Welcome to the 4/20 edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
Today’s the day. The High Holy Day for cannabis consumers everywhere. Happy Holidaze, my people! Check out all the 4/20 events happening around the country, and remember to be safe and smoke responsibly!
There have been lots of significant developments in the marijuana space recently, specifically at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to sponsor a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate the substance. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of The Marijuana Justice Act. Yesterday, Sen. Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.
Additionally, legislation was introduced this week to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.
At the state level, Pennsylvania’s health secretary approved a recommendation from the medical cannabis law Advisory Board to allow sales of medical cannabis in flower form and to add new qualifying conditions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed into law a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions. And unfortunately, …
Sen. Chuck Schumer on state marijuana legalization: “The experiment has been a success.” (Photo by Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks it’s time to federally decriminalize marijuana because “it’s the right thing to do—freedom.” The Senator’s surprising support for cannabis comes at a time when numerous bills in Congress would do just that.
But Schumer says he’ll be introducing his own legislation “to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other. The legislation is long overdue… If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal? Each state can decide on their own.”
Schumer explains that he too has “evolved” on this issue: “I studied the issue. We’ve now had some evidence. In Washington and other states, t’s done lots of good and no harm. Justice Brandeis said let the states be laboratories. Now’ve have had a few states, we’ve had a few laboratories. The experiment has been a success. Let’s nationalize it… Legalization is just fine… All the parade of horribles that people talked about didn’t occur. Crime did not spike in any place. There’s no evidence that young people are using drugs of any type more. The pathway issue hasn’t proven to be true. So it all makes sense. When you get evidence, you act on it.”
In 1996, with California’s vote to legalize medical marijuana—followed shortly thereafter by Arizona and Oregon—we moved into a new period of activism driven by the will of the voters, not the politicians. Victories for medical marijuana and decriminalization began piling up in state after state.
The adult-use victories of 2012 and 2014 in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia signaled the shift to broader acceptance and increasingly sophisticated campaigns. The wins in eight of nine states’ elections in 2016 cemented the revolution.
The winner of the next presidential election will be a candidate who embraces our cause to finish the job of ending the failed federal prohibition of marijuana.
In a video tweet posted on Vice News, Leader Schumer says:
“I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, from one end of the country to the other.”
With this announcement, Senator Schumer has effectively made it clear that a legislative priority for the Democratic Party is to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. As Democratic Leader, it is his role to ensure that the caucus as a whole falls in line with this public policy position — a position that is held by more than 60 percent of Americans.
BREAKING: Senator Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) changes position and says he will submit a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. See the exclusive interview on VICE News Tonight at 7:30PM on @HBOpic.twitter.com/2FvF7IvMQS
This legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 600,000 Americans, a disproportionate percentage of which are black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. These people bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy, and it is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.
Vice reports: “The legislation, which his office expects will be released within the next week, has six main points. First, it would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide …
The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. The Marijuana Justice Act would be the sensible, moral, and rational way to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization.
In 2016, over 650,000 people were arrested for marijuana. The consequences are staggering. From time spent in jail to the costs of legal fees – to the collateral consequences, including but not limited to having to list a criminal offense on a job or housing application, the criminalization of cannabis is a cruel concept that most hurts those in poverty and is disproportionately enforced against people of color.
United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.
The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”
According to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin has consistently rejected calls from veterans groups and lawmakers to study the use of cannabis among military veterans.
Passage of HR 5520 explicitly authorizes “the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.”
Representative Walz, who is the ranking member of the House VA committee, said: “While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans. Simply put, there is no department or organization better suited to …
Cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant long-term detrimental effects on cognitive performance, according to a systematic literature review published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Investigators affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Perlman School of Medicine and with the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania reviewed data from 69 separate studies published between 1973 and 2017 involving 8,727 subjects (2,152 frequent or heavy users and 6,575 controls). Researchers reported no significant long-term deficits in memory, attention, or other aspects of cognitive functioning that could be independently attributed to cannabis use, regardless of subjects age of initiation. These findings are in contrast to similar studies assessing the impact of alcohol use and other controlled substances on cognition, which “have shown medium to large effect sizes.”
Authors concluded: “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use. [R]esults indicate that previous studies of cannabis youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with marijuana use.”
Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions are consistent with those of prior studies – in particular, recent longitudinal twin studies reporting that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function…
I first heard about 420 in 1990, at a Grateful Dead show at the Oakland Coliseum, when a hippie breezed by our Cannabis Action Network (CAN) booth giving out fliers. They had a scrawny marijuana leaf drawn next to “420” and “Wake’n’Bake,” surrounding a proclamation asking everyone to “Smoke Pot at at 4:20.” The CAN crew quickly figured out it was 4:20 somewhere, more than 24 times a day, and got busy spreading the news to others.
From left: Ed Rosenthal, Debby Goldsberry and Steve Bloom at the 1994 Cannabis Action Network festival in Golden Gate Park.
CAN was on the road back then, driving from city to city hosting Hemp Tour events and rolling with big festivals like Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E. and Warped. This was pre-Internet, so we simply copied that flier and passed it out along the way. Each day at 4:20, in whatever time zone we were in, the crew would break out pipes, joints and bongs, knowing that people everywhere were joining us in solidarity. It was a great feeling to imagine all the others celebrating at the same time.
The original flier claimed 420 was a police code for pot-smoking in progress in California, starting a myth that still lingers today. It’s not; we’ve since learned that a bunch of students at San Rafael High School in Marin County started the phenomenon in the early 1970s, using 420 as their code to meet after school to …
Last month, the Cannabis Control Commission, the regulatory body overseeing the state’s newest industry, finalized their regulations for the market. At the beginning of this month, the state began accepting applications for business licenses. Now with the full implementation of adult-use sales on the horizon, businesses, regulators, consumers and local governments are preparing themselves for the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Sales are expected to begin June 1st.
