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Senator Kamala Harris Cosponsors The Marijuana Justice Act

NORML Blog - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 09:39

Today, California’s junior Senator Kamala Harris announced in a video message that she will be joining Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden on the Marijuana Justice Act.

Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do. Today, I’m announcing my support for @CoryBooker’s Marijuana Justice Act. pic.twitter.com/cOh3SjMaOW

— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) May 10, 2018

This comes just a week and a half after California senior Senator Diane Feinstein told reporters that she has dropped her opposition to ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, however, did not elaborate on how to do so.

The Marijuana Justice Act (S. 1689 and HR 4815) would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Senator Harris has come a long way on her position of this issue, most known for her response to a question in 2014 on legalizing marijuana when she laughed in the face of a reporter at the thought.

Journalist Tom Angell noted last year that Senator Harris would oddly talk about the drug war in the past-tense when making public statements or on social media. By co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act, she is making it crystal clear that the Drug War rages on and that it is the responsibility of the Congress to do something about it.

Have your federal officials co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act? Have you asked them to? Click here to send a message right now. 

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Missouri Medical Marijuana Measures On the Move

MPP Blog - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 11:38

It’s been quite a week for medical marijuana efforts in Missouri!

Last Tuesday, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 112-44 to approve a very limited medical marijuana measure. Then, on Friday and Sunday, campaigns handed in signatures for three different medical marijuana ballot measures.

New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure submitted signatures proposing constitutional ballot measures, while Missourians for Patient Care turned in petitions for a statutory measure. Next, the secretary of state will review the signatures to see if enough are valid for the measures to make Missouri’s November ballot.

Turning back to the legislature, HB 1554 would improve Missouri’s existing low-THC cannabis oil law, but it is extremely limited and flawed. If you are a Missouri resident and would like to weigh in on the measure, please urge your senator to push for the bill to be strengthened.

HB 1554 leaves behind pain patients, steering them to more dangerous opioids. It also doesn’t allow “combustible” marijuana or for patients to be assisted by caregivers. Furthermore, patients can’t qualify unless a physician certifies they would benefit from medical cannabis “at the same dosage and with the same method of smokeless administration used in a clinical trial.” Yet, the feds have stacked the deck against clinical trials, and there are very few with non-smoked cannabis. This catch-22 could deny patients the kind of cannabis they’d benefit from.

Please stay tuned for updates, and share this news with your networks in Missouri.

The post Missouri Medical Marijuana Measures On the Move appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Georgia Governor Signs Bill Expanding Low-THC Cannabis Oil Program

MPP Blog - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 12:51

Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill that will significantly expand the number of patients who qualify for the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oils. Beginning on July 1, HB 65 will allow patients with intractable pain and adults with PTSD to qualify for the program, which allows registered patients to possess cannabis oils with no more than 5% THC content.

Georgia’s most passionate legislative champion of medical cannabis — Rep. Allen Peake (R) — sponsored both HB 65 and another bill — HB 645 — which would have allowed in-state production of cannabis oils. Currently, registered patients have nowhere to legally purchase cannabis oils in Georgia. Unfortunately, HB 645 didn’t receive a floor vote. However, HB 65 includes a study commission on in-state access to cannabis. Seriously ill patients who are already granted the ability to possess cannabis products clearly need a way to obtain them without sidestepping the law.

This is Rep. Peake’s last year in the legislature; he announced in February that he will not run for re-election. His leadership will be missed in the capital!

The post Georgia Governor Signs Bill Expanding Low-THC Cannabis Oil Program appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New York: Patients Using Fewer Opioids Following Enrollment In Medical Cannabis Program

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 11:59

Patients enrolled in New York state’s medical cannabis program reduce their use of opioids and spend less money on prescription medications, according to data published online in the journal Mental Health Clinician.

Investigators from the GPI Clinical Research in Rochester and the University of Buffalo assessed trends in patients’ medical cannabis and prescription drug use following their enrollment into the state’s marijuana access program.

On average, subjects’ monthly analgesic prescription costs declined by 32 percent following enrollment, primarily due to a reduction in the use of opioid pills and fentanyl patches. “After three months treatment, medical cannabis improved [subjects’] quality of life, reduced pain and opioid use, and lead to cost savings,” authors concluded.

The study’s findings are similar to those reported among enrollees in other states medical cannabis programs, including the experiences of patients in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

The full text of the study, “Preliminary evaluation of the efficacy, safety, and costs associated with the treatment of chronic pain with medical cannabis,” appears online here. NORML’s fact-sheet highlighting the relevant, peer-reviewed research specific to the relationship between cannabis and opioids is available online here.

