Rhode Island governor proposes legalizing cannabis (Newsletter: Jan. 14, 2019)

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Congressional marijuana bill would codify Cole memo; Vermont legal cannabis sales details; Chicago mayoral candidates unanimously back legalization

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) will formally propose that the state legalize marijuana through her budget proposal this week, though she wants some restrictions that most other legalized states don’t have.

  • “Things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward.”

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and bipartisan group of cosponsors filed the fourth marijuana bill of the new Congress. The proposal would essentially enshrine into federal law the Cole Memo on cannabis enforcement that then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded last year.

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee released details of a draft bill to legalize and regulate marijuana sales. The Senate president said he expects his chamber to “move quickly” on the issue in 2019.

Sen. Kamala Harris(D-CA) attempted a marijuana joke during a late-night TV appearance, though Stephen Colbert didn’t seem amused.

Thirteen Chicago mayoral candidates—including President Obama’s former White House chief of staff and the city’s former top cop—unanimously endorsed marijuana legalization at a forum.

/ FEDERAL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke about racial disparities in marijuana enforcement during a presidential campaign stop in New Hampshire.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted, “Passing the Marijuana Justice Act to end the drug policies in our country that disproportionately target communities of color and reinforce systemic imprisonment of people of color.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), in a House floor speech, said that the debate over a proposed Mexican border wall is “stereotyping and demonizing people coming to America seeking asylum, safety, and refuge from the violence caused by the war on drugs this administration is escalating in Central and South America.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted approvingly about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) support for legalizing marijuana.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted that the “war on drugs” is one issue on which the “political status quo has done so little for so many.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “Marijuana has long been a driving force in our country for mass incarceration. As co-chair the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I know that we can end our nation’s outdated and discriminatory marijuana laws and bring about true criminal justice reform.”

Democratic presidential candidate Richard Ojeda, currently a West Virginia state senator, tweeted that legalizing medical cannabis is one of his major accomplishments.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (D) said it is important to him to provide economic opportunities through marijuana legalization legislation to people from communities targeted by the war on drugs. Meanwhile, a senator filed a marijuana legalization placeholder bill.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he will make moves on the state’s pending appeals to medical cannabis regulation lawsuits “probably within a week or two.” Meanwhile, the state’s agriculture commissioner created a new director of cannabis position.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (D) is preparing to dismiss a member of the state’s marijuana regulatory body.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said he expects that marijuana will eventually be legal in all 50 states. Separately, regulators released an updated list of pesticides that are allowed for use in marijuana production.

West Virginia’s attorney general released an opinion analyzing banking access issues for medical cannabis businesses.

Ohio medical cannabis sales are expected to begin this week.

New Hampshire House committees will consider several marijuana reform bills on Tuesday.

Delaware lawmakers are preparing to file marijuana legalization legislation.

Michigan regulators recalled medical cannabis products from three companies due to failed laboratory testing.

An Arkansas medical cannabis company started cultivation operations.

A conservative Texas representative said that marijuana decriminalization will “definitely” come up this session. He also said the move is “the right policy goal.”

A Washington, D.C. councilmember is pressing the city’s Department of Corrections about whether it punishes employees for legally using medical cannabis.

Here’s a look at some of the considerations New York lawmakers will face in crafting marijuana legalization legislation.


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/ LOCAL

Westchester County, New York’s district attorney enacted a policy under which possession of less than two ounces of marijuana will no longer result in a criminal conviction.

Minneapolis, Minnesota’s mayor is part of a new statewide group campaigning for marijuana legalization.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing for the development of the country’s hemp industry.

A Philippine lawmaker is accusing colleagues who support medical cannabis legislation of planning to profit from the marijuana industry.

A Swiss pharmacy association wants its members to be able to sell marijuana.

A delegation of Chinese business leaders is set to visit Israel to explore that country’s medical cannabis research sector.

/ ADVOCACY

The Kansas Democratic Party tweeted an article about fears that the state’s Republican lawmakers may block medical cannabis.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “evidence suggests that the use of cannabis and turmeric is potentially beneficial in [inflammatory bowel disease] and [irritable bowel syndrome]” but that “neither has been compared to standard therapy in IBD, and thus should not be recommended as alternative treatment for IBD.”

A study found that “illegal substance use was less prevalent than in previous nightlife and electronic dance music studies.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New York voters support legalizing marijuana, 56%-41%.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board is critical of Missouri regulators’ reluctance to publicly release information about medical cannabis business license applicants.

/ BUSINESS

Cura Cannabis sued Bloom Farms for allegedly creating fake social media accounts to spread sexual assault allegations against one of its investors.

/ CULTURE

Actress Halle Berry said she uses CBD for menstrual relief.

The trailer for the new season of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie shows characters getting high on marijuana edibles.

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