Monthly Archives: November 2018

Joy Beckerman: Hemp Industries Association Evangelist

You can’t take the hippie out of Joy Beckerman. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) president became a canna-activist in Grateful Dead parking lots in the early ’90s. “I learned about the social and political injustice of marijuana and of industrial hemp on Grateful Dead tour,” she tells Freedom Leaf.

With her busy schedule, Beckerman doesn’t have the time to attend Dead & Company shows these days, though she did go to the Fare Thee Well concerts in 2015. She has a trade organization to run and presentations to make. Just days before this interview, Beckerman spoke to a large group of attendees at the CannaGather event in New York. At warp-speed, she discussed every aspect of hemp, from science to laws to investment possibilities.

Several days later, Beckerman tells me why she decided to make hemp her life’s work. “If you’re going to be a professional, you’re going to have to specialize and serve your clients and the needs of building either the hemp economy or the marijuana economy appropriately,” she says. “I chose the former.”

Back in her Deadhead days, Beckerman opened a hemp store, Heaven on Earth, in Woodstock, NY. She proudly recalls that “we got a cease-and-desist letter for stamping ‘I GREW HEMP’ on dollar bills.”

New Legislation Aimed To Reduce Veterans Medical Marijuana Confusion

Just two days after Veteran’s day Day, Congressman Seth Moulton has introduced a flight of three bills aimed at chipping away the needless confusion of therapeutic marijuana use among veterans.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death. Moreover, failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

While Rep. Moulton’s bills do not address the core issue of the inability for VA doctors to fill out state-legal medical marijuana recommendations, the mere uncertainty of VA policy when it comes to a veteran’s ability to have an honest conversation with their doctor has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and dishonors the promise that America made to those who put on the uniform to protect our nation’s freedoms.

The three bills are as follows:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018. This bill would amend and codify a medicinal cannabis policy the VA has but is not widely disbursed. As more veterans turn to medicinal cannabis to more effectively treat their various service- and non-service related injuries, the relationship with their healthcare providers is becoming ever more important. The VA has a policy protecting a veteran’s benefits if they discuss their medicinal cannabis use with their health care provider; however, not all healthcare providers

Congress: New House Rules Chairman Pledges To Allow Floor Votes On Marijuana-Related Amendments

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern says that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019.

“Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” he said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

“Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures to limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, to expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and to amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

“This just seems like common-sense stuff,” McGovern said. …

Freedom Leaf Dives Into the Hemp-CBD Market

Freedom Leaf Inc.’s bid to diversify into an industrial hemp cultivator, CBD producer and formulator drew support with a $3 million investment from Merida Capital Partners in October, capping off a busy year of deal-making for the Las Vegas-based company.

While Freedom Leaf (OTCQB: FRLF) has been traded on the Over-The-Counter markets as a fully reporting and audited public company for four years, the transaction with Merida Capital Partners marks the first time it has sold equity in the company to a venture capital firm. Merida Capital is not just any venture firm. It already commands a high profile in the cannabis business as a backer of KushCo Holdings Inc., New Frontier Data, Grow Generation, Emerald Scientific and many others successfully participating in the cannabis and hemp sector.

Freedom Leaf CEO Clifford J. Perry says Merida Capital’s long-term view on its investments reflects the firm’s name, taken from an area in Spain where the Romans built aqueducts that have stood for some 2,000 years: “They stay with their companies and promote acquisitions and synergy in their portfolio. So far, they’ve been tremendously successful.”

Perry likes to call Freedom Leaf the “little train that could” since it started out as a publisher of a magazine and is now branching out into hemp cultivation and full-spectrum CBD extraction businesses in a flurry of transactions.

Texas NORML: Midterm Elections and the 86th Texas Legislature

Prohibitionist Pete Sessions has been ousted from office by Collin Allred and a huge number of volunteers, voters and cannabis activists! Cannabis was a huge part of this race’s conversation. We are hopeful that this huge shake up will help marijuana bills move more expeditiously at the Federal level as Sessions has been a huge roadblock for change.