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Marijuana Arrests Soar in Allentown and Bethlehem as Both Cities Consider Marijuana Decriminalization

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 04:53

Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

“Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

“The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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MPP’s West Virginia Primary Voter Guide

MPP Blog - Mon, 05/07/2018 - 14:17

2018 was a frustrating year for marijuana policy in the West Virginia Legislature, with the Senate’s excellent version of a medical marijuana improvement bill never getting a House vote, and other reforms stalling. Fortunately, it is now election season, and candidates all over the state have been talking to voters about marijuana policy. The primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 8.

Before you go to the polls tomorrow, please take time to review MPP’s voter guide for the West Virginia primary election. After sending surveys to all candidates for state House of Delegates and state Senate and compiling their responses, we now have quite a bit of information available on candidates. The voter guide also includes votes cast by incumbent legislators and any available public statements.

The post MPP’s West Virginia Primary Voter Guide appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative Filed

NORML Blog - Mon, 05/07/2018 - 13:30

Dear Friends,

On Friday, May 4, 2018, the New Approach Missouri medical marijuana initiative campaign filed more than 372,400 signatures with the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State in Jefferson City.  Only 168,000 valid signatures are required in order to place the legalization of medical access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes on the ballot in Missouri in November of 2018.

Fieldworks, the professional petitioning company retained by NAM did an excellent job of gathering signatures and keeping the campaign’s Board of Directors informed, on a daily basis, of the number of signatures gathered in each county and each congressional district in our state.  We are virtually certain to have well in excess of the required signatures to be certified for the November ballot.

This accomplishment is the result of the generosity of hundreds of donors and the work of hundreds of volunteers who gathered signatures for this initiative.  I thank all of you who have contributed generously to support this effort.  I ask you to consider making a donation at this time to support the campaign to pass this measure by going to NewApproachMissouri.org.

All polling has indicated that support for medical marijuana in Missouri is well above 60%.  Only 50% of voters is required in order for this initiative to succeed in amending our state’s Constitution.  Although one or possibly two other medical marijuana initiatives may be placed on the ballot, ours will be first among the Constitutional amendments on this topic.  If both of the two Constitutional amendment initiatives pass, the one with more votes will prevail.

The other two medical marijuana initiatives being circulated do not allow for any patient cultivation.  The other Constitutional amendment initiative would impose the highest tax on medical marijuana in the country.  That tax would go to support a medical research institute which will be required to be headed by one who is both a lawyer and a doctor.  The individual who filed this initiative happens to hold both a J.D. and an M.D. degree.  Further, that research institute’s board of directors will be hand-picked by the individual who filed the initiative, the same individual who will apparently be heading that research institute, which would be funded by imposing a high tax on medical marijuana patients, who would have no legal alternative to purchasing cannabis from dispensaries through this very restrictive proposal.

The other initiative proposes to enact a statutory law.  If either of the Constitutional amendments passes, this statutory initiative will be rendered irrelevant.  Further, the Missouri General Assembly has demonstrated that it will not hesitate to repeal or radically amend any statutory initiative passed by the voters.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Dan Viets, Chair

New Approach Missouri

Board of Directors

For more info, please contact Dan Viets via email at danviets@gmail.com. You can also follow New Approach Missouri on FaceBook and Twitter!

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Colorado Legislature Approves On-Site Consumption Lounges

MPP Blog - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 13:38

House Bill 1258 passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and is now heading to the governor’s desk. If signed, the bill would allow approved retail cannabis stores to open a tasting room where on-site cannabis consumption is allowed.

This is yet another big step forward in a state that has long been a leader in cannabis policy. If the bill becomes law, customers could purchase concentrates for vaping on site, along with edible marijuana products. Visitors to the shops would not be allowed to bring their own cannabis products, consume whole-plant cannabis, or smoke on site.

Although Colorado voters ended cannabis prohibition in 2012, restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed have been a burden, particularly for visitors to the state and people living in public housing. While purchases are allowed, there are few options for those who are unable to consume at a private residence. HB 1258 offers a solution by establishing regulated locations where adults can gather and consume without fear of breaking local or state law.

Many responsible marijuana consumers in Colorado believe they should be able to meet in a social setting, no different than those who enjoy a beer with friends at a public place.

If you are a Colorado resident, please ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB 1258 without delay.

The post Colorado Legislature Approves On-Site Consumption Lounges appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/4/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 10:47

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

Let’s talk about some new state-level developments. The Maine House of Representatives and Senate overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of marijuana legalization implementation legislation this week. The enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of the 2016 voter-approved measure — including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.

