Monthly Archives: August 2018

Illinois Governor OKs Cannabis as Painkiller Substitute

On Aug. 29, Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that allows patients to substitute opioid painkillers with cannabis. “We are creating an alternative to opioid addiction,” the governor stated. “It’s clear that medical marijuana treats pain effectively, and is less addictive and disruptive than opioids.”

The Illinois legislature passed a medical-marijuana bill in 2013. Rauner’s predecessor, Gov. Pat Quinn, signed it into law.

Painkillers have benefits and complications for those who need them. While they relieve pain, the side effects and addiction potential cause longterm damage to patients.

In 2017, 29,406 people died from overdoses of synthetic opioids (not including methadone). Cannabis reduces the use of opioids for pain relief by 64%.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 8/31/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

At the state level, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed an industrial hemp bill into law, and he also signed legislation allowing people prescribed opioids to use medical cannabis instead. Similarly, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed legislation to expunge some marijuana convictions, as well as a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

New Jersey lawmakers agreed on key details for a pending marijuana legalization bill that could be voted on next month, with more provisions yet to be determined. Separately, the NJ attorney general released guidance to municipal prosecutors saying that while they may not adopt categorical marijuana decriminalization policies, they may use their discretion about whether or not to pursue individual cannabis cases.

The Connecticut legislature’s Regulations Review Committee unanimously voted to add intractable headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other disorders as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a series of 15 “listening sessions” on marijuana legalization that will be held across the state. The first one will take place on Wednesday, September 5 in Albany, NY. Find a session near you and register to attend here. Separately, New York City police will implement a relaxed marijuana …

Weekly Legislative Roundup 8/31/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

At the state level, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed an industrial hemp bill into law, and he also signed legislation allowing people prescribed opioids to use medical cannabis instead. Similarly, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed legislation to expunge some marijuana convictions, as well as a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

New Jersey lawmakers agreed on key details for a pending marijuana legalization bill that could be voted on next month, with more provisions yet to be determined. Separately, the NJ attorney general released guidance to municipal prosecutors saying that while they may not adopt categorical marijuana decriminalization policies, they may use their discretion about whether or not to pursue individual cannabis cases.

The Connecticut legislature’s Regulations Review Committee unanimously voted to add intractable headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other disorders as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a series of 15 “listening sessions” on marijuana legalization that will be held across the state. The first one will take place on Wednesday, September 5 in Albany, NY. Find a session near you and register to attend here. Separately, New York City police will implement a relaxed marijuana …

Access to Marijuana Shows Promise in Combating America’s Opioid Crisis

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, NORML chapters around the country are taking action to highlight the positive that marijuana legalization can play in combating America’s opioid crisis. Many NORML leaders are hosting community forums to highlight the growing evidence that regulated marijuana access is positively associated with decrease in opioid overdose fatalities, hospitalizations, dependency and use.

To amplify these efforts, NORML has created action alerts targeting local, state, and federal opioid task forces and committees — urging them to make marijuana regulation a part of their discussions and strategies.

Please take just two minutes to use our prewritten letters and send a message to each target.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy: Contact the ONDCP Commission: Medical Marijuana as an Alternative to Opioids

Federal lawmakers: Urge your members of Congress to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic

State lawmakers: Urge your state lawmakers to acknowledge the role of cannabis in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic

Opioid-involved overdose deaths have increased five-fold since 1999 and were involved in over 40,000 deaths in 2016. Deaths involving benzodiazepines, a family of anti-anxiety drugs, have increased eight-fold during this same time period.

Several observational studies — such as those here, here, and here — find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual …

Delaware: Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Bill Into Law

Democrat Gov. John Carney signed legislation into law today vacating past marijuana convictions.

Senate Bill 197, which took immediate effect, “provides mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession [of one ounce or less], use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.”

State lawmakers in 2015 enacted legislation reducing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal act to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine only — no arrest, and no criminal record.

To be eligible for expungement under the new law, the defendant must have no other criminal convictions on their record.

