Drugs.” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) tweeted, “Amazon has endorsed my States Reform Act, a bill that would end the federal government’s 85-year prohibition on marijuana.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) spoke on his podcast about the potential role of cannabinoids in preventing COVID infection. Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jesse Philippe tweeted, “The most dangerous aspect about psychedelic plants is their criminalization. Stop incarcerating innocent people and stop propping up the ‘black market’ economy. If there is demand; we should create a safe/legal avenue for people to get treatment.” / STATES South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham, a former congressman, tweeted, “Most states have either already legalized marijuana or they’re on pace to legalize it soon. The fact that South Carolina still hasn’t legalized *medical* marijuana is a testament to how out-of-touch @henrymcmaster and his allies are. Time to wake up and smell the, well, you know.” Mississippi’s agriculture and commerce commissioner thanked lawmakers for removing his department from having any role in regulating medical cannabis. Virginia’s former public safety secretary is now lobbying for Jushi Inc. The South Dakota House of Representatives defeated two bills to add restrictions on medical cannabis. The chairman of the Washington, D.C. Council is floating a tax holiday for medical cannabis sales during the week of 4/20. Separately, regulators are processing cost-free, two-year medical marijuana patient registrations this weekend. The Utah House Government Operations Committee approved a bill to protect government employees from being punished for medical cannabis use. The Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy is considering legislation on marijuana host community agreements, expungements, equity and social consumption sites. The Arkansas Legislative Council’s Medical Marijuana Oversight Subcommittee discussed medical cannabis tracking. Separately, the State Plant Board Hemp Committee will meet on Friday. A California assemblywoman filed a bill to require courts to dismiss and seal marijuana convictions by set deadlines. A New York senator spoke about efforts to enact marijuana legalization. The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case on medical cannabis taxes next month. New Jersey regulators are indicating they may not meet the February 22 deadline to launch recreational marijuana sales. Ohio regulators held a lottery for medical cannabis dispensary licenses. Iowa regulators are proposing changes to rules for the medical cannabidiol program. The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission reversed regulators’ decision not to award a medical cannabis cultivation license to a company after finding irregularities with how applications were evaluated. Washington State regulators sent safety tips for marijuana businesses. Nevada regulators fined a marijuana dispensary that self-reported a regulatory violation. Oklahoma regulators published a list of licensed medical cannabis processors. Georgia regulators will consider medical cannabis issues on Saturday. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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 Colorado Springs, Colorado’s mayor is opposing a proposed local ballot measure to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries. / INTERNATIONAL Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado vetoed a medical cannabis and hemp bill. / SCIENCE & HEALTH A study facilitated by the Michael J. Fox Foundation found that people with Parkinson’s disease “reported using more CBD products, via oral administration, with mild subjective benefits primarily for sleep, pain, and mood.” A study suggested that “cannabidiol treatment might lead to improvements in fracture healing and provide a novel therapeutic option for the bone regeneration.” / ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents listed cannabis banking and insurance legislation as an “issue of focus” for 2022. Americans for Prosperity included “restor[ing] state authority over cannabis” as a priority in its 2022 legislative roadmap. Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Decriminalize Nature launched a psychedelics reform partnership effort. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies was awarded a UK innovation passport for MDMA as an adjunct therapy for PTSD. / BUSINESS A counterclaim by Curaleaf against a former executive for Grassroots Cannabis, which was acquired by the former company, is being allowed to proceed under an Illinois judge’s ruling. High Tide Inc. reported C$53.9 million in quarterly revenue. Make sure to subscribe to get Marijuana Moment’s daily dispatch in your inbox. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: The post Fed regulator notes “bright future” for cannabis (Newsletter: January 28, 2022) appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  10. Last week
  11. If the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) isn’t going to take steps for facilitate research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, it needs to get out of the way as lawmakers consider reform, a congressman says. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and former Republican Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) participated in a panel hosted by the Psychedelic Medicine Coalition (PMC) on Thursday where they talked about the challenges and opportunities of advancing drug policy reform in Congress as the state and local movement expands. Blumenauer was asked about his experience with DEA on the issue and said that the agency has “a very troubled history with the failed war on drugs,” noting the waste of government resources that have poured into the effort. He said that DEA’s focus on scheduling drugs “flies in the face of what we need to have done with our research efforts.” “A criminal justice enforcement agency is not well-equipped” to handle this complex drug policy issue, the congressman said. “I’d like to just get them out of the equation. If I had my way, we would redirect resources in ways that would be much more effective and realistic.” “We have a wide range of things we need to be doing to be able to promote true understanding of what the properties are of scheduled drugs, being able to understand promising therapies, to be able to research them in an unbiased way and to be able to get the results of that information out the door,” he said. “That just simply isn’t the mission of the DEA.” Blumenauer recently led a congressional letter on psychedelics policy that was sent to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, who was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate over the summer. He and bipartisan colleagues urged the agency to allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution. “I mean, that is a classic example of what’s wrong here,” the congressman said on Thursday, discussing the letter. “We shouldn’t have to fight to have the application of the right-to-try law for terminally ill people for a very promising therapy. That could make a huge difference for them. What’s wrong with this picture?” Congress and 41 states have adopted right-to-try laws, which allow patients with terminal conditions to try investigational medications that have not been approved for general use. Lawmakers said that DEA “has failed to abide” by the law. DEA’s refusal to allow psilocybin access for these patients resulted in a lawsuit that was filed in March by a Washington State doctor who sought federal guidance to treat terminal patients with psilocybin mushrooms and was told there wasn’t a legal avenue for him to do so. The lawsuit is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which heard oral arguments in the case in September. Washington State’s attorney general’s office joined the plaintiffs in support of psilocybin access. DEA argued that the court should dismiss the suit because it lacked jurisdiction. Blumenauer also said that while he’s yet to meet with Milgram, he looks forward to doing so and will convey that the psilocybin case “is a golden opportunity for that agency to get in step with what the trends are, with the medical research, with the promising therapies for areas that we desperately need, new and powerful approaches to use the benefit of the research to be able to do a reset, to not be trapped in the failed war on drug mentality.” DEA has increased production quotas for the production of certain psychedelics like psilocybin in an effort to promote research, but its scheduling decisions have continued to represent obstacles for scientists. And the agency is currently facing criticism from advocates and researchers over a proposal to place several psychedelic substances in Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. Blumenauer also talked about the “very thoughtful, very deliberate” process underway in his home state of Oregon to implement a historic voter-approved initiative legalizing psilocybin therapy. He said that he’s “very excited that Oregon is going to once again be pioneering a very critical policy area.” The congressman also talked about his enthusiasm for the state experiment in response to a question from Marijuana Moment at a separate event last month. Costello, who served in Congress from 2015 to 2019 and recently joined PMC as a board member, thanked Blumenauer at Wednesday’s event for “the thoughtfulness with which you approach public policy in a very tumultuous political environment as it is.” Meanwhile, a new global coalition announced a new campaign this month to get psilocybin mushrooms internationally rescheduled. Majority Of Americans Say They’d Vote For A Politician Who Smokes Marijuana, Poll Finds The post Congressman Blasts DEA Over Psychedelics Scheduling At Event With Former GOP Colleague appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  12. A majority of Americans said they wouldn’t have an issue voting for someone who occasionally smokes marijuana, according to a new poll. The YouGov survey, which involved interviews with 4,096 adults, comes about a week after a U.S. Senate candidate made waves after releasing a campaign ad where he smokes a cannabis blunt while discussing the racially disparate harms of prohibition. It found that 58 percent of Americans would be “willing” to vote for a candidate who they agree with on most issues “who occasionally smokes marijuana in their free time.” Twenty-one percent said they wouldn’t be willing to cast that vote. 58% of Americans would be willing to vote for a candidate they agree with on most issues who occasionally smokes marijuana in their free time Would – Wouldn't U.S. adults: 58%-21% Republicans: 47%-34% Democrats: 68%-15%https://t.co/bDUZJ47c9Qhttps://t.co/OPLTMEpgHI pic.twitter.com/Vo3pb87XQa — YouGov America (@YouGovAmerica) January 27, 2022 Democrats were more likely to be fine with a casual cannabis toker running for office, with 68 percent saying they’d be open to voting for someone who partakes, compared to 15 percent who said they wouldn’t. Nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) said they’d be willing to make that vote for a marijuana consumer if they align on most issues. It’s another sign of the normalization of cannabis as more states move to legalize for medical and adult use. A 2020 Gallup survey also demonstrated the growing acceptance of marijuana, with respondents finding cannabis consumption to be more morally acceptable than gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty and abortion While Democrat Gary Chambers’s recent ad showing him openly smoking made national headlines, he’s not the first to be public about cannabis consumption while seeking office. Anthony Clark, an Illinois candidate who ran an unsuccessful primary challenge against a Democratic congressional incumbent in 2020, also smoked marijuana in a campaign ad while discussing his personal experience with cannabis and the need for federal reform. He also hosted what he called the “first-ever congressional weed party” in a campaign video. Also that year, a Democratic candidate for a House seat to represent Oregon frequently discussed consuming and cultivating cannabis herself. A sitting member of Congress has never publicly smoked marijuana, but several lawmakers have visited marijuana farms, companies and state-legal dispensaries. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) brought CBD oil products he uses to a committee hearing in 2019. Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in 2019 that while he doesn’t smoke marijuana, “I do grow it legally,” but a spokesperson later clarified that he was broadly referring to legal cultivation in the state. It’s not especially surprising that most Americans would be comfortable voting for someone who uses marijuana considering that, at this point, a strong majority of the population believes that cannabis should be legalized, according to numerous polls. Even a recent survey funded by the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) found that a large majority of Americans think cannabis should be legal for either medical or recreational purposes. Despite that support, President Joe Biden has so far declined to take any meaningful action on marijuana reform since taking office last year. And a separate YouGov poll released this month shows that Americans are not optimistic that he will move to make good on his decriminalization campaign promise in 2022. Former Arkansas Lawmaker Files Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot To Compete With Two Other Measures Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso. The post Majority Of Americans Say They’d Vote For A Politician Who Smokes Marijuana, Poll Finds appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  13. A campaign chaired by a former Arkansas lawmaker has filed a constitutional amendment to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot—and it’s facing pushback from advocates who are working on two separate reform initiatives. Eddie Armstrong, a Democrat who previously served as minority leader in the state House of Representatives before leaving office in 2019, first unveiled the plan to pursue legalization through the ballot late last year. Now that Armstrong’s group Responsible Growth Arkansas has formally filed the measure, its details are available. The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be permitted to sell in the recreational market starting March 8, 2023, giving them an advantage. Under the proposal, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) would be responsible for regulating the market and issuing marijuana business licenses. There would be a two-tiered approach to cultivator licensing, with the first tier being reserved for eight existing dispensaries and the second tier going to 12 other applicants through a lottery system. The measure would also repeal and replace certain provisions of the state’s medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters at the ballot in 2016. Language would be updated for rules on advertising, packaging, labeling and purchase limits. Advocates who are collecting signatures for separate legalization ballot measures have raised concerns that the Responsible Growth Arkansas proposal would deliberately benefit a select number of businesses, including those that have financially backed it, and stamp out competition. The five donors who contributed $350,000 each to the campaign—Bold Team, Good Day Farms Arkansas, Osage Creek Cultivation, DMCC and NSMC-OPCO—are all existing cultivators, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Armstrong argued that his proposal is a “more responsible and regulated approach to expanding into this adult cannabis space for Arkansas,” and the campaign “took a look at how this could be done in a meaningful and well-regulated way for Arkansans.” A 10 percent supplemental sales tax would be imposed on retail marijuana sales. Revenue would be used for law enforcement funding (15 percent), the University of Arkansas (10 percent), drug court programs (five percent), and the remainder would go to the state general fund after covering administrative costs. Another issue with the new initiative for advocates is the lack of equity provisions. The measure does not provide a pathway for expungements, nor does it give licensing priorities to communities disproportionately impacted under prohibition. There are two other campaigns that have already laid the groundwork to put cannabis legalization on the ballot this year. And both of those included equity components in their measures. Arkansans for Marijuana Reform submitted the proposed constitutional amendment to the secretary of state’s office last year. It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower, two ounces of concentrates and cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings for personal use. Under the group’s proposal, the state Department of Finance and Administration would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses. They would have to issue at least one retail license per 15,000 residents. No individual or entity could possess more than one cultivation and one dispensary license. Mellisa Fults of Arkansans for Marijuana Reform slammed the new measure from Armstrong’s group, saying “its’ going to be a horrible monopoly.” “It’s going to be awful for the state,” she told the Democrat-Gazette. “There’s no expungement of records, so they’re going to be making millions upon millions of dollars when there’s people who still have a felony on their record for a joint.” In contrast, under Fults’s measure, courts would be obligated to provide relief to people with past convictions for possession or sales of up to 16 ounces of cannabis or six plants. However, they would have some discretion as to whether relief constitutes release from incarceration, expungements of past records and/or the restoration of voting rights. A separate group of activists with Arkansas True Grass is already in the signature gathering process for a 2022 ballot initiative that would create a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older, allowing them to purchase up to four ounces of cannabis and grow up to 12 plants for personal use. True Grass spokesperson Jesse Raphael called the new measure from Responsible Growth Arkansas “a power grab by the medical monopoly.” “It locks in all of the production for the recreational marijuana for the current producers of medical marijuana,” he said. Both True Grass and Arkansans for Marijuana Reform attempted to place marijuana legalization initiatives on the 2020 ballot, but both campaigns were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and failed to collect enough signatures by the deadline. That’s despite a federal judge’s ruling in May 2020 that the secretary of state needed accept signatures that were not collected in-person or notarized due to the excess burdens that arose during the health crisis. Read the text of the latest medical cannabis legalization ballot initiative below: South Carolina Senate Begins Long-Anticipated Medical Marijuana Debate Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen. The post Former Arkansas Lawmaker Files Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot To Compete With Two Other Measures appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  14. “Let the Tennessee voters at least express their opinion in an unbiased manner so all of us as legislators have a sense of what the voters would like us to do.” By Sam Stockard, Tennessee Lookout After years of marijuana bills being kicked around the General Assembly, only to be booted, two lawmakers are hoping to find out exactly what the public thinks about cannabis with a ballot initiative. In a somewhat odd pairing, Rep. Bruce Griffey, a firebrand Republican from Paris, and Sen. Sara Kyle, a liberal Democrat from Memphis, are sponsoring legislation enabling voters to weigh in with a state-sponsored public opinion poll. The measure—Senate Bill 1973/House Bill 1634—would require county election commissions to include three non-binding questions related to the legalization of marijuana on the 2022 ballot. The secretary of state would then compile the results and forward them to the Legislature. Griffey was unable to find any Republican senators who would sponsor the bill, which doesn’t bode well for passage in the GOP-controlled body, but Kyle agreed to carry it in the upper chamber because she supports passage of each question it asks. “To me there’s no down side to it, very minimal cost. Let the Tennessee voters at least express their opinion in an unbiased manner so all of us as legislators have a sense of what the voters would like us to do,” Griffey said Wednesday. While Tennessee has a limited CBD medical cannabis law in place, measures to provide broader patient access have made it a couple of steps in committees in recent years but have never gotten to the House floor. Law enforcement officials managed to kill recent bills, and key legislative leaders threw up opposition. This measure would not legalize marijuana or decriminalize it but would simply give lawmakers information to determine how to follow up with legislation on a longstanding question. The questions to be posed are: 1) Should the state of Tennessee legalize medical marijuana? 2) Should the state decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana? 3) Should the state legalize and regulate the commercial sales of recreational marijuana? The results of the ballot initiative would not guarantee passage of any follow-up legislation. Ballot measures aren’t binding under the state’s Constitution. “We’ve been wrestling around with this for years and years now. A bunch of jurisdictions have taken a step to legalize it. There’s certainly some valid arguments, is marijuana any worse than alcohol in certain situations?” Griffey said. Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk, for instance, made a practice of declining to prosecute possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less, though police officers can write citations. Funk’s decision has drawn the ire of some of the state’s more conservative lawmakers, who passed legislation last fall enabling the attorney general to appoint substitute district attorneys to handle cases when DAs announce they won’t prosecute certain offenses. Kyle, who has backed passage of medical marijuana in Tennessee for years, said she favors gauging “community support” for the questions. “I would vote yes on every one of these,” Kyle noted. One of her main arguments is that people should have access to medical marijuana to deal with debilitating diseases. She points toward the prevalence of sickle cell anemia in her Memphis district and the benefits medical cannabis could provide to those suffering from it. Previous legislation listed some 30 types of illnesses that medical marijuana could be used to treat. It also set up a state bureaucracy to oversee the growing, packaging and dissemination of the drug, all of which would have combined to create a massive industry and potentially reap billions in state revenue. Kyle acknowledges any effort to legalize medical marijuana could be hampered by questions from lawmakers about the types of doses that could be administered. Yet she plans to forge ahead with the ballot initiative. In addition, she believes thousands of young people are hampered by a DUI or marijuana possession conviction that holds them back from meaningful employment or admission to a school or college. “Let’s remove that barrier,” she said. “We’re talking about less than an ounce. That’s pretty much personal use.” Kyle points out states across the nation allow the use of medical marijuana. In fact, Tennessee is in the minority, allowing only cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. Kyle contends people who drive into Tennessee from Arkansas, where medical marijuana is legal, should not be penalized if found in possession. Based on previous surveys, Kyle believes Tennesseans are ready to legalize medical marijuana and to decriminalize possession of small amounts. Typical polls find public support between 70 percent and 80 percent for legalization of medical marijuana and decriminalization. Kyle’s main concern, though, lies with the General Assembly. “On those questions, I think you’ll get a high yes,” she said. “But I don’t know if the Legislature’s ready.” This story was first published by Tennessee Lookout. South Carolina Senate Begins Long-Anticipated Medical Marijuana Debate The post Bipartisan Tennessee Lawmakers Want To Put Marijuana On The Ballot For Voters To Decide appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  15. Federal financial regulator Rodney Hood—a board member and former chairman of the federal National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)—says marijuana legalization is not a question of “if” but “when,” and he’s again offering advice on how to navigate the federal-state conflict that has left many banks reluctant to work with cannabis businesses. During an interview with PBC Conference that was released on Wednesday, Hood talked about the “prohibition mindset” that has influenced banking activity as more states have moved to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. He said that it’s important for financial institutions to “really prepare” for what he expects to be a “bright future” for the cannabis sector. Hood recognized that the marijuana industry has been “underserved” by the financial services sector under the umbrella of federal prohibition, but he said that while people commonly associated the market with urban communities, there are also opportunities for rural markets. And that could be partially facilitated by more modest reform legislation in Congress to simply protect banks that work with marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. It’s “all the more reason why we want to make sure that [cannabis businesses are] getting the loans that they need to create viable, sustainable businesses,” he said. Passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act could help “build infrastructure,” he said, and the country is going to “see just as much success in this industry as we have with some of the other industries of a bygone era.” That bill has cleared the House in some form five times now, but it’s continued to stall in the Senate under both Democratic and Republican control. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, has said in recent weeks that he’s “irritated” that Congress hasn’t been able to pass his bill with Democratic majorities in both chambers and control of the White House. However, while he’s retiring from Congress at the end of this session, he said this month that he’s “gonna get that darn thing passed this year.” Hood said he’s “hoping that we will see that cross the finish line soon.” In the interim, credit unions “must embrace the cannabis-related businesses,” he said. “We, as an industry, need to be prepared and postured to make sure that gone is the day that cannabis-related business owners are part of the prohibition era,” he said. “What I mean by that the fact that we have mainline banks and credit unions who perhaps have been frightened, timid or skittish about bringing some of these legitimate businesses that are legal in some states—38 to be exact—we need to now recognize that we have the safeguards in place.” He noted that while Obama era guidance to federal prosecutors that laid out enforcement priorities for state-legal marijuana activity was rescinded under the Trump administration, financial institutions still have 2014 guidance on managing cannabis banking that remains in place. The official, who previously participated in a PBC Conference event where he criticized Congress for failing to reform marijuana laws, also gave advance to credit unions on data collection, compliance, virtual currency and more to navigate the cannabis space. Hood made similar points in a Marijuana Moment op-ed last year, saying that legalization is an inevitability—and it makes the most sense for government agencies to get ahead of the policy change to resolve banking complications now. “It’s very encouraging to have a banking regulator proactively working with the cannabis industry,” Joshua Radbod, CEO of the PBC Conference, told Marijuana Moment. “Huge thank you to Rodney and the NCUA for educating their credit union members on how to find ways to bank the underserved cannabis business community.” While marijuana businesses often struggle to find banks that are willing to take them on as clients due to risks caused by the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis, a recent study found that banking activity actually increases in states that legalize marijuana. As of June 30, there were 706 financial institutions that had filed requisite reports saying they were actively serving cannabis clients. Thats up from 689 in the previous quarter but still down from a peak of 747 in late 2019. A pro-reform Republican senator recently slammed Democrats for failing to advance marijuana banking reform despite having a congressional majority and control of the presidency. For what it’s worth, the secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department recently said that freeing up banks to work with state-legal marijuana businesses would “of course” make the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) job of collecting taxes easier. With respect to the SAFE Banking Act, a bipartisan coalition of two dozen governors recently implored congressional leaders to finally enact marijuana banking reform through the large-scale defense legislation. A group of small marijuana business owners also recently made the case that the incremental banking policy change could actually help support social equity efforts. Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana The post Federal Financial Regulator Talks Marijuana Industry’s ‘Bright Future’ And Need For Banking Access appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  16. MS medical marijuana to gov; MN gov’s budget has legalization funds; SC begins medical cannabis debate; CO psychedelics measures; WI GOP medical bill Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible… Free to read (but not free to produce)! We’re proud of our newsletter and the reporting we publish at Marijuana Moment, and we’re happy to provide it for free. But it takes a lot of work and resources to make this happen. If you value Marijuana Moment, invest in our success on Patreon so we can expand our coverage and more readers can benefit: https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment / TOP THINGS TO KNOW Mississippi lawmakers sent a medical cannabis bill to the desk of Gov. Tate Reeves (R). While the governor had threatened a veto over previous versions, he said his team will carefully review the legislation before he makes a decision and is “very pleased that we got to see so much progress made in improving” it with amendments. The Delaware House Health and Human Development Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) included funding for the legalization of marijuana in his budget request. The House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize cannabis last year but it has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. The South Carolina Senate finally began a floor debate on a medical cannabis bill that’s been eight years in the making. The discussion is expected to last for several legislative days before a vote is held. Colorado activists filed revised ballot initiatives to legalize psilocybin—this time without possession limits. Separately, state lawmakers introduced a bill to study the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. Wisconsin Republican lawmakers introduced a limited medical cannabis legalization bill. It comes one day after Senate GOP members unanimously blocked a broader Democratic-led marijuana legalization amendment. / FEDERAL Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said she’s “deeply skeptical that Amazon’s lobbying [on marijuana] is anything more than a self-interested move to monopolize yet another market, potentially blocking Black and Latino entrepreneurs from an emerging industry.” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) tweeted, “The overwhelming majority of South Carolinians are in favor of cannabis reform in some way, shape or form. It’s time our laws in South Carolina reflect the will of its people. That’s why I support SC Sen. Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Act.” She also appeared at the South Carolina Statehouse to rally support for the bill. Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) included an option on illegal marijuana grows in a survey about which issues are important to constituents. Vermont Democratic congressional candidate Kesha Ram Hinsdale, currently a state senator, tweeted, “Last year, I introduced a bill to repair harm from the so-called War on Drugs by directing revenue from cannabis control to impacted communities. Grateful the Cannabis Advisory Board is advancing that recommendation this session. We must reinvest in true community safety.” / STATES Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) avoided a question about whether he supports marijuana legalization but complained about the smell of people smoking it—though he did express support for not incarcerating people for cannabis. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) tweeted, “I’m pleased to see the @NevadaCCB and the Cannabis Advisory Commission highlighting the need for more diversity and inclusion within Nevada’s legal cannabis industry.” Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Cranley, currently Cincinnati’s mayor, tweeted, “It’s not enough for marijuana to be decriminalized in Ohio. Every day it’s illegal is another day we’re leaving tax revenue and jobs on the table that could be going back right into our communities. It’s time to #LegalizeIt.” Washington, D.C.’s attorney general tweeted, “Safe injection sites are saving lives in New York–since opening on Nov. 30th, they’ve reversed at least 85 overdoses. I support these sites, and will continue standing up for them in court, because we need to do all we can to fight this epidemic.” Colorado’s treasurer tweeted, “More than $12 billion in marijuana has been sold since legalization in 2014, with the state collecting over $2 billion in taxes.” Virginia’s Senate president pro tempore tweeted, “Let’s talk about pot. Yes, we legalized it and I even opened the Cannabis Outlet after we did! But the job isn’t done. People are still in jail for something that is legal today. My SB518 would give them all a chance to be re-sentenced and get home with their families.” The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee approved a bill to limit the types of medical cannabis products that will be allowed. A Nebraska senator posted, “Just thought I’d drop a quick note that I am not settling for anything that does not create a safe, effective, and accessible medical cannabis system in our state. We are full steam ahead on the ballot initiative.” California regulators ordered a recall of marijuana flower over mold contamination. Louisiana regulators amended medical cannabis rules. Arkansas regulators are circulating proposed medical cannabis rules changes for public comment. Pennsylvania regulators posted a fee schedule for replacement medical cannabis cards and qualifications for financial hardship in the program. New York regulators published an updated list of doctors who are certified to recommend medical cannabis and who have consented to having their names shared. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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 Sanctioned harm reduction centers in New York City say they have averted 114 drug overdoses in their first six weeks of operation. Denver, Colorado officials are accepting proposals for potential partners to design, implement and administer a small business program to support marijuana social equity applicants. / INTERNATIONAL UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson answered a question about medical cannabis access from a lawmaker. / SCIENCE & HEALTH A review concluded that medical and recreational marijuana laws “do not generate negative outcomes in the labor market, lead to greater criminal activity, or reduce traffic and road safety.” A study found that medical cannabis use “reduces opioid prescription for patients with chronic back pain and improves pain and disability scores.” / ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS The South Dakota Democratic Party tweeted, “In 2020, SD voters proved they wanted recreational use of marijuana. Gov. Noem has thought otherwise. It is high time we pass legislation that speaks the will of the voters. ALL marijuana belongs in South Dakota.” The American Nurses Association issued a statement reiterating its support for federally rescheduling marijuana. The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns is asking lawmakers to include a local 3 percent tax on marijuana sales in legalization legislation. / BUSINESS Amazon’s vice president of public policy said the company has “no plans to sell cannabis and that is not why we’re doing this or being involved in this debate” about legalization. Jushi Holdings Inc. closed a non-brokered private placement offering worth just over $10 million. Trulieve Cannabis Corp. completed a rebranding of its retail locations in Pennsylvania. Awakn Life Sciences Corp. filed a patent application for a new chemical series of entactogen-like molecules. Arizona retailers sold more than $1.2 billion worth of recreational marijuana products in the first year of sales. Make sure to subscribe to get Marijuana Moment’s daily dispatch in your inbox. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: The post DE legal cannabis bill clears first vote (Newsletter: January 27, 2022) appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  17. South Carolina’s Senate kicked off debate on a medical marijuana bill on Wednesday, marking the first time in the Republican sponsor’s eight-year legalization effort that his legislation has made it to the chamber floor. The body is expected to hold several full legislative days’ worth of discussion on the measure before taking a vote on it. The Compassionate Care Act was prefiled in late 2020 and passed out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee last March, but a lone senator blocked it from reaching the chamber floor in 2021. Since then, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Davis (R), has redoubled his efforts to get the bill across the finish line. “What I’ve attempted to do over the last several months is make the intellectual argument,” Davis said, “make the argument based on logic, make the argument based on the law, make the argument based on what these empirical studies show.” Davis spent much of Wednesday’s floor session answering questions from critics who appeared to have little understanding of medical marijuana programs in other states. He emphasized that the new program would be relatively limited in scope, forbidding patients from smoking or even possessing the plant form of marijuana and restricting qualifying conditions to only those that evidence shows cannabis can help. “One of the things that I decided early on was that this was going to be a different kind of medical cannabis bill,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be like the medical cannabis bills in the 36 other states that have medical cannabis laws, because I wanted it to be a very tightly regulated medical bill” rather than a back door to full legalization. My medical-marijuana bill is first up for debate tomorrow in the South Carolina Senate. Session begins at 1:00 pm, so I will take the well around 1:30 pm. You can watch the debate live at: https://t.co/NZ4UUKFWiv. Please retweet to share link, and please watch if you’re able! pic.twitter.com/uBZOM5LEuq — Tom Davis (@SenTomDavisSC) January 25, 2022 As the result of an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R), Davis said last week, the bill was made a special order, meaning that now that senators have begun debate on the measure, they will have to vote on it before taking up other legislation. Davis also said House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) has agreed to “allow the bill to go through the House process” if it advances through the Senate, although a spokesperson for Lucas later told the Charleston Post and Courier that “Sen. Davis doesn’t speak for Speaker Lucas.” If the bill proceeds as Davis has described, the senator said he expected “that we’re going to be standing here in three or four months celebrating a bill signing” with Gov. Henry McMaster (R). — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — Davis has emphasized the bill’s conservative approach to medical marijuana, more limited than legislation that Mississippi lawmakers sent to their governor’s desk on Wednesday. Advocating for the plan last session, the South Carolina senator repeatedly called it “the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country.” “I understand what South Carolinians want,” he said at the time. “They want to empower doctors, they want to help patients, they do not want recreational use.” On the Senate floor Wednesday, Davis said he was willing to entertain further amendments to tighten the bill, for example by finding a way to more closely involve state-licensed pharmacists in dispensing medical marijuana. As drafted, the bill, S. 150, would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. It would impose two-week sales limits on patients, letting them buy up to 4,000 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused topicals, 1,600 milligrams in edible products or 8,200 milligrams in oils meant for vaporization. Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be forbidden. Patients caught smoking small amounts of marijuana would be subject to a fine of up to $500 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses would carry a misdemeanor criminal penalty and up to 30 days in jail. While more qualifying conditions could be added in the future, the bill specifies cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other neurological disorders, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, autism, nausea in homebound or end-of-life patients, muscle spasms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provided a patient can establish they experienced one or more traumatic events. Patients diagnosed with less than one year to live could also qualify. Notably, the bill would also allow access among patients with “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care,” for example severe or persistent pain. Medical marijuana would be subject to the state’s 6 percent sales tax, though the bill specifies that “no other tax may be imposed on the purchase of cannabis or cannabis products,” including by local governments. After funding the new program’s costs, 90 percent of revenue would go to the state’s general fund, with the remainder split up among research to detect drug-impaired drivers (3 percent), drug safety education (2 percent) and separate university research into cannabis dosing, efficacy, side-effects and related subjects. For the initial rollout, regulators would approve 15 licenses for vertically integrated marijuana businesses that would control production, distribution and sales. More than a hundred dispensaries would be licensed under the bill. Licenses would also be granted to independent testing laboratories. Local governments could set a limit on the number of medical cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction but could not ban them entirely. Land use and zoning burdens “should be no greater for a cannabis-based business than for any other similar business,” the bill says. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control would oversee licensing and other regulations. A newly established Medical Cannabis Advisory Board would be in charge of adding qualifying conditions. The advisory board would consist of the department director as well members appointed by the governor: doctors, a research scientist with expertise in cannabis medicine, a pharmacist, a patient, a parent of a minor patient and one representative of a licensed cannabis establishment. Davis has championed medical marijuana in South Carolina since 2014 and at a rally last week brought out a binder that he said contained eight years of research into the issue. He said he would use the information to “take on every single argument that has been raised in opposition to this bill, and I’m going to show that they cannot stand in the way of facts and evidence.” The senator even came to the defense of a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state, former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), after Cunningham campaigned on cannabis legalization and drew criticism from the state GOP chairman for wanting to “play with fire.” Chairman Drew McKissick said at the time that organization opposed “any” effort to end prohibition. In a now-deleted tweet, Davis called the statement from his party “an intellectually lazy position that doesn’t even try to present medical facts as they currently exist.” Last week, the state GOP paid to circulate a message from a sheriff attacking Davis’s bill. In a lengthy message paid for by the S.C. GOP (@SCGOP), Aiken County Sheriff Mike Hunt comes out swinging against medical marijuana. And at the bottom of the email: “In a time where law enforcement officers are facing more hatred, mistrust, and even threats to defund…” pic.twitter.com/q9nVDpcFGF — Colin Demarest (@demarest_colin) January 21, 2022 Davis referred to the maneuver by his party as “the elephant in the room” on the Senate floor Wednesday, saying he was offended by the misinformation and planned to rebut every misleading claim the group made. “I’m going to go through every single legal argument that’s been put up there—lack of medical evidence, unintended social consequences—and take them all up and discuss them and refute them,” the senator said. The state party organization separately slammed a