The New Approach Missouri medical cannabis campaign submitted 372,483 petition signatures to put their language first on this November’s ballot.

Also at the state level, the Alaska legislature approved a resolution urging the federal government to respect the state’s marijuana laws, the Arizona House of Representatives defeated a bill to require medical cannabis testing, and The New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 to hold a medical cannabis homegrow bill for interim study, effectively killing it for the year.

At a more local level, Seattle, Washington’s mayor and city attorney are asking a court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession. And the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Council approved a resolution calling on Congress to pass the Marijuana Justice Act.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act 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.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

New Hampshire

SB 388 would expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

Update: Members of the House passed SB 388 on a voice vote on 4/28. Governor Chris Sununu’s spokesman Ben Vihstadt said that the governor plans to sign SB 388 into law.

NH resident? Click here to email Gov. Sununu in support of medical expansion

Louisiana

House Bill 579 would expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms or glaucoma. The bill was already approved by the House last month.

Update: The Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted 4-2 to approve HB 579 on 5/2 with amendments. The committee amendments were adopted on 5/3.

LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

California

Assembly Bill 1793, would “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

Update: The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing on AB 1793 on 5/2, but no action was taken on the bill.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of automatic expungement

Delaware

Medical
House Bill 374 would expand the state’s medical cannabis access program.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from: chronic debilitating migraines, pediatric autism spectrum disorder, and pediatric sensory processing disorder.

Update: HB 374 passed the House on 5/1, and now awaits action in the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee.

DE resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

Expungement
SB 197 was just introduced, to permit those convicted of past marijuana possession convictions to seek expungement.

The measure would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting the expungement of any past marijuana possession violations that are no longer defined as a crime under state law. State officials estimate the legislation could affect up to 1,250 people convicted of a single marijuana crime from 1977 to 2015.

DE resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

Illinois

House Bill 2367 provides for the automatic expungement of past marijuana possession or paraphernalia violations.

The measure mandates the automatic expungement of any citation for a civil law violation of either: subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, or subsection (c) Section 3.5 of the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act.

Update: HB 2367 was amended on the House floor on 4/27, then re-referred to the Rules Committee.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of automatic expungement

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 would allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii.

Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. A Conference Committee was appointed last month to reconcile disagreement between the House and Senate on proposed amendments.

Update: The Conference Committee recommended the measure be passed on 4/27, and both the House and Senate agreed to pass HB 2729 with amendments on 5/1. The bill now awaits action from Governor Ige.

HI resident? Click here to email Gov. Ige in support of reciprocity

 

Additional Actions to Take

California

Senate Bill 1302 would prohibit local governments from banning home deliveries from state-licensed cannabis providers into their jurisdictions.

Update: SB 1302 was heard by the Senate Governance & Finance Committee on 5/2, and then approved by the committee. It’s expected to soon be considered by the full House.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of cannabis home deliveries

Iowa

Senate File 2372 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol (CBD) law by removing the arbitrary 3 percent cap on THC content, and would allow doctors to recommend CBD to those suffering from chronic pain as well as to any other patient for whom they believe it would benefit. The bill was recently approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but was never assigned to another committee.

Update: Similar legislation, SF 2405, is facing strong opposition by House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, stating that she wants to wait to hear recommendations from a state advisory board set up under last year’s legislation. Gov. Kim Reynolds agrees with her.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD expansion

Missouri

Senate Bill 547 and House Bill 2034would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: HB 2034 passed the House 133-6 5/3. The Senate passed the bill 29-3 5/2. It now awaits action from Governor Eric Greitens.

MO resident? Click here to email Gov. Greitens in support of industrial hemp

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program. The bill was already passed by the Senate last week.

Update: SB 2298 will be heard by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee at 2pm on 5/8/18 in Room 413 Stratton Building.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp expansion

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

MPP Blog - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 14:17

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

The post Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maine: Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto, Amend Voter-Initiated Adult Use Measure

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 15:42

Maine lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to override Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1719; the enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of the 2016 voter-approved measure — including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.

Specifically, LD 1719 limits the number of mature plants an adult may cultivate at home from six to three. The measure also repeals language permitting the establishment of social-use facilities, and increases the excise tax rates on the sale of wholesale marijuana products. It also makes it easier for communities that wish to ban adult use operations to do so.

However, the measure also permits state regulators for the first time to move forward with the establishment of rules permitting for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Legislators anticipate that it will be until 2019 before these facilities are operational.