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“Texans has re-affirmed that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo for marijuana laws in Texas. Many advocates in North Texas and across Texas worked hard to remove Sessions, who has been an major impediment at the Federal level,” said Jax Finkle, Executive Director of Texas NORML. “Session’s stance was not based in science, constituent opinion, common sense policy making nor the Texas GOP platform. We are hopeful for the upcoming Legislative Session here in Texas and hope that we will see more movement at the Federal level as well.”

We also had some important changes in Texas. At the state level, we have 12 incumbents that have been replaced with Freshman in the House, 2 in the Senate and 2 at the Federal level. These are important changes before our legislative session that kicks off in January 2019.

Become a sustaining donor and support our work during the session!

The 86th Texas Legislature will convene on January 8th, 2019, but the pre-filing period began yesterday. Lawmakers have begun introducing legislation for consideration …

Grateful and Determined this Veterans Day

This Veterans Day, you will likely read and hear many political leaders paying lip service to honor our nation’s veterans.

But as they list out their policy prescriptions, one that directly impacts nearly one-in-four veterans will be suspiciously absent: Marijuana.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and other medical issues can be a matter of life or death, and failure of VA policy to allow physicians to openly talk about cannabis or recommend it has a deleterious effect on the doctor-patient relationship and on the well-being of our veterans.

There are two pieces of legislation currently pending in Congress that would end this needless discrimination: the Veterans Equal Access Act in the House and The Veterans Medical Marijuana and Safe Harbor Act in the Senate.

Send a message to your federal lawmakers now about these bills.

According to survey data compiled by the American Legion, we now know that 22% of veterans self-report consuming marijuana to alleviate symptoms stemming from a physical or mental ailment.

These reforms are absolutely necessary given the alarming rates of opioid addiction and suicide by veterans. According to data released last year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, twenty former servicemen and women take their lives each day, while a 2011 report revealed that veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose compared to the civilian population.  Veterans acknowledge using marijuana at rates far higher than the general population, and nearly half of them

MJBizCon Vegas Highlights: Speakers, Luncheons and Parties

The largest marijuana trade show in the country, MJBizCon, returns to Las Vegas from Nov. 13-16. More than 1,000 exhibitors will be displaying their products at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), including Freedom Leaf. We’ll be introducing our new companies – Hempology, Leafceuticals, Irie CBD and Accuvape – at Booth 1869.

Expo Schedule Highlights

Nov. 13: Crash courses, symposiums and forums.

Nov. 14: The expo officially opens with a series of morning keynotes from MJBiz’s Chris Walsh, Acreage Holdings‘ Kevin Murphy and Scotts Miracle-Gro’s Chris Hagedorn.

Nov. 15: A full day of speakers on a variety of subjects, including “Corporate Responsibility,” “New Tech and Innovation” and “Federal Marijuana Reform.”

Medical Cannabis in the 2018 Midterm Elections

This week has been big for cannabis in electoral politics. Thanks to Tuesday’s election, thirty-three states now have a comprehensive medical cannabis program. Ballot victories in Missouri and Utah transitioned these states’ low-THC CBD programs to significantly broader access. Voters in eleven Wisconsin counties and one city approved non-binding referendums supporting medical cannabis legislation.  Michigan passed an initiative that legalized the adult use of cannabis.


Senate Majority Leader Guarantees End To Federal Hemp Ban

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly reaffirmed today that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the finalized language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters in an exchange first reported by Marijuana Moment and The Hill. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which permits states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent …

Medical Cannabis in the 2018 Midterm Elections

This week has been big for cannabis in electoral politics. Thanks to Tuesday’s election, thirty-three states now have a comprehensive medical cannabis program. Ballot victories in Missouri and Utah transitioned these states’ low-THC CBD programs to significantly broader access. Voters in eleven Wisconsin counties and one city approved non-binding referendums supporting medical cannabis legislation.  Michigan passed an initiative that legalized the adult use of cannabis.


Weekly Legislative Roundup 11/9/18

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

This week was a big week for marijuana with Michigan voters approving the legalization and retail sale for adults, and Utah and Missouri voting to allow medical marijuana access.

There were also 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin that approved non-binding marijuana related ballot measures, as well as five cities in Ohio that voted to remove all criminal possession penalties. Read more here.

