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  • by NORML January 15, 2019

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

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

    Supporters of reform efforts can easily contact their elected officials by visiting NORML’s Action Center.

    In January of 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what is known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole to US attorneys in all 50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

    Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Additional states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    Members of Congress in recent years have approved amendments protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” However, this amendment does not provide protections to state-regulated activity governing activities specific to the adult use of marijuana.

    Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

    Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

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

    Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

    Click here to contact your elected officials in support of pending reform efforts. 

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator January 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Regulate Like Alcohol: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2019 — (HR 420) seeks to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

    Click here to email your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    North Dakota

    Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R) introduced legislation, House Bill 1155, to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

    The measure would impose a civil penalty of $200 for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as for the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2134, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to nine cannabis plants in a locked, enclosed facility, and to possess up to three ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: SB 2134 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on 1/16/19 at 10:30am.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1272, to expand access to medical cannabis in North Dakota.

    The proposed changes are:

    • Allowing providers to recommend medical cannabis to those diagnosed with Anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, autism, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
    • Allowing physician assistants and naturopaths to recommend medical cannabis to their patients;
    • And allowing for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting North Dakota.

    A separate provision of the bill seeks to eliminate the option for patients to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes. NORML opposes this provision.

    Update: HB 1272 will be heard by the Human Services Committee on 1/14 at 9:15am.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers and urge them to amend this bill

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 399, to permit those convicted of past marijuana offenses to seek an expungement of their criminal records.

    If passed, HB 399 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. Lawmakers decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2017.

    Update: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an executive session for HB 399 on 1/17 at 11am.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expungement

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 364, to permit qualifying patients to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    The measure would permit patients to grow up to two mature plants and 12 seedings, and to possess up to six ounces of home-grown medical cannabis.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 364 on 1/15 at 2pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of home cultivation

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 366, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid addiction, misuse, or abuse.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 366 on 1/17 at 2:30pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of cannabis as an alternative to opioids

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 350 on 1/16 at 11am.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 335, to expand access to medical cannabis in New Hampshire.

    The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize additional dispensary licenses in certain geographic areas of the state. Under existing law, only a handful of licensed dispensaries are permitted in the state. This means that some patients must travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices to obtain their medicine.

    Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 399 on 1/15 at 1pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of additional dispensaries

    Kentucky

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 80, to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

    The measure would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and cultivate up to 6 mature, and/or 6 immature plants.

    KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    State Sen. Jimmy Higdon plans to file legislation in 2019 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    Under existing law, minor marijuana possession offenses are categorized as a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 45 days in jail.

    KY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of decriminalization

    Tennessee

    Lawmakers will consider legislation in 2019 to allow qualified patients to access marijuana-infused products. While NORML believes this legislation is limited in scope, it is an important first step in legalizing and regulating medical cannabis access in Tennessee.

    TN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical access

    Virginia

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 1557, to expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis oil program.

    The measure would allow Virginia’s licensed practitioners to recommend and pharmaceutical processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis oil. Under existing state law, medical cannabis oil may contain no more than five percent THC, greatly restricting its therapeutic potential and medical efficacy.

    VA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    Georgia

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 10, to reduce the penalty for minor marijuana possession offenses.

    Under this proposed measure, the possession of up to one half ounce of marijuana would be reduced from an offense punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000 to an offense punishable by a maximum fine of $300. However, the offense would still remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of penalty reductions

    Colorado

    Legislation is pending in Colorado that would expand the pool of individuals eligible for medical cannabis.

    Senate Bill 19-013 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy for any condition for which an opiate would otherwise be prescribed.

    House Bill 19-1028 would permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

    CO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical expansion

    New York

    Legislation is pending, S. 490, to allow qualified patients the option to inhale herbal cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of herbal medical cannabis inhalation

    Legislation is pending, S 219, to explicitly permit children and developmentally disabled individuals with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered at schools and other facilities, and require school districts and facilities to create policies for medical marijuana administration.

    NY resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    New Mexico

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 204, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients at school.

    The measure permits children with serious conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended to have their medicine administered to them while on school property.

    NM resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of allowing medical cannabis in schools

    Indiana

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1130, to protect out-of-state patients who possess medical cannabis while visiting Indiana.