In recent years, lawmakers in several states – including Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted similar expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization. In California, legislation providing for mandatory expungement of past marijuana convictions is awaiting the Governor’s signature. An estimated 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the proposed law.

According to a nationwide poll released in June, 73 percent of Americans support the enactment of legislation “to automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of crimes related to the possession of marijuana.”

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/08/30/delaware-governor-signs-marijuana-expungement-bill-into-law/…

Senate Showdown 2018: 12 Important Races to Watch

With the Republicans’ 51-49 edge in the Senate, the Democrats need to gain at least two seats on November 6. Here are 12 critical races.

REPUBLICAN TO DEMOCRAT

Four Democrats hope to flip seats from Republican control:

Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema

Arizona: Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D) vs. Representative Martha McSally

Three-term Congresswoman and a former Arizona State Representative Sinema, who’s bisexual, is aiming to win the seat of outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R). In the state’s Aug. 28 Democratic primary, she coasted with 80% support. Her Republican rival, Congresswoman McSally, won with 53% of the vote. As of June 30, Sinema ($9.5 million) had more than twice as much campaign donations as McSally ($4.2 million). The race is considered a toss-up.

Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen

Nevada: Representative Jacky Rosen (D) vs. Senator Dean Heller (R)

One-term Congresswoman Rosen is challenging Senator Heller, who’s the incumbent. In the state’s June 12 primary, both candidates won by more than 70% margins. As of June 30, both campaigns had raised in excess of $8 million. While this is viewed as a seat the Democrats can win, the race is considered a toss-up.

Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen

Tennessee: Phil Bredesen (D) vs. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R)

Former governor Bredesen and eight-term Congresswoman Blackburn are locked in a tight battle to take outgoing Senator Bob Corker’s (R) seat. Both won the state’s Aug. 2 primary by large margins. As of July …

Clean Slate Act To Seal Records Introduced To Congress

This week, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) announced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

The Clean Slate Act is important legislation that would ease the burden felt by those unjustly suffering the collateral consequences resulting from cannabis prohibition.

Individuals saddled with a marijuana possession conviction are disproportionately either people of color or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, and it is essential that they are not held back from being able to obtain employment, housing, access to higher education, and all of the other necessities of being an active participant in their community. Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and encourage them to cosponsor the bill. 

“One of our roles in reforming our criminal justice system is to reduce recidivism and ensure that citizens re-entering society can lead productive lives and contribute to our economy. Yet, too often, sentences place a scarlet letter on those that have served their time – keeping people and their families trapped in a cycle of lifelong poverty.  For millions of Americans, an arrest or minor record can permanently put owning a home, getting an education, or earning a good-paying job just …

Reefer Redux: Trump Administration Secretly Plotting New War Of Words On Marijuana Policy

Shadowy ‘Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee’ Seeks To Derail Past, Future Legislative Reforms

In reporting made public today by Buzzfeed News,

“The White House has secretly amassed a committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light, while attempting to portray the drug as a national threat.”

In response to this revelation, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

“These are the death rattles of marijuana prohibition. Those who seek to maintain the oppressive policies of cannabis criminalization are grasping at straws in their effort to undo the public policy progresses that have now been enacted in a majority of states, and that are widely supported by voters of both major political parties.”

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a lifelong advocate for the failed policies of the ‘Just Say No’ era — which has resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana.”

“If these bureaucrats possessed any sincerity whatsoever, they would be clamoring to support the recently introduced, bipartisan ‘Marijuana Data Collection Act’, which tasks the National Academy of Sciences to compile an unbiased, comprehensive federal report on the effects of various state experiments with medical and retail marijuana regulation.”

“In an era where 31 states now regulate marijuana sales and where more six out of ten voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults,

Berks County DA Justifies Police Tactics that Led to Man’s Death Over Small Marijuana Grow

Today, Berks County District Attorney John Adams announced findings of an investigation into Gregory Longenecker’s death, which occurred as a result of being run over by a bulldozer, and the circumstances leading up to it.

