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Cannabis de-scheduling bill passes House committee

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Jerrold Nadler, New York, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade
cannabis de-scheduling, Jerrold Nadler, New York, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change,’ said House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Cannabis de-scheduling bill passes House committee

Members of the United States House Judiciary Committee last week passed legislation –  House Bill 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act – by more than a two-to-one margin.

Members decided 24 to 10 in favor of the Act, with two Republicans voting in support of the bill. The MORE Act removes the marijuana plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby enabling states to enact their own cannabis regulations free from undue federal interference. The vote marks the first time that members of Congress have ever voted to federally deschedule cannabis.

The Act also provides for the review and expungement of past cannabis convictions and provides reinvestments to those communities most adversely impacted by the drug war. It also prohibits the denial of federal aid to those who use cannabis in compliance with state law and allows physicians affiliated with the U.S. Veterans Administration to authorize medical cannabis recommendations, among other changes. The measure is the most comprehensive piece of marijuana-related legislation ever approved by a body of Congress.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who sponsored the bill, said: “States have led the way and continue to lead the way, but our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change. We need to catch up because of public support [in favor of legalizing marijuana] and because it is the right thing to do.”

NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal praised the House Judiciary vote, stating, “Not only does this bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it also provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered the most under federal criminalization.”

Nadler indicated that the next stop for the More Act could be a House floor vote, presuming that other committee chairs agree to waive their jurisdiction over the bill.

Inhaled cannabis helps with migraines: study

PULLMAN, Wash. — Cannabis inhalation is associated with self-reported reductions in headache and migraine severity, according to clinical data published in the Journal of Pain.

A team of investigators from Washington State University reviewed archived data from 1,959 anonymous cannabis consumers who tracked their cannabis use and headache frequency over a 16-month period via an online application.

Authors reported that inhaled cannabis reduced subjects’ perceived severity of headache and migraine by nearly 50 percent. Men were more likely than women to report changes in headache severity.

Investigators also acknowledged that many subjects exhibited tolerance to cannabis over time, as they required increased quantities to maintain the same self-reported analgesic effects.

They concluded: “The present study indicates that inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent. Repeated use of cannabis is associated with tolerance to its effects, making tolerance a risk factor for the use of cannabis to treat headache and migraine. However, cannabis does not lead to the medication overuse headache that is associated with other conventional treatments, meaning that use of cannabis does not make headaches or migraines worse over time. Future double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are warranted and will help to rule out placebo effects and provide a more controlled examination of dose, type of cannabis, THC, CBD, and THC x CBD interactions.”

Two-thirds of Americans say pot should be legal

More than two out of three U.S. adults believe that the personal use of cannabis should be legal, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the Pew Research Center.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that the “use of marijuana should be made legal.” That is the highest percentage of support ever recorded by Pew, which has been surveying Americans’ attitudes on marijuana policy since 1969. Public support for legalization has more than doubled in the past decade.

The Pew survey is the fourth national poll released in recent weeks showing majority support for cannabis legalization. Recently compiled polling data by Gallup and the Public Religion Research Institute both reported that two-thirds of Americans endorse legalization, while survey data compiled by Harvard reported that 62 percent of US adults back the policy change.

Consistent with other national surveys, support for adult-use legalization was strongest among self-identified Democrats (78 percent) and Millennials (76 percent), but was weaker among Republicans (55 percent) and those born before 1945 (35 percent).

“The percentage of the public who favors adult-use marijuana legalization has skyrocketed over the past three decades and shows no signs of abating,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “As more and more states have moved forward with their own marijuana liberalization policies in recent years, public support has only grown stronger. At a time when political divides are larger than ever, the issue of marijuana legalization is one of the few policy issues upon which most Americans agree.”

N.J. Senate leaders propose 2020 pot ballot measure

TRENTON, N.J. — Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Nicholas Scutari, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced plans last week to place a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to legalize and regulate adult cannabis use.

“This initiative will bring cannabis out of the underground so that it can be controlled to ensure a safe product, strictly regulated to limit use to adults, and have sales subjected to the sales tax,” they said in a joint press release. “We will move forward with a plan that helps correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color. We can make real progress toward social justice at the same time cannabis is made safe and legal.”

According to a statewide Monmouth University poll released this year, 62 percent of New Jersey adults support legalizing personal use quantities of cannabis and 80 percent approve of it being sold at licensed retail outlets.
Legislative efforts to enact a system of regulated marijuana sales stalled after the proposal failed to obtain sufficient support to pass a Senate floor vote.

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Cannabis Culture

New Mexico guv signs marijuana legalization

Retail sales would begin by April 2022

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decriminalizing possession, gay news, Washington Blade

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier this month signed two separate measures into law amending the state’s marijuana policies. The first measure (House Bill 2) legalizes and regulates marijuana possession, production, and sales for adults. The second measure (Senate Bill 2) facilitates the automatic review and expungement of the records of those convicted of low-level marijuana offenses.

Lawmakers approved both bills during a special legislative session demanded by Gov. Lujan Grisham, who had been a vocal proponent of the reforms.

NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “This is a day to celebrate! New Mexico will greatly benefit from this new revenue stream and the creation of thousands of jobs. Most notably though, legalization will spare thousands of otherwise law-abiding residents from arrest and a criminal record, and the state’s new expungement law will help provide relief to many who are suffering from the stigma and other collateral consequences associated with a prior marijuana conviction.”