Governor LePage, an ardent opponent of the 2016 initiative, vetoed LD 1719 last week, opining that he, “in good conscience cannot support a law that, on its face, violates federal law.” The Governor had previously vetoed a less conservative implementation bill last November. That bill did not amend home cultivation limits and did not outright ban social use establishments.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed mixed emotions about the law’s passage. “On the one hand, we are grateful that regulators can now — after months of undue delay — finally begin moving forward with the process of licensing adult use marijuana sales and regulating this retail market. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that lawmakers felt it necessary to amend and repeal other important provisions of Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, in what ultimately was futile effort to curry favor with the Governor,” he said. “At the end of the day, this measure is far from consistent with the language that the majority of voters approved at the ballot box.”

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Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto

MPP Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:42

Today, the Maine House and Senate overrode Gov. LePage’s veto of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s bill that establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

LD 1719 creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. The bill does not implement the portion of the voter-approved initiative that calls for social consumption lounges.

While the bill was by no means perfect, we are glad that the state is moving forward with implementation, and soon there will be a legal way for adults to purchase marijuana.

Here is the link to LD 1719 if you are interested in reading the full text of the bill.

We are disappointed that social clubs were removed from the law and that adults may now only cultivate three plants at home instead of six. We will be working with the next legislature and governor to improve upon the work the legislature has accomplished. To that end, we have sent a survey to the candidates running for governor, asking if they will make implementation a priority once elected. Stay tuned for the results of the survey before the June primary election.

The post Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Ninth Circuit Court Rejects Challenge To DEA’s Classification Of Marijuana Extracts

NORML Blog - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:05

A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed by the Hemp Industries Association challenging the DEA’s authority to establish a new administrative drug code specifically for marijuana extracts. The DEA first announced the proposed rule change in 2011, but did not enact the new policy until January 13, 2017.

In a decision filed on April 30, the Court rejected petitioners’ arguments – opining the DEA’s classification of marijuana extracts does not conflict with the provisions of either the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the ‘Farm Bill) or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which limits the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to intervene in state-sanctioned activities involving marijuana or industrial hemp. The Court also dismissed petitioners’ argument that the rule substantively amended the federal Controlled Substances Act. Justices opined that such extract products, including those containing primarily CBD, were already classified under federal law as schedule I controlled substances.

The DEA has long contended that it possesses broad regulatory authority over “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.,” including “the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” The agency includes among this definition products containing cannabidiol or any other non-THC cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant. It further states, “[T]he Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit entities [who are not registered with the DEA] … to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis.”

Over a dozen states have enacted legislation in recent years exempting certain persons who possess extracts high in cannabinoid from criminal prosecution. Legislation to approve the retail sale of CBD extracts to adults in Kansas is awaiting gubernatorial action. Indiana lawmakers approved a similar law in April. Several pieces of legislation seeking to exclude CBD from the federal definition of marijuana are pending in Congress. In 2015, Nora Volkow, the Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, publicly acknowledged that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.”

Petitioners say that they intend to appeal the ruling.

The case is Hemp Industries Association et al., v. US Drug Enforcement Administration et al., (No. 17-70162).

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NORML PAC Endorses Beto O’Rourke for Senate

NORML Blog - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 06:58


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced its endorsement of Beto O’Rourke for Senate in his race to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in Texas.

“Beto has been a true champion for abolishing our disastrous prohibition on marijuana since the very beginning of his political career as a city council member in El Paso. We were pleased to support him in his previous campaign for the House of Representatives and excited to endorse him again in his race for the US Senate,” said NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “As Senator, O’Rourke will be an outspoken and indispensable ally in reforming our federal laws relating to marijuana and fight to finally end our failed prohibitionist policies that are currently tearing apart families, oppressing communities of color, squandering countless tax dollars, and filling the coffers of criminal cartels. The time has come for our nation to move towards the sensible policy of regulation and legalization, sending Beto to the Senate would bring us yet another step closer to that goal.”

“We must end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country,” said O’Rourke. “Texas should be leading the way by encouraging comprehensive reforms in drug control policies that have had a devastating effect on communities of color.”

Recent polling on the Texas Senate race showed O’Rourke running neck and neck with Ted Cruz with Cruz claiming the support of 47% of state voters and 44% supporting O’Rourke.

According to a 2017 poll by the University of Texas, 83 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana for some use and 53 percent would go beyond legal medical marijuana to allow possession for any use.

According to an April 2018 poll from Quinnipiac University, 63% of all Americans support the legalization of marijuana nationwide.

“Texas ranks as one of the states with the highest arrests rates for simple possession of marijuana, at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion in taxpayer money annually,” said Jax Finkel, Executive Director of Texas NORML. “Beto O’Rourke understands that our federal prohibition is a failed policy and it is past time for Congress to end it and allow states like Texas the freedom to pursue new, sensible alternatives.”

