Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity

Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity

[Canniseur: Rep. Omar’s point of the U.S. ending the current patchwork of laws while ensuring social equity across the nation, needs to be addressed. We absolutely need to address and end the abhorrent disparities resulting from the ‘war on drugs’. ]

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that marijuana legalization must happen at the federal level so that individual states aren’t able to continue to disproportionately enforce prohibition against communities of color.

In an interview with BET, a clip of which was posted on Wednesday, the freshman congresswoman said “it’s important for us to [legalize cannabis] federally and not allow for the states to pick and choose, because what happens is you will have a state where someone is publicly and professionally able to profit, and in the next state someone could be sentenced to life for it.”

“We want to make sure that there is equality in our laws,” she said. “I don’t think it’s just for that kind of economy that exists within this policy [of conflicting state marijuana laws].”

Omar—who is a cosponsor of legislation to deschedule cannabis and penalize states that carry out prohibition in a discriminatory way as well as a separate bill that would mandate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study the therapeutic potential of cannabis for veterans—said the country is now having “the broader conversation after legalization.”

“How do you allow the people who have been the most impacted by these harmful policies to now sort of get reparations and be the ones that are set up to benefit from the system now working?” she said. “I think these are parallel conversations.”

“These are holistic conversations for us to have,” she said, citing Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) as examples of lawmakers pushing those talks forward.

Their contributions to the legalization movement “will center black and brown people in getting opportunities to start the businesses that will be generated after we legalize,” Omar said.

Legalization alone isn’t enough to ensure that there’s equity in the industry, she added, noting that disparities in the legal market are largely resource driven.

“You have to have the capital to be able to start the business, to understand where to even begin,” she said. “But also many licenses for businesses are tied to your criminal record. And so there are a lot of things we have to make sure we’re taking care of so that we are setting the black and brown community to be in equal footing when that happens.”

Such a discussion is likely to come up at a congressional hearing on ending federal marijuana prohibition that’s scheduled for Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of BET.

Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Professional Golfer Suspended For Medical Cannabis Asks PGA To Drop Marijuana Ban

Professional Golfer Suspended For Medical Cannabis Asks PGA To Drop Marijuana Ban

[Canniseur: The dude makes great points as to why cannabis ban should be lifted in the PGA. I hope he wins his case. Times are changing!]

A professional golfer who received a three-month suspension after testing positive for THC in March is making the case to remove cannabis from the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) list of banned substances.

Robert Garrigus told Golf Channel that he used medical cannabis to treat back and knee pain in compliance with state law in Washington. Performance enhancing substances that give players and unfair advantage should remain prohibited, he said, but “[e]verything else should be a discussion.”

“I wasn’t trying to degrade the PGA Tour in any way, my fellow professionals in any way,” he said. “I don’t cheat the game. That wasn’t the intention.”

Now that he’s back in the game, Garrigus said he has a meeting with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan next week to discuss the league’s drug policy. He’s aiming to open a dialogue about creating an exception for marijuana given its legal status in states throughout the country.

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He argued that cannabis “doesn’t help you get it in the hole,” unlike other banned substances such as human growth hormone. And while he’s ceased using medical cannabis, Garrigus said it should be an option available to players.

“If you have some sort of pain and CBD or THC may help that, and you feel like it can help you and be prescribed by a doctor, then what are we doing?” he said. “If you are doing marijuana then we should be testing for alcohol, too. If you can buy it in a store, then why are we testing for it? That’s my opinion.”

For the time being, however, PGA doesn’t seem interested in carving out an exception for marijuana.

Around the time that Garrigus was suspended, PGA Tour issued a warning to players in a newsletter, cautioning them that CBD products that are increasingly marketed to athletes could contain trace amounts of THC that would show up in a drug test.

“Taking a poorly labeled supplement that is contaminated with a prohibited substance is NOT a defense to a violation of the Program,” PGA said.

Garrigus said “100 percent” of players he’s talked to agree that marijuana should be removed from the banned substances list.

“I haven’t heard a bad thing from a single guy,” he said. “Every single guy I’ve talked to said that it’s an absolutely ridiculous rule.”

PGA Issues Warning To Golfers Using CBD Products

Photo courtesy of Golf Channel.

The post Professional Golfer Suspended For Medical Cannabis Asks PGA To Drop Marijuana Ban appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Professional Golfer Suspended For Medical Cannabis Asks PGA To Drop Marijuana Ban was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico

[Canniseur: New Mexico is the 24th states to approve marijuana decriminalization. Governor Grisham is looking to do more and set up a working group to study how to legalize cannabis in 2020.]

New Mexico’s marijuana decriminalization went into effect on Monday, about three months after the reform legislation was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).

Possession of a half ounce or less of cannabis is no longer punishable by jail time. Instead, the offense carries a $50 fine. Penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia are also reduced.