The bulldozer was carrying a Pennsylvania state trooper in pursuit of Mr. Longenecker, who was suspected to have been cultivating ten marijuana plants in Penn Township, PA. A police helicopter was also used in the search.

The DA said, “On August 24, 2018, The Berks County Deputy Coroner issued the final death certificate, ruling the death an accidental death. I recognize the sanctity of life above all values. It is very unfortunate that a life was lost and our condolences go out to the Longenecker family. However, I support the actions of the Pennsylvania state police. Their efforts were reasonable and conducted in a safe manner in this situation.”

NORML questioned law enforcements’ decision to pursue the suspect in such an extreme manner, especially over such a minor offense. You can read NORML’s original statement here.

In response to today’s announcement, NORML leaders in Pennsylvania said:

Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML said, “We are very disappointed in the findings by the District Attorney’s Office in this matter.  Under no circumstances whatsoever can the actions of law enforcement be justified.  This man and his companion were allegedly growing a handful of plants that posed absolutely no risk to anyone.  There were no “exigent

Are Global Cannabis Markets Moving In Synch?

In American political lingo, an “October Surprise” is an event or incident that is deliberately planned to impact a political election – usually during a presidential year.

The cannabis industry, of course, is still highly political – starting with reform itself.

So what to make of the fact that over the course of the summer, three major markets have started to align in terms of timing?

Canada, Germany and The UK Moving In Synch?

None of these things were original, publicly planned or announced, of course. During July, the Canadian government finally announced the recreational market start date, the German government issued its new cannabis cultivation bid (due in October), and of course, the British government announced that they would reschedule cannabis and create more access for British patients.Canadian companies, for example, are perfectly poised to enter both markets and dominate the industry

What is in the air? And could this, in any way, be a deliberate cannabis industry power play by political forces in motion right now?

The Canadian-German Connection

Planned or not, it is certainly convenient that the much stalled German cultivation bid will now be due right at the time that the Canadian rec market goes into hyper drive. Why? The largest Canadian LPs are currently dominating the European market. These companies are also widely expected to take home the majority of the tender opportunities and are already producing and distributing across Europe.

For this reason, …

Weeky Legislative Roundup 8/24/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

In Congress this week, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and six cosponsors introduced a bill that would remove the penalty that strips college financial aid from students with drug convictions. Also, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) filed an amendment that would require the federal government to study the monetary and health impacts of state marijuana legalization. A Senate floor vote could occur this week.

At the state level, Oklahoma’s secretary of state determined that activists failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the ballot, and the legislature’s medical marijuana working group took public testimony on Wednesday.  And state Rep. Jake Wheatley of Pennsylvania launched an online petition to build support for a marijuana legalization bill he plans to introduce.

New Jersey’s Senate president said he has the votes to pass marijuana legalization and medical cannabis expansion bills next month. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he hopes lawmakers will pass a marijuana legalization bill this year. Separately, New Jersey’s attorney general does not plan to extend a moratorium on marijuana prosecutions when it expires next month and will instead issue a memo telling prosecutors that they can use their own discretion not to pursue cannabis cases.

The California Senate approved a bill to allow safe consumption sites for illegal drugs, and the Assembly defeated a bill to allow medical cannabis administration at schools and one to …

California: Marijuana Expungement Measure Awaits Governor’s Signature

Members of the California Assembly and Senate have approved legislation to facilitate the review and expungement of past marijuana convictions.

Assembly members approved the bill, AB 1793, by a vote of 43 to 28, while members of the Senate passed the measure by a vote of 28 to 10. The legislation now awaits final action by Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.

If enacted, the measure “would require the Department of Justice, before July 1, 2019, to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and to identify past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation pursuant to AUMA (the Adult Use Marijuana Act).” Prosecutors would have up to a year to then expunge the conviction.

Regulators estimate that some 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the law.

To date, district attorney offices in a number of California cities and counties, including San Francisco and San Diego, have voluntarily moved to review and expunge past cannabis convictions.

Elected officials in Oregon and Massachusetts have enacted similar expungement laws following the enactment of adult use legalization.