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Study: Frequent Cannabis Use Unrelated To Brain Morphology

NORML Blog - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 14:08

The frequent use of cannabis is not associated with changes in brain structure, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

An international team of scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States assessed the relationship between habitual cannabis exposure and grey matter volumes in seven regions of the brain – including the thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens – in two large population-based twin samples.

Researchers reported, “[N]ormal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to individual differences in brain morphology as measured by subcortical volume.”

By contrast, the repeated use of nicotine was positively associated with significantly smaller thalamus volumes in middle-aged males.

Authors concluded: “This is the largest exploratory analysis integrating brain imaging with self-report cannabis and comorbid substance use data. After correcting for multiple testing, there was no effect of cannabis use on the volume at any subcortical region of interest in young adults or middle-aged males. … In the context of expanding medicalization and decriminalization and the concerns surrounding the consequences of increased cannabis availability, our findings suggest that normal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to brain morphology as measured by subcortical volumes in non-clinical samples.”

The findings are consistent with those of prior brain imaging studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have little to no significant adverse impact upon brain morphology — particularly when compared to the dramatic effects associated with the alcohol exposure.

The study’s findings fail to replicate those of a well-publicized 2014 paper which alleged that even casual marijuana exposure may be linked to brain abnormalities, particularly in the amygdala.

Last week, a meta-analysis of 69 separate studies reported that cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant, residual detrimental effects on cognitive performance. The results from a pair of recently published longitudinal twin studies similarly report that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function.

An abstract of the study, “Testing associations between cannabis use and subcortical volumes in two large population-based samples,” appears online here.

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Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana

MPP Blog - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 12:45

As public support for medical marijuana hovers over 90% in the United States while Congress continues to struggle to pass comprehensive legislation that would permanently protect state medical marijuana programs, Zimbabwe recently became the second African nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Marijuana Business Daily reports:

Details of the country’s cannabis regulations were announced in the government gazette on Friday, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald. (The gazette prints official notices and laws from the government.)

Five-year renewable licenses would allow growers to possess, transport and sell cannabis oil and fresh and dried cannabis, according to Reuters, which reported to have viewed Zimbabwe’s regulations.

The regulatory change came via Statutory Instrument 62, which amended the Dangerous Drugs Act to include Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations, The Herald reported.

“In the case of a company, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe of the majority of directors or proof of an exemption by the Minister and proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe of the company…” according to the regulations.

Production must be licensed by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

No details are available on whether imports or exports would be permitted or how local MMJ consumption would be regulated.

The post Zimbabwe to Allow Medical Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Playing flamingo

DrugWarRant - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 14:32

I’ve been away from the couch for a bit, as I somehow managed to significantly pulverize the bones in my left leg just from falling off a bicycle. I’m home now, trying to figure out how to do everything in a wheelchair with an extended leg brace (the only other option is standing on one leg).

For those interested in the details of my little adventure, I have written a story in the form of a letter to my Aunt Betty:

A little tale of a bicycle… trip

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Absurd ideas from the White House

DrugWarRant - Mon, 03/19/2018 - 13:13

The ACLU weighs in:

The White House announced a new proposal today for policies that respond to the opioid addiction crisis, including possibly imposing the death penalty for those charged with dealing drugs.

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, had the following reaction:

“The opioid crisis is a serious problem that requires a serious solution. But the draconian law enforcement provisions included in this proposal are unconstitutional and absurd. […]

“The administration has, once again, put out a potentially disastrous and ill-thought-out policy proposal into our national discussion. The idea of executing people who sell drugs is ineffective, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that.”

This was a completely moronic idea 20 years ago. Now it’s moronic and tone-deaf.

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DEA twitter account promotes Anslinger

DrugWarRant - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 08:27

Via Tom Angell

Harry Anslinger helped bring drug law enforcement into the modern age. He served as head of US drug enforcement for 5 presidents from #Hoover to #Kennedy, retiring in 1962 More: https://t.co/OTLWiT6ZL7 Visit the @DEAHQ Museum: https://t.co/9WNOT5ZSLR #TBT #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/trZfqb29iL

— DEA HQ (@DEAHQ) March 8, 2018

Tom responds

https://twitter.com/tomangell/status/971840775939149824

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Legalizing Marijuana May End the Opioid Crisis, Say Scientists

DrugSense Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:28
As we reported previously, scientists from the University of New Mexico have been studying how access to marijuana may help alleviate the opioid crisis, declared a national emergency by President Trump. Their study has now been published in the journal PLOS One, with the researchers concluding that there is “clinically and statistically significant evidence” that […]
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