Monthly Archives: January 2019

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/18/19

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

U.S. Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) this week introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

Additionally, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. House lawmakers introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

At the state level, patients in Ohio and Oklahoma now have access to medical cannabis, as sales began in both states this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York and Governor Gina Raimondo (D) of Rhode Island both included plans for cannabis legalization as a part of their budget proposals in their respective states.

A medical cannabis access bill was signed into law in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill was defeated in the Virginia House this week.

At a more local level, Westchester County, New York’s district attorney will no longer prosecute low level cannabis possession cases; Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin approved two different advisory questions to appear on an April ballot; and Oklahoma City public schools will now allow students to be administered medical cannabis by a caregiver while at school.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list, and we will keep you posted as these bills and …

Cannabis Culture Controversies: Vancouver Stores Ordered to Close, Marc Emery Under Fire

The good times in Vancouver are over. All unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, including two Cannabis Culture shops, must cease operation, as ordered by a British Columbia Supreme Court on Dec. 14. A total of 28 stores have to close by Jan. 31, or face shutdowns and possible arrests.

The ruling comes as provinces are providing licenses for cannabis businesses under Canada’s new legalization law, which went into effect Oct. 17.

“We’re just hoping people are going to move along and move into the more mainstream licensed retail business,” Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart stated two days after the court decision. “I feel like once we have regular retail available here in the city, which will come very soon, then these other stores will just kind of fade away.”

So far, two recreational shops under the province’s new cannabis law are up and running: Evergreen Cannabis Society (2868 W. 4th Ave.) and City Cannabis Co. (610 Robson St.).

Medical Marijuana and Patients: It’s All About the Stigma

In these days of the Green Rush and the apparently inevitable legalization of cannabis, it’s important to bear one thing in mind: marijuana is a real medicine for many people. That’s made clear in The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma and the Patient Experience.

This is not yet another rehash of published medical and scientific literature. It’s a fascinating look at how marijuana’s medical use is perceived by society and how those perceptions have evolved since the first medical program began after the passage of California’s Prop 215 in 1996.

The book starts by discussing the development of anti-marijuana propaganda, rooted in early 20th Century racist and classist anti-opium campaigns. U.S. marijuana policy went from “indifference to moral panic” in the first half of the 20th century thanks largely to Hearst newspapers’ “yellow journalism” and Harry J. Anslinger, who headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Cannabis may have been medicine and hemp was rope, but marijuana became the “killer weed.”

From killer weed to dropout drug to Just Say No and beyond, authors Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin trace the stereotypes used to stigmatize and marginalize people who consume marijuana. These stereotypes are so deeply ingrained that even people with serious illnesses who could definitely benefit from this alternative medicine, and who live in states where it’s legal, still resist trying it.

Marijuana is a Medicine, Not a Menace

I am delighted to report that more and more government officials are promoting sanity in pot laws. Cannabis crosses political parties and generational lines.

Good weed gets you high whether you think the last attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a Neanderthal or you think Beto O’Rourke should be the next Democratic presidential candidate, which I do.

I was right 50 years ago when I said as a Hofstra University college student on Hempstead, Long Island in New York in 1969 that pot should be legal. A half century later,  I am still correct. Only the weed is a lot better.

Over the years, I have learned that if a man stands his ground, and there abides, the whole world will eventually come around to him. Today, in 2019, 65 percent of America and apparently 84 percent of Wilton Manors agrees with me.

The legitimate powers of government should reach no further than controlling acts which are injurious to others. Freedom means having the right to be stupid, whether your parents or partners approve or not.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Pot never should have been criminalized. Outside of making North Dakota a state, locking people up for smoking weed was one of the dumbest things our government has ever done.

In Florida, our new …

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri Discusses AG Nominee Barr and Legalization on CBS News

Earlier today, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri made an appearance on CBS News to discuss Attorney General Nominee William Barr’s recent comments regarding marijuana legalization and how he would handle states that have reformed their cannabis policies if he were confirmed as the next Attorney General.

“It really falls to Congress at this point to take the initiative and to deschedule marijuana entirely from the CSA so the 47 states that currently aren’t in compliance with that act don’t have this untenable position with the federal government…[By opposing legalization personally] Barr finds himself in a dwindling minority on this topic, recent polling shows about 68% of all Americans support ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube on this.” – NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri

WATCH:

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2019/01/17/norml-executive-director-erik-altieri-discusses-ag-nominee-barr-and-legalization-on-cbs-news/…

Legislation To Produce And Research Cannabis Introduced

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 (HR 601), to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and urge them to support the measure. 

The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers.

To date, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse designates the University of Mississippi to be the sole provider of marijuana for FDA-approved research. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.

As the result of a lawsuit, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in 2007 ruled that expanding the pool of federally licensed providers would be “in the public interest.” The agency ultimately rejected her decision. More recently, in 2016, the DEA changed its position and amended regulations in a manner to permit additional applicants to apply to federal licensure to grow marijuana. However, the United State’s Attorney General’s office has thus far failed to take action on any pending applications.