On March 29th, the Cannabis Control Commission announced their finalized rules were filed, published and took effect. Leading up the filing, the Commission reports they 10 listening sessions, received roughly 500 public comments and conducted 7 hearings for roughly 150 policy decisions. The license categories that businesses can apply for include cultivator, craft marijuana cooperative, microbusiness, product manufacturer, independent testing laboratory, storefront retailer, third-party transporter, existing licensee transporter, and research facility, according to the press release.
What separates Massachusetts’ rules from other states’ rules are a few of the license categories as well as environmental regulations, as Kris Kane highlights in this Forbes article. Experimental policies, like the microbusiness and craft marijuana co-op licenses, Kane says, are some tactics the Commission hopes may help those affected by the drug war and those who don’t have the capital and funding required for the larger license types.This is a groundbreaking reform previously unseen in states that have legalized cannabis.
The Commission will also establish a Social Equity Program, …
CANNABIS CULTURE – H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) the oddball impoverished writer of pulp horror fiction, whose work only came to know success after his untimely demise, left a curious story about a time shifting plant and 4:20. As noted by occultist Victor Cypert, a passage from the story from Lovecraft could be another possible origin for the number “4:20″ being code for smoking “marijuana”. In the story is titled In the Walls of Eryx. written in 1936…
The medical cannabis program in Pennsylvania has only been functional for a few months now; patients began getting access to the drug back in February of 2018. In a press release, MPP says only a small number of cultivators and dispensaries are currently operating. This fact, coupled with the need to purchase processed forms of cannabis, has created product shortages and costly medicine for patients.
It is expected that this move could help alleviate some of those problems in the state’s new program. “Allowing cannabis in its natural, flower form and expanding the list of qualifying conditions will have a huge positive impact on seriously ill Pennsylvanians,” says Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, who helped lead the legalization effort in Pennsylvania’s legislature. “By being able to provide medical marijuana in plant form, producers will be able to get medicine into …
Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law created an Advisory Board to make recommendations to the Department of Health. The Board is comprised of medical professionals, law enforcement representatives, patient advocates and appointees from the majority and minority parties. Pursuant to section 1201(f) the Board “shall have the power to prescribe, amend and repeal bylaws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the business of the advisory board is conducted and the manner in which the duties granted to it are fulfilled. The advisory board may delegate supervision of the administration of advisory board activities to an administrative secretary and other employees of the department as the secretary shall appoint.”
The Advisory Board submitted its first recommendations to the Department of Health. The recommendations included allowing “dry leaf or flower” to be cultivated and sold at Pennsylvania’s licensed dispensaries. The law previously defined “medical marijuana products” as processed oils (including concentrates), tinctures, pills, and topicals. While smoking cannabis is specifically prohibited by the law, a form that can be “vaporized or nebulized” is permitted, thus opening the door to flower. The Board also recommended adding four qualifying conditions – Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders, Addiction substitute therapy – opioid reduction and Terminally ill. Further, it recommended cancer in remission as qualifying as well as simplifying the definition of “chronic or intractable” pain.
The Department of Health had up to one year to act on the recommendations of the Board. In …
Former Freedom Leaf senior editor Chris Goldstein interviewed editor-in-chief Steve Bloom about the origins of how the number 420 became synonymous with cannabis in 2016. Bloom was the first journalist to write about 420 when he worked at High Times in the 1990s.
Bloom: The last week of 1990 I went to several Grateful Dead shows at the Oakland Coliseum. I was walking in the parking lot and someone handed me a half page flyer. It had this message that people should smoke together at 4:20 and on 4/20. I brought it back to High Times in New York. We passed it around the office and everyone got a kick out of it. I was news editor at the time. I transcribed the flyer and published it in the May 1991 issue. My little write up in High Times was the first time “420” got any national publicity.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) says he’s made a deal with President Trump that will protect businesses in legal marijuana states.
It was a big week for Republicans and weed. First, on Apr. 11, former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he’d joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company “with cultivation, processing and dispensing operations across 11 states.”
Two days later, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said he’d struck a deal with President Trump that would allow recreational marijuana business in the nine legal states to operate without federal interference. Gardener stated:
“Late Wednesday (Apr. 11), I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole Memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix the states’ rights issue once in for all.”
In exchange, Gardner said he would no longer block Trump’s Justice Department nominees.
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) revealed today that in a recent phone conversation with President Trump, the President expressed support for letting states decide their own policies when it comes to cannabis. Senator Gardner has been blocking the confirmation of key nominees to the Department of Justice since Attorney General Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum earlier this year. President Trump’s comments to Senator Gardner are in direct contrast of those previously stated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, including “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the federal level. United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, introduced legislation to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce. Identical companion language, HR 5485, was also introduced in the House.
Additionally, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations to submit feedback. Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements. Over 8,500 NORML members have already sent in their comments.
At the state level, Governor Bill Walker of Alaska signed SB 6 into law, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommended adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication, and a Florida judge ruled that a medical cannabis patient has the right to grow his own marijuana.
South Carolina and Maryland state legislatures adjourned this week, …
Republican Congressman Corey Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate the substance.
“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner told the Associated Press. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”
He added: “Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.”
In January, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidelines directing federal prosecutors not to take action against those who were compliant with state-sanctioned cannabis regulations. In response to that decision, Rep. Gardner had vowed to block all nominees for Justice Department jobs.
On Friday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said, Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue.”
In response to the administration’s pledge, NORML Director Erik Altieri stated: “We applaud this commitment from President Trump, who promised during his campaign to take a federalist approach with regard to marijuana policy. With the President …