If you reside in California, you can encourage Gov. Brown to sign AB 1793 into law by clicking here.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/08/23/california-marijuana-expungement-measure-awaits-governors-signature/…

Quality Plans for Lab Services: Managing Risks as a Grower, Processor or Dispensary, Part 5

Protection in the Court of Public Opinion

In the last four articles, I have outlined areas that impact your operations as they apply to laboratory quality programs. But this article will take a different path. It will focus on protecting your crop and brand along with any business that utilizes your crop, such as dispensaries or edible manufactures in the court of public opinion.

Now, the elephant in the room for cannabis companies is the difference between rules written by the state and their enforcement by the state. There are many anecdotal stories out there that can be used as case studies in identifying ways to protect your brand. Remember, consumers and the media caught them, not the regulators.

Cheating in the cannabis industry: growers, dispensaries, edibles manufactures, etc. This includes:

  1. Finding laboratories that will produce results that the client wants (higher potency numbers)
  2. Not testing for a particular contaminant that may be present in the cannabis product.
  3. Selling failed crops on the gray or black market.
  4. Claiming to regulators that the state rules are unclear and cannot be followed (e.g. So, give me another chance, officer)

So why should you be worried? Because, even if the state where you operate fails to enforce its own rules, the final end-user of your product will hold you accountable! If you produce any cannabis product and fail to consider these end-users, you will be found out in the court of …

Documentation: Are You Prepared?

Documents play a key role in the world of regulations and global standards. Documents tell a story on programs development, implementation and verification during an inspection or audit. Documents are used as evidence to determine conformance to the law or standard. However, do you know what kind of documents may be reviewed during a regulatory inspection or a food safety audit? Are you prepared to show that the implementation of regulatory requirements or a standard is done efficiently at your facility?

Inspectors and auditors will look for compliance either to regulations or to a standard criterion. Regulations and standards require that documentation is controlled, secured and stored in an area where they cannot deteriorate. Therefore, writing a Document Management Program (DMP) will help a business owner ensure consistency in meeting this and other requirements.Radojka Barycki will host a a plenary session titled, “Cannabis: A Compliance Revolution” at the 2018 Food Safety Consortium | Learn More

A well-developed and implemented DMP provides control over documents by providing a number sequence and revision status to the document. In addition, ownership for development, review and distribution of the documents are assigned to specific individuals within the company to ensure that there are no inconsistencies in the program. Documents must also have the name of the company in addition to a space to write the date when the record is generated. It is recommended to include the address if there are multiple operational …

NORML Endorses North Dakota Legalization Ballot Measure

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is endorsing North Dakota’s voter-initiated, adult use marijuana legalization effort, Measure 3.

“NORML is pleased to support the grassroots Measure 3 campaign. With state legislators continuing to drag their feet with regard to reforming North Dakota’s outdated and failed marijuana prohibition laws, we believe that it is vital that voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard in favor of enacting a sensible and rational cannabis policy,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “North Dakota is among the top states in the nation when it comes to per capita marijuana possession arrests, by approving this measure voters can reprioritize limited police resources toward targeting more serious crimes and they can end the practicing of saddling otherwise law abiding citizens with the stigma of a lifelong criminal record and the lost opportunities that come with it.”

“The Legalize ND campaign is honored and humbled to welcome NORML as a partner in our fight to pass Measure 3. We are excited to work with the NORML team to educate voters as to how recreational Cannabis will be a major benefit for all North Dakotans,” said David Owen, Chair of the Legalize ND campaign.

This statewide ballot measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, seeks to legalize the personal possession and use of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over 21 years of age. It also

2018 NORML Award Recipients

Every year since 1998 NORML has recognized activists from around the country who are working to advance marijuana law reforms at the local, state and federal level for their outstanding activism, academic study or political and cultural leadership in the field of marijuana policy reform. This year’s awards were presented during NORML’s 2018 Conference and Lobby Day that took place in Washington DC.

Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award

The award, named after the late Michael J. Kennedy, the legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney (and general counsel for High Times magazine from its inception in 1974 until his death in early 2016), was established, with the blessing of the Kennedy family, to honor those individuals who, like Michael Kennedy, dedicate their lives to advancing the cause of social justice in America.

This year’s award was presented to Michael E. Tiger in recognition of his unwavering commitment to social justice and advancing human rights around the world.

The inscription on the award reads as follows:

“To Michael E. Tigar, in recognition of your lifetime commitment to achieving social justice for all people, including especially those without the resources or social standing to achieve justice on their own. Your willingness to speak for the underdog, the disenfranchised and the unpopular, like Michael Kennedy himself, has defined your exemplary personal and professional life.”

Mr. Tiger helped found the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, where he later served as the

Food Safety Consortium To Address Cannabis Safety, Edibles Manufacturing

The 6thAnnual Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo will feature an entire track dedicated to cannabis this year. As announced back in May of this year, the Cannabis Quality series will feature presentations by subject matter experts in the areas of regulations, edibles manufacturing, cannabis safety & quality as well as laboratory testing.

The Food Safety Consortium itself is hosted by our sister publication, Food Safety Tech, but the Cannabis Quality series will be co-hosted by Cannabis Industry Journal as well. A number of cannabis-focused organizations will participate in the series of talks, which are designed to help attendees better understand the cannabis edibles market, regulations surrounding the industry and standards for manufacturers.

Ben Gelt, board chairman at the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC) will moderate a panel discussion where leaders in the edibles market will discuss supply chain, production and other difficulties in manufacturing infused products. That panel will include Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands, Jacob Pasternack, CEO of Binske, Justin Singer, CEO of STI Brands, alongside other leaders in the infused products and edibles markets.

Radojka Barycki, CEO or Nova Compliance, will discuss the role of food safety in the cannabis industry and identify some biological and chemical hazards in cannabis product testing in her talk, “Cannabis: A Compliance Revolution.” Larry Mishkin, counsel to Hoban Law Group and partner at the law firm, Silver & Mishkin, which serves cannabis businesses in Illinois, …

New Jersey: Momentum Grows For Passage Of Adult Use Marijuana Legalization

Legalize MarijuanaNearly two-thirds of New Jersey voters support legalizing the adult use of marijuana and expunging past criminal convictions associated with the substance, according to statewide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.

Sixty-two percent of voters say that they support allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Support is strongest among voters ages 18 to 34 years of age (90 percent) and Democrats (78 percent). Support was weakest among Republicans (41 percent) and those voters over the age of 65 (46 percent).

“New Jersey legislators must support the will of their constituents and approve legislation to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in New Jersey,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.

He added: “New Jersey holds the dubious distinction of ranking second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color, violates civil liberties, and is an egregious waste of public resources that can be reprioritized elsewhere. The people of New Jersey are ready to end this failed prohibition and move toward the sensible policy of legalization and regulation. State lawmakers should not make them wait any longer.”

Sixty-three percent of voters also say that they support “erasing criminal records for marijuana possession.” Once again, those voters ages 34 and younger were most supportive of the changes (81 percent), as were Democrats (74 percent).

The new polling data comes just days after Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly

California: Teen Marijuana Use Declines Sharply Post-Legalization

San Francisco, CA: Marijuana use by adolescents continues to decline in California, according to statewide data provided by the California Healthy Kids Survey, a biennial survey funded by the Departments of Health and Education.

Among 7th graders, 4.2 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 7.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-47 percent). Among 9thgraders, 17.4 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 23.1 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-25 percent). Among 11th graders, 31.9 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 37.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-16 percent).

“These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML. “The fact that the biggest drop in reported use came from younger age groups is a particularly encouraging indicator of the success of regulation.”

“It’s time to stop trying to ‘send a message’ to young people about drugs and instead implement sound, science-based policies that best protect our children and public safety, along with our privacy and human rights,” concluded Komp.

The percentage of teens reporting using cannabis multiple times and/or repeatedly within the past 30 days also declined for all age groups.

California law …