Other provisions in the measure explicitly permits VA physicians to provide information to patients regarding their eligibility in clinical trials, and provides a “safe harbor” for universities, …

Gubernatorial Report Card: Learn Where Your Governor Stands on Marijuana Policy

US Governors Marijuana MapTo kick off the 2019 state legislative season, NORML is pleased to release our 2019 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

“Following the publication of our 2018 Scorecard, there has been a dramatic shift in opinion among elected officials in favor of marijuana policy reform,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Never before have we seen so many governors go on record and pledge their support for legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults. As a result, we expect there to be unprecedented levels of legislative activity at the state level surrounding the need to regulate the commercial cannabis market in 2019 and in 2020.”

Key Findings

Twenty-seven US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (22 Democrats, 5 Republicans)

Of these, nine US governors – all Democrats – received an ‘A’ grade; this marks a significant increase since 2018, when only two governors received ‘A’ grades. They are:

  • Gavin Newsom: California
  • Jared Polis: Colorado
  • Ned Lamont: Connecticut
  • JB. Pritzker: Illinois
  • Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan
  • Tim Walz: Minnesota
  • Phil Murphy: New Jersey
  • Kate Brown: Oregon
  • Jay Inslee: Washington

Ten governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 1 Republican)

Eight governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

Fifteen governors – all Republicans – received a ‘D’ grade

Four governors – all Republicans – received …

Attorney General Nominee Commits To Leave State-Legal Marijuana Programs Alone

In Senate testimony today, nominee for Attorney General William Barr committed to not use the limited resources of the Department of Justice to prosecute state-regulated and compliant marijuana businesses. His statements came response to questions from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — each of whom represent states where marijuana is legally regulated for either medical or recreational purposes.

“It is encouraging that William Barr pledged not to enforce federal marijuana prohibition against the majority of US states that have reformed their laws. With this commitment, Congress has a clear mandate to take action and end the underlying policy of federal criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In an era when 47 states have laws on the books that defy the Schedule 1 status of cannabis, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle.”

In January of 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what is known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole to US attorneys in all 50 states. This memorandum directed prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and not to prosecute those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale — provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use,

The Mature Stoner: Why Are So Many Seniors Smoking Weed?

Older people are the fastest-growing group of cannabis users, as stigma fades and some seek an alternative to prescription drugs. As attitudes towards cannabis shift, the fastest-growing group of users is over 50 – and marijuana’s popularity among seniors is beginning to change the American experience of old age. Why are more seniors getting high? It might make more sense to ask: “Why not?” As adults reach retirement, they age out of drug tests and…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2019/01/15/the-mature-stoner-why-are-so-many-seniors-smoking-weed/…

New Legislation Introduced To Protect State-Legal Marijuana Programs

Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act essentially would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000+ workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty, and that is what states and businesses would have with Congressman Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from potential rouge US Attorneys under a Department of Justice likely to be led by known drug warrior William Barr.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and tell them to add their name in support!

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

It is critical that federal officials protect our progress. Send a message in support of HR 493 now!

Source: …

Congressional Cannabis Caucus Challenges Trump Administration

On Feb. 16, 2017, a bi-partisan group of House members officially launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, making it the first marijuana-focused congressional member organization. There are nearly 300 issue-focused caucuses.

At the press conference announcing the new group, the four initial members—Democrats Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Jared Polis (CO) and Republicans Dana Rohrabacher (CA) and Don Young (AK) and suggested that they were ready to put up a fight should the Department of Justice ramp up enforcement of federal prohibition.

“If we have to, we’ll bump heads with the attorney general,” said Young, referring to embattled AG Jeff Sessions, who has since left the Cabinet.

Rohrabacher stressed that recreational cannabis legalization should get serious attention from Congress. So far, it’s only approved protections for state medical marijuana programs in the form of an appropriations rider, commonly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. Blumenauer stepped in as the co-sponsor when Sam Farr retired in January 2017.

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/11/19

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

As the first full week of the 116th Congress comes to a close, we have another new federal bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). HR 420 (yes, you read that right): The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

Also, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) are joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

At the state level, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington launched a new program and began granting pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record.

At a more local level, the commonwealth attorney of Norfolk, Virginia will stop prosecuting all misdemeanor cannabis possession cases. And Dayton, Ohio completely decriminalized cannabis possession, as the city commission decided to eliminate the existing $150 possession fine.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE

MedMen Parcels Out Real Estate Properties, Defends Itself from Suit

One of the country’s largest dispensary operators, MedMen Enterprises Inc., announced Jan. 7 that Treehouse Real Estate Investment Trust had completed its first round of capital raising with $133 million, part of which will be used to purchase properties from MedMen in what’s known as a sale-leaseback transaction.

Such arrangements have become a way for companies to raise cash by selling their real estate holdings to another entity and then paying rent. For MedMen, it appears to be a quicker way to generate capital for additional growth.

MedMen (CSE: MMEN) (OTCMKTS: MMNFF) did not disclose how much of the first round from Treehouse will go toward the sale-leaseback for its properties. Both companies are based in the Los Angeles area. Treehouse was formed as a venture between MedMen and Stable Road Capital, an investment firm in real estate and cannabis businesses that’s worked with MedMen on other transactions.