    Under this measure, patients who are registered to use medical cannabis in those 33 jurisdictions that permit it may legally bring up to 30 grams of their medicine with them while visiting Indiana.

    IN resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of protecting out of state patients

    Other Actions to Take

    Missouri

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 440 / Senate Bill 2, to facilitate equity among those licensed to operate in the medical cannabis industry.

    The measure would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to prioritize licensing applications submitted by women and minority owned business applicants.

    MO resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of equity within the industry

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 459, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    The measure seeks to “establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in new Hampshire so that farmers and other businesses in the New Hampshire agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity.”

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    South Carolina

    Legislation is pending, H 3449, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

    SC resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    Connecticut

    Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 8, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with the new federal hemp regulations.

    The measure seeks to “legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state and to establish rules for such production.”

    CT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

    North Dakota

    Legislation is pending, House Bill 1349, to amend the state’s existing industrial hemp law to be in compliance with new federal hemp regulations.

    ND resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of industrial hemp

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator January 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    Join the Caucus: With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, key Congressional allies have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    Click here to email your member of Congress and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus

    Pennsylvania

    State Senators Daylin Leach (D) and Sharif Street (D), as well as Rep. Jake Wheatley (D), plan to file marijuana legalization bills in their respective chambers this legislative session.

    The measures would regulate the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    PA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

    Vermont

    Lawmakers will consider legislation this legislative session to establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial, adult use marijuana market.

    VT resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of regulation

    New Hampshire

    Pre-filed legislation seeks to allow for the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana by adults.

    The pending measure permits adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to five grams of concentrate, and to grow up to six marijuana plants. The bill would also establish a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the regulated market.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of legalization

     

    Additional Actions to Take

    Massachusetts

    State Senator Jason Lewis announced plans to introduce legislation to protect responsible adult cannabis consumers from employment discrimination.

    The measure would prohibit employers from arbitrarily discriminating against employees who legally consume marijuana off-the-job in accordance with state law.

    MA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of consumer employment protections

    New Hampshire

    Legislation is pending, HB 350, to expand medical cannabis access.

    The measure expands the pool of medical professionals who are eligible to recommend medical cannabis by permitting physician assistants to issue recommendations to their patients.

    NH resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of expanded medical access

    Georgia

    Lawmakers in Georgia will consider a proposal to expand and facilitate patients’ access to medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.

    The pending legislation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to permit the retail sale of medical CBD products to registered patients.

    GA resident? Click here to email your lawmakers in support of medical CBD access

  • by Nevada NORML January 2, 2019

    With a new year on the horizon, members of Nevada and Las Vegas NORML wanted to take time to shine light on 18 of our most memorable moments from 2018. (It was hard to choose just 18!)

    January 2018: Protested Jeff Sessions

    We certainly didn’t expect the opportunity to protest Jeff Sessions alongside Congresswoman Dina Titus and State Senators Aaron Ford & Tick Segerblom at the Apothecary Shoppe Dispensary with every news outlet present, but it happened! We loved the chance to stand up for the State of Nevada and to be able to show our community that we are a strong voice of the people!

    February 2018: Dr. Dabber became a sponsor

    Yeah, that freaking happened! It was such an honor to have a company like Dr. Dabber, that we all know and respect, believe in our work and sponsor us! Together, we were able to provide record sealing services and great education throughout Las Vegas. They were even cool enough to offer hella deals to NORML members!

    January – March 2018: Partnering with Harrison House

    Throughout the earlier part of 2018, we had the great pleasure of volunteering for Harrison House, which was the 1st African American Guest House in Las Vegas during a very segregated time. In learning about Las Vegas’ history from a perspective that isn’t often discussed, we got a firm grasp on how marijuana has undisputedly been a tool used for oppression. This only reaffirmed that social justice needs to be a priority when discussing marijuana policy in this community. We participated in gardening and yard clean up at Harrison House, held a Black History month panel together, and helped with a Mardi Gras neighborhood celebration.

    April 2018: “Setting the Record Straight” Program

    Instead of hosting a 420 bash this past April, we decided to focus on having community impact through restorative justice. Finding lawyers like Garrett Ogata and Nick Wooldridge to refer prior marijuana conviction victims to, was invaluable! We created a dope set of resources to give to people interested in sealing their record and held an educational seminar educating them on the steps. We will continue to provide education on record sealing in Nevada throughout 2019 and help clients find financial assistance to do so when qualified!

