[Editor’s Note: This new legislation is the fourth standalone cannabis bill that has been filed so far during the 116th Congress, which began last week. Hopefully at least one will pass this year.]
A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers on Friday filed legislation that, if enacted, would essentially revive the Obama-era marijuana enforcement memo that was rescinded by then-U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year.
The full text of the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act, sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and six other House members, is not yet online. But a bill that Correa filed last Congress under the same title would have clarified that the attorney general “shall not prosecute for any conduct that concerns marihuana for medicinal or recreational use and is authorized by the laws of the State involved.”
That legislation also carved out several exceptions for areas where the Justice Department could continue to enforce federal anti-cannabis laws, such as:
Distribution of marijuana to minors.
Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
Diversion of marijuana from States where it is legal under State law in some form to other States.
State-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity.
Violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
Drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.
The growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.
Marijuana possession or use on Federal property.
Those provisions closely mirror the so-called Cole Memo that was issued by the Obama Justice Department in 2013 to essentially direct federal prosecutors to respect state marijuana laws by not interfering with their implementation except in certain circumstances.
“The Department’s ill-conceived decision adversely affects California and other states that in ‘good faith’ implemented regulatory frameworks that relied on the memo,” Correa said in remarks inserted into the Congressional Record on Friday. “The repeal of the Cole Memo contravenes the will of the American public. Furthermore, this decision will negatively affect numerous Americans who utilize cannabis for medical purposes.”
“We need to provide consumers, patients, businesses, and regulators with certainty.”
Lawmakers that have so far signed onto Correa’s new proposal include Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-AK), Dina Titus (D-NV), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA). It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The version that Correa filed last Congress did not receive a hearing or a vote.
The new legislation is the fourth standalone cannabis bill that has been filed so far during the 116th Congress, which began last week.
Ed. Note: Michigan: Vote for Proposal 1. North Dakota: Vote Yes for Measure 3. This is the last week before elections. The opposition is taking a strong stand by putting a lot of money into the campaign to defeat Proposal 1 and Measure 3. Do not allow the naysayers, telling bald-faced lies, change your mind.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted, “Illinois gubernatorial race is the latest example of marijuana legalization being good politics as well as good policy. Legalization is playing a role in swing state elections, adding more support for our federal cannabis reform agenda.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill to stop revoking driver’s’ licenses from people convicted of drug offenses and other crimes unrelated to motor vehicle operation.
A report from Colorado regulators on the impact of legalization found that youth marijuana use has not increased, among other data points.
Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean tweeted in support of medical cannabis.
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and Republican challenger Janssen Willhoit agreed during a debate that marijuana sales should be legalized.
Minnesota Democratic attorney general candidate Keith Ellison, currently a congressman, tweeted, “As a civil rights attorney for 16 years, I saw too many lives ruined by the failed War on Drugs. Restarting it may help Trump’s friends in the for-profit prison industry, but serves no one else. It is time for a new approach focused around rehabilitation.”
Maryland regulators ordered a medical cannabis company’s products pulled off of shelves, but won’t say why.
New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on allowing medical cannabis at schools.
Michigan regulators will consider medical cannabis license applications on Monday.
North Dakota’s first medical cannabis manufacturing facility is up and running.
Washington State regulators sent a bulletin about marijuana transportation requirements, regional licensing applications and more.
Newark, New Jersey’s mayor says that cities should get a big chunk of tax revenue from legal marijuana.
Here’s a look at where Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro stands on drug policy.
Thai lawmakers will hold a seminar on medical cannabis on Tuesday.
The Canadian government and an organization it partnered with on distributing marijuana education brochures ended their relationship over the group’s refusal to stop accepting funds from pharmaceutical and cannabis companies.
/ SCIENCE & HEALTH
A study found that “the specialty publication GreenState, which reported on health issues related to cannabis, exhibited significant shortcomings when compared to its parent publisher, the San Francisco Chronicle,” and noted several issues with promotional articles.
Ed. Note: We certainly see this is a sensible move. If we’re going to ‘normalize’ cannabis in society, it needs to be equated with the other legal ‘drug’, alcohol. The real problem that we can see is the knowledge and expertise it takes to actually sell cannabis. And it takes at least as much knowledge to sell cannabis as it does to sell wine.
Instead of creating a whole new system of specialized stores to distribute marijuana when it becomes legal, New York should just allow existing liquor and wine retail outlets to sell cannabis to adults. That’s the position of a new advocacy effort launched by owners of booze shops this month.
“With more than 2,000 wine and liquor stores from Buffalo to Montauk, we offer existing retail space with quick and cheap access to the market in every corner of the state,” reads the website for the group, which is called The Last Store on Main Street. “That means more tax revenue, and sooner, for the State to fulfill basic responsibilities and invest in the future of our neighborhoods.”
The group, which previously defeated an effort to allow wine sales in grocery stores, says that its members shops “operate under a highly regulated system that can easily and reasonably be expanded to cover marijuana retail without building new bureaucracy that only serves to eat into the tax revenues the industry creates.”
Jeff Saunders, the group’s founder, said alcohol retailers are worried that unless they are allowed to sell cannabis, their revenues could suffer.
“Recreational marijuana sales have resulted in significant declines in wine and liquor sales in other states, resulting in job loss and even stores closing,” he said, according to the news outlet New York Upstate.
On the group’s website, New Yorkers who agree with the goal of allowing weed sales in liquor stores can send prewritten letters to their state lawmakers that describe the move an “obvious win-win opportunity for a bedrock industry of New York’s Main Street economies and the future of our state.”
The effort to shape how legalization could roll out comes as the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is taking steps to bring about the end of marijuana prohibition.
Earlier this year, Cuomo directed the state Health Department to study legalizing marijuana, a move that led to a report that found that doing so would have more benefits than risks.
Ed. Note: We not surprised with these poll results. This short article includes many other fascinating poll results and facts we should all know. The U.S., both houses of congress, need to take cannabis off schedule 1.
Republican support for legal marijuana is rising, with 53% now on board — a two-point bump from last year.
People on East Coast now slightly more likely to back legal marijuana than those out West.
Support is huge among younger Americans, with 78 percent of those aged 18 to 34 calling for cannabis to be legal.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans over the age of 55 now support legalizing marijuana, a nine-point bump from one year ago.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was one of the only 2016 presidential contenders to say he’d enforce federal marijuana laws in legalization states, but this past weekend he said that “states have the right to do what they want to do” on cannabis.
As part of National Expungement Week, advocates are holding events in at least 13 cities this week to help people clear marijuana convictions from their records.
President Trump is expected to sign opioids legislation into law on Wednesday.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “Not only should the United States legalize recreational marijuana as our Canadian neighbors have recently done, we must also expunge criminal records for marijuana related convictions for recreational use. We must undo the damage done by the War on Drugs.”
Mississippi Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Baria said he supports medical cannabis and decriminalizing marijuana.
Virginia Democratic congressional candidate Jennifer Lewis tweeted, “Voters know it’s time to legalize marijuana & hemp – politicians have just been too risk averse to say so.”
Utah Democratic congressional candidate Shireen Ghorbani tweeted about marijuana rescheduling.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and Democratic challenger Molly Kelly debated marijuana legalization.
Nevada Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak spoke at a cannabis event.
Arizona’s attorney general withdrew a state Supreme Court argument urging that medical cannabis edibles and extracts be declared illegal.
Rhode Island’s House speaker said he still doesn’t favor legalizing marijuana but will continue to consider it.
Top New Jersey lawmakers conceded that they will miss a target date of passing a marijuana legalization bill by the end of this month. Separately, regulators announced that the state’s medical cannabis patient count has doubled since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) took office. The governor tweeted, “New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has made incredible strides in expanding access and becoming a compassionate, consumer-friendly service for patients. This is only the beginning.”
Washington State lawmakers are asking regulators to rethink a proposed ban on some marijuana edibles.
An Indiana Republican representative tried to consume as much marijuana as he could on a trip to Colorado to see how dangerous it is. It was the “best night sleep I’ve ever had,” he said.
A Mississippi representative will hold an unofficial hearing on medical cannabis on Thursday.
Minnesota regulators will meet on Wednesday to consider adding opioid use disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, panic disorder and psoriasis as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.
Michigan regulators released guidance about a 30-day transition period to enter medical cannabis products into the state’s tracking system.
Nebraska’s attorney general said he’ll keep fighting to oppose marijuana legalization.
A study found that “among young recreational cannabis users, a 100-mg dose of cannabis by inhalation had no effect on simple driving-related tasks, but there was significant impairment on complex tasks, especially when these were novel.”
/ OPINION & ANALYSIS
A poll found that 68% of Americans say drug addiction is a “very big” problem in the U.S. Export Personal Data
Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly tweeted, “Like Colorado and other states that have legalized pot, Canada will pay a social price for its permissiveness. The liberal press and politicians will tamp down that exposition but it will happen.”
Ed. Note: A good compendium about the current politics of cannabis legalization in the US. There are lots of opinions and lots of proposed actions around legalization in states and the US. Congress needs to remove cannabis from Schedule 1.
/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) issued a memo to his party’s leadership laying out a step-by-step process for how they can pass marijuana legislation in 2019 should they control one or both chambers of Congress.
The congressman is also filing legislation addressing border-related cannabis issues in light of Canada’s legalization law going into effect on Wednesday.
In less than a week, the Food and Drug Administration has already received more than 2,000 submissions in response to its request for cannabis rescheduling comments. Marijuana Moment compiled some of the best (and worst).
The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop standards for devices police can use test drivers for drug impairment on the roadside.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted, “Reason #6 why you should vote: to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Too many lives have been ruined because of our regressive policies.”
Rhode Island regulators added autism spectrum disorders as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.
Four New York Assembly committees held a joint hearing on marijuana legalization.
Vermont’s Opioid Coordination Council said it is “virtually impossible” to open a safe injection site for illegal drug consumers due to legal obstacles.
Louisiana’s first medical cannabis crop is being harvested this week.
Utah Democratic lawmakers will hold a town hall meeting on medical cannabis next week.
Ohio regulators extended the deadline for medical cannabis processor license applicants to submit clarifications on their plans.
Arkansas regulators met to discuss scoring of medical cannabis dispensary license applications and a change in ownership by a cultivation licensee.
Guam regulators made medical cannabis license applications available.
Kentucky regulators held an informational session about applying for industrial hemp licenses.
Chicago, Illinois Democratic mayoral candidate Paul Vallas said the city should demand half of the tax revenue from any marijuana sales in city after legalization.
The Canadian government will launch a process to grant pardons to people with past convictions for simple possession of marijuana under 30 grams. Separately, a former Canadian army captain who was in the U.S. waiting to get a green card after marrying an American woman has spent the past 75 days detained because of a decades-old marijuana conviction for which he was pardoned in Canada.
A Thai lawmaker said that the vast majority of members of the public who have weighed in on potential marijuana legislation support reform.
The Michigan Republican Party criticized Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer for supporting marijuana legalization and greater restrictions on tobacco.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico tweeted, “It’s important to remember that this future billion dollar industry was opposed by Republicans like Susana Martinez because they couldn’t understand the difference between hemp and marijuana.”
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