MedMen currently operates 16 stores and three cultivation and manufacturing facilities with plans to expand to 76 stores and 16 cultivation and manufacturing facilities in 12 states.

Treehouse, which is governed by an independent board, holds a management contract with MedMen to oversee day-to-day operations at its facilities. At some point, Treehouse will go public, but details have yet to be set. The firm raised the $133 million through a private 144a offering to institutional buyers and accredited investors based in the U.S.

HR 420: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act

This week, Congressman Earl Blumenauer reserved HR 420 for his legislation, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

A decades-long champion of cannabis reform, this marks the first time that Blumenauer has staked out the specific bill number 420. His focus however, is ever on the goal of reform, telling Forbes, “While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives.”

The legislation would deschedule cannabis, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. Further, marijuana would be removed from the enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales, to a newly renamed Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ensure compliance with state laws and prevent illegal trafficking of the substance.

In the 115th Congress, the bill had 26 cosponsors – compared to 19 cosponsors in the 114th.

Will you tell your Representative to cosponsor the bill? Click here to send a message in less than 20 seconds.

Then spread the word! Click here to share our action alert on Facebook and click here to share it on Twitter

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2019/01/10/hr-420-the-regulate-marijuana-like-alcohol-act/…

Review: New ‘Cannabis’ Grow Book from Cultivation Expert Danny Danko

Author of “Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana” aznd High Times senior cultivation editor Danny Danko

One of the most respected writers in the cannabis media, Danny Danko has been covering cultivation and providing tips for growers in High Times for nearly two decades. One of his “mentors,” Jorge Cervantes, writes in the forward to Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana, “Danny Danko was my only choice to assume my question-and-answer column for High Times.”

What Cervantes is referring to is his advice column in High Times, “Jorge’s Rx.” When Cervantes decided to move on, Danko was the natural candidate to take over the popular section in the magazine (renamed “Dear Danko”), which had previously been written by Ed Rosenthal as “As Ed.” Considering that High Times has long been the favorite journal of canna-growers, this was quite an honor.

Prior to this book, Danko wrote The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains in 2011. Eight years later, his follow-up covers much different territory. It’s a basic how-to-grow primer. While Cervantes and Rosenthal have written at length (in articles and books) about cannabis cultivation, Danko’s 140-page book boils it all down in an easy-to-understand way, with illustrations throughout rather than photos.

Though knowledgeable about all aspects of pot culture and cannabis law reform, Danko stays focused and doesn’t wander from the subject at hand. Chapters cover grow-room setup, strains and genetics, germination, sexing, …

Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Announced

Today, the rollout of the new leadership team of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus was announced, with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) joining founding members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

First founded in 2017, the Caucus has been a pivotal element in our ability to build broad bipartisan support for legislation that would address every aspect of reform, from ending criminalization to research to veterans healthcare.

“The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward with legalization last November.”

“Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting. I’m looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce, and Young to build on the bipartisan work we’ve done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all.”

The addition of Rep. Lee brings much-needed diversity to the Caucus’s leadership, as she will become the first woman and first African-American to serve as co-chair. A longtime champion of reform efforts herself, Rep. Lee introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the last Congress which had the highest number of cosponsorships of

Cities Across Michigan Ban Legal Marijuana Sales

Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

“I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by

Weekly Legislative Roundup 1/4/19

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Weekly Legislative Roundup of 2019!

Marijuana LegislationThe new Congress was just sworn in yesterday, and they are not wasting any time. U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) re-introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which protects those engaged in state-lawful medical marijuana programs from federal prosecution. Separate provisions in the bill exclude cannabinodiol from the federal definition of marijuana, permit VA doctors to authorize medical cannabis access to qualified patients, and remove undue federal barriers to clinical trial research to better assess the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.

At the state level, Alaska regulators have voted in favor of plans to permit on-site marijuana consumption at designated retailers. And lawmakers in Maryland are planning to establish a working group to explore marijuana legalization implementation, if and when voters approve a ballot initiative in 2020.

And at a more local level, Dayton, Ohio is considering a proposal to completely decriminalize marijuana and remove the $150 possession fine.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check NORML’s Action Center for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level. Another great way to stay up to date is Marijuana Moment’s daily newsletter, which you can …

Washington Governor Moves To Pardon Past Marijuana Offenders

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his intent to provide an expedited process in order to grant pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record. It is estimated that some 3,500 individuals will have their criminal records vacated as a result of these actions.

“The Governor is to be commended for taking this proactive stance,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Thousands of citizens unduly carry the undue burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that is no longer considered to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”

Washington is one of ten states where adult marijuana use is legally regulated. Several additional states have decriminalized minor marijuana possession. In recent years, over a half dozen states have enacted legislation permitting for the expungement of past marijuana-related convictions, and in 2018 California began the process of automatically reviewing and repealing past convictions.

“Branding these individuals, many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers, as lifelong criminals results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid and serves no legitimate societal purpose,” Armentano said. “It makes no sense to continue to punish people for actions that are no longer considered to be criminal in nature.”

Source: …