In other news unrelated to the election, Massachusetts regulators are saying that adult use retail sales will begin within days, after being delayed from the original start date on July 1.

The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, mainly made up of physicians, voted in favor of adding autism as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, but rejected PTSD, bipolar disorder and ADHD. They also voted to keep the THC cap at 3%. This recommendation now has to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine. Separately, the state’s first dispensary will begin selling low-THC medical cannabis products on December 1.

In light of Michigan’s new legalization and regulation policy, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) is considering options to expunge marijuana records.

Two Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to file medical cannabis legislation.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and lawmakers are still negotiating tax rates for marijuana legalization legislation. They had originally set a date for a vote on the measure for October 29.

New York’s Assembly speaker said “sealing …

Midterms Scorecard: A State-by-State Guide to the Big Winners and Losers

The 2018 midterm elections continued the slow but sure path towards ending cannabis prohibition in the U.S. with crucial ballot victories and the election of dozens of pro-marijuana reform candidates to Congress and governorships.

For a discussion of the initiatives that passed or failed in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah, go here.

Freedom Leaf closely monitored 30 Congressional and gubernatorial races this election cycle, and, in general, the news was positive for the 50-year-old marijuana law reform movement.

Thanks to Democrats seizing control of the House of Representatives from prohibitionist Republicans, dozens of pro-reform legislative bills held up by Republicans for years will now get hearings and possibly floor votes.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns

Jeff Sessions is TERRIFYING!

Jeff Sessions is TERRIFYING!

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced that he is resigning, effective immediately, from the office of the Department of Justice.

In both his tenure in Congress and as Attorney General, Sessions was a longstanding, vocal opponent of marijuana policy reform, who once opined, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” As Attorney General, his office rescinded the 2013 Cole memorandum which directed prosecutors not to interfere in state-sanctioned marijuana activity. However, that action encouraged numerous members from both parties to strongly criticize the office, and eventually led to the introduction of The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 – bipartisan House and Senate legislation that seeks to protect jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana from federal intervention.

Commenting on his exit, NORML Director Erik Altieri said, “Attorney General Jefferson Sessions was a national disgrace. NORML hopes that he finds the time during his retirement to seek treatment for his affliction of 1950’s reefer madness.”

Commenting on the prospects for his replacement, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “With 33 states now recognizing the medical use of cannabis, and with 10 states having legalized the use and sales of marijuana for all adults, it is pivotal that the next US Attorney General be someone who recognizes that most Americans want cannabis to be legally regulated and that they oppose any actions from the Justice Department to interfere with these state-sanctioned efforts.”

Sessions’ …

Jeff and Pete Sessions Get Booted Out of Washington

It was a bad 24 hours for Republicans named Sessions.

First, last night, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions was ousted by former NFL player Colin Allred in the race for the state’s 32nd Congressional District. As chair of the House Rules Committee, Sessioms successfully prevented dozens of cannabis law reform bills from reaching the House floor.

“I refer to marijuana as merchants of addiction,” he said in February at an opioid summit in Dallas. “They’re making it more powerful and more powerful and more powerful. I graduated high school in 1973. Marijuana, on average, is 300 times more powerful [than it was then]. That becomes an addictive element for a child to then go to the next thing… We ought to call it what it is.”

Today, following President Trump’s lengthy press conference about the midterms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation, which Trump requested. This hardly comes as a surprise. Trump has excoriated Sessions ever since he recused himself from the Mueller investigation in 2017.

Marijuana Reform Scores Big Wins In Midterms

Marijuana reformers enjoyed numerous federal, state, and local victories last night. Here are the highlights.


Florida: Sixty-three percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which amends the state constitution to restore voting privileges to those with non-violent felony convictions – including tens of thousands of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Passage of the amendment is anticipated to reinstate voting rights to some 1.4 million Floridians.

Michigan: Voters by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent approved Proposal 1, legalizing the adult use, cultivation, and retail marketing of marijuana. Michigan is the first Midwest state to legalize adult marijuana use and sales, and it is the tenth state overall to do so. Under the measure’s provisions, adults will be able to legally begin possessing cannabis ten days following the certification of the 2018 election results. An estimated 25 percent of the US population now resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use and possession of cannabis is legal.

