A new Congressional bill would deschedule marijuana and encourage state-level expungements. An effort to decriminalize psilocybin in Denver unexpectedly surged at the last minute for a narrow win. A look at the perils facing medical marijuana patients. Also: The governor of North Dakota signed a bill to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession. 🌳
Lawmakers to reintroduce federal marijuana legalization bill.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is teaming up with U.S. rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y) to reintroduce a bill to decriminalize and regulate marijuana on the federal level. The bill would deschedule marijuana, provides $100 million to the Justice Department for expungements, and also dedicates millions of dollars towards marijuana research. HuffPost Related: Elsewhere in Congress, a House appropriations committee released a report expressing concerns over the barriers to researching marijuana and kratom. “We should be lowering regulatory and other barriers to conducting this research,” it read. Marijuana Moment
Denver decriminalizes shrooms!
It looked like the psilocybin ballot initiative was poised to fail after unofficial results showed “no” votes in the lead. But final unofficial results show that the campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms is poised to succeed with 50.6 percent of the vote. “It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours… If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all odds, we prevailed,” said the campaign’s manager. The Denver Post The final results will be certified next week after military and overseas ballots are counted. But the elections spokesman said that the initiative’s passage appears to be safe. “Adoption of the measure, by a margin so close that the measure was initially thought to have been rejected, signaled fledgling public acceptance of a mind-altering drug, outlawed nationally for nearly 50 years.” The New York Times
Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped.
As marijuana reform continues to spread around U.S. states, federal marijuana trafficking cases are dropping. Drug offenses make up 28 percent of federal prosecutions, second only to immigration cases. But marijuana trafficking cases dropped from 7,000 in 2012 to 2,100 in 2018, according to federal data. Despite the drop in the number of prosecutions, the length of marijuana-related sentences saw an uptick in 2018. The average sentence for a federal marijuana offense was 18 months in prison. “The reasons behind the decline in cannabis trafficking cases isn’t certain, but advocates believe that the data bolsters the case they have long made about how consumers would prefer to purchase marijuana from legal and regulated businesses instead of from the criminal market.” Marijuana Moment
State AGs for marijuana banking reform.
Attorneys general from 33 states and five U.S. territories urged Congress to allow banks to serve the marijuana industry. “Not incorporating an $8.3 billion industry into our banking system is hurting our public safety and economy,” said California attorney general Xavier Becerra. The Associated Press The National Association of Attorneys General has adopted support for the SAFE Banking Act, a bill currently in Congress that would protect banks that work with cannabis companies from federal enforcement. The Denver Post The bill could use some support from Wall Street. But few major banks are supporting the effort. “The most powerful banks are steering clear—and there’s little immediate sign of that changing.” The Wall Street Journal 🔒
The perils of being a medical marijuana patient.
The Maricopa County attorney admitted that his office had made a mistake when it threatened a medical marijuana patient with felony drug charges unless she participating in a drug diversion program. “I felt like I was being extorted,” the patient said about the threatening letter. Phoenix New-Times Kaitlin McKeon was recruited to swim at Nova Southeastern straight out of high school. But health problems led the young woman to postpone her college plans. After medical marijuana helped relieve her of chronic stomach pain, she was eager to continue with her college plans and even told school officials of her medical marijuana use. But after failing the drug test, the school told her she would either have to stop using the medicine or stop taking classes. Miami New-Times
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Cannabis industry looks to opportunity zones.
A change in federal tax law to encourage investment in low-income communities known as “opportunity zones” could benefit the cannabis industry. A Las Vegas expo on opportunity zones will address how the cannabis industry can take advantage of the federal program, despite its federal illegality. “The IRS doesn’t care if you’re legal or illegal… If you make money, they want you to pay taxes,” said the CEO of a cannabis-focused property management company. While the new tax law does not exclude the cannabis industry, lawmakers probably did not mean for the cannabis industry to use the opportunity zones, explained one tax policy expert. Cannabis Wire
Police oppose marijuana legalization in Illinois.
Law enforcement officials came out against Illinois’ marijuana legalization plan, but said they want a bigger cut of marijuana revenue if legalization is passed by the legislature. Police groups said they are concerned over impaired driving and also differentiating between legal home cultivation and the underground market. Meanwhile, pro-legalization lawmakers cite law enforcement concerns as reasons to legalize marijuana. Some police officers actually support legalization as a way to divert police resources away from low-level drug offenses to more serious crimes. The Chicago Tribune
Today in cannabis science news…
A Canadian genetics company says it can help inform consumers about how they might react to marijuana. But other experts say that the science is slim and other factors play a role in determining how an individual might react to the drug, including the environment, dose, and previous drug exposure. CBC News A new study out of Spain found that marijuana use is not associated with psychosis in adolescents. They did find that cannabis could affect whether a young person developed symptoms of psychosis if the individual experienced certain contributing factors like living in poverty, past trauma, and clinical depression. Merry Jane A new study found that many patients stop using benzodiazepines after starting medical marijuana. PsyPost
Today in cannabis business news…
Family Video is getting into the CBD business. About 250 stores across the country are now selling CBD products, a decision made thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp. M Live A survey found that one-third of CBD consumers purchase products directly from a brand’s website. Hemp Industry Daily The former CEO of Yahoo talks about the similarities between the early days of the tech industry and today’s cannabis industry. Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada.
Health Canada is changing its cannabis licensing process in a bid to cut down on wait times. Now, new applicants must have a fully built marijuana facility before even submitting their applications. CBC News Industry groups are calling on the Canadian federal government to treat CBD as a health supplement rather than a prescription drug. CTV News Canadians are becoming more wary of marijuana edibles, according to a new poll. Global News Nova Scotia police seized hash in the shape of Legos from an unlicensed dispensary, claiming that the 500 mg dosage of the hash is “strong enough to kill a child.” A law enforcement official later clarified those statements as “opinions that are outside of the scope” of the police. Global News
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Word on the States
- In North Dakota, the governor signed a bill to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession.
- In Connecticut, recreational marijuana legalization is 10 votes short of passing in the legislature.
- In New York, pro-cannabis lawmakers plan another push to legalize recreational marijuana this session.
- In Maine, two new bills aim to help those with past cannabis charges.
- In Nevada, two cannabis businesses that lost out on licenses seek a redo of the licensing process.
- In Alabama, a House committee rejected a measure to decriminalize marijuana. The Senate delayed voting on a medical marijuana bill.
- In Ohio, a state medical board recommended adding anxiety and autism to the list of MMJ-qualifying conditions. Regulators pulled cannabis oils over a labeling error.
- In Louisiana, a House committee rejected emergency rules for the medical marijuana program.
- In Kentucky, the Louisville Metro Council considers an ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana possession.
- In Massachusetts, a review committee considered cannabis shop proposals for Springfield.
Word for Word
“[Antonio] Bascaro, 84, has served the longest known US jail sentence for a non-violent marijuana conviction. The city he finds is far from resembling the place he left back in the late 1970s when he was convicted… Skyscrapers now soar above the south Florida horizon and many of the old tile houses of Little Havana, the Cuban exile neighborhood where he spent most of his days before prison, no longer exist or have been converted into bars and restaurants. There are even some legal medical marijuana dispensaries around the city which, for the octogenarian ex-cannabis smuggler, could not be more ironic.” – Lioman Lima for BBC