    May 2018: Primary Voting Rally

    The 2018 midterms were NO JOKE. This was our first year dabbling in the candidacy aspects of things, but quickly learned the value of being an educated voter and focusing on primary elections. We held a press conference with our National NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, a voter registration event at 7th & Carson in downtown Las Vegas, and even did phone banking to encourage voting in primaries all throughout May. It was amazing to see an increase in younger voters registering!

    June 2018: Collected 79 Candidate Surveys from across Nevada

    Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t, but it was really rewarding showing voters statewide how candidates felt on specific marijuana related issues. Because of the hard work from National NORML, we helped produce the Smoke the Vote platform for voters to refer to, and the feedback we got was incredible!

    July 2018: Social Use Venue Advocacy

    The City of Las Vegas began drafting ordinances for social consumption this year, and we were proud to show up and voice our concerns on the record. Although it has still not been remedied, Las Vegas NORML members advocated strongly against 24 hr surveillance fed directly to law enforcement and raised concerns about mixing cannabis with alcohol. This will continue to be an area we advocate for throughout 2019 because of the intersectionality with criminal justice reforms and consumer protections. We hope that with the introduction of social lounges, tourists and residents will both have legal places to consume!

    July 2018: Lobby Day in DC

    Each year, NORML activists from around the nation gather in D.C. to engage their lawmakers in marijuana policy reform. We are proud of the relationships we developed with Congress throughout this time and are confident that we can achieve great things together! D.C. can be an intimidating place, but we are loving the chance to navigate it again in 2019.

    August 2018: Public Meetings at Acres

    Earlier this year, Acres Cannabis Dispensary was kind enough to offer their space in the Underground to Las Vegas NORML and our members! Every first Wednesday of the month, we host a free educational meeting that is open to adults 21 or older.  A huge part of our mission includes providing education to the community, so having this valuable space has been a huge blessing!

    September 2018: Election Education & Voter Reinstatement

    This past election cycle, we focused really hard on not only educating the community, but our board too. We worked really closely with Aaron from Restore Your Vote to learn more about how those with a criminal history can reinstate their right to vote. It’s a very common misconception that if you had a past marijuana conviction, you are ineligible to vote in Nevada, but we found out this is not solely the case. We are truly passionate about being a voice for those who have lost hope and love being able to provide resources to help educate them.

    October 2018: Hung with Keith Stroup & National NORML

    It’s not everyday that the founder of NORML is in your hometown! It was an absolutely memorable experience to have Keith here to help us host a voter rally at the World Famous ‘Cannabition’ Cannabis Museum in downtown Vegas! We even had the pleasure of meeting several other members of the National NORML board, too. We consider it a great privilege that we were able to show them our city and more of our work on a local level!

    October 2018: Pumpkin Bongs at Cheba Hut

    Our cool friends over at Cheba Hut Toasted Subs let us throw down some pumpkin carving for our October Informal with NORML, and we ran with it! Who doesn’t make bongs and steamrollers out of fall vegetables?!

    November 2018: Jeff Sessions is OUT and Cannabis friendly legislators are IN!

    What a relief that Sessions’ is finally gone and we can start to progress Marijuana policy at the federal level. Cannabis friendly Governors and Commissioners are taking over Nevada and the West in general. We have a lot of conversations to have with new office holders, but it’s never been easier now that 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana!

    November 2018: Herban Expo

    Las Vegas NORML was the education sponsor for the inaugural Herban Expo at the Rio and coordinated over 25 educational presentations and panels over the course of 3 days! It was really impressive to see how much our community came out to listen to the speakers and the engagement it created. Herban Expo will 100% be back in 2019!

    November 2018: 600 letters to Congress

    Yep, you read that right…We collected 600 physical letters to members of Congress with the help of Denver NORML in just one weekend in Las Vegas! We set a goal, and people like you helped us reach it by making a small effort to tell Congress that marijuana reform is important!