This officially makes New Mexico the 24th states to approve marijuana decriminalization. Hawaii is expected to follow suit, with the governor confirming last week that he wouldn’t veto a decriminalization bill that reduced penalties for possessing three grams or less of cannabis.

Though advocates applauded the reform move, they’ve expressed disappointment that New Mexico wasn’t able to legalize marijuana this session—something Grisham campaigned on.

But the governor hasn’t given up on broader legalization. Last week, she announced the formation of a working group that will be tasked with studying legal cannabis programs in other states and reporting back with recommendations on how New Mexico should approach legalization in 2020.

New York has experienced a similar situation this year. After lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on a legalization bill following months of negotiations, the legislature instead passed legislation expanding the state’s decriminalization policy, making possession of two ounces or less of cannabis punishable by a $200 fine with no jail time.

Illinois, by contrast, became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adult use last month, with the governor signing a wide-ranging bill that will also provide for mass expungements and establish programs meant to help individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition participate in the legal industry. That law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill that was approved by the Texas House of Representatives in April stalled and died in that state’s Senate.

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Lawmakers File Three Congressional Bills To Help Small Marijuana Businesses

Lawmakers File Three Congressional Bills To Help Small Marijuana Businesses

[Canniseur: If these bills can pass, small business will have a bit more going for them. Ensuring small and/or minority-run cannabis businesses have access to the same resources other small business will offer better success rates. ]

Small marijuana businesses would be eligible for a wide range of federal economic services under three congressional bills that were filed on Thursday.

Following a House Small Business Committee hearing on opportunities and challenges for small cannabis companies earlier this month, the chair and two other members of the panel filed legislation aimed at resolving some of the issues that were raised.

One bill, from Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), would allow marijuana businesses to access resources from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). Those resources include microloans, disaster assistance and the loan guaranty program. The congresswoman said her proposal, which is titled the Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act, is meant to support social equity in the cannabis industry.

“As our society continues to move the needle on this issue, we must recognize that legal cannabis businesses are often small businesses that fuel local economies and create new jobs,” Velázquez said in a press release.

“That is why I am pleased to introduce legislation to extend affordable lending options to small businesses that operate in the cannabis space, while simultaneously recognizing the structural disadvantages facing entrepreneurs from communities of color,” she said.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) introduced legislation, called the Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training for All Small Businesses Act, that would prohibit SBA partners that provide guidance and training services from denying help to businesses solely because a firm involves cannabis. Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and the Veterans Business Outreach Center were named as examples of such training providers that would be impacted.

“Starting a small business is never easy, so we need to ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to succeed, no matter the industry,” Golden said.

“Continuing to turn some Maine small business owners away from crucial SBA programs and resources holds our economy back and keeps those businesses from creating jobs,” he said. “My bill would address this problem by helping small business owners directly or indirectly associated with the cannabis industry get their small businesses off the ground and grow.”

Finally, Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) introduced the Homegrown Act, which would establish an SBA grant program to provide funding to local and state governments to help them navigate marijuana licensing. The bill specifies that the grant money should be used to lift up communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

“My bill would act as a poverty-buster and help homegrown small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” Evans said. “We need to make sure that the booming legal cannabis industry does not become consolidated in the hands of a few big companies.”

“My bill would help small businesses to participate in this industry and knock down barriers to jobs and entrepreneurship for people most adversely impacted by the war on cannabis, which has been especially harsh for people of color,” he added.

Both Velázquez’s and Evans’s bills also contain provisions to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which is likely meant to resolve uncertainty within the SBA as it concerns servicing the cannabis sector but would also have broader effects.

“State cannabis programs are successfully replacing criminal enterprises with tightly-regulated, responsible businesses, but it’s increasingly difficult for smaller firms to compete in the legal industry without access to the essential Small Business Administration programs that other industries take for granted,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), said in a press release.

“By improving access to capital, this legislation will also help level the playing field for entrepreneurs from communities of color and others disproportionately impacted by the failed policies of prohibition seeking to enter the legal cannabis industry,” he said.

All told, six pieces of marijuana legislation were introduced in the same 24-hour period on Thursday. Besides these three small business bills, there was one that would allow interstate commerce of cannabis products, another to offer protections for immigrants who consume or possess marijuana and a last one to encourage scientific research into the plant’s health benefits.

Read the three business-focused cannabis bills below:

SBA Cannabis Bills by on Scribd

Lawmakers File Three Congressional Bills To Help Small Marijuana Businesses was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Bipartisan Senators Introduce Marijuana And CBD Research Bill

Bipartisan Senators Introduce Marijuana And CBD Research Bill

[Canniseur: This bill, if passed, will offer much benefit to the American people. It’s comprehensive and encourages medical cannabis research on many levels. Just the part about increasing authorized grow facilities will hugely impact by introducing competition to the current one licensed facility.]

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday that’s meant to promote federally authorized research into marijuana and its derivatives like CBD. It was one of several pieces of new congressional cannabis legislation to be filed on the same day.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are leading the bill, which would streamline the application process for researchers interested in studying the plant, encourage the development of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs derived from marijuana and clarify that doctors can discuss the benefits of cannabis with patients.

It would also require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report on the health benefits and risks of marijuana, as well one on barriers to cannabis research and how to overcome those obstacles.

The bill, at 22 pages, covers a lot of ground, and that’s partly because it combines legislation previously filed by the sponsors.

“Many parents have had success treating their children with CBD oil, particularly for intractable epilepsy, but there are still too many unknowns when it comes to the medical use of marijuana and its compounds,” Feinstein said in a press release. “Current regulations make medical marijuana research difficult and stifles the development of new treatments.

“Our combined bill streamlines the research process and paves the way for marijuana-derived medications that are FDA-approved to keep consumers safe,” she said.

Grassley added that research “is necessary to determine the potential medical value of cannabidiol, and wherever possible, the government should help facilitate the scientific research needed to give these parents the answers they need.”

The first section of the bill concerns the application process for institutions seeking federal authorization to research marijuana. The U.S. attorney general would be given a 60-day deadline to either approve a given application or request supplemental information from the applicant. It would also create an expedited pathway for researchers who request larger quantities of Schedule I drugs.

Another provision addresses applications to become a federally authorized cannabis manufacturer for research purposes. Currently, only one such facility exists nationwide, at the University of Mississippi. The legislation would give the Justice Department a similar 60-day deadline to approve such applications or ask for more information.

The second major section of the bill is about FDA approval of marijuana-derived drugs. One way to encourage such developments is through allowing “accredited medical and osteopathic schools, practitioners, research institutions, and manufacturers with a Schedule I registration” to cultivate their own cannabis for research purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration would get a mandate to approve applications to be manufacturers of marijuana-derived, FDA-approved drugs under the bill. Manufacturers would also be allowed to import cannabis materials to facilitate research into the plant’s therapeutic potential.

“The medical community agrees that we need more research to learn about marijuana’s potential health benefits, but our federal laws today are standing in the way of that inquiry,” Schatz said. “Our bill will remove excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options.”

There’s another section of the legislation on doctors discussing marijuana with patients. A summary of the bill states that it would allow physicians to talk about cannabis derivatives like CBD with children if their legal guardian consents and also generally allows them to “discuss the potential harms and benefits of both marihuana and its derivatives with adult patients.” Federal courts have already ruled that discussing and recommending medical cannabis is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, though, so it’s not clear how it would have an impact beyond providing legislative clarification and assurances.

Finally, a fourth section would require HHS to look at the health benefits and risks of marijuana as well as policies that are inhibiting research into cannabis that’s grown in legal states and provide recommendations on overcoming those barriers.

“In addition, it encourages the federal government to facilitate more medical research on marihuana and its components, including the potential therapeutic effects on serious medical conditions,” a summary of the legislation states.

In a statement for the Congressional Record, Feinstein said that “anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana and its derivatives, like cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, may be helpful in treating serious medical conditions.”

“However, anecdotal evidence alone cannot be the basis for developing new medications. Rather, medication development must be based on science,” she said. “Unfortunately, marijuana research is subject to burdensome regulations which may unintentionally inhibit research and medication development.”

“I have heard from many parents who have turned to CBD as a last resort to treat their children who have intractable epilepsy… I have heard similar stories from people who use marijuana to treat various other medical conditions.

“But a common concern echoed in many of these conversations is that there is a lack of understanding about the proper delivery mechanism, dosing, or potential interactions that CBD or marijuana may have with other medications. Some also worry because these products aren’t well regulated or factory sealed, and often are labeled incorrectly. Without additional research, our ability to adequately address these concerns is limited and uninformed…

“I firmly believe that we should reduce the regulatory barriers associated with researching marijuana and CBD. If and when science shows that these substances are effective in treating serious medical illnesses, we should enable products to be brought to the market with FDA approval.”

The bill’s original cosponsors include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The proposal has been endorsed by mainstream medical organizations like American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and American Society of Addiction Medicine, as well as pro-legalization groups such as Americans for Safe Access, Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies and NORML.

For no apparent reason, Thursday was especially active for congressional marijuana legislation. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) filed bills that would allow for the interstate commerce of cannabis products, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), another presidential candidate, introduced a proposal to protections immigrants from being deported for marijuana. Legislation concerning cannabis businesses’ access to Small Business Administration programs was also filed.

Read the text of the new marijuana and CBD research bill below:

CBD and Marijuana Research Expansion Act by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Photo by Sam Doucette on Unsplash.

Bipartisan Senators Introduce Marijuana And CBD Research Bill was posted on Marijuana Moment.

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