The adult-use measure (House Bill 2) permits those ages 21 and older to legally purchase up to two ounces of marijuana and/or up to 16 grams of cannabis extract from licensed retailers. It also permits adults to home-cultivate up to six mature plants for their own personal use. Retail sales would begin by April 2022.

The expungement measure (Senate Bill 2) stipulates that those with past convictions for offenses made legal under this act are eligible for automatic expungement of their records. Those currently incarcerated for such offenses are eligible for a dismissal of their sentence. It’s estimated that over 150,000 New Mexico residents are eligible for automatic expungement under this measure, according to the Department of Public Safety.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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Cannabis Culture

Delaware cannabis activists take on corporate marijuana

Criticism from medical marijuana operators claimed that HB150 offers too many cultivation and retail licenses

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cannabis regulation, gay news, Washington Blade

As the country moves forward with sweeping changes in cannabis policy reform, locals in Delaware are tangling with corporate, multi-state medical marijuana permit holders to pass a bill for full legalization.

Adult-use activists and registered medical patients were stunned to hear opposing testimony from Delaware’s medical marijuana operators. Patients already deal with limited access and costly products. Now, many see the established industry voicing opposition as simply obstructing the progress of adult-use legislation. In response, some patients are now staging a boycott of the regulated dispensaries.

During the first committee hearing for HB150, Delaware’s adult-use bill, four of the state’s six currently licensed, multi-million dollar medical cannabis facilities offered negative testimony.

Zoë Patchell, executive director of Delaware CAN responded: “This market belongs to the long-time consumers, patients, and activists. We create the demand, we’ve been the ones driving the reform efforts, and we pay the prices at dispensaries. Cannabis is more than a market – cannabis is a community. These companies cannot reasonably fathom that we are going to purchase cannabis from any entity that has proven to put profits over patients. And now they seem willing to put consumers’ lives and freedom at risk just to hold out for an unfair advantage in the industry.”

These included publicly traded Columbia Care, “Fresh Delaware” aka CCRI, CannTech Research Inc., and the owner of EZY Venture aka “The Farm.”

They all went on record condemning HB150, and pushing a false narrative about oversupply. The core demand from the permit cartel was some protection for their private business interests with guaranteed adult-use licenses.
Criticism from the medical marijuana operators claimed that HB150 offers too many new cultivation and retail licenses, underlined by deep yet unfounded fears that the new competition would put their companies out of business.

Patchell noted, “We are not going to sit back while multi-state corporate entities, that already monopolize East Coast medical markets, work to undermine our social equity and micro-license provisions.”

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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Cannabis Culture

Virginia marijuana legalization takes effect July 1

Adult possession of cannabis up to one ounce without penalty

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Adam Ebbin, gay news, Washington Blade

Following legislative approval of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s amendments to Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312, Virginia became the first southern state to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults.

Senate Bill 1406, introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Louise Lucas (D-18), and House Bill 2312, patroned by House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46), establish a statutory timeline for the legalization of the commercial marijuana market in Virginia. The measure also permits for the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis by those ages 21 or older.

Last week, Gov. Northam recommended changes to the legislation to permit the personal use provisions of the law to take effect on July 1, 2021 rather than on January 1, 2024, the enactment date initially approved by lawmakers. A majority of the legislature concurred with that change.

Therefore, beginning July 1, 2021, adults will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household without penalty.
The timeline by which state regulators have to enact provisions licensing commercial cannabis production and sales remains July 1, 2024.

Commenting on final passage, NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as executive director of Virginia NORML, said: “This is an incredible victory for Virginia. Legalization will bring an end to the thousands of low-level marijuana infractions occurring annually in the Commonwealth — ending a discriminatory practice that far too often targets Virginians who are young, poor, and people of color.”

Majority Leader Charniele Herring added: “It is a huge day for equity in the Commonwealth. Virginia is now the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana use, and I am so proud to have been able to carry this monumental legislation.”

Sen. Ebbin said, “The passage of SB1406 caps off years of struggle to reform our broken and outdated marijuana laws and begins the deliberate steps to repeal the harms of the failed prohibition. I am thankful to NORML, the governor, and my colleagues for moving this 283 bill from inception to passage over the last four months, and look forward to continuing to partner with them to establish a regulated, equity focused, adult-use marketplace in the coming years.”

Newly released statewide polling data finds that 68 percent of registered voters in Virginia, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans, support legalizing marijuana for adults.

Additional amendments added by Gov. Northam will allow the sealing of records related to crimes involving the misdemeanor possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Those records will begin to be sealed starting on July 1, 2021. Separate legislation enacted in 2020 previously sealed records related to misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Records specific to the simple possession of marijuana and/or misdemeanor possession with intent to distribute records will be automatically expunged no later than 2025. Those with records specific to crimes involving the felony possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute may begin to petition the courts for an expounging of their records in 2025.

The bill also allows for the re-sentencing of individuals currently incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. The measure permits those individuals to have a hearing before the court that originally sentenced them, with legal counsel provided for indigent individuals. However, this portion of the bill must be reenacted in 2022.

The legislation also establishes an independent agency, the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority, to oversee the establishment of regulations that will govern the adult-use market. This agency is set to convene this summer. The remainder of the 300-page bill, which details the regulatory and market structure and social equity provisions, is subject to a second review and vote by the Assembly next year.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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