    December 2018: “Access for All” Patient Voucher Program

    It’s been truly challenging for us to figure out a way to help patients in the state of Nevada because of regulation often making it impossible to provide medicine to those who need it. We are so eternally grateful that we have finally found local businesses like Sweet Cannabis and The Source to help distribute cannabis to patients who qualify. We look forward to building this program out even more in 2019! Visit lvnorml.org/patients for more info

    And some year-long focuses we are especially proud of:

    Progression and development of media

    We were really fortunate to gain really talented media pros and graphic designers as volunteers this year to help us develop more interesting content. Hella props to friends like Rev from Rocester NORML and Mrs. Rex 420 here in Vegas for helping us design digital content this year! Weed TV, Vegas Cannabis Magazine and Kool Katz Media were also incredible blessings that have helped us astronomically with other media exposure this year!

    Growing our squad

    Grassroots activists are hard to come by these days, but it’s been clear that the 2018 Las Vegas NORML crew is no force to reckon with! The newly organized board, expert advisors, team of awesome volunteers & sponsors have been quickly gaining traction in the community and everyone is having a blast doing it! Las Vegas NORML volunteers are a diverse and passionate group of individuals that have worked tirelessly this past year to develop a positive reputation throughout the community. It is because of community members and new activists involvement that the organization continues to strengthen and grow!

  • by NORML December 27, 2018

    2018 NORML's Top TenRead the ten biggest stories that shaped marijuana policy in 2018.

    #1: Public Support in Favor of Adult Use Legalization at Historic Highs
    More adults than ever before believe that marijuana use by adults ought to be legal. An October poll conducted by Gallup reported that 66 percent of adults – including majorities of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and those over the age of 55 – back legalization. The percentage is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. A 2018 Pew poll similarly reported greater public support for legalization than ever before, while a June poll by the Center for American Progress reported that 68 percent of voters nationwide endorse legalization – the highest level of national support ever recorded in a scientific survey.

    #2: Marijuana Initiatives Win at the Ballot Box
    Voters in four states – Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah – passed voter initiated measures in 2018 regulating the use of marijuana. Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah became the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd states to enact medical cannabis access laws, while Michigan became the tenth state to permit adult marijuana use. In January, Vermont legislatively enacted provisions permitting adults to grow and possess marijuana for their own personal use.

    #3: Congress Amends CSA to Lift Ban on Commercial Hemp Production
    Hemp-specific provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill (aka The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) for the first time amend the federal classification of marijuana to distinguish between cannabis and hemp. Under the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including …. extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. The Act also for the first time in decades permits for the licensed commercial cultivation of hemp under a partnership of state and federal regulations.

    #4 Canada Legalizes Adult Marijuana Use and Retail Sales
    Canadian lawmakers this summer approved federal legislation permitting the use of marijuana by those ages 18 and older, and regulating adult use cannabis production and sales. Retailers began selling cannabis in compliance with the new law in October. In November, justices for Mexico’s Supreme Court also struck down the nation’s marijuana ban – finding that laws criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults are unconstitutional.

    #5: Governors Campaign, Win On Marijuana Legalization Platforms
    Candidates for Governor in numerous state races campaigned and won in 2018 on a pledge to legalize and regulate the adult use of cannabis. Specifically, incoming governors in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois explicitly pledged to enact legalization. Re-elected Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has also pledged to enact adult use legalization in early 2019, as has New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

    #6: Incoming House Rules Chair to Allow Floor Votes on Marijuana-Related Measures
    Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said in November that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019. Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” McGovern said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

    #7: Legal Marijuana Access is Associated with Reduced Opioid Abuse
    Over a dozen peer-reviewed studies were published in 2018 finding that regulated marijuana access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, use of opioids frequently decreases or is eliminated altogether.

    #8: FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike for Second Straight Year
    The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released in September by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

    #9: FDA Approves First Ever Plant-Derived Cannabis Medicine
    Regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration in June for the first time granted market approval to a plant-derived cannabis medicine, Epidiolex. The medicine contains a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration classified Epidiolex to Schedule V — the lowest restriction categorization available under federal law.

    #10: States, Localities Move to Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions
    California became the first state to automatically review and expunge past marijuana-related convictions, under legislation enacted in October. Delaware enacted a similar law calling for the mandatory expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, joining several other states that permit those with past records to petition to have those records sealed. Local officials in various cities in 2018, including Denver, Philadelphia, and Seattle, announced the facilitation of similar policies.

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