federal legalization bill from U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican who represents South Carolina in Congress. "It's Tom Davis's pot party, but we'll be the ones left crying." ~ Anonymous pic.twitter.com/zuEjqFfAfM — Tom Davis (@SenTomDavisSC) January 25, 2022 Meanwhile, patient groups and other advocates who appeared at last week’s rally with Davis said S. 150 would reduce harm and expand legal access to safer drugs. “We are counting on our lawmakers to listen to the many voices of patients who, like my daughter, need a safer, more effective alternative to opioids and other debilitating pharmaceutical drugs and pass the Compassionate Care Act NOW!” Jill Swing, executive director of the S.C. Compassionate Care Alliance, said in a press release. Candace Carroll, state director at Americans for Prosperity South Carolina, said that Davis’s bill would mean that South Carolina could “ensure more individuals access the most transformative treatments and reduce the harms presented by a robust black market.” A poll released last February found that South Carolina voters support legalizing medical marijuana by a five-to-one ratio. But the state does not have a citizen-led initiative process that has empowered voters in other states to get the policy change enacted. Support for medical marijuana legalization among South Carolina residents has been notably stable, as a 2018 Benchmark Research poll similarly found 72 percent support for the reform, including nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Republicans. Davis said last year that if the legislature didn’t advance the reform, he’d propose a bill to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters through a referendum. Also in 2018, 82 percent of voters in the state’s Democratic primary election voted in favor of medical cannabis legalization in a nonbinding ballot advisory vote. Lawmakers prefiled four marijuana measures for the 2019 session, but they did not advance. Davis said ahead of the Senate session that after years of effort, even seeing his bill advance to the chamber floor was a victory. “If you pound at the door long enough, if you make your case, if the public is asking for something, the state Senate owes a debate,” he told the Post and Courier. “The people of South Carolina deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue.” Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Mississippi Legislature And Heads To Governor’s Desk The post South Carolina Senate Begins Long-Anticipated Medical Marijuana Debate appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  18. More than 14 months after voters in Mississippi passed an initiative to legalize medical marijuana—a law the state Supreme Court later overturned—Republican-led lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor on Wednesday that would establish a more limited cannabis program for patients, the result of months of negotiations and last-minute changes to a nearly 450-page bill. Following a conference committee meeting during which lawmakers from the House and Senate approved a change in how certain marijuana businesses would be zoned, both chambers passed the final legislation with veto-proof majorities. The Senate’s tally was 46-4, with one member voting present, and the House cleared the bill on a 103-13 vote. While the overall bill remains largely the same as an earlier version passed by the Senate this month, amendments made last week in the House reduced the overall monthly amount of cannabis products available to patients and removed the Department of Agriculture and Commerce from oversight of the industry. “This has been a long journey, and it’s nice to be in a place where everyone is in agreement,” Rep. Lee Yancey (R), who championed the bill in the House, said at Tuesday’s press conference. “It looks like we will finally be able to provide relief to those people with debilitating illnesses who so badly need it. Medical cannabis will now be an option for them as soon as we get the conference report signed and sent to the governor.” The legislature will next formally transmit the bill to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who then has five days, excluding Sundays, either to sign it into law or return it with objections. If the governor doesn’t take any action by the deadline, the bill will become law without his signature. Reeves has been wary of legalization in recent months, at one point threatening to veto a draft bill if it made it to his desk. Since then, proponents in the legislature have worked to balance the voter-approved initiative’s more permissive proposals against the governor’s calls for tighter restrictions. The governor said last week that the measure has become “better” with every revision and rightly predicted there would be further amendments by the House. Provided the bill becomes law, dispensaries would be licensed about six months later, meaning Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in limited form, by the end of the year. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — The bill, SB 2095, draws heavily from provisions negotiated by lawmakers in the second half of last year, as legislative leaders prepared a bill for an anticipated special session last summer that the governor never called. Supporters say the lengthy proposal represents a middle ground between the more permissive plan approved by voters and the narrower approach preferred by Reeves and some lawmakers. The legislation as now approved by both chambers would allow patients with about two dozen qualifying medical conditions to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or 1 gram of cannabis concentrate) per day, with a maximum monthly limit of 3 ounces. Voters approved a monthly limit of 5 ounces in 2020, and the bill as passed by the Senate last week would have allowed 3.5 ounces, but that was further scaled back by the House earlier this week. Qualifying conditions under the bill include cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, neuropathy, spinal cord disease or severe injury as well as chronic medical conditions or treatments that produce severe nausea, cachexia or wasting, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms or chronic pain. Further conditions could be added later by regulators via petition. State-issued patient registration cards would cost $25, though some people could qualify for a lower price. Registered patients would be subject to purchase limits that would restrict them to no more than one “medical cannabis equivalency unit” per day, which the bill defines as 3.5 grams of cannabis flower, one gram of concentrate or up to 100 milligrams of THC in infused products. While those limits are significantly lower than in most states where cannabis is legal for medical patients, Reeves said last year the program should allow only half those amounts. Patients or caretakers would be forbidden from growing their own cannabis under the proposal. Products from state-licensed companies, meanwhile, would be limited to 30 percent THC for cannabis flower and 60 percent for concentrates. Medical marijuana would be taxed at a wholesale rate of 5 percent, and purchases would also be subject to state sales tax. While smoking and vaping cannabis is allowed for patients, both would be illegal in public and in motor vehicles. It would still be a crime for patients to drive under the influence. The advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project, which has criticized some of the plan’s limitations compared to the voter-passed initiative, nonetheless called the bill an important step forward for the state. “Today is an historic day for the patients of Mississippi,” Kevin Caldwell, the group’s Southeast legislative manager, told Marijuana Moment. “We congratulate the legislature for upholding the will of the people, and we call on Gov. Tate Reeves to sign this legislation into law when presented to him.” The legislation would task the Mississippi Department of Health to oversee the new industry and establish a nine-member advisory committee to make recommendations on issues such as patient access and industry safety. Previous versions of the bill also tasked the state Commission of Agriculture and Commerce with regulatory duties, but the House removed the agency through an amendment. Commissioner Andy Gipson, who for months had pushed back against the plan, thanked House Speaker Philip Gunn and other lawmakers for making the change in a statement issued last week. “The best place for a truly medical program is under the Department of Health, which reflects the will of the voters in Initiative 65,” Gipson said, according to SuperTalk Mississippi. “This change is good policy for Mississippi agriculture and allows us to focus on our core mission. It is also good policy for the taxpayers of Mississippi because it achieves greater efficiency in the use of funds by reducing the number of agencies involved in the program.” Licensing of cannabis businesses other than dispensaries—including cultivators, processors, transporters, disposal entities, testing labs and research facilities—would begin 120 days after the bill’s passage, with the first licenses issued about a month after that. The dispensary licensing process would kick off 150 days after passage, with the first licenses coming a month later. In general, local governments could not ban medical cannabis businesses outright or “make their operation impracticable,” the bill says, but a separate provision would allow local governments to opt out of the program altogether within 90 days of the bill’s passage. In such cases, citizens could then petition to put the question to a vote. There would be no limit on the number of licensed businesses under the plan. Cannabis businesses may have to get seek local approval to operate, however, and municipalities can adopt zoning and land use restrictions. The original Senate bill would have allowed cultivators and processors to be located only in areas zoned for agricultural or industrial use, and the House later added an amendment to let those businesses set up in commercially-zoned area as well, but the Mississippi Municipal League pushed back on the change. The conference committee altered that by saying that the businesses could only operate commercial zones if granted a variance by a local government. Mississippi voters decisively approved a broad legalization initiative in November 2020, but the state Supreme Court overturned the measure on procedural grounds last May—simultaneously doing away with the state’s entire initiative process. For much of last year, it appeared lawmakers were set to pass a medical marijuana bill during a special legislative session, but the governor ultimately decided against calling the special session after reaching an impasse with lawmakers. Those who supported legalization said at the time that responsibility for the failure rested with Reeves. Later that month, Reeves dodged questions from patient advocates about why he’d failed to call the special session. Then in late December, he said on social media that he had “repeatedly told the members of the Legislature that I am willing to sign a bill that is truly medical marijuana,” but stressed that there should be “reasonable restrictions.” Last week, before the House floor vote, Rep. Lee Yancey (R), who chairs the House Drug Policy Committee and who’s been working on the legislation with Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R), said that he never imagined he’d be in the position to legalize cannabis. But he said he worked to ensure the bill was focused on providing medicine to patients, not paving a route to a recreational program as critics have claimed. “When I got involved in this bill, I said, ‘How can we build a wall around this program so the people who get it are the people who need it the most, and only the people who need it the most?” Yancey said. “This is not for everybody out on the street. This is not for a bunch of kids. This is for hurting people with debilitating conditions.” A poll released in June found that a majority of Mississippi voters support legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, with 63 percent saying they want the legislature to pass a bill that mirrors the ballot measure that was nullified by the Supreme Court. Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana The post Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Mississippi Legislature And Heads To Governor’s Desk appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  19. The governor of Minnesota included funding to implement marijuana legalization in his annual budget request to lawmakers on Wednesday—a move that comes while Democratic legislative leaders prepare to advance the reform again this session even as it has stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate. Gov. Tim Walz (D) has consistently expressed support for the policy change, but he declined to propose putting dollars toward implementation in his last budget request. Now he says he wants funding for multiple programs and departments to launch an adult-use marijuana market in line with a bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House last year. The governor’s recommended funding for legalization would go to numerous state agencies, including those dealing with education, health, public safety, human services, the state Supreme Court, corrections and more. The budget “also includes funding for grants to assist individuals entering the legal cannabis market, provides for expungement of non-violent offenses involving cannabis, and implements taxes on adult-use cannabis,” the request says. “The Governor and Lieutenant Governor know that Minnesota needs modernized solutions to harness the benefits of legalizing cannabis, including expanding our economy, creating jobs across the state, allowing law enforcement to focus on violent crime, and regulating the industry in order to keep our kids safe,” a press release says. “The Governor and Lieutenant Governor recommend funding for the safe and responsible legalization of cannabis for adult-use in Minnesota.” “A new Cannabis Management Office would be responsible for the implementation of the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis, along with the medical cannabis program, and a program to regulate hemp and hemp-derived products. The recommendation also includes funding for grants to assist individuals entering the legal cannabis market, additional resources for substance use disorder treatment and prevention, provides for expungement of non-violent offenses involving cannabis, and implements taxes on adult-use cannabis.” “Prohibiting the use of cannabis in Minnesota hasn’t worked.” Previously, in 2019, the governor directed state agencies to prepare to implement reform in anticipation of legalization eventually passing. While advocates are hopeful that the sponsors of that legislation will be able to make revisions and advance it through the House again this year, its prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate are less certain. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) and Senate Minority Leader Melisa Franzen (D) discussed the legislative strategy for enacting the reform last week. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — “Because of the hard work done by advocates in recent years, legalizing cannabis for adult-use within a regulated market and expungement of past cannabis convictions is now a mainstream idea that has the support of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Governor Tim Walz,” Winkler said in a press release on Wednesday, reacting to the budget proposal. “Senate Republicans are now the sole barrier preventing Minnesota from legalizing cannabis and expanding adults’ personal freedoms,” he said. “I invite Senate Republicans to collaborate with advocates and lawmakers this year to advance mainstream policies like legalizing adult-use cannabis and expunging cannabis convictions.” Winkler previously said that his bill, which moved through 12 committees before being approved on the floor, is the “product of hundreds of hours of work involving thousands of people’s input, countless hearings and public listening sessions—but it is not a perfect bill.” “We will be working with our colleagues in the Minnesota Senate,” he added. “We’re interested in pursuing legalization to make sure that the bill represents senators’ priorities for legalization as well.” Leili Fatehi, campaign manager of Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, told Marijuana Moment that the governor’s “inclusion of cannabis legalization as a priority in his proposed supplemental budget is directly responsive to the issues Minnesotans care about most right now.” That includes “the need for more good-paying jobs and more opportunities for Minnesota’s farmers, small businesses, and local economies; the need to expunge the past cannabis records of people who are needlessly shut out of the struggling labor market; the need to free up our public safety and criminal justice systems to focus on real violent crimes and criminals; and the need to undo the decades of harm our prohibition laws have inflicted on our neighbors and communities of color,” Fatehi said. While legalization wasn’t ultimately enacted last session, the governor did sign a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, in part by allowing patients to access smokable cannabis products. A poll conducted by Minnesota lawmakers that was released last year found that 58 percent of residents are in favor of legalization. That’s a modest increase compared to the chamber’s 2019 survey, which showed 56 percent support. The House majority leader said in 2020 that if Senate Republicans don’t go along with the policy change legislatively, he hopes they will at least let voters decide on cannabis as a 2022 ballot measure. Governors outside of Minnesota have also been talking up marijuana reform at the start of the new year. For example, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) released a State of the State book earlier this month that called for the creation of a $200 million public-private fund to specifically help promote social equity in the state’s burgeoning marijuana market. And her budget estimated that New York stands to generate more than $1.25 billion in marijuana tax revenue over the next six years. The governor of Rhode Island included a proposal to legalize marijuana as part of his annual budget plan—the second time he’s done so. And time around, he also added new language to provide for automatic cannabis expungements in the state. Wisconsin Republicans Announce Limited Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan. The post Minnesota Governor Puts Marijuana Legalization Funding In Budget Request appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  20. More than a dozen Republican Wisconsin lawmakers announced on Wednesday that they are filing a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R) and Rep. Patrick Snyder (R) are leading the bicameral effort, though advocates are already skeptical considering how the GOP-legislature has historically resisted and blocked cannabis reform. On Tuesday, for example, the Senate passed a bill to increase penalties for people who use butane to extract marijuana resin, and GOP members also shot down an amendment to the measure that would have legalized adult-use cannabis. The Republican-led medical cannabis legislation is also fairly restrictive, as it prohibits smokable marijuana products and doesn’t allow patients to grow cannabis for personal use. Patients could only obtain cannabis preparations in the form of oils, pills, tinctures or topicals. Wisconsinites deserve another tool in the toolbox as they go through difficult treatment and recovery journeys, look to alleviate their chronic pain, and handle the debilitating effects of PTSD. — Sen. Mary Felzkowski (@MaryFelzkowski) January 26, 2022 What it would do is allow doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to patients with one of eight conditions, including cancer, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple sclerosis. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has expressed support for medical cannabis reform, and the lead Senate sponsor said at Wednesday’s press conference that Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) is “more than willing” to hold a hearing on the proposal. Under the bill, a medical marijuana regulatory commission would be established through the Department of Revenue to promulgate rules for the program in consultation with a medical cannabis advisory board. The commission could add more qualifying conditions. Licensed processors would be taxed at a rate of 10 percent for “each wholesale sale in this state of medical marijuana to a licensed dispensary,” the text of the bill says. Revenue would go toward a medical marijuana fund to support drug prevention and treatment programs. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — It does not appear that the measure contains equity provisions like expungements that are favored by progressives. “Currently 36 other states, including our neighbors Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, have passed laws allowing patients with certain medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it,” a co-sponsorship memo that Felzkowski and Snyder sent to fellow legislators on Wednesday says. “Medicine is never one-size-fits-all, and it is time for Wisconsin to join the majority of the country in adding another option which may help patients find the relief they need.” The memo also discusses how voters in multiple cities and counties across Wisconsin have strongly approved local, non-binding ballot referendums expressing support for marijuana reform in recent years. “Wisconsinites who have discussed the positive benefits of using marijuana for medicinal purposes with their primary care physicians are currently forced to endure pain and physical agony, traffic drugs into Wisconsin and become criminals, or be held hostage by the FDA approved pain killers that may alleviate their pain, but come with a host of side effects that diminish quality of life,” a summary of the proposal says. This isn’t the only cannabis bill that’s up for consideration in the Wisconsin legislature. Every single Republican voted against taking up my amendment to fully legalize cannabis for responsible, adult usage. Every. Single. One. https://t.co/jAOk0mZno2 — Senator Melissa Agard (@SenatorAgard) January 25, 2022 In November, a bipartisan pair of legislators introduced a bill to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession. In August, three senators separately filed legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use in the state. As it stands, marijuana possession is punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offense. People convicted of a subsequent offense would face a felony charge punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison. Gov. Tony Evers (D) tried to legalize recreational and medical marijuana through his proposed state budget last year, but a GOP-led legislative committee stripped the cannabis language from the legislation. Democrats tried to add the provisions back through an amendment the next month, but Republicans blocked the move. Other Republican lawmakers have filed bills to more modestly decriminalize marijuana possession in the state, but none of those proposals advanced during last year’s session. Evers held a virtual town hall event last year where he discussed his cannabis proposal, emphasizing that polling demonstrates that Wisconsin residents back the policy change. And in the interim as lawmakers pursue reform, the governor has issued more than 300 pardons during his years in office, primarily to people convicted of non-violent marijuana or other drug offenses. Colorado Activists File Revised Ballot Initiatives To Legalize Psilocybin And Establish ‘Healing Centers’ Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images. The post Wisconsin Republicans Announce Limited Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  21. A bill to legalize marijuana in Delaware cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, advancing out of the House Health and Human Development Committee on a 10-4 vote. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski (D), who introduced a similar proposal last year. The Health and Human Development Committee approved last year’s measure, too, but it ultimately stalled ahead of an expected floor vote due to disagreements over social equity provisions. At the time, Osienski pledged to bring a revised bill for the 2022 session that could earn broad enough support to pass. Osienski said at the hearing that the proposal would “create good-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element which profits from the thriving illegal market in our state.” Rep. Paul Baumbach (D), a cosponsor of both the current and past versions of the legalization bill, thanked Osienski for his efforts to tweak and strengthen the bill over time. “You’ve listened so much to so many concerns,” he said, “and you and the staff have incorporated so many of the best ideas there are for this matter.” Pending signatures, the Marijuana Control Act (HB 305) will be released from the Health Committee. Appreciate everyone who provided comment on the bill. It's past time to get this done. It's clear the public broadly supports this legislation. — David Bentz (@DaveBentz) January 26, 2022 One of the few vocal opponents to the bill at Wednesday’s hearing was Rep. Charles S. Postles Jr. (R), who said he didn’t “believe in either extreme, that of legalization or of excessive punitiveness” and worried that legalization would send a message to kids that cannabis use is safe. “We’re talking about the government telling our young people, ‘This stuff is fine. Go do it.'” The bill, HB 305, would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, including up to five grams of cannabis concentrates. Growing marijuana at home, as well as home delivery by licensed businesses, would be prohibited. A marijuana commissioner under the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement would regulate the industry and oversee licensing of retailers, cultivators, manufacturers and laboratories. Licenses would be granted through a scored, competitive process, with advantages given to those who pay workers a living wage, provide health insurance or meet certain other benchmarks. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — Efforts at social equity are built into the licensing scheme. After 19 months of the bill’s enactment, for example, regulators would have to approve 30 retailer licenses, half of which would go to social equity applicants. Social equity applicants—defined as entities majority-owned by people with past cannabis convictions or who live in an area disproportionately impacted by the drug war—would also be allotted one-third of the planned 60 cultivation licenses, one-third of manufacturing licenses and two of five licenses for testing laboratories. Equity applicants would also qualify for reduced application and licensing fees as well as technical assistance from the state. Retail sales of cannabis would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax, which would not be applied to medical marijuana products. Of the tax revenue, 7 percent would go to a new Justice Reinvestment Fund, which would support grants, services and other initiatives that focus on issues such as jail diversion, workforce development and technical assistance for people in communities that are economically disadvantaged and disproportionately impacted by the drug war. The money would also be used to help facilitate expungements, according to a summary from the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). When Osienski’s earlier bill was being considered last year, a similar equity fund provision was included, and the sponsor said he was caught off guard when he was informed that its inclusion meant the bill would require 75 percent of legislators in the chamber to approve it. Osienski attempted to address the problem through an amendment, but some members of the Black Caucus opposed the changes, and the measure failed. The current bill will still require a supermajority threshold to pass, but a smaller one of 60 percent. Osienski has worked with the Black Caucus in the ensuing months to build support and move toward more passable legislation. And a clear sign of the progress is that Reps. Rae Moore (D) and Nnamdi Chukwuocha (D) have already signed on as cosponsors to the new bill after pulling their support for the 2021 version over equity concerns. Chukwoucha said at Wednesday’s hearing that he believed past versions of the bill fell short on addressing past injustice against people of color. The current version, he said, does better. “We spoke about the harms in communities and [how] individuals who look like me are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses, but we didn’t really see redress in the bill,” Chukwoucha said. He thanked Osienski for working with stakeholders to address those concerns. In 2019, Osienski was the chief sponsor of a legalization bill that cleared a House committee but did not advance through the full chamber. That bill would have allowed medical cannabis dispensaries to begin selling marijuana to adults 21 and older while the rest of the adult-use industry was still preparing to launch, a provision that was removed from later versions. Four of the state’s six medical marijuana companies came out publicly against that change and testified in opposition to last year’s bill. In response, Delaware activists mounted a boycott against those operators. During public testimony on Wednesday, a representative from a subsidiary of one multi-state dispensary operator, Columbia Care, said the group supports the bill. Representatives from various state agencies, meanwhile, raised worries about some of the bill’s provisions and encouraged changes to the plan. The Department of Health and Social Services, for example, urged investment in substance use disorder treatment programs and public awareness campaigns about the risks of cannabis use. A Department of Agriculture representative called for outdoor cannabis cultivation to be forbidden, among other changes. The Department of Finance, meanwhile, said that while the bill addressed some of the department’s past concerns, it would nevertheless create problems for administrators handling tax collection and other transactions, especially because much of the cannabis industry relies on cash. Osienski said at the beginning of the hearing that he was expecting the agency pushback after Gov. John Carney’s (D) office sent him a list of concerns on Tuesday afternoon. “I want to reassure you that we have met in the past with these agencies,” he said, “and we will continue to meet with them to address these concerns.” Advocates cheered the decision to advance the bill. “The House Human Development committee’s approval of HB 305 today is the first step towards bringing equitable legalization to the state this year,” Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst for Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment on Wednesday. “Delaware has the opportunity to join 18 other states and DC that have legalized cannabis for adults—including their neighbor, New Jersey. It is past time for the legislature to listen to their constituents and meet the moment.” Several modest amendments that were filed when last year’s bill was being considered have been incorporated into the new measure. Those include provisions related to quality control standardization, accreditation for marijuana testing facilities and packaging and labeling requirements. Portions of the bill on expungements were also removed, as they were made redundant by the enactment of separate legislation last year. Individual municipalities would be able to establish their own regulations for marijuana business operating times and locations, and they would also be able to ban cannabis companies altogether from their jurisdiction. As supportive lawmakers work to push the bill through the legislature, they also face the challenge of winning over Carney, one of the rare Democratic governors who remain opposed to legalization. Despite his wariness about adult-use legalization, Carney did sign two pieces of marijuana expungement legislation in recent years. In 2017 and 2018, a state task force met to discuss issues related to legalization, and the governor hosted a series of roundtable meetings about cannabis. A legalization bill previously received majority support on the House floor in 2018, but it failed to receive the supermajority needed to pass. Carney’s predecessor approved a measure to decriminalize simple possession of cannabis in 2015. An analysis from State Auditor Kathy McGuiness (D) released last year found that Delaware could generate upwards of $43 million annually in revenue from regulating marijuana and imposing a 20 percent excise tax. The legal market could also create more than 1,000 new jobs over five years if the policy is enacted, according to the report. Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana The post Delaware Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee Vote appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  22. Colorado activists have filed revised versions of a pair of 2022 ballot initiatives to legalize psilocybin and create licensed “healing centers” where people can use the psychedelic for therapeutic purposes. The move comes as state lawmakers have introduced a separate bill to require a study into the efficacy of plant-based psychedelics. The ballot measures—filed by Kevin Matthews, the campaign manager behind Denver’s historic 2019 vote to locally decriminalize psilocybin and entrepreneur Veronica Perez—are similar to earlier versions the advocates filed with the secretary of state’s office last month, with a few key changes concerning the rollout of the reform, promoting equity and possession limits. For the original initiatives, the campaign was considering two options: one would have legalized a wide range of entheogenic substances including DMT, ibogaine and mescaline, as well as establish a regulatory model for psychedelics therapy. The other would have initially enacted the reform for psilocybin and psilocin alone. But recognizing that regulators would be faced with an onerous task to set up rules for multiple psychedelics, activists decided to take a different approach with the new measures. For both, there would be a two-tiered regulatory model, where only psilocybin would be legalized and regulated for therapeutic use until June 2026, after which point regulators could expand the policy change to include other psychedelics that are listed in the proposal. “We really wanted to make sure that the administration had time to set up a proper regulatory structure—first for psilocybin and then for any further natural medicines,” Rick Ridder of RBI Strategies, a spokesperson for the campaign, told Marijuana Moment on Monday. The decision to add additional psychedelics to the program would be made by the Department of Regulatory Agencies in consultation with a Natural Medicine Advisory Board that would be established. The board would be comprised of 15 members, including people who have experience with psychedelic medicine in a scientific and religious context. Another major change from the prior versions is that the revised initiatives do not contain explicit “allowable” possession limits—a provision that had garnered pushback from certain Colorado activists when the original measures were filed. And unlike the last two versions of the initiatives, these new measures also include specific provisions meant to “ensure the regulatory access program is equitable and inclusive and to promote the licensing of and the provision of natural medicine services” for people who have been disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization, who face challenges accessing health care, have “traditional or indigenous history with natural medicines” and military veterans. Those rules could involve, but are not limited to, reduced licensing fees, reduced costs for low-income people and an annual review of “the effectiveness of such policies and programs.” “I think what this is is a giant step forward for mental health treatment in the state of Colorado,” Ridder said. “As we’ve looked at the results of research throughout the world, we’re seeing very promising data related to particularly healthy people with PTSD, with suicidal tendencies and end-of-life. And this is just an opportunity to bring that kind of natural medicine and medicinal help to citizens here in Colorado.” The two new initiatives are nearly identical to each other, except that one contains a component specifically authorizing people to petition courts for record sealing for past convictions that would be made legal under the proposal. Under the proposals, the Department of Regulatory Agencies would be responsible for developing rules for a therapeutic psychedelics program where adults 21 and older could visit a licensed “healing center” to receive treatment under the guidance of a trained facilitator. This latest filing comes more than two years after Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Various activists, including those involved in the 2019 campaign, have signaled interest in building upon the reform. The initiatives must still be assigned an official ballot title and summary from the state before they’re approved to begin signature gathering. The measures are scheduled to receive a review and comment hearing on February 3. If approved by state officials, activists will choose one of the measures to pursue and will then need to collect 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters to achieve ballot access. The Colorado ballot initiatives seek to accomplish something similar to what California activists are actively pursuing. California advocates are in the process of collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Sen. Joann Ginal (D) and Rep. Alex Valdez (D) filed a modest bill last week to create a one-year plant-based medicine policy review panel that would be tasked with studying the “use of plant-based medicines to support mental health,” according to a summary. The ballot campaign is not affiliated with that legislative effort. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — “The policy review panel shall submit a report on its findings and policy recommendations to the House of Representatives Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, or any successor committees; the governor; and the Department of Human Services,” it says. Meanwhile, legislative efforts to enact psychedelics reform are also underway in other states across the country. For example, a bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel on Monday, only to be pushed off until 2023. But there’s still a separate but similar reform proposal that’s pending in the Senate. Two Republican Oklahoma lawmakers recently filed bills meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, and one of the measures would further decriminalize low-level possession of the psychedelic. A GOP Utah lawmaker also introduced a bill last week that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use. In Kansas, A lawmaker also recently filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. A Republican Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill this month to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD through an expanded version of the state’s existing right-to-try law. California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session. In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline. Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older. In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to decriminalize drug possession. New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs. Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution. Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert. The post Colorado Activists File Revised Ballot Initiatives To Legalize Psilocybin And Establish ‘Healing Centers’ appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  23. MS deal to send medical marijuana to gov; VA psychedelics bill delayed; OK GOP psilocybin decrim measure filed; MO cannabis expungements Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible… Before you dig into today’s cannabis news, I wanted you to know you can keep this resource free and published daily by subscribing to Marijuana Moment on Patreon. We’re a small independent publication diving deep into the cannabis world and rely on readers like you to keep going. Join us at https://www.patreon.com/marijuanamoment / TOP THINGS TO KNOW Mississippi lawmakers reached an agreement to send a medical cannabis bill to Gov. Tate Reeves’s (R) desk this week. A bicameral conference committee will tweak newly amended zoning provisions, with final passage expected on Wednesday. Amazon is endorsing a GOP-led federal marijuana legalization bill. The company previously announced it would stop testing most employees for cannabis and backed a separate Democratic-led legalization measure. A Virginia House Courts of Justice subcommittee amended a psychedelics decriminalization bill to make it focused on medical use, but then voted to table the legislation until next year. A similar measure is still pending in the Senate, with bipartisan support. Oklahoma Republican lawmakers filed bills that would decriminalize psilocybin and encourage research into the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic for treating conditions like PTSD, severe depression and opioid use disorder. Several competing Missouri ballot initiatives and legislative proposals to legalize marijuana contain provisions to expunge prior records—but they differ in detail, and legal experts say some could cause more harm than good. / FEDERAL The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University are launching a webinar series on hemp research. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a man’s case challenging the constitutionality of criminalizing selling drugs with medical or religious uses. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) tweeted about visiting a hemp processing facility, saying, “This Montana business is providing good-paying jobs, boosting the local economy & supporting Montana farmers. We need to be supporting MT ag, not hindering it.” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said there are “three things that really bring people together—animals, Britney Spears and cannabis.” She also authored an op-ed calling on South Carolina lawmakers to pass a medical marijuana bill. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) tweeted, “Good event yesterday in Leona Valley with @kathrynbarger and @LACoSheriff to discuss our continued efforts to combat the illegal marijuana grows. Since I first brought national attention to this crisis sweeping across our community, we have made significant progress.” Missouri Democratic congressional candidate Henry Martin tweeted, “Keeping marijuana illegal has resulted in an above-ground market in many states where people sell marijuana-like products that are not regulated at all by the FDA. Let’s end this dangerous nonsense. We don’t need spice and synthetic hemp products on our streets. Just legalize it.” / STATES Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, currently the attorney general, tweeted, “Legalize marijuana. Expunge records.” Delaware’s state auditor tweeted, “It’s been one year since I released a special report on the potential revenue Delaware could see if it taxed and regulated marijuana for adult use.” The House Health & Human Development Committee will consider a cannabis legalization bill on Wednesday. The South Dakota Senate approved several bills to amend medical cannabis rules. The Wisconsin Senate defeated a marijuana legalization amendment. Virginia’s Senate president pro tempore tweeted, “There was a young man running for Senate who got 6 mil+ views last week for smoking a joint. Please. I’m a 78 year grandma who legalized pot and now has her own cannibis store. And I’m the last thing standing between The GOP and total control of Virginia… Did I mention my store is on High Street in Portsmouth?” Minnesota’s House majority leader said he’s concerned Senate Republicans will continue to block his marijuana legalization bill. Connecticut’s House majority leader tweeted about how youth service bureaus are working on “examining the possible impact of cannabis legislation.” The Ohio House Health Committee advanced a bill to add autism spectrum disorder as a medical cannabis qualifying condition. The Michigan House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill to allow police to conduct roadside saliva tests for THC. Washington State lawmakers are considering several marijuana equity bills. A New Mexico representative spoke about efforts to bring more entrepreneurs into the cannabis industry. Alaska regulators proposed rules changes on the marijuana enforcement action process. Vermont regulators posted marijuana guidance for municipalities. Texas regulators published a notice of compliance with a temporary injunction on their ban on delta-8 THC. Florida regulators issued variances on rules for hemp laboratory testing for two companies. Nevada regulators met to act on marijuana business issues. Tennessee’s Medical Cannabis Commission will meet on Friday. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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 A full list of New York municipalities that opted out of allowing recreational marijuana retailers or social consumption areas was released by state regulators. / INTERNATIONAL Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board agreed to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. Costa Rica’s government is asking lawmakers to amend a medical cannabis and hemp bill to remove home cultivation and lower allowable THC amounts. France’s Council of State suspended a ban on selling raw hemp flowers and leaves. Philippine presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos said he supports medical cannabis. A Guernsey lawmaker is inquiring about cannabis licensing lessons from Jersey. / SCIENCE & HEALTH A study suggested that “cannabis is largely an alternative to palliative care for terminal patients” and that “for those in palliative care, it is a therapeutic complement used at higher levels of pain.” A study of people with fibromyalgia found that “the majority of participants believed that psychedelics have potential for chronic pain treatments and would be willing to participate in a psychedelic-based clinical trial for their pain.” / ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS The South Dakota Democratic Party tweeted, ” As Democrats, we want to ensure the will of the people is followed. In 2020, 70% of voters made it clear that South Dakotans want Medical Marijuana!” More Perfect Union released a video featuring federal marijuana prisoners asking President Joe Biden to grant them clemency. / BUSINESS Ballard Partners launched a national cannabis practice group. Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. completed its acquisition of Pineapple Express Delivery Inc. Home Depot is being sued by an employee who says she was improperly put on medical leave after revealing she uses medical cannabis to treat PTSD. HEXO Corp. sent an update about its strategic plan. Make sure to subscribe to get Marijuana Moment’s daily dispatch in your inbox. Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: The post Amazon backs GOP cannabis legalization bill (Newsletter: January 26, 2022) appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  24. Amazon, the second largest private employer in the U.S., is backing a Republican-led bill to federally legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. The company’s public policy division said on Tuesday that it is “pleased to endorse” the legislation from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who filed the States Reform Act in November as a middle-ground alternative to more scaled back GOP proposals and wide-ranging legalization bills that are being championed by Democrats. We’re pleased to endorse @RepNancyMace's States Reform Act. Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort. https://t.co/g04Dn5KZq5 — Amazon Public Policy (@amazon_policy) January 25, 2022 “Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort,” the company, which previously expressed support for a separate, Democratic-led legalization bill, said. Amazon has worked to adapt to changing marijuana policies internally as it’s backed congressional reform, enacting an employment policy change last year to end drug testing for cannabis for most workers, for example. Months after making that change—and following the introduction of the States Reform Act—Mace met with Amazon and received the company’s endorsement, Forbes reported. “They don’t want to sell it,” the freshman congresswoman said, adding that Amazon is primarily interested in backing the reform for hiring purposes instead of as a way to eventually sell cannabis. “It opens up the hiring pool by about 10 percent.” @amazon has endorsed my States Reform Act, a bill that would end the federal government’s 85-year prohibition on marijuana. https://t.co/XJdY2URQtC pic.twitter.com/MDRM8EVjnG — Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) January 25, 2022 Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said the bill “offers comprehensive reform that speaks to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus to end the federal prohibition of cannabis.” Amazon’s drug testing decision was widely celebrated by reform advocates and industry stakeholders. Initially, the company only talked about ending the policy going forward. But it later disclosed that the policy change would also be retroactive, meaning former workers and applicants who were punished for testing positive for THC will have their employment eligibility restored. The reason for the move away from marijuana testing was multifaceted, Amazon said at the time. The growing state-level legalization movement has made it “difficult to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program,” data shows that drug testing “disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment” and ending the requirement will widen the company’s applicant pool. The GOP congresswoman’s bill already has the support of the influential, Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity. The measure would end federal cannabis prohibition while taking specific steps to ensure that businesses in existing state markets can continue to operate unencumbered by changing federal rules. Mace’s legislation has been characterized as an attempt to bridge a partisan divide on federal cannabis policy. It does that by incorporating certain equity provisions such as expungements for people with non-violent cannabis convictions and imposing an excise tax, revenue from which would support community reinvestment, law enforcement and Small Business Administration (SBA) activities. Marijuana Moment first reported on an earlier draft version of the bill in November, and it quickly became apparent that industry stakeholders see an opportunity in the Republican-led effort. The reason for that response largely comes down to the fact that there’s skepticism that Democratic-led legalization bills—including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that Amazon has also endorsed—will be able to pass without GOP buy-in. While Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, in addition to controlling the White House, the margins for passage are slim. The MORE Act did clear the House Judiciary Committee in September, and a previous version passed the full House during the last Congress. Senate leadership is preparing to file a separate legalization proposal after unveiling a draft version in July. Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending Photo courtesy of Max Pixel. The post Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  25. End of day cleanup - there should be no cannabis visible on station. Keeping track of Vibes strains and Meraki strains. Organizing box labels and tray labels. $17 an hour From Indeed - Tue, 25 Jan 2022 19:15:58 GMT - View all Portland, OR jobsView the live link
  26. A bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel on Monday, only to be pushed off until 2023. But there’s still a separate but similar reform proposal that’s pending in the Senate. Advocates were hopeful that a House Courts of Justice subcommittee would advance the reform, especially after an amendment from the sponsor was adopted to more narrowly apply decriminalization to medical practitioners and people using psychedelics in treatment with a practitioner. But following some discussion of Del. Dawn Adams’s (D) bill, members approved a motion to carry it over to next year to give the legislature more time to refine it and build support. It was a disappointment for activists, and there was particular surprise that the delay motion was made by House Minority Leader Charniele Herring (D)‎, who is well known for championing marijuana legalization in the state. Adams said in her opening remarks before the subcommittee that she has “spent considerable time hearing from researchers, meeting with both local and nationwide community advocates, speaking with veterans and personally reading dozens of publications and studies about the benefits of plant medicine.” “What I’ve been able to learn is that there is strong evidence to support plant medicines—once thought dangerous—that really are effective and safe treatments,” she said. There seemed to be some confusion among certain members about what the legislation would actually do. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — One member asked whether doctors would be able to prescribe psychedelics and whether the state would “see peyote stores and psilocybin stores basically popping up.” The bill as amended wouldn’t legalize psychedelics for medical or recreational use. It would simply make it so practitioners and people participating in psychedelics treatment would face a $100 fine for possessing peyote, ibogaine, psilocybin or psilocyn. Currently, such possession is considered a Class 5 felony. Any dollars collected from psychedelics possession violations would go to the state’s Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund, which supports substance misuse treatment programs and drug courts. But following testimony from advocates and researchers, Herring said that “there’s a lot of issues have been raised” and that she’d like to see a “prescription element” built into the legislation. Of course, because the psychedelics are federally controlled substances, doctors are precluded from prescribing them, but they could theoretically make recommendations, as is done in medical cannabis states. In any case, the motion carried and that bill has now been set aside until next year. Now advocates are eager to see what happens with a separate, more limited reform measure that was considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. At that meeting, there was bipartisan support—including from the GOP minority leader—but also talk about making the decriminalization proposal more medically focused. The sponsor, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D), agreed to go back and make revisions so that the panel could reconsider it at a future meeting. The expectation was that it would be taken back up this week, but it’s not currently listed on the panel’s agenda for Wednesday. The bill is scaled back compared to the House version because, as drafted, it would only decriminalize psilocybin and psilocyn by adults 21 and older. It’s unclear what kind of amendments the sponsor might offer when the committee takes up the legislation again. At a recent virtual event organized by the reform group Decriminalize Nature Virginia, the sponsors of both bills participated as hosts, sharing their perspectives about the growing body of research indicating that psychedelics could be powerful tools to combat conditions like treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the legislature does approve the legislation, it could face resistance from the state’s incoming Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who has expressed concerns about implementing a commercial marijuana market in line with what the Democratic legislature and outgoing governor approved last year. These psychedelics reform proposals are some of the latest to be introduced in state legislatures this session as the decriminalization movement spreads. For example, two Republican Oklahoma lawmakers recently filed bills meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, and one of the measures would further decriminalize low-level possession of the psychedelic. A GOP Utah lawmaker also introduced a bill last week that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use. In Kansas, A lawmaker also recently filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. A Republican Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill this month to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD through an expanded version of the state’s existing right-to-try law. California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session. In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline. Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older. In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to decriminalize drug possession. New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs. Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution. Oklahoma Republicans File Bills To Decriminalize Psilocybin And Encourage Research On Medical Benefits Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo. The post Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  27. Mississippi House and Senate lawmakers have reached an agreement to send a bill to legalize medical marijuana to the governor’s desk this week. Following Senate action on Tuesday, the bill will now go to a bicameral conference committee to finalize details of the legislation, with votes in both chambers for final passage expected on Wednesday. Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R) and Rep. Lee Yancey (R) discussed the agreement at a press conference on Tuesday. There was an opportunity for a concurrence vote in the Senate—where the bill originated and advanced to the House this month and was then amended—but following pushback from the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) over a House change related to zoning rules for cannabis businesses, the Senate voted against concurrence and will instead move the measure to conference. This comes more than 14 months after voters in Mississippi passed an initiative to legalize medical cannabis—a law the state Supreme Court later overturned. And the bill that’s being tweaked again is the result of months of negotiations and last-minute changes to a nearly 450-page bill. “This has been a long journey, and it’s nice to be in a place where everyone is in agreement,” Yancey said on Tuesday. “It looks like we will finally be able to provide relief to those people with debilitating illnesses who so badly need it. Medical cannabis will now be an option for them as soon as we get the conference report signed and sent to the governor.” While the overall bill will remain largely the same as an earlier version passed by the Senate this month, the recent House amendments reduced the overall monthly amount of cannabis products available to patients, removed the Department of Agriculture and Commerce from oversight of the industry and expanded zoning allowances for cannabis cultivators and processors. Only the zoning allowances provision will change. Instead of allowing cultivators and processors to operate in commercial zoning areas, as would have been allowed under the bill as amended by the House, they would only be permitted in industrial or agriculture zoned areas, satisfying MML. Assuming that conference goes as planned, the legislature will then formally transmit the bill to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who then has five days, excluding Sundays, either to sign it into law or return it with objections. Both the Senate and House, however, have passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities. If the governor doesn’t take any action by the deadline, the bill will become law without his signature. Reeves has been wary of legalization in recent months, at one point threatening to veto a draft bill if it made it to his desk. Since then, proponents in the legislature have worked to balance the voter-approved initiative’s more permissive proposals against the governor’s calls for tighter restrictions. The governor said last week that the measure has become “better” with every revision and rightly predicted further amendments by the House. Provided the bill becomes law, dispensaries would be licensed about six months later, meaning Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in limited form, by the end of the year. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy 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. — The bill, SB 2095, draws heavily from provisions negotiated by lawmakers in the second half of last year, as legislative leaders prepared a bill for an anticipated special session last summer that the governor never called. Supporters say the lengthy proposal represents a middle ground between the more permissive plan approved by voters and the narrower approach preferred by Reeves and some lawmakers. The legislation as amended by the House would allow patients with about two dozen qualifying medical conditions to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or 1 gram of cannabis concentrate) per day, with a maximum monthly limit of 3 ounces. Voters approved a monthly limit of 5 ounces in 2020, and the bill as passed by the Senate last week would have allowed 3.5 ounces, but that was further scaled back by the House earlier this week. Qualifying conditions under the bill include cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, neuropathy, spinal cord disease or severe injury as well as chronic medical conditions or treatments that produce severe nausea, cachexia or wasting, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms or chronic pain. Further conditions could be added later by regulators via petition. State-issued patient registration cards would cost $25, though some people could qualify for a lower price. Registered patients would be subject to purchase limits that would restrict them to no more than one “medical cannabis equivalency unit” per day, which the bill defines as 3.5 grams of cannabis flower, one gram of concentrate or up to 100 milligrams of THC in infused products. While those limits are significantly lower than in most states where cannabis is legal for medical patients, Reeves said last year the program should allow only half those amounts. Patients or caretakers would be forbidden from growing their own cannabis under the proposal. Products from state-licensed companies, meanwhile, would be limited to 30 percent THC for cannabis flower and 60 percent for concentrates. There would be no limit on the number of licensed businesses under the plan. Medical marijuana would be taxed at a wholesale rate of 5 percent, and purchases would also be subject to state sales tax. While smoking and vaping cannabis is allowed for patients, both would be illegal in public and in motor vehicles. It would still be a crime for patients to drive under the influence. The legislation would task the Mississippi Department of Health to oversee the new industry and establish a nine-member advisory committee to make recommendations on issues such as patient access and industry safety. Previous versions of the bill also tasked the state Commission of Agriculture and Commerce with regulatory duties, but the House removed the agency through an amendment. Commissioner Andy Gipson, who for months had pushed back against the plan, thanked House Speaker Philip Gunn and other lawmakers for making the change in a statement issued last week. “The best place for a truly medical program is under the Department of Health, which reflects the will of the voters in Initiative 65,” Gipson said, according to SuperTalk Mississippi. “This change is good policy for Mississippi agriculture and allows us to focus on our core mission. It is also good policy for the taxpayers of Mississippi because it achieves greater efficiency in the use of funds by reducing the number of agencies involved in the program.” Licensing of cannabis businesses other than dispensaries—including cultivators, processors, transporters, disposal entities, testing labs and research facilities—would begin 120 days after the bill’s passage, with the first licenses issued about a month after that. The dispensary licensing process would kick off 150 days after passage, with the first licenses coming a month later. Cannabis businesses may have to get seek local approval to operate, and municipalities can adopt zoning and land use restrictions. In general, local governments could not ban medical cannabis businesses outright or “make their operation impracticable,” the bill says, but a separate provision would allow local governments to opt out of the program altogether within 90 days of the bill’s passage. In such cases, citizens could then petition to put the question to a vote. Mississippi voters decisively approved a broad legalization initiative in November 2020. The state Supreme Court overturned the measure on procedural grounds last May—simultaneously doing away with the state’s entire initiative process. For much of last year, it appeared lawmakers were set to pass a medical marijuana bill during a special legislative session, but the governor ultimately decided against calling the special session after reaching an impasse with lawmakers. Those who supported legalization said at the time that responsibility for the failure rested with Reeves. Later that month, Reeves dodged questions from patient advocates about why he’d failed to call the special session. Then in late December, he said on social media that he had “repeatedly told the members of the Legislature that I am willing to sign a bill that is truly medical marijuana,” but stressed that there should be “reasonable restrictions.” Last week, before the House floor vote, Yancey, who chairs the House Drug Policy Committee and who’s been working on the legislation with Blackwell, said that he never imagined he’d be in the position to legalize cannabis. But he said he worked to ensure the bill was focused on providing medicine to patients, not paving a route to a recreational program as critics have claimed. “When I got involved in this bill, I said, ‘How can we build a wall around this program so the people who get it are the people who need it the most, and only the people who need it the most?” Yancey said. “This is not for everybody out on the street. This is not for a bunch of kids. This is for hurting people with debilitating conditions.” A poll released in June found that a majority of Mississippi voters support legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, with 63 percent saying they want the legislature to pass a bill that mirrors the ballot measure that was nullified by the Supreme Court. New York Doctors Can Now Recommend Medical Marijuana To Patients For Any Condition They See Fit Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer. The post Mississippi Lawmakers Reach Deal To Send Medical Marijuana Bill To Governor This Week appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
  28. Legal experts worry the cannabis expungement proposals currently being considered might cause more harm than good. By Rebecca Rivas, Missouri Independent The push to legalize recreational marijuana use in Missouri is coming from multiple directions, with a handful of proposed initiative petitions and at least one bill, and potentially more, backed by Republican lawmakers. Each hopes to place the issue on the 2022 ballot for voter approval. And each proposal also includes a provision that, while often overlooked in the marijuana debate, is considered a transformative piece of the legalization puzzle—the expungement of nonviolent marijuana offenses from criminal records. The proposals differ on how they handle expungement. Some propose an “automatic” system that would have the courts identify the old offenses and seal them on people’s records. Others would require people to submit a petition and pay a fee. How to go about expungement remains up for debate. But the necessity of its inclusion appears a settled matter. “Every conversation should start with criminal expungement and how the war on drugs has been part of the extension of systemic racism,” said Brennan England, state director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, an advocacy group for minority businesses. However, legal experts who work directly with people in law clinics worry that the expungement proposals that are currently being considered in both the initiative petitions and legislation might cause more harm than good. Especially since each seeks to amend the Missouri Constitution. “My concern is we put something in the Constitution of the State of Missouri that has this level of minutiae, some of which may not be possible,” said Ellen Suni, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law and director the law school’s expungement clinic. The Legal Missouri ballot initiative, which has the financial backing from many of the state’s largest medical marijuana license holders, proposes a process for Missourians with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses to automatically expunge their criminal records. It has the backing of advocacy groups such as the NAACP and Empower Missouri, who see this as an opportunity to lay seeds for expungement reform beyond marijuana offenses. “It’s a very small stepping stone on a path to a much larger piece of legislation,” said Mallory Rusch, executive director of Empower Missouri. Rusch, along with many others throughout the state, regards Suni and her UMKC team as leaders in the conversation for expungement reform. Suni believes the process should be as accessible as possible for people who have paid their dues to the criminal justice system. However, the Legal Missouri proposal would etch timelines and specific expungement process details into the constitution that might not necessarily take into account the complexity of Missouri’s existing law and lack of digitized criminal records, Suni told the Independent. If the expungement program fails, then it would not only require a constitutional change but it “could be problematic down the road” for other attempts at automatic expungement. “Then the next time somebody mentions automated expungement, it’s ‘been there, done that. It doesn’t work,’” she said. Legalization proposals on the table There are three initiative petitions hoping to collect enough signatures to get on the November ballot and legalize recreational use of marijuana: Legal Missouri, Fair Access Missouri and Cannabis Patient Network. Republican Rep. Shamed Dogan (R) has filed legislation to also put the issue to voters, and at least one other Republican is working on filing a similar measure. Legal Missouri would set up a timeline for when courts have to expunge records depending on the class of offenses, where misdemeanor offenses would be adjudicated first. The courts would have one year to order the expungements of people who are not in jail or on parole or probation. The fees and tax revenues from the marijuana program would go towards paying for expungements, said John Payne, campaign manager for Legal MO. “So it’s not an unfunded mandate, which is something that I think was a big concern,” Payne said. “It is a concern that I would see on some of these other proposals.” However, people currently in jail for possession of marijuana would have to petition for their release, and those who are incarcerated for possessing more than three pounds would have to serve out their entire sentence. Fair Access is the only proposal where people would have to file a petition for the charges to be dropped, which would also come with a $100 fee. Eric McSwain, campaign manager for Fair Access, said during a virtual town hall and debate on January 20 that the petition allows people to file “when they need it.” “Automatic expungements are notable for taking a long time to implement,” McSwain said. “And in the case of Legal Missouri 2022, they’re actually going to have to wait for tax revenues to start to be generated in order for those automatic expungements to begin to take place.” The measures by the Cannabis Patient Network and Dogan both state that within 60 days of passage, Missouri’s courts must order the immediate expungement of civil and criminal records pertaining to all nonviolent, marijuana-only offenses. They also state that anyone incarcerated for nonviolent, marijuana-only offenses shall be immediately released, and those on parole or probation shall be released from that supervision. A ‘meaningful’ process No matter which proposal makes it through, the biggest question is: Will it be efficient? “Coming up with ways to make expungement meaningful to actually achieve the legislative objectives that were put forward when expungement laws were passed is really kind of the key step,” said Staci Pratt, director of public services at UMKC School of Law. In 2019, an estimated 1.5 million Missourians had criminal records. Yet that year, only 125 people were able to expunge their criminal records in Missouri. Currently in Missouri, expungement is not easy, Pratt said. Most people can’t do it without paying several thousand dollars for a lawyer, she said, because of all the information that’s required—and often difficult to locate. Marijuana offenses are often municipal infractions, and criminal records in some municipalities aren’t digitized. In February, Pratt and Suni are convening people impacted by the current expungement law, prosecutors, attorneys and elected officials together to figure out how to fix the challenges in the current law. St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker both told The Independent that they would welcome comprehensive legislative change on expungement for marijuana offenses. “Any act that would mandate the expungement of certain records to remove the individual cost and burden from petitioners would be a welcome change,” Bell said. “It’s currently $250 to petition to have a record expunged, and it’s not always even successful.” Baker also said people should not have to pay for expungement if the law is changed. Brennan England moderated the January 20 town hall, and he pushed back on Legal Missouri’s requirement that people serve their entire sentence if they have convictions involving possession of more than three pounds. “We already know that especially minorities are subjected to extensive, aggressive over sentencing,” England said. “So how can you guarantee that those that have actually been targeted the most by the War on Drugs are going to have a chance to get out?” Payne responded that in his research, the Legal Missouri measure would be the “broadest expungement provision in the country.” “I don’t know of any state that has gone as far as we’re going here,” Payne said. “In most states, any felony is off the board.” Smaller proposals Outside of legalization, legislators are also proposing smaller changes to the expungement law. Rep. Ron Hicks (R) has filed a bill to drop nonviolent marijuana charges if people get a medical marijuana card. Sen. Barbara Washington (D) has proposed dropping offenses for marijuana possession of 35 grams or less. Bell said his administration doesn’t prosecute marijuana possession cases of 100 grams or less, “which is a radical change from previous administrations.” If it’s more than 100 grams, he said, there has to be a clear intent to sell before they issue charges. England said the voters and legislators should be looking at all options for expungement, even outside of any recreational-use measures. From his viewpoint, England believes the expungement proposals need much more focus and they need to be the priority. “Expungement starts with getting people out of jail,” England said. “It continues with repairing their lives, and then it ends with giving them direct opportunities to rebuild their lives directly in the [marijuana] industry.” This story was first published by Missouri Independent. New York Doctors Can Now Recommend Medical Marijuana To Patients For Any Condition They See Fit The post Missouri Marijuana Legalization Measures Take Differing Approaches to Expungement appeared first on Marijuana Moment. View the live link on MarijuanaMoment.net
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