Missouri: Sixty-six percent of Missourians approved Amendment 2, which amends the constitution to permits physicians to recommend medical marijuana at their sole discretion, and provides licensed dispensary access to qualifying patients. The measure beat out two competing ballot initiatives, neither of which received more than 50 percent support from voters.

North Dakota: Fifty-nine percent of North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3, a grassroots initiative that sought to strike marijuana from much of the criminal code and would have ended …

Election 2018: Voters In Ohio And Wisconsin Approve Municipal Reform Measures

Voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved a series of binding and non-binding local marijuana reform initiatives on Election Day.

In Ohio, voters in five cities — including Dayton (population 140,000) — approved municipal ordinances seeking to either eliminate or significantly reduce local fines and penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Voters approved similar measures in the communities of Fremont (population 16,000), Norwood (population 20,000), Oregon (population 20,000), and Windham (population, 2,200).

Several other Ohio cities and towns — including Athens, Bellaire, Newark, Logan, Roseville, and Toledo — have previously enacted similar voter-initiated ordinances.

In Wisconsin, voters in sixteen separate counties — including Milwaukee County — approved non-binding ballot questions expressing support for the legalization of cannabis for either medical purposes or for adult use.

The results to these advisory questions bode well for the prospects of a potential statewide ballot measure in 2020. Such an effort would likely be endorsed by Governor-elect Tony Evers, who in the past has expressed support for such a vote, stating: “I’d support it (marijuana legalization), but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.”

Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.


Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Pass in Michigan, Missouri and Utah; Fails in North Dakota

Three out of four ain’t bad. In the midterm elections yesterday, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize marijuana and the first ever in the Midwest and Missouri and Utah joined 30 other states with medical cannabis. The one bummer was in North Dakota, where voters decided to keep recreational use illegal.

Michigan’s Prop 1 allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of flower and 15 grams of concentrate as well as grow up to 12 plants. The proposed tax rate is 10%. It passed with 57% of the vote.

Despite competing measures on the Missouri ballot, voters backed Amendment 2, which lets patients possess up to four ounces and grow six plants. It calls for a modest 4% tax rate and covers conditions from cancer to PTSD. Amendment 2 received overwhelming support (65%-35%) compared to Amendment 3 (31%-69%) and Prop C (43%-57%)

In Utah, Prop 2 also won (54%-46%). Combined with Missouri’s victory, there are now 32 states with legal medical-marijuana. However, the vote was moot since a compromise had been reached a month ago between Utah Patients Collective and the state legislature. The regulations will need to be ironed out, but it has already been decided that home growing will not be allowed.

Election Night: Gubernatorial Victories Bode Well For 2019 Statewide Reform Prospects

Voters on election day decided in favor of several gubernatorial candidates who campaigned on promises to either address or enact statewide marijuana law reforms as Governor.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano
said: “In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms.”

He concluded, “In 2019, we anticipate unprecedented legislative activity at the state level in favor of marijuana law reform legislation, and we expect to see several significant legislative victories before the year’s end.”

Below is a summary of several key races:

CALIFORNIA: Voters elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to be California’s next Governor. Newsom received an A grade from NORML for his longstanding support for marijuana legalization, which includes empaneling the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and campaigning on behalf of California’s 2016 adult use marijuana legalization law. He replaces Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (B grade from NORML).

COLORADO: Voters elected Democratic Congressman and NORML-endorsed candidate Jared Polis to be Governor. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis spearheaded prominent legalization legislation, such as …

Voters Approve Proposition 2 Legalizing Medical Marijuana Access in Utah

With the approval of Proposition 2, Utah has become the 33rd state to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients. The vote comes ahead of a proposed special legislative session of the Utah legislature to address specific rules and regulations governing medical cannabis patient access.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “It is our hope that Utah’s politicians will respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.”

Under legislation enacted by the legislature in 2018, only those patients who are terminally ill may potentially access cannabis-infused products. To date, however, such products are not yet legally available.

According to national polling compiled earlier this year by Quinnipiac University, 91 percent